Brighton FanZoner Brett Mendoza looks back on an unforgettable 2012 for everyone at the Amex.
A truly memorable twelve months for all Brighton fans
2012 may just have been the best year of my life. When I look back at it, all I can say is it has been one brilliantly surreal moment after the other, joined together by me Tweeting and Facebooking about said brilliantly surreal moments.
I've cycled from Brighton to Paris, threw a 180 at darts and scored maybe my favourite ever Sunday League goal. I've helped raise thousands of pounds for charity, seen friends blessed with getting married and having babies, and I've also been lucky enough to see nature at it's best, The Northern Lights, whilst out in Iceland.
I also appeared to have turned into some sort of Avid Merrion. I met my hero Sir David Attenborough, as well as a host of other celebrities and sport stars including Alan Shearer, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Redknapp, Chris Froome, Keith Lemon and Rizzle Kicks.
I was also lucky enough to be given freebie tickets for The FA Cup Final, a host of Olympic and Paralympic events and VIP tickets for Fatboy Slim's amazing Amex gig.
Obviously the Olympics played a massive part of my year. Working as a Games Maker at Wembley was easily the best job I've ever had. I made some amazing friends, met some amazing people, including David Beckham, Roy Hodgson and Prince William.
I've done all of that I haven't even begun to touch my life as a Brighton fan. 2011 was easily the greatest of my Brighton supporting life, but 2012 weren't half bad either. So there were no promotions, but the club has grown in stature and started to flirt with the notion of Premier League football.
For a huge percentage of my Brighton supporting life, we have been kicking around the bottom two tiers of The English Leagues struggling against the likes of Carlisle and Stockport. So seeing us now playing home games in front over 25,000, out playing the likes of Wolves and Bolton gives me great satisfaction.
OK, so we haven't won as many games as we could have, but there have been very few games this season especially where we haven't deserved to lose. Sadly Palace was one of them. For the first time in a while we had a striker on 10 goals by Christmas, we have some amazing players to watch like Bruno, Will Buckley and Tomasz Kuszczak.
For me it is all about progress. I honestly believe we have done just that over the year. Last season we kept the ball a lot and didn't really do much else attacking wise. This season, we have kept to our passing principles, but we are attacking way more. The only problem is, sticking the ball in the net - That's the next step in our progression!
At the end of last season I think we were pretty much a League One team still working out the division above, maybe over achieving. Now we have players of a higher calibre, players with Premier League and European experience. It's a step in the right direction. Results haven't been perfect, maybe that's why there is some discontent amongst fans. Maybe they think we are under achieving?
The social aspect of football is why I love going so much, even after 800 games. From the friends I have been going with for years, to the new friends I've made this year through Twitter, Gullys Girls or friends of friends, it's made my year very entertaining.
Look at our trip to Blackburn at the weekend. A farce with trains, the game called off, we had no right to have that much fun, but it was our Christmas party game, so we did. A journey which included some distinctly average singing of some Christmas classics, as well as ludicrous alcoholic beverages, stuffed pheasant, salmon pate and a mountain of pork based snacks.
With the Blackburn game called off, I found myself at The Crown Ground, Accrington with many other Brighton fans. The welcome we got from both Stanley and Plymouth fans was amazing. The Plymouth fans especially who Brighton fans helped save their club last season - A unity between fans that cannot be bought.
It's the fans that make football what it is. Maybe sometimes I think clubs and footballing governing bodies forget that. Their pursuit of financial profits kills the special spirit which the fans bring to the "beautiful game." That is starting to happen at The Albion, but in the need of success, is that what is needed?
Anyway, I hope everyone a prosperous new year and hope you all had a great Christmas. Here's to a great 2013, starting with 3 points at Ipswich on New Years Day!
Finally thank you to all the Brighton fans who appeared in my Christmas Video, it was a laugh to make and if you haven't seen it yet, enjoy!