Johnny Cantor: Emotion was literally bursting through the ribs of the players and the fans

Albion players congratulate Solly March after his goal against Wigan on Monday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Albion players congratulate Solly March after his goal against Wigan on Monday. Picture by Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

I’m not a religious man. That may sound bad but I have never really been to church, the Synagogue or the Mosque.

That doesn’t mean I don’t try to live my life in a certain way with fundamentally Christian values. I certainly try to pass them on to my children. Although I am not an expert on the religious calendar, I am reminded that Easter Sunday is meant to be the holiest of days.

The story of Easter has many aspects but I guess ultimately it is about the resurrection, rising again.

It occurred to me as I finally drove away from the Amex after the chaos and ecstasy of Albion’s promotion that it was appropriate that after the struggles and, in some ways the persecution, that the Seagulls finally rose to the Premier League.

Readers of this column will probably know the story of the club’s struggles but emotion was literally bursting through the ribs of the players and the fans on Monday, and understandably so.

Hereford, The Goldstone, Fans United, Archer, Priestfield, Withdean, the Amex, Shoreham... It is all there. Emotion. The joy, and pain, of sport is that it can deliver again and again.

This story however, transcends sport. It’s about pain, despair, unity, power and money. It’s also about people. Generations.

We spoke to an 80 year old fan and an eight-year-old supporter. Together they felt the delight as the dream became a reality.

Of course it is the culmination of the endeavour of so many people, many of whom are no longer with us. In some way, they too rose again this week. Throughout the day there were touches, memories, flags, photos, banners reminding us of those who made a difference. Of course the day was all about celebration but also the signal for a new era.

The game was in some way irrelevant but the result was key. However, in some way there was significance in how it happened.

The Seagulls will no doubt improve their squad next season and some players may come from abroad but it was a Sussex lad, Solly March, from Hailsham, who delivered the promotion with the second goal for Chris Hughton’s side.

A quiet, unassuming person but a hugely talented player walked across the pitch after the final whistle pretty much unnoticed by the throng.

I have always found him humble, kind and courteous. All good values, whatever your religion.

He developed through the Sussex non-league playing for Lewes. He has gone from non-league to the Premier League. What a story.

Wherever you look there is another story, another thread. Everyone has played their part from the chairman and the manager to the players and the fans, and so many more.

I wish them all well. They have come so far and are now looking up to the sky.

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