Small Screen Seagulls; In the Spotlight at Withdean

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sDuring our twelve-season tenancy at Withdean the club was extremely successful. Three League championships were won, with a fourth promotion via the Play Offs. The Albion arrived in the lower half of the lowest League, Division Three, before consolidating, improving and taking the fast track up to Division One. Two relegation seasons in the dozen years saw some of the lower on-field moments, but the club were determined to be in the second tier by the time the new home was in place. The fairytale story was completed with the League One title secured prior to the final match in April 2011. As the success grew, television naturally came calling that little bit more. Here, look back at some of the programmes that showcased the Seagulls players and surroundings on screen whilst at Withdean. The piece begins with a cult Saturday morning football show on Sky in December 2004.

1

SOCCER AM (18th December 2004) Sky Sports 1

SAM Ident SAM Sponsor SAM Titles

To get you in the matchday mood you had Football Focus in the 1970s. Saint and Greavsie dominated the 1980s. Fantasy Football took the mid-1990s by storm. And as the 20th Century drew to a close, a small budget early morning entertainment programme on satellite was beginning to make big waves in the footballing community. Soccer AM began life on Sky Sports in 1995 as a four-hour discussion and phone-in show with Russ Williams and Jane Hoffen at seven in the morning, before Gary Stevens and Helen Chamberlain joined later on. It was a bit bland, a bit straight but it filled up lots of hours of Sky’s schedule when there was little chance of Live sport. When Tim Lovejoy came on board as producer and presenter in 1996 he changed the show beyond recognition and took it to new heights, with the aim being to replicate the excitement and build up that the Cup Finals of the 70s and 80s got on the telly. They built up a small but loyal following over the next couple of seasons on Saturday mornings, inviting viewers into their world of silly costumes, funny sketches, games, goals and star names. Soon everybody was clambering to be on the show, from the likes of Ray Winstone and Chris Evans, through Noel Gallagher to Rio Ferdinand and Paul Gascoigne. It was the place to be and soon became one of Sky’s most talked about shows. By 2004 it was a staple of the football coverage; for three hours each and every Saturday morning forty weeks a year from 9am you would tune into Soccer AM to see Tim and Helen, along with crew members Fenners, Sheephead, Tubes, Rocket, Robbie and co, entertaining you ahead of the big matches over the weekend. The show was sponsored by Yorkie, during the chocolate bar’s “It’s not for girls” campaign. With Brighton’s promotion into the Championship via the 2004 Play Off Final, media exposure was on the rise. On 18th December 2004, having played (and lost to Stoke one-nil) on the Friday night, three of Albion’s finest were invited onto the famous orange sofas to talk all things Brighton. They were striker Leon Knight, winger Nathan Jones and midfielder Charlie Oatway.

SAM Presenters SAM Sofas

With the show being three hours long at this point, the first hour was usually spent looking back at some of the best goals of the week along with funny moments, features and sketches. Particular highlights included Boston Goals, a parody of the unusual phrases American commentators use for football, showed the goals from Boston (in Lincolnshire as opposed to New York!), there was Northern 1970s style comedian Big Stan Hibbert (“I’m here all week!”) telling a classic gag and crew member Sheephead with his Topless Weather, once again pointing out down South there was “light drizzle!” These things sound ridiculous in isolation but once you joined in with the world Soccer AM created in that Isleworth studio, you were hooked and part of the gang. The second hour of the show was all about the guests and there were a whopping 7 (seven!) of them on this episode. As well as the Albion trio, joining later was former Spurs and Chelsea man Jason Cundy and three members of The Charlatans, backed by the noise of the Fans of the Week from Oxford United. When introducing them all at the top of the show, Lovejoy asked Chamberlain, “What’s Charlie Oatway like, Helen?” To which she replied, “He’s brilliant. He’s hard as nails so don’t upset him!” And the final hour, with the guests still present on the sofa, would go up a gear as the big hit features came out. The likes of Third Eyes, Showboat, Crossbar Challenge, Soccerette, Live link-ups to a ground and the locker sketches were amongst the most popular items before the show culminated with the fans kicking footballs through a hole in the end game. We’ll return to that last one later.

SAM Guests SAM Stoke game SAM Trio

Tim Lovejoy introduced the Brighton boys onto the show for their main interview with the line, “Our first guests have got their Christmas party tonight so are getting very excited. Please welcome Brighton’s Leon Knight, Nathan Jones and Charlie Oatway.” After the opening pleasantries they showed Ade Akinbiyi’s decisive goal from the previous night’s loss at Withdean to Stoke as well as Oatway’s chance towards the end, his miss getting a ribbing from the other Seagulls. That was going to be the order of the day, it was just a chance for each of them to take the mickey out of the other. Helen Chamberlain brought up Knight’s yellow card during the game, his fifth of the season, for an apparent dive. Both Knight and Chamberlain protested it should have been in fact a penalty, whilst a researcher frantically trawled through the tapes in order to find the incident. No sympathy from Jones though; “Ask him what his other four bookings were for though?” with Oatway adding “Exactly the same thing!” As Lovejoy mentioned in his intro, it was the Albion Christmas party that night and each of the boys drew out a famous name to dress up as. Knight got the short straw, his own words, and ended up as a lion, Jones got Dolly Parton and Oatway had probably the best you could get, Freddie Mercury. They talked about the Play Off Final victory in Cardiff, where the club produced a DVD using Charlie Oatway’s self-filmed footage behind the scenes that day. A clip of him imitating boss Mark McGhee running away from the fans during the Semi Final pitch invasion was shown and Oatway revealed the money he received from that would go to an unnamed player who recently had to retire due to illness.

SAM Jones press ups SAM Jones Soccer Skills SAM Basil Fawlty SAM Bus Stop

A feature of the show during the 2004/05 season was a footballer would do press-ups as the end credits rolled. The previous week had seen Nathan Jones’ attempt, which was controversially discounted as the arms didn’t lock back on the way up, enabling him to do more quicker. As he pointed out after seeing a clip, “Brian Jacks won Superstars with them!” In a bid to rectify that, Jones agreed to do press-ups Live at the end of the show, and Leon Knight being the competitive type decided he’d go head to head with him. It wasn’t the first time Jones had been featured on the show though, as a couple of years earlier his tricks earned himself its own item called ‘Nathan Jones’ Soccer Skills School’. In it, Fenners voiced a heavily exaggerated Welsh accent over the top of three of Jones’ tricks. The first, entitled the ‘Basil Fawlty’, saw him hugely overestimate a step and stretch his leg out in the style of Fawlty impersonating a German (above, bottom left). He actually won a penalty with the move. The second was the ‘Exaggerated Rhondda Valley Stepover’, in which he comically feigned a stepover. And the final one came in the same passage of play, after he did the stepover and sent the defender in a spin he just stopped and put his hands on his hips, AKA the ‘Bus Stop’. All set to the tune of The Entertainer. Afterwards, Jones revealed, “To be honest with you, it’s a bit detrimental because I used to get booted.” During the week, the guest researchers would phone the players up to get some idea of stories for the show and the Brighton players just used this as an excuse to wind the others up. As a result, Leon Knight was accused of having the driest shins of any footballer, Nathan Jones was revealed to be obsessively neat and tidy yet never washed his clothes and Charlie Oatway used and abused his local trainer store by returning each pair after he wore them. “I had that shop in the bag, now you lot have killed it!” he laughed. At which point the interview came to an end but the trio would still be hanging around in the studio for the rest of the morning.

SAM Stools SAM Knight Crossbar

A little bit later on the crew had dug out the Knight penalty incident from the Stoke game which saw him pick up his fifth caution of the season. After seeing it twice, it seemed only Knight and Chamberlain still thought it was a penalty, with the rest laughing at the comical fall. Lovejoy recommended he got Chris Kamara to highlight it on Goals on Sunday, as he often did with incorrect refereeing decisions. Fast-forwarding some more past next guest Jason Cundy’s chat and it was time to bring out the band. In order to accommodate The Charlatans on the sofa for their chat, the other four guests had to relocate. They were placed on stools behind the sofa, which gave the team a huge laugh as they knew what was coming next. A pan up of the camera was accompanied by a burst of the “Fool Again” chorus by Westlife, with the boyband famous for just sitting on stools when performing. It was so funny they did it every chance they could! The Charlatans were unable to stay for the whole show so the stools were only utilised for a few parts unfortunately before the boys returned to the sofa area. Fun whilst it lasted! The previous week it was Brighton’s turn to feature on the Crossbar Challenge, where all they had to do was hit the crossbar with a shot from the halfway line. It proved harder than it sounded. We saw our three guests attempts again this week (above, top right), with none of them able to get anywhere near. “Bit far” was Jones’ excuse.

SAM Oxford fans SAM Oatway Kick SAM Press Ups

The traditional climax to the show was outside in the Frank McAvennie car park where the Fans of the Week had sixty seconds to score as many balls through the hole as possible, with the caller guessing nearest winning a t-shirt and other merchandise. This year, as last, the show was celebrating Sky’s purchase of UEFA Champions League football rights with the game “We are the Champions League”. The target was the star-shaped hole in the middle of the ball logo, with the guests acting as ballboys for them before it was their own turn to have a kick. The Oxford fans were not very good at all, only managing two. Of the four guests, only Charlie Oatway was able to convert his kick (above, top right). They all rushed back inside to close the show with the head-to-head press-up challenge as Knight took on Jones, Live! The credits rolled along the bottom of the screen, along with the joke names and gags, whilst a version of Santa Baby played, given the time of year. Nathan Jones’ press-ups didn’t seem to dissimilar to the ones he executed (badly) previously but even so, he couldn’t keep pace with Leon Knight over the minute and the striker took it 71 to 61. And another excellent show came to a close. It was the first taste of a big light-entertainment show featuring any of the Withdean crop and they did well. The club got plenty of mentions, came out of it looking like they were up for a laugh and joined in with all the craziness that went with Soccer AM.


2

COCA COLA’S ‘WIN A PLAYER’ PRIZE (30th May & 30th June 2005) Sky Sports

WIN Group

The Football League went through its biggest rebranding since 1992 when it renamed the three Divisions in 2004. Division One became the Championship, whilst Two and Three became League One and League Two respectively. A new sponsor was gained in the form of fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola, replacing Nationwide on the titling. As part of their sponsorship, Coca-Cola went into marketing overdrive. Their iconic red logo was adapted into the colours of each and every one of the seventy-two League clubs for use in the stadium, in the programmes, online and in print. The new logos were everywhere. They even redesigned the lower League and Play Off trophies into what looked sort of like a drinks bottle. But the most memorable campaign came towards the end of that first season of sponsorship when they launched their ‘Win a Player’ promotion. In exchange for buying a bottle of Coke, fans could enter into a prize draw where their football club would receive £250,000 to go towards a player, or players. The winning fan would also receive £10,000 for themselves. It was a simple yet brilliant idea, with a quarter of a million being a deciding factor in whether or not a club with little to no money could afford to actually spend money in the transfer market. For the lower League clubs this could be season changing. Even though the Albion were now competing in the Championship, finances were all being poured onto the campaign for Falmer which was still ongoing at this point. So this money would be a wonderful addition in order to welcome a new face to the club. The Terms and Conditions allowed for entries for multiple supporters from the same club rather than just one chance in seventy-two. The clamour for Coca-Cola bottles was on up and down the land!

WIN Cheque WIN Aaron Berry WIN McGhee WIN Studio

After eighty days of the promotion, a winner was drawn from the hat and would be revealed during the pre-match build up to the Coca-Cola Championship Play Off Final at the end of May 2005. Sky Sports televised the match Live between Preston and West Ham United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Reporter Chris Kamara, who had been heavily involved as one of the faces of Coke’s promotion, was standing by the centre circle with the winning fan along with their club’s manager and chairman. Over one million entries were received. So imagine the delight when up pops Dick Knight and Mark McGhee next to Kamara. They were joined by the winning supporter, Albion fan Aaron Berry, all behind the giant cheque confirming a quarter of a million pounds was heading to the South Coast. The rules stated the money had to go towards the transfer and/or wages of players and couldn’t just be pocketed by the club and that £250,000 needed to be spent by the end of August that summer. This gave Coca-Cola the opportunity to market the player for the new season. During the Live Sky Sports interview, Dick Knight joked that the winnings could afford Mr Berry to become the chairman now! Knight spoke of how this would “double the playing budget” and would invest wisely. Always alert to the bigger picture, he of course stressed the need for a new stadium, really taking that television opportunity to remind everyone watching – and especially John Prescott – once more. He, thankfully, never missed a trick in promoting the needs of the club. Manager Mark McGhee responded to Kamara’s question of how he would spend the money simply with one word – “Wisely!” He added, “We’ve now got a budget!.. It’s a fantastic windfall for us. It really could be the difference between us staying in the Division and being relegated.” Up in the studio, host George Gavin and his guests George Burley and Paul Jewell echoed the chairman’s words regarding a new home. Gavin said, “All the problems they’ve had, I’m not sure any fan in the country would begrudge Brighton having that money if they couldn’t have it.”

 

WIN Sky Sports News WIN Kazim-Richards

A month later, on 30th June 2005, Brighton used the whole £250,000 windfall to sign eighteen-year-old striker Colin Kazim-Richards from Bury (or you could say Berry, after winning fan Aaron) on a three-year contract. Sky Sports News reporter Jeremy Langdon was there to cover the story as Kazim-Richards posed with Berry, Knight and McGhee for Coca-Cola’s promotional material. The new signing was immediately dubbed “The Coca-Cola Kid”, a tag which he would always be remembered. Speaking on the moniker, he said “I’d rather just Colin! But it’s nice for someone, anyone, to just know who I am.” Mark McGhee hoped that is exactly what he’d be known for as opposed to anything else. Whilst the chairman explained Kazim-Richards had been on their radar for some time, even before the money, fighting off competition from the likes of Wigan and Leicester. Signed as a prospect for the future, he lasted just one season at the Albion before being shipped on at his own request, but did score a memorable last-minute equaliser in the Live televised match at Sheffield Wednesday which was probably one of his highest points with the Seagulls.


3

THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE SHOW (1st January 2011) BBC One

FLS Potted History FLS Clem Goldstone FLS Wembley 83 FLS Goldstone Retail Park

The spotlight dimmed when the Albion were relegated from the Championship in 2006 and took a few years to find their feet in the third tier. By the time the BBC took over highlights of the Football League in 2009, their Saturday night programme The Football League Show had extended coverage of a couple of the day’s matches, all the goals from all the rest of the games and a report or feature. The latter involved their reporter Mark Clemmit providing a ‘Potted History’ of a club, looking at some of the key moments and achievements of a team’s past. He would also report from a selected match from the three Divisions to take a closer look behind the scenes and interview players and managers. Clemmit was a familiar voice on BBC Radio Five Live and in his native Middlesbrough and transferred to television with this programme. On the 2011 New Year’s Day edition, Clemmit’s potted history was on Brighton and Hove Albion. Soundtracked by ‘Sussex By the Sea’, the report began with shots of the home at the time; Withdean Stadium before a note on the formation of the club in 1901 and subsequent move to the Goldstone Ground a year later. He appeared from behind the gold rock (above, top right) located in Hove Park from which the stadium took its name. He then moved on to 1920, when the club first joined the Football League, before looking back at the Albion’s main piece of national notoriety; the 1983 FA Cup Final appearance (above, bottom left). By law, any mention of that match must then include Gordon Smith’s chance to win in in the last minute of extra time. Twelve years later the bitter row between the inept board and the heroic fans was chronicled, as the iconic Goldstone Ground became just another retail park (above, bottom right) when the site was sold for redevelopment. Clemmit touched upon the final day relegation escape at Hereford in 1997 and the subsequent two-year ground share with Gillingham as the 1990s drew to a bitter close.

FLS Goldstone now FLS Goldstone then FLS Withdean FLS Withdean North Stand

The Goldstone now (above, top left) and then (above, top right) were compared and contrasted before moving to the current situation of playing at Withdean Stadium, the temporary home since 1999 (above, bottom left and right). “The athletics stadium, formerly a zoo, was supposed to be a temporary one. By the time they move to their £93 million new home next season, they’ll have been here twelve years.” He told how the club’s nickname changed from the Dolphins to the Seagulls in 1976, in direct response to rivals Crystal Palace and their Eagles moniker. The potted history concluded with shots of the pier (below, left) as he gave details about the club song Sussex By the Sea; it “was written in 1907 as a military march. It was a favourite of former Brighton director, the late Norman Wisdom.” Following the report was a quick round-up of the Albion’s match that day against Leyton Orient. The result was a comprehensive five-nil victory over Russell Slade’s side, the man who kept the Seagulls in the Division just eighteen months earlier. Dave Beckett voiced the action, starting with Glenn Murray netting courtesy of a Chris Wood cutback. Wood, on loan from West Brom, crossed from the left less than two minutes later and saw it fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Jamie Jones to double the lead. In the second half, Liam Bridcutt was sent through on the near side. He fired it low across the box for Murray to finish first time for three-nil. His hat-trick was complete on the hour mark when Elliott Bennett slid a pin-point ball through the defence and extend Murray’s excellent goalscoring form. A fifth was added by Ashley Barnes when he latched on to his own headed flick, with the Orient defence giving him acres of space. A five-star performance for manager Gus Poyet and his League One leaders, who said afterwards; “Passing the ball, moving around – it’s a pleasure. As a manager to achieve that with the players that we’ve got in this Division is absolutely fantastic.” Almost five months later the Albion were crowned Champions as their time at Withdean, finally, drew to a close.

FLS Piers FLS Scoreline


4

TAKE IT LIKE A FAN (21st January 2011) Sky Sports 2

TILAF Titles TILAF Presenters

After leaving Soccer AM with Tim Lovejoy and half the crew in 2007, Fenners returned to Sky Sports three years later to do some interviews for Soccer Saturday and then co-host his own weekly football quiz show on location; Take It Like A Fan. The show was new for the 2010/11 campaign and aired on Friday nights, usually following the Live Football League match. Fenners, AKA John Fendley, and co-host Charlotte Jackson from Sky Sports News would present the show from a football ground each week, playing various games and quizzes in order for fans to win money. In January 2011, with the club going very well at the top of League One in the final season ahead of the move to Falmer, the programme came from Withdean Stadium around the Peterborough match. Fenners and Jackson would ask various questions in rounds before and after the match, and a special prize for one of the fans would be to take a penalty kick at half-time in order to win big. Welcome to Take It Like A Fan! They had a cracking theme tune too, Hunger by Frankie and the Heartstrings.

TILAF Round One TILAF Zamora goal TILAF Zamora question TILAF Zamora guesses

The show began with the round borrowing from a famous line of commentary; “There’s Some People on the Pitch”. So-called because the spot from where they film from is based on a famous moment on that pitch. After showing Kazenga LuaLua’s spectacular strike against MK Dons earlier this season and the incredible comeback against Swindon in the 2004 Play Off Semi, it was then decided as to where our first quiz would be taking place. For this Withdean special it came from the spot within the penalty area where Bobby Zamora volleyed a superb goal past the Halifax goalkeeper back in March 2000. After seeing the goal, we met the two contestants who were going head-to-head to win the chance to take a penalty at half-time and win £500. Playing today were Albion fans Christos and Joel. They were asked to write down how many of Zamora’s 117 goals thus far were scored for Brighton, the nearest would take the spot kick later. Unfortunately for Christos, the answer was 76 and so Joel Kaltz would be stepping up to test his shootout skills.

TILAF Dugout TILAF Home or Away 1 TILAF Home or Away 2 TILAF Oatway

Our hosts caught up with manager Gus Poyet in the dugout as he went about his pre-match routine. He pointed out it was the half-way point of the campaign, unbeaten at home so far but too many games were played at this level. They also mentioned his son, Diego, who had represented England – and not Uruguay – at under-16 level recently. Before leaving they tested him out with one of the quiz questions; Which Spanish club are nicknamed El Submarino Amarillo (the Yellow Submarine)? Quick as a flash he named Villarreal and won £10, sent straight to charity. The next round was Home or Away, very much not the same as the round in A Question of Sport as the ‘Back off Barker’ campaign from the show attempted to make clear so Sue doesn’t sue. Joel’s brother Jake took part in this one, with the aim of the game being to answer three questions correctly about either today’s home team – Brighton – and win a tenner or, for fifty pounds, the away team – Peterborough. He went with the home option for the first question, shown above top right, which he correctly bagged ten pounds. For the remaining two he went away, getting the second correct but unable to name which of Mark Wright, Terry Butcher and Tony Adams had a spell managing today’s visitors. After the three, there was the option to go double or quits and answer question four, shown above bottom left. He got it right and doubled sixty quid to one-hundred-and-twenty English money pounds. First team coach Charlie Oatway popped up pitchside before the warm up to give Fenners some grief about his jacket choices and answer the following question, somehow, correctly; ‘Which club did Manchester City sign Eden Dzeko from?’ So off he went ten pounds richer.

TILAF Fenners Tenners TILAF Tenners TILAF Players TILAF Goal

Tenners galore were up for grabs in the next round, where our contestant was hairdresser Adam who had sixty seconds to get as many questions right to stack up the cash. Amongst the teasers he got were; ‘Who are the only non-League club left in this season’s FA Cup?’, ‘What is Cesc Fabregas’ squad number at Arsenal?’ and ‘Which club play their home games at The Lamex Stadium?’ He got eight correct within the minute and tried to double it with this killer question; ‘Who has scored more goals for Liverpool – Robbie Fowler or Kenny Dalglish?’ He guessed correctly and pocketed a cool £160 before it was time for the adverts. Part two kicked off with three of the Albion squad members, above bottom left, answering a mini thirty-second edition of Fenners Tenners. Their questions included; ‘Which Scottish club play their home games at Hampden Park?’ and ‘Who knocked Newcastle out of this season’s FA Cup?’ They scored a fantastic seven correct, bagging seventy pounds, before blowing it all in the double or quits question when guessing Olof Mellberg’s current club incorrectly. Charlotte Jackson caught up with camera-shy Barry Fry, Peterborough’s Director of Football and former manager before we saw the goals from the big match as the Albion hosted the Posh. Chris Wood opened the scoring after twenty-five minutes with a near post header before Elliott Bennett doubled the lead two minutes later with a nice curling effort from just outside the penalty area (above, bottom right). And that led us nicely onto the next segment at half time.

TILAF Penalty TILAF Penalty Miss TILAF Full Time TILAF Where on Earth.

It was time for earlier winner Joel Kaltz to take his penalty. The opponent in the sticks was Brighton academy ‘keeper Josh James. If Joel netted, and he was confident, he’d take home the £500, if it was saved he’d get nothing. He stepped up and struck it low just left of centre but James guessed the right way and gathered well to keep it out (above, top right). “Fluffed it” was Joel’s reaction before adding, “Had a ‘mare!” Josh James’ reward for saving the show £500 was a ton himself. Back to the match and the second half continued where we left off, with Albion adding a third through Wood again, this time bundling in Glenn Murray’s cross. Peterborough pulled one back through Lee Tomlin with twenty-four minutes remaining but it was just a consolation, the final score ending three-one. Next up was back to the quizzing, with Sean taking on the ‘Where on Earth?’ round. He was shown a series of cards with players on, he just needed to name the country they were from. For every one right he’d receive ten pounds and had sixty seconds to pick up as many as possible. Examples included Eden Dzeko (that man again!), Alexander Hleb, Ali Al-Habsi and Dani Alves. He managed eleven correct but threw it all away by incorrectly answering where on Earth Brede Hangeland was from. He was not Swiss.

TILAF Wood TILAF Trackside

The programme ended with a quick natter Posh boss Darren Ferguson before hearing from two-goal hero Chris Wood (above left), both speaking to Charlotte Jackson. He joined on loan from West Brom in November until the end of the season, scoring on his debut as well in the recent Cup win over Portsmouth. And finally, the last word from Brighton went to gaffer Gus Poyet, who had something to say about the referee during the match, as often the case. Poyet said the show was welcome back anytime now that they won the match, with them hoping to return the following season in the new surroundings at The Amex. With that, our presenters Fendley and Jackson bid us farewell and onto the next show at another football stadium next week. Brighton continued the terrific form and stayed on their lofty perch at the top of League One for the foreseeable.


5

LATE KICK OFF (18th April 2011) BBC One South

LKO Ident LKO Titles LKO Richardson LKO Murty and Rosenior

The Seagulls soared to the top of League One and never looked back during the 2010/11 campaign. Promotion was secured with a sensational four-three win over Dagenham and Redbridge and that was followed up four days later with a superb three-one victory at Walsall. That was enough to secure the League One title with four matches to spare and two of Albion’s heroes all season – Tommy Elphick and Elliott Bennett – appeared in the BBC South studio on the Monday evening to celebrate. Late Kick Off was the BBC’s weekly regional Football League magazine programme. It launched in January 2010 to cover the second half of the season, the BBC’s first as League rightsholder in the deal, and returned for the second half of this 2010/2011 season too. The country was split into seven regions and Brighton were predominantly served by the South, West and South West version which also covered Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Reading, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Swindon, Exeter, Plymouth, Aldershot, Oxford, Cheltenham, Torquay, Wycombe and Yeovil. To complement the main highlights programme The Football League Show on Saturday nights, Late Kick Off aired on Monday nights showing the goals from the region as well as reports, interviews and analysis. Match of the Day commentator Jonathan Pearce presented our region’s first season but did not return for this one. His place was taken by former Channel 4 Football Italia host and king of wit and wordplay, James Richardson (above, bottom left). Joining him in the studio were regular pundits Graeme Murty and Leroy Rosenior (above, bottom right).

LKO Trophy in studio LKO Inflatable trophy LKO Going Up

The programme began with Richardson introducing his two guests, Elphick and Bennett, sat on the sofa who temporarily displaced the usual pairing of Murty and Rosenior. The latter would be back towards the end of the show. The shiny League One trophy was also present, with Brighton not able to get their hands on it for real until the final home match against Huddersfield in just under two weeks’ time. By Tommy Elphick’s own admission, the players had been partying almost non-stop since securing the title on the Saturday so any croakiness of voice would surely be forgiven here. A VT montage played of the two matches over the past week which secured firstly promotion followed by the championship, cut with the scenes of jubilation and celebration. It was set to Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days are Over”, appropriately enough. Thoughts immediately turned to next season and the Championship Division. Elphick responded to Richardson’s question of nerves with, “I think with the way the club’s going and everything, that we should be well in hand for next year and prepared.” He praised the people in charge at both the club and manager level.

LKO Elphick LKO Bennett LKO Bennett goal LKO Studio

Brighton had three players named in the PFA Team of the Year for League One, with defenders Inigo Calderon and Gordon Greer joining Elliott Bennett. Perhaps harshly overlooked was striker Glenn Murray, with Bennett arguing his case; “Top player, he’s scored over twenty goals this season. Hopefully the club can tie him down to a long contract and he can score some goals next year as well.” He provided Murray with a lot of assists but it was the winger who scored the final goal in the weekend’s match at Walsall (above, bottom left), a cracker from twenty-five yards that flew past the ‘keeper in the final minute. Elphick added of it, “We see it every day in training. Nothing surprises the lads when he pulls one of them out the bag.” The trio also discussed manager Gus Poyet, with plenty of superlatives for him as a person and coach. Elphick told of the changes he brought about to transform the club from the bottom end of the table to the very top within eighteen months. “He brought a real winning mentality to the squad. Everything we do in training, whether it be a five-a-side or head tennis, it’s all down to winning whatever way you do it. I know we’ve done it the right way and passed the ball a lot but we have got the other side to the game as well which I think does make you Champions.” Elliott Bennett confirmed the next target of theirs was to go for the one-hundred points marker. He also played down his PFA accolade, saying it could have been any one of the team included, which presenter Richardson wasn’t quite buying the modesty! Some of his goals were shown as they discussed the achievement, in the process almost creating his own ‘Goal of the Month’ compilation they were that good.

LKO Group shot

The opening third of the programme focussed entirely on the Albion and the two studio guests before continuing almost as normal with reports and goal round-ups. Graeme Murty was sent to Southampton on an access-all-areas mission to provide an insight into what the day is like from a player’s perspective before he, Richardson and Leroy Rosenior voiced over all the goals from the region’s clubs from the weekend. Elphick and Bennett moved back to the sofa for the final few minutes of the show, along with the regular threesome to form a packed studio. Richardson quipped, “It’s kind of like a before and after, isn’t it, of footballing careers and the effect it can have on your body!” The long goodbye to Withdean Stadium and the move to Falmer was touched upon. Elphick saying “I believe it’s the biggest pitch in the Football League” before appealing for Murty to come down and film one of his tactical reports that he filed for the show earlier. He also said he was not sad to be bidding farewell to the athletics stadium; “We’ve obviously had some great nights there and some good games but I think for the club to progress the way it wants to we’ve definitely got to get out of there.” And that was just about that as they closed the show for another week. The Albion didn’t go on to win the last Withdean game, or indeed any of the final four fixtures missing out on the century of points. But who cares now?! A new Division and, most importantly, a new stadium was on the horizon. A home the Seagulls could finally call their own. What a time to be a Brighton fan.


Twelve seasons at Withdean Stadium began in the basement Division, scrambling for survival in the Third, and ended up flying high with the League One title and a place in the Championship upon arrival at the magnificent new home in Falmer. It was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish; with the uncovered stands, the shoestring budget, the battling on and off the pitch and some remarkable afternoons and evenings that supporters will never forget. For the players, appearances in the spotlight on the likes of Soccer AM brought the sort of exposure you only really get as a footballer at a certain level the higher up the Leagues you go. The history of the club and the fight for a home became a story told on an increasingly frequent basis as the years at Withdean went on. National coverage of it was always welcomed. Things would go up, in all areas, several notches by the summer of 2011 and the opening of the American Express Community Stadium. The Withdean years, though, should never be forgotten.

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

2 Responses to Small Screen Seagulls; In the Spotlight at Withdean

  1. Pingback: Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 1 | Mark O'MEARA

  2. Pingback: Small Screen Seagulls; 2012/13 Season part 1 | Mark O'MEARA

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: