We set off from Piewood Studios in Ascot home of The Football Pie League at about 4.30, around the M25 and down the M23 to Brighton, about an hour and a half. ‘Legend’ constantly on the phone didn’t help but we got to Brighton train station and bought our tickets to Falmer.
Parking at the Amex is very limited so you have to travel by train. Falmer is a sleepy village outpost just 10 minutes away by train from Brighton city centre, on arrival you disembark from the train and initially wonder where you are and where the ground might be. Cross over the bridge and WOW, the stadium raises itself out from the ground a mass of steel and stone and just grabs your attention. Modern architecture meets you and promises something special.
Elliott Moore, General Manager of Catering at Brighton meets us and gives us a tour. We start in the concourse area where most fans congregate pre match to enjoy the food and drink on offer. What is immediately apparent is 95% of the fans all have a blue cardboard box in hand. Inside is a Brighton Pie. The fans not only rant and rave about them on The Football Pie League Facebook page they also consume them with religious fervour. We are offered a pie and a pint and despite being parched and starving with the corporate hospitality facilities yet to be witnessed we defer until the job is done.
Like everything at the Amex the corporate facilities are flawless, everyone seems to be engrossed in the experience and we sail in and out without disrupting anyone, they are all simply having a great time.
We go back to the concourse and order our pies, one Chicken and Ham and one Steak and ale. They arrive with a Harveys bitter and a Fosters.
The Football Pie League is all about identifying the most popular pie in football which is a direct reflection of fans voting and not necessarily always the best tasting pie, no apologies as…it’s the fans that make the difference in this league. It is clear however that the Brighton pies are good pies and we will judge them as such. There is no doubt about it they are a cut above the normal pie offering at many football stadia. The pastry and crust are delicious and the fillings are generous. Pre match the pies were not quite hot enough and at half time when we reversed our order they had been in the oven a bit longer than ideal and were a tad dry. We are being critical as the bar had been raised but as far as being judged as a football pie 9/10.
The game itself was enjoyable as Brighton played some lovely pass and move football, Derby played well to but the 2-0 score line was deserved by Brighton.
All in all a very enjoyable night out and we hope to go back soon.
Last but not least the Pie Marketing…a two page feature in the match day programme, an A5 flyer with every pie sold encouraging fans to vote, the same message on every match day receipt (clever and first time we have seen it), screen advertising on the plasmas all around the concourse and hospitality areas. The ‘Pièce de résistance’ however had to be the jumbo screens at each end of the stadium at half time running the same ad as the plasma screens, amazing.
Thanks Brighton a football experience that many clubs could take a lot of learning from
The Football Pie League