Another sporting ground crisis

With all the problems that Brighton and Hove Albion have had in securing a decent home for their team and fans in recent years, you’d think that the authorities in Brighton would have learned that they need to give more support to their local sports teams.

But it seems that that is not the case. Sussex County Cricket Club, a championship-winning team that is very active in the community, is having problems seeking permission to redevelop its Hove ground. Only the circumstances this time are slightly different. In the case of the football team, an asset-stripping owner and management sold off the family silver and nearly consigned the club to oblivion, leaving them desperate to obtain consent for a new out-of-town venue. In the case of the cricket club, the management are clearly keen to stay at their historic home in the centre of Hove, convenient for locals and public transport and an important part of the community. And yet the council seems reluctant to support them in this.

Ultimately, I think it quite possible that the cricket club will leave Hove. There has been talk of them moving to Crawley, which would certainly put them closer to visiting fans from Surrey, north Kent and Middlesex, whilst still being handy for trains from Brighton and Hove. Sale of the site in Hove would raise an enormous sum (and lead to not just redevelopment of part of the ground, but the entire ground). A new stadium in Crawley would be good for the club, but there would be one big loser – the city of Brighton and Hove.

It is time for the authorities to realise this and support their local sport teams.

Ode to Joy

The EU is fifty years old today. The BBC has some good coverage of the celebrations and the history.

Dick Knight irked by Rafa Benitez

Not interested in football? Look away now.

Dick Knight furious over Benitez comments about reserve football. Brighton has long had a strong reserve team that has been an important proving ground for new players and a good place for seasoned players to gain experience or get match time when, for example, returning from injury. Brighton also has strong youth teams too and uses the entire structure to develop new talent, which is useful when the purse for buying-in talent is small (both in terms of saving money by "growing your own" and by earning money by selling players on). Maybe Rafa needs to come and spend some time with some of the smaller clubs and see what real-world sport is about, and perhaps remember Liverpool’s history of transferring talented players developed by lower teams (think Mark Lawrenson).

Spelt flour pizza

Hels has been trying to cut down, or even cut out, wheat consumption as it seems to have a funny effect on her.

However, we love bread and pizza and other wheaty things, so we have been casting around for a suitable substitute. I have to say that most wheat-free products are pretty awful. Exceptions that we have discovered include Waitrose German rye bread and Dr Karg’s spelt crackers – wheat-free they may be, but they are also tasty.

One piece of kitchen equipment which hasn’t been used so much lately is our lovely bread maker. Hels recently purchased a pack of wholemeal spelt flour and set me the task of making wheat-free pizzas. I searched numerous internet recipe databases (the bread maker recipe book offers no guidance on this) and eventually found a recipe which I modified as follows:

  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 4 cups spelt flour
  • 9 and one third fl oz water
  • two thirds tsp salt
  • two thirds tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1½ fl oz olive oil

Put the ingredients in the bread maker in the order suggested by the manufacturer (usually yeast first, then the other dry ingredients and finally the oil and water) and run the pizza dough programme. You could, or course, use a food processor or mix by hand, but I prefer the bread maker as it warms the dough as it goes and therefore accelerates the proving process. It must be said that this makes a heavy dough which was right at the upper limit of what our machine could cope with. Although our machine has a capacity of 600g (and four cups is roughly 450g), I don’t think it would be wise to put that much in for fear of damaging the motor.

The dough that comes out is not pretty and I really thought that it would turn out pretty bad when I looked at it. But once I tipped it out of the tin and got my hands to it, I was pleased to find that it had a lovely stretchy quality and was actually good to handle.

You definitely need to make a fairly thin base with this mixture. I spread it across our large roasting sheet (roughly 30 x 40cm) and then put it in a only-slightly-warm oven for fifteen minutes to prove. After that, and with an all-over pricking with a fork, I blind-baked it for ten minutes or so before topping it and cooking it through. The recipes I found online all suggested blind baking to ensure some crispiness and avoid sogginess.

It turned out pretty well. The base turned out to be quite flavoursome in its own right, so I recommend a good strongly-flavoured topping (we had tomato purée, basil, red pepper, chorizo, mozarella, thinly sliced shallots, grated strong cheddar – but I think it would be great with anchovies, capers, olives). It also seemed to stick to the pan more than our conventional wheat-based recipe, so be sure to thoroughly grease your pan before cooking (I’ll pay more attention to this next time so that Hels doesn’t need a hammer and chisel when washing up).

The next challenge is to find a spelt bread recipe that works. Watch this space.


If, when using WordPress, you get error messages that look like this:

WordPress database error: [Can’t open file: ‘wp_comments.MYI’ (errno: 145)]

…then your database has become corrupted. Don’t panic. Either contact your hosting provider or go to PHPMyAdmin and repair it yourself.

I learnt this today.