When the final whistle blew at the Amex stadium recently, the Brighton players and manager Graham Potter were booed off the pitch by a small element of the home fans.
Their team had just drawn 0-0 against Leeds United in a game the Seagulls dominated but had failed to take their chances.
Potter said that while he understood the fans’ frustration at not picking up all three points, he was puzzled by such a negative reaction. He had a good point. The fans who booed either have very short memories or unrealistic expectations.
When Brighton clinched promotion to the Premier league in 2017, it was regarded as a remarkable feat for this unfashionable club.
Even more remarkable is the fact that they are still there and playing their best football in five seasons and are in the top half of the table. They do not deserve boos.
Football fans are notoriously fickle, but when it comes to booing your own team, it doesn’t make any sense at all. You can argue that fans have paid a lot of money and have every right to complain if they feel play is not up to standard or that the players are not putting in enough effort.
Certainly spectators have a right to boo, but whether booing your own team will help is highly doubtful.
The main reason players do not perform well is a lack of confidence. Booing your own players can only lead to more self-doubt.
Looking at what Brighton have gone through in the last three decades, it is amazing they survived at all.
You only have to take a brief look at the club’s recent history, most of which was spent in the lower divisions.
Rarely having been in the limelight, Brighton are probably best known as one of the few teams that were relegated from the top flight in the same season they reached the FA Cup final.
That was in 1983 and the famous “and Smith must score” commentary. He didn’t score and in the ensuing replay it was Manchester United who took the honours.
Brighton really struggled in the 1990s and their final years at the old Goldstone ground almost proved to be their last in the Football League.
At one stage in the 1996-97 season, they were 13 points adrift at the very bottom of League Two, but managed a late recovery and in the last game against Hereford secured the point they needed not to fall into the Conference.
They still faced massive problems off the pitch. With the club in deep financial trouble they sold their Goldstone ground and were forced to play their “home” games at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium, 100km away.
Not surprisingly gates plunged, only 1,025 attending a “home” game against Barnet in 1997.
This intolerable situation for players and fans alike went on for two seasons before the club moved to the inadequate Withdean Stadium, where Brighton were to play for 12 long seasons.
The Observer newspaper rated Withdean, in reality an athletics stadium, the fourth worst in the UK.
Brighton finally moved to their present home, the excellent Amex Stadium for the 2011-12 season.
It is no coincidence that since then their fortunes on the pitch improved considerably, culminating in winning promotion to the top flight.
Back to the booing. Of course, booing opponents and the referee has been a long-standing tradition in British football and long may that remain.
It’s all part of the fun. The away team expect booing and any form of derision.
As the old saying goes “fans don’t boo nobodies” and it might even inspire away players as it means they are clearly doing something to annoy the home supporters.
These days, fans seem to particularly like booing former players when they return with another club.
This is understandable if the players left the club on bad terms, but even players who performed well for their old club receive abuse.
The football stadiums are still important outlets for ordinary people to let off steam. It’s a big release from everyday stress.
They can scream and shout, curse and cheer without getting locked up by the local constabulary.
Where else can you display such emotions without people thinking you are totally nuts?
But please don’t boo your own team.
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