August 7 2012
Forced to guess what the starting line-ups might look like for the FDM’s testimonial game, most followers of his Albion career might have expected Hart, Butters et al to play cameos on a teamsheet they once joined Kuipers on to such odds-overturning success.
As it was, two near-full strength Albion and Reading sides were far more intent on a straightforward pre-season friendly than paying testimony to a man used to being our number one. I saw Richard Carpenter wandering around the West Stand Lower, but that was about as close as former glories got. Kuipers made one fantastic save before being promptly subbed less than 15 minutes in.
Perhaps this is the way forward for testimonials. The crowd was about the same size as those which regularly watched Kuipers for 12 Withdean years, but more might have come had it been pitched as a match-up with a Premier League team, those who never saw him play unwittingly filling the stadium for his symbolic farewell.
Pragmatism over sentimentality wouldn’t have mattered. There was little of the sense of finality testimonials supposedly indicate, because Kuipers is still around the club, even playing against us for Crawley this Friday. It was the same kind of atmosphere as the Mayo and Hart testimonials – both also relatively poorly attended – but this time there was a proper contest to enjoy.
Albion more than matched Reading. Vicente gave us the lead from a penalty after Noone, who started and played well, had been fouled. We deserved to beat a second top-class team in four days, but Robson-Kanu beat El-Abd to a far-post cross late on.
FDM (Kuszczak 15); Bruno, Greer, Dunk (El-Abd 78), Calde; Dicker, Crofts, Bridcutt, Noone (Sparrow 77); God (Toby 62), Barnes (Vincelot 86)