#8: Brighton 2-1 Rushden & Diamonds 08/12/2001

#8 BRIGHTON 2-1 RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS FA Cup Round Two
Saturday 8th December 2001 Sky 1999

FACup2000 Titles

PRESENTER Rob Wotton GUEST John Byrne
COMMENTATORS Rob Hawthorne & Chris Kamara
12pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium      11.55am-2pm FA Cup Live on Sky Sports 2

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Context of the Match: This was Sky Sports first visit to Withdean Stadium, the ground having housed Brighton for nearly two and a half seasons by this point. The Albion won the Third Division title the previous season and had started this one in fine form. They were one of the highest placed teams going into this FA Cup 2nd Round tie. Rushden & Diamonds had a similar story, albeit in the league below, as they had achieved promotion from the Conference up to Division Three last year and were going well again this season just outside the play-off places. They were also no strangers to FA Cup surprises having held Premiership Leeds United to a goalless draw two years earlier, and narrowly losing to Division One Sheffield United on penalties in a 3rd Round replay last season, both whilst competing in non-League. With Sky no longer holding broadcast rights to the Football League, this match was to be the only opportunity they got to see two of the lower league’s in-form teams in 2001/2002. The Live TV opportunity was again utilised by fans, this time to voice their support for the proposed new stadium site in Falmer; “Stand up if you want Falmer” ringing round during the match. It was to be the start of another long, arduous battle. To reach this stage of the competition Brighton knocked out Shrewsbury 1-0 in the First Round at Withdean, whilst Rushden & Diamonds won away at Worcester City by the same scoreline. A place in the Third Round awaited.

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The Teams: Brighton striker Bobby Zamora was grabbing all the headlines for his incredible goals tally; scoring in eight consecutive games. If he were to score for a ninth game today he would set a new club record. Commentator Rob Hawthorne’s team news were pun-laden focussing on it “reading like a Radio 2 playlist” with Rogers and Hart, Richard Carpenter and Nathan Jones all starting. Jones had enjoyed notoriety for his stepover trickery on Sky’s Saturday morning magazine show Soccer AM during the previous couple of seasons, showboating the ‘Rhondda two-step’ complete with mickey-taking Welsh voiceover in a mock Soccer School. Manager Peter Taylor had only been in the job a matter of weeks, after title-winning boss Micky Adams left in October to become Dave Bassett’s assistant at Premiership Leicester replacing, of course, the incoming Albion boss who was sacked after a poor start to the season at Filbert Street. Taylor had enjoyed a good start to his reign here, unbeaten in the League and only lost once; the midweek before today in the LDV Vans Trophy. He inherited a good squad, largely unchanged from last year’s success, with Simon Morgan brought in at the back to shore up the defence alongside club captain, and one of my childhood heroes, Danny Cullip. For Rushden & Diamonds, they lined up 4-4-2 with two players who featured at the last World Cup in France in 1998; Onandi Lowe up front for Jamaica, and Paul Hall in midfield. Northern Irish central defender Barry Hunter was a vastly experienced rock that Zamora, Hart and Brooker needed to negotiate past if the Seagulls were to progress. Rushden wore their yellow away kit and taking charge was ref Steve Bennett.

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Presentation Team: The match was part of an FA Cup double on Round Two Saturday Live on Sky Sports, with Exeter v Dagenham & Redbridge at 5.30pm, and therefore was hosted from their studios in Isleworth. As mentioned above, Sky had lost Live Football League rights from this season (initially for three years but it turned out to only be one) to ITV Digital. Therefore the team that had covered the 72 outside the top flight had all been moved on to other roles; Marcus Buckland began hosting Sky’s pay-per-view football on Premiership Plus where Brian Marwood was the co-commentator forming a long partnership with Alan Parry, Rob Hawthorne was promoted up to Monday Night Football alongside Alan Smith, Alan Brazil left Sky to join Talksport in 2000 and reporter Alan Bentley changed direction completely to form a production company specialising in betting. Without a regular lower division team Sky called upon whoever they could for these early round matches. That opened up the opportunity for Rob Wotton to host, more familiar on Sky Sports News and (for this season only) Live German Bundesliga coverage. His pundit was former Brighton striker John Byrne, a regular contributor to local radio in Sussex watching the majority of Albion’s games. He was part of the Brighton side that struggled in the mid-nineties, and had the distinction of scoring in every round of the FA Cup for Sunderland except the final in 1992. A few weeks before this match, at the age of 40, he had turned out a couple of times for local side Whitehawk under former Albion teammate Ian Chapman. In the commentary box were Rob Hawthorne and Chris Kamara, survivors of the Football League Live years. Kamara began reporting for Sky’s Football League Review show in the 1998/99 season before moving to the studio and commentary box in the subsequent years. From 2000 Kamara was also co-presenter of Goals on Sunday next to Rob McCaffrey, where he would stay in the chair for the majority of his broadcasting career. Kamara was also a Soccer Saturday regular, and the first reporter to get his own in-vision camera (dubbed Kamara Cam) on location, laying the foundations for his excitable ‘unbelievable Jeff’ catchphrase. Kammy was a mainstay of Sky’s early round FA Cup coverage for years to come.

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The Coverage: With the game being a midday kick-off, coverage began on Sky Sports 2 just five minutes earlier. This meant an extremely brief pre-match chat in the studio between Wotton and Byrne, where they were excited to see Bobby Zamora play, before handing over to Kamara and Hawthorne at Withdean to see the teams emerge onto the field. The title sequence for every season before and after this match for Sky’s FA Cup coverage was basically the same and used a version of Jerusalem as the theme tune. Tweaks were made to the pictures as they got updated over time with more modern goals. Sky had a new set of graphics for this season, ones which set their stall out for years to come as they got more and more modern and animated. This set marked the first real steps away from the simple fade in and fade out they had throughout the 90s. In their Premiership coverage, with these graphics the red and blue curves either side of the aston would fly in from the edge of the screen however a more simplistic fade actually appeared for this match. When the commentators names were revealed this was done by flipping over. The scoreboard would still disappear when a goal is scored however, and the replay graphic (pictured at the bottom) had been similar in principle for a couple of seasons now; flash up an image of the competition trophy over a colourful background.

For all the shiny graphics, the basics were letting Sky down during this broadcast. An early indication of this came just three minutes in when the picture faded to black and sound was lost for a couple of seconds. This was restored in time for Bobby Zamora to get the opening goal in the sixth minute however the celebrations may have dislodged some cabling somewhere as first sound, then pictures were lost in the eighth minute. Sky cut back to Wotton and Byrne in the studio to fill until normal service was resumed, meaning we lost about a minute early on, instead seeing a replay and Byrne’s analysis of the goal as Sky engineers scrambled frantically to restore the pictures. They went again just a few seconds later, and intermittently for only a few seconds at a time throughout the following few minutes. It was all hugely frustrating. An on-screen caption was put up for the first time in the fifteenth minute apologising for the ‘technical difficulties’. These had calmed down somewhat by the 20th minute or so but still sound dips crept in for the remainder of the half. Commentary went again with five minutes to go before half time, with Wotton and Byrne having to voice pictures for 30 seconds or so. Half time analysis provided respite from the technical issues, with another few chances to review the record-breaking Zamora goal. The issues did not continue into the second half thankfully and we could enjoy the sort of broadcast we had expected as the nerves began to creep in. The programme was scheduled to come off-air not long after the final whistle so there was no time for any interviews or reaction, so the reporter that day remains a mystery. It was most likely to have been Bryn Law who reported on women’s football and youth matches. It was Sky’s first visit to Withdean and Brighton’s first Live match of the 21st century, however the coverage and engineering was probably worse than Brighton’s first Live FA Cup home tie back in 1984. Sky needed to up their game as they would end up being frequent visitors to this ‘temporary’ home over the coming decade.

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Story of the Match: Both teams started the match brightly for an early kick-off but it was Brighton who would get the breakthrough goal after just five minutes with the first attack. It had to be Bobby Zamora, who broke the club’s all-time record for scoring in consecutive games – his ninth in nine. The ball was crossed into the area towards Zamora by Nathan Jones down the left-wing, goalkeeper Billy Turley went up to claim it but didn’t claim cleanly allowing Zamora to get his head onto it. As the loose ball was bouncing up cleared high into the air by the defence, Turley scrambled to get it away under pressure from Gary Hart and it broke for Zamora to just nod the ball home a few yards out for one-nil. Rushden were complaining of a foul from either Zamora initially or Hart on the loose ball, possibly both, but neither referee Steve Bennett nor the commentators and pundits were having it and signalled for the goal, Zamora’s eighteenth of the season. The rest of the first half went by without too many goalmouth chances but both Zamora and Paul Watson had efforts at goal. The second half started just like the first, with Brighton netting after five minutes. A throw-in from the right eventually found its way to centre half Danny Cullip on the edge of the Rushden area, who showed quick feet to turn on to his left foot, leaving the defender for dead, and curl a shot low inside Turley’s right-hand post for an excellent finish any striker would be proud of. It was Cullip’s first goal of the season and what a goal! Less than ten minutes later and Rushden would find themselves with a way back into the match as Cullip gave away a penalty. He was adjudged to have fouled striker Onandi Lowe by holding him across the neck during an aerial tussle. The ref gave it straight away but it seemed a little soft. Michel Kuipers in goal tried his best to delay the spot kick by tieing his shoe laces but Ritchie Hanlon kept his cool to smash the penalty into the bottom left hand corner of the goal for two-one, despite Kuipers getting a hand to it. A nervy last half hour ensued for the home team. Kamara commented shortly after the goal that “the crowd are giving Lowe the bird! But I don’t think he was feigning injury for that one.” A rare acknowledgement of crowd behaviour there! Kammy gave Cullip the man of the match award for his excellent display. Few threats came after that but three minutes into stoppage time Rushden really should have had another penalty after Charlie Oatway threw himself in front of the ball to block a shot which hit his arm, but the penalty wasn’t given. Brighton found themselves for the first time since 1993 in the Third Round, where Taylor’s men would host (and lose to) Division One’s Preston North End. Rushden & Diamonds fine form would continue all the way to the Division Three Play Off Final, which saw them lose out on promotion to Cheltenham. Whilst Brighton would feature in another two Live televised ties this season, starting with Brentford away the following month.

BRIGHTON 2 RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 1
Zamora, Cullip Hanlon

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PREVIOUS; #7 CHESTER 1-1 BRIGHTON 15/01/1999

NEXT; #9 BRENTFORD 4-0 BRIGHTON 24/01/2002

About Mark O'MEARA
I am Mark O'MEARA.

4 Responses to #8: Brighton 2-1 Rushden & Diamonds 08/12/2001

  1. Pingback: #7: Chester 1-1 Brighton 15/01/1999 | Mark O'MEARA

  2. Pingback: #9: Brentford 4-0 Brighton 24/01/2002 | Mark O'MEARA

  3. Pingback: #14: Brighton 2-1 QPR 18/08/2003 | Mark O'MEARA

  4. Pingback: #9: Brentford 4-0 Brighton 24/01/2002 | Mark O'MEARA

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