Beat around the Bush

By Chris Crees FRESHLY cooked, reasonably priced hot and crispy bacon rolls; freshly cooked, proper crispy chips with REAL potato; a large cup of tea with REAL tea bags and REAL milk; free entry to the ground; free entry to the bar at half-time, large fla

By Chris Crees

FRESHLY cooked, reasonably priced hot and crispy bacon rolls; freshly cooked, proper crispy chips with REAL potato; a large cup of tea with REAL tea bags and REAL milk; free entry to the ground; free entry to the bar at half-time, large flat-screen TVs with live Champions League football and reasonably priced beer; stand where you like; sit where you like; mix with rival fans without fear; a free programme (well, a sheet of paper) and finally, watch your favourite football team at the same time.

No, this is not an episode of The Great British Menu or a day in a QPR executive box, but a trip to the Sussex FA headquarters in Lancing, West Sussex, to watch Brighton Reserves vs QPR Reserves last week and still get back in time to watch Arjen Robben knock Man Utd out of the Champions League. Yes, it really was as good as it sounds (actually I wanted Man Utd to progress).

Being Sussex based, I now get the opportunity to see our reserve side play the reserves of Brighton, Eastbourne and Crawley (weather permitting and when they're not rearranged). We also had Lewes last season before they seemed to vanish.


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If you haven't been to a reserve game before, I can highly recommend it when the game is played at a County League or similar type of ground, if only to get a really good look at the players "bubbling under" in their attempt to make the first team.

Last week, I had the pleasure of watching Serbian international Dusko Tosic, plying his trade on a pitch resembling a cobbled street. Believe me, on these pitches, it's a real test of the players' ball control skills, and on this occasion, they all performed admirably, especially Josh Parker, Tosic and Moritz Volz. Some might disagree, but running out 2-1 winners over a previously undefeated Brighton side didn't matter to me one iota.

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All the players are a lot more accommodating and willing to chat in these surroundings (when they're not on their mobile phones) and even Tosic willingly posed for a picture. The fact he turned round too quickly and all I got was a picture of his backside was irrelevant really.

If you're offended by bad language, though, a reserve fixture is not the place for you, as the questioning of the referee's parentage by the players can be heard quite clearly, no matter where you stand or sit in the ground. You certainly get to find out who the "leaders" are, though.

Why not venture to the south coast for an evening next season? Reserve football may not be the players' favourite pastime, but from this fan's view, it was an enjoyable experience.

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