Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 1

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe 2011/2012 campaign was a landmark season for Brighton and Hove Albion. After a seemingly never-ending battle to secure planning permission for a new stadium, that dream was finally realised when the American Express Community Stadium in Falmer was opened in the summer of 2011. Brighton had come home to a stadium they could call their own for the first time since the Goldstone Ground was sold and demolished in 1997. The ‘temporary’ abode of the Withdean Stadium, complete with athletics track and unsheltered seating, ended up being home for eleven seasons! As successful as the team were during that period, with three titles and a Play Off Final victory, this new stadium would be the catalyst for even greater success.

Here are snippets of some of the features and coverage of the Albion during that homecoming season. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC Sport and Sky Sports. This is part one, the second part is HERE.


Away Days visit to Brighton

Soccer AM, Sky Sports 1 (20th August 2011)

SAM Soccer AM titles SAM Away Days

Sky Sports long-running Saturday morning entertainment show Soccer AM, hosted by Max Rushden and Helen Chamberlain, had a popular comedy feature called Away Days. In this, crew member Adam Smith played the part of ‘Franky Fryer’, a Danny Dyer spoof character who visited a new stadium each time and took in some of the local sights and sounds as if a visiting supporter on a day away. The mannerisms and language used parodied Dyer’s presenting style on football hooligan documentaries such as The Real Football Factories. The character aped Dyer’s use of cockney rhyming slang and exaggerated speech, with a trademark catchphrase “Keep me nut down!”

SAM Pier SAM Sealife centre SAM Laughter therapy SAM Stadium

In Franky Fryer’s visit to Brighton, he arrived at the station to learn that the new stadium isn’t technically in Brighton, but instead nearby Falmer. He moved down to see the famous Palace Pier, “standing for over one hundred years man and boy”, and along the seafront and pebble beach. A quick visit to the Sealife Centre followed, apparently “the world’s oldest operating aquarium”. Fryer liked to take in the weird and wonderful parts of a city so a trip to the Laughter Centre for some laughter therapy was in order. How very Brighton. Before long he had stumbled across the fields adjacent to the stadium in Falmer.

SAM Dicks Bar SAM In the stands

The supporter’s bar, named Dick’s Bar after former chairman Dick Knight, located at the back of the North Stand and adjacent to the club shop was “my sort of place” according to Fryer. He made his way round to the other side of the ground for the culmination of the piece; the South Stand away end.  He remarked upon the padded seats in all four stands of the magnificent stadium as we saw the view visiting supporters are treated to. The final shot panned out to reveal the entire South Stand, sat to the right of the impressive three-tiered West Stand and opposite the vocal home support from the North Stand. The stadium had only been open a matter of weeks by the time of Soccer AM’s visit, so it was all shiny and new. Away fans as well as, of course, Brighton fans were in for a treat when they visited England’s newest Football League ground upon opening in the summer of 2011.


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Quiz Show from The Amex for Brighton 2-2 Blackpool

Take It Like A Fan, Sky Sports 1 (26th August 2011)

TILAF Titles TILAF Hosts

Sky Sports Friday night football quiz show Take It Like A Fan returned for a second season during 2011/2012. Presented by former Soccer AM crew member and Soccer Saturday interviewer John Fendley, AKA Fenners, and Bianca Westwood, current Soccer Saturday reporter. Westwood became a permanent fixture on the show this season having covered last year when previous co-host Charlotte Jackson was absent. The programme was presented entirely on location at a football stadium around the country with the premise of giving away cash for correct answers to a range of football-based questions and games. The show visited Withdean Stadium back in January, as chronicled on the blog post In the Spotlight. Today, the seaside special was the centrepiece, as Blackpool were the visitors to The Amex.

TILAF The Possession Game TILAF Home or Away

The first feature was called ‘The Possession Game’. In this, one fan would answer a quiz question, get it correct he kept ‘possession’ of the £500 cash prize. Get it wrong however, and he’d hand the money over to his opponent. The person in possession after the fifth and final question would then go on to take a penalty at half-time in the Blackpool match where if successful would keep that £500. Albion supporters Simon and Danny took on the game. Questions included “What nationality is Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko?” and “Who’s won more FA Cups – Manchester United or Arsenal?” The all-important poser (shown in the screenshot above, left) was answered incorrectly by Danny, giving Simon the opportunity to win the cash at half-time, shown later in the show.

The next game was the more familiar ‘Home or Away’ premise; home questions would be about Brighton and win you a tenner, or for fifty pounds you could choose an away question on Blackpool. Brighton fan Richie maximised his earnings by selecting to go away for all three questions. Questions here included, “As a player, which of these clubs didn’t Blackpool boss Ian Holloway have a spell at – Wimbledon, Luton or Brentford?”, and “Who was Blackpool’s top scorer in the Premier League last season?” He answered two of the three correctly and decided to choose the double or quits option (shown in the screenshot above, right). Answering incorrectly, he lost the one-hundred pounds he accumulated.

TILAF Birds Eye View TILAF Brighton players

Another Brighton fan competing was Ben, who previously appeared on MasterChef. For today’s TV appearance he took part in the game ‘Bird’s Eye View’, where you had to identify football stadiums from an aerial shot. Each correct answer was rewarded with ten pounds. Helped along the way by Fenners, Ben scored eleven earning him £110 in sixty seconds. He too took the double or quits option but fared better than Richie by guessing the home of Liverpool correctly.

Brighton trio Gary Dicker, Craig Noone and Steve Cook took part in a special round of ‘Fenners’ Tenners’, answering as many questions correctly inside half-a-minute as possible. First team coach Charlie Oatway was on stopwatch duty. Questions included, “What is Ashley Barnes’ squad number at Brighton?”, “Who did Brighton sign Craig Mackail-Smith from?” and “Who play their home games at Roots Hall?” The boys achieved nine correct, largely thanks to Gary Dicker. Their question to double the pot to £180 was as follows; “Which player committed the most fouls in the Premier League last season – Kevin Davies or Cheick Tiote?” Watch the video below to see how they got on.

TILAF Poyet TILAF Full Time

With kick off approaching and the players warming up, Bianca Westwood chatted to manager Gus Poyet in the dugout. He gave his thoughts on the excellent unbeaten start to the season as well as the magnificent new surroundings. “It’s been great, difficult to keep everybody calm!” the Uruguayan began. On the stadium and new League this season he added, “It’s perfect. We need it, it was the aim last year. It wasn’t easy but we are here and now we are enjoying the Championship and doing well.” She also spoke with veteran Blackpool striker Kevin Phillips before and after the match, as he entered the final spell of his playing career.

The goals and key chances from the afternoon’s match were shown, set to music. Craig Mackail-Smith opened the scoring with a header on half an hour. Ashley Barnes tapped home a second goal five minutes into the second period as Albion enjoyed the summer sunshine. But Kevin Phillips headed one back after the hour mark to ensure a nervy finish. And in stoppage time the goalscoring great bagged a great goal to equalise and rescue a point with a superbly executed volley on the turn.

TILAF Half Time TILAF Penalty

During the half-time interval, Simon from earlier on in the show faced goalkeeper Dan in a penalty kick. Score it and Simon would pocket the £500 from ‘The Possession Game’ but miss and he’d go away empty handed. Simon kept his cool and slotted the penalty away well, in front of the North Stand crowd.

The final game of the programme was with Blackpool fan and the godson of Manchester United assistant Mike Phelan, Liam. He played ‘Fenners’ Tenners’, scoring an impressive thirteen correct in the minute. He also managed to answer in full sentences rather than just the right answer! To double up to £260, he had to answer the following; “Which stadium has the smallest capacity in the Premier League – Loftus Road or Liberty Stadium?” The West London ground earned him the big money to cap off a very fun show.


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Brighton 0-0 Sunderland (1-0 AET) Highlights

The League Cup Show, BBC One (24th August 2011); Carling Cup Round Two

CCUP Titles CCUP Comms

The games came thick and fast in the opening weeks of the Football League season and by the end of August we were already at the second stage of the League Cup. BBC held highlight broadcast rights to the competition, producing a midweek round up show on the Wednesday night. Imaginatively titled The League Cup Show, the studio and set up was the same as Saturday night highlights programme The Football League Show that began for the 2009/10 season. It was hosted by former Football Focus presenter Manish Bhasin. Joining him for this edition was pundit and former West Ham and Fulham striker Leroy Rosenior. One of the featured matches tonight was the Albion’s clash with Sunderland. Commentary was provided by Match of the Day regular Martin Fisher.

CCUP Teams

Brighton reached the Second Round of the Carling Cup by defeating their old landlord, Gillingham, in Round One. Ashley Barnes from the penalty spot was the decider that night. It set up a clash with Premier League side Sunderland at The Amex. Steve Bruce’s team were yet to win either of their top flight matches; drawing one and losing the other. By contrast, the Albion were unbeaten in their opening five games, winning all but one – the two-two draw with Blackpool last time out. Victory in these opening three matches was the club’s best start since the 1953/54 season.

Gus Poyet made two changes for tonight’s clash, as midfielders Gary Dicker and Romain Vincelot dropped out, replaced by Alan Navarro and Ryan Harley. The latter was making his debut having signed from Swansea the previous day. Steve Bruce swapped out three of his Sunderland players that lost to rivals Newcastle at the weekend. In came new goalkeeper Kieran Westwood for his Black Cats debut, and midfielders David Vaughan and Craig Gardner; all summer signings. The referee was Andy D’Urso.

CCUP Post CCUP Dive incident

The five-minute highlights edit began with a great chance for Sunderland after Kazenga LuaLua was caught out in his own penalty area. Thankfully, Stephane Sessegnon couldn’t provide a finish. He was also denied from long range by Casper Ankergren later in the half. Craig Mackail-Smith was at the heart of all Brighton’s attacking play at the other end, with two efforts on goal causing problems. He was denied by Westwood with the first and shot over for the second. It was goalless at the break.

The best chance arrived in the second half when Mackail-Smith was sent clear through an excellent long-range pass from Liam Bridcutt. The striker sprung the offside trap to find himself one-on-one with Westwood (above, left). Unfortunately, the shot bounced onto the post, back across the goal line and out. So close! The big talking point came when Inigo Calderon of all people found himself galloping into the area. Goalie Kieran Westwood raced out and appeared to bring the Spaniard down for a penalty (above right). The referee blew his whistle but signalled the other way, booking Calderon for a dive. It looked like a close call, with commentator Martin Fisher adamant there was contact; “The right boot of Westwood on the left boot of Calderon. It’s a huge escape for Westwood and Sunderland.” Sunderland too had a couple of half-chances but Ankergren stood firm and it finished after ninety minutes at nil-nil.

CCUP Goal CCUP Full Time

The match had to be decided on the night so on to Extra Time we went. Within six minutes, Brighton had the breakthrough and it was the tireless Craig Mackail-Smith who notched it. Scouse duo Craig Noone and Alan Navarro linked up on the near side to send the latter on down the right-hand side of the box. He hit an instinctive cross up towards the back post which was perfect for Mackail-Smith. Last season’s highest goalscorer in the country added another to his new club’s tally with a header back across from inside the six-yard area. There was nothing Sunderland could do about that one and you couldn’t say the Seagulls didn’t deserve it. The Black Cats found no answer and suffered an early exit to the competition as the stripes of Brighton went marching on.

CCUP Mackail-Smith CCUP Studio

In his post-match interview, Gus Poyet believed Brighton to have been good enough to win this close match and praised the efforts of the goalscorer, whilst Sunderland’s Steve Bruce was gracious in defeat; “they were terrific on the night, they played some really good stuff.” Match winner Mackail-Smith spoke of the club’s positive attitude; “We just believe in the way we play football and we feel that whoever we play we can go out and beat.” Back in the studio, pundit Leroy Rosenior believed this Cup upset to be no shock to Seagulls supporters, loving life in their new home; “It’s no surprise to them, they just carried on where they left off. Nobody fancies playing Brighton at the moment.” If only that were to continue! Round Three saw even more prestigious opponents descending on the South Coast; Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool.


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Southampton 3-0 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (19th November 2011); Championship

SOU FL Show titles SOU Comm

The Championship returned after the international break and we welcomed back the BBC’s highlights programme The Football League Show late on Saturday night to round up the day’s play. Hosted by Manish Bhasin with pundit Steve Claridge, the featured match for this mid-November edition was a South Coast clash as Southampton took on Brighton. The Saints sat top of the Championship table, a position the Albion occupied briefly in September before a dip in form saw them slide out of the top six and into tenth. After an unbeaten first half a dozen League games, Brighton won just one of the following ten, ending a terrible run with a two-nil victory over Barnsley last time out. Commentating on the action was Martin Fisher, who also covered our opening day dramatic victory over Doncaster for the show.

SOU Southampton SOU Brighton

Brighton wore their change kit of green and black for the visit to St Mary’s. Southampton’s home form was remarkable; they’d won their previous nineteen matches in a row at this stadium. In the line ups, Dean Hammond captained the home side and returned to the first team in place of Morgan Schneiderlin. Midfielder Adam Lallana had been in the senior squad since 2006 having come up through the youth system. Rickie Lambert was the club’s top scorer but failed to find the target in the previous five. For the Albion, just one change was made from the side that beat Barnsley two weeks ago. Left-back Marcos Painter was preferred to Inigo Calderon. Goals had dried up for record signing Craig Mackail-Smith, his last came in the disappointing home defeat to Crystal Palace at the end of September. Strike partner Billy Paynter was on loan from Leeds until January but was yet to register a goal for the Seagulls. Half the midfield was Scouse, in Navarro and Noone. The referee in charge was Peter Walton.

Southampton complained of two penalty shouts early on, neither given by referee Peter Walton. The first was a definite no, when a shot from close range struck Gordon Greer on the arm. There was nothing the Scotsman could have done from such a short distance to get out of the way. The second saw Ricky Lambert’s shirt being held by Marcos Painter. The striker still outmuscled his man and headed goalwards regardless. Chances were few and far between in the first half as the sides went into the break goalless.

SOU Lambert goal SOU Incorrect Penalty decision SOU Penalty award SOU Full Time

It took the Saints just four minutes into the second half before the took the lead through Rickie Lambert. Richardson crossed from the near side, cutting back on his left foot and swinging a delivery towards the back post. Lambert outjumped both Craig Noone and Mauricio Taricco to win the header and power it past Steve Harper in goal. Brighton rightly avoided giving away a penalty when Dean Hammond went down under Harper’s challenge. The referee didn’t buy it and booked the ex-Albion midfielder for diving. But Southampton were awarded a penalty soon after when the linesman flagged for a foul by Dunk on Jose Fonte. If they got the Hammond decision correct, the officials lost all credibility when giving this one as the contact clearly took place outside the box. Taricco went mad and got sent off for presumably something he said to the referee. From nothing, Brighton were about to lose all hope of getting something from this crunch clash. Lambert tucked away the spot kick sending Harper the other way for two-nil just before the hour mark.

Alan Navarro went close to joining Taricco for the proverbial early bath when he lunged into a challenge with his studs showing. He connected full on with the calf of substitute Morgan Schneiderlin. Navarro was awarded a yellow card when it could easily have been more. The resulting free kick towards Lambert then should have been a penalty for a push by Painter but wasn’t given. They say these things even themselves out. It capped off a pretty bad day for the officials. Yet another shout for a penalty came when Lambert appeared to be felled by the foot of Inigo Calderon. This was more difficult to judge as first glance it appeared to be a foul but the replay showed contact was minimal and, if anything, Lambert just lost his footing. Either way, it was given and Lambert completed his hat-trick with another superbly taken kick into the roof of the net twenty minutes before the end. They could have had even more but for Harper and some tame efforts, but it finished three-nil to the home side at St Mary’s.

SOU Poyet SOU Studio

In Gus Poyet’s post-match interview he, understandably, spoke out about the refereeing performance. “We respect the referees a lot and we give them credit for the job they do and how difficult it is nowadays in football to give a penalty or not… And when it’s so embarrassing, if you want the players just to accept it and clap their hands and go home and just relax and forget about that. They took everything we done in fifty-five minutes away just because… who knows what went through the head of the referee and the linesman today?”

In the studio, Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge also began by discussing the decisions of the officials. For the penalty that should have been a free kick on Fonte, Claridge called it an “incredible decision. I don’t think Jose Fonte actually gets any part of his body at any time into the box apart from when he falls over eventually.” They emphasised that the right team did still win the game, but they were helped along the way by Peter Walton and Brighton’s challenge ended with the award of that first penalty. The studio team reviewed five big penalty decisions Walton had to make and judged that he got four of them wrong. The one correct decision was to book Hammond for his dive. Claridge’s assessment of Brighton was that although they were in the game for the first fifty-five minutes, he didn’t think they ever looked like they were going to win it, whilst Southampton’s start to the campaign was better at this stage than the previous two winners of the Division. Bit of a turnaround from the two sides competing together last season in League One.


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Amex Stadium Report from an away perspective, Brighton 2-0 Bristol City

Late Kick Off, BBC One South (16th January 2012)

LKO1 Titles LKO1 Studio

The BBC’s regional Football League magazine show, Late Kick Off, returned for a new series on Monday 16th January 2012 until the end of the season. In the South and South West, the programme was presented by James Richardson with regular pundits Graeme Murty, formerly of Reading and Southampton, and Leroy Rosenior, ex-West Ham and Bristol City striker. It was the second season running with this trio at the helm, having taken over from original host Jonathan Pearce. The show covered the Albion as well as Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Swindon, Aldershot, Plymouth, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham, Crawley, Exeter, Oxford and Yeovil.

The lead feature of this edition centred around stadiums; with Brighton having moved into their new home ahead of this season, meanwhile Bristol City were fighting their own battle with the powers that be to secure their new one. The two sides met on Saturday at The Amex in the Championship. The Albion board made their visitors feel very welcome, sympathetic to their cause. As host Richardson explained in the show, “A judge has today ruled that a full review is necessary on City’s bid to build their new stadium.” Andy Steggall (below left), better known as the face of sport on ITV Meridian during the 1990s, reported on the story for Late Kick Off. He also co-owned the production company that made the programme, along with Match of the Day commentator John Roder.

LKO1 Steggall LKO Bristol ale

Steggall’s report began with Brighton’s two goals to secure the victory; a fantastic long ranger from Inigo Calderon, an unlikely goalscorer, plus Will Buckley rounding the goalkeeper. He then moved into the away concourse to showcase the efforts Brighton made to feel visiting supporters feel at home, treating them with respect rather than contempt. It’s a lesson a lot of other clubs could learn from. Little touches included lighting in the colours of the away club, this time being red, selling a guest ale from their local area and decorating the television screens with images of the opposing players. “When The Amex was designed, serious consideration was given to making away fans feel welcome”, Steggall explained. He spoke with a few of the travelling support to gauge their opinions of the away fan experience at Falmer. Some of them had clearly been enjoying the hospitality of the local ales! “Brighton’s an example to all teams” one fan slurred, as the tributes were all glowing.

LKO1 Touring LKO1 Martin Perry and Guy Price

In addition to some two-thousand away fans, Bristol City directors and board members were welcomed to The Amex to have a look around. “Before kick-off, Albion had welcomed every door to all of their opponent’s heads of department, from the rooftop to the tunnel. Happy to give them every war story, every helpful hint about planning success and stadium building”, Steggall added. In the director’s lounge, the suits of both clubs were in discussion. Guy Price, Bristol City’s CEO, asked about the defining lessons Brighton learned that City could take away. The reply explained the experience for the fans had been thought of in every last detail.

Price also spoke to Martin Perry, Brighton’s chief executive and a huge figure in the club’s success off the field in obtaining this stadium. Perry had lent his support to Bristol City’s bid for a new stadium at Ashton Vale, arguing their case and attending their planning committees. “It was important that we demonstrated that when they talk about the benefits to the community, we’d already begun to deliver them. So this wasn’t just talk, this was real”, Perry told us as he expressed how we’re all part of the wider football family.

LKO1 Doncaster game LKO1 Lynam

Steggall’s report continued by explaining the situation from a Bristol City point of view; “The judge’s decision now means further delays, further cost for club and council.” Perry’s final words of advice? “Never give up.” We also heard from broadcasting great and Seagulls supporter Desmond Lynam who spoke about the emotions when that first League game against Doncaster came about back in August 2011. “We were so moved in the directors’ box we were shedding a tear… It had taken so long, so much heartache and all the rest of it… This isn’t the biggest and it’s probably not the best, but it’s ours. It’s for us.” Hear, hear.


This is the first part looking back at Season 2011/2012. The second part is available HERE.

Small Screen Seagulls; The Rise and Fall of Gus Poyet

Small Screen Seagulls LogoGustavo Augusto Poyet Dominguez, or Gus Poyet to you and me, made a name for himself as a talented midfielder for Zaragoza, Chelsea and Tottenham. The Uruguayan spent seven years in the Premier League picking up the FA Cup, Charity Shield, UEFA Super Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup. At international level, although he didn’t earn too many caps, he did lift the Copa America in 1995. Affectionately nicknamed “the radio” due to his incessant talking, there was no doubting he would go into coaching. Not many would have earmarked League One Brighton and Hove Albion as the club to give him his first managerial break. In November 2009 that’s exactly what happened, as Poyet brought a South American touch to the South Coast. 


Gus Poyet Brighton Manager 10th Nov 2009-23rd Jun 2013

Poyet's first game interviews (1)Gus Poyet had been assistant manager at Tottenham, Leeds and Swindon but now was given the top job for the first time. It was undoubtedly a gamble from new chairman Tony Bloom, but he was no stranger to playing the odds. Having taken over from Dick Knight in May, Bloom arrived as Brighton had just saved their skin on the final day with victory over Stockport at Withdean meaning they would remain in League One for another season. But the following campaign saw more misery at the start and Russell Slade’s short tenure was over. After Slade’s dismissal, Bloom said he received lots of applicants for the vacancy but when Poyet’s name was thrown in, he became ‘very interested’ before adding, “His reputation as being a top quality coach shone through, as well as being a top man… I am certain he will be a big success at the Albion.” Poyet certainly agreed, stating in a BBC Sussex interview “This is another challenge for me to take the club where everybody in Brighton wants to be and that’s in the Championship… Being realistic I think eighteen months is possible. If that is the goal of the club, it’s no problem.” He signed an initial contract until the end of the following season, which would be Albion’s final one at their makeshift home of Withdean. There was an immediate interest in the club from the media and it just so happened that Poyet’s first match in charge would be televised Live five days after taking charge. As a well known player in the Premier League, he scored some fantastic goals and assisted many more. As assistant coach he worked alongside big names, the likes of Juande Ramos and Dennis Wise. He was well used to lots of attention, but Brighton were not. The main focus in the spotlight was usually about the club’s fight for a stadium, a battle which dragged on for over a decade. Now, with Gus at the helm, there was an increase in coverage purely to see how the Uruguayan would be getting on. It turned out to go rather well.

Poyet appointedClimbing the table and building his own style was the first aim for Poyet. Results started to arrive and the style of play was overhauled. It was about getting the ball on the floor, playing out from the back, enjoying possession and passing the ball as much as possible. It was his philosophy and he only wanted to play one way. The club finished thirteenth in League One in May 2010 and sights were set on the top six. Poyet’s free-flowing Brighton side went even better in the 2010/2011 season, Poyet’s first full campaign, as they stormed to the top of the table and ran away with the title at a canter, soaring to the top of the table in September and never letting up. The club played some of the best football the supporters had ever seen. It culminated with a whopping 95 points to be crowned Champions as they bid farewell to life at Withdean and welcomed in the new stadium in Falmer with Championship football after five years away. In the process, Poyet earned the PFA League One Manager of the Year award and went on to claim the Outstanding Managerial Achievement prize at the Football League Awards. Praise was flying in from everywhere and the momentum continued in the second tier. His Seagulls narrowly missed out on the Play Off places in the 2011/2012 season as they took naturally to the higher League. One big push the following year saw them finish fourth and reach that end of season showdown for the first time at this level since 1991. That time it was ended at Wembley by Notts County, but for Gus it was Crystal Palace who did for us in 2013. And everything immediately fell apart in the days and weeks that followed. It ended with a bitter public fallout in which Poyet lost his job and Brighton had to start again. Here, we take a look at some of the media appearances Gus Poyet made whilst in charge of Brighton. A natural in front of the camera, he interviewed with passion and honesty and was a favourite in the studio. It all began by taking his new side along the South Coast for a birthday to remember.

 

First Match in Charge; v Southampton (A), 15th November 2009

#28 Southampton 15/11/2009 Table on Poyet's arrival

Five days after signing on at Brighton, Gus Poyet took his new club along the Coast to Southampton for a big clash at the foot of the League One table. Sky Sports couldn’t believe their luck, having already chosen this match in advance for Live television coverage over the international break weekend. Having a high-profile new manager in charge, and on his birthday, was the icing on the cake. Brighton sat 20th and in need of a rethink having shipped four goals in the previous match at Wycombe. In contrast, Southampton were in great form yet propped up the table for most of the season so far due to a ten-point deduction owing to financial irregularities but a win would take them out of the drop zone and above Albion. Sky Sports reporter Greg Whelan spoke to Poyet before his debut in charge and began by asking how much he was looking forward to the challenge. “We’ve done everything possible, because it’s only three days normally you have normally have a month of pre-season but, like I always say, I don’t complain at the situation and we have to accept it.” He spoke of the “talent and quality” of the squad he inherited but emphasised the need to shore up the back line, which he immediately tried to address by dropping captain Adam Virgo from the starting XI. The match couldn’t have gone any better, a full report is available here, as Brighton surged to a terrific three-one away victory with goals from Andrew Crofts and a Glenn Murray brace. Afterwards, a slightly hoarse Poyet spoke again with Whelan. “The lads were superb. We had two or three days to train, they adapted themselves to the situation very well.” He was pleased with the effort from the defence and debated whether the Southampton goal from the penalty spot should have been given in the first place. His focus was now about taking it game by game whilst he worked out exactly what to do with this squad and where strength was needed. “We need to think about keep improving as a team, keep working hard, keep believing in the strength of the team and work hard on the weakness.” In the studio, host George Gavin and pundit Peter Beagrie predicted brighter things for the Albion. “It’s a big task for Gus but I think, because you’ve got somebody with such kudos attached to it, I think he’s gonna be given time to build something at Brighton,” Beagrie said. That time spent during the rest of the 2009/10 campaign was enough to lift the club up the table steadily and with an attractive, open style which was enough to secure thirteenth place the following May, well clear of the relegation zone this time. Times certainly were changing.

SOU Poyet SOU Studio


Football League Weekend studio appearance; Sky Sports 2, 21st October 2011

FLW Titles FLW Poyet

In Poyet’s first full season in charge, Brighton were unstoppable as they stormed their way to the League One title. He built an exciting, attacking team dominating possession with free-flowing, passing football. The 2010/2011 campaign would be remembered amongst the greatest in Albion’s history as they took on and defeated all comers. The championship was secured in the final season at Withdean with four games to spare and ensured the opening of The Amex in Falmer would be as a second tier club again. A massive ninety-five points were obtained along the way, with Poyet named LMA League One Manager of the Season earning him huge acclaim. He strengthened over the summer to twice break the club’s transfer record – first on Will Buckley and then Craig Mackail-Smith – and began life in the Championship in superbly dramatic style with a last-gasp two-one opening day win over Doncaster. However, form over the next couple of months had stalled after positive opening weeks. Sky Sports had selected the home match against West Ham for Live television coverage on the Monday night. To preview that and the rest of the weekend’s fixtures, Gus Poyet was invited into the Football League Weekend studio to accompany George Gavin on the Friday evening. He admitted that he found the step up in League “very hard, very competitive” citing more power, strength, quality and experience in the Championship. After a dozen matches the Seagulls sat in tenth place on nineteen points going into this weekend. Poyet’s achievements so far earned him a contract extension beyond the original eighteen months and boasted a terrific win ratio of more than 50% over a century of matches. The stats were looking fantastic.

FLW Studio FLW Record

Gavin and Poyet discussed the move from Withdean to The Amex and how that impacted the club. Gus made his feelings clear about the old athletics ground; “I know people love it but I don’t. I’m the only one at Brighton who said that it was one of the horrible places to play football!” Of course by contrast he loved life in Falmer; “It’s totally the opposite – it’s massive, it’s comfortable, even the seats now!” He made a number of improvements on the playing staff too, bringing in the likes of Mackail-Smith, Buckley and Vicente as well as younger talents like Will Hoskins and Romain Vincelot. Poyet singled out Scotland’s newest striker Mackail-Smith for his outstanding workrate; “He’s the type of player that, when you are a defender, you don’t want against you. He’s quicker than what people think, he’s always running, desperate to play”. The Tuesday before the show, Brighton drew one-all away at Millwall which featured one of the weakest penalties in club history from Ryan Harley. Poyet’s response; “I was not a penalty taker so I’m not gonna blame anyone who takes penalties.” Without a win in six, form had gone off the boil having not lost in the opening six matches. A tough period was ahead for Poyet as clashes with West Ham and Southampton were coming up but Poyet was in buoyant mood. “I look at that as a manager, as a player, the fixtures – where is West Ham? There. Where is Birmingham? There. That’s the games you want to play… I love it.” Poyet talked through his own methods of coaching. On his preparation, he said “I’ve done everything possible to win this football game… I’ve done my job, then it’s up to the players” He didn’t join in playing during training whereas assistant Mauricio Taricco did. And the programme drew to a close with a quick mention of the success in League One; “I think it’s incredible what we did last year… The way we played we surprised people early doors and got points ahead and it was difficult for them to get back.” His aim of a top ten finish was in sight. “We’ll see.”

FLW Signings FLW Fixtures


Football League Weekend interview; Sky Sports 1, 2nd March 2012

FLWI Forster Poyet's Office

After a bit of a blip, Brighton were firmly back on course in the Championship. By March the club were on the fringes of the Play Offs in their first season back. Sky Sports preview programme Football League Weekend sent their reporter and former Albion striker Nicky Forster to the manager’s office to catch up with the boss. This was a particularly enlightening interview, given what we know subsequently. It began by discussing the situation at the time; Brighton were in seventh place level on points with the final Play Off team and thirteen matches remaining. Poyet admitted that placing was “just a little bit better than expected” as he was “expecting to be in the middle really”. He continued to play things down, saying “I don’t think we should be real contenders but I think we’ve got a chance because we are a little bit different.” To give a real insight into the mind of Poyet, Forster questioned him on the inevitable links to bigger clubs that come when a manager does as well as Gus had done thus far. “It’s good because that means we’re doing something right. I try to wait for the time it happens, I try to live with it. Sometimes it’s a shock and it’s crazy for a few days but I’m lucky.” The attention feeds into a crucial part of the man; his ego. The success in League One earned Poyet a new long-term contract but, he said, “at the same time, like any other job, there is a time frame that you need to set up… depending on how we do, you can stay forever or not.” He then spoke of some of the positives of the future, with the academy on the horizon and a plan in mind but didn’t want to commit to too much detail for fear of everything changing and then “looking stupid”. Perhaps this attention from other clubs and talk about promotion was a bit much as things quickly began to go off the boil. After this interview, Brighton won just two of the thirteen matches to drop down to tenth. Was their eye taken off the ball and heads were allowed to turn, we’ll never probably know. But what was known amongst the footballing community was how good a job Poyet was doing. The studio team of host George Gavin with Simon Grayson and Phil Brown echoed that afterwards, demonstrating it with the excellent results since the New Year.

FLWI 2012 Results FLWI Presentation team


Football League Award Winner; BBC One South East, 12th March 2012

LKO Titles LKO Award

Gus Poyet’s great work at the Albion was recognised by the Football League at their annual awards dinner in March 2012. He was honoured with the Outstanding Managerial Performance across the three Divisions for transforming the Seagulls from relegation candidates to League One Champions within eighteen months of taking charge. BBC regional magazine show Late Kick Off reported on the event the following evening. The Brighton area was now served by the “London and South East” BBC region, meaning a new line up for the 2012 series of Late Kick Off, with Football Focus presenter Dan Walker at the helm as the Albion shared the spotlight with the clubs from the capital. Walker was joined in the studio by former Charlton and Wimbledon striker Jason Euell and ex-Crystal Palace front man Mark Bright. Poyet said of his award; “I’ve been lucky to be at the right club at the right time… The key is the players. If you make sure you get the right players, you convince them, you make sure they want to play for the football club and they believe in what we do… you got a chance.” By the time the gong was handed out to him, Brighton were sat fifth in the Championship table with ten matches of the season to go, such was the lateness of this award we had almost completed the following season. In fact, Poyet was doing such a great job to carry on the momentum of promotion into the higher tier and in the new stadium, he wouldn’t have looked out of place on the shortlist for the award for this 2011/2012 campaign either. In the studio, Mark Bright was full of praise for the job done by the former Chelsea midfielder. “The move into the new stadium was fantastic for the Brighton fans and for the team. But the style of football they play, they’re now looking at back to back promotions – and seriously as well – I think they are big contenders. There was a lot of respect in the room for Gus Poyet.” The final few matches of the season saw the Albion tail off and miss out on the Play Offs but over the course of Poyet’s first two seasons in charge he won plenty of plaudits for the open, attractive passing style of play and were candidates to go one step further into the top six the following season.

LKO Poyet LKO Studio


Last Match in Charge; v Crystal Palace (H), 13th May 2013

PAL Titles PAL Poyet

The club missed out on the Play Offs in 2012 having dropped too many points in the final third of the season and winning just one of the last ten. Poyet signalled to the board that, in order to go one step further, investment was much needed. Tony Bloom answered by providing funds to bring in top class players such as Tomasz Kuszczak, Bruno, Wayne Bridge, Andrea Orlandi and David Lopez over the summer. The squad was sharp and solid. The Albion even led the Championship briefly in September. Too many draws cost us in November and December as Brighton slipped down the top half. Leonardo Ulloa and Matthew Upson were brought in to add even more quality in January and result picked up again for Poyet. Just one defeat in the first eleven matches of 2013 saw the club back in the Play Off pack and an unbeaten last nine games cemented fourth place in the second tier, the highest finish for thirty years since relegation from the old Division One. It set up a crunch clash with Crystal Palace in the Play Off Semi Finals and, after drawing the away leg nil-nil on the Friday, it was all down to this Monday night in May at The Amex. Brighton were favourites and dispatched of their rivals three-nil as recently as March here. Gus Poyet was one match away from a Wembley Final. It turned out to be a dreadful night. Palace won the game two-nil and went on to gain promotion with a Final win over Watford. An incident in the away dressing room prior to kick off enraged their boss Ian Holloway and fired up the Palace players.

After the televised match, Poyet spoke to Sky Sports reporter Jonathan Oakes in a conversation which fuelled speculation about the Uruguayan’s future with the Albion and saw him lose the support of the chairman and board. It began with Poyet’s summation of the campaign; “You have a very, very good season, better than expected. You done something very good and then because of this Play Off you go home with a terrible feeling and I’m really sad.” Over the course of the two Legs, Poyet thought Brighton should have edged it. He praised the First Leg performance in particular, dominating that first half but not getting the reward. But complained of his side’s poor showing in this match; “We were not ourself, too much tension, too much responsibility… That is not us.” The damning moments came at the end of the interview when asked about recovering from this and his future with the club. “I don’t want to make any decisions or any comments right now because the feelings are not the best so I will sit down, check properly everything… Where is the roof? Did we hit the roof today and there is nothing above? What is going to be the situation next year? But we’ve got time.” Asked if he would be here next season he replied, “I need to analyse my personal diary.” Emotions played a big part of Poyet’s success, being fiery and passionate and feeling all the highs and lows. But when it came to interviews, particularly just after a defeat or if something hadn’t gone his way, Poyet showed his managerial immaturity too many times. It wasn’t his place to question the ambitions of the club in the minutes after a heart-breaking defeat in this manner. Blame was being placed at everyone else’s door instead of his own. Brighton’s squad was better than Crystal Palace’s but he couldn’t get past them. And for that he should have faced up to it. It was silly to talk about ‘hitting the roof’ and touting himself as available for other jobs in such a manner. This was noted immediately by the board, who acted to suspend him from his job pending an internal inquiry in the subsequent days. Poyet was in danger of undoing all the great work he put in to this club and it was his own fault for the bitter ending.


TV Pundit Poyet dismissed by Brighton; BBC Three, 23rd June 2013

TV Studio TV Poyet

Never one to go quietly, the manner of Gus Poyet’s eventual dismissal from Brighton following a period of suspension caused headline news. Not necessarily for the sacking itself though, more for the way the news reached the public domain. On Sunday 23rd June 2013, Poyet was working as a pundit on BBC Three’s Live coverage of the FIFA Confederations Cup match between Nigeria and Spain. Sat in the warm Salford studio alongside fellow guest Efan Ekoku and host Mark Chapman, the news was delivered to the viewers at home during the half-time break that Gus Poyet’s contract with Brighton had been terminated with immediate effect. Chapman began the coverage by announcing, “We will look more at that first half during half-time, but we’re gonna start half-time by talking about Gus because it’s been a slightly odd first forty-five minutes for those of us in the studio and particularly for Gus because after three-and-a-half-years as Brighton manager, whilst we’ve been on-air this evening Gus has been told that his contract has been terminated.” The official statement, below, issued by the football club on the Seagulls website was read out. Poyet insisted that the first he heard of the decision was when a member of the BBC production staff printed out the statement and handed it to the studio team whilst the match they’re covering was in play. Brighton and Hove Albion refute these claims.

TV Statement

Poyet began by saying, “I think BBC have got a great story forever, really. Because a manager getting information that he’s been released from his employment by the BBC during the time of a programme is quite surprising.” He said he did not receive any form of communication from the club prior to this statement being released. He added a veiled barb towards the Albion hierarchy by saying, “I think everybody, the viewers and everyone, can take their own conclusion about the way that I’ve been informed.” He confirmed that he intended to appeal the decision and had already spoken with his lawyers around the next steps but was limited in what he could say right now. He was most sad with the fact that during the suspension period, lasting for over a month until this point, Poyet had not been allowed any form of communication with his players or staff for legal reasons. After the match, they returned to the subject of Poyet’s dismissal to delve a little further and reiterate the news to any latecomers. Chapman asked him if he was now on the job market again, to which he replied, whilst reaching for the piece of paper in front of him, “From what I read from the statement is that I am unemployed.” If he genuinely didn’t know about this before coming on-air then he handled it brilliantly. If he did know, it was a masterclass in hamming it up and feigning surprise. Given the nature of his fiery personality on the touchline, you tend to think that he would have been a bit more outspoken if this was genuine news to him. He did look rather emotional though as the questions wore on. Gus Poyet’s time in charge of the Albion concluded with the following message at the end of the programme; “First I would like to thank every single Brighton fan for being so patient with me, supportive. They’ve been outstanding. I know how difficult it was in the beginning to change a way of understanding football and they’ve been excellent with me all the time. They were patient, they believed, they got convinced and I’m sure they are proud of the football club and the team they’ve been watching over the last three-and-a-half-years.” Gus Poyet did not go through with his appeal and his tenure at Brighton came to a sad end after such highs.

TV Chapman TV Studio 2


The relationship between Brighton and Hove Albion, the supporters and Gus Poyet completely broke down after that terrible Play Off night in May 2013. Poyet was soon suspended by the club, along with coaches Mauricio Taricco and Charlie Oatway, pending an inquiry after comments made after the Crystal Palace match. The full truth probably will never emerge about exactly what happened behind the scenes there but it was all rather unsavoury. When he was dismissed from the club in June, Poyet insisted the first he heard of it was when he was making a punditry appearance Live on the BBC, who broke the news to him on-air. The club statement said Poyet was already aware of their decision. Whatever happened, it was a very sad ending to what had been a fantastic period for both Poyet and the Albion. He oversaw the move into the new stadium with a seamless transition from Champions of League One at Withdean to promotion candidates in the Championship at the new home of The Amex. He transformed the playing style of the club, moving away from long-ball plodders struggling at the foot of the third tier to an attractive, flowing passing philosophy knocking on the door of the Premier League. He was at the helm for almost two-hundred matches emerging the victor in eighty-six, that’s a win ratio of 44.3%. Too many draws cost him a Play Off spot in the 2011/12 campaign but it still built up the points, losing just forty-nine matches in charge. As far as first managerial jobs go, Poyet had a stormer and was highly sought after and respected in the wider football community, both at home and abroad.

Poyet Manager

Defeat in the Play Offs to your biggest rival and then a bitter fallout with the club hierarchy did mean that Poyet was enemy number one amongst sections of the Seagulls support for a time after his sacking. But to gloss over the fantastic achievements he had with the club would be foolish. Without Poyet, Brighton could well have begun life at Falmer in the bottom Division of English football and going nowhere fast. It wasn’t just results he was able to get, but he improved players too. The best example was probably with local lad Adam El-Abd, who was transformed from a big bruising old-fashioned centre-half into a ball-playing modern defender. Poyet’s fiery style and passionate displays didn’t endear him to everyone and several high-profile names fell foul of him. Nicky Forster and Glenn Murray’s partnership didn’t last nearly long enough. But he was able to attract a whole new calibre of player, the likes never seen before in Sussex. Former Valencia playmaker Vicente was somehow convinced to join and, in the limited game time he got, showed glimpses of brilliance. Kazenga LuaLua flourished. A host of other top Division players dropped down to the Championship to earn their stripes with the blue and whites. Gus Poyet was a huge factor in that. He gave us a glimpse of the potential this football club had now the stadium and training facilities had started to take shape.

Poyet Memory Lane

In his final post-match interview, he questioned if we’d ‘hit the roof’. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The foundations were laid, they just needed someone to crank it up a notch. Should Poyet have been the man to have taken the club into the Premier League? Possibly. It may have been a case of trying to go too far too soon. Brighton were not a top level club in 2013 and had overachieved to get within 180 minutes of making it. Allowing Glenn Murray to slip away for nothing in 2011, and to end up at Palace, was a terrible error of judgement and his goals we struggled to replace for a long time. Poyet’s passion would sometimes boil over into petulance, he received his marching orders from the touchline and saw rage transfer to his players on the pitch too often. Establishing the club in the second tier soon attracted interest from bigger clubs and Poyet didn’t exactly hide his delight at that. For a while it seemed we were destined to lose him to the Premier League as former stomping grounds Chelsea and Tottenham sniffed around. As much as his philosophy brought huge success, it could sometimes be stifled in the Championship as clubs learned how to counter it and frustrate Brighton. Plan B was rarely in the offing and this harmed the promotion charge in both second tier seasons. His ego got the better of him and when the final, crucial battle was won by Ian Holloway’s Palace, blame lied everywhere except at the manager’s door. In the end it became a tussle between manager and board and there would only ever be one winner. Poyet paid the price.

He was responsible for the best of times as an Albion fan. We were making headlines for the attractive football and fantastic facilities, showcasing the club and the city to the world in the process. Players flocked to Falmer from far flung corners of which Poyet was usually a big factor. We came so close to achieving the dream of top flight football, but just fell short. Poyet questioned if that was as far as the club could go. But as far as he could go with the club, come June 2013 it was adios, Gus, and thanks for the memories.

Huddersfield Poyet

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.

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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.


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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.

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sThe media spotlight didn’t often shine on the Albion. Outside of the glorious run to the FA Cup Final, and Replay, in 1983, appearances on the television were rare. Goal clips were shown on the news and, if you were lucky, the Brighton game might have been selected for extended highlights on Match of the Day or The Big Match. Live games were even rarer, with the Seagulls on screen just three times in the 1980s and four in the 1990s. The satellite television boom didn’t really reach the South Coast until the 21st Century. The story of the club’s homelessness, two-year exile to Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium and twelve year stay at Withdean did garner some attention. Television helped play its part in this. This piece remembers some of the milestone matches Brighton played at their temporary abode. This is the SECOND part of the story, the first can be found here.

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

1

BIGGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY (11th November 2006) FA Cup Round One

Match of the Day, BBC One; Brighton 8-0 Northwich Victoria 

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

After a disappointing 2005/06 season which saw the Albion relegated in last place from the Championship, and further frustrating delays over the planning permission for the new stadium in Falmer, the club were back in the third tier for a period of transition. It got worse just a month into the campaign when boss Mark McGhee left after a lacklustre start and three consecutive losses. Hopes of bouncing straight back up like the last time they were at this level were quickly diminished. Chairman Dick Knight said at the time he thought McGhee had lost the fans and accepted his proposal to stand down. Former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins, coach of the academy, was appointed initially in a caretaker role before being given the post full time. Results weren’t showing much sign of improving with five defeats on the bounce, including a disappointing defeat Live on Sky against Blackpool in October. That proved to be a bit of a turning point as Wilkins’ young Seagulls then began a six match unbeaten run, five of them wins, ahead of an FA Cup 1st Round tie at home to Conference side Northwich Victoria. As the 1990s showed, Albion taking on non-League sides in the Cup wasn’t always a guarantee of a result. Terrestrial FA Cup broadcaster BBC showed the pick of the First Round ties at the end of an extended one-hundred-minute Match of the Day, once all the Premiership highlights had been on. In fact there were so many goals to get through, there was only time to show three of ours on the main show, with the rest shunted to the BBC Red Button where every goal from every game was played on a loop overnight. Damien Johnson voiced all eight Albion finishes, eventually!

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

Dean Cox got us off to the perfect start with a goal in the eighth minute. A positive surge from Dean Hammond brought the ball inside the area where Cox finished first time to curl into the bottom corner (above, top left). Jake Robinson doubled the lead ten minutes later when he skipped past two to drill low into the corner past goalkeeper Phil Senior. The juniors were out on top at half time and it was three nil ten minutes after the break. Robinson was again the scorer, cutting in from the right touchline past his marker and finishing from a wide angle under the ‘keeper (above, top right). The low corners were proving to be the weak spot for Senior and Alex Revell took full advantage with a fantastic strike (above, bottom left) from twenty-five yards. Four more goals were added in the final twelve minutes, the first of which completed Jake Robinson’s hat-trick (below left). This time the effort flew high into the roof of the net from range. The sixth came about when, for some reason, the furthest forward was Adam El-Abd who saw his shot parried into the path of Joe Gatting, son of former Albion defender Steve, to tap home from six yards. That was his first senior goal for the club after coming up through the ranks and another also got that accolade with a minute to go. Sam Rents was put through by Dean Cox with time and space to make it number seven (above, bottom right). And it was Cox who rounded things off neatly, scoring the first and the last, to make it a great eight-nil. His run into the area was spotted by Gatting, the through ball perfect for Cox to lift it over the goalie and into the top corner. A fantastically ruthless display from a Brighton side full of youth and excitement. They progressed to the Second Round with the biggest margin of victory Withdean would see.

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

This result didn’t quite prove to be the shot in the arm to push on for the rest of the season. Further exploits in the Cup continued, ending with a Third Round defeat to Premiership West Ham away. League form was patchy and the club trundled to an eighteenth place finish in League One in 2007, picking up just eight points from the final twelve matches. The following season was much more positive though and Wilkins narrowly missed out on a Play Off spot by a single place. The biggest result came off the pitch, with permission finally granted for Falmer, this time Lewes District Council decided not to challenge. Things were on the up again! But sadly not for Dean Wilkins, who was relieved of his duties at the end of the season, in a surprise move. Brighton searched through their former glories and brought back Division Three winning manager Micky Adams after seven years away for the 2008/09 season. What could possibly go wrong?!


2

BIGGEST SHOCK (24th September 2008) League Cup Round Two

Carling Cup Highlights, ITV1; Brighton 1-1 Man City (2-2 AET, 5-3 on pens) 

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

In September 2008, Manchester City were taken over by an Abu Dhabi Group consortium for £200 million which instantly made them the richest club in world football. The club finished ninth in the Premiership the season before and were now competing in Europe this time round. On Transfer deadline day they bought Brazilian superstar Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million. By contrast at the same time, Brighton were competing in League One having brought back the manager who left to become an assistant at Leicester seven years earlier, beginning their twelfth season without a home, lost to Crowborough Athletic in the final pre-season match and the biggest bit of transfer news was the re-signing of Adam Virgo on a free, having not spent a penny on a new player all summer and relying on youth, free agents and loans. So when the two sides were drawn to play each other in the Second Round of the Carling Cup it was fair to see it was a complete mismatch. The City schedule was jam-packed due to their progression in the UEFA Cup so this match had to be played when pretty much everybody else was playing the Third Round. They went into the match off the back of a six-nil thrashing of Portsmouth and won three out of the first five Premiership games. Brighton’s form had regressed since an unbeaten August, without a win in four and lost the previous Saturday to the nine-men of Walsall. Nobody really held out much hope of making it to the League Cup Third Round this Wednesday night at Withdean. Football League highlights broadcaster ITV put on a late-night programme at 11.35pm to round up the events of the week presented by Matt Smith in the studio, with our match receiving the voiceover treatment from regular reporter Tom Skippings.

Man City Opener Man City Murray Man City Anyinsah Man City Equaliser

Big money signing Robinho was a no-show but City’s side included several famous names, the likes of Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper, Richard Dunne, Vincent Kompany, Michael Ball (not that one), Michael Johnson (not that one either) and Jo all starting. The Albion’s team featured local born Adam Virgo, Tommy Elphick, Adam El-Abd and Tommy Fraser alongside new signing David Livermore and Ipswich loanee Matt Richards. But honours were even in the first half, with Steve Thomson nearly even putting Brighton one up when he struck the post. However, City took the lead just after the hour mark. Gelson Fernandes saw his effort take a huge deflection of Elphick and fly past Kuipers (above, top left). Just when you thought that would be that, Brighton popped up with an equaliser in the final minute after great work from Thomson. He received the ball from a throw-in on the left touchline, dribbled past Stephen Ireland and through Vincent Kompany. He received the ball in the box from a Virgo flick over the top before stabbing the ball goalwards. Waiting to pounce from no more than two yards out was Albion striker Glenn Murray who got there ahead of Fernandes to equalise (above, top right). Extra Time was required. Brighton turned the game around just five minutes in when substitute Joe Anyinsah, on loan from Preston making only his second appearance, pounced in the area (above, bottom left) after good work from Dean Cox. For all their wealth, experience and technique, it took Mark Hughes’ Manchester City side to go route one for their equaliser three minutes into the second period. A long punt upfield from goalkeeper Schmeichel was missed by everyone and allowed to bounce just outside the box. Stephen Ireland latched on to it to squeeze between the central defenders and slot the ball through the legs of Kuipers for two-two (above, bottom right). They still couldn’t be separated and a shoot-out was next.

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

Penalty shoot-outs had served Brighton rather well, with a superb dramatic win over Swindon in 2004 on the way to Play Off glory being the most famous thus far. Nobody was giving an inch during this, with the first seven spot kicks all being converted. Livermore, Elphick, Murray and Virgo scored for the Seagulls, with Ched Evans, Elano and Kompany replying for the visitors. Michael Ball couldn’t follow, with his kick saved well by Kuipers low to the Dutchman’s right. That presented Matt Richards with the opportunity to win it, which he duly did; dispatching his penalty to the left (above, top left) sending Schmeichel the wrong way and Brighton through! Cue a mini pitch invasion, the hoardings and running track of Withdean no barrier for the fans. There was no doubting this was an embarrassing exit for Manchester City, who would get over it in subsequent years of course. Pure elation for Brighton, supporters getting that little chance to gloat over the big clubs. In his interview afterwards, Micky Adams said “The fans have thoroughly enjoyed it tonight. It’s nice to see the Withdean packed out.” Adams wouldn’t go on to see that again too much. Defeat to Derby in Round Three saw a swift exit, they were knocked out of the FA Cup in Round One via a replay and were a penalty shoot-out away from a Wembley Final in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy but Luton edged it that night, Live on Sky. Form in the League crashed and burned and he was sacked in February after just nine months as the club slid into the relegation zone. An emergency rescue operation was required in the final third of the season to avoid falling into League Two.


3

THE GREAT ESCAPE IS ON (18th April 2009) League One

The Championship, ITV4 (repeat); Brighton 3-1 Oldham

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

With Micky Adams losing his job in February and the club in the bottom four of League One, it was a tall order to reverse the slide with so few matches remaining. Come in, Russell Slade! The 2007 League One Manager of the Year was appointed in March until the end of the season, giving him just fourteen matches to lift them from 22nd place. Early on he got the better of his old side Yeovil with a five-nil thrashing but that was the only win in March. Defeats on the road at Walsall, Scunthorpe and MK Dons followed before a vital win at Hereford. An Easter Monday victory at Colchester kick-started an incredible finish to the season which continued with this match, at home to Oldham. Joe Royle’s side were comfortably mid-table with the Play Offs not quite in reach so essentially had little to play for. But Brighton had the worst home record in the Division, with just two wins at Withdean since 1st November – that’s an astonishing thirteen matches. ITV’s The Championship continued to be the terrestrial highlights programme for the Football League but despite the name, they did show the goals from all three Divisions. Matt Smith presented the Sunday morning show on ITV1, repeated on Monday nights on digital channel ITV4, from Molineux as Wolves celebrated promotion. Reporter Chris Hall talked through the goals on a big day for Brighton.

Oldham League One Oldham 1st goal Oldham Owusu header Oldham consolation

Dean Cox got Brighton off the mark after twenty-six minutes, left unmarked at the back post to nod home Lloyd Owusu’s cross. And the assister became the goalscorer just before half-time in slightly unusual circumstances. Gary Hart, who was actually released in the summer by Dean Wilkins only to be immediately brought back when Micky Adams was appointed, provided a similar looking cross to the back stick where Owusu stood. The striker joined in March on loan from Cheltenham. He was denied a goal at the first attempt when his stooping header was saved by goalkeeper Mark Crossley but his quick reactions ensured he wasn’t to be denied completely. Whilst lying full stretch on the floor, he flicked the loose ball in from all of a yard to improvise brilliantly (above, top right). You don’t see too many horizontal headers! After an hour, Lewis Allesandra pulled a goal back for the Latics when he outmuscled Adam El-Abd to win a ball over the top and calmly slot past Michel Kuipers (above, bottom left). The hope was short-lived as Lloyd Owusu grabbed his second and Brighton’s third less than two minutes later to seal the points. Somehow the ball trickled through the middle of the Oldham defence and Owusu latched onto it to slot past Crossley (below left).

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

Three-one was the final scoreline as Brighton completed a huge victory and shook off that Withdean hoodoo. There were three more matches in order to pull off the greatest of great escapes, with just one of those coming at Withdean. The League One table still made for uncomfortable viewing from an Albion perspective, with the club languishing in 22nd spot but three vital points brought them that little bit closer to getting out. Hereford’s fate was sealed that weekend after another defeat, just three other spots now waited to be filled. Brighton followed up these back-to-back wins with two more great away performances. A two-one victory at Bristol Rovers saw the Seagulls come from behind to snatch the three points. That man Owusu scored again, cancelling Rickie Lambert’s opener, whilst on-loan Crystal Palace forward Calvin Andrew got the winner. This was backed up by a crucial point at Huddersfield, who had veteran Andy Booth still firing strong and on the scoresheet. Again, Andrew and Owusu netted. These results lifted Albion out of the relegation zone and meant that a win in the final match of the season at home to Stockport would be enough to complete what was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago; stay in the Division. Could the Seagulls hold their nerve for one more match?

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

Big League Weekend, Sky Sports 1; Brighton 1-0 Stockport

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

Sky Sports previewed the final weekend of the Football League season with their usual Friday night magazine show Big League Weekend 1. This replaced the old Football League Review show on Thursday nights in previous seasons with a Friday preview and a Monday review show under the Big League banner. This was introduced for the 2007/08 season. George Gavin was the main man fronting it in the presenter’s seat. Gone are the days of having to stand around that podium for an hour! Graphics and titles were the same as used on the Live matches. For this edition, Gavin was joined in the studio by Brentford manager Andy Scott and Sky Sports pundit Scott Minto.

Stockport Slade dugout Stockport Studio 1  Stockport table before match Stockport Fixtures

The studio team looked ahead to the intriguing battle at the bottom, where five teams were battling to avoid the drop; Crewe, Carlisle, Northampton, Hartlepool and, of course, the Albion. Crewe had the unenviable task of playing Champions Leicester and even a win might not have been enough for the Railwaymen to avoid joining Hereford and Cheltenham. Perennial escape artists Carlisle could do it again as they hosted Millwall, the Lions with nothing much to play for but pride having already secured a top five spot. Hartlepool headed South West to Bristol Rovers knowing a point would be enough for them. Northampton faced a tricky tie at Play Off bound Leeds, where coming away with anything is usually tough. And at Withdean, Stockport were dragged down towards the battle after a ten point deduction for going into administration. However, with their positive goal difference it was almost impossible for Carlisle to overturn that swing so effectively were safe. Brighton knew a win would secure the great escape for Russell Slade having only taken the reins in March. Reporter Dominic Johnson voiced a package interviewing someone from all the clubs involved in the relegation battle. Slade said “That was my biggest worry, that there wasn’t a lot of game to be played and to turn it around in such a short space of time.” Pundit Scott Minto thought Northampton and Crewe would be the two to drop, with tough final day fixtures for the pair.

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

The Monday after the Saturday before, Sky Sports broadcast their ninety minute weekend round-up of the Football League in Big League Weekend 2, presented by George Gavin with Birmingham’s Kevin Phillips and Burnley’s Robbie Blake. Tony Lockwood voiced a report detailing the season’s conclusion at the foot of League One, having discounted Crewe after their defeat at Leicester sent them down. Four teams remained trying not to get that final spot. The package began on the South Coast with the sun shining at Withdean as the fans and staff went about their preparations. Chairman Dick Knight was interviewed pitchside prior to kick off putting an excited, positive spin on the events. “It’s actually why we come to football, days like this, a wonderful, exciting day. We’re very optimistic, we’ve got a full house, record crowd that’s ever been here.” 8,618 turned up to the pack out the athletics ground, fully expecting a good result for Russell Slade’s miracle men.

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts though as an early goal from Graham Kavanagh put Carlisle one up in their match and with the Albion level with Stockport, the goal put Brighton into the relegation zone. However, that position didn’t last for long as a Leeds goal against Northampton sent the Cobblers dropping instead. As things stood, Brighton and Carlisle were safe, Northampton were joining Crewe, Cheltenham and Hereford in League Two. Carlisle extended their lead against Millwall to save them from the drop and Leeds soon doubled their advantage against Northampton. A third goal for the Yorkshire team secured Northampton’s fate late on. With seventeen minutes to go, Brighton made sure of it when Nicky Forster pounced to score the sort of poacher’s goal he was famous for (above, top right). On loan Gary Dicker’s volley on the edge of the box was parried by goalkeeper Conrad Logan but only as far as Forster who tapped home from five yards. It was enough to get the win, with the final whistle a cue for a pitch invasion to celebrate (above, bottom left). Afterwards, Forster (above, bottom right) was full of praise for the support; “It was a fantastic atmosphere, the fans came in force and that was definitely key to the day.”

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

Russell Slade told Sky Sports “The lads have responded exceptionally well in recent weeks and I think they deserve it.” The boss was carried on supporters’ shoulders (above, top right) on the pitch, enjoying every second of this magnificent achievement. It’s easy to underplay it in hindsight but when he arrived the club morale was low; the home form was abysmal and it was difficult to see where the next win would come from. A couple of loan signings and some fresh thinking from the manager galvanised the side into promotion form in the final third of the campaign, ending with a five-match unbeaten run taking thirteen points out of fifteen. Six goals from striker Lloyd Owusu earned him the Powerade Player of the Month award for April (above, bottom left and right). He rejected the offer of joining permanently in the summer, but there was better news (initially) for Russell Slade, who was offered the job on a two-year deal. The final table (below) actually saw the Seagulls leap up to sixteenth position, three points clear of the drop zone but four places. As Scott Minto predicted on the Friday show, it was Crewe and Northampton who joined the already relegated two on their journey down to the basement League. It could so easily have been Brighton were it not for good old Russell Slade. It was a shame that his good impact didn’t stretch into the 2009/2010 season where a terrible start saw him dismissed in November to be replaced by former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet for his first managerial role. The rest really was, as they say, history!

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

The Football League Show, BBC One; Brighton 2-3 Huddersfield

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

When Gus Poyet was appointed Albion boss in November 2009, the club were just above the relegation zone in League One. His first match was televised Live on Sky Sports and the terrific three-one away victory at Southampton was a taster of results to come. It wasn’t all rosy though and the first few months were hit and miss. Gradually as the campaign wore on, he went about adjusting the playing style to a more fluid, passing one. He got the best out of the likes of Adam El Abd at the back, Matt Sparrow in the middle and Ashley Barnes up top alongside Glenn Murray. There was a clear identity about the club again. That season ended with the club climbing the League table from twentieth in January up to thirteenth in March, where the club would finish. The second half of the season was more like the Brighton we would come to see during the 2010/11 campaign; our final year at Withdean Stadium. With a new look structure of Tony Bloom as chairman and Gus Poyet as manager, the Albion stormed League One from the off. Just one defeat in fifteen saw them in the top six places and they would never look back. A terrific run of eleven wins out of twelve in March and April saw firstly promotion clinched with a four-three defeat of Dagenham, then the title secured with a three-one scoreline at Walsall. The foot eased off the gas a little towards the end of the season, the first home defeat was inflicted by Southampton at the end of April before a comedic own goal at Colchester, Live on Sky, saw further points dropped. The target of one hundred points was just slightly out of reach. And so the final match after twelve long, hard seasons at Withdean was upon us. Huddersfield were the visitors, themselves needing the points to join Albion in the Championship next season. Terrestrial highlights had switched from ITV to BBC in 2009 so The Football League Show presented by Manish Bhasin in the studio with Steve Claridge was where we could witness the best of the action.

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

It was only right that Dave Beckett, a Brighton supporter and voice of the Football League for more than a decade, got to narrate the final ever Albion match at Withdean. Beckett was there throughout the entire story of the sale of the Goldstone and playing at Gillingham, where he reported for ITV Meridian News. He was the presenter of ITV’s Football League Extra in the early years at Withdean before providing the reports for The Championship when that began in 2004. And when the BBC gained the League highlights he became one of their principle voices on the round-ups. He summed up the departure of Withdean nicely, beginning his report with “No electronic scoreboard at Withdean’s humble surroundings, a ground Brighton’s fans are delighted to say goodbye to after twelve years, even if it has seen some excellent seasons.” Huddersfield provided a guard of honour for the Champions but soon took the lead after just eight minutes. Benik Afobe swivelled to sell Gordon Greer a dummy in the area before slotting the ball under Peter Brezovan’s dive and into the back of the net. Brighton had their chances to equaliser, immediately with Ashley Barnes thwarted then later with Chris Wood, who saw his header crash against the crossbar. The Terriers lead at the break but just two minutes into the second half there was a chance of an equaliser when Elliott Bennett was fouled for a penalty. Up stepped Barnes. Goalkeeper Ian Bennett guessed the right way to keep it out but couldn’t do anything about the rebound, as Barnes stooped to nod in (above, top right). With less than half an hour remaining, Huddersfield regained the lead through Afobe’s second. He was presented the opportunity from a mistake by right back Inigo Calderon, whose chest back to Brezovan did not reach the intended target and Afobe nipped in to finish smartly. Eight minutes later and the Seagulls were on level terms again. A terrific through ball from Greer was dummied by Gary Hart to allow Matt Sparrow to latch onto it. Through on goal, he took two touches before finishing into the far corner for two-two (above, bottom left). That wasn’t the end of things as Danny Ward won it for Huddersfield in stoppage time when he put two Albion defenders on their backsides with one simple touch before firing past Brezovan at the near post (above, bottom right). Three-two the final scoreline for the final match.

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

That win for Huddersfield kept alive their hopes of joining Brighton in the Championship via the automatic promotion route, going level on points with Southampton in second place. The Saints also won that day, a three-nil scoreline at Brentford, but with a game in hand they were still favourites to go up. That’s exactly what happened, with Huddersfield having to try their luck in the Play Offs. For Brighton fans, the final ninety minutes was just a sideshow for the main event of the day – saying goodbye to this peculiar stadium in style with the presentation of the League One trophy. Captain Gordon Greer held the silverware aloft as the champagne flowed and the celebrations began. Manager Gus Poyet was lapping it up with the supporters (above, bottom left). It capped off a remarkable last season there, blowing away the rest of the competition and ending up on a hugely impressive 95 League points. The second tier would be where Brighton would begin life at Falmer in. The 2011/2012 season would not only see a change of Division, but also a change of home. At long, long, long last! Goodbye Withdean, and thanks for the memories.


Huddersfield Goodbye

Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup Away at the Big Boys

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sWith the move to the Withdean Stadium in 1999, Brighton’s fortunes on the field began improving markedly. Whilst the 1990s was a decade of decline, slipping down the Leagues and almost into oblivion, the early part of the 21st Century was a complete reversal of this. The biggest of the FA Cup ties whilst at Withdean were actually played on the road, with four trips to Premier League sides during that period. As the Albion climbed up the Football League, the ultimate aim was to join these Big Boys in the top flight for the first time since 1983. That season, the one and only time Brighton had reached the FA Cup Final (well, technically two including the Replay) was combined with relegation from the elite League. With financial troubles and homelessness, we seemed a world away from the huge riches of the Premier League but the ambitions of the club laid there. Here, take a look at the four occasions where Brighton got that little taste of the top table as we travelled in the FA Cup away at the Big Boys. Relive the games through clips of extended highlights and round up from BBC and ITV.


 

2004/05 Round Three goals

Match of the Day, BBC One (8th January 2005); Tottenham 2-1 Brighton 

2005 R3Tot Titles MOTD Studio 2005 2005 R3Tot Intro

The 2004/05 season was Brighton’s first back in the second tier after a year away. Having won the Division Two Play Off Final in May 2004, the Seagulls were plying their trade in the newly named Championship and things had begun a lot better than the last time at this level. At the mid-way point of the season, an FA Cup trip to White Hart Lane presented Mark McGhee’s men with a chance to face Premiership opposition in the form of Tottenham Hotspur. BBC held terrestrial FA Cup rights and a report was shown on Match of the Day on Third Round Saturday, the first time teams from the top two tiers entered the fray. The show was presented by Mark Pougatch, normally a leading voice on Radio Five Live, in a busy day for him having presented the lunchtime Live match that day. He was joined in the studio in London for the highlights by Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock, two fringe BBC pundits. Reporter Rebecca Lowe voiced the goals round up.

2005 R3Tot Carpenter crossbar          2005 R3Tot King goal 2005 R3Tot Equaliser          2005 R3Tot Celebrations

Brighton, wearing the change kit of yellow, began well and hit the crossbar after a quarter of an hour when Richard Carpenter struck one from twenty-five yards out on the half-volley (above, top left). But it was the higher Division side who took the lead just before the break. A short corner on the far side was crossed into the box. England defender Ledley King met with a header on the edge of the six yard line which looped up and over goalkeeper Michel Kuipers to bounce in (above, top right). A couple of minutes after half time, Albion found the perfect response when Carpenter did get his goal this time. It came directly from a free kick from twenty-two yards which curled round the wall and beat Paul Robinson in goal to equalise brilliantly (above, bottom left). As the game was heading for a replay, Robbie Keane won it with an extraordinary goal from the edge of the area (below, top left). Seven minutes remained when the ball was chipped in to him from the left. With his back to goal and Guy Butters pressing high, he took one touch to control with his chest before swivelling and shooting on the volley. It flew into the top corner for one of the goals of the season. Afterwards, the Irishman presented his old Wolves manager McGhee with a signed shirt and had praise for the Albion in his interview; “They didn’t give us many chances, Brighton. They were so tight and congested in the midfield.” Spurs progressed to the Sixth Round where Newcastle eventually knocked them out, whilst Brighton survived relegation from the Championship thanks to a final day draw with Ipswich Live on Sky.

2005 R3Tot Keane winner 2005 R3Tot Keane 2005 R3Tot Final score


2006/07 Round Three highlights

Match of the Day, BBC One (6th January 2007); West Ham 3-0 Brighton 

2007 R3WHam Titles 2007 R3WHam Studio 2007 R3WHam Comm 2007 R3WHam Team News

Following relegation from the Championship in 2006 and a poor start to the League One campaign, Mark McGhee was sacked in September and replaced by youth team coach and former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins. Brighton’s FA Cup matches couldn’t have gone better this season, back having to begin at Round One again after a couple of years in at the Third. The first game saw a Withdean record; an eight-nil victory over non-League Northwich Victoria. This was followed up by a three-nil scoreline against another non-League outfit, Stafford Rangers. With the top teams entering at Round Three, last season’s losing finalists West Ham were drawn to play the Seagulls at their famous Upton Park stadium. Terrestrial Cup broadcaster BBC showed brief highlights of the clash with commentary during their Saturday night Match of the Day broadcast. This was hosted from Television Centre by Ray Stubbs alongside pundits Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock. When the Premiership highlights returned to the BBC after three years away in 2004, every match was covered with a commentary and these extra voices were utilised during the Cup shows. Commentating on our tie was MotD regular Alistair Mann. The edit was only short so the teams were not displayed in full, instead opting to use the scrolling info bar at the bottom of the screen, where Arsenal defender Joe O’Cearull made his Albion debut.

2007 R3WHam Opener 2007 R3WHam Cole goal 2007 R3WHam Zamora chance 2007 R3WHam Third goal

The Seagulls wore their change kit of white shirts with blue shorts and socks. The two debutants, O’Cearull for us and Luis Boa Morte for the home side, tangled legs in the first half and risked giving West Ham a penalty. Referee Mark Halsey deemed it accidental. Tommy Fraser had a good chance for Brighton when presented with a heading chance unmarked in the centre, the connection though lacked any pace and was easy for Roy Carroll in the sticks. Right at the start of the second half, the deadlock was broken by youth graduate Mark Noble – his first goal for the club. Boa Morte’s cross on the left was flicked over by Guy Butters, then headed down by Carlos Tevez into Noble’s path to run on to. As the defender rushed to block, Noble got his shot away (above, top left) on the half-volley which Wayne Henderson in goal wasn’t quite able to keep out. Alex Revell came close to an equaliser but couldn’t quite reach to nod home from Hart’s cross as the opportunity flashed across goal. Punishment came just before the hour mark when Carlton Cole made it two (above, top right), despite Albion protesting offside. Boa Morte’s cross found Cole unmarked to sidefoot volley into the top corner. Former Seagull Bobby Zamora, on the books of West Ham having moved from Spurs, came on and was inches from netting. Yossi Benayoun made contact with the ball to send it skidding to the back post where Zamora was. Zamora tried to get the definitive touch just as it was about to touch the post and it just ended up flying back off the woodwork (above, bottom left), the offside flag would have prevented him had he scored anyway. With virtually the final kick of the match, West Ham got their third through Hayden Mullins heading home Shaun Newton’s cross (above, bottom right). Three-nil the final scoreline.

2007 R3WHam Final Score 2007 R3WHam Wilkins 2007 R3WHam Analysis

In his post match interview, manager Dean Wilkins thought his young side showed their inexperience in attack; “I think if we’d have shown a bit more calmness, a bit more awareness, within the final third once we did break I think we could have scored the first goal.” Former Albion player Alan Curbishley had newly been appointed West Ham boss and called for his fans to get behind their midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker after being on the end of plenty of abuse all season. The stats showed equal possession but West Ham dominating the shots and corners. In the studio, Gavin Peacock analysed the Clarets new look, with particular focus on how well Carlos Tevez played; “He was bright and he was lively and aggressive in his running.” The Hammers exited at the hands of Watford in the next round. Brighton’s season saw them continue to struggle as costs were tightened and the playing squad increasingly dominated by unknown youngsters. The Albion finished in eighteenth in the League One table.


2009/10 Round Four highlights

FA Cup Highlights, ITV1 (23rd January 2010); Aston Villa 3-2 Brighton

2010 R4Vil Titles 2010 R4Vil Studio 2010 R4Vil Intro

Much had changed at Brighton since the FA Cup trip to West Ham in 2007. The biggest news was the stadium, as Falmer had finally been given the go-ahead and work had begun at the site with completion due for summer 2011. The man in the dugout at Withdean had changed twice since then too. After a makeshift first season, Dean Wilkins guided the Seagulls to an impressive seventh place in the 2007/08 campaign, narrowly missing out on the League One Play Offs. Yet that wasn’t enough to keep his job and former boss Micky Adams returned to the hot seat in May 2008. Having guided us to the, then, Division Three title in 2001 before the Premiership came calling, optimism was high upon his return. However that did not work out at all, with League form slipping finishing sixteenth in 2008/09 and not improving much in the opening months of the 2009/10 campaign. Chairman Dick Knight wielded the axe in November and brought in former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet for his first managerial role. With the club in the bottom six upon his arrival, he changed the philosophy of the team from long-ball to a skilful passing side. Some took to it better than others, whilst others such as Adam El-Abd were transformed under Poyet. He got off to a perfect start with a three-one away win at Southampton Live on Sky in his first match, and steadily lifted the club up the table. The FA Cup campaign began with a caretaker manager, Martin Hinshelwood took charge of the incredible four-four draw at Wycombe, before the two-nil victory at Withdean saw Poyet make it two wins out of two. In Round Two there was a closer-fought three-two win to knock Rushden and Diamonds out, whilst Torquay were dispatched in Round Three by a goal to nil at Plainmoor. The Fourth Round draw saw a trip to the Midlands to face Premier League Aston Villa, managed by Martin O’Neill. FA Cup rights had transferred from the BBC to ITV in 2008, and the commercial network broadcast their Fourth Round highlights show on the Saturday night which included a short commentary edit on our clash. Their theme tune brought in this season was by The Enemy, titled Be Somebody; rather apt for a competition known for smaller clubs making their name.

2010 R4Vil Comm 2010 R4Vil 1st goal 2010 R4Vil Elphick goal 2010 R4Vil Young goal 

Ned Boulting was in the presenter’s chair in the London Studio for this edition, joined by ITV pundit Robbie Earle and former Brighton manager, amongst many other clubs, Steve Coppell. In the commentary box was John Rawling. He was more familiar as their voice of boxing, having covered the sport previously for Radio Five Live and Setanta, but was used over the past couple of seasons infrequently on Football League and Champions League highlights shows. Gus Poyet was relying on his prolific strike force of Glenn Murray and Nicky Forster to continue to fire together, with support from the likes of Andrew Crofts and Elliott Bennett behind them. Adam Virgo had returned to the club after a couple of seasons away and joined a defence which included academy graduate Tommy Elphick. Villa’s side included former Albion loanee Steve Sidwell in midfield and had hit scored six past Blackburn whilst conceding four in the League Cup the previous midweek. Fifty-six League places separated the sides at the start of play, and it was Villa who got off to the better start with a goal after just five minutes. Captain Ashley Young sent Marc Albrighton running down the wing. He skipped past the lunge of Elphick before crossing low for Nathan Delfouneso to steer home from close range (above, top right). Brighton responded four minutes before the break through Elliott Bennett’s corner on the far side. A number of Albion players were waiting in space in the middle. It came off Adam El Abd and landed on the six yard line for fellow defender Tommy Elphick to swivel and finish expertly (above, bottom left) for the equaliser past several claret and blue bodies in the way. Rawling rightly described them as “the Villa defence all over the place!” It took just three second-half minutes for the home side to regain the lead thanks to Young’s header. Stewart Downing stood the ball up to the back post where Young jumped highest and saw his header fly past Kuipers and in off the post (above, bottom right).

2010 R4Vil Delph goal 2010 R4Vil Forster goal 2010 R4Vil Final Score 2010 R4Vil Poyet

James Milner provided Fabian Delph with an excellent chance to score a third but Kuipers was equal to it, using his body to block effectively before the defence helped him out. The two Villans combined with less than half an hour to play and this time they did make it three-one. Milner sent Delph clear, covering defender Inigo Calderon got back to force him to check his run. However, the opportunity still presented itself and his strike on the edge of the box went through Calderon’s legs and under the diving hand of Kuipers to score and put the game to bed (above, top left). Brighton did get a consolation in stoppage time thanks to Nicky Forster to make the scoreline more respectable. The ball across was dummied and found Forster in the centre with his back to goal. He held off the defender before arching his body to swivel and shoot, much like Elphick in the first half. The finish was clinical, as you’d expect from a man who scored goals wherever he went in his career, low and hard into the back of the net past Brad Guzan (above, top right). This was the striker’s fiftieth for Brighton. It was too little too late for the Seagulls, whose FA Cup adventure came to an end at the Fourth Round stage for the first time since a trip to Manchester United in 1993. Gus Poyet afterwards admitted he was aware of the size of the task against a Premier League club; “I knew it was difficult to cope for more than an hour with the same pace, the strength of the opposition… They are not only better technically, they are better physically.” Villa progressed all the way to Wembley and the Semi Finals. After seeing off Crystal Palace and Reading, it was eventual winners Chelsea who knocked them out. Brighton continued to flourish under Poyet, who steered them to a thirteenth placed finish in League One with the foundations laid for a good season to come.


2010/11 Round Five highlights

FA Cup Highlights, ITV1 (19th February 2011); Stoke City 3-0 Brighton 

2011 R5Sto Titles 2011 R5Sto Smith 2011 R5Sto Teams

The 2010/2011 campaign was Brighton’s final one at the eleven-year temporary home of Withdean Stadium. Gus Poyet and his entertaining football side were tearing League One apart, climbing to the summit early on and never looking back. They were on course to open the new home in Falmer with Championship football and a title to boot. The good form also transferred to the FA Cup, where Brighton reached the Fifth Round – the last sixteen of the competition – for the first time in twenty-five years. After a shaky start, drawing nil-nil at home to Woking and needing a penalty shoot-out in the replay to progress, round two saw a shock draw with non-League FC United of Manchester. A four-nil win in the replay was more like it. The third round saw an impressive three-one victory over Portsmouth, Cup finalists the year before and a Division above in the Championship before a further second tier side was sent packing in round four as Watford were beaten on their own patch. This set up a meeting with Tony Pulis’s Premier League Stoke City at the Britannia. It would be a clash of styles, with Pulis known for the long ball game and utilising throw-ins, up against Poyet’s more modern, passing game. The Cup schedule was a little all over the place, with Fourth Round matches taking place at the same time owing to postponements and replays congesting matters. So ITV’s Saturday night highlights show featured action from both stages, presented by Matt Smith. The theme tune was the same as the previous year; The Enemy with Be Somebody, but the graphics went through a transformation. Commentating on the action was freelancer Jim Proudfoot, formerly of Sky Sports and Setanta but here more frequently heard on ESPN’s European Leagues and talkSPORT radio. He is also remembered fondly by Albion fans for his excited scream of “STORERRRRR!” during his South Coast Radio days, commentating on Brighton’s final game at the Goldstone against Doncaster in 1997 alongside Tony Millard.

2011 R5Sto Comm 2011 R5Sto Carew goal 2011 R5Sto 2nd goal 2011 R5Sto Shawcross goal

Elite level referee Howard Webb was the man in charge of this tie. The team line ups saw almost a full strength Stoke, with last year’s top scorer in the Cup John Carew up front. Kenwynne Jones was missing but had regulars Jon Walters, Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap and Matthew Etherington all ready to create the danger. The back line of Shawcross and Huth took no prisoners in a physical set up. The Albion had Cup ‘keeper Peter Brezovan in goal, supported in front by Tommy Elphick, captain Gordon Greer and Marcos Painter. Elliott Bennett and Gary Dicker would look to provide Barnes and Murray with the opportunities, whilst Liam Bridcutt was the rock protecting the defence. Set pieces were Stoke’s main goal threat, be it free kicks, corners or the throw in. Rory Delap was renowned for the latter and it was exactly that which created the opening goal. Delap chucked it in to the mixer where Brezovan came to collect. He didn’t get there ahead of big John Carew who just flicked it on with the top of his head and into the net before the quarter of an hour mark. It soon became two-nil eight minutes later after Jermaine Pennant teed up Marc Wilson to cross on the overlap. His ball in was met by the head of Walters at the near post through the arms of Brezovan and gave the Albion a mountain to climb so early on. Brezovan wasn’t covering himself in glory and flapped at another punch later on, giving Walters another chance which had to be headed off the line by Greer. Barnes and Murray combined with an interchange to give Barnes a rare sight of goal but his effort was lifted high and over. The third Stoke goal came two minutes before the break and began, you guessed it, from another dangerous corner. Pennant’s ball in was flicked on at the near post to the far one where Ryan Shawcross was arriving. He lost his marker and bulleted the ball in with his head, nobody on the line and too much power for Brezovan to react in time. The Potters captain had sealed the result before we’d even reached half time, Brighton had no answer to the brute force of the red and white stripes. Substitute Cristian Baz went closest for the Seagulls in the second half but in truth it wasn’t troubling Sorensen whilst another sub – Jake Forster-Caskey – also tried his luck but it wasn’t to be and Brighton lost by three goals to nil.

2011 R5Sto Final score 2011 R5Sto Poyet 2011 R5Sto Studio 2011 R5Sto Allardyce

Gus Poyet said in his post match chat “We tried. I think the best part is we didn’t change our game.” This point was picked up on by the former Bolton and Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce in the London Studio for ITV; “If you go and watch Stoke City and do your scouting, your normal game you cannot play if it’s a passing game because Stoke don’t let you.” He said the application of constant pressure, corner after corner, broke down Brighton and the physical edge paid dividends once more for them at the Brit. It was a tactic that took Stoke City all the way to the FA Cup Final where they lost to a solitary Manchester City goal at Wembley in the process securing them a thirteenth place Premier League finish and a spot in the UEFA Europa League qualifying. The Seagulls soared to the League One title, beating Southampton by three points, to secure a dream start to life at Falmer with a promotion party. In doing so they were one step closer to that top flight dream. With the foundations in place for something special, the early years at the new ground would be about building on all these experiences gained during the Withdean years and push for that final hurdle up to the top. It was beginning to look very exciting again for Brighton and Hove Albion.


Although the Albion lost on all four of these occasions, they were reaching the stages of the FA Cup where they hadn’t been for a long time. Therefore the opposition were of increased quality. The trips to these fantastic Premier League stadiums were in stark contrast to the home ground where Brighton had played since 1999; Withdean. This spurred the players on to perform better, to show they are worthy of these fine venues and, most importantly, highlighted how much of a necessity it was that the Seagulls had one of these to call their own. The Amex opened its doors in the summer of 2011 with Brighton League One Champions and about to compete in the second tier again. Within weeks of the new campaign at the new home, Premier League teams were coming to our place and being impressed with the facilities. The next aim? To become one of those elite clubs ourselves. Withdean served us well but Falmer would catapult the club to new heights with the big boys, and the Cup would provide some great days.

#36: Brighton 0-1 West Ham 24/10/2011

#36 BRIGHTON 0-1 WEST HAM Championship
Monday 24th October 2011 Image result for

WHAM Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Peter Beagrie & Alan Curbishley
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Patrick Davison
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10.15pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

Promo WHAM Sponsor WHAM Intro

Context of the Match: After a fairytale start to life at The Amex, with that late, late comeback against Doncaster on the opening day, Brighton’s form in the Championship had really slipped lately. Having had the opportunity to go top of the table with a win in the last televised match at home to Leeds, the draw that night was followed by no wins in four including losing to rivals Crystal Palace in a terrible night in Sussex. Bristol City away was the last victory back at the start of September. The Albion fell from third in the table down to twelfth ahead of another televised match; at home to Sam Allardyce’s much-fancied West Ham this Monday evening. The Hammers were relegated from the Premier League last season finishing bottom of the table. They sacked manager Avram Grant immediately after and had started this campaign well under their new boss, currently sat fourth and would climb to second with a win. Southampton, who went up behind Brighton last time, led the way top of the table and had beaten West Ham last week. Despite the eight League places between tonight’s sides, there were only two points separating them. When Brighton last met the East Londoners it was the FA Cup tie at Upton Park four years ago, with the home side easing through three-nil. Tonight, the Amex under the lights continued to impress, we hoped the players could do so too Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

WHAM Brighton WHAM West Ham WHAM Subs

The Teams: Albion’s line-up included two new faces to the team making their debuts. Experienced goalkeeper Steve Harper was signed on a one-month loan deal earlier today and went straight into the starting eleven. He’d been at Premier League Newcastle since 1993 but mainly as reserve ‘keeper to the likes of Shaka Hislop, Pavel Srnicek and Shay Given so had various loan spells over the years before finally getting a regular first-team opportunity at St James’ Park two years ago but injury and then being dropped had kept him out of the side more recently. He took Casper Ankergren’s place in the team tonight. The other new signing was also a loanee, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, a right-back from West Brom. He joined initially until January and brought with him international experience having played in the 2010 World Cup and Copa Americas for Chile. He joined the regular defensive unit this season of Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk and Marcos Painter. The midfield trio of Dicker, Bridcutt and Sparrow helped bring the League One title to Withdean and showed no signs of decline making the step up. Both Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith had been linked with moves to West Ham previously but were very much Albion strikers tonight. On the bench for the Seagulls were recent captures Will Hoskins and Ryan Harley, who scored a great free-kick on his League debut in the win against Peterborough in August. Hoskins had also been on the score sheet for us on his debut in the fantastic three-one away win in Cardiff. The Hammers made three changes to their side from the defeat at League leaders Southampton last time out. Joey O’Brien came in for his 100th game for the club, midfield general Mark Noble returned as did Jack Collison up front. Future Albion striker Sam Baldock dropped down to the bench. Big John Carew spearheaded the attack, he scored for Stoke in Brighton’s FA Cup defeat there back in February. Taking charge of the match was Kevin Friend.

WHAM Thomas WHAM Curbishley WHAM Beagrie WHAM Studio

Presentation Team: Simon Thomas was growing into his role as main Football League host. He had absolutely tons of Live experience, in fact most of his career had been in Live television. At Sky he hosted Cricket AM, a Live Saturday morning entertainment show similar in style to Soccer AM running during the summer, alongside first Anita Rani then Sarah-Jane Mee for several seasons. For Sky Sports News he was at the 2010 South Africa World Cup hosting the daily reports as well as swathes of minor football and international cricket. In the studio with him tonight were Peter Beagrie and Alan Curbishley. Beagrie continued to appear on the majority of Football League broadcasts and could always be counted on to be well researched and good for reading the game. Alan Curbishley had links to both clubs, playing for the two as well as managing West Ham between 2006 and 2008 rescuing them from Premier League relegation. He’d been out of the game since then but regularly appeared on punditry duties across a variety of broadcasters at home and abroad. When playing for Brighton between 1987 and 1990 he won promotion in his first season up from the third tier under Barry Lloyd’s stewardship. Curbishley is probably most revered now by Charlton fans after managing them for fifteen years, finishing as high as 7th in the top Division and being linked to the Liverpool and England jobs, the latter going to Steve McClaren. In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Don Goodman. Mann was mostly heard by Sky 3D viewers of late, covering the vast majority of the three-dimensional broadcasts as they required separate commentary. He’d actually covered Albion’s last two Live matches for the 3D channel, alongside Tony Gale. With tonight’s being a traditional 2D affair, he was called upon so everyone could hear him. Don Goodman covered the Leeds match a month ago and was now familiar with the stadium, the style and the Brighton personnel so could give an informed commentary. He’s Sky’s number one and even did a couple of Premier League commentaries for them, but he’s mainly found in the Football League. On the touchline was number one League reporter Patrick Davison, again he also did the Leeds match and has covered us a few times over the past couple of years including the gutting penalty shoot-out defeat at Luton where we were spot-kicks away from a first Wembley appearance since the 1991 Play Off Final.

WHAM Kick Off WHAM Comms

The Coverage: Sky Sports broadcast regular matches from the Championship this season with typically two from the following slots; Friday night, Sunday lunchtime before the 4pm Premier League fixture, Saturday evening to go head-to-head with the top-flight ESPN clash or Monday night. The West Ham fixture was the latter, giving fifteen minutes pre-match build up but longer post-match. As with their previous two visits Sky presented from the glass box in the South Stand, giving a view of the West Stand over the pundits shoulders and the North Stand behind our host, Simon Thomas. He was joined by Peter Beagrie and Alan Curbishley, with the studio decked out in Sky’s Football League colours; red desk with the white crowd background used as a wallpaper like they have in their Isleworth base for the magazine programme. They began by discussing the big news from the Division that Leicester had sacked former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson today after just over a year in charge due to their disappointing start to the season. Incredibly he was already the fifth manager in this League to have departed and we were only an unlucky thirteen games in. The final straw was a three-nil home defeat to Millwall. A glance at the table saw Leicester in thirteenth position, level on points with the Albion a place above. Guest Alan Curbishley’s name was quoted as being in the running for the vacant job at the King Power Stadium, with odds of 12/1. Although he had been linked to pretty much any and every job going in recent years. The focus then switched to tonight’s clash, where Curbishley had been impressed with Brighton this term and pondered why they couldn’t think about emulating what Norwich achieved the year before; successive promotions up to the top-level. Reporter Patrick Davison spoke with both managers ahead of kick-off, asking them about Eriksson’s departure firstly. Poyet couldn’t understand why he’d been sacked when the club were only in the position they were. If things were going “bad, bad, bad we need to accept it” but it didn’t seem that was the case at Leicester. He added that his two new signings would add “experience, knowledge of the game, they understand the way we need to defend”. Allardyce thought his team would be in for a tough evening, having been at the opening match here he saw how well Brighton played. Back in the studio, Alan Curbishley was the latest in a long list of people to be impressed by the new stadium. He’d seen it all through the years playing at the Goldstone then watching at Withdean, making his first trip to Falmer for this match. Commentator Daniel Mann brought us the team news on those shiny graphics with the players mugshots before it was time for kick off.

WHAM Line Up WHAM Fatboy Slim
WHAM Corners WHAM Poyet

The half-time analysis focussed on the solitary goal and was briefer than usual, barely three minutes between ad breaks. Just before the second half began Norman Cook, standing pitchside, had a link-up with the studio to chat about the team and stadium as well as the news he’d be playing a gig here the following summer. The crowd had flags promoting Fatboy Slim given out before the game. Straight after the large amount of stoppage time added at the end of the match, Patrick Davison spoke to Craig Noone and Kevin Nolan for immediate reaction. Nolan gave credit to Brighton and said they’d cause a lot of teams problems like they caused his side tonight. Noone was awarded the Man of the Match champagne bottle and said there’s no reason why they can’t turn this current mini-slump around for the rest of the season. The table confirmed West Ham’s move up to second whilst the Albion remained in the middle. After the break around twenty minutes were given over to wrapping up the match. With chances not that forthcoming, the goal was reviewed once again from many angles, each one highlighting just how avoidable it was from a defensive perspective. Sam Allardyce, in his post match interview, gave credit to the Albion fans for their noise and said that despite the dominating possession Brighton had, there was only really one clear-cut chance which Almunia had to deal with; the Mackail-Smith volley in the first half. Poyet’s interview was more positive than in recent ones; “I’m proud. We are back. Brighton is back to his best. Brighton is back to playing against a Premiership club and don’t let them touch the ball for I don’t know how long. Which is good, good for football.” The pundits believed the penalty claims for Brighton were all correct not to given, praising the referee’s performance and decision-making. They were critical of the passing play not being quick enough, with West Ham putting on that typical ‘professional’ performance that gets you results in this League. And after more Sven Goran Eriksson chat the programme was over as Simon Thomas signed off from The Amex.

WHAM Action Areas WHAM Zamora

Story of the Match: Once again the atmosphere was excellent from the home supporters, really getting behind the team on a rainy October evening. Debutant Gonzalo Jara Reyes could perhaps (harshly) be summed up by his first play in an Albion shirt; he nutmegged his opponent with one touch then, as the ball got away from him, arrived late to roll his studs on the ankle of Papa Bouba Diop seconds later. The intent wasn’t there, no card was given but it was a little wild to say the least. He did the same to Mark Noble after thirteen minutes, this time he did earn himself a caution. West Ham liked to press high up the pitch so Brighton had to be spot on with their passing, particularly at the back. A warning came in the first couple of minutes when a loose Lewis Dunk ball was immediately intercepted in front of goal, the move coming to nothing. The warning wasn’t heeded though as Liam Bridcutt was caught dwelling on the ball by Kevin Nolan around thirty-five yards out. Nolan burst forward with a large gap in the Brighton defence now exposed and hit it from twenty yards. Steve Harper was hugely out of position in-goal, caught out by the quick dispossession, with Nolan given a big target to shoot at. Harper got hands to it but was standing virtually in line with his post, losing his bearings totally. It was a defensively poor goal to concede and from nothing West Ham had an eighteenth minute lead. As you’d expect from a team managed by Big Sam, they were physical, tactically aware and didn’t let Brighton enjoy too much all evening as the rain lashed down heavily. The game was scrappy and niggly. Chances were at a premium for both sides, with the first corner not even coming until seven minutes before the break, though Albio then had several in quick succession. Liam Bridcutt had a long-range effort which was headed wide by Carew on its way through, and Craig Mackail-Smith had appeals for handball and a penalty only to be ignored by the referee. The final action of the first period saw an outstretched Barnes leg flick it up for Mackail-Smith to volley, calling Almunia in-goal into a decent save. The Seagulls ended the half on the front foot but still went in one-nil down.

WHAM Injury WHAM Noone

Brighton continued to put the pressure on at the start of the second period but it wasn’t bringing the goal. A change was made before the hour was up, with Will Hoskins replacing Barnes. Graphics popped up showing the home side were dominating corners and possession but it’s goals that win football matches and they were elusive. The second half fightbacks that we’d seen against Liverpool and Leeds in the previous Live matches were similar but they provided four goals. A lovely ball in the danger zone between ‘keeper and last defender was searching for Mackail-Smith from Gary Dicker, the striker couldn’t quite reach as he slid in, ending up clattering into Almunia. A further throw of the dice saw Buckley replace Sparrow with twenty minutes to rescue something. The closest we came to a goal was the memories brought to mind seeing former Seagull and West Ham striker Bobby Zamora when he was shown in the crowd. After a challenge in midfield, there was real concern for midfielder Gary Dicker when he had to be stretchered off. It turned out that he’d fractured his leg and would be out for several months. In a rare second half burst forward West Ham could have doubled their advantage after another interception near goal saw Julien Faubert through. He sliced his shot wide but Greer was in its path anyway for the first Hammers corner in the 88th minute. A heap of added-on time came due to the unfortunate injury, eight minutes of it. The frustrations were clear from the Seagulls, not managing to get that vital equaliser and losing the match by Kevin Nolan’s goal to nil. Defeat to West Ham was by no means a disaster, they would be near the top of the table all season. Brighton needed to remain focussed and get back to how they like to play under the Gus Poyet era and things would start going their way again soon.

WHAM Table

BRIGHTON 0 WEST HAM 1
Nolan

WHAM Replay

PREVIOUS; #35 BRIGHTON 3-3 LEEDS 23/09/2011 

NEXT; #37 WREXHAM 1-1 BRIGHTON 18/01/2012

#35: Brighton 3-3 Leeds 23/09/2011

#35 BRIGHTON 3-3 LEEDS Championship
Friday 23rd September 2011 Image result for

LEE Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Peter Beagrie & Mark McGhee
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Patrick Davison
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

COLU Ident LEE Bet365 LEE Intro

Context of the Match: You wait twelve months for a televised home match and then two come along within forty-eight hours. That was the case for the Albion up against Leeds tonight, having narrowly lost to Premier League Liverpool on Wednesday in the Third Round of the Carling Cup. The Leeds match was the first League game to be broadcast Live from the Amex Stadium, a marked difference from Bournemouth at Withdean last October. Already there’s been an average attendance of over 21,000 fans, compared to the 7,000 at the athletics ground. Gus Poyet’s first home League match almost two years ago was tonight’s opponents, he’ll be hoping for a much better result after losing that one by three goals to nil in League One. United were promoted that season and adapted to Championship life immediately, narrowly missing the Play Offs by one position. The Albion will be aiming for something similar, if not better, this campaign. Poyet also was their assistant manager under Dennis Wise before getting his big break with us. Both sides went into tonight having lost to a Premier League side in midweek, with Manchester United knocking out the Yorkshiremen on Tuesday. A win for Brighton would see them go top of the table. The visitors sat in eleventh ahead of this one after an inconsistent start, however they had won their previous two Championship games. Goals were expected ahead of Sky Sports first Football League visit to our new residence.

LEE Brighton LEE Leeds LEE Subs

The Teams: Gus Poyet made five changes to the starting line up which lost to Liverpool. One academy graduate replaced another as Lewis Dunk returned for Steve Cook. First choice left-back Marcos Painter was back after a one-match suspension for his red card at Leicester, Romain Vincelot dropped down to the bench. Two changes came in midfield as out went Matt Sparrow and Alan Navarro, bringing in Kazenga LuaLua and Gary Dicker. This was LuaLua’s first start since the opening day victory over Doncaster. And after his goal from the spot late on, Ashley Barnes was straight back in to partner the ever-running Craig Mackail-Smith in a 4-4-2 formation. Casper Ankergren faced up against the club he helped get promoted in 2010. Whilst seven substitutes were permitted in the Cup, we were back to five for the League. Taking their places were the much-anticipated Vicente, who won the penalty against Liverpool, and new signing Will Hoskins; brought in for a rumoured £1 million from Bristol Rovers. He scored a cracker against us last season as part of a brace, prompting his capture in May. Leeds under Simon Grayson made one change from their three-nil defeat at home to Manchester United, with Danny Pugh going straight into the first team having been signed on loan from Premier League Stoke just yesterday. Pugh enjoyed a couple of years at Elland Road at the beginning of his career, making a half-century of appearance. Ross McCormack had already scored seven goals this season, alongside Andy Keogh who was another man to return to the club on loan having risen to prominence in Yorkshire early on in his career. They had former Manchester United goalkeeper Paul Rachubka and ex-Chelsea and Finland forward Mikael Forssell to call upon from reserve. United hadn’t kept a clean sheet yet this term. Tonight’s referee was Lee Probert.

LEE Thomas LEE Beagrie LEE McGhee LEE Studio

Presentation Team: Hosting from the portable glass studio in the South-East corner of the stadium was Simon Thomas. As of this season he was officially the Football League number one presenter now David Jones had stepped up full-time to chair the Premier League’s Saturday lunchtime matches. This came just one season after first doing a League game; on the opening weekend of 2010/11 at League One Southampton. As well as being a regular on Sky Sports News until last season, Thomas had presented a whole host of low-key football for the broadcaster. He first did the under-16 international Victory Shield games in 2006 and subsequently mopped up the likes of the under-21 internationals and FA Youth Cup matches Sky held the rights to, gradually working his way up the ladder gaining experience. With him tonight were Peter Beagrie and Mark McGhee. Beagrie was now in his fifth season as the Leagues premier pundit, covering the vast majority of matches week in week out. Mark McGhee had popped up quite a few times on duty analysing Brighton matches since leaving the club in five years ago. The most recent of these came in the last televised League game at Colchester in April. In the commentary box were Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, Sky’s first choice pairing. Somewhat surprisingly this was the first time Goodman had done a Brighton match despite being a regular for four years now. He enjoyed a successful career in the Football League as a striker for both Wolves and West Brom, starting off at Bradford and playing over a hundred games for Sunderland. He scored in Walsall’s Division Two Play Off Final victory over Reading in 2001. Bill Leslie did his first Brighton commentary in the defeat at home to Crystal Palace in 2005, they would be the Seagulls next opponents on Tuesday. Leslie’s the current voice of the Football League and called our Live match on Wednesday against Liverpool. Completing the line-up was reporter Patrick Davison, stepping into the number one role following Greg Whelan’s promotion to the Premier League coverage working with Geoff Shreeves and Guy Havord.

LEE Pavillion LEE Team LEE Kick Off LEE Comms

The Coverage: Sky hosted their regular Friday night preview programme Football League Weekend Live from The Amex between 6 and 7pm earlier. Full details of that can be found at the bottom of this post but it was a fantastic build-up to the big game. This was also the first regular Football League match to be broadcast in 3D on the Sky 3D channel, which required separate camera angles and commentary. On the slightly lower gantry were Daniel Mann and Tony Gale as they were on Wednesday in the Cup. The main Live show came on-air fifteen minutes prior to the 7.45pm kick off, with Simon Thomas in the hosts chair next to Peter Beagrie and Mark McGhee. The studio on Wednesday had a desk, comfy chairs and Carling Cup decorations within, whereas tonight the setup was a bit more stripped back; just three simple stools. And I’m not talking about the pundits. The new graphics this season to be utilised on their 65 Championship Live games were shinier and smoother than before, all framed within the 4×3 safe area instead of extending across the entire screen like before. The title sequence remained the same as last year, just different clips used, with Candi Staton’s ‘You Got the Love’ soundtracking it once more. The team line-ups now contained static player pictures as well as the names and numbers underneath to give it a more dynamic look. The Premier League had these for a while before. “You can’t beat a trip to Brighton. There’s loads to do and always plenty on offer. But there’s a new attraction around here that’s been causing heads to turn recently and it’s got all the makings of a great night out” were the words Simon Thomas opened the programme with, shot from various locations around the city including the pier and the Pavillion. His guest Mark McGhee was able to compare and contrast to what he had as manager compared to what Poyet has now, with the stadium, the fantastic crowds and some excellent signings. McGhee was hampered by having to work on less than a shoestring budget, a long way off the million pound-plus spent on multiple players in the summer. A look at the table saw third-placed Brighton six points ahead of Leeds, just creeping into the top half. Patrick Davison spoke with both managers in the tunnel, with Poyet emphasising the mental toughness his side would need to go the distance here. Leeds boss Grayson expected an entertaining game despite the drains of midweek. Further studio chat ensued before the line ups were confirmed by commentator Bill Leslie pre-kick off.

LEE All the Action LEE Analysis

At half-time Thomas, Beagrie and McGhee were full of praise for Leeds for their fantastic first period. Beagrie criticised the Albion’s approach, saying “Brighton played into their hands to a degree because they play total football out from the back and allowed Leeds to swarm all over them.” McGhee didn’t think having one fewer day’s rest than Leeds had anything to do with the scoreline, saying the shape was more at fault. The trio laid the blame for the goals with the defence first before giving United credit and expecting better in the second half. They certainly got that. Around fifteen minutes of post-match analysis was afforded to review the terrifically topsy-turvy game. Immediately after the final whistle Patrick Davison caught up with the Man of the Match two-goal Craig Mackail-Smith who was joined midway through by Leeds’ Ross McCormack. He spoke of the wager he had with Michael Brown – who wasn’t in the squad – whereby he would receive £100 for every goal, and had to give Brown £50 for any game he didn’t score. He was quids in tonight. In the studio, Thomas asked McGhee what he would say to defenders trying to face Mackail-Smith, answering how the body position was key and the movement and anticipation needed to be impeccable because he’s always running and getting to the ball first. They analysed all six goals having hardly got their breath back from the on-field entertainment. We also heard from both managers, with Grayson “pretty devastated but obviously delighted as well”. Poyet spoke similarly, “If you look first half, I think it’s a great point. If you look about the last two minutes, probably not.” He said high scoring draws are not their style, conceding lots and wanted to address the defending to stop it happening again. And so another broadcast concluded, one which showcased both the good and the bad of the team finding their feet in this Division once again.

LEE Ticker LEE CMS

Story of the Match: The crowd was bang up for this match under the lights, with all stands joining in the singing. After Brighton enjoyed much of the early possession, a warning shot was fired by Robert Snodgrass cutting in from the left-wing before stabbing the ball goalwards with the outside of his boot. Ankergren seemed pretty calm about leaving the shot to go over the bar but it didn’t miss by too much. It didn’t take Leeds long after that to crank up the pressure and score the opening goal with eighteen minutes played. White did well on the left, driving into the area and cutting the ball back for Keogh. He laid it off for Clayton to hit it, Albion bodies blocked but the resulting scramble saw the ball ricochet back to Andy Keogh to finish past desperate lunges on the line from both Ankergren and Calderon. Leeds doubled their lead five minutes later with a goal from nowhere thanks to a rocket from Ross McCormack. Their top-scorer picked up the ball around twenty-five yards out, took a touch to spin away from Bridcutt, and fired a fierce drive hard and low into the corner of the net, to beat Ankergren for pace to make it two-nil. The home side were rocked. It took until the 38th minute for the Albion to look dangerous and work the goalkeeper. A Craig Noone corner was floated into a scrum of bodies around the penalty spot, with the ball bouncing out towards an unmarked Mackail-Smith at the near post. Lonergan in-goal just got his body in the way ahead of the striker and his defence managed to clear the danger. Soon after, a wicked ball in from LuaLua stretched the Leeds back line. The cross deflected up by a defender with Noone giving chase with the ‘keeper diving for it, he caught Noone’s ankle to bring him down for what should have been a penalty. As the linesman was on the near side and the incident on the far, it was up to the referee who clearly did not wish to give it. Set pieces were providing the greatest threat to the Leeds goal.

LEE Man of the Match LEE Poyet

Vicente came on at half-time to replace Craig Noone in a tactical change for the Albion. Under two minutes in and Brighton had their breakthrough. Craig Mackail-Smith received a pass with his back to goal from Barnes on the right. Knowing there was a defender in front and another breathing down his neck, the record-signing expertly dragged the ball with his first touch to skip through them before slotting into the corner of the net across goal for a fantastic finish all down to an individual piece of skill. It was the perfect start. The emphasis continued and approaching the hour mark they got themselves level. LuaLua played it forward for Mackail-Smith to run behind, Leigh Bromby lunged in and brought the striker down rather unnecessarily. After a hit and miss season of penalties in League One which saw responsibility passed around the team, it seems Brighton have their designated taker again. Ashley Barnes scored his penalty against Liverpool, and he scored his penalty against Leeds here in very similar style. He took just a couple of steps to run up before lashing it into the top left-hand corner of the net, the ‘keeper sent the wrong way but it wouldn’t have mattered. Nobody was saving that. Within the opening quarter of an hour of the second half Brighton had pegged Leeds back and the crowd was buoyant once more. And just like on Wednesday, the home side dominated the second period possession stats, with 65% of the ball by the time the equaliser occurred. Leeds weren’t caving in though, and a free-kick from McCormack was whipped in dangerously, Ankergren having to stay alert to parry away. Into the final six minutes, Calderon brought the ball forward and released Barnes in the box. His low cross into the middle was met by Mackail-Smith to sidefoot into the back of the net to turn the game around. The movement was excellent from the striker to get there ahead of Bromby, the hard work done all he needed to do was finish. A lovely goal for the man who worked his socks off all evening. All they had to do now was hold on to that lead. And it looked like that was going to be the case right up until the second minute of injury time. An opportunity to keep hold of the ball was squandered with a huge drop kick up field from Ankergren. His opposite number in return launched the ball back where it came from, a flick on was won well by sub Becchio for Howson who did really well to skip through Painter to get to the byline. He pulled it back for McCormack to score via a Dunk deflection. “They looked down and out but in the third minute of added time Leeds have found the equaliser – three-three!” was the call from commentator Bill Leslie. What a match! After fighting back so well Brighton couldn’t quite hold on to the win and the match ended in a hugely entertaining score draw. The Albion remained in third place in the Championship table and were going so very well back in the second tier.

LEE Table

BRIGHTON 3 LEEDS 3
Mackail-Smith (2), Barnes Keogh, McCormack (2)

LEE Replay LEE Goal LEE Goal 2


EXTRA; Sky’s Friday night preview programme Football League Weekend was on location this week, broadcasting Live from Brighton’s Amex Stadium ahead of the match against Leeds which followed later. This was a very rare occasion when Sky would leave their Isleworth studio and host the preview from a stadium but an exception was made ahead of their first Football League visit to our wonderful new abode. This was quite a week for Sky’s relationship with the club, having already shown our Carling Cup match here against Liverpool 48 hours previously, all the cabling and facilities were left set up for tonight’s broadcasts. Regular magazine programme host George Gavin was granted access all areas for the show. He opened proceedings from the centre circle with the words “This is the Football League Weekend show on the road, we’re at the country’s newest stadium. Brighton, after being homeless for fourteen years, finally have a place to call their own.”

FLW Titles FLW Gavin

With George Gavin was former Albion striker Nicky Forster. Since retiring in the summer he’s taken up a semi-regular role with Sky Sports on the Football League coverage in studio and reporting out and about. He brings a wealth of lower league experience with him and speaks well, so naturally slotted into the coverage from the off. Forster was certainly a fan of the new place, “It’s magnificent. It’s geared up for Championship football and beyond. They’ve had a fantastic start to the season and, who knows, the dream’s on isn’t it?” It was still early days in the season of course but Brighton were flying. He predicted a good first season back in the second tier for the Albion, perhaps not quite emulating Norwich’s back-to-back promotions, but certainly avoiding going straight back down like others have.

FLW Forster FLW Duo

Reporter Mark McAdam was in search of manager Gus Poyet, and granted access to his office for an interview. McAdam has been with Sky Sports for years working across a variety of things such as reporting on Sky Sports News, Soccer Saturday and of course FLW here. He’s based in the south for the News channel so often covers the Albion as well as the likes of Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth. He spoke with Poyet about going toe-to-toe with Liverpool, facing up against Leeds tonight and only having 48 hours in between matches. “I think it’s good. Normally I’d be complaining, you don’t want to play every two days, but I think it’s good because when you have a bad result you want to play. The players want to go back, they want to try to go and win a football game and get that feeling back of a winning team.”

FLW McAdam FLW Poyet

Peter Beagrie joined Gavin and Forster pitchside ahead of his appearance as a pundit for the match coverage afterwards. The trio reviewed the midweek Liverpool match, full of praise for how the Seagulls fared in defeat. “When you’ve come on the back of a promotion as well, you’ve got to make sure that you also add to the squad. He’s done that with Mackail-Smith and there’s no shrinking violets here, all of them want to accept responsibility, they can all pass a football. As we’ve seen here, they give Liverpool a real run for their money and that was a very, very strong – packed full of internationals – Liverpool side,” Beagrie commented. They then discussed the prospect of former Valencia midfield creative Vicente, who came on in midweek for his first appearance. “Up against defenders in the Championship,” Forster began, ” I think he will unlock them with his quality… It shows how far Brighton have come that they are bringing in players that have had bids in the past of £35 million.”

FLW Trio FLW Vicente

Two of Brighton’s younger members of the squad joined the trio pitchside in injured defender Tommy Elphick and Nicky’s stepson Jake Forster-Caskey. JFC had played for the England under-17s already, going to the Euros and World Cups with the youth squads, and became Albion’s youngest ever player when he appeared off the bench at home to Yeovil in the final game of the 2009/10 season in League One. Elphick injured his achilles in the final game of last season and said visiting the stadium only adds to the frustration of not being able to play. “Can’t wait to get back. Starting to be treated like a proper team now, whereas before we struggled for places to train and pre-match we didn’t really have nowhere to go. But now we’ve got a home, got a base, it’s really what the club has waited for and we can really push on to, hopefully, Premier League football.”

FLW Players FLW Forster-Caskey

Mark McAdam moved over to the hospitality areas where we saw some of the chefs preparing to cater for up to 3,000 people tonight, compared to the 200 maximum back in the Withdean days across the two portakabins. The difference never ceases to amaze. In the Lounge chairman Tony Bloom was waiting to speak to us, whilst the tables filled up around him as it edged closer to kick-off. Bloom couldn’t be happier with the start the club’s made; “We’ve got our momentum from the brilliant season where we won the League One title. We’ve built on that and we’re holding our own, and even better than that, in the Championship playing really good football. And the team will have the confidence as well beating Sunderland a few weeks ago and playing so well in the second half against Liverpool, there’s no reason to be overawed by any team.” It was all so different fourteen years ago when the club had to fight constantly just to stay alive, and that’s never going to be forgotten at Brighton. Bloom was wearing a green tie in aid of supporting Plymouth Argyle in their ‘Fans United’ day on Saturday, reciprocating the support we received thanks to fourteen-year-old Richard Vaughan’s idea of uniting supporters across the land when we were at our lowest point. Fast-forward to today and Argyle were struggling financially in administration, bottom of the entire Football League and parting with their manager Peter Reid recently. Bloom encouraged Albion fans, and supporters across the country, to help out Plymouth and attend their fixture this weekend.

FLW Lounge FLW Bloom

The Brighton versus Leeds match was Sky’s first ever 3D Football League broadcast and reporter Patrick Davison took us behind the scenes into the VT trucks to see some of the preparations involved. Banks of screens showing various angles and graphics were everywhere, hundreds of button doing all sorts of things. Commentator Daniel Mann was present compiling last-minute notes ahead of him being heard on the 3D coverage, as separate commentary teams talked us through the main broadcast and this one due to differing angles being shown. Sky’s Steve Smith explained “We’ve got seven 3D cameras. The main difference between the 2D and the 3D is that two main cameras are at a slightly lower angle. That creates good, natural 3D depth on the main pictures.”

FLW Davison FLW 3D Truck

Co-commentator for the match Don Goodman joined the team pitchside for a quick chat and expected goals to come. “It’s almost deja vu for Leeds at the minute, isn’t it? They are very, very capable of scoring goals and they are certainly capable of conceding goals. That was the story of their season last season… They’re up against a team that, maybe not quite as prolific… but they’ve conceded seven less and that’s where Gus will be really pleased.” Goodman was excited for the prospect of Mackail-Smith and Vicente playing, for the supporters to be in for a treat and the fantastic surroundings at this great place. The programme set the scene brilliantly for another classic at The Amex Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras, reminding us again how having a place to call our own can really change everything.

FLW Goodman FLW Stadium

 


EXTRA; The BBC’s Football League Show had short highlights of tonight’s match in their regular Saturday post-MOTD slot. The programme as ever was hosted by Manish Bhasin, seen below up on the balcony. He was joined in the studio for this edition by his main regular pundit Steve Claridge to review the action from the three Divisions. With our game being on a Friday, these matches rarely took precedence over Saturday’s action therefore only a quick summary tended to get shown, usually with commentary.

FLS Titles FLS Studio

Jonathan Legard called the brief three-minute highlights of the match which consisted largely of just the goals, followed by a brief thirty second chat with the Leeds assistant manager followed by an equally brief word from Gus Poyet. The commentary was so short it was even captioned as being from a “reporter”. Legard had long been a voice of BBC Radio 5 Live on multiple sports before becoming the lead Formula One commentator when the BBC regained Live rights back from ITV in 2009 after a twelve-year absence. He was in that position for two years before changes were made. He started commentating for The Football League Show in February 2011.

FLS Graphic FLS Commentator

 

PREVIOUS; #34 BRIGHTON 1-2 LIVERPOOL 21/09/2011

NEXT; #36 BRIGHTON 0-1 WEST HAM 24/10/2011

#34: Brighton 1-2 Liverpool 21/09/2011

#34 BRIGHTON 1-2 LIVERPOOL Carling Cup Round Three
Wednesday 21st September 2011 Image result for

LIV Titles

PRESENTER Ben Shephard GUESTS Jamie Redknapp & Tommy Elphick
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Ray Wilkins REPORTER Andy Burton
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Carling Cup Live on Sky Sports 2

Promo LIV Sponsor LIV Intro

Context of the Match: The aim when The Amex opened was to have Premier League teams playing against us. Tottenham Hotspur had already visited for the opening pre-season friendly back in July. Then in August we were drawn against top-flight Sunderland in Round Two of the League Cup. Making it a hat-trick of the country’s top teams was Liverpool tonight, in the Third Round. This would be by far the biggest test for an Albion side enjoying life back in the second tier after five seasons away. Unbeaten so far at fortress Amex and third in the Championship table, the Seagulls were flying again. The momentum from last season’s title-winning side continued, with a few summer signings topping the squad up. This would be the start of a very busy period with Leeds next up on Friday, just 48 hours after this match, followed by bitter rivals Crystal Palace next Tuesday. It would also be Gus Poyet’s 100th match in charge of the Albion. After a fairytale start on the opening day beating Doncaster in the eighth minute of stoppage time through Will Buckley, the great form continued with memorable away wins at Portsmouth and Cardiff and just a solitary defeat thus far; away at big-spending Leicester City managed by ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson. Tonight was the third successive Carling Cup match at The Amex, dispatching of Gillingham and that Extra Time victory over Sunderland, could they go one further and knock the great Liverpool out? The Scousers were not in European action at all this season so the Cup represented a great chance of silverware. It was the first meeting between the two sides in twenty years; a thrilling FA Cup Replay which saw Liverpool victors three-two at the Goldstone. That match had to make do with extended highlights on BBC’s Sportsnight, tonight the Sky Sports cameras were welcomed for their first trip to a noisy and sold out Falmer.

LIV Brighton LIV Liverpool LIV Subs

The Teams: Brighton made five changes from the side that lost to Leicester at the weekend, possibly with one eye on the upcoming Leeds game on Friday, but also to shore up the midfield. Liam Bridcutt was the sole survivor in that area, with Matt Sparrow and Liverpool lad Alan Navarro coming in for Gary Dicker and Ryan Harley. Craig Noone famously used to be a roofer before becoming a pro and worked on Steven Gerrard’s house. He was further forward as Craig Mackail-Smith led the line and scored the only goal of the game to get the Albion past Sunderland in Round Two. He joined in the summer to become the club’s record transfer signing at an initial £2.5 million. He was supported by £1 million close-season transfer Will Buckley in a 4-3-3 when attacking, 4-3-2-1 when defending kind of formation. Casper Ankergren has played every minute of every game so far in all competitions. In defence, Inigo Calderon and Gordon Greer were both in last season’s PFA Team of the Year. Partnering the skipper here was local lad Steve Cook for his first game this season, the last time he appeared was two-and-a-half years ago having had various loan spells away from Brighton. Newly-signed Romain Vincelot returned to the starting XI here having made his debut in the First Round victory over Gillingham, he took the place of Marcos Painter who was sent off on Saturday. Due to a shortage of left-backs, assistant boss Mauricio Taricco is again being utilised as a substitute, with first team regulars this campaign Lewis Dunk and Ashley Barnes also named. Huge anticipation surrounded Vicente Rodriguez, brought in at the beginning of the month somehow from Valencia. He’s a former Spain midfielder who played at Euro 2004, he twice won La Liga as well as the UEFA Cup, the Super Cup and the Copa Del Rey. Quite what he was doing at Brighton was anybody’s guess but injury had plagued his career, particularly of late. Kenny Dalglish named a strong Liverpool side which included World Cup semi-finalist Luis Suarez up front with Wales’ Craig Bellamy. Dirk Kuyt and Lucas Leiva were in the heart of the midfield. Pepe Reina notched up his 150th consecutive Liverpool league match back in May and recently announced he wanted to stay long-term at the club. Jamie Carragher won the Champions League in that incredible second-half comeback in 2005 against AC Milan and is the only starter today who was in that squad in Istanbul. Club captain then and now, Steven Gerrard, has been recovering from injury and is fit enough to make the bench. All-in-all seven changes were made from the weekend as the likes of Jay Spearing and Seb Coates came in; the latter making his debut. Also on the bench was £50 million striker Andy Carroll and League Cup winner in 2005 Stewart Downing. Tonight’s match official was Michael Oliver.

LIV Shephard LIV Redknapp LIV Elphick LIV Studio

Presentation Team: Sky Sports Carling Cup matches were presented by Ben Shephard. He joined the team at the beginning of last season to co-host Goals on Sunday with Chris Kamara, as well as supporting Premier League host Richard Keys on Live matches. In January 2011 his workload suddenly increased thanks to the massive fallout from the sexist remarks made in a leaked off-air conversation between Keys and Andy Gray. Consequently Keys resigned and Gray was sacked, moving existing presenters David Jones, Ed Chamberlin, Jeff Stelling and Ben Shephard up in the pecking order to cover the large hole left behind in the Premier and Champions Leagues coverage. Whereas for the latter half of last season the roles were shared, this season it became more defined. Jones would do Saturday Premier League games with Chamberlin on Super Sunday and Monday Night Football. Stelling took over the Champions League, assisted by Shephard who in turn replaced Jeff on the League Cup. His pundits for tonight’s match were Jamie Redknapp and Tommy Elphick. Redknapp became a full-time Sky Sports pundit from the 2005/06 season to coincide with his retirement from the game; joining Keys and Gray for the majority of the big matches. Prior to that he had worked for the BBC across Live FA Cup matches and Euro 2004 whilst still playing. Tommy Elphick played a huge part in Brighton’s title-winning season last year but unfortunately was now a long-term casualty due to an achilles injury. He’s done a few interviews and bits in the media of late and perhaps may be looking to go down this route later on after his playing days.

LIV Kick Off LIV Comms LIV Burton LIV Coming Up

In the commentary box were Bill Leslie and Ray Wilkins. Leslie is vastly experienced on Live matches, having been covering the Football League regularly for Sky since the 2004/05 season, going on to take over from Ian Crocker as number one in 2006. He still holds that position now as well as a regular on the Champions League, international matches and the occasional Premier League game. It was an absolute delight to welcome Ray Wilkins to Brighton’s Live televised coverage for the first time. Wilkins of course was involved in our first ever televised match – the 1983 FA Cup Final – where he scored a great goal for Manchester United. Since retiring he’s been a manager at QPR and Fulham and spent several seasons at different spells as an assistant at Chelsea. He also won 84 caps for England. When not actively in the game he’s been a beloved pundit and commentator, in the 21st century with Sky Sports across all matches from Champions League and Premier League latterly, through to England internationals and resident pundit on the early days of the Football League moving to Sky. During the 1990s he was a hugely popular co-commentator on Channel 4’s cult Football Italia coverage, working closely with Brighton fan Peter Brackley as the pair voiced many a classic Italian match on a Sunday afternoon. He’s an extremely warm and charming broadcaster who is a joy to listen to. Reporting was Andy Burton. He has been a regular figure at Sky for the past six years or so, commentating on Football First Premier League highlights before moving to the touchline on Football League then Premier League matches. Burton was working on the broadcast at Wolves which led to Keys and Gray’s departures, and perhaps was impacted by that row as it was he who Gray had first said derogatory words about Sian Massey to. Since then he has left top flight coverage, becoming the regular reporter on the League Cup as well as picking up other matches here and there and reporting for Sky Sports News.

LIV Welcome LIV Poyet split screen LIV Stadium VT LIV Yellow

The Coverage: Pre-match build up began at 7.30pm from a temporary portable glass studio located above the away fans in the South Stand at The Amex towards the corner with the East Stand. Ben Shephard hosted his first Albion match, and indeed Sky’s first Live match at the new stadium, alongside Brighton’s Tommy Elphick and regular pundit Jamie Redknapp. The Carling Cup uses the Football League graphics as it falls under the same contract, so the familiar red and black colours appeared and the programme was sponsored by bet365. There was a new design for the graphics this season to match the principles of the ones seen on the Premier League since the beginning of last season, with 3D effects and the badge tilting rather than rotating. The replay transitions used the flying League Cup from the top left into the middle of the screen then back out bottom left. When a goal was scored the replay featured the club crest flying out one way with the word ‘GOAL’ flying out the other, in a return to the style of a few years ago when the crest would crash into the screen. Carling Cup coverage used Texas’ classic hit “Inner Smile” as the theme tune since Worthington were replaced as sponsors of the competition in 2004. The title sequence featured a virtual Wembley slowly filling up as the music goes on, with video blocks of previous Cup moments and goals flying onto the side of the stadium. Tonight’s broadcast was also available in 3D, a first for an Albion match, where different camera angles and different commentators would be used. For the Sky 3D commentary, viewers heard Daniel Mann and Tony Gale, whilst on the regular 2D coverage we got Bill Leslie and Ray Wilkins. The Albion would have to play two matches here within 48 hours with the Live game against Leeds on Friday, owing to Liverpool playing last Sunday and therefore preferring not to play Tuesday and having two matches in 48 hours themselves. So Brighton took the extra television revenues and accommodated the short resting period.

LIV Dalglish LIV Added Time LIV Analysis LIV Case

During the fifteen minute build up there was a VT showing various parts around The Amex with stats appearing in the middle of the screen such as the capacity, a quote from Poyet and the overall cost. Sky were suitably impressed by the surroundings, with Redknapp remarking “It’s special, it really is. The pitch is really good… He wanted the biggest pitch possible, Gus Poyet.” Andy Burton spoke with both managers before the kick-off. Poyet put his midfield selection of Navarro and Bridcutt in particular down to wanting to be a bit more solid than usual in that area, knowing they’d have to do a bit more defending and sit deeper than the usual front-foot style in the League. Kenny Dalglish explained his selection of many first-team regulars was partly due to how disappointing a defeat they had the previous Sunday at Tottenham. After some brief chat in the studio Shephard handed over to the commentary teams for this evening’s big match who took us through the teams before the adverts. Throughout the game we were kept abreast of the other Third Round matches with goalflashes in the bottom left corner of the screen. At half time Shephard, Elphick and Redknapp analysed Liverpool’s first half dominance, particularly highlighting Craig Bellamy and Luis Suarez. Just before the second half began, Jimmy Case was presented to the crowd on the pitch. The retired midfielder spent eight years at Liverpool before moving down to the Goldstone in 1981 and was part of the FA Cup Final side two years later, scoring at Anfield in the run. He returned to the Albion to see off his playing days in the early 90s, and at 41 was the oldest registered outfield player in English professional football. He took charge of the team for just under a year during his final season with the club when we were relegated to Division Three before being sacked. After the match reporter Andy Burton had a joint-interview with Steven Gerrard and Craig Noone side by side, finally giving a chance to bring up that roof job he did! “He’s a down-to-earth lad, good Scouser, done a great job on my house and in my eyes tonight he was Man of the Match” Gerrard said. Burton also had a slightly prickly chat with Dalglish, who didn’t want to focus on Brighton preferring to talk up his own side. This left the studio team with just under ten minutes to review the match and wrap things up, allowing for plenty of time to give Brighton the credit they deserved.

LIV Stadium LIV Possession

Story of the Match: The crowd was rocking ahead of the match, commented on by co-commentator Ray Wilkins who opened his broadcast with “Good evening one and all. This is the first time I’ve been here, what an amazing atmosphere. It’s a fabulous stadium that they’ve built, the playing surface is wonderful; it’s as big as the Emirates – 105 metres by 68 – and they do play some football, Brighton.” I do enjoy it when a co-commentator says hello to us, David Pleat always did on ITV’s Champions League nights and Sir Clive Woodward does on the rugby coverage. It’s a little touch of class. In the seventh minute of the match Liverpool got the early advantage. Quick passing found Suarez just inside the area. He played the ball on for Craig Bellamy in behind the Albion defence wide left of the six yard box. Acknowledging there was an onrushing covering defender he took his shot first time and drilled it across goal where it went in off the far post to go one-nil up. Great movement from the striker who was allowed to wander past Bridcutt. The away side were in the ascendancy and dominated possession for the early stages. Just over ten minutes later Brighton had to clear off their own goalline. A short corner from Bellamy to Lucas, his cross was flicked on by Suarez’s head but instead of being on target it looped high towards the back stick. Ankergren came to punch but didn’t claim, instead Dirk Kuyt got some sort of touch, I don’t think he knew too much about it, and it needed to be hooked off the line by Mackail-Smith; doing his bit in the Albion defence. Craig Noone looked the liveliest Brighton player with his trickery getting the better of the young Liverpool left-back. Noone and Buckley would swap wings throughout to freshen the attacks up. Luis Suarez was presented with a decent chance to double the advantage one-on-one but slotted just wide. After half an hour a Suarez header from a free-kick just grazed the outside of the post. Five minutes before the break Craig Bellamy absolutely thwacked a free-kick from at least thirty-five yards out which flew and swirled before thundering against the bar. What an effort, so unlucky. They hit the woodwork again not long after, this time Jay Spearing’s long-range effort from almost thirty yards skidded off the turf hitting the outside of the far post thanks to fingertips from Casper Ankergren. Liverpool looked so dangerous. The last action of the half went Brighton’s way, with Noone put through by Mackail-Smith, Pepe Reina’s body got in the way of the shot but it squirmed out past him and had to be cleared by Martin Kelly who got there just fractions before Matt Sparrow, who was stretching to tap in from four yards.

LIV Double Sub LIV Interview

Brighton flew out of the traps in the second half, with Craig Noone smacking one against the crossbar from almost twenty-five yards out after a misplaced defensive pass. You could tell this match meant more to him than any other, having been released from the club as a youth prospect and being from the area facing the team he supported. On the hour mark, Will Buckley had ran his course and had to go off injured. In his place came Vicente for his Brighton debut. The same Vicente who has played in Champions League Finals, international tournaments, won La Liga and was the subject of bids of over £35 million. And here he was turning out for the Seagulls at the age of just thirty. Brighton enjoyed a lot of the second half possession but clear chances weren’t there. A stat popped up late on showing how much they enjoyed the ball in the second forty-five; with 61% against the Premier League opposition. With a quarter of an hour left, the away side could bring on their own star name; Steven Gerrard. He captained England at the World Cup last year but had been out with an injured groin for the past six months, this was his comeback appearance. The Albion responded with a double substitution, bringing on top-scorer Ashley Barnes and the ever-tricky Kazenga LuaLua for Sparrow and Navarro. Pushing for the equaliser let Liverpool in on the counter-attack. The ball was cleared up to Bellamy ten yards inside the Brighton half out on the wing. He played a perfect cross-field ball into the path of Maxi Rodriguez who held it up for Dirk Kuyt bursting forward in support. He was one-on-one with Ankergren who could only throw himself towards the forward, then watch the ball roll in aided by the far post for two-nil. Brighton deserved better for their second half showing, with co-commentator Wilkins adding “If they continue this brand of football in the Championship, and have the confidence to keep cracking at it with this super passing game of theirs, you can see them right up there at the end of the season.” Praise indeed. It got even better in the 89th minute as Jay Spearing was caught in possession and off balance by Vicente in the Liverpool penalty area, causing Jamie Carragher to come sliding in and foul the Spaniard for a spot kick. Up stepped Ashley Barnes who launched it into the top left hand corner of the net and the belief was there again going into four minutes of added time. Alas it wasn’t to be but the performance, especially in the second half, was absolutely fantastic, bringing the game to their higher-Division counterparts and fighting all the way. Attention immediately turned to the Leeds game in less than forty-eight hours time. For Liverpool, this competition did provide them with a trophy when they beat Cardiff on penalties at Wembley five months later.

LIV Attendance

BRIGHTON 1 LIVERPOOL 2
Barnes Bellamy, Kuyt

LIV Replay LIV Goal 1 LIV Goal 2


EXTRA; Sky Sports News was the place to see all the build up ahead of the night’s full card of Third Round fixtures before the main coverage began at 7.30pm. They were first to bring the team news, with presenters Jim White and Charlie Webster at the desk, as well as all the day’s sporting news from around seven o’clock. There was also a report featuring Brighton’s Craig Noone and his story of working as a roofer on Steven Gerrard’s house.

SSN Titles SSN Presenters

Charlie Webster introduced the piece saying, “If Gerrard does play he’ll come face to face with a man who spent a bit of time around the England midfielder’s house.” Sky reporter Amy Lewis took Noone back to his working days to recall the first time he met the Liverpool and England captain and the prospect of facing him tonight. “I always dreamed about it when I was working there, to be honest. I thought imagine what I could say if I do come up against him, I could mention it to him, and now I am it’s surreal really. Can’t wait for it.”

SSN Reporter SSN Noone

Sky Sports News carried reaction and interviews after the match coverage had ended too. This included a package voiced by long-serving reporter Gary Cotterill featuring the best bits of the match. There was also another chance to hear the Steven Gerrard and Craig Noone joint-interview, as well as from both managers chatting to Andy Burton. Gus Poyet spoke of how proud he was of the team “After giving Liverpool a little bit of respect in the first half, I think the players realised that they had the chance to go in the second half and do something special and I think will be closest to being one of the best games of the season, that forty-five minutes.”

SSN Report SSN Poyet


EXTRA; Along with Saturday night highlights of all three Divisions of the Football League, the contract provides the rights holder with action from every round of the Carling Cup. The BBC broadcast The League Cup Show late on Wednesday night showing all the goals from the midweek third round matches. Manish Bhasin hosted this programme as well from the regular studio. Tonight he was alongside Mark Bright.

LCS Titles LCS Studio

The highlights edit lasted for around ten minutes on what was a pulsating Cup tie. Jonathan Pearce commentated. He lives in Sussex so knew the Brighton story well and had even been involved in some media work for the club ahead of the stadium move. He was a regular on Match of the Day since they regained the top-flight highlights in 2004, having previously been the voice of football for Channel 5 since their launch in 1997. His excitable style got him noticed and is now high up in the BBC pecking order. He’s also been the voice of cult game show Robot Wars.

LCS Commentator LCS Line Up   LCS Gerrard LCS Barnes goal

Pundit Mark Bright seemed to be nursing a sore throat as his voice was hoarse. Not that what he did say was of much interest. He said of Craig Noone, “When you play against your heroes, your team and a special occasion, for him I was quite impressed with him.” He praised the Albion’s fightback, “In the first half I thought that Brighton were a little bit afraid of them and stood off them but in the second half Brighton gave a really good account of themselves. Could’ve scored a couple of goals as well.” Bright had been a regular on the BBC in the commentary box since the 2002 World Cup and featured across their various magazine programmes during the domestic season.

LCS Full Time  LCS Bright

 

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NEXT; #35 BRIGHTON 3-3 LEEDS 23/09/2011

Small Screen Seagulls; Doncaster (H) 06/08/2011

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe 2011/2012 season was a landmark year for Brighton and Hove Albion. Fourteen years after beating Doncaster in the final match at the Goldstone Ground back in April 1997, Brighton were about to embark on a watershed moment for the Football Club. Saturday 6th August 2011 would welcome League football to Sussex in a permanent stadium the club could call their own; the magnificent American Express Community Stadium in Falmer. The opponents on that momentous day; of course, it had to be Doncaster Rovers. The fixture computer had thrown up a really pertinent tie to open life in the new ground. After a couple of test events over the summer, including hosting Premier League Spurs, the scene at long last was set.


Brighton 2-1 Doncaster, Championship; 3pm, Sat 6th Aug 2011

imageThe view from my seat ahead of kick-off

The first ever League match at The Amex opened Brighton’s 2011/2012 campaign in the Championship. The Albion won League One at a canter the previous season, spending over thirty weeks at the top of the table and amassing 95 points. Gus Poyet only arrived at the club in November 2009 yet secured promotion in his first full season as a manager. Doncaster Rovers would provide the opposition for this Saturday 3pm kick-off in the August sunshine. Tickets were like gold dust, it was surely going to be one of those “I was there” moments. We also had a brand new club crest to herald the new era. Here we take a look at the coverage of the match from Football League rights holders Sky Sports and the BBC.

Football League Weekend, Sky Sports 1 (5th August 2011)

FLW Titles FLW Gavin

Sky Sports previewed the return of the new season in their regular Friday evening magazine programme Football League Weekend hosted by George Gavin. Having began at Sky as a touchline reporter on the Football League and Premier League in the mid-90s, Gavin hosted their Live coverage of the three Divisions from 2002. As younger hosts started to emerge over the previous couple of seasons, his main role now was to host the preview and review programming in the studio. Alongside him for this edition was former Southampton, Wolves and Cardiff manager Dave Jones. He covered our Live broadcast of the Ipswich game on the final day of the season in 2005 when a draw secured survival in the Championship for another year. FLW used the same titles and graphics as the Live matches, with “You’ve Got the Love” as the theme tune and new-for-this-season sleek 3D red and black name straps. “Welcome to the start of the race for football’s richest prize and some clubs are better placed than others to hit the ground running”, said George Gavin as he introduced the programme.

FLW Studio FLW Jones

Gavin introduced the report on the new stadium by saying “After fourteen years of nomadic existence, the tune ‘Sussex by the Sea’ will ring out on Saturday at Brighton’s new stadium to welcome them into the Championship. These are sunshine days for the Seagulls, and one of their former stars Nicky Forster has been back to take the temperature.” Forster started working for Sky as an occasional Live match pundit and regular feature reporter for Football League Weekend following his retirement up the road at Brentford over the summer. Ahead of the Doncaster match he was sent to look around The Amex and chat with a few of the current crop. His report began by interviewing Albion coach and former midfield battler Charlie Oatway. “We’re still looking in certain areas just to give us that little bit of difference because every other side’s got it. We’re looking for that someone who can just turn a back four, or have that killer pass, we’re looking at that sort of thing. And you’re always looking for a man who’s gonna score more goals.”

FLW Stadium FLW Oatway

Forster then spoke with Brighton’s new record-signing Craig Mackail-Smith. The former Peterborough striker scored 35 goals on his way to being named in the PFA Team of the Year last season and inspired the Seagulls to splash out £2.5 million to bring him to the club. “It’s such a big game Saturday. I think it’s a full house, everyone’s gonna be right behind the team and hopefully if we can get that first goal quite early then that will take the roof off the stadium and get the fans rocking.” Mackail-Smith turned down bids from Premier League QPR amongst others, citing the ambitions from the chairman with the stadium being a high factor in deciding to join Brighton.

FLW Forster & CMS FLW CMS

Local born defender Tommy Elphick caught up with his former roommate in The Amex dressing room. He spoke highly of the new surroundings; “The club is being revolutionised by the gaffer and the chairman. I think you can see by this fantastic stadium that the club’s definitely going forward now.” After the report concluded, Dave Jones in the studio continued, “Moving into a new stadium is going to be absolutely fantastic for them. Good players, they’re playing some good football as well. They’ll be there or thereabouts, whether they do it this year or next year, that’s what they’re aiming for. You look at the facilities, they’re absolutely magnificent.” The team talked up Brighton’s chances of doing well this season and showed the goals from July’s friendly with Tottenham. The bookies had odds of 9/2 for the Seagulls to gain back to back promotions.

FLW Elphick FLW Odds


Football Focus, BBC One (6th August 2011)

Long-running BBC Saturday lunchtime preview programme Football Focus marked our momentous day by broadcasting the entire show Live from The Amex. There were reports that they wanted to show the Doncaster match Live as one of ten Championship broadcasts this season but the club turned the TV requests down, wanting it preserved as Saturday at 3pm. So the Beeb opted for the next best option to kick off a new season of football. They were into their third and final season covering the Football League Live. They also held highlights rights which would continue for a further three-year contract after this season. Football Focus had been running since 1974, with current host Dan Walker taking over the reigns in 2009. Walker was born not far away in Crawley and had been part of various big sporting events on the BBC since around 2008 before landing the Focus gig.

FF Titles FF Field

After Dan Walker had done his introductions from the fields outside the ground, and the car park by the stadium, broadcasting great and famous Seagulls supporter Des Lynam narrated a potted history of the club to provide context as to what we’ve achieved just to get to this point today. He talked about the foundation, the Goldstone, Brian Clough, the Cup Final, that match with Hereford before going up to the present day with Gus Poyet’s Champions, via Gillingham and Withdean Stadium. Walker had made his way round to the legends banners outside of the West Stand and hospitality entrances, where he was joined by BBC Sport pundit and former Albion defender Mark Lawrenson. Lawro spent four years at the Goldstone, making 152 appearances before going on to join Liverpool in 1981 where he enjoyed the most success of his career. Since retirement he’s been a pundit primarily for the BBC and Match of the Day forging a long-standing partnership with ex-teammate Alan Hansen. He combined studio work with a place on the gantry as their lead co-commentator, most recently covering the 2010 World Cup.

FF VT FF Lawrenson

Today’s edition was pleasingly very Brighton centric, with multiple features from around the stadium and about the club. Even both pundits had connections to the Albion. The host was making good use of his access all areas pass, as he visited the home dressing room, where the Albion players were already sitting around reading the matchday programme ahead of kick off less than three hours later. Waiting for us there was Robbie Savage, newly-retired from the game and hoping to forge a career as a pundit with the BBC. Savage played six times on-loan at Brighton where, by his own admission, he was not very good back in October 2008 under Micky Adams. Alan Navarro in the changing room shouted across to make sure he hadn’t forgotten; “He had a stinker in every game!”

FF Dressing Room FF Savage

After a quick summer Championship round-up VT from reporter Mark Clemmit, Dan Walker went out the tunnel and to the side of the pitch where Lawrenson and Savage were standing alongside Chairman Tony Bloom; without whom this stadium would not have been possible. “It’s a hugely emotional time for all of our fans, they’ve been waiting for this moment for so long. Over fourteen years since the last game at the Goldstone ground against Doncaster, funnily enough, in April ’97 and that was a massive game for us which we needed to win to give ourselves a chance of staying in the Football League. Which goes to show how far we’ve gone in that time” he began. Bloom pointed out that the expectations of other teams will be higher than his but to see where we are after a few games and assess the situation from there. The pundits believed one of the biggest tasks would be to keep hold of manager Gus Poyet after such a successful first couple of years in management.

FF Tony Bloom FF Bloom

First team coach Charlie Oatway is never one to shy away from the cameras, as he sat in the car-seat style chairs in the dugout for a chat alongside Walker and his two pundits. The full eleven name introduction was given, with Oatway famously being named after the entire 1973 Queens Park Rangers team, the year he was born. Oatway played 224 matches for the Albion during those successful Withdean years, leaving in 2007 but returning as coach when Poyet arrived two seasons after. Walker asked Oatway about Poyet’s request to have the pitch as wide as possible to encourage the team’s passing philosophy; “We’ve got the best intentions of the way we wanna play football and the stature of this football club and what we wanna achieve and have our own identity. He’s adamant about that and that shows with the way that we try to play.” Their chat closed with a little plug for Oatway’s autobiography “Tackling Life”, charting his story out of trouble to captain the Albion as well as having to learn to read and write as an adult.

FF Oatway FF Dugout

The away end was Walker’s next port of call as he walked through the concourse highlighting some of the little touches the club would be putting on for visiting fans. We saw the television screens informing of next train times, the barrels of beer brought in locally from the visiting area and he spoke of how the lighting would be adapted to that club’s colours each match too. We saw the view from the away end, hoping “in the not too distant future there’ll be Premier League fans watching their team here at this great new stadium.” He also brought up the slight change from an earlier design of the seat colours which did have a couple of white seats ‘deposited’ underneath the giant seagull in the West Stand. That idea was poo-pooed.

FF Concourse FF Clipping

Superstar DJ Fatboy Slim, AKA Norman Cook, gave his considerable support to the campaign to bring home the Albion down the years and deserves credit for the publicity that brought, as well as the Skint shirt sponsorship which served the kits at Withdean so well for nine years. He joined the team pitchside for a natter and perhaps putting it best when he said, “We’ve lived through a difficult fourteen years and now we have our field of dreams. If you build it they will come.” It’s difficult for Mark Lawrenson to get through any broadcast without some attempt at a joke so when the good ones land you can’t help but admire his efforts; “They were sponsored by Skint, now they should be sponsored by Loaded! He’s got loads of money, the chairman.” And that was just about all we had time for this afternoon. This programme was a wonderful build up to one of the most anticipated days the Brighton supporters had seen for a generation. It was great seeing our stadium on television, exploring all the different areas and having nothing but praise for it. It set the scene perfectly for the match to come later that afternoon.

FF Goal FF Fatboy Slim


The Football League Show, BBC One (6th August 2011)

FLS Titles FLS Bhasin

BBC Saturday night highlights have been a staple of the British football diet going back to the times before England had even won the World Cup. Match of the Day launched on Saturday evening in 1964 and has continued on-air in some form on the weekends every season ever since. From 2009 this was supplemented by more action in the post-MOTD slot; The Football League Show. Not the most imaginatively titled programme, with largely forgettable (and barely audible) theme music, but it gave fans of lower league clubs the chance to see their team’s goals on a Saturday night after the Premier League games had been wrapped up. It was hosted from their London studio by Manish Bhasin, formerly of Football Focus. Bhasin would be joined by a guest pundit each week – the likes of Steve Claridge, Leroy Rosenior, Dave Kitson as well as current players and managers. Genial reporter Mark Clemmit – or Clem – would visit a match each Saturday to file an extended report from, interviewing players and managers and giving a bit of context to one of the 72 clubs in the Leagues. A club history section would often also be hosted by him to break up the flow of goals, goals, goals. For the first couple of seasons there would also be a chance for viewers to interact with the show sending comments and questions to be read out by reporters such as Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Jacqui Oatley. There would be longer highlights of one or two featured games from the Championship, with voiceover reports in the round-ups for the rest of the matches across the Three Divisions. On this opening day, Brighton’s debut home fixture was the chosen star match here.

FLS Brighton FLS Doncaster

Brighton’s side included Craig Mackail-Smith, the club’s new record-signing from Peterborough, up front. He partnered Ashley Barnes. Glenn Murray rejected the club’s offers of a new contract and left as a free agent in the summer, only to join bitter rivals Crystal Palace. Winger Kazenga LuaLua had repeatedly been on loan with us over the previous season and a half and signed another six-month loan deal for the start of this campaign, with a view to a permanent deal. The solid back-line of Casper Ankergren in-goal, full-backs Inigo Calderon and Marcos Painter, and captain Gordon Greer kept twenty clean-sheets in the League last season and continued as starters here. Tommy Elphick was stretchered off injured in the final day draw at Notts County and would be a long-term casualty this time round. This gave another local youngster a start in his place; Lewis Dunk, who had made a handful of appearances for the Albion prior to today. The midfield core of Irishman Gary Dicker, Matt Sparrow and former Chelsea youth captain Liam Bridcutt all started. Winger Craig Noone had impressed since joining the side for the second half of last season but began on the bench. He was accompanied by unfamiliar Albion faces in new signings Will Buckley, temporarily our record signing at £1 million when the winger joined from Watford, and Romain Vincelot, a utility player brought in from Dagenham & Redbridge. Doncaster had a tough pre-season and were without seven of their squad due to injury. Billy Sharp and James Hayter were the target men, James Coppinger a potential danger in the middle with Ryan Mason, and at the back was captain George Friend. The referee was Eddie Ilderton.

FLS Commentator FLS Yellow Card

Commentary on the ten-minute highlight edit came from Martin Fisher. He joined the BBC when Match of the Day regained highlights to Premier League matches and began deploying commentators to every single game in 2004. Since then he’s regularly covered top-flight action and, from 2009, dipped down into the Football Leagues for this programme. Prior to that he was a reporter for Sky Sports News based in the midlands. The opening chance of the highlights fell to Billy Sharp whose curled effort inside the area narrowly missed the post. Kazenga LuaLua was causing all sorts of problems for the Donny defence, with Tommy Spurr getting booked for a foul. LuaLua himself was then booked for a dive when it seemed like he had surely been fouled for a penalty. Manager Poyet was incensed on the touchline, living up to his fiery nature, and received his invitation to sit in the stands courtesy of the referee. Ashley Barnes had the Albion’s first good chance after a flick on saw him one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Woods stood his ground and blocked Barnes’ effort with the defence helping out to clear a yard off the line. It all wasn’t quite going to plan for Brighton and it was made worse five minutes before half-time. Dicker was dispossessed on the half-way line by Ryan Mason, who continued his run to the edge of the box. His shot deflected off Dunk into the path of Billy Sharp to steer goalwards a first-time shot through Ankergren, already scrambling around way off his goalline, who managed to deflect the effort onto the post but to no avail. It trickled in to give Rovers the lead.

FLS Poyet Sent Off FLS Doncaster Goal

In the second half a wild lunge from Lewis Dunk earned himself a yellow card and brought an end to Sharp’s afternoon, having to be stretchered off to add to the away side’s injury woes. Substitute Craig Noone was in behind the Doncaster defence after Barnes flicked on Sparrow’s nice through ball. Noone opened his body up but saw the effort fly past the wrong side of the post, the shot lacking the required curl on it. The highlights were now all Brighton’s; with Craig Mackail-Smith forcing Woods into action again. The Albion breakthrough finally came through another sub, Will Buckley, who thundered in a goal from the corner of the area. Bridcutt’s floated free-kick was headed out by the defence who twice couldn’t clear sufficiently. The ball eventually fell to Buckley who smashed it on the half-volley twenty yards out low and hard past the ‘keeper to level with seven minutes remaining. Both sides had chances to win it, with Mackail-Smith going close for us, whilst Hayter had a volley blocked for Rovers. He got injured in the process, leaving Sean O’Driscoll with no option but to play the final few minutes with just ten men having already made three substitutions. A lot of stoppage time was going to be played here, Brighton had a man advantage now, could they get the goal advantage?

FLS Equaliser FLS One all

Into the 98th minute of the match, Craig Noone showed off some lovely footwork on half-way to spin one defender and skip past a second. With the outside of the left boot he stabbed a defence-splitting ball forward for Will Buckley to run through on goal. The pass was perfect, Buckley didn’t even need to take a touch he just ran wide to give himself the best possible angle to shoot and then bam! He curled it into the bottom-right corner of the goal to seal his place in Albion folklore forever. “It’s Buckley in againnn, TWO-ONE BRIGHTON!” cried commentator Martin Fisher. A fantastically cool finish from the debutant to complete the comeback and secure a very special victory on a very special day. Brighton had won it with virtually the last kick of the match. I hope you were expecting drama, it’s never plain sailing being a football fan!

FLS Winner FLS Celebration

In his post-match interview Gus Poyet was still fathomed by the referees decision to book LuaLua instead of award a penalty. Acknowledging his fiery temper he said “It’s me, you like me or you don’t. You take me how I am or I go home and I play golf.” We also heard from double-goalscoring hero Will Buckley. Questioned about how pleasing it was to go down in the record books he answered “I think everyone was trying to get that but it’s more importantly about the team win today and that’s what we needed, a good start, and we got it.” The standard footballer answer given, playing down his own achievements to focus on the three points and the team aspect. I could watch those two goals over and over again. I was so fortunate to have been there for this match and to enjoy the incredible surroundings our new abode had to offer.

FLS Full Time FLS Poyet

Manish Bhasin was joined by Steve Claridge in the studio to review the action. The retired striker had a short six game loan spell with Brighton under Mark McGhee in 2004. Upon analysing today’s match Claridge loved the atmosphere the fans created with the flags waving pre-match creating a sea of blue and white. He agreed with Poyet that the penalty should have been given for the foul on Kazenga LuaLua and praised the manager for making game-changing substitutions, with Noone and Buckley coming on. On the first goal, Claridge believed it to be “a fantastic strike, that’s a difficult skill and a great technique” before remarking about the winner “This is a fantastic run, teams can’t defend against this because it’s players running from deep, no-one can run with him.” No-one did run with him and consequently Brighton ran out winners by two goals to one completing the fairytale story in this brand new place we are very lucky to call home. This day will be forever remembered as the day the fans brought their football club back.

FLS Claridge FLS Studio

 

#33: Colchester 1-1 Brighton 25/04/2011

#33 COLCHESTER 1-1 BRIGHTON League One
Monday 25th April 2011 Image result for

COLU Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Phil Parkinson & Mark McGhee
COMMENTATORS Gary Weaver & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER Patrick Davison
12.15pm Kick Off; Weston Homes Stadium, Colchester     12-2.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

COLU Ident COLU Sponsor COLU Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton and Hove Albion had done it. After narrowly avoiding relegation into League Two on the final day of the season under Russell Slade in 2009, climbing out of the relegation fight to finish 13th under Gus Poyet in 2010, the Seagulls secured promotion into the Championship in 2011 with a month of the campaign to spare. By the time this Easter Monday fixture arrived, we’d gone one better than promotion; we were the Champions! The Albion had achieved the fairytale story of arriving into our wonderful new home this summer in the best possible style. When today’s match away at Colchester was initially selected for Live coverage by Sky Sports, it was hoped that promotion could be secured in front of the television cameras, possibly even confirmation of the title. Poyet’s men were that good this season that we did it much earlier than that, so we could relax and enjoy a Bank Holiday stroll knowing the outcome really didn’t matter. Owing to the progress to Round Five of the FA Cup plus December postponements, the players had to get through eight games in twenty-nine days in March. The result; eight straight victories. Promotion was secured in early April at home to Dagenham before sealing the thoroughly deserved title away at Walsall. There was one little bit left to achieve, though. Including today’s fixture, three games remained of the season and Brighton were on an incredible 93 points. Could we reach that magical 100 point mark, becoming the first side since Wigan in 2003 to achieve it in this Division? The hosts Colchester had left it too late to have a serious crack at reaching the Play-Offs and for the second season running would have to sit a couple of places outside. The focus was all about the Albion today, enjoying somewhat of an early promotion party in the Easter sunshine.

COLU Colchester COLU Subs COLU Brighton

The Teams: Four changes were made to the Albion side which lost at home to Southampton on Saturday. Top scorer Glenn Murray injured himself so in came Chris Wood, who’d been on loan from West Brom since November. Local teenager Lewis Dunk started for only the second time in the League, with El-Abd dropping to the bench, as was Matt Sparrow. Liam Bridcutt scored a fabulous goal in the 4-3 win over Dagenham and Redbridge which secured promotion earlier in the month but he sat out this one with Alan Navarro coming in. Former roofer Craig Noone was signed from Plymouth in the January transfer window, having excelled during the first half of the season on the wing and returned to the line-up here. Left-back Marcos Painter was the only player to start every League match for the Albion this season, whilst midfielders Gary Dicker and Elliott Bennett also featured in all matches. PFA Team of the Season defender Inigo Calderon continued a fine run at right-back. John Ward’s Colchester were much changed from this fixture last season; with just four survivors from the starting XI thirteen months ago also starting today. They were Ben Williams in-goal, defender Matt Heath, and midfielders John-Joe O’Toole and Kemal Izzet. The U’s were without leading striker Steven Gillespie through injury. David Mooney scored thirteen goals for United, all of them coming at home. The man in black was little Keith Stroud.

COLU Thomas COLU Parkinson COLU McGhee COLU Studio

Presentation Team: Coverage was hosted by Simon Thomas, who had enjoyed a sharp rise into presenting Live football this season. Thomas was most associated with his six years and more than 550 episodes on iconic children’s BBC programme Blue Peter, where he completed London Marathons, climbed mountains, met the Queen, boxed with Amir Khan and all sorts of exciting adventures you associate with the long-running show. Upon leaving in 2005 he acknowledged that “whatever I go on to do now is not going to be a patch on what I’ve done. That’s one of the hardest things about leaving.” He outlined his intentions to go into sports reporting or presenting and that’s exactly what happened. Soon after leaving the BBC, and with their sports department not willing to take him on, Thomas joined Sky Sports News as a newsreader working regularly with Georgie Thompson in the afternoon slot. He hosted a number of Live shows for Sky Sports in the intervening years before getting the chance to host Live Football League broadcasts this season, deputising for number one host David Jones on lower League games. He benefitted greatly from the huge fallout in January 2011 when Sky’s Premier League faces, Richard Keys and Andy Gray, left after leaked sexist comments. This forced a major reshuffle of personnel for the rest of this season. Effectively four hosts auditioned to present their flagship Super Sunday and Monday Night Football programmes; Jeff Stelling, Ben Shephard, Ed Chamberlin and David Jones. With Jones stepping up to the top flight, Simon Thomas presented far more Championship matches, the vast majority in fact, with Jones returning for the bigger games. Thomas’ pundits for today’s game were Phil Parkinson and Mark McGhee. This very fixture was broadcast Live in March last season, with Parkinson a guest on that too, given his Colchester connections as manager between 2003 and 2006. Most recently, until January, he was the Charlton boss. Mark McGhee needs no introduction having achieved promotion with Brighton out of this League, the last Albion manager to do so, in 2004 via the Play Offs and then successfully keeping them in the Championship the following year. That survival was arguably a bigger achievement than the Play Offs owing to the vast differences in budget, stadium and players between McGhee’s Albion and the high-flyers like Sunderland, Leeds and West Ham. McGhee is remembered fondly by many Seagulls supporters for his part in bringing great success to the South Coast, and he still had a property locally long after he’d left the club. McGhee was in-between jobs after managing Motherwell and Aberdeen. In the commentary box were two newcomers to Brighton matches; Gary Weaver and Andy Hinchcliffe. Both men began appearing on Sky’s Live Football League matches this season in a big overhaul of the personnel. Bill Leslie and Don Goodman were the long-established number one pairing, with Weaver used when Leslie or Daniel Mann weren’t, and Hinchcliffe was third choice behind Goodman and Garry Birtles. Today was the perfect low-key opportunity to give the newbies some vital Live experience. On the touchline was Patrick Davison, now in his third season as number two reporter behind Greg Whelan. He also covered this fixture Live last year.

COLU Murray COLU Talent COLU Kick Off COLU Comms

The Coverage: All this year Sky Sports were celebrating 20 years of broadcasting, with special idents and anniversary programming such as the excellently nostalgic The Sky Sports Years, which looked back over Sky’s portfolio for each and every year since 1991. Coverage of the League remained sponsored by bet365, who had their animated logo splashed over so much football output across all the broadcasters around this time it seemed they sponsored everything outside the top flight. The title sequence continued to be soundtracked by Candi Staton’s “You Got the Love”. However the graphics had a slight tweak to them, with the ends effectively chopped off so they sat within the 4×3 aspect ratio ‘safe area’ rather than extended horizontally all the way across the screen. This was introduced around the turn of the year, in a slight effort to look more in-line with the new graphics the Premier League coverage had at the beginning of this season that the Football League wouldn’t adopt until next year. The replay transition was the beautiful trophy the Albion would get their hands on at the final home match of the season, and the last to be played at Withdean, against Huddersfield next Saturday. The show came on-air at noon, fifteen minutes before the early afternoon kick-off. Pre-match build up was presented from pitchside at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Sky taking advantage of the hot weather. The atmosphere came across well, with Albion fans in full voice and a party mood. For the half and full-time analysis, the team moved up to a more familiar studio position in the corner of the stadium. During Gus Poyet’s pre-match interview he spoke of when he saw this fixture was to be broadcast “how nice it would be to get promoted or to win the League Live on TV. We were so good we done it before coming here so now it’s time to enjoy and to plan next season.” The PFA Team of the Season was announced earlier in the month, with the Seagulls having three representatives; Inigo Calderon, captain Gordon Greer and Elliott Bennett. Whilst former Brighton defender Dan Harding was in there for Southampton, and future signing Craig Mackail-Smith up front for Peterborough.

COLU Pitchside COLU Play Off COLU PFA Team COLU Coming Up

The coverage was all about the Champions, kicking off with a ‘Brighton’s Got Talent’ intro highlighting the individual stars the Seagulls had this season, taking inspiration from Britain’s Got Talent. Phil Parkinson noted of Brighton that “right from the word go they’ve been the best team in the Division. I think back in pre-season, no-one thought they’d have the season they’ve had but as soon as the season started they hit the ground running.” Mark McGhee spoke about the 2004 Play Off Final victory, saying the club had a better opportunity now than his side did what with the ground arriving, giving Albion “a new platform, a new revenue stream that we didn’t have then. A lot of what we earned then was sacrificed in the fight for the new stadium.” Whilst looking at the table it was noted how Brighton could reach the magical 100 points marker. In conversation with reporter Patrick Davison, Gus Poyet told what was left to achieve in the remaining three matches; “Keep the momentum, keep the identity, keep playing football. Keep enjoying, and making people enjoy watching us.” After previewing the game for around ten minutes or so it was time for commentator Gary Weaver to talk us through the team news before the pre-kick-off advert break. At half time the team analysed the first half chances from their studio position, looking at Ankergren’s injury and the Colchester goal as well as the half-chances the away side had mustered. They joked at one point Poyet shouted out to his players “You’re not in blue and white today, you’re in red!” Emphasising how un-Brighton like that first half was. Straight after the final whistle reporter Patrick Davison spoke to Man of the Match Craig Noone and Elliott Bennett. The latter was asked directly about his future, having previously handed a transfer request in. Brighton had rejected offers from a number of higher Division clubs. He responded to if he would be playing for the Albion in the Championship saying, “Yeah, definitely. What Gus Poyet’s created here is unbelievable and all the lads are pulling in the right direction. We play great football, a magnificent stadium to move into and Championship football so why would I want to move anywhere else?” Elliott Bennett joined Norwich in June. After the break the team had just under ten minutes to wrap the match up. Davison spoke with Poyet, who reminded us just what a slog it is in the Football League. “It’s difficult because it was a long season for us, very, very long. From September we were at the top under pressure, the effort and everything you have to do, you’ve done it for a long, long time,” he said before going on to bemoan the goal conceded as probably the worst of the season from a defensive point of view. Thomas, with Parkinson and McGhee, reviewed the goals and the key moments as well as highlighting a couple of players who might be making a case for the manager to include them more next season before it was time to sign off for the afternoon.

COLU Comedy goal COLU Substitute  COLU Stat COLU Yellow

Story of the Match: The glorious sunshine was beaming down in Essex as the Albion, in their change kit of red and black stripes, kicked off. Tactically both teams matched each other in a 4-3-3 formation, slightly different to how Sky had set the graphics up, as Craig Noone was playing much further forward with Bennett sitting in central midfield. Casper Ankergren broke his nose in the last televised League fixture, against Bournemouth back in October, and he was in the wars early on here. Whilst collecting a loose ball his left knee was caught by Henderson but hobbled on. Perhaps the niggle was playing on his mind as a couple of minutes later on the quarter-hour mark, Colchester took the lead after an almighty comedy of errors. John-Joe O’Toole’s effort was dragged somewhat but Ankergren was scrabbling around to get a hand to it, pushing the ball into the path of Tommy Elphick. He swiped at it, completely miscuing it back towards goal where Calderon was waiting. He then also miscued under pressure from the attack, with his attempted clearance across goal falling to the feet of Ian Henderson; presented with the easiest chance of his season to break the deadlock from six yards out. It was a terrible goal to concede and so unlike the solid Brighton defence which earned them twenty League clean sheets. The ‘keeper immediately signalled to the bench calling for a sub, as Peter Brezovan came on for his first League appearance this season. The Albion weren’t playing anywhere near as well as they had done this campaign, passes were sloppy and the defence was sitting deep allowing Colchester to control the ball and the midfield. The first chance came to Ashley Barnes six minutes before half-time with his header from a Calderon cross being simple for Williams in-goal. Bennett was booked a minute later for sarcastically applauding the referee, which for somebody as fussy as Keith Stroud was never a good idea. Colchester should have doubled their lead after James was allowed to run towards the Albion defence, his shot dragged towards the far post where an outstretched Henderson could only divert it over from six yards out.

COLU Barnes COLU Man of the Match

Ten minutes into the second half Peter Brezovan was called into action having to block with his chest and then leap to claw away a second effort. The half time break hadn’t done Brighton too much good as it was still Colchester who were enjoying the better of the play. The Albion’s best chance of the match thus far occurred in the 65th minute, following a quickly taken throw-in to set Marcos Painter free down the left. He pulled it back for Barnes to shoot with his left but inadvertently helped it on towards Chris Wood waiting at the back post. The goalkeeper palmed Barnes’ tame shot onto Wood as they both went for the ball, the ricochet taking it inches wide of the far post. The luck just not quite there for the Champions but the momentum began to swing their way. A couple of scrambles in the area followed in the next couple of minutes as Brighton really began to knock on the door for an equaliser. After a spell of domination, enjoying 74% of the possession, that goal finally arrived through Ashley Barnes. “A clinical finish. It’s the response of Champions!” cried commentator Gary Weaver as Barnes did the pregnant belly celebration. Elliott Bennett was found on the right-wing, turned back on his defender to swing in a cross on his weaker left-foot. It was a fantastic ball in to the right foot of Barnes to volley home on the edge of the six yard box, having ran in front of his marker to beat him to the ball for his eighteenth goal in all competitions this season. Brighton nearly completed the comeback with seven minutes to go when Elphick’s powerful header from an excellent Craig Noone cross was well tipped over by Williams. At the other end Brezovan had to remain alert with a couple of straightforward saves in the final few minutes. The last chance of the match was Chris Wood’s; his header from Bennett’s cross landed the wrong side of the post and the match ended all square at one-one. Brighton didn’t quite manage to reach the 100 point target, losing the final Withdean game against Huddersfield and drawing away at Notts County, but that barely mattered in the end. Promotion was achieved in the best way, as Champions, and second tier football would be played in Falmer come August. The football Brighton played this season was excellent, Poyet’s stock was extremely high and everybody couldn’t wait for the summer break to be over so we could take our seats in a place we could, finally, call home. What a time to be a Seagulls supporter.

COLU Table

COLCHESTER 1 BRIGHTON 1
Henderson Barnes

COLU Replay

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2011 Champions

Brighton & Hove Albion League One Champions 2010/2011