Spread the love

Its a bit of a late start for FanStand .. We’ve just been easing ourselves into the season. But its back. With a bang.

And what better way to start but with a celebrity edge. This week BillytheBee chats to Brighton fan – actor Ralph Brown (@ralphwjbrown) otherwise known as Magicman on North Stand Chat and other Brighton forums.

Ralph’s been in too many films to name them all.

From Danny the Camberwell Carrot in “Withnail & I” .. To Leo the A&R guy in “Killing Bono”.. To Bob who went down with the boat in “The Boat that Rocked” .. To Burton the prison officer in “Mean Machine” … To Ric in “Star Wars Phantom Menace” …

But Ralph will tell you he would much rather be perched on his seat on a Saturday afternoon cheering on his beloved seagulls than stuck in a water tank off the coast of Cape Town with Halle Berry filming films like Dark Tide.

Somehow ….. we just don’t believe him

Seeing as he can’t make the match, Ralph will be tuning into the Beesotted live Bees/Brighton fan chat from the pub … Both Video and audio streams … on Beesotted YouTube and also on Beesotted Mixlr radio Channel at around 2.05pm (at the end of Birmingham v Leeds match)

When did you get the Brighton bug?

First game – 1971 at home to Port Vale at The Goldstone. Kit Napier scored.

That was a great Albion side with Brian Powney in goal, Alan Duffy up front, Napier brothers Kit and John and Norman Gall at number 6.

I was 15, and we went in the North Stand and sang rude songs and bounced up and down and pushed people down the terracing in huge waves.

It was anarchy. It was heaven. I was hooked for life.

You moved Stateside recently but still manage to balance work with watching the seagulls. How do you manage that then?

I live in New York. My wife Jenny Jules and I moved here in February to shake things up a bit work-wise. We’re both actors and green-card holders from back in the day and NYC has plenty to offer and a change of scenery for a bit.

Coverage of the Premiership here is better than in the UK – it’s free on NBC and you can see every game.

The Championship, rather like in the UK, doesn’t appear to exist. But I’ve discovered some streaming websites and have seen more away games in 2014 than usual !

Brighton have had a so-so start to the season. Losing against Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday. Beating Leeds and drawing to Charlton with a last-minute equaliser. You do have the bonus of getting through to the 3rd round of the League Cup. Happy with your start?

Never happy Billy. Always a whinge not far from my lips. We should be in the Premier League by now. I look at Palace, Burnley, Cardiff, Norwich, Hull even Stoke and think – when is it gonna be us?

Every game is tough.

Every game is winnable.

We’ve had two great seasons with two different managers and missed out at the crunch. But we’ll go again.

Did you lose any players in the close season?

Loads. If you take it from the winter transfer window we’ve lost almost a whole team. And mainly to the Premiership.

Bridcutt and Buckley followed Gus Poyet to Sunderland.

Barnes and Ward went to Burnley.

Adam El-Abd went to Bristol City.

Polish goalie Tomas Kuszczak was released.

Then Ulloa and Upson went to Leicester. Matthew Upson on a free (bargain) and Leo Ulloa cost them £8 million – by quite some way our record transfer. But Leo is worth it. He’s a first-class striker.

Spanish wingers Lopez and Orlandi were released. See. We already had the Premiership team under Gus. Now they’ve all moved on.

So You don’t sound like you’re too happy Gus Poyet was sacked. Would you have turned a blind eye to the poo “someone” deposited in the middle of the Crystal Palace dressing room before the playoff semi final to have kept him on in retrospect ?

The thing about Gus is that he had previous with Paul Barber, who joined us from Spurs 18 months ago. The writing was on the wall from then.

Poyet advertised his services to anyone that wanted them and the hierarchy wanted him out. It was a damn shame that Barber was considered more important than Poyet because by the end of the season he was on the way out and everyone knew it – apart from the fans and the players.

The players were told before the Palace game – the game with the dressing room poo incident – and perhaps not surprisingly they went out and under-performed. We lost to 2 Zaha goals, the last thing of consequence he’s done in reality.

As for the poo.


I have no idea how that was connected and if he was involved or not. But Poyet was gone within hours of the defeat being hit with “gross misconduct” charge for apparently announcing he was leaving minutes before the Palace game. Cheers.

Oscar Garcia left at the end of last season for undisclosed reasons too, and is now at Watford.

Poyet is a football genius.

Mouthy, yes. Inclined to believe his own hype yes.

I think we played our best football ever under his stewardship. We kept the ball. We had six Spaniards in the side some matches. We were great to watch, and we won games.

He educated the fans into watching a totally diffferent kind of game, cries of “get rid of it” in season one were replaced by applause for retaining possession at all times (sounds a familiar story – ed)

I met him on the tube once. Courteous, civil, and football mad.


With all those players leaving, did you pick any players up?

We did. A Dutch player called Danny Holla. David Stockdale from Fulham in goal. Much-travelled Spanish striker Adrian Colunga from Getafe.

Sammi Hyypia’s contacts got us Portugese starlet Joao Teixeira on loan who looks snazzy. Aaron Hughes from Fulham at centre half, although with Dunk scoring twice against Charlton he might be warming the bench for a bit.

Chris O’Grady and Paddy McCourt from Barnsley. Gary Gardner and Joe Bennet on loan from Aston Villa. And Congolese/Swiss defensive midfielder Toko Nzuzi from Grasshoppers.

So we have a whole bunch of new faces to get used to.

This match could be the battle of Portugal loanees. You have Joao Carlos Texiera playing for you guys. We have His ex-Sporting Lisbon team-match Bethinio on loan for the season – probably coming off the bench for his first Bees appearance. How has Texiera slotted into the Brighton side ?

He scored after 5 minutes of his first game v Leeds, and got his 2nd v Bolton four days later. I think he’s struggling to be honest 😉

Funny you should say that because when he played for Brentford, he was a bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights. Maybe unlucky for him, he came into the side when we were struggling.

He looked shellshocked in our first game – a mad 4-3 win up at Tranmere. And he just wasn’t in the game when Orient came down and battered us 2-0.

To be fair to him, our management thought he was a class player who came into our team at the wrong time – a time when brawn and battle were needed to get us out of a tricky spot.

I think he’s a silky skills player. Albion play it on the floor. We always have been a side who play football, often with small skillful players. We’ve never had a big side.

We’re not Stoke pigging City thank Gordon Banks. We’re Brighton and Hove Albion and we admire proper football. We demand it frankly. And usually, we get it.

It’s also the battle of the England U21 midfield maestros .. with Forster-Caskey coming up against Alex Pritchard. Forster-Caskey also has a Bees link in the fact that he is the step-son of ex Bees striker and manager Nicky Forster. We play a similar style of football. Do you reckon you’ll win the midfield battle?

Depends who’s fit. If Crofts plays – and if he’s fit he will. Then he will dominate the midfield without being that visible. He’s a class player.

You guys won Division 1 fairly convincingly … pipping Southampton to the top spot that season. What have they done that you haven’t to have left you guys standing .. turning players who played against us both that season into England internationals???

They already had and still have one of the best youth set-ups in the country. They keep churning out the great players. We’ve just built our first training ground/youth development centre near Shoreham Airport. Things will only get better from here.

Saying that, you did alright in your first championship season as well. As a seasoned ‘stayer upper’ now in the this division, what is the difference between your approach as opposed to say Doncaster and Yeovil. Surely it can’t all be down to money?

It’s the overall direction that the club is going and it’s the atmosphere around the place, which is yes, largely down to money let’s be honest.

As a romantic I’d like the playing field to be more level and FFP is a step in the right direction. But they’ve bottled the key provisions (for the FFP fines to be shared out amongst the clubs). So we’re now one of the stable clubs with a home-grown millionaire owner but he’s not got silly Qatari money and he’s holding it steady.

What’s your number one bit of advice for Brentford for us to hold our heads above water this season??

Play football. Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring.

We know how much you love Crystal Palace. Some people say that our very impressive 3-2 pre-season win against them was the downfall of Sgt Major Tony Pulis. Seeing as we embarrassed them right royally, would you fancy giving us 3 points in return?

Good joke. I couldn’t give a monkey’s fart about Palace tbh. Some of my buddies are Palace fans like actor Neil Morrissey. People who actually live in Brighton.

I wish we’d kept Glen Murray – we’d have topped Southampton in that first championship season if we had.

Palace have a great group of fans and create a good atmosphere at Selhurst. They should have hung on to Pulis but there are egos flying around I guess.

Their loss.

The chant “You should be playing in pink” occasionally sung to Brighton players and “Does your boyfriend know you’re here?” sung to Brighton fans – based on the fact that Brighton (the town) is the self-proclaimed gay capital of the UK. Amusing? Or derogatory? In particular in light of the anti-homophobia campaign being championed by many within the game .. and promoted by Mr Patrick Power on TV.

One of the more exciting things about being a Brighton and Hove Albion fan is the shared homosexuality. We are all gay out and proud.

We all dress properly, groom, enjoy techno and showtunes and have no socks. It’s a bonding rainbow thing. We’re so beyond being “used to it”. We actually embrace the gay label.

I don’t know how many Albion fans are actually gay, but when we hear those chants (every week) you get a variety of responses :

“you’re too ugly to be gay”
“one-nil to the nancyboys (sung at Swindon in play-off semis)”

We always embrace the gay chants as a disarming tactic, works wonders.
We’re not scared of being gay.

People use Brighton as the shining beacon for how a new stadium should be designed. Is the Amex stadium .. Or whatever it’s called … Really that good? If so, what makes it so special? What are the down points?

It’s spectacular. You’ll see. Down points ? It’s out of town. That’s all.

We’ve heard its a little difficult to get a beer in and around the ground before a game.

The Swan in Falmer village serves all fans despite being against the stadium for years

The Withdean Stadium was wonderfully shabby. Any funny tales from your times there?

We miss Rocketman. He lived nearby. Nobody ever found him. But every time Albion scored, he unleashed a firework from his back garden (presumably). I’ll miss standing in the rain outside waiting for a bus. We weren’t supposed to drive there.

Quite weird that your stadium is on the exact spot where I used to hitch a ride to away games when I was at Uni in Brighton. The furthest match I got to was Burnley … I left on the Friday … still didn’t get to the match till half time on the Saturday .. I’m interested to know the maddest journey you’ve had to a Brighton game?

Oh nothing too exotic. We all drove to Norwich one Christmas through the snow and they called the game off as we arrived.

I think my most memorable away game was going to St James Park from London in 1979 on my own and walking to the stadium from Newcastle Central. Mullery was our manager.

We beat them 2-1 with a Peter Ward winner and got promoted to Division One for the first time in our history.


You love the Bees. You even have an acting Bees link – starring in “Mean Machine” with ex Brentford manager Wally Downes (both of you pictured on set above) who was the film’s football Co-ordinator as well as playing the prisoners’ physio. Did he take you through your paces ?

Mean Machine was a laugh. I was 44 at the time, certainly the oldest player on the park. I asked for the Albion colours in my office, and I’d previously worn the stripes in Up’n’Under.

Wally smashed us to bits. We were almost puking after some of those training sessions. “OK ten minutes break – footballers do some stretching and actors, have a chat about Pinter”

Then he started making it into a popularity contest and the old yellow jersey came out. Never been washed. Least popular player has to wear it all day. Well I hate all that bollocks so I just said “no” I’m not joining in.

Then I saw him adding votes to my name secretly. “Ralph mate” “you’re 2nd to last – better be careful” I hated him. But we’re best mates now. Always talking sh!t on Twitter is Wally. Proper football bloke.

The film was a who’s who of characters. From Vinny Jones. To Danny Dyer. To Robbie Gee. To Jason Statham. To Omid Djalili. Bees player Nevin Saroya was even in the movie. I remember coming down to interview Wally for Beesotted and he just handed me over to Vinny Jones for an interview. I was shaking like a leaf

Vinny is a real sweetheart, until you get him into a room with some other geezers, then he’s like every other mouthy knobhead on the planet. But one-to-one he’s sweet as pie.

We’ve lost touch but he’s a good lad

I see your Brighton buddies are taking the p!ss out of us Brentford fans because the most high profile celeb fans we can knock up are Robbie from East Enders (and Wellard), ageing rock star Rick Wakeman (who was once our chairman), Sky News’ Natalie Sawyer and Cameron Diaz (who was recently revealed to be a hoax) … can’t believe you guys missed out Rhino from Status Quo (he even wrote a song for us … and yes it did have only three chords), comedian Dominic Holland, Neil Kinnock (OK he came once) and (clutching at straws now) Greg Dyke (OK he was our chairman too .. and spent his time down at Griffin Park when he wasn’t having a few swifties with Sir Alex Ferguson after yet again another Man United victory)

Brighton has always had quite a cool edge to it and you (being a celeb yourself) hang with a few of the Brighton celeb crew in a pub near the station. Seeing as you have already out-celebed us, what faces could we expect to see down the Amex who will blow our celeb power out the water???

Mark Williams from The Fast Show and more recently Father Brown, goes to Lewes but occasionally turns up at the Amex. Norman Cook, natch.

I’m not very good on celeb watching sorry Billy I don’t know who any of them are these days *cough*

Who is your best EVER player?

Bobby Zamora

Your fave rivals: Crystal Palace or Portsmouth?


Two Ex-Bees/Brighton: Neil Smillee or Nicky Forster?

Forster : ledge

You’re two temp homes: Withdean or Preistfield?

The Withdean, home.

Head to head, Brighton are just shading it winning 30 games to the Bees’ 24 with 12 games drawn. Do you think you will keep your run going on Saturday?

No idea mate.

Go on. Be brave. Give us a score prediction

You’ll win 2-0

And any thoughts on how Brighton will do and who will go up this season???

We’ll go up along with Derby County. The next four will be Wigan, Cardiff, Notts Forest and Blackburn

Big thanks to Ralph for taking time out from breakdancing in Central Park to give us a wee insight into poo-gate and other important Brighton issues. You can follow Ralph on twitter (@ralphjwbrown) or cyberstalk him on the various Brighton forums in his Magicman guise.

You can catch Ian Westbrook’s Brighton match preview by clicking here

For Brighton fans coming down, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match. The four pubs around the ground. The Griffin is closest to the away end. The New Inn is on the other side. And The Princess Royal and The Royal Oak (normally home fans only) are the other two options. Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) the Magpie and Stump real ale pub, Kings Arms opp Brentford station, The Globe, The Lord Nelson (all within 10 mins walk of the ground) and The Plough (if coming by tube). A quick google search and you’ll find them all.

Dont forget to tune into the Beesotted live fan chat from one of these pubs … Both Video and audio streams … on Beesotted YouTube and also on Beesotted Mixlr radio Channel at around 2.05pm (at the end of Birmingham v Leeds match)