Jay, my character in The Inbetweeners, is a glory-hunter. In the upcoming film you’ll find out that he’s quite a big Manchester United fan, and that his room is full of the club’s merchandise. As a Crystal Palace fan, I’m the exact opposite — we rarely have any glory.
Off-set, there was very little football banter, due to Simon Bird [The Inbetweeners’ Will] also being
a Palace fan and Blake Harrison [Neil] supporting Millwall, who are doing better than us.
I’d always thought that Millwall and Charlton were Palace’s main rivals, being so close to our ground. That was until I was 13 and found out that we had a rivalry with a team that are based nowhere near us… Brighton.
Although I didn’t get a convincing answer from my dad at the time, I later learned that they were our bitter rivals due to the teams being two of the biggest in their division for a period in the late Seventies.
We hadn’t played Brighton in 13 years before meeting them in the First Division in 2002. And despite the fact that south London and Brighton are quite far away from each other, everyone referred to it as a derby in the build-up to the game.
At the time, Brighton had some good players, Bobby Zamora especially. But our squad was quicker, more skilful. Our rock at the back, Tony Popovic, was solid and our wingers, Julian Gray and Wayne Routledge, were quick.
From the off, Gray was running down the wing and forcing corners. In the third minute, one got bundled into the net from close range, and another was met with a great diving header half an hour later to double the lead. Andy Johnson [above left] got them both.
I always knew that Johnson was good enough to make it in the Premier League, and even at international level. But every time he played, I’d have to defend him from people who said he was a diver. I never, ever thought he was a diver. That said, he did win two penalties in the game against Brighton. But, as usual, he was just too quick for clumsy First Division defenders.
One of the penalties was put away by our now-manager Dougie Freedman, and Johnson used the other to seal his hat-trick. Gray rounded off the 5-0 win near the end with a nice finish, but by that time Brighton had given up.
Things are looking good for them, though. They’ve got a new stadium and will be playing in the Championship next season. It’d be nice to start playing them again regularly to kick-start the rivalry.
Everywhere And Nowhere is at cinemas nationwide from 6 May