Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup in the Nineties part 2

Brighton on TVBrighton’s exploits in the FA Cup during the nineties provide a decent insight into the rollercoaster experience of being a Seagulls supporter during the most troubling of decades for the club. As Brighton dropped down the three Divisions of the Football League, the FA Cup represented the club’s best chance of gaining television exposure for the match action. Off the field matters attracted the most coverage unfortunately. Appearances in the high court were more frequent than appearances in the latter stages of the Cup. Whilst Cup ties in the 1990s saw the Albion excite in matches against top flight giants Liverpool and Manchester United as well as thrash local side Crawley, some of the lowest lows on the pitch also happened. Non-League Sudbury Town and Kingstonian provided huge shocks whilst Canvey Island forced a replay. If ever you needed illustrating just how desperate things had gotten, this whirlwind look back should provide some insight. This is the second part, the first is available HERE.


 

1994/95 Round One goals

Match of the Day, BBC One (12th November 1994); Kingstonian 2-1 Brighton 

94R1 Kin intro 94R1 Kin opener

In November 1994 Brighton were sat in the bottom half of the Division Two table, a continuation of the fourteenth place finish the previous campaign. That season saw them crash out of the FA Cup at Bournemouth, losing in the 1st Round for the first time since 1976. Keen to avoid a repeat, this season’s draw took the club to non-League Kingstonian; a team full of part-timers with proper day jobs. One of the many FA Cup cliches is to mention the minnow player’s craft, especially if they score or cause an upset. So Brighton’s poor performance at Kingsmeadow gave BBC Match of the Day reporter Gerald Sinstadt plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast. “Glazier, carpet fitter, financial consultant and so on, currently in the lower half of the Diadora Premier Division”, his report began. That’s the Isthmian League if you don’t recall the sponsorship, one below the Conference South. The Albion got off to the worst possible start when, after just ninety-three seconds, Kingstonian took the lead. Jamie Ndah opened the scoring with a terrific overhead kick eight yards out (above right) after the away side failed to clear their lines. He was the brother of Crystal Palace striker George Ndah whilst other brother Micky was also on the field today in defence. And half an hour later it was Micky Ndah who was involved in the next goal, the Seagulls equaliser. Ndah’s attempt to clear danger scooped the ball high in the air. Junior McDougald outjumped his marker to nod across the box to Robert Codner (below left), who stooped to conquer from six yards out. The ‘keeper got a touch on the header but the power beat him, as his fingertips only pushed it into the corner. One-one. That’s how it stayed until the final ten minutes. An almighty goalmouth scramble ensued from a corner, in one of the most mid-nineties football clips you will see. The kick was flicked on at the near post, then flicked up in the air by the attacker, Nicky Rust in the Albion goal came to punch away but just punched up. It was eventually headed down to the ground and waiting to pounce was that man again; Jamie Ndah. He was first to the loose ball to poke home just a couple of yards out to send Kingstonian through to the 2nd Round of the FA Cup for the first time in their ninety-nine-year history. The reward was a tie with Aylesbury, where they went on to lose four-one. For Brighton and manager Liam Brady, simply an embarrassing day to forget.

94R1 Kin equaliser 94R1 Kin scoreline


1995/96 Round One report

FA Cup Special, Sky Sports (12th November 1995); Canvey Island 2-2 Brighton 

Fulham FACup Gavin 95R1 Can Keeley 95R1 Can Cramped dressing room Fulham FACup Ryan

The FA Cup had a title sponsor for the first time ever from this season, as Littlewoods joined forces. After Sky Sports Live 1st Round broadcast of the game between York and Notts County this Sunday afternoon, they showed a seven-minute report on the day’s other Cup match; Canvey Island against Brighton. Reporter George Gavin was dispatched to deepest Essex to take in the atmosphere. His report began on the coast ahead of “the biggest match in Canvey Island’s history”. Gavin told of how, in 1953, the Thames river burst its banks and flooded the area engulfing Canvey’s football club records. Like with Kingstonian last season, Brighton had a tricky trip to a non-League outfit to kick off their Cup exploits. This was the first time Island had reached this stage of the competition and had never played a Football League side ever. We saw shots of the various preparations for the match, with the kit men in the dressing room, the local fire brigade and police making their inspections and the teams arriving in by coach. Park Lane was used to attendances of around 400, this match saw them squeezing in around 4,000 fans. One link between Canvey and Brighton was goalkeeper John Keeley, who George Gavin spoke to ahead of the kick off. Keeley was at the Albion for four years in the late 1980s, making over 140 appearances but was now on the books of Canvey Island. He was still on good terms with his former club; “I’ve still got lots of friends down there, like half my house is full out with them! I did alright down there, I enjoyed my time.” When the Seagulls arrived, the surroundings were not quite what they were used to. The dressing room was packed to the rafters (above, bottom-left) which forced manager Liam Brady into limiting access to only those key men; “the lads who are not playing can you get out! Make a bit of room.” Assistant Gerry Ryan chatted on the pitch, undaunted by the prospect; “Cup runs start at places like this, you know. Played at plenty of places like this in my career starting out.” He stressed the importance of having the right attitude or risk getting turned over. From the Canvey perspective, manager Jeff King and their supporters were in hopeful mood. One woman personified the Essex girl stereotype by saying; “I must watch my white stilettos don’t get stuck in the mud though when I get on the pitch and do me streak!”

95R1 Can McDougald goal 95R1 Can McDougald 2nd 95R1 Can Equaliser 95R1 Can Brady

Onto the match action and if Brighton were worried about another shock upset, they didn’t show it early on by taking the lead after sixteen minutes. Dean Wilkins floated in a free kick from the left, met by the head of ex-Tottenham youth Junior McDougald (above, top-left) to go one-up, flying past the goalkeeper’s full-stretch dive. The lead didn’t last though with an equaliser coming in the thirty-third minute in similar circumstances. The cross from the right was finished by a terrific guided header by Steve Porter, with our reporter pointing out he’s a teacher during the week. They celebrated as if school was out for the summer. Their joy was also short-lived when Brighton regained the lead five minutes on. A long punt upfield from Nicky Rust sailed over the head of everybody and suddenly McDougald was in behind the defence. As a defender rushed back to block, the Albion man was able to get his strike off just in time (above, top-right) to finish into the bottom corner of the goal, losing a boot in the process. Two-one the score at half time. A chance for Brighton’s and McDougald’s third was presented by Peter Smith in the second half but the ball seemed to get stuck under his feet, preventing a clean strike as it dragged wide. And the miss would be rued as another equaliser came with nine minutes left. A long throw in was flicked on to Alan Brett waiting in the centre. His header six yards out (above, bottom-left) beat Rust to cue wild celebrations from the bumper crowd. They went close to a winner even later on, with the defence having to dig deep and scramble away. But the Cup upset was avoided, just, and the sides would meet at the Goldstone for the replay a week on Tuesday. Liam Brady said afterwards “This kind of pitch and the environment you come to is a leveller, it evens things out, but the players battled. I felt we were in control for long periods of the game and probably missed a chance to kill the game off early in the second half.”

 

Round One Replay goals

Meridian Tonight, ITV (22nd November 1995); Brighton 4-1 Canvey Island

96R1R Can Steggall 96R1R Can Acknowledgement

It was all change at the Albion since the last meeting with Canvey Island just over a week earlier. On Monday 20th November, following a three-nil home defeat to Walsall at the weekend, manager Liam Brady resigned. The following night the replay at the Goldstone was due to take place. On the day, the board acted quickly to draft in reserve coach Jimmy Case as first team manager and he took charge of the Cup match almost as soon as he agreed terms. Local evening news programme in the South, Meridian Tonight, reported on the match the following evening. Sports presenter Andy Steggall introduced the report, which showed the goals courtesy of FA Cup rights holder BBC, as well as a couple of interviews. Behind the scenes there were all sorts of issues relating to the ownership, with talks of planning a new stadium on the horizon and selling the Goldstone whilst debts continued to build up. Indeed, money that was loaned to the club by president Greg Stanley was now reported to be charged at an interest, further adding to the money owed whilst lining his own pockets. A visit from the FA also came at this busy time, seeking assurances of finances. On the pitch though, for tonight at least, things were looking up as Jimmy Case made a winning start to his managerial reign. Meridian’s Geoff Clark reported.

96R1R Can Byrne goal 96R1R Can Smith goal

John Byrne gave Brighton the lead with a powerful header down from a cross on the stroke of half time. The lead was doubled two minutes after the break by Junior McDougald, adding to the two he got in the original game, with a well taken half-volley into the top corner. John Byrne added another (above left) to make the game safe with just over twenty minutes remaining, slotting home past the ‘keeper. Canvey got one back five minutes later through Glenn Pennyfather before a fourth was scored by Peter Smith (above right). Smith made the goal all by himself when his initial through ball was blocked by a defender, he picked up the loose ball to continue his charge through as the back line opened up. Just entering the penalty area, he lifted his shot up over the onrushing goalie to put the cherry on top of the cake. Four-one the final scoreline. Jimmy Case downplayed his role in the win, paying tribute to the former boss; “Sometimes you get a reaction from whatever’s gone on. But I think Liam built the team as it stands.” George Parris, signed permanently in September 1995 after a loan spell from Birmingham the season before, said perhaps they did “put in a little bit more effort” for this new boss as “you wanna try and impress them and I think it showed again tonight.” Onto Round Two where a trip to Fulham awaited. That also went to a replay at the Goldstone, which was selected for Live television coverage by Sky Sports; that report is available via this link. The good form did not last though and by the end of the season, Brighton were relegated to Division Three for their first spell in the fourth tier since 1965.

96R1R Can Case aston 96R1R Can Parris


1996/97 Round One round-up

Match of the Day, BBC One (16th November 1996); Sudbury Town 0-0 Brighton 

96R1 Sud Intro 96R1 Sud Minton crossbar

Another season, and another First Round trip to non-League opposition. This time it was to Sudbury Town of the Doc Martens League; the sixth step of the English football pyramid, one below the Conference. Even though Brighton were now just two steps above and struggling at the foot of Division Three, anything other than a resounding victory would be seen as a humiliation. Cue classic mid-90s Brighton then as the first tie ended goalless. Sharing billing with the Premiership, a new look BBC Match of the Day squeezed in thirty seconds to round up this match, voiced once again by Gerald Sinstadt. Jeff Minton went closest for the stripes, smacking the crossbar with a fizzing left foot drive on the edge of the box. The ‘keeper Steve Mokler at full stretch could get nowhere near it. This was Sudbury’s debut in the First Round proper of the competition and they nearly went one better but for a disallowed goal. A high cross took an age to come down to Earth, at which point Nicky Rust in the Brighton goal went up to claim it. He was challenged by the Sudbury forward Ian Brown leaping at the same time (below left). It appeared as Rust was landing, the ball bounced off the striker and to the floor where he stuck a foot out to nudge it towards Christian McClean who volleyed it into the roof of the net. However, the referee ruled it out for Brown’s foul on Rust and the scoreline stayed nil-nil. So another replay was enforced, and this too went the distance, finishing one-all and needing a penalty shoot-out to decide the victor. The non-Leaguers prevailed winning four-three on penalties to send Albion to its lowest point on the pitch. The season continued with misery upon misery, stranded at the bottom of the entire Football League. Boss Jimmy Case departed in the weeks after, with former Charlton player-manager taking his place in December with the club eleven points adrift. He managed to work an absolute miracle in the League to pull off the greatest of great escapes during the utter mayhem going on around the club. This was without doubt the worst season in Brighton history; typified by this Cup exit, exacerbated by the sale of the Goldstone Ground without anywhere to move into by the shambolic ownership, the prospect of playing home games all the way up in Gillingham from the following season, it was Gritt by name and grit by nature. The final day relegation shoot-out draw at Hereford sent them down and kept Albion up on just goals scored. If you can bear it, further information and snippets from the 1996/97 season can be found in a separate report via this link. Sudbury meanwhile were knocked out in Round Two by Brentford.

96R1 Sud Foul 96R1 Sud Scoreline


1997/98 Round One highlights

Match of the Day, BBC One (15th November 1997); Hereford 2-1 Brighton 

97R1 Her Titles 97R1 Her Lineker

Hereford were also able to get a very small slice of revenge on Brighton just six months after their relegation to the Conference on the final day when the sides were drawn together in the First Round of the FA Cup. Extended highlights were shown on BBC Match of the Day presented by Gary Lineker with Jimmy Hill and Mark Lawrenson. This was a week when the Premiership took a back seat for the international break, so the FA Cup was afforded its own hour long MotD programme, as second choice Lineker gave Des Lynam the week off. The lead match was Hull against Hednesford Town with commentary by Tony Gubba, and our trip to Hereford was the other feature. In his third season on the show Jon Champion commentated at Edgar Street, having transferred over from Radio Five Live during the 1995/96 campaign.

97R1 Her Hereford 97R1 Her Brighton 97R1 Her Referee 97R1 Her Gritt

Brighton boss Steve Gritt named seven of the starting eleven that saved the club’s League status in this fixture in May; Nicky Rust among those that didn’t feature last time. Rust was in for regular ‘keeper Mark Ormerod, who was out with a twisted ankle. It was Craig Maskell’s shot which was pushed onto the post for Robbie Reinelt to react quickest and net the equaliser in May. Gary Hobson skippered the side. Kerry Mayo was the unfortunate man who turned into his own net to give Hereford the lead in the previous meeting. Left back Stuart Tuck was a product of the Albion youth academy, joining as a YTS in 1991. Scottish winger Paul McDonald was signed for £25,000 last year. Number nine Stuart Storer scored the final goal at the Goldstone in the victory over Doncaster which allowed Brighton to go to Hereford and get that draw. Five of Albion’s squad were on the transfer list, simply in a bid to bring in some much-needed cash. The home side, still managed by Graham Turner despite him handing in his resignation following demotion to the Conference, had just three survivors from that fateful day here; Andy de Bont in goal and Rob Warner and Brian McGorry in the middle. Taking charge of the encounter was referee Gerald Ashby.

97R1 Her Crossbar 97R1 Her Penalty 97R1 Her Missed penalty 97R1 Her Opening goal

Brighton wore their change kit of all red for this First Round Cup tie. A chance came their way thanks to the running of John Westcott down the right flank. He was put through by an excellent reverse pass by Storer. Westcott dribbled into the box, slowed down momentarily by the challenge of Fishlock, before laying it off to Maskell. His effort was weak and just chipped up into de Bont’s grasp. The home side almost took the lead when Cook’s header looped up over Rust but crashed against the crossbar (below, top left) and back down into the grateful ‘keeper’s arms. Into the second half, Brighton were awarded a penalty when Walker’s lunge took the legs of Maskell away (above, top right). Paul McDonald stepped up with his left foot but de Bont guessed correctly to parry it away to his right with an excellent full-stretch save (above, bottom left), maintaining the deadlock. But it didn’t last for long as Hereford took the lead after fifty-six. Top scorer Neil Grayson added to his tally with a smart finish. Fishlock’s cross from the left found Pitman who cleverly backheeled the ball on. Grayson gathered and, sensing Rust sliding out to claim, sidestepped him to slot into the empty net.

97R1 Her Storer equaliser 97R1 Her Level score 97R1 Her Another penalty 97R1 Her Winning goal

Paul McDonald’s corner wasn’t claimed by de Bont, the ball falling through his fingertips, which presented an equalising opportunity for Stuart Storer. From a tight angle and with bodies on the line and in front of him, Storer angled his shot to net superbly past the lot of them (above, top left). “From despair to delight. And the lead lasted barely four minutes”, called commentator Champion. Hereford weren’t despondent though and almost regained the lead through substitute James McCue. Ian Foster charged down the left and crossed into the middle, McCue almost ran past the ball and had to hang his leg back which scooped the ball up and high over the bar from seven yards. The pressure applied from Gary Hobson was enough to put him off. He had another effort moments after with his left just outside the box, this shot also going just too high but was getting closer. Then the referee gave another penalty, this time to Hereford. Peter Smith battled with Ian Foster, with the Albion defender judged to have pulled Foster back as the tangle continued into the area (above, bottom left). Paul Grayson, scorer of the first, got his second of the match as he blasted the penalty kick emphatically down the middle (above, bottom right). Rust had no chance due to the sheer power and Hereford led by two goals to one with just over a quarter of an hour to go. And that’s how it stayed, with the non-League side knocking out the Third Division (just about!) Seagulls. In the studio, pundit Jimmy Hill (below, bottom right) said “You feel for both those sides in a way… For Brighton, with all their problems as well. They put on a fine Cup tie.” He praised Hereford’s style, playing the better, more attractive football. Their reward was a Second Round trip to Colchester, where they triumphed on a penalty shoot-out in the replay to make Round Three. That’s where their Cup run came to an end, with a three-nil defeat by Tranmere. In the League they finished sixth in the Conference, whilst Brighton once again finished 91st out of the 92 League teams. Thankfully it didn’t go down to the wire this time, finishing fifteen points better off than relegated Doncaster. But Steve Gritt paid the price for more dismal form, with former player Brian Horton coming in to replace him in February 1998 and kept them up in April.

97R1 Her Final Score 97R1 Her Studio 97R1 Her Hill


The decade ended with defeats in the early stages of the competition as first Leyton Orient knocked the Albion out four-two in 1998. Then in 1999 draws in both the First and Second rounds ensured four FA Cup matches were played in the season, more than the previous three seasons combined. After seeing off Peterborough in the First Round Replay, Plymouth knocked us out in the Second after a rematch on our own patch. As the 1990s went on, the Cup increasingly became less important to Brighton as the main objective was the League. With the Goldstone Ground sold off in 1997, home matches were played in Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium for two seasons, making home Cup ties even less appealing for the Albion faithful. By the time the club came home to Sussex, playing at Withdean Stadium from 1999, the form dramatically improved on the pitch and the Cups became a vital source of income as the fight for a permanent home took its toll on the budget. The story of further Cup exposure, drawn away from the Withdean to Premier League teams in the 2000s, is detailed in a separate post available HERE.

The first part of this two part 1990s FA Cup televisual rewind is available to view HERE.

 

 

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

3 Responses to Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup in the Nineties part 2

  1. Pingback: Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup in the Nineties part 1 | Mark O'MEARA

  2. Pingback: Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2 | Mark O'MEARA

  3. Pingback: The return to Hereford – The Tweeting Seagull

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: