I will always be grateful to my Dad for sharing with me the deep passion that comes from loving Brighton & Hove Albion. Of course I know Gordon, my father, used to take me along with him to the games, but there was just something magical about the whole experience that attaches me to the team. I hadn’t really appreciated how much my father loved his team until I began reading through a few letters he sent back home to his mother in Brighton during World War 2. It adds a further connection, another link.
In a letter written sometime around the 16th of October 1943, Gordon writes “Have you received my card yet? I expect you have, so you can tell where I am. Yes you have guessed right I am on the boat and well on my way. I have not yet been sea sick (touch wood) but have felt like it many times. I heard the football results on Saturday, and hear Brighton lost 2-1, but England beat Scotland 8-0.” The boat was on its’ way to Italy.
A later letter reads “Would you please ask Ron when he writes to put in the football results as I haven’t heard them since I left. I expect they’ll soon be playing cricket.” Ron was his younger brother, injured earlier and back home with their mother. Ron and Gordon had gone to football games together before the war began.
When he was badly injured in an Italian hospital, one of his letters dated October 4th, 1944 states “I hope Ron is getting along alright, and not having any trouble with his arm. I suppose he saw West Ham beat Brighton on Saturday didn’t he? I should like to see a good game of football again. We have a wireless here, but don’t have it on much.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to picture this 21 year old, just wanting to see a good game of football. I imagine this symbolised ordinary life for him, and once he was home again he was always a regular at The Goldstone Ground.
Here are a couple of photos from his collection. Nothing is written on them, they were from his time in Italy, where it looks like he got involved in an occasional game of football. In the first photograph he is wearing the white shorts.