Small Screen Seagulls; Swindon (H) 13/04/2002

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sBrighton’s first season back in the third tier of English football after five away was going extremely well. The momentum gained from last year’s Division Three title success under Micky Adams was maintained into the 2001/2002 campaign. This despite losing Adams to Leicester in the opening weeks. Former Gillingham boss Peter Taylor arrived in October to steady the ship. He kept Albion in the top six throughout, despite stiff competition from the likes of Reading, Brentford and Stoke City. By the time the final home League game came round in mid-April, the Seagulls had already secured another promotion and were aiming for back-to-back titles. The ITV Sport Channel’s dedicated Division Two highlights programme, Football 2nd, came to Withdean for the visit of Swindon, where top spot could be secured and the title party got underway.


Brighton 0-0 Swindon, Division Two; 3pm, Sat 13th Apr ’02

F2 Titles

The ITV Sport Channel boldly burst onto the televised football scene after securing an audacious coup for exclusively Live coverage of all three Divisions of the Nationwide League from the start of the 2001/2002 season. This was a huge period for ITV, having secured top flight Premiership highlights from the same time away from the BBC and Match of the Day. This was on top of their long-running exclusive continental football in the form of the UEFA Champions League since its inception in 1992. A core team was established fronted by Des Lynam and Gabby Logan, supported by pundits Terry Venables, Ally McCoist, commentators Clive Tyldesley, Peter Drury, summarisers Ron Atkinson and David Pleat and reporters Gary Newbon and Gabriel Clarke. New faces were needed for this new venture. Fresh, up and coming talent such as hosts Matt Smith and Simon Hill, pundits Robbie Earle, Andy Townsend, Tony Dorigo and John Hendrie, commentators Jon Champion, Guy Mowbray and Guy Havord, co-commentators David Fairclough and Jim Beglin and an army of reporters such as Dave Beckett, Ned Boulting, Issy Clarke and Carrie Frais all joined the team to provide the lower Leagues with the most comprehensive television coverage ever seen. The ITV Sport Channel launched to much fanfare on 11th August 2001 with Manchester City taking on Watford in a Saturday teatime clash. But it wasn’t just the Live action which would be at the heart of the channel. There were also dedicated weekly highlights programmes for each of the three Divisions. Plus the regional magazine shows on ITV, you were well and truly covered if you were in the Nationwide League this season. Here I take a look at Football 2nd as the third tier highlights show came to Withdean to see if the Albion could clinch the title in the final home match.


Football 2nd, ITV Sport Channel, 11am (Sunday 14th April 2002)

F2 Ident F2 Sponsor

Division One highlights got their own primetime ninety-minute show on the ITV Sport Channel, Football 1st every Saturday night at 8.30pm, whilst Divisions Two and Three were the focus on Sunday mornings. With Football 3rd following right on the back of it, Football 2nd rounded up the action from Division Two every Sunday at 11am for forty-five minutes. With the Saturday show studio based, Sunday mornings were about exploring. Each edition of Football 2nd was presented on location at the ground of the week’s featured match. The host was from a rotating pool of the ITV Sport Channel reporters, most frequently Issy Clarke, Peter Stevenson or Ned Boulting. For this potential title party at Withdean it was the latter. The programme was sponsored, like the League and Live match coverage, by Nationwide and began with some jaunty electronic library music soundtracking the titles. The show was about much more than just a goals round-up, it was a showcase of the League and its members. There would be features, news and interviews alongside the goals, culminating in extended highlights of the main match which for this edition saw Albion host Swindon.

F2 Boulting

Hosting from all around Withdean Stadium was Ned Boulting. He joined the ITV Sport Channel for the launch this season and presented and reported across Football 2nd and Football 3rd. This took him around the country at various Football League grounds, including this very one back in September for the Albion’s centenary celebration match against Bournemouth. He was also involved in ITV’s other football output including the UEFA Champions League and Worthington Cup. Prior to this he spent four years at Sky Sports working on the flagship results service Gillette Soccer Saturday. He reported for the programme doing interviews and features in the build-up as well as being out and about bringing viewers updates from a selected lower League match. He was also involved in Sky’s Live FA Cup Final coverage in 1999 when he reported from the Newcastle team hotel ahead of their Wembley showdown with treble-chasing Manchester United. Boulting would be one of the few to be retained by ITV Sport after the channel closed down a few weeks after today’s match.

F2 Coming Up 1 F2 Coming Up 2

After Boulting’s introduction up in the stands, he set the menu for what was to come for the rest of the programme prior to our main match highlights. Peter Taylor was interviewed about all things Albion, with question marks over the future of himself, star striker Zamora and, of course, the stadium saga. The other key fixtures this weekend involved the teams chasing Brighton for a promotion spot; Reading and Brentford. The Royals hosted Peterborough whilst the Bees journeyed across West London to QPR. Whilst at the bottom, struggling Bury needed to up their game against Colchester. Action from all three matches and the goals from the rest of the Division were to come.

F2 Permutations F2 Zamora celebration F2 Reading Brentford F2 Round Up

Before all that though, our host outlined the story of the weekend for Division Two and the various permutations that come this late in the campaign; with two more matches in the regular season. Bobby Zamora’s winner at Peterborough last week ensured promotion for the Seagulls, another win today would see the title in the bag too. That was because of Reading’s draw at Tranmere, their seventh stalemate in eight matches, sent Brighton up on Sunday without kicking a ball. Cambridge’s fate at the bottom was already secured and they were joined on the way to Division Three by Wrexham last weekend despite winning five-nil! Bournemouth had all but joined them due to their dreadful goal difference. It was one from four for the final relegation spot as Bury, Northampton, Chesterfield and Notts County tussled. The real story to watch was the quest to join the Albion in Division One as Reading and Brentford were separated by just a point and, crucially, would go head-to-head in a final day showdown. Oh, the drama of the Nationwide League! With the scene set, the first batch of goals were shown from the teams hopeful for a Play Off spot beginning with Bristol City’s trip to Blackpool. Mark Tompkins, Nick London and Tom Skippings voiced the round-ups.

F2 Take 2 F2 Lee Sharpe

The show took a more in-depth look at the Division as a whole so a regular news wrap followed, titled Take 2. Amongst the headlines in this edition were Wrexham, with the Welsh outfit hoping to change ownership in the coming weeks. Elsewhere, Oldham’s chairman was looking to buy Boundary Park and increased his stake in the club to do so. Ex-England and Manchester United midfielder Lee Sharpe was linked with a move to Blackpool and Ipswich defender Mark Venus was a target for Colchester if he was willing to drop two Divisions. And finally, Paul Dalglish – son of Kenny – was released by Wigan in order to go for a trial in America’s MLS. With the news covered, it was time for an advert break.

F2 Withdean hill F2 Taylor

Attention turned to the Seagulls next, where both chairman and manager would be interviewed. Ned Boulting introduced this part by saying; “It’s not often that you visit a club where the chairman, the leading striker and the manager are all heroes but here at Brighton, in Dick Knight, Bobby Zamora and Peter Taylor, they’ve got three of the highest order.” Taylor had enjoyed success in the lower Leagues with Gillingham and even took caretaker management of England where he handed David Beckham the captaincy before things started to go wrong for him during his second season at Leicester. That led to his departure and swift return to management with the Albion, where continued the good form for the club that has secured a second successive promotion. “I had no doubts of walking into a changing room and talking to twenty players because I was up for the job. To me, it didn’t take them long. There were a few slight adjustments that were made but things have gone really well”, Taylor said.

F2 Reading score F2 Zamora goal

When Reading could only draw last week, enabling Brighton’s promotion, he said he couldn’t listen to it and was made aware by the physio. The squad were perhaps quicker to realise the news, with Taylor admitting “Looking at them on Monday morning, they definitely went out on Sunday night, without a doubt!” Attention inevitably turned to the future and, in particular, of both himself and Zamora at the club despite the limited resources and facilities. On his star striker, Taylor told; “I think Bobby is a very sensible lad that probably does realise that another twelve months in Division One would be very good for his education.” Taylor’s contract was only until the end of the season and had stalled on extending that. Rumours surfaced linking him with higher Division clubs but he insisted that it was only down to budgetary constraints and he hasn’t been in touch with anybody else. “I couldn’t believe things weren’t getting prepared for us for training etc. What we basically need is probably half a dozen groundsman around Sussex University who are season ticket holders and football fanatics of Brighton because then they would work day and night to get things the way we want it.”

F2 Knight and Boulting F2 Knight

Ned Boulting then spoke with Dick Knight just outside the gates of the stadium and the chairman began in typically quotable mood; “It just shows that even in modern football, miracles can happen! Remember five years ago we were bottom of the pile on the last day of the season needing to get a point to save ourselves and we did. Here we are now going for the Second Division Championship.” He confidently dodged the question about Taylor’s future and requests for improvement on the training facilities, instead wanting to focus on the celebratory aspect of the day and “we’ll address the issues in the near future”. The last time the Football 2nd team were down on the South Coast was the club’s centenary celebrations in the home match against Bournemouth back in September 2001 where there was a big party with dancers and even the cutting of a big birthday cake at half time. Knight was hoping for further celebrations in front of the cameras today, as he paid tribute to the managers and players over the past two years who dragged the club from the foot of the basement Division right up to the second tier.

F2 Tunnel

On the back of that, the next goals round-up featured those scrapping at the bottom, starting with Bury hosting Colchester. The wrap included Cambridge ‘keeper Lionel Perez marking his last ever appearance for United by taking a penalty. No prizes for guessing how that one went! After the final advert break, it was crunch time in Division Two with highlights of the Albion against Swindon. Commentary was provided by Dave Farrar. He was more familiar to viewers of British Eurosport, whom he joined in 1999 when their former number one Guy Mowbray made the move to ITV. Mowbray was by now an established voice on the network, covering Football League and Champions League matches for the ITV Sport Channel. Farrar voiced commentaries and round-ups for the various ITV highlights shows this season, combining it with his Eurosport commitments. His highest profile commentary to date was probably the Euro 2000 Final as Eurosport’s first choice. His familiar voice and excitable style served well on continental highlights show Eurogoals as well as a variety of Leagues and Cups for both broadcasters this year. His first task of the afternoon at Withdean was to talk us through the line-ups.

F2 Brighton

Peter Taylor was forced into two changes from the side that beat Peterborough one-nil the previous week. A broken leg forced Gary Hart out, replaced by Nathan Jones, whilst Lee Steele’s suspension saw Daniel Webb start up top for the ninth time in an Albion shirt. Full back Paul Watson had missed just one League match all season, whilst Danny Cullip was absent for two. The experience of Simon Morgan slotted in alongside for the final season of his playing career. Kerry Mayo was the only survivor from the starting eleven of five years ago at Hereford which kept Brighton’s Football League status. Paul Brooker and Richard Carpenter were on the books of Fulham back then. Junior Lewis joined on loan from Leicester for this season, linking up with Taylor for the fourth time having previously been together at the Foxes, Dover and Gillingham. Bobby Zamora’s thirty-two goals this term was enough to make him the first ever Albion man to win back-to-back Fans Player of the Season awards, narrowly pipping ‘keeper Michel Kuipers. Options on the bench included Charlie Oatway, Robbie Pethick and loan striker Wayne Gray.

F2 Swindon

Andy King was without striker Danny Invincible, not living up to his name as he was out with a groin injury. Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock was on the Swindon books but not selected for this one, he was linked to the Albion a year ago before choosing Town. There were Dutch goalkeepers at both ends of the field, with Bart Griemink between the sticks for the away side. Andy Gurney moved along the M4 from Reading to Swindon in the summer. Centre half Matthew Heywood cemented his place in the side having joined from Burnley. Paul Edwards had spells in non-League with Altrincham and Curzon Ashton. Bobby Howe joined from Nottingham Forest commanding a transfer fee of thirty grand in 1998. The main man is forward Eric Sabin. He scored in the reverse fixture at the County Ground when the sides drew one-all and netted five times for the club. Taking charge of this match was referee Tony Bates.


F2 Kick Off F2 Commentator

Story of the Match: Typically on a day where there was much expectation and excitement, the game fell flat. Paul Brooker had the first real opportunity when he latched onto a good ball from Kerry Mayo on the left. Brooker’s excellent touch to bring the ball down took it past Reeves and presented a shooting chance on the far side of the area. His looping effort dropped just short and wide of the goal. Daniel Webb had a half-chance with a header from a Paul Watson corner, but the youngster on loan from Southend couldn’t direct it low enough to trouble the goal. The Withdean crowd were behind the Albion all the way but chances weren’t presenting themselves. Perhaps frustrated with the lack of opportunities, Zamora took it upon himself to unleash a fierce drive with his right foot more than thirty yards out to sting the palms of Griemink in the Swindon goal.

F2 Second Half F2 Lewis skied it

Into the second half, once more it was top-scorer Zamora causing defences problems. His spin and turn on the left gave him a chance to cross. His fizzed ball into the danger zone was sliced goalbound by Reeves. To Griemink’s relief it hit his legs before gathering safely. The breakthrough wasn’t coming. Wayne Gray came off the substitutes bench in a bid to force it. He reacted quickest to a loose ball and hit a first-time shot on the turn only to see the ball bounce towards the back of the athletics track. Chances for the away side were few and far between. Hewlett drove one from a long way out straight down the throat of Michel Kuipers for a rare touch from the Dutchman. Another Brighton sub, Phil Hadland, arrived to try to change the picture. He picked up a long ball from Junior Lewis to strike from the far corner of the penalty area. Griemink denied the former Leyton Orient striker. A late Lewis strike flew high into the air to confirm that it really wasn’t the Albion’s day in front of goal. The final whistle brought to an end the contest without either side getting on the scoresheet. Brighton nil, Swindon nil.

F2 Final Score


F2 Withdean celebrations F2 Hugs F2 Trophy lift

Before the day’s play, a win was required to guarantee the title. With the goalless draw at Withdean the door was ajar for either Reading or Brentford to make the Seagulls wait for the trophy. In the end neither side could claim a win and it handed the title to Peter Taylor’s men as the four point gap could no longer be overturned. Brighton were Champions and the presentation was next. Cue a mini pitch invasion from the home faithful whilst the rest gathered on the running track behind the dugouts. Once the scenes had settled down the presentation could begin with hugs all round from the chairman. Now everybody was in place on the podium, club captain Paul Rogers lifted the Nationwide Division Two trophy aloft to signal that Brighton were back. Brighton were heading to Division One.

F2 Champagne celebration F2 Taylor interview F2 Zamora interview

As assistant manager Bob Booker and Bobby Zamora led the champagne spraying jubilations, commentator Dave Farrar provided the line; “A Formula One celebration for the side that has motored through the Divisions. Congratulations to Brighton and Hove Albion.” Wearing the Champions medal around his neck, boss Taylor spoke on the pitch with Ned Boulting. “It’s a great feeling for the players. We’re not always the best team but we’re always the best fighters… They’re very honest workers that keep improving every day,” he told. Bobby Zamora wrapped the Nationwide banner around his shoulders whilst his medal was on full display as he spoke with Boulting during the lap of honour. Zamora was quick to praise the team efforts; “It’s been an amazing year for me and all the lads. Two [promotions] on the bounce now, it’s something special.” After a few more words he was left to soak up the adulation of the watching crowd. Those supporters realised there and then that these really were halcyon days for a club that had been through so much in recent times. And the player at the front of it all was destined for even bigger things.

F2 Reading Peterborough F2 QPR Brentford F2 Results

After the celebrations, the final five minutes of the show were used to wrap up Brighton’s closest challengers and explain exactly why the Seagulls were able to be crowned Champions despite only drawing. Two goals from Nicky Forster weren’t enough for Reading as Peterborough thwarted them to draw two-two. Whilst over in West London, the combined efforts of Lloyd Owusu and Mark McCammon couldn’t force a Brentford winner. Instead they mustered a goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers for the second time in the season. Elsewhere the standout result was at the Seaside as Blackpool bagged five against Play Off hunting Bristol City. The table confirmed, with one match still to play, that it was Brighton who would be marching up to Division One with the silverware in hand. Reading led Brentford by a single point ahead of their final day clash at Griffin Park the following Saturday. One of them would go up, the other joined Cardiff, Stoke and Huddersfield in the Play Offs. At the other end, we already knew Wrexham and Cambridge were gone. Bury too, barring a final day overhaul of some eighteen goals! Bournemouth’s win put them within three points of Notts County but a slightly worse goal difference. Everybody else was safe in mid table. And as Ned signed off, he confirmed the programme’s destination for the following week; Brentford for that massive promotion match. But this edition was all about the Albion. Brighton were going up as Champions. Again!

F2 Table top F2 Table bottom

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

One Response to Small Screen Seagulls; Swindon (H) 13/04/2002

  1. Pingback: #10: Stoke 3-1 Brighton 01/03/2002 | Mark O'MEARA

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