Too often football is a source of bitterness and regret. Whether it’s Arsenal performing well below expectations, Sunderland spending year after year barely escaping relegation (and likely not pulling it off this season), key players getting injured, key players demanding transfers… I could go on. It can be easy to forget that football can be a site of unrestrained joy.
Following yesterday’s 2-1 home win over Wigan Athletic, Brighton & Hove Albion were all but confirmed a place in the Premier League next season. Less than twenty years after the Seagulls were withering in England fourth division, they’ve made the long and difficult climb back up the pyramid. But they’ve never quite managed to reach the peak, and the dream of Premier League money and prestige always lurked just a bit out of reach.
But after dominating the Championship this season, Albion went into their home clash with Wigan knowing a win would basically clinch promotion. They secured the win and all but nailed down promotion, and the draw between Derby County and Huddersfield Town would confirm it.
Naturally, the fans went absolutely bonkers. Practically the entire stadium emptied out onto the pitch, with fans hugging each other and lifting players up into the air and being led in song by the squad. Like Bournemouth fans two years ago, Albion supporters were awash in the kind of glee that only a hard-won promotion like this can induce.
These kind of days happen in football, and they’re wonderful. If only this kind of joy were more common.