Small Screen Seagulls; 2012/13 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe opening months of the 2012/2013 season put the Albion within touching distance of a Play Off place, improving upon the progress made the previous year. The second half of the campaign would be dominated by meetings with arch rivals Crystal Palace en route to the bitter end. Relive some of the highest highs and lowest lows against them here, as well as crucial points picked up against East Midlands clubs going well in the Championship. After Christmas, the grit and determination turned possible defeats into tangible points as the Seagulls soared up the table to end in fourth spot. Gus Poyet didn’t quite have it all his own way, with off the field matters proving his ultimate downfall. This year showed the fine margins between great success and failure.

Here are some of the features and coverage during the Albion’s highest placed finish for thirty years. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC nationally and locally. This is part two, the first part is HERE.


Crystal Palace 3-0 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (1st December 2012); Championship

CRYA Titles CRYA Bhasin

After a terrific start to the campaign, hitting highs of first place at the end of September, Brighton were winless in October sliding down towards mid-table. Wins against Peterborough, Huddersfield and Bristol City last time out in midweek, along with draws with Leeds, Wolves and Bolton saw Albion surge back strongly. Ahead of this trip to rivals Crystal Palace, Brighton sat in seventh spot.

Crystal Palace were flying under Ian Holloway, going top of the table in mid-November. A loss and a draw in their last two games ahead of this one moved them down to second, but a win would see them at the summit again. Despite the good start, they lost manager Dougie Freedman to Bolton near the end of October, with Holloway replacing him soon after. In the lead up to this derby game, Holloway admitted he was ‘baffled’ by the rivalry but would soon learn.

The BBC’s Football League Show was on the road for a rare outside broadcast this edition, owing to a reduced schedule. The Second Round of the FA Cup consumed most League One and Two fixtures, so host Manish Bhasin presented solo from The Den for Millwall’s match with Charlton. As well as that London derby, our match at Selhurst was one of the featured commentary games. BBC Radio Solent man Laurence Herdman was behind the mic.

CRYA Palace CRYA Brighton

The standout man from the Crystal Palace starting line-up was, of course, the former Brighton striker Glenn Murray leading their line after suspension for five bookings. Murray had fifteen goals to his name already this season and joined the club in May 2011. He scored in Palace’s win at The Amex last season. Elsewhere, defenders Joel Ward and Peter Ramage were close season signings. As was Congolese winger Yannick Bolasie who joined from Bristol City in August.

Brighton welcomed back their top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith after being rested in midweek. He netted nine goals thus far and partnered Ashley Barnes up front. Will Hoskins and Stephen Dobbie dropped to the bench, with a total of two goals so far between them – both for Dobbie. Midfielders Dean Hammond, on a season-long loan from Southampton, and Andrea Orlandi, signed from Swansea in the summer, were both on the scoresheet last time out.

CRYA Comm CRYA Red Card

Brighton got off to the worst possible start when defender Lewis Dunk was shown a straight red card within eight minutes for a foul on Palace’s Yannick Bolasie. A pass from Bruno to his centre back was miscontrolled by Dunk twenty-five yards from goal. Bolasie nipped in to push the ball forward. Dunk stretched out a leg in a desperate bid to win the ball back, he was nowhere near. Instead, he just brought the attacker down.

The referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red and the Seagulls were on the back foot for the rest of the contest. The resulting free kick by Owen Garvan hit the top of the crossbar with Brighton still rocked. Later on, Bolasie himself had a go. His fierce shot from the corner of the penalty area was palmed away by Tomasz Kuszczak in the Albion goal.

CRYA Murray 1st CRYA Murray 2nd

With seven minutes remaining in the first half, the home side took the lead via a Bolasie corner. From the other side of the pitch, the kick was swung in to the near post where that man, Glenn Murray, leapt highest to head on beyond Kuszczak and into the net. Of course it had to be Murray. The man Gus Poyet stubbornly allowed to leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract in 2011 was coming back to haunt the Albion. He refused to celebrate his goal, but the Selhurst Park support made sure we all knew what had happened. He made it look so simple.

Brighton almost got straight back into it when Liam Bridcutt crossed in for Ashley Barnes. The striker couldn’t quite manage to connect with a diving header, but Julian Speroni in the home goal still had to be alert to push away the bouncing cross. Then, after the interval, Craig Mackail-Smith was freed by Barnes to run behind the defence. He dribbled into the penalty box, slightly left of goal, with commentator Laurence Herdman describing the run as “like a rampaging Viking”. As Speroni narrowed the angle by advancing off his line, Mackail-Smith shot beyond him with his left foot, but it crashed against the post and wide.

A let off for the Eagles, who would soon punish the Seagulls. It took just nine second half minutes for them to double their lead. They worked a counter attack very well from one end of the pitch to the other, Bolasie again causing problems. He was brought down on the edge of the box but, in doing so, flicked the ball forward for an unmarked Glenn Murray. As the forward tried to round the ‘keeper, he was felled for a penalty. The ex-Albion hero stepped up to take the spot kick that he won and fired it into the bottom left hand corner of the goal sending Kuszczak the other way. Two-nil down and with ten men, this was turning out to be a terrible afternoon for the Albion.

CRYA Garvan penalty CRYA Full Time

Things got even worse with twenty minutes to go, when a second penalty was awarded. What is it about this fixture and penalties?! Yannick Bolasie crossed to the far post for Glenn Murray, who went to ground upon leaping with Gordon Greer. The referee awarded the spot kick for a shove by the Albion skipper, which looked to be a silly move. Murray did not take the kick this time and did not complete his hat-trick, instead it was left for Owen Garvan who just about managed to sneak it past the goalie’s outstretched arms. Three-nil.

The result showed Brighton still had a bit of work to do if they were going to be up there with Crystal Palace at the end of the season. Everything went the way of the hosts on this December Saturday, not helped by a rash sending off in the first ten.

Afterwards, Gus Poyet pointed to the Mackail-Smith chance just after half time as the turning point, citing chances needed to be taken. “That is the moment when you need to take advantage, because you will have one or two and you need to take it.” He went on to say he had “no complaints” with the result and “we need to accept that”. Onwards and upwards. Indeed, the Albion’s form after the turn of the year dramatically improved, with no greater day than our next feature.


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Brighton 3-0 Crystal Palace Highlights

Late Kick Off, BBC One South East (17th March 2013); Championship

CRYH Titles CRYH Studio

Regional Football League magazine show Late Kick Off returned to the BBC in January 2013 for another run, this time moving from the Monday night slot to a Sunday night. In our region, London and the South East, there was a change of host as Dan Walker was replaced by Jacqui Oatley. Walker’s Christian beliefs meant he did not work on Sundays, so he left the programme after one series.

Oatley’s broadcasting career began in hospital radio before moving around various local BBC radio stations and then up to 5 Live as a commentator and reporter. She covered the 2005 UEFA Women’s Euros in England for the station but became infamous in April 2007 when she became the first female to ever commentate on a men’s game for Match of the Day, when Fulham hosted Blackburn. This earned her huge press attention, largely negative. Since then she has returned to the programme on occasions to voice other Premier League games as well as covering the Olympics and Euros in 2008 for television. She is heard more frequently on radio covering both the men’s and women’s games and has branched out into television presenting to add to the commentating and reporting.

Oatley was joined in the studio for this Sunday 17th March edition of the show by former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright and Gillingham manager Martin Allen. The main feature of the programme centred around a clash between two of the regions clubs; Brighton and Crystal Palace. The match was moved to a Sunday noon kick off on the advice of the authorities and this gave Late Kick Off the perfect opportunity to cover the match highlights. Commentary was provided by Jamie Reid, better known as a presenter and commentator for BBC Radio in London.

CRYH Ulloa goal

Brighton’s home form in 2013 had been terrific, taking thirteen points from a possible fifteen at The Amex since the turn of the year. Crystal Palace though were flying and a win here would have sent them second in the table.

After the obligatory video to explain why these two clubs are rivals, it was down to the action as the Seagulls aimed to avenge the three-nil reverse back in December. The first chance fell Palace’s way, albeit through the unlikely source of Albion defender Matthew Upson. His low header from a free kick almost went into his own goal, but for a good reflex save from Tomasz Kuszczak. Left back Jonathan Parr was later presented with a good opportunity for the visitors, his shot much simpler to handle for the Pole in our goal.

They would go on to rue the missed opportunity when Brighton took the lead through January signing Leonardo Ulloa. Will Buckley ran down to the byline and stood up a cross to the back post. Ulloa jumped highest to head. He slightly mistimed things, with the ball going off his head down on to his knee to deceive goalkeeper Julian Speroni into the net. It was a scrappy finish but it did not matter, Brighton had the lead two minutes before the break.

CRYH Lopez goal

In stoppage time at the end of the first period, things got even better for the Albion. Will Buckley again did well on the right wing, cutting inside before being scythed down by Kagisho Dikgacoi twenty yards from goal. Two of the Spanish contingent stood over the free kick but it was David Lopez, who joined from Athletic Bilbao in August, that won the vote ahead of Andrea Orlandi to strike. The rest is history, as Lopez wrote his name into Albion folklore in sensational style.

His right foot strike found its way into the top right-hand corner of the goal, clipping the underside of the crossbar to bounce down over the line in the process. Nicknamed ‘Spanish Dave’ by the Seagulls support, he instantly became a fans favourite with one clean, beautiful strike of a ball. It came at the perfect time, with two goals in three minutes sending the home side into the lead at the interval.

CRYH Ulloa 2nd

The elation continued for Brighton five minutes into the second half when a third goal was scored, this time in front of the noise of the North Stand. A very well worked goal began with holding midfielder Liam Bridcutt chipping the ball from thirty yards out towards the six-yard box. Andrea Orlandi was the target. He saw the better opportunity was waiting centrally in Leonardo Ulloa. Orlandi’s cushioned header was pin-perfect for the Argentinian striker to volley home past Speroni and seal three precious points for the Seagulls.

More chances fell the way of Ulloa and Buckley but neither could increase the deficit further and it ended Brighton three, Crystal Palace nil. What a joyous Sunday afternoon it was.

CRYH Full Time CRYH Table

The win was Albion’s first over Palace at home for twenty-five years, since a three-one scoreline on Boxing Day 1988 at the Goldstone. The result meant the Eagles stayed in fourth, missing the chance to move up to the automatic promotion places occupied by Cardiff and Hull.

Brighton went level on points with Leicester in the final Play Off position with eight matches to play. Crucially, they still had the Foxes to play at The Amex, Forest away next as well as winnable games against the likes of struggling Blackpool and Wolves. Supporters were starting to believe.

CRYH Poyet CRYH Bright

After the match, Palace boss Ian Holloway assessed things fairly and honestly, saying “They took their opportunities and we didn’t take ours.” Gus Poyet explained how the game went to plan, praising his side’s organisation. “We knew the danger, we knew what would happen if we went ahead, we knew that Ian would throw as many players as possible forward”, he said before adding of his players, “I think they were fantastic today.”

In the studio, Crystal Palace fan Mark Bright was visibly disappointed with his side’s effort, or lack of, during the match he attended. He cited Jonathan Parr’s miss as the key moment; “If they score first, they don’t lose. If they go behind, they don’t win.” He added it was the worst he’d seen Palace play since their first away game of the season – a four-one defeat at Bristol City. He concluded by diplomatically pointing out that it all made it more exciting for the region’s teams. Indeed, three of the four Play Off teams could come from this Late Kick Off area.


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Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (31st March 2013); Championship

FOR Titles FOR Comm

The game of the day in the Championship saw fifth placed Nottingham Forest host seventh placed Brighton at the City Ground. The Seagulls bounced back in superb style before the international break with that wonderful win over Palace, ending a three-match winless streak. Forest’s form of late was sensational under Billy Davies, winning their last six League games and moving into the top six after spending much of the season in mid-table. They had lost at home just once since early December. The reverse at The Amex ended goalless.

This afternoon’s fixture was the BBC’s featured match on The Football League Show. Manish Bhasin was back in the usual studio, joined by pundit Leroy Rosenior for this edition. Commentary was provided by Alistair Mann. The former ITV Granada man’s been a regular voice on the BBC since joining the Match of the Day roster in 2006 and covered the 2008 and 2012 Olympic football tournaments.

FOR Nottingham Forest FOR Brighton

If Billy Davies’ side won here, they would equal a club record of seven straight wins stretching back 120 years. Davies only took over the reins at the beginning of February, his second spell in charge having spent two-and-a-half seasons with Forest from January 2009. He was the club’s fourth manager since the end of last season, with Steve Cotterill, Sean O’Driscoll and Alex McLeish all departing. The Forest squad included Darius Henderson up front, who had a ten-match loan spell on the South Coast a decade earlier. Gonzalo Jara Reyes on the bench had two loan periods with Brighton last season from West Brom, he joined Forest temporarily this January.

A big change for Brighton saw first choice goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak absent through injury, allowing Casper Ankergren to make his first start in fifteen months. Midfielder Liam Bridcutt was another key man out injured. He picked up a knock during his international debut in the week for Gordon Strachan’s Scotland against Serbia. Andrew Crofts took his place in the middle alongside Spanish contingent David Lopez and Andrea Orlandi. Wingers Kazenga LuaLua and Will Buckley supported £2 million signing Leonardo Ulloa, who had already netted eight goals since arriving at the end of January. He was certainly needed, with Craig Mackail-Smith sidelined for a long time through injury and Ashley Barnes suspended after picking up two red cards in the space of five weeks.

FOR LuaLua yellow FOR Ulloa goal

This would be remembered for a ‘mixed’ afternoon for stand-in goalkeeper Casper Ankergren. He rescued Brighton early on with a good double save, the second particularly vital as he dived in the way of Darius Henderson’s close-range effort.

Tempers frayed in the first half, with Forest captain Danny Collins going in referee James Linington’s book for a late foul on Ulloa. A petulant shove to the ground from Kazenga LuaLua on Hutchinson earned the winger a yellow later, his silliness to react risked a red and was brought off after the break. An uneventful first half ended goalless.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Brighton took the lead through Leonardo Ulloa. A corner was whipped into the danger area from the left. Buckley’s tame shot was blocked into the path of Ulloa, who was waiting between the penalty spot and six-yard line. With four Forest bodies in his way, he struck powerfully, low and hard. It found its way into the bottom left hand corner of the net via a slight nick on the way through.

FOR McGugan goal FOR Buckley goal

Brighton were in confident mood and almost added to the lead from a Matthew Upson header. He diverted a Hammond shot goalwards, with Karl Darlow needing to parry away. But it was the home side who scored with just eight minutes remaining, getting the equaliser from a tight angle through Lewis McGugan. There didn’t appear to be much danger as McGugan took the ball forward on the right side of the penalty area. But he unleashed a shot which looped over Ankergren at his near post off Hammond’s boot and nestled into the other corner of the goal. One-one.

Undeterred, Brighton went up the other end to regain the lead just three minutes later. Calderon clipped it up for Ulloa, one of four Albion men in the Forest penalty area. He held the ball up well before sliding it wide to an unmarked Will Buckley. You cannot leave that man on his own with the goal in front of him. Buckley’s first-time strike found the same corner of the net that Ulloa hit earlier and Brighton were back in front.

FOR Ankergren error FOR Rosenior

But, as four minutes of added time were announced over the PA system, a terrible error by Brighton’s Danish goalkeeper threw the lead away and handed Forest a precious point. Henri Lansbury hit a shot from outside the box which was straight down Ankergren’s throat. It should have been a comfortable save. Having done so well earlier on to deny the home side, this was just a momentary lapse in concentration. He allowed the ball to slip through his grasp and under his legs to trickle into the back of the net, Massimo Taibi style. “Lansbury can’t believe his luck! Ankergren, who’s been outstanding all afternoon, makes an horrendous blunder”, cried commentator Alistair Mann.

It finished two apiece. Before kick-off, Albion probably would have taken that result, given Forest’s form to keep them at bay. Being just minutes away from a famous victory, the draw felt a bit like a disappointing result. That sentiment was shared by Gus Poyet when he said in his post-match interview; “Unfortunately today we had a massive error at the back and we gave two points away.” Their manager Billy Davies said afterwards, “If we didn’t get anything, it would’ve been a complete travesty.”

In the studio, pundit Leroy Rosenior talked through Casper Ankergren’s day; the good and the bad. “He made some terrific saves and he looked very sharp. At times he kept Brighton in the game.” Blaming concentration for the error, Rosenior believed it wouldn’t affect the goalie any more than this moment; “He’ll come back because he had a decent game today. When ‘keepers make mistakes, it’s obviously highlighted.” Still, a point is no bad result at that place and the Seagulls were very much in the promotion hunt.


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Brighton 1-1 Leicester Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (6th April 2013); Championship

LEI Titles LEI Comm

With Brighton’s form picking up again after a dodgy spell at the beginning of March, Leicester’s had completely tailed off as they dropped from second place in February down to seventh today. Four defeats in their last five for Nigel Pearson’s men scaled up to just one win in eleven as they crumbled at the worst possible time.

The Albion displaced them in the final Play Off spot ahead of this crunch meeting at The Amex, with only six League games to go. A goalless draw at home to Charlton stuttered the upwards charge but Brighton’s destiny was still in their own hands to secure a top six finish for the first time since 1991 at this level.

The Football League Show had Brighton versus Leicester as the opening match of this early April broadcast. Manish Bhasin was in the IMG studio in London alongside Leroy Rosenior. Former ITV Anglia, MUTV and Eurosport commentator, Dan O’Hagan provided the words to meet the pictures. He made his Match of the Day debut at the age of just twenty-six on Boxing Day 2004 at Norwich, reuniting with his Anglia TV roots.

LEI Brighton LEI Leicester

Brighton’s main man was Leonardo Ulloa, making an instant impact since his transfer from Almeria in January. His goals were keeping the side in the hunt for the top six in the absence of Barnes and Mackail-Smith. The likes of Will Buckley and Andrea Orlandi provided the creative outlet, with Liam Bridcutt bridging the gap between defence and attack. Former England defender Matthew Upson came in from Stoke on loan until the end of the season back in January, providing that much needed top-level experience as the Seagulls aimed for the Premier League. Spanish magician Vicente was among the substitutes, he netted twice in four days back in February including the televised winner against Hull.

Andy King’s goal decided the reverse fixture back in October, as the Foxes won one-nil to top of the League. He started up front with David Nugent, who scored on his one and only England international cap in 2007. Midfielder Matthew James graduated through Manchester United’s youth academy, whilst former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper tended to the Leicester goal. Centre back Michael Keane was on loan from Old Trafford. On the bench, Harry Kane was loaned out by Tottenham whilst former Albion striker Chris Wood joined from West Brom in January.

LEI Off the line LEI Schlupp chance

It was the unlikely figure of Inigo Calderon who almost broke the deadlock early on, when he had an effort cleared off the Leicester goal line. Calderon made the smart run in the box to head Orlandi’s corner, but Danny Drinkwater was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line. Drinkwater had to improvise well, flicking out a right leg to keep it goalless.

Brighton were enjoying themselves in the first half, building up a momentum but not quite nabbing that breakthrough goal. David Lopez floated the ball across the box for the head of Leo Ulloa but the Argentine didn’t quite time his header right as it looped over the bar.

For all the possession and good spells Albion had, a warning sign was fired by Andy King when he crashed an effort against the bar after good work by Jeffrey Schlupp. And the two very nearly combined later on but the other way around, with King setting Schlupp free. Kuszczak raced out of his goal and, indeed, penalty area. As Kuszczak starfish jumped to try and block the potential shot with his body, the Leicester man slid his effort low. The goalie just about got a foot on it as he landed to prevent the inevitable goal and it remained without score at the break.

LEI James goal LEI LuaLua

Both King and Schlupp continued to look dangerous in the second period, forcing the Brighton stopper into action to prevent their efforts on goal. At the other end, some nice work from early sub LuaLua on the left provided Ulloa with a guilt edged chance just a few yards out. He wasn’t quite firing, as the touch was stabbed wide across the goal past the far post.

The goal soon did arrive, and it was the away team who scored it through Matthew James. A long throw-in from the near touchline alluded Wayne Bridge and just bounced off Matt Upson behind him. The loose ball was seized upon by James, who danced past Upson and the despairing lunge of Dean Hammond to create a sight of goal. His finish low into the bottom right hand corner of the net was too quick for Kuszczak as Leicester took the lead. Leicester went for the kill, bringing on sub strikers Chris Wood and Harry Kane, with the latter forcing Kuszczak into a decent save before Wood’s rebound was blocked.

As time began to run out, Brighton pulled a hugely important equaliser out of the bag from Kazenga LuaLua. As fellow substitute Vicente appealed for a penalty for a soft push, waved away by referee Jonathan Moss, LuaLua picked up the ball on the near side of the box. He took a couple of touches to dribble more centrally before blasting the ball for goal. It bounced just to the left of Kasper Schmeichel on the way through, with the ‘keeper visibly frustrated at not quite being able to reach. “It’s a big-time leveller for Brighton scored by Kazenga LuaLua”, came the call from commentator Dan O’Hagan.

LEI Oatway LEI Studio

An important point was secured with late drama on the South Coast. This result changed the Play Off picture, swinging back in Brighton’s favour and keeping the Foxes at bay. First team coach Charlie Oatway told afterwards of the take away from this draw and how scorelines hadn’t quite gone the way of the Albion recently; “We’ve had a couple of results away from home that we felt we should’ve got more points and this one could’ve been a lot more of a happier point than what we got.” Whilst Leicester’s Nigel Pearson spoke of how stalemates at this stage weren’t enough, they needed victories.

Leroy Rosenior in the studio thought a draw was about the right result. “If Brighton had come away with nothing, that would’ve been a travesty. They certainly deserved something. But it was a very nervy, disjointed game.” He was asked to evaluate the Albion’s season to this point, with them firmly in the Play Off shake up. Rosenior had nothing but praise; “You’ve got to remember where they’ve come from, how they’ve developed the club in terms of the stadium, everything that’s gone into that club. I think they’re above where they would’ve expected to be in their plan.”

Most Seagulls supporters would agree with that sentiment. Brighton went on to finish fourth in the Championship table and qualify for the Play Offs. Despite a well-earned goalless draw at Selhurst Park as we faced Crystal Palace once more, in the Second Leg it all fell apart and Gus Poyet’s tenure came to a bitter end shortly afterwards. However, with The Amex packed and rocking and a very talented squad assembled, the foundations had been laid for a bright future.


This is the second part looking back at Season 2012/2013. The first part is available HERE.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2012/13 Season part 1

Small Screen Seagulls LogoBrighton settled into life back in the second tier of English football, and at their new home in Falmer, with a very impressive campaign last time out. The Seagulls surprised most with their form as they narrowly missed out on a top six finish. But this season those Play Off places were a legitimate and realistic target. With Gus Poyet still at the helm and a squad full of talent, the mood was quietly confident on the South Coast. One of the improvements needed was to convert draws into wins. The Amex Stadium had been expanded to include an upper tier in the East Stand and further developments in the offing. It was a year that promised so much yet would all end in bitter tears.

Here are some of the features and coverage during the Albion’s highest placed finish for thirty years. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC Sport and Sky Sports. This is part one, the second part is HERE.


Craig Mackail-Smith phone interview

The Fantasy Football Club, Sky Sports 1 (28th September 2012)

FFC Titles FFC Hosts

For this season, Sky Sports introduced a new weekly programme on Friday evenings to replace football quiz Take It Like A Fan, called The Fantasy Football Club. This was based on the popular fantasy football game where competitors picked a ‘dream team’ comprised of players from a variety of top flight clubs. This studio show was again presented by John Fendley, AKA Fenners. Joining him was former Arsenal and England creative midfielder Paul Merson, part of the Soccer Saturday panel working with Jeff Stelling. The set was decorated out like a changing room and each week a guest would join them and a Live studio audience to talk through the game, their career and culminated by picking their ‘One2Eleven’; a starting line-up made of the best eleven they ever played with. As with most Sky magazine shows, there were also games, challenges and features to fill the hour, as well as a Fantasy Football Club scarf up for grabs for the viewer who picked the best fantasy team of the week.

Part of the show’s title sequence was filmed at The Amex, with them using the tunnel area before running out onto the turf. On Friday 28th September, Brighton’s Craig Mackail-Smith was interviewed on the phone to chat about his season so far. And, along with loan signing Wayne Bridge, he would be going head-to-head with Fenners and Merse in a round of the fantasy game. This was a regular feature, with the pair taking on Norwich’s John Ruddy and Anthony Pilkington the previous week. The Norwich duo scored more points which led Merson into the forfeit of wearing a full replica kit for the start of this week’s programme. They were also joined in the studio by West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor.

FFC Head to Head FFC Mackail-Smith on the phone

The phone interview kicked off with Mackail-Smith joking about how confident he was of beating the hosts after their recent form. Talk turned to a potential forfeit, with the striker offering Fenners the chance to come down to the Albion and train with the squad; “Maybe at the end stick you in goal and have a bit of shooting practice against you!”

Attention then turned to real life football, with Fenners reminding Mackail-Smith of the “dream start” this season; top of the Championship with Craig scoring six in seven so far. “I’m catching my target from last season quite quickly”, he said. Merson asked what had been different this year, to which Mackail-Smith responded; “Last season we kept the ball a lot and we didn’t really penetrate teams so well. I think this season with Bridgey and Bruno left and right wing back, we’re getting higher up the pitch and probing, getting more shots away.”

FFC Overhead kick FFC Oatway

They talked through his spectacular overhead goal against Burnley from the start of the month, where Albion went on to win three-one at Turf Moor. It was also pointed out during the celebration that Ashley Barnes got a bit carried away with the knee slide, careering straight into the goalscorer, giving him a bit of a dead leg in the process. They also discussed his rather unusual athletic prowess growing up; the pole vault. In typically modest fashion, he said; “I went and had a go and I wasn’t too bad at it and did it for three or four years”. On that note, the interview was concluded with results about the fantasy challenge to come the following week.

So, on Friday 5th October, Fenners was back to see which pairing came out on top. Points were awarded for players in the fantasy team that scored goals, provided assists and defensively for clean sheets, whilst yellow and red cards were punished as were goals conceded. The Brighton boys scored a total of eighty-two points between them, a whopping thirteen more than the hosts, meaning it was the Seagulls who defeated Sky in this challenge. First team coach Charlie Oatway, never one to stray away from the limelight, send the show a video message from the team bus implying they didn’t know what they were talking about and needed to “watch a proper game, like us.” He was right, Brighton’s season had begun so very well.

FFC Results


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Brighton 0-1 Middlesbrough Report

The Football League Show, BBC One (20th October 2012); Championship

MID Titles MID Clem

BBC highlights programme The Football League Show returned for its fourth season, and the first of a new broadcast contract, for the 2012/2013 campaign. There were a couple of changes; where previously the BBC held ten Live Championship fixtures and three League Cup games, it was now just highlights for the next three seasons. For this late October edition, regular host Manish Bhasin was joined in the studio by pundit Leroy Rosenior. Reporter Mark Clemmit was dispatched to Brighton to get an insight into how things had progressed during this second Amex season, ahead of a visit from fellow promotion candidates Middlesbrough.

Last season the format was tweaked slightly to drop the, admittedly unnecessary, viewer emails and texts read out by the likes of Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Jacqui Oatley. This year saw further amendments. The theme tune was changed to now use an actual piece of music! Out went the drum beating, crowd noise style opening replaced by Snow Patrol’s In the End. The title sequence featured football freestylers doing tricks and flicks in front of a brick wall. The wall was decorated with various Football League bits and pieces which then flew from the wall to become highlight clips from years gone by before bringing us up to date. It was an improvement on the previous sequence, for sure.

MID Poyet MID Building site

Mark Clemmit’s report began with a quick reminder of Brighton’s stadium saga; saying it “shaped a generation of supporters who were as familiar with land wrangles as football formations.” With development work done over the summer to increase capacity of The Amex from around 22,000 up to more than 27,000 now, with a further increase by the end of the campaign to sit at an incredible 30,750. Such was the demand for tickets so early on, the folk of Sussex couldn’t get enough! With things never better off the field, Clem explained that the next challenge was to re-write the history books on it. “Since their formation in 1901, Brighton have been in the top flight for only four seasons.”

He spoke with manager Gus Poyet near the dugouts in the empty bowl, the calm before the matchday storm. They talked through the fantastic facilities and the change in such a short space of time to when they last were together on this site, two years ago during the construction stage. Poyet told, “Last year it was spectacular, great football days here. And then I found out we were putting an extra five, six-thousand seats and I’m thinking ‘More pressure for the manager!'” But he said he loved the pressure, as long as there were no upper limits to where it could take us; “If we don’t hit the roof, if there is no roof and we can always go and improve, then I will stay here for long.” That ‘roof’ word would come back round a couple more times during the campaign when Poyet spoke of frustrations.

MID Barber MID Fatboy Slim

Changes were made to the Albion at boardroom level during the summer of 2012 as Paul Barber was appointed Chief Executive. The businessman moved from North American side Vancouver Whitecaps, where he oversaw two stadium moves in a short space of time. Prior to that he was Tottenham’s Executive Director, running the club’s day to day operations for five years from the mid-noughties. Perhaps his highest profile, and most successful, job came at the English FA where he worked for over a decade as their Commercial Director. This was during highly controversial times; appointing England’s first foreign manager, rebuilding Wembley and moving international matches and Cup Finals all around the UK. He arrived in Sussex with an impressive CV. Speaking with Clemmit in the hospitality lounge, Barber confirmed planning permission had been granted for a state-of-the-art training ground in Lancing; the next step on the way to attracting and attaining the best young players.

One of the biggest criticisms when a club moves stadium or makes major changes it that the ‘soul’ of the club is lost. Superstar DJ, Seagulls supporter and Falmer campaigner Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim, confirmed that was definitely not the case here. “It’s just got very bigger, very quickly. When we first got here, you had to pinch yourself, because we gone up the Division and were still playing well.”

MID Comm MID Goal

Next came the brief highlights from the match. Defeat on the opening day at Hull for the Albion followed an embarrassing Capital One Cup First Round exit to lower Division Swindon Live on Sky. Things were back on track by the end of August, with a five-one thumping of Barnsley which started a run of five consecutive victories. September ended with defeat at home to Birmingham to set off a three-match streak without a win, ahead of this clash with Middlesbrough. The Albion sat in fifth place at the start of the day, whilst Tony Mowbray’s ‘Boro were down in eleventh after a stop-start, inconsistent beginning.

Commentary was provided by Paul Walker. As well as commentating now, Walker was previously more familiar in a reporting role voicing the round-ups. He came from BBC Radio Sheffield where he hosted phone-in shows, Live football on Saturdays and covered other sports such as ice hockey and boxing.

The first piece of action shown was the goal, which arrived on twenty-one minutes through Marvin Emnes. The Dutchman was provided the ball on the right by Grant Leadbitter. He travelled ten yards forward to the corner of the penalty area, where he struck for goal. It took a huge deflection off Gordon Greer on the way through to wrong-foot summer signing Tomasz Kuszczak in goal, send the ball the other way and sneak in.

MID Full Time MID Studio

Brighton created several opportunities for the likes of Ashley Barnes, Will Buckley and Craig Mackail-Smith but they weren’t taken. ‘Boro goalie Jason Steele kept out a header from Barnes but Mackail-Smith really should have buried the rebound. Instead, he blazed over from five yards. Leadbitter tried one from range for the visitors which didn’t trouble Kuszczak too much but at the final whistle, it was the team in red who took all three points to leapfrog Brighton in the table.

Speaking with Clemmit after the game, Gus Poyet told of a couple of things his side needed to get used to if they were to go one further and make the Play Offs this time. As well as the increased crowds at home, Poyet said; “Second one is how the opposition is going to play here, how difficult they’re gonna make it for us.” Taking chances was crucial. Back in the studio in London, host Manish Bhasin surmised the team were being targeted for the success of late, whilst pundit Leroy Rosenior said “They’re being shown the respect they deserve. I saw them early on this season and was very impressed.” That result made it three home games in a row without a win for the Seagulls, as players adapted to the extra noise and pressure from the expectant crowd.


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Blackpool 1-1 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (27th October 2012); Championship

BLA Titles BLA Comm

The Albion were the featured match on The Football League Show the following Saturday, as the Seaside trip to Blackpool came calling. Host Manish Bhasin described it in the intro as; “Two ambitious clubs with realistic prospects of automatic promotion, but they share the same problem – lack of consistency.” Ian Holloway’s Blackpool finished fifth last year in their first campaign since Premier League relegation but ultimately lost in the Play Off Final to West Ham. After starting this season with four wins out of six, form dried up with five defeats from their last eight. The Albion followed up last Saturday’s Middlesbrough loss with a midweek defeat at Leicester to slide to ninth in the table and just a point above today’s hosts.

Steven Wyeth was the match commentator. Like Paul Walker, he was previously a long-standing local radio employee having worked at BBC Manchester since 2000 specialising in covering Manchester United. He went freelance in September to commentate across a wider variety including The Football League Show and European matches.

BLA Blackpool BLA Brighton

Blackpool welcome back French winger Elliott Grandin back for his first start in ten months, having joined Nice in January. He returned earlier this season but was left out altogether for the past five games and trained with the development squad for a perceived bad attitude. Striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored the club’s first ever Premier League goal on the opening day of the 2010/11 season. Attacking player Tom Ince started his career at Anfield but failed to break into the first team before moving to the Seaside in 2011. He’s the son of former England midfielder Paul Ince. There was a heavy Scottish presence in the side, with goalkeeper Matt Gilks, defenders Stephen Crainey and Kirk Broadfoot, making his home debut, and midfielder Matt Phillips all starters.

Gus Poyet made one change from the midweek defeat as Gary Dicker dropped to the bench for Dean Hammond to come in. Hammond returned to the Albion where he began his career after four years away, joining on a season-long loan from Southampton. Another loanee for the year was former England and Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge, dropping down from Manchester City. Andrew Crofts also made a comeback to Sussex, re-joining from Norwich after two seasons. Right-back Bruno transferred in from Valencia on a free. Craig Mackail-Smith top scored with six thus far, whilst Ashley Barnes netted three. On the bench sat striker Stephen Dobbie, who had two loan spells with Blackpool in the last two years. He joined on transfer deadline day from Swansea.

BLA Barnes goal BLA Grandin goal

The early chances fell Blackpool’s way, with Kuszczak denying Ince and Taylor-Fletcher narrowly heading wide from a corner. Centre-half Alex Baptiste was in the thick of Brighton’s half too, trying a shot from long range which went wide of the target. The Albion offered very little in the first period and went in goalless at the break.

That changed eleven minutes into the second half when Ashley Barnes nabbed the scrappiest of goals. A long ball from Adam El-Abd on the halfway line was flicked into the area by Mackail-Smith to Crofts. In battle with Broadfoot, the ball bounced around the penalty box. Gilks came out of goal to claim but instead tangled with the pair and the ball broke loose. Standing next to them was Barnes who was able to instinctively stab home into the empty net from six yards.

The opportunities were still falling the home side’s way, with Ince guilty of missing a golden chance with the goal gaping five yards out. With father Paul watching on in the stands, Tom Ince couldn’t adjust his body to turn the ball home and instead scooped it over the bar. Brighton were soaking up a lot of pressure again. But with less than twenty minutes to go, the equaliser finally came. Elliott Grandin provided the home relief, diving in for a header six yards out to connect with Matt Phillips’ perfect delivery.

BLA Full Time BLA Claridge

Kuszczak had to fly around his goal to keep Grandin from scoring again a minute later as Blackpool didn’t want to rest on their laurels. Another great chance had to be denied when substitute Nathan Delfouneso failed to connect properly central to the goal. The stripes too had their moments, including an attempt at an overhead kick from Mackail-Smith. The bounce unfortunately took the ball up and over the crossbar. When the full-time whistle arrived, it was a relief that the Seagulls clung on to the draw, finishing one a piece.

Gus Poyet summed it up well by saying; “The effort was there, desire was there. Quality was missing today.” Ian Holloway was frustrated by the missed chances and the “calamitous” goal they conceded but was pleased with the domination overall. First choice FLS pundit Steve Claridge analysed the Albion approach in the studio; “They just slightly tinkered and changed the emphasis on the way that they play. I look at the midfield; Buckley who can play a little bit, then you’ve got Hammond, you’ve got Crofts, you’ve got Bridcutt who are all players who are renowned for their defensive qualities. So there’s a little bit of an emphasis change there… bit of resilience.” He pointed out that just nine goals conceded shows an improvement in that area.

Both this game and the Middlesbrough one highlighted the difficulties faced in the Championship. Despite outplaying the opposition, Brighton came away empty handed last week. This week, they got an undeserved point on their travels. If the Play Offs were to be reached this season, there needed to be an upturn in consistency and winning whilst on top.


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Craig Mackail-Smith and Charlie Oatway on the sofas

Soccer AM, Sky Sports 2 (3rd November 2012)

SAM Titles SAM Hosts

Sky Sports Saturday morning football and entertainment show Soccer AM was by now in its eighteenth season, fantastic for a low budget satellite programme. From the 2008/09 season it was hosted by Max Rushden with Helen Chamberlain. The latter had been there since the first season back in 1995, working first with Russ Williams, Jane Hoffen and Gary Stevens before Tim Lovejoy took over and shaped what the show was to be recognised for. When Lovejoy left with most of the established crew including Fenners, Andy Goldstein came in for a season before ex-BBC London and radio presenter Rushden got the gig and had to move the show into a new dawn.

The show received an overhaul, with new graphics, titles and studio set as well as features and games. The duration was cut from three hours to two in 2010 in a bid to improve quality, now airing from 10am until midday. Entertainment always remained at the heart of it, with certain features standing the test of time, such as Taxi, Showboat, Third Eyes, Goals of the Week and the famous kicking the ball through a hole in the carpark, whilst others fell by the wayside as society moved away from the laddish nineties.

SAM Green Room SAM Walk On

On Saturday 3rd November, Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith and first team coach Charlie Oatway journeyed to Osterley in West London to Sky HQ to adorn the famous orange sofas. The last time Brighton had anyone from the club on this programme, Oatway was still a player and joined Nathan Jones and Leon Knight back in December 2004! Things had changed a lot since then. Now, with Albion playing the night before Live on Sky against Leeds, a rare Saturday off gave them the chance to join Max, Helen and the gang in the studio. Although, it was supposed to be Gus Poyet joining Oatway. He decided against it late on so sent Mackail-Smith instead. And completing the line-up were Suggs and Woody from the band Madness. The fans of Blackburn Rovers provided the noise in the Luther Blissett Stand, supported by a Live studio audience.

SAM Guests.JPG

Charlie Oatway’s cheeky nature was a good fit for a show like Soccer AM, where he could fit in with the mickey taking and show off. The previous night’s Leeds game was talked through, ending in a two-two draw with Mackail-Smith bagging both Brighton goals. Rushden said the Albion were “miles better” than their opponents, with Oatway adding “If it was a boxing match it would’ve been stopped”. Unfortunately Mackail-Smith saw his penalty saved to deny him the hat-trick and all three points. Having already scored from the spot earlier in the game, he was asked if it was mentally tough to take two penalties in a game. “Sometimes you change your mind, I thought I hit it really well.” Oatway joking; “Didn’t hit it well enough!”

SAM Leeds game SAM Studio

Having started the season so brightly in the first two months, form dropped off in October and the Albion pair were asked if that was a concern. Oatway batted it away saying performances were good; “I don’t think you really have to worry yourself, just keep going with what you’re doing and how the boys are playing.” Mackail-Smith’s form over the past eighteen months earned him a Scotland call up by manager Craig Levein, which Oatway also joked about. It backfired when Mackail-Smith enquired about Oatway’s international cap tally but, as always, the Londoner had the last laugh; “I’d rather none than play for Scotland!”

On a more serious and worthy note, they discussed Oatway’s testimonial year with the club. Having joined in 1999 from Brentford, he played for the Seagulls until 2007 before professional retirement. Then when Poyet was put in charge in late 2009, he rejoined the club on the coaching staff, with the combination of roles taking him to the tenth year with Brighton. With half of the earnings going towards Albion in the Community, the club’s charitable arm, he outlined what was in store; “We’ve got a game next year, we’ve got a golf day, we’ve got other events…”

SAM Bugs SAM Oatways Ordeals

He also explained the concept of ‘Oatway’s Ordeals’, in which he completed a series of challenges decided by a vote, all designed to play to his weaknesses and fears. He said he had fears of flying and being stranded in water, amongst others, so obviously they were going to be two of his challenges upcoming. Another was eating insects and, through the magic of television, Helen Chamberlain unveiled an ‘I’m A Celebrity’ style plate of bugs for him to try Live on the show. Mackail-Smith dived in to eat one first, before Oatway and Rushden joined. Suffice to say they didn’t recommend them to us. In return, Oatway’s testimonial events would be plugged on the Soccer AM website.

SAM Hairy Strikers SAM Sausage smashing

The main interview had concluded by the boys would stick around for the rest of the show. One of the Live studio sketches for the season was ‘The Hairy Strikers’, parodying its name from the Hairy Bikers television programme. The skit involved crew members Dave Morgan and Rocket Long dressed as hairy strikers Andy Carroll of West Ham and Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, as well as two of the sofa guests taking part in a game or challenge. For this edition falling during National Sausage Week, Craig Mackail-Smith and Suggs had to smash as many raw sausages with a mallet as they could in thirty seconds. And why not, all part of the fun.

SAM Carpark Game.JPG

The traditional culmination of the show took place outside in the Soccer AM car park with the end game featuring the Fans of the Week. The aim was always for them to kick a ball through a hole and score as many as possible within the allotted time. This season saw a variation on the format with five holes to choose from, as they had to progress in turn from the biggest – League Two – up through the Divisions to the smallest hole – the Champions League. After the fans had their go, it was the turn of the guests. Unfortunately for Suggs, Charlie Oatway was around and threw a football at his when he was about to strike. The Blackburn fans reached League One whilst none of the guests could get their effort on target. And once everyone was back inside, it was time to end another fun-packed programme as our Seagulls were once again in the TV spotlight.


This is the first part looking back at Season 2012/2013. The second part is available HERE.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoAfter a sensational start to the first campaign at our magnificent new home which saw Albion lead the Championship table in September, form dipped in the autumn with no wins in October. Following the Southampton defeat as featured in part one, Brighton won three League games in a row to send the Seagulls hovering around the edge of the Play Off places. A dreadful December saw four consecutive losses before a fantastic return to form in the New Year. This included knocking out Premier League Newcastle in Round Four of the FA Cup before bowing out to Liverpool for the second time in the Cups this season. As we entered the closing months, a place in the Play Offs was a real possibility. They couldn’t, could they?!

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 two, the first part is HERE.


Brighton 2-0 Portsmouth Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (10th March 2012); Championship

POR Titles POR Comm

Since the turn of the year, Brighton were unbeaten in eleven League games ahead of this clash with Portsmouth as the club climbed back up from mid-table to sit in seventh. Pompey however were having a terrible time. They were rock bottom of the Division and on the verge of financial ruin, thankfully granted a reprieve by the League in the days leading up to this match. BBC highlights programme The Football League Show chose the South Coast clash as one of the featured matches.

This edition was presented by the usual host, Manish Bhasin. He gave up the Football Focus gig to lead the BBC’s Football League coverage when they gained rights to the three Division in 2009, their first time broadcasting this level since 1991. Alongside him was Leroy Rosenior, the former West Ham striker turned pundit. He was a familiar face to fans of both Brighton and Portsmouth with his work on magazine show Late Kick Off in the BBC South region. Commentating on the match was John Roder. He too was familiar to the Southern clubs with longer memories, as he was ITV Meridian’s lead commentator between 1997 and 2003 before moving on to Eurosport’s Serie A matches then BBC Match of the Day.

POR Brighton POR Portsmouth

Gus Poyet brought three players into the club on loan during the January transfer window, they all started this match. Up front, Sam Vokes of Premier League Wolves made the switch until the end of the season, having not started for his parent club all campaign. He scored on his full home debut as the points were shared with Millwall a month ago. Vokes was preferred ahead of summer capture Craig Mackail-Smith. West Brom allowed two of their players to gain first-team football in Falmer, signing defenders Joe Mattock and Gonzalo Jara Reyes until June. The latter already had a spell here this season, featuring from October until Christmas before being briefly recalled by the Baggies. The Chilean already had more than fifty international caps to his name. Joe Mattock actually had a loan spell earlier in the season with today’s visitors, making seven appearances.

The visitors were managed by Michael Appleton in his first permanent role. They exited both Cup competitions at the first hurdle and had just the two away victories to date, coming at Burnley and Peterborough. Brighton won one-nil at Fratton Park back in August, with Mackail-Smith netting the winner. Among Portsmouth’s key men today, Greg Halford was a summer signing from Wolves, as was new captain Jason Pearce who moved from Bournemouth. With finances stretched to the limits, regular goalkeeper Stephen Henderson was about to be sent on an emergency loan to West Ham in a desperate bid to cut the wage bill. Seventeen-year-old academy graduate defender Adam Webster filled a place on the bench, having made just three sub appearances to date. Mike Dean was the referee.

POR Vicente sub POR Vicente 1st goal

The first half was one of few chances for either side. Sam Vokes tried to nip in and round goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown after a defensive mix up saw him intercept a backpass from Pearce. It was to no avail. At the other end, Gordon Greer and Peter Brezovan tried their best to help Portsmouth’s situation by gifting them possession on the edge of the box. Scott Allan chipped his effort just over the bar. An almighty scramble in first half stoppage time nearly saw Brighton take the lead but for some resolute defending to ensure it was goalless at the break.

Joe Mattock was the unlikely man the ball dropped to at the back stick in the second half following a Liam Bridcutt cross. Mattock’s shot was deflected onto the post through the goalkeeper’s legs. The game changing moment was the introduction of former Valencia star Vicente. His fancy footwork twenty-five yards out was enough to bamboozle the Pompey defence and bring him down in a dangerous position. The winger got up to take the kick and struck it brilliantly, low and hard into to bottom-right of Ashdown’s goal (above, right). Albion had the lead with a quarter of an hour to play. Gus Poyet’s way of celebrating this was to turn and face up towards the director’s box to make a money gesture with his hands (below, left), frustrated with the budgetary constraints.

POR Poyet money gesture POR Vicente 2nd goal

In stoppage time, sub Kazenga LuaLua battled excellently on the near touchline firstly to hold up the ball to waste time. Then secondly, win the ball back from a tussle with Tal Ben-Haim. He galloped into the penalty area to lay it off to that man Vicente. The ball was very slightly behind him but that did not matter to a man in possession of thirty-eight caps for Spain. He adjusted his position to swing that magical left foot back and hook in a second goal to seal a hard earned three points for the Seagulls.

In his post-match interview, Poyet praised the match winner for coming back strong after injury problems blighted much of his first season in Sussex; “Without any doubt he was the difference because it was a difficult game, close, not too many chances. You needed a bit of quality and Vicente’s got that.” Back in the studio, Leroy Rosenior outlined why Brighton need Vicente to stay fit and how they haven’t quite seen the best of him yet; “Having only played seven games this season, Gus is desperate to get him on the pitch. He has got great quality and he’s got a great left foot.” The win sent Brighton up to fifth in the Championship with ten matches remaining.

POR Full Time POR Studio


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Long Drive Golf challenge with Sam Vokes and Craig Mackail-Smith

Football League Weekend, Sky Sports 1 (16th March & 27th April 2012)

FLW Titles FLW Everton

As part of Sky Sports’ build up to the three Divisions of the nPower League, every Friday evening they broadcast preview programme Football League Weekend from Sky Studios. The magazine show had goal round-ups, interviews, previews and features packed into a one hour slot, hosted by George Gavin. He’d been involved in Sky’s Football League output heavily since they regained the rights from ITV Digital in 2002, first fronting the coverage as main host and more latterly as the face and voice of the magazine programming in the studio.

The show used a pool of reporters to get the interviews up and down the country, most of whom were Sky Sports News regulars. These included the likes of Peter Stevenson, David Craig, Jonathan Oakes, Mark McAdam and Tony Lockwood. During the 2011/2012 season, another name was added to the fold; Chloe Everton. She first found fame whilst appearing as a contestant on the third series of Channel 4 reality show Shipwrecked broadcast in late 2001. She went on to do some presenting work on satellite channels before joining Sky Sports in the summer of 2007. Everton presented on Sky Sports News, mostly in the Good Morning Sports Fans slot, and co-hosted phone-in show You’re on Sky Sports firstly with Gary Newbon and now Jason Cundy when that relaunched with a new set a couple of years back.

FLW Vokes FLW Mackail-Smith

FLW Golf challenge FLW Laptop

One of the features on the programme this year was a footballers’ golf challenge called Long Drive, hosted by Chloe Everton. There was a long standing link between footballers and enjoying golf in their spare time. The aim of this challenge was simply to find out which of the Championship strikers could hit a golf ball the furthest. On Friday 16th March, it was the turn of two of the Albion forwards; Sam Vokes and Craig Mackail-Smith.

The game involved a real life golf shot taken on the course and relied upon computer technology to measure the distance of the drive with software on the laptop. A leaderboard was kept in order to determine which of the Championship strikers was the best driver of a golf ball. It was also a good excuse to interview a couple of footballers in a more relaxed environment than your straightforward sit down chat.

FLW Vokes shot FLW Vokes distance

FLW Mackail-Smith shot FLW Mackail-Smith distance

The pair chatted about the season so far, as just ten League matches remained. They both praised the efforts of the squad, particularly the recent unbeaten run to climb into the Play Off places. Mackail-Smith was excited by the prospects of the run-in; “Everyone’s enjoying training and looking forward to every game. The next four of five games we’ve got are a few teams around us which will shape our season. But everyone’s loving life and when the sun comes out it’s a nice place to be.”

On loan Wolves striker Sam Vokes was first to take up the challenge. He said he played off a handicap of eighteen, two more than that of Craig Mackail-Smith. The lowest scores were Watford’s Lee Hodson with 195 yards and Bristol City’s Brett Pitman on 196, and ahead of the game that was the Seagulls minimum target to beat; don’t come last! After a few attempts each, it was clear they weren’t going to be languishing near the foot of the board. In fact, Vokes recorded an effort of 303 to climb into second position overall. Before his strike partner went even further with a colossal drive of 324 yards. Mackail-Smith’s faux-surprise tried to suggest he “didn’t even catch that right.” He most definitely did, sending the ball flying further than anyone else.

FLW Leaderboard FLW Top ten

With only a handful of shows remaining, this was a chance for the Albion pair to secure their places at the top of the leaderboard. The likes of Derby, Burnley, Reading and Doncaster had already submitted their efforts. It was Barnsley’s Matt Done who lead the way ahead of Brighton’s go; achieving a score of 307, the only man to go above the three-ton mark before today. With Sam Vokes effort of 303 yards and Craig Mackail-Smith’s 324, both Albion strikers joined Done in that exclusive club. We were used to him running and running on the pitch, covering the length of the pitch. Turns out Mackail-Smith could also do it on the golf course. They would have to go some to dislodge the Scot from his lofty perch.

FLW Studio FLW Remaining Fixtures

Back in the studio, host George Gavin was joined by recently departed Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson. Upon watching Mackail-Smith’s drive, Megson remarked “I don’t go that far on my holidays!” He was clearly a big fan of the Albion number twelve, going on to say; “If there was one player who I could sign outside the Premiership it would be that Mackail-Smith. Terrific player.” The studio pair then discussed Brighton’s form and upcoming fixtures in the hunt to secure a top six finish. Megson put things into context; “Given the fact they came up last year and if somebody had said to them where they would be at this stage of the season, they’d certainly take that. Wherever they finish, it’s been a great season.” They cited Norwich doing a double promotion in the previous two campaigns and the importance of momentum to promotion charges.

FLW CMS vs Pro FLW Trophy presentation

On Friday 27th April, ahead of the final game of the season, Football League Weekend wrapped up the final standings of the Long Drive challenge. Nobody had managed to trouble the top three since Brighton claimed two of those spots a month or so earlier. Therefore Craig Mackail-Smith claimed the prize of top Championship striker with the longest golfing drive at a fantastic 324 yards. Sam Vokes remained in third spot. Chloe Everton revisited Mackail-Smith for one further challenge before presenting him with the overall trophy. They were joined on the course by the UK’s longest driver, professional golfer Adam Stacey.

Mackail-Smith was no match for the pro, as Stacey recorded an effort of 405 yards. He even managed to hit a good couple of hundred once on his knees and another time using just a putter. He was showboating. Upon accepting his trophy in front of an invited crowd including his manager Gus Poyet and his father-in-law the ex-Peterborough boss Barry Fry, Mackail-Smith joked it was “the best award I’ve ever won”. In the studio that week were George Gavin and Peter Beagrie, who briefly touched upon the Albion’s season as a whole. Beagrie commented, “Massively overachieved and what a brilliant debut season in that fantastic stadium. After promotion last year, they’ve been amazing”. Kind words, indeed.


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Interview with Vicente and Inigo Calderon

Late Kick Off, BBC One South East (2nd April 2012)

LKO2 Titles LKO2 Walker

Dating back to the beginnings of ONdigital in 1998, which went onto be the ill-fated ITV Digital and then Freeview, the digital switchover project had been ongoing in the UK ever since. In a bid to convert analogue terrestrial television broadcasting to digital terrestrial by the end of 2012, changes were made to the way viewers received free television channels. As part of this, in March 2012 the Brighton and Hove area saw their BBC region switched from South to South East. This impacted BBC regional programming, with ITV Meridian unchanged.

Consequently, the region now received BBC South East Today as their local bulletin instead of BBC South Today, whilst the regional football magazine programme came from London and the South East. Albion fans would no longer be grouped with the likes of Bristol City and Exeter, but now with Millwall, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Charlton, Crawley, Stevenage, Aldershot, Gillingham, QPR, Brentford, Watford, Wimbledon, Barnet, Leyton Orient, Wycombe and Dagenham and Redbridge.

LKO2 Studio LKO2 Bright

Football Focus host Dan Walker presented the programme for its 2012 run, usually alongside former Crystal Palace striker and BBC pundit Mark Bright. For this edition Walker was joined by former QPR midfielder Marc Bircham and Crawley boss Steve Evans. The show, broadcast on Monday 2nd April 2012, saw Bright travel to The Amex to hear from two of Albion’s influential players of late; Spanish pair Inigo Calderon and Vicente. For Vicente, his grasp of the English language was not the best so it was an added bonus to be playing alongside a fellow compatriot in Calderon. He also acted as translator for this interview, conducted in the padded seats of the West Stand.

LKO2 Vicente and Calderon.JPG

Vicente was first asked about the differences between La Liga, where he arrived from last summer, and the English Championship. He answered by saying “In Spain, the players are better technically but here in England, it’s more physical, more aggressive.” He explained he had always expressed a desire to play in this country and after speaking with Gus Poyet, Vicente was sold on the club’s ambition. He admitted there were other opportunities in Spain but had no regrets about his choice on the South Coast.

Poyet paid his tributes to the star man too; “He makes this team stronger, when we attack he makes this team different. Because when he’s on the ball, everything can happen.” Inigo Calderon was asked about the ‘promotion’ word, where he was in confident mood of sustaining the fourth or fifth position currently held. Vicente added they were in a good place for it despite not having the budget others enjoyed. As for his future in Sussex, Vicente didn’t yet know but did express he was happy to stay, happy with his contract, the club and embracing life in Brighton.

LKO2 Vicente quote LKO2 Vicente shirt

Back in the studio, guest Steve Evans complimented the job Poyet was doing with the Seagulls; “He’s a football purist… he wants them to play in a style which gets the ball down and play.” The presentation team then talked through the goals from the weekend’s one-all draw at home to Middlesbrough, which saw Calderon nod home the equaliser from a Kazenga LuaLua corner. Pundit Marc Bircham didn’t think Calderon would “adjust to the English style of play in the lower Leagues” when he first arrived but admitted his opinion had since been changed completely. Brighton were leading the renaissance of the South Coast teams, with Evans expecting them to be a Premier League club in the very near future.


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West Ham 6-0 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (14th April 2012); Championship

WHAM Titles WHAM Fisher

After the Portsmouth victory placed the club in the top six, it was followed up with just one further win all season. Two draws then two defeats in a row saw the Play Off places head out of their own hands. With four matches remaining, this trip to promotion chasers West Ham would be a big chance to gain some ground on those above them. Win and the dream is still alive, lose and that’s pretty much the season done and dusted. The Hammers hadn’t won at Upton Park since February though, as their automatic push fell a little flat.

As you would expect, the BBC picked this game to feature on their highlights programme The Football League Show. The main pairing of Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge presented the action, with commentary from Martin Fisher.

WHAM West Ham WHAM Brighton

Gus Poyet had Liam Bridcutt back in the side after serving suspension for his tenth booking of the campaign. Left-back Marcos Painter returned for the first time after three months out injured. A new name on the sheet was Gai Assulin, signed on loan from Manchester City in mid-February as part of a double deal with Abdul Razak until the end of the season. Assulin was preferred to ten goal Craig Mackail-Smith who hadn’t netted since 3rd March.

Sam Allardyce named Henri Lansbury in the starting line-up for the first time in a month. Striker Ricardo Vaz Te was in great form, having scored five in his previous four games. Captain Kevin Nolan scored the decisive goal at The Amex in the reverse fixture back in October, a match which was televised Live on Sky Sports. Taking charge of the Upton Park clash was referee Roger East.

WHAM Vaz Te opener WHAM Nolan three nil

On the day that Neptune Collonges won the last Grand National to be televised Live on the BBC, this match was very much a one horse race right from the off. The warning sign came immediately when Lansbury’s deflected shot looped over Peter Brezovan and onto the bar in the first minute. The Slovakian goalkeeper didn’t cover himself in the third minute either, as Ricardo Vaz Te’s ferocious strike from thirty yards sailed through his arms and in for one-nil. Brighton were under severe pressure and needed their ‘keeper to up his game, which he did in the following few minutes making two vital blocks. But the Hammers were not stopping there and Vaz Te doubled the advantage with less than eight minutes on the clock. His head connected with the deep cross and beat Brezovan low to his right.

Incredibly, it was three-nil just three minutes after that as West Ham went all out to obliterate the Albion within the opening passages of play. “Brighton have not turned up, this is already embarrassing,” cried commentator Martin Fisher. The marking was slack from Matt Taylor’s floated free kick. James Tomkins headed it back across goal and captain Kevin Nolan was waiting on his own to tap home into the roof of the net from all of three yards. It was a shocking start from the Seagulls, conceding three very early goals in the net right in front of the travelling support. The attack calmed down somewhat as the half progressed but by that point it was already too late to recover. Gordon Greer had an effort clawed off the goal line when it looked suspiciously over, but it would have been little reward. The deficit remained three at the break.

WHAM Vaz Te spectacular WHAM Own goal

Seventeen minutes into the second half, the West Ham onslaught continued with two quickfire goals in three minutes. Their fourth of the afternoon was the pick of the bunch, as Ricardo Vaz Te completed his hat-trick in spectacular fashion. Taylor’s cross to the back post was headed into the centre by Carlton Cole. Appeals for a penalty when Liam Bridcutt appeared to bundle over Lansbury were waved away. But it didn’t matter as the ball bounced for Vaz Te to try a bicycle kick. It absolutely flew into the back of the net for one of the finishes of the season.

When it’s not your day, the luck goes against you. It certainly didn’t go our way for West Ham’s fifth. Carlton Cole drove into the box from the left, skipped past one defender before unleashing a fierce drive. But the ball skipped up off the heels of Lansbury as he tried to get out of the way. The deflection gave Brezovan no chance as he was already committed on the ground. That was the final straw for large sections of the away support, who headed for the exits to the pub early enough to still catch the Grand National race.

Continuing on the hard luck theme, the sixth and final goal was an own goal from Gary Dicker. Mark Noble’s in swinging corner could only find Dicker just inside his own six yard box. As he tried to volley clear, he got his timing all wrong. Attempting to boot it with his right, he missed the ball completely and it bounced into the back of the net off his standing left leg. It completed a day of abject misery for the Albion, and it was somewhat fortunate to get away with just the six.

WHAM Full Time WHAM Studio

Brighton’s heaviest defeat since the seven-one humiliation at Huddersfield in August 2009 under Russell Slade put pay to the Play Off hopes this time. Albion were five points off the top six with just three matches remaining. We went so near, yet so far. But what a return to the second tier of English football. Gus Poyet knew the West Ham game plan would be to try and press and try to win it in the first twenty minutes but didn’t deal with it. “A big question that we need to ask ourselves if it was because we have a bad day or because we were not strong enough.”

In the studio, one time Seagull Steve Claridge explained how to shape up against his former side. “There are two ways of playing Brighton; you can sit off them and let them play out from the back and let them dictate the play. Or you can get after them right from the very start.” Sam Allardyce opted for the latter with unstoppable consequences, with Claridge saying it could’ve been five in the opening twenty. This was an unusual result for the club, having kept a tight ship all year. Too many draws in the final weeks of the season cost Brighton a Play Off place, but the supporters couldn’t grumble too much after making such fantastic strides at The Amex. Next season was shaping up to be a cracker.


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Report on The Amex bucking the trend of dwindling attendances

Late Kick Off, BBC One South East (23rd April 2012)

LKO3 Titles LKO3 Gupta

BBC Late Kick Off in London and the South East region featured a report on attendances at Football League matches. Host Dan Walker began, “Football would be nothing without the fans but these days it’s rare to see a packed stadium outside of the Premier League.” He then handed to Rajeev Gupta’s report detailing some of the challenges clubs faced in with their fanbase in times of austerity. Gupta was a broadcast journalist and producer for the BBC, working across various outlets including this regional magazine programme, having joined the corporation out of university four years earlier.

His report centred around two of the London and South East region clubs with contrasting fortunes; Brighton and Millwall. At The Amex, attendances couldn’t be better. The stadium was packed every week and plans had been given the go ahead already to extend the capacity to include filling in corners and adding in an upper tier to the East Stand. Three-thousand plus people were on the season ticket waiting list. But the Albion were very much an anomaly. “Football League attendances as a whole have been falling and that’s meant some clubs have had to come up with new ways to try and bring fans into grounds”, Gupta explained.

LKO3 Dix LKO3 Ambler

The report used a stadia consultant by the name of John Dix to add context to the worrying trend of dwindling support. “When you start drilling down a bit lower, what you see is the Premiership is quite insulated – not surprisingly. But it’s when you go to Championship and Leagues One and Two that you start to see some of the fans maybe drifting away there.”

We then heard from representatives for Millwall, who had the lowest average gate of any of the London sides in the Championship. Andy Ambler, their Chief Executive, shared some of the schemes they were getting behind in order to win back those fans whose interest may have lessened in recent times. The family section had changed with a concerted effort made to bring in more from the community to that part of the stadium. Things such as food options and overall facilities had been tweaked to appeal more to the whole family.

LKO3 Fans LKO3 Hebberd

John Dix outlined some of the key things clubs should be doing in order to attract higher attendances. He said they needed to understand exactly who their supporters are, where they would draw them from and target them specifically. “We see some clubs who put out a lot of information but it’s focussed at one key group; the diehard fans who will come week in, week out anyway. It’s about looking at the occasional fan.” The impact of a new stadium can benefit clubs hugely, expanding the fanbase and providing introductory offers that then convert people from newbies to regulars. Something Brighton was managing very nicely.

The Albion’s COO Richard Hebberd discussed how the club were encouraging people to make a day of it, rather than just coming for those two hours from three o’clock. The stadium opening hours were extended on matchdays, with turnstiles up two hours before kick-off. More importantly though, certainly as far as revenue was concerned, it was after the match that was proving popular. One of the areas of The Amex was open until eleven on the matchday of filming. Hebberd said, “They’re entitled to feel they’re being well treated… At the end of the day, people will spend money on something that’s good.” Seagulls supporters certainly could not grumble too much about that first season in Falmer. The club missed out on the Play Offs, what a ride it was along the way. But the only thing that ever mattered was getting into that home we could call our own. Now, for many more wonderful years to come!


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

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

#42: Brighton 1-3 Watford 29/12/2012

#42 BRIGHTON 1-3 WATFORD Championship
Saturday 29th December 2012 Image result for

WAT Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Andy Hinchcliffe
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
5.20pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     5-8pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 2

WAT Ident WAT Sponsor #42 Watford 29/12/2012

Context of the Match: Since the last televised match at home to Leeds at the start of November, Brighton’s form had dipped somewhat. Just three wins followed; against Peterborough, Huddersfield and Bristol City all in the bottom half of the table. There were very few defeats – just one in eleven – but the draws stalled the upwards momentum, with seven in the same period. Goals were at a premium too. Top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith was the difference when Brighton beat Watford at Vicarage Road earlier in the season with a penalty kick. Tonight’s opponents were managed by former Chelsea striker, and one of Gus Poyet’s good friends, Gianfranco Zola. The Italian took charge in July following the club’s takeover by Giampaolo Pozzo, owner of both Granada in Spain and Udinese of Serie A. Consequently several players were brought in on loan from those clubs to Watford, part of an incredible fourteen loanees in total. Zola’s side sat in sixth place on thirty-seven points whilst the Albion were three points behind in tenth. The Championship earned itself a ruthless reputation with two managers leaving their jobs this week alone, and another one during this match as Keith Hill was sacked by Barnsley. That brought the total to more than a third of the Division to have changed boss this season. Just three days after Christmas, who would be getting some festive cheer come full-time tonight?

WAT Brighton WAT Watford WAT Subs

The Teams: Unusually for the Christmas period, Brighton had enjoyed an eleven day break before this match as the trip to Blackburn last week was called off just a few hours before kick off due to the weather. Three changes were made from the previous outing – a two-all draw with Millwall. Bruno returned at right-back and Andrea Orlandi came in to the attack. Kazenga LuaLua scored last time out and was rewarded with his first start today since October. Up top Craig Mackail-Smith was still being heavily relied on to produce the goods, he’s this season’s top scorer with ten. The back line of Kuszczak, El-Abd, Greer and Bridge were solid and settled all season. In front of them David Lopez started on the right-wing, another part of the Spanish revolution. Brighton signed Will Buckley from Watford but he was absent today, whilst Will Hoskins spent three years with the Hornets. He was named as substitute. Gianfranco Zola’s side largely comprised loan signings, with fourteen of the squad belonging to other clubs including six who started here. Vydra, Abdi and Ekstrand were all on loan from Udinese. Nathaniel Chalobah temporarily moved across London from Chelsea. Of the players they did own, Manuel Almunia in-goal had Champions League experience with Arsenal, ‘One Size’ Fitz Hall was in the defence, whilst Jonathan Hogg linked up again with his former Aston Villa youth teammate Troy Deeney. The latter had served almost three months in prison earlier this year for his part in a brawl, returning to professional football at the end of September. Enforcing the law today was Oliver Langford.

WAT Thomas WAT Hinchcliffe WAT Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: First choice presenter Simon Thomas hosted coverage from the studio within The Amex North Stand offices, alongside Sky Sports pundit and regular co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe. The former England, Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City left-back was a familiar voice on Sky’s League coverage over the past three years, rising to second choice co-commentator behind Don Goodman in recent times. Saturday nights at 5.20pm was the regular kick-off time for the past six seasons in a bid to take viewers away from the 5.30pm Premier League game on firstly Setanta and then ESPN by starting those extra ten minutes earlier. Prior to 2007, Sky owned Live top-flight rights exclusively so, as much as possible, clashes between matches were avoided however a more aggressive tactic was adopted when competitors arrived. With today’s broadcast coming just four days after Christmas, Sky still had all their festive branding on the idents and ‘Coming Up’ graphics featuring those animated snowmen who were seen for many years. The programme came on-air at 5pm, just after the final whistles went around the country at the 3pm matches. This allowed for enough time to discuss the rest of the Division, look at the results as well as build-up to the main event kicking off twenty minutes later.

WAT Poyet v Zola WAT Duo WAT Coming Up WAT Stats

Increasingly, big name players in the 90s and early 21st Century retired and began managing in the lower Leagues. We witnessed that earlier this season when Paolo di Canio’s Swindon side knocked Brighton out of the League Cup. Today’s opposition Watford were managed by Gianfranco Zola, the former Italy and Chelsea hero. He played for the Blues when Gus Poyet was there so the pair knew each other very well. This formed the basis of the introduction, billed as Poyet v Zola. There was then a pre-recorded VT with the two managers reminiscing about their playing days before going head-to-head in a quiz about each other, in the style of ITV gameshow Mr and Mrs, with Gus the victor. Poyet’s incredible volley for Chelsea against Sunderland from the opening day of the 1999/00 season got an airing, perhaps his finest goal, aided by a wonderful flick over the defence from Zola. Poyet described him as the best player he’d ever played with.

WAT Split Screen WAT Analysis WAT Goals WAT Results

After the pre-match advert break, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with the two managers in the tunnel, with these being played in on a split-screen also showing the teams leaving the tunnel. The talking was done, time to hand over to the first choice commentary team of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman, with Leslie talking us through the team line-ups. During the half time break Thomas and Hinchcliffe looked through the numerous half-chances both sides had, stating the ones Watford enjoyed were more clear-cut and created the better attacks. Eighteen-year-old Chalobah in particular was singled out. Straight after the match, reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with Man of the Match from Watford Nathaniel Chalobah and goalscorer Troy Deeney in the centre circle. Around twenty-five minutes were afforded to the post-match show after the break. This incorporated a review of the match as well as a look at some of the Championship goals from earlier today. Andy Hinchcliffe’s an excellent analyst. He explains why rather than just how something happened and he has great tactical knowledge as well as being up to speed with the entire Division. The usual interviews with the managers followed. Gus Poyet thought his side were a bit too open in the first half, tried to change it in the second in an attempt to go and win but three mistakes led to goals, going on to say Watford deserved the win. Hinchcliffe spoke of Brighton’s need for a further centre-forward to bolster the attack but pointed out that’s exactly what six or seven other clubs will be desperate for too. Recruitment would not be easy. The final ten minutes of the programme were devoted to that goals round-up and a preview of what’s to come in 2013 on Sky Sports before another slick broadcast came to an end.

WAT Kick Off WAT Comms WAT Penalty WAT Interview

Story of the Match: The rain poured down over the Sussex Downs for this Saturday teatime clash. Brighton fans were just happy to see the game go ahead after last week’s late postponement in Blackburn and the Boxing Day fixture was brought forward to the week before. Their first real chance of this match was through Andrew Crofts. Bridge and LuaLua combined on the left, the winger played a ball into the centre where Orlandi was waiting to pull the trigger. He slipped on the wet surface but behind him was Crofts who blazed over. The early stages were played mostly in the middle, with neither side going all out on the attack. The Albion enjoyed a lot of the possession but Watford looked more dangerous on the counter. Some neat one-touch passes from Chalobah, Vydra and Deeney was rounded off by a shot from Hogg, forcing Kuszczak into a save in the twenty-fifth minute. There was praise for Liam Bridcutt, from both commentators and fans alike. He often went unsung during matches but always a vital part of protecting the back-line that was so key to the Albion’s success. Just before the break, Craig Mackail-Smith ran in behind the defence on the far side of the penalty area, played the ball right across the face of goal and it took a vital interception to prevent David Lopez tapping home. In stoppage time another neat passing move between Vydra and Chalobah resulted in Kuszczak having to dive down low to his left to tip Vydra’s shot behind. And the final action of the half saw Deeney head wide from a very good central position. The warning signs were there as Watford grew into the match. Eight minutes into the second half the away side got their breakthrough. Pudil picked up the ball near the half way line and charged down the centre. He had Troy Deeney for company, the ball through needed a touch to set himself before Deeney fired under the legs of the ‘keeper and in for the fiftieth League goal of his career. Brighton needed a lifeline. They were given it with twenty-five minutes remaining when Wayne Bridge played a ball through for LuaLua which goalkeeper Almunia appeared to come and claim. However he spilt it and in the ensuing scramble defender Hoban tripped LuaLua for a penalty. Up stepped David Lopez to score his second penalty in as many games to bring Brighton level. The power and placement gave his fellow Spaniard no chance and the crowd found their voice again. It lasted just over two minutes before Watford regained the lead. Matej Vydra had been dangerous all match and he was given space to shoot from around twenty-five yards. It took a huge looping deflection off El-Abd to lob Kuszczak. And it got even worse a minute later from another counter attack. Watford cleared the ball up to Deeney waiting twenty yards inside his own half. He swiveled and played the ball on for Vydra, whose lightning pace was not matched by any Brighton defender as he left them all in his wake. He was able to dribble the ball to the edge of the box before unleashing a lethal finish in the corner to seal the match. End-to-end football at its most clinical and that’s how the scoreline finished. The Albion shouldn’t have been too disheartened by the result, Watford were excellent and particularly deadly on the break. The biggest issue was up front, where if Mackail-Smith was creating the chance or putting in the cross, there wouldn’t be anybody to finish it off. And if he didn’t score, goals weren’t forthcoming. A new striker in the January transfer window was much-needed for the Seagulls to soar up the Championship table.

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 3
Lopez Deeney, Vydra (2)

WAT Replay WAT Goal

PREVIOUS; #41 BRIGHTON 2-2 LEEDS 02/11/2012

NEXT; #43 BRIGHTON 2-0 NEWCASTLE 05/01/2013

#41: Brighton 2-2 Leeds 02/11/2012

#41 BRIGHTON 2-2 LEEDS Championship
Friday 2nd November 2012 Image result for

LEE Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Nicky Forster
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Paul Gilmour
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

LEE Ident LEE Bet365 LEE Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton began their second season back in the Championship well, topping the table in September. However, form of late had slumped to the third worst in the Division with no wins in the last six matches. Worryingly, the goals were drying up to; the club not scoring in four matches. Goals were guaranteed though whenever Leeds United were in town; the Yorkshiremen had scored and conceded in every match on the road thus far. The stadium’s biggest crowd to date was expected for their visit this Friday night, Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Over the summer building work was completed to add a second tier to the East Stand bringing the capacity up past 26,500. Further increases were in the pipelines, with all four corners set to be filled in to allow more than 30,000 supporters in. Exciting times were ahead. Despite the recent blip, the Seagulls were only a couple of points off a Play Off place. Tonight’s clash saw tenth versus eleventh, both on nineteen points. Last season’s fixture was also televised on a Friday night, ending in a thrilling three-three draw. What would the rematch have in store?

LEE Brighton LEE Leeds LEE Subs

The Teams: Brighton’s recent goal-shy attack meant last season’s top scorer Ashley Barnes had only scored four this term and record signing Craig Mackail-Smith had six. One thing going in his favour though was that Mackail-Smith had scored on all four occasions he had faced Leeds in his career. The energetic Will Buckley would hope to be crafting the assists tonight. Former captain Dean Hammond re-joined the club on a season-long loan at the end of August from Southampton. He cited the Albion’s ambitions as a reason for leaving first time round in 2008, there was no doubting that now. Also joining at the end of the transfer window were Spanish midfield duo Andrea Orlandi, moving from Swansea, and David Lopez, signed on a free from Athletic Bilbao. In a bid to bolster the attack, Scottish striker Stephen Dobbie also left the Swans and began on the bench here. Whilst the goals were lacking up front, they were also being kept out at the back with Brighton boasting the best defence in the entire Football League this season; conceding just nine goals in fourteen League matches. Former Manchester United ‘keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, centre-half Adam El-Abd, captain Gordon Greer and ex-England international Wayne Bridge were all ever presents. As was holding midfielder Liam Bridcutt but he was on four cautions, one more and he’d be forced to miss the next game. For Neil Warnock’s Leeds, Luke Varney was Man of the Match during their midweek Capital One Cup victory against Southampton. One change was made from that win as Paddy Kenny returned in-goal. The striker all opposing fans love to hate, summer signing El Hadji Diouf was in the starting XI, whilst on the bench sat Luciano Becchio & Danny Pugh. Refereeing was Lee Mason.

LEE Thomas LEE Forster LEE Studio

Presentation Team: Simon Thomas was lead Football League presenter for the second season running. Having worked his way up from hosting youth matches and pretty much any low-key football they could throw at him, he progressed onto secondary Football League broadcasts before landing the main gig when David Jones was promoted to Sky’s Premier League coverage hosting the Saturday games. This all followed the reshuffle at the start of 2011 when Richard Keys resigned. Alongside Thomas at The Amex was former Brighton striker Nicky Forster. He spent three seasons at Withdean, making over a century of appearances. He scored his 200th career goal during a televised Football League Trophy match as the Albion lost out on a place at Wembley to Luton. Since retiring from the professional game in 2011 he joined Sky Sports as part of the Football League coverage. He filed regular reports for the preview programme last season, including ahead of the opening Amex match, and has appeared as a pundit across the Leagues. He returned to playing, albeit on a semi-professional basis, for first Lingfield then Dover when he took over as player-manager last year in the Conference South. He combined this with his media role. In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Don Goodman, neither were strangers to this stadium. They both covered this fixture last season although not together; Mann did the 3D commentary whilst Goodman was heard by everybody else. With tonight’s match not broadcast in 3D, and Sky seeming to scale back the amount of games covered after not enjoying too much uptake, Daniel Mann was free to cover the game for the wider audience. He’s behind Bill Leslie in the Football League pecking order but with an increased broadcast rights deal with the League from this season, more matches were available to cover. Don Goodman was also behind the mic when the Seagulls crashed out of the Capital One Cup in August at Swindon, before a League football had even been kicked. Reporting at The Amex was Paul Gilmour, covering his first Live Albion match. He joined Sky Sports in April of this year, working predominantly for Sky Sports News during the week as well as reporting on the handful of Live Northern Ireland internationals and Irish League football. He was formerly a commentator for BBC Northern Ireland.

LEE Opener LEE Action Areas LEE Coming Up LEE Gilmour

The Coverage: Sky came on-air at the usual Friday night time of 7.30pm for kick-off fifteen minutes later. A new broadcasting rights deal kicked from this season, increasing the amount of Football League games Sky could show seventy-five regular season matches, all fifteen Play Off games and fifteen Capital One Cup ties exclusively Live. This brought an end to the BBC’s ten Championship Live games after three seasons but they still held the highlights rights. The graphics and titles remained as they were last season – Candi Staton’s ‘You Got The Love’ the soundtrack – with bet365 still sponsoring the programming. The idents in 2011 were all about twenty years of Sky Sports, from 2012 onwards they had a “Home of Sport” theme, adapted to ‘Your home of Football / Cricket / Goals’ etc when appropriate. Simon Thomas hosted the match from the glass box studio located permanently within the North Stand. Development work had been going on over the summer to increase the capacity of The Amex with the corners beginning to be filled in. The space where the studio position was last season – between the South and East stands – was being rebuilt to house fans below so television hosts were shifted to the opposite side this year. He previewed the big match with studio guest Nicky Forster. The introduction VT showed clips of Brighton’s past superimposed onto the Amex Stadium, in an attempt to show how far we’ve come, as Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” played. It is such a great tune and so appropriate for this club. In his pre-match interview with Paul Gilmour, Gus Poyet spoke of his frustration at the lack of goals recently despite creating good chances; “We’ve been performing, not scoring.” The programme format now took the pre-match advert break before the teams emerged from the tunnel, thus not giving the pundits too much time to chat uninterrupted. A slight tweak to the scoreboard was made this season, as it moved outside 4×3 safe zone to sit in the corner of the screen and looked better for it. At half time Nicky Forster was adamant that Brighton should’ve been ahead and the Leeds penalty was very soft; “For me, anywhere else that’s not a foul.” Straight after the final whistle, Gilmour spoke with Man of the Match Will Buckley, who ran the show in the first half, alongside Leeds midfielder Michael Brown in the centre circle. Opposition manager Neil Warnock gave a rare bit of praise to referee Lee Mason for his handling, allowing play to continue and not issue unnecessary cards. In the studio Nicky Forster thought Warnock would be the happier of the two managers given Brighton’s dominance in periods throughout. Poyet’s assessment was “one team playing football, one team going forward and another team getting lucky.” He said Varney dived for the Leeds penalty and Michael Brown should have been sent off for an accumulation of yellow cards, so understandably Poyet was frustrated with the result. Forster and Simon Thomas wrapped up the story of the rest of the game in the ten minutes of time given to analysis before signing off from The Amex.

LEE Kick Off LEE Comms LEE Celebration LEE Penalty

Story of the Match: Led out by Pudsey the Bear to publicise the upcoming BBC Children in Need fundraiser in two weeks time, the teams left the tunnel to a rapturous reception in anticipation of another Friday night thriller with Leeds. Referee Lee Mason set his stall out early on with Buckley booked inside the first ninety seconds for a late lunge, whilst Michael Brown did the same in the tenth for the away side. The game flew out the traps with end-to-end football early on. Buckley burst through the Leeds defenders and his cross/shot was deflected to bounce just wide of the post. Wayne Bridge used his energy to run half the length of the pitch to cross to Barnes who couldn’t quite wrap his foot round the shot to get it on target. The home side were rampant. They were rewarded after a quarter of an hour via a penalty kick. The lively Will Buckley nipped in ahead of captain Peltier who could only stick a leg out to trip him up. Up stepped Craig Mackail-Smith to blast it down the middle for one-nil Brighton. The man can’t stop scoring against Leeds! He almost got a second after another Buckley surge, chipping the ball over his marker before outpacing him to reach the loose ball. He found Mackail-Smith who smacked the post with his effort. Andrea Orlandi then had a fantastic opportunity off a Bruno cross. Orlandi was unmarked six yards out but miss hit it down into the ground instead of hitting the back of the net. Leeds could’ve been out of sight within the first half an hour. However out of nowhere Leeds won themselves a penalty ten minutes before the break after Varney clashed with Bruno, appearing to push the attacker who went down very dramatically. It seemed a harsh penalty to give. Pantomime villain El Hadji Diouf squeezed the spot kick past Kuszczak’s diving hand to level it up. Just before the break Mackail-Smith went close again, his half-volley from the edge of the box only centimetres wide. How Brighton went into the dressing room level was a mystery.

LEE Yellow LEE MOTM

The lead was restored just three minutes into the second half, following a nice reverse pass from Orlandi to set Buckley racing to the byline. He cut it back to Mackail-Smith ten yards in front of goal whose shot took a nick off the defender on its way past Paddy Kenny. The movement and awareness from all three Albion players was excellent. Much like the first half, this was all Brighton until Leeds got their equaliser. The defence limited Leeds to long-range efforts only but Michael Brown’s shot from just outside the D got the better of Kuszczak this time. It came from a simple ball rolled across from the edge of the area for Brown to hit it first time, it took a slight touch from sub striker Becchio on the way through but it would still be claimed as the midfielder’s goal. Twenty-five minutes were left to find a winner. Not long after drawing level, a cross to Becchio’s head almost turned the match around. His glancing header fell just inches wide. Brighton were then handed a golden chance to re-take the lead when Mackail-Smith was bundled over by Byram waiting for Bruno’s deep cross in. The striker got up to take it for his hat-trick but Kenny ruined that with a good save to his right. Leeds were not made to pay the penalty on a night of kicks from twelve yards; two converted, one missed. The final quarter of an hour went by without incident, with substitute Andrew Crofts having the only good chance with almost the last kick of the match, his shot though well kept out by Kenny once more. It ended in an entertaining two-two draw. Brighton could take many positives from the match, most prominently that they created more than enough to win comfortably and goals did start to come after a drought. The point kept the Albion in the chasing pack just outside the Play Off places.

LEE Table

BRIGHTON 2 LEEDS 2
Mackail-Smith (2) Diouf, Brown

LEE Replay LEE Goal

PREVIOUS; #40 SWINDON 3-0 BRIGHTON 14/08/2012

NEXT; #42 BRIGHTON 1-3 WATFORD 29/12/2012

#40: Swindon 3-0 Brighton 14/08/2012

#40 SWINDON 3-0 BRIGHTON Capital One Cup Round One
Tuesday 14th August 2012 Image result for

SWI Titles

PRESENTER Ben Shephard GUEST Dennis Wise
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Don Goodman REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
7.45pm Kick Off; County Ground, Swindon     7.30-10pm Capital One Cup Live on Sky Sports 1

SWI Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton enjoyed a tremendously successful first season in the new stadium at Falmer last campaign. They knocked out Sunderland and narrowly lost to Liverpool in the League Cup, reached the Fifth Round of the FA Cup for the second successive season, defeating Premier League Newcastle en route before again coming unstuck against Liverpool. And the bread and butter of the League almost resulted in a Play Off spot, instead finishing tenth just nine points shy of the top six. The aim this season would be to go one better, as signalled in pre-season when FA Cup and European Champions Chelsea were beaten in a friendly at The Amex. Not bad at all for a club that almost dropped into the basement Division just three years ago. Since Gus Poyet arrived in November 2009 he had transformed the team from relegation fodder to Champions and further promotion seekers, as well as installing a passing philosophy which on its day was an absolute joy to watch. The stadium was the next piece of the puzzle, with the superb training ground facilities to follow. The whole country was still on a high after the incredible London 2012 Olympic Games which finished two days before this match. The new football season was upon us and, unusually, it would be the League Cup tie – now rebranded from Carling to the Capital One Cup – to kick off the new year as the first League matches weren’t taking place until the following Saturday. Brighton conducted some strong summer transfer business, improving on a decent, settled squad all playing in the Poyet way. Their first opponents would come in the shape of Swindon Town, newly promoted as Champions of League Two. They too had a big former Premiership star as their manager, with the fiery Paolo di Canio in the hot seat. As well as the title in his first season, he took the team to Wembley for the Final of the Football League Trophy where they lost out to Chesterfield. The Robins and the Seagulls had recent history of course, with two nerve-shredding Division Two Play-Off Semi Final encounters back in 2004. Brighton edged it on penalties then on the way to promotion. Who would emerge victorious in the August sunshine tonight?

SWI Swindon SWI Subs SWI Brighton

The Teams: Gus Poyet handed competitive debuts to three new signings. Bruno Saltor joined after being released by La Liga side Valencia. The Spanish right-back brought a wealth of top flight experience with him. On the other flank, former England defender Wayne Bridge was recruited on a season-long loan deal from Premier League Champions Manchester City. Bridge had thirty-six international caps and began his career at Southampton when former Albion boss Micky Adams spotted and recommended him to the club. Behind them was a new goalkeeper, also with experience at the highest level. Tomasz Kuszczak was released by Manchester United in the summer after six years at Old Trafford, winning the Premier League, League Cup and Champions League amongst other things. These three signings were major statements from Brighton that they meant business this year and weren’t just going to settle for mid-table consolidation. The Premier League dream was real, with Kuszczak citing that as a reason for joining the club. Midfielder Andrew Crofts re-joined after two years at Norwich but didn’t make tonight’s squad as he was with Wales on international duty. Attacker Vicente felt like a new signing, having only appeared nineteen times last season through injury. The biggest challenge with him was remaining injury-free. Vicente started this one. The substitutes bench included the name Charlie Oatway. No, our former midfielder hadn’t joined assistant Mauricio Taricco in stepping out of retirement, this was actually the son of our beloved First Team Coach. Skipper Gordon Greer would play against the side he left to join Brighton in 2010. Paolo di Canio’s side included the League Two Player of the Year Matt Ritchie in midfield. The manager named Alan McCormack as the new club captain, having moved him last season from the middle to the back where he formed a decent understanding with highly-rated Aden Flint. Hoping he could get one over the team that released him in the close season was Alan Navarro making his Swindon debut. Taking charge of this evening’s clash was Andy D’Urso.

SWI Shephard SWI Wise SWI Studio

Presentation Team: Ben Shephard was at the helm for Sky’s coverage of the Capital One Cup. This was his second year hosting the competition and also did our last game; at home to Liverpool in Round Three. Shephard came from a light-entertainment background hosting the likes of The Bigger BreakfastGMTV, The Krypton Factor and Tipping Point. On Sky he worked alongside Chris Kamara on Goals on Sunday for two seasons and counting, as well as Live UEFA Champions League secondary matches. His guest tonight was Dennis Wise. During his playing career he was a big part of the ‘Crazy Gang’ that upset the odds to beat ‘Culture Club’ Liverpool in the 1988 FA Cup Final before spending more than a decade at Chelsea. This coincided with Poyet’s time with the Blues where they both lifted the FA Cup in 2000. Later that year Wise played for England at the disastrous Euro 2000 tournament. Following retirement he moved into management at today’s hosts Swindon in 2006, with Gus Poyet his assistant. The pair started brilliantly, with Wise named August’s Manager of the Month. Shortly afterwards, Leeds United came calling and the pair left for Elland Road at the end of October after just fifteen matches. In the commentary box were Sky’s number one Football League pairing, as they had been for the past six years, of Bill Leslie and Don Goodman. Reporting on the touchline was a new name to Brighton’s Live television coverage; Jonathan Oakes. He joined the roster of reporters from this season, with former Football League interviewer Patrick Davison moving up to the Premier League to join Geoff Shreeves and Greg Whelan. Previously Oakes had reported for Sky Sports News.

SWI Managers Intro SWI Split Screen SWI Kick Off SWI Comms

The Coverage: Sky Sports opened its Live coverage of the domestic season the previous night, with Oldham versus Sheffield Wednesday from the newly-rebranded Capital One Cup. With the end of the London Olympics still fresh in the air, the football season delayed its start to the following week so all eyes were on that, meaning these midweek Cup games kick-started everybody’s 2012/13 campaign. Despite the rebrand of the competition, not a lot else changed from a broadcasting perspective. Sky’s graphics were as they were last season, with the red and black colours for the Football League and the blue and black for the Premier League. The title sequence was similar to before culminating at Wembley stadium and included a clip of Mackail-Smith’s header that beat Sunderland last season. And for the ninth year in a row, Texas classic “Inner Smile” was the League Cup theme tune. Pre-match build up began fifteen minutes before the 7.45pm kick off, with Ben Shephard hosting from pitchside throughout the entire broadcast. He was joined by Dennis Wise and the trophy itself as they made the most of the August weather. Much of the discussion focussed on the two former Premier League greats facing off in the dugouts. Reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke to the pair in the tunnel. Poyet wanted to stress the seriousness of his side’s attitude to the competition; “We don’t want anyone to think Brighton’s coming here and still in pre-season. Today’s the first official game and we need to play, compete.” This was backed up by naming his first-choice line-up.

SWI Classic Match SWI Goalflash

It was forty-three years since one of Swindon Town’s finest moments; defeating Arsenal in the Final of this competition after Extra Time. Scorer that day Don Rogers talked us through the black-and-white footage before the ad break, after which Shephard ran through tonight’s fixtures and handed over to commentator Bill Leslie for the line-ups; missing their pictures as they’re only done for Championship clubs and above. Throughout the match, goal flashes appeared in the bottom left of the screen updating us on the night’s other Capital One Cup games. The half-time analysis highlighted Brighton’s superior attack but praised the home side for still being very much in the contest yet were lacking that attacking threat. Having watched the match from the stands in front of the Swindon chairman, Shephard and Wise made their way back to the touchline for the ten or so minutes of the post-match show. Reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with Man of the Match Alan Navarro, who described getting revenge over his old side tonight as “a dream come true”. Winning boss di Canio joined the team pitchside, following in the style of ESPN’s FA Cup coverage. The trio became a foursome when Gus Poyet went over too for an extremely rare sight of opposing managers speaking on camera together. He said the positive to take away from tonight’s result would be “there are no more Cup games”, comparing it to when his side won League One in 2010 they exited both Cups in the First Round. It certainly was a good spin on things. The two managers remained with the presentation team until the programme came off-air just before 10pm having ran through some of the other results.

SWI Di Canio SWI Bridge SWI Goal SWI Interviews

Story of the Match: Standing in the sunshine behind the goal must have brought back fond memories for the Seagulls supporters who made the trip to Wiltshire for this Cup clash. It was Richard Carpenter’s deflected effort which won the Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg here eight years earlier on the way to the Millennium Stadium. The Albion came close to a goal when Ashley Barnes had one disallowed in the eighth minute for a shove on the defender. He hit the post minutes later after a long swinging corner from Vicente found the striker at the back post, the ball just a bit too long as it was almost out of play before the contact was made. Debutant Bruno was channelling his inner Terry Butcher, obtaining a cut on his head causing blood to pour out and a makeshift patch-up by the medics pitchside. Ten minutes before the break it was almost a debut goal from the Spaniard, finding himself forward on the far side of the box he unleashed a fierce first-time drive which the ‘keeper needed strong hands to palm away. Brighton looked quite comfortable and on the front foot. In stoppage time Vicente embarked on a terrific run, the ball seemingly stuck to his feet, as he weaved through the defence. Every time he had the ball he showed that little bit of class to separate him from the rest. His cut back gave Barnes another shooting opportunity but the ‘keeper was equal to it to maintain parity at the break. The breakthrough came eight minutes into the second period, however it was the home side who got it with their first meaningful chance. Alan Navarro started off a clever free-kick routine which involved three short passes to cut open the defence before Paul Benson finished from six yards. The quick first-time touches to move the ball on saw Brighton bodies standing still as the routine breezed around them. The goal was the catalyst for the classic ‘game of two halves’ as Brighton rarely posed a threat after this, other than Vicente. Swindon grew in confidence and belief. They doubled their lead with twenty-five left to play. A long ball forward from Foderingham in-goal was flicked on to Williams, he spun round Gordon Greer into the box before Navarro took over to finish the move with an instant finish from twelve yards. He wrapped the match up, if it hadn’t been already, when his deflected long-ranger made it three-nil ten minutes later. Navarro netted just once in eighty-five games for the Albion, but now had two in ten minutes for his new club. Before the League had even begun Brighton were dumped out of a Cup. There would be much bigger fish to fry this season however.

SWI Results

SWINDON 3 BRIGHTON 0
Benson, Navarro (2)

SWI Replay

PREVIOUS; #39 LIVERPOOL 6-1 BRIGHTON 19/02/2012

NEXT; #41 BRIGHTON 2-2 LEEDS 02/11/2012

#39: Liverpool 6-1 Brighton 19/02/2012

#39 LIVERPOOL 6-1 BRIGHTON FA Cup Round Five
Sunday 19th February 2012 Related image

LIV Titles

PRESENTER Ray Stubbs GUESTS John Barnes & Kevin Keegan
COMMENTATORS Jon Champion & Chris Waddle REPORTER Darrell Currie
4.30pm Kick Off; Anfield, Liverpool     3.45-7pm FA Cup Live on ESPN

LIV Promo LIV Sponsor LIV Intro

Context of the Match: This was arguably Brighton’s biggest FA Cup match since the 1983 FA Cup Final Replay twenty-nine years ago. Championship Brighton were rewarded for knocking out Premier League Newcastle in Round Four with another top-flight opponent; the mighty Liverpool. Having gone twenty years since playing the Reds, this was the second time this season we were to go head-to-head. A narrow two-one victory for Liverpool at The Amex back in September saw the Albion put on a fighting display in the first Live televised match in our new home. Playing at Anfield though would be a whole new ball game. A quick look back at the history books suggested the Seagulls could soar once more here, having won at away in the Fifth Round in ’83. Liverpool’s home record this season was also rather lacklustre; drawing nine out of the fifteen matches so far. They also had one eye on next week’s Carling Cup Final against Cardiff at Wembley. Brighton went into the game ninth in the Championship, just two points outside play offs. Last time out saw a draw with Millwall. Liverpool were unbeaten in knock-out football this season, the Albion hadn’t lost in 2012. Something had to give today.

LIV Liverpool LIV Brighton LIV Formation

The Teams: The Albion made three changes to the side which drew two-all in midweek with Millwall in the Championship. Loanees Gonzalo Jara Reyes and Joe Mattock, both from West Brom, were ineligible for the Cup so in came Adam El-Abd and Kazenga LuaLua. Sam Vokes joined on loan from Wolves having been spotted in the crowd at the Newcastle game. His Albion record so far reads played four scored one. The other change saw Craig Mackail-Smith drop down to the bench, with Will Buckley brought in after a knock kept him out of midweek action. Midfielder Matt Sparrow was suspended after a red card at Leeds a few weeks back. Options for the Seagulls on the subs bench included Vicente, still not managing a regular run in the time due to injuries, and Ryan Harley. Both Alan Navarro and Craig Noone, proud Scousers, have tickets in the Liverpool end for next week’s Carling Cup Final at Wembley. Speaking of which, Craig Bellamy and Daniel Agger were rested ahead of that Final. Luis Suarez played despite being in the headlines all week after refusing to shake hands with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra at Old Trafford last week. The £35million striker Andy Carroll started despite not being in fine form in front of goal; he’d been a bit of a flop so far with just two goals in his last nineteen games. Today marked Stewart Downing’s 350th career appearance. The man in the middle was Andre Marriner.

LIV Stubbs LIV Barnes LIV Keegan LIV Commentators LIV Studio

Presentation Team: This was Brighton’s fifth and final appearance Live on ESPN. Covering all five matches were host Ray Stubbs and pundit John Barnes. Stubbs was a former professional footballer himself, having been on the books at Tranmere Rovers, though never made a first-team start. John Barnes had an illustrious playing career most famous for his spell at Liverpool where he spent a decade and made over 300 appearances. He was also capped 79 times for England including scoring one of the best goals the Three Lions have ever scored, a mazy run in the Maracana against Brazil. His managerial spells didn’t go very well but has forged a long and varied career in the media regularly for more than a decade. Alongside them in the ESPN studio was their lead pundit Kevin Keegan. He was signed to launch their Premier League coverage with Stubbs in 2009 and appears on all the big games. He was loaned out to ITV for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, having frequently appeared in the studio and commentary box for the channel regularly since his playing days. He was part of their World Cup coverage in the 1970s and 80s when England failed to qualify and was behind the mic alongside the great Brian Moore for the Big Match Live during the 90s. This included the highs and lows of both Euro 96 and World Cup 98. He and Moore voiced that incredible match in St Etienne as England lost to Argentina on penalties. Before David Batty’s missed kick, Moore inadvertently put Keegan on the spot saying “Do you back him to score, quickly, yes or no?” Of course he didn’t, Moore regretted that moment for the rest of his life and many years later the title for a 90s football podcast was born; Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? hosted by Josh Widdicombe. Keegan was a big name on ITV when out of management so it was a big signing for ESPN. His playing career was outstanding at Southampton, Newcastle, Hamburg and, of course, Liverpool where he spent six years. He won back-to-back Ballon d’Or trophies in 1978 and 1979, the PFA Player of the Year in 1982 as well as multiple League titles, the FA Cup, European Cup and two UEFA Cups. The man was an absolute icon. He also enjoyed a fantastic spell as Newcastle manager, winning the title on the way to leading them into the Premiership and going so close to winning that too. He also won Football League championships at Fulham and Manchester City, where his side gained promotion during the ITV Sport Channel season where it was a joy to watch them. In the commentary box was Jon Champion, who also commentated on that Argentina match in 1998 – for the highlights on the BBC. That was his big breakthrough moment at his first World Cup for television. Alongside him was Chris Waddle, who had covered Brighton’s two other televised FA Cup matches this season. Waddle signed for Setanta Sports to cover their exclusively Live England away internationals during the 2008/09 season where he voiced great victories in Croatia and Andorra. Since 2009 he has become ESPN’s number one summariser for Premier League and FA Cup coverage. On the touchline once more was Darrell Currie. He was a big part of the ESPN Cup coverage, regularly covering the biggest matches including four of our five on this channel.

LIV Kick Off LIV Comms LIV Buckley interview LIV Buckley

The Coverage: Today’s programme was hosted from ESPN’s London studio with Ray Stubbs anchoring alongside John Barnes and Kevin Keegan, both with strong Liverpool connections. It was the second in ESPN’s Cup double today, having already witnessed Stoke overcome League Two Crawley in a noon kick-off. The build-up to our match began forty-five minutes prior to the 4.30pm kick-off. Barnes had seen plenty of Brighton over the past year or so, covering all four previous ESPN appearances. Both he and Keegan praised the Albion’s passing philosophy and, as seen in the fortunate win on penalties at Wrexham, believed they were better suited to playing Premier League quality. I’m pleased to confirm that on the third attempt this season, the Albion crest was updated across all of the ESPN graphics today! Commentator Jon Champion delivered the all-important team news in-vision from his position on the gantry, included in the away team was Will Buckley “looking to repeat his heroics of Round Four.” This led onto a report from ESPN presenter and reporter Kelly Cates with Buckley standing on the spot where his shot was taken which secured the win against Newcastle. They spoke about the previous round as well as his wider career so far; how he got started after college, beginning at Rochdale, moving to Watford and, of course, life on the South Coast. He believed manager Gus Poyet was Premiership class and the team would not be far away from realising that dream with him at the helm. The studio team highlighted Buckley as well as loan signing Sam Vokes up top.

LIV Aldridge LIV Barclay

After the first break, Darrell Currie provided a report on the current state of Liverpool Football Club’s reputation following on from the racism incident featuring their Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez. Currie spoke with journalists such as Tony Barrett and Paddy Barclay as well as ex-pros like John Aldridge and Jason McAteer. Back in October, Suarez was accused of racially abusing Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra, a charge he disputed. The FA panel investigated and found him guilty, fined him £40,000 and was given a huge eight game ban. The two sides met again last week and further controversy ensued when Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand during the pre-match ceremonies. Both the Uruguayan and manager Kenny Dalglish apologised for the incident afterwards, reminding themselves of their responsibilities to represent the club well. Dalglish reacted angrily to Sky Sports reporter Geoff Shreeves’ questioning, saying he was “bang out-of-order” for trying to blame Suarez for anything that had happened on the pitch. Afterwards, Dalglish told the Liverpool website; “I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologise for that.” The public backlash was huge, from newspapers, media, fans and fellow professionals, Liverpool did not come out of the situation at all well and were now on a mission to restore public opinion of them.

LIV Draw Rosenthal LIV Draw Trio

The draw for the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup took place during the build-up. Jim Rosenthal hosted from Wembley Stadium, with former Sunderland manager Peter Reid and ex-Tranmere defender Wayne Allison picking the numbered balls out. Reid was presented with a replica of his runners-up medal from the 1985 Final courtesy of the FA, after his original one was sold to help out the Plymouth Argyle cause that he was manager of. The first ball out of the bag belonged to the winners of our match; either Liverpool or Brighton would host Stoke City. The Albion knew their fate – if they could defeat the might of Liverpool. Elsewhere two of Reid’s former sides would face off as Everton hosted Sunderland. If Chelsea could get past Birmingham in a replay, they would play Leicester. And Bolton would travel to the winners of the Stevenage Tottenham replay, after the two sides had just finished goalless that kicked off at 2pm, hence the draw taking place at this time as it always followed the ITV Live game. Rosenthal hosted all FA draws that took place during ITV’s stewardship of the Cup. As ITV were host broadcaster for these, their graphics were seen when ESPN simulcast the draw.

LIV Draw LIV Fan Film LIV Case LIV Champion

During the advert break, a very short Budweiser FA Cup Fan Film was broadcast which was all about Brighton’s journey to Falmer and the new stadium. Writer, actor and Seagulls supporter Mark Brailsford hosted the piece, filmed in and around The Amex. He couldn’t hide his joy at having the place after fourteen years of exile. He also sang the praises of the manager and his passing style of play. When the coverage resumed, reporter Darrell Currie spoke with both managers. Poyet wanted his team to do him proud and was cautious about how good Suarez could be. Dalglish was looking to the positives compared to last season when at this stage they were already out of both Cup competitions. After the final thoughts of Barnes and Keegan, Ray Stubbs handed over to our commentary team of Jon Champion and Chris Waddle, delightfully shown in-vision. As well as talking through the line ups with Waddle highlighting the formations, Champion reminded us of Jimmy Case, formerly of both clubs, the Liverpudlian who scored for the Albion during an unforgettable FA Cup tie during the run to 1983 Final; it would be twenty-nine years to the day tomorrow since that two-one Fifth Round victory.

LIV Analysis LIV Fan Film 2 LIV Talk of the Terrace LIV Studio Switch

At half-time the pundits were pleasantly surprised by the open nature of the match thus far. From Brighton’s point-of-view the two goals were avoidable defensively. Kevin Keegan had LuaLua when he was at Newcastle and knew how ferocious his feet could strike a ball so was happy to see the goal go in like that. John Barnes pointed out the role the gap in the wall played. They thought more goals were certain in the second period. They got that correct; another four. After the match, around twenty-five minutes remained to analyse it all. Andy Carroll was voted Man of the Match by ESPN viewers, he and captain Steven Gerrard were interviewed by Darrell Currie. The goals were analysed, Carroll’s performance highlighted as well as his battle all afternoon with Adam El-Abd. During Poyet’s post-match chat described some of his team’s defending as ‘naive’ and not quite Premier League ready; “Learn. If you want, one day, to get to the Premiership as a team or as an individual you need to learn. Because the quality, the strength, the power, the technique that the Premiership players have got – especially the top six – is amazing.” A further short fan film with Mark Brailsford aired during the break, where he told of memories from the old Goldstone Ground whilst stood in the current surroundings of the retail park. Airing immediately after this programme was ESPN’s usual Sunday night discussion show Talk of the Terrace, hosted by Kenny Dalglish’s daughter Kelly Cates, today with studio guests Craig Burley and Kevin McCarra. A quick look ahead to that featured, with them sharing the studio the Live broadcast came from. To end the programme Stubbs crossed to Cates, and our time on ESPN concluded.

LIV Goal LIV Axis LIV Sub  LIV Own Goal

Story of the Match: With this being a Cup tie, Brighton received double the League allocation for away fans as 6,000 Seagulls supporters flocked to Anfield. It took less than five minutes for the home ends to be celebrating though, as Martin Skrtel headed in the opener from a Steven Gerrard corner. Before the set-piece was taken there was a whole host of jostling going on, particularly between Adam El-Abd and Andy Carroll. Whilst they were focussed on that, nobody tracked Skrtel close enough as he moved towards the near post to flick the cross in. The tussling continued at corners, highlighted by the cameras and comparisons were drawn between El-Abd and his brother; a professional rugby player in France. In the seventeenth minute, Kazenga LuaLua was fouled around thirty yards out. The resulting free-kick was rolled from Navarro to Buckley to stop the ball for LuaLua to run onto and hit. Hit it, he did! The ball was thumped into the bottom corner of the goal, past a despairing dive from Reina, to draw Brighton level. The strike was bent through the gap in the wall, leaving the ‘keeper unsighted. The kick stayed low and true, not touching the ground until it crossed the line, it was a fabulous moment for the travelling support. Liverpool always posed that threat of quality where they could conjure something out of nothing. Luis Suarez showed this when his excellent touch and jinking run resulted in Calderon having to clear his shot off the line, having beaten Brezovan. The Albion didn’t have too much more success in front of goal but were far from on the back foot for the rest of the half. However, with a minute or so to go before the break Liverpool caused further damage from a corner. This time it was a Charlie Adam in-swinger which Brezovan flapped at and punched up instead of out. It landed at the feet of Suarez, his shot parried by the ‘keeper. Glen Johnson’s resulting header was blocked on the line by the head of Sam Vokes only to canon off Liam Bridcutt for an unfortunate own-goal.

LIV Full Time LIV Poyet

At half-time Craig Noone came on for Will Buckley, giving the commentators another chance to bring up the story of Noone working on Steven Gerrard’s roof. Into the second half, a long volley from the half-way line by Jordan Henderson looking for Suarez seemed easy enough to deal with yet Brezovan raced out of goal and missed his kick. Luckily Suarez slipped but still had enough time to regain his balance. In his attempt to lift the ball over the onrushing defender, it appeared to be charged down by the elbow of Greer for a penalty appeal which wasn’t entertained by referee Marriner. Replays showed it was clearly the Seagulls skipper’s boot which prevented Suarez going any further. The home side did extend their lead in the 57th minute through Andy Carroll. Downing did well to hurdle Calderon’s slide challenge to race to the far side of the area before cutting the ball back for Carroll in space around the penalty spot. He hit it first time with his powerful left; a lovely finish to make it three-one. Mackail-Smith and Vicente came on for El-Abd and Vokes as Brighton tried to go for it with just over twenty minutes left. Straight after this, Liverpool sealed the result with their fourth. Henderson looped the ball forward, Gerrard got the better of Navarro to shoot. Brezovan stopped it with his legs but the ball fell back to the Liverpool captain who had another bite at the cherry. His goalbound attempt flew off Liam Bridcutt on the line for another unfortunate own-goal. It went from bad to worse at the back for Brighton as the third own-goal soon followed. Suarez linked up with Gerrard on the far side, the striker able to get his cross in but nobody was near it in a Liverpool shirt, Brezovan got hands to the cross. Yet all that did was land the ball on Lewis Dunk’s chest facing the goal. As he tried to bring the ball down with his knee, his poor touch sent the ball over the line and a despairing lunge was to no avail. Brighton score their fourth, but only one of them in the right end. It became a rout with fifteen minutes still to play. Five minutes later substitute Dirk Kuyt was fouled for a penalty, Craig Noone the offender. Dalglish signalled for Suarez to take the spot kick, Peter Brezovan spoiled the narrative by saving it. This was only to be a temporary denial as he did get his goal four minutes later. Enrique delivered a high cross for Carroll, his header went across goal where Suarez was waiting to nod home just a yard or so out. A streaker held the game up in injury time but the game was long gone. Six of the best for Liverpool as they sailed through to Round Six. They would go on to lose to Chelsea in the Final, having already secured silverware in the Carling Cup. Brighton’s season continued as it had done prior to this, with a solid showing just narrowly missing out on a Play Off spot with a couple of games to go. They would take positives from today’s match, performing well in spells but lacking that killer quality. And an FA Cup record, the first time ever that three own-goals were scored by the same side.

LIV Quarter Final Draw

LIVERPOOL 6 BRIGHTON 1
Skrtel, Bridcutt (2 Own-Goals), Carroll, Dunk (Own-Goal), Suarez LuaLua

LIV Replay

EXTRA; The official FA Cup Preview Show aired on ESPN in the days leading up to the Fifth Round, produced by Pitch International. Tom Skippings narrated the programme, a familiar voice to ITV Football League and Champions League voiceovers down the years. A programme is produced for the global audience ahead of each Round, beginning with the Third, and features interviews, highlights, classic action and nostalgia. This particular edition looked ahead to Liverpool against Brighton amongst other things.

PRE Titles PRE Brighton

Manager Gus Poyet was interviewed, as were Craig Noone and Ashley Barnes. Reference was made to the meeting during the 1982/83 FA Cup run in which Brighton won at Anfield en route to the Final. Poyet talked about his Chelsea side winning the competition in 2000 against Aston Villa, the last at the old Wembley Stadium. Our new home in Falmer was discussed too, as the Albion went from hosting 7,000 or so people up to over 22,000 from this season.

PRE Poyet PRE Barnes


EXTRA; ITV had Sunday night Fifth Round FA Cup highlights to round off their weekend. The main match was Liverpool’s demolition of the Albion, with presenter Matt Smith hosting the whole programme from in and around Anfield. He opened the show amongst the fans outside the Shankly Gates before handing over to the commentary team of Jon Champion and Chris Waddle, per ESPN. ITV had an agreement where they would use ESPN’s Live match commentary for their highlights programmes, and vice versa like in the build up to our Live match in the previous round. This was a cost-cutting exercise so as not to double up on commentators and had also been in place when Setanta were the satellite rights holder during the 2008/09 season. It helped that Champion was a familiar voice on ITV, Setanta and ESPN anyway.

ITV Titles ITV Teams

Champion and Waddle voiced the commentary edit which lasted for around ten minutes of match action, just about enough time to squeeze in all seven goals, the missed penalty and a couple of half-chances for good measure. The agreement with ESPN also extended to post-match interviews, where we heard from Poyet and Dalglish speaking with Darrell Currie. There was little attempt to hide this, with the ESPN microphone in full display, and actually was a pretty sensible decision to pool resources which would later occur with subsequent rights deals in a similar fashion. After the highlights, ITV pundit Gordon Strachan joined Smith pitchside to talk through some of the key incidents before moving onto the best bits from the day’s other two clashes and reaction to the Quarter Final draw.

ITV Smith ITV Strachan

 

PREVIOUS; #38 BRIGHTON 1-0 NEWCASTLE 28/01/2012

NEXT; #40 SWINDON 3-0 BRIGHTON 14/08/2012

 

#38: Brighton 1-0 Newcastle 28/01/2012

#38 BRIGHTON 1-0 NEWCASTLE FA Cup Round Four
Saturday 28th January 2012 Related image

NEW Titles

PRESENTER Ray Stubbs GUESTS Steve Harper & John Barnes
COMMENTATORS Jon Champion & Chris Waddle REPORTER Dave Beckett
5.15pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     4.30-7.45pm FA Cup Live on ESPN

NEW Promo NEW Bumper NEW Intro

Context of the Match: What a great first season Brighton were having at the American Express Community Stadium. They adapted well to life back in the Championship after five seasons away with a flying start, having the opportunity to go top of the table back in September. They’d already knocked out Premier League Sunderland and performed admirably against Liverpool, both in the Carling Cup. Today it was the turn of Newcastle United, managed by Alan Pardew, to go up against Gus Poyet’s hard-to-beat Brighton. The Albion knocked out United in a Third Round Replay away thanks to Peter Ward’s goal during the historic run to the 1983 FA Cup Final and would be hoping for a similar victory here. The Magpies had already provided Brighton with two players so far this season; goalkeeper Steve Harper played five times from October on-loan whilst winger Kazenga LuaLua finally made his move down south a permanent one after several loan spells. Newcastle were going well in the Premier League sat in sixth place and reached the Fourth Round of the Carling Cup. They lost to Blackburn that night but got their revenge in Round Three of the FA Cup at St James Park, coming from behind to win two-one. The club, as well as the wider football world, had mourned the death of their former captain Gary Speed when the Wales manager took his own life back in November. He appeared in two FA Cup Finals for the Geordies in the late 90’s. Form in the competition in recent years was not too good for the side though, suffering humiliation losing at League Two Stevenage Live on ESPN last season and last made the semis in 2005. Would there be a similar story here today? The Albion would have to lift their game if that were to happen, narrowly getting past League Two Wrexham in a penalty shoot-out in the Replay ten days ago. This followed a disappointing draw at The Amex at the beginning of January. This Saturday tea-time kick-off under the lights would prove to be another memorable one in the early stages at our new home.

NEW Brighton NEW Newcastle NEW Formation

The Teams: Four changes were made from the FA Cup Third Round Replay at Wrexham which set up tonight’s tie at The Amex. In defence captain Gordon Greer and Adam El-Abd came in, as Grant Hall and Romain Vincelot dropped down to the bench. Seventeen-year-old Jake Forster-Caskey started, having impressed and scored against both Southampton and Wrexham this month. Ashley Barnes got the equaliser in the Replay and started here in place of Will Hoskins. The creative threat would come from Will Buckley, who was in form having scored two in the win at Peterborough last time out. Craig Mackail-Smith had an excellent FA Cup record and was looking to notch his first one in the competition for his new side. Liam Bridcutt and Matt Sparrow would provide the wall in front of the defence which included Lewis Dunk, who had been linked with today’s opponents in the past. For Newcastle, Demba Ba was missing on African Cup of Nations duty. Danny Guthrie played for the 150th time in his career. Shola Ameobi and future Brighton loan signing Leon Best were the striking options. Lee Probert was the referee.

NEW Stubbs NEW Harper NEW Barnes NEW Studio

Presentation Team: Hosting proceedings was Ray Stubbs, as he had done for the three previous Live Albion matches on ESPN. His ESPN career began when he launched their Premier League coverage in 2009 with Arsenal’s six-one victory at Everton on the opening day. He joined after a long career with BBC Sport which included hosting their coverage of the Saturday afternoon results service Score on the Red Button, and Final Score on the main channels for the full-times. The latter had been a long-standing part of Grandstand for decades before it turned into a programme in its own right. When it expanded to include news of all the goals as they went in from the first whistle to the last back in 2004, it was Stubbs who was selected for that leaving his Football Focus gig after five years. His pundits were Steve Harper and John Barnes. Harper had experienced both Brighton and Newcastle dressing rooms this season so was in the unique position of knowing both squads very well. He played five times for Brighton in the busy October/November period, signed on the day of the televised West Ham match going straight into the starting XI in place of Casper Ankergren. He had been at Newcastle for over a decade and played in the 1999 FA Cup Final defeat to Manchester United on their way to the historic Treble. For most of his North-East career, Harper was the reserve goalie behind the likes of Shaka Hislop and Shay Given before finally claiming the number one jersey a couple of seasons ago. That didn’t last long and he soon found himself out of favour again.

NEW Kick Off NEW CommsNEW Champion NEW Waddle

With Stubbs and Harper today was John Barnes. He was in the extremely rare position of having done every role of a televised football broadcast during his career; presenter, pundit, co-commentator and reporter. He began as a regular pundit on ITV for their tournament coverage and top-flight highlights show The Premiership before joining Channel 5 as their host of UEFA Cup matches. After a few seasons in the main chair he started to appear more in his more familiar pundit role as well as reporting on the touchline and from their broadcast truck as a tactician specialist on occasions. When Channel 5 held Live Serie A rights on a Sunday afternoon for the 2007/08 season he was their regular co-commentator alongside Tony Jones, thus completing the broadcast set. The nearest I can think of to that before was Bob Wilson, who hosted Football Focus and Live matches for both BBC and ITV, was a pundit on the Beeb, reported at the 1982 World Cup and did the odd commentary for radio way back when. Another one might be Jimmy Hill had hosted and done punditry on Match of the Day, and summarised on Live matches at tournaments and Cup Finals back when the role was not quite as conversational as in the modern game. Whether he was touchline reporter on any Live games seems unlikely. In the commentary box were ESPN’s regular Premier League pairing of Jon Champion and Chris Waddle. The former covered our win at FC United of Manchester last season whilst the latter was behind the mic for the recent Wrexham replay. He spent five seasons making his name as an attacking midfielder from 1980 before securing big moves to Tottenham, Marseille and Sheffield Wednesday. Reporting pitchside was Dave Beckett. He has long been the voice of the Football League round-ups, working for many seasons on ITV’s Football League Extra before doing the same role on the BBC’s Football League Show when the rights transferred in 2009. He continued to freelance across various highlights and magazine programmes, voicing Champions League Weekly, Premier League Review and reporting for ESPN and Channel 5 across various competitions. He’s also a huge Brighton fan and more recently has become the face of the official Club channels, hosting the end of season reviews including the excellent Withdean Years DVD.

NEW Stubbs beach NEW Gullys Girls

The Coverage: ESPN’s presentation team of host Ray Stubbs and pundits Steve Harper and John Barnes presented coverage from pitchside in the corner of The Amex where North Stand met East. They brought their large branded desk to perch around as well as some ESPN banners. Pitchside presenting was all the rage for the satellite broadcaster of the FA Cup in recent times, with their mobile caravan studio from last season providing a quick and flexible solution to a professional broadcast whilst immersing themselves in the match atmosphere. Having just the desk today meant it was easy to slide away for the match and slide back in to the corner for the pre and post game broadcast. The theme tune remained as their specially composed track whilst the title sequence was very similar to last season, showing people going about their pre-match routine before culminating at Wembley Stadium. This match kicked off late on Saturday evening, their regular Live Premier League slot. Coverage began forty-five minutes before the 5.15pm start, as the 3pm matches started to edge towards full-time. The programme opened with Stubbs appearing on Brighton beach, the first part of the show focussed on the match in hand. We received the team news from commentator Jon Champion in-vision, who dissected them with his co-commentator Chris Waddle.

NEW Liv Highlights NEW Perry

The biggest Cup game of the weekend had already taken place that lunchtime Live on ITV; Liverpool against Manchester United. Extended highlights were shown during the build-up, with commentary from Clive Tyldesley. Brighton boss Gus Poyet took our reporter Dave Beckett for a guided tour around the stadium, with this being ESPN’s first visit here. He spoke about the proposed expansion from 22,500 up to 30,000 by filling in the corners next year and eventually adding an upper tier to the East Stand. We saw in the manager’s office, the dressing room and an insight into what the players see on matchday. The proposed new training ground in two years time was mentioned, with blueprints drawn up. In five years time, with all the infrastructure in place, Poyet said “we should be challenging [to be in] the Premiership.” On the back of Beckett’s excellent report, he spoke to chief executive Martin Perry Live in the tunnel. He told of how immensely proud he was of the job they’d done since joining in 1997 and, after a brief technical issue interrupting the pictures, how chairman Tony Bloom was still over in Australia for his winter hibernation so would be missing today’s big match.

NEW Tour NEW Dressing Room

The pundits picked out Craig Mackail-Smith of Brighton and Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle as being the key men. Mackail-Smith has a fantastic FA Cup record for all his clubs, scoring twelve goals in seventeen appearances. After a break midfielder Gary Dicker went into full on banter-mode appearing in a Soccer AM Teammates-style VT where he got to have a laugh at the players expense. Gordon Greer was the “angry Scotsman”, Adam El-Abd “would tackle his own mother” and Ashley Barnes “doesn’t really come out much, he’s quite pasty. Could do with a sunbed.” It’s great to see these sort of things on television, as a club Brighton have had extremely small amounts of exposure so for there to be an interest now shows the team is doing something right. On the back of that Dave Beckett asked Poyet about the inclusion of youngster Jake Forster-Caskey in the side; “Because the way he is, he’s a confident boy. For him, it means the same playing with the kids under-18 in the FA Youth Cup or playing in training in the development group or coming into a big game against Southampton and scoring the first goal. So he’s so confident in what he does that I’m not afraid to play him.” After a bit more chat from the pundits the scene was set and we were raring to go. The teams line ups were re-confirmed by the commentary team shown in-vision, before that final short advert break. ESPN had a new replay transition for this season which still centred around their logo. This year it flashed in from the centre and accelerated towards us to cover the whole screen as the replay started playing. I preferred the previous one.

NEW Dicker NEW Commentary Team

The half-time analysis focussed on the two missed chances from Leon Best, with little else to show by way of goalmouth action. The pundits believed Alan Pardew would be the happier manager of the two, enjoying more possessions and better chances, as the rain began to fall on the pitchside presentation. Upon conclusion of the match reporter Dave Beckett spoke with Man of the Match, as voted for by ESPN viewers, Will Buckley followed by goalkeeper Peter Brezovan, who made a couple of crucial saves to keep the clean sheet. After the break, around twenty minutes or so was afforded to wrap things up. Steve Harper praised the Albion as being solid in midfield and strong in possession without cutting teams open, very much what he witnessed during his shot loan spell. Beckett caught up with winning manager Poyet who praised Buckley’s work ethic; “When everybody goes a little bit tired he keeps sprinting and going past people and he’s been outsanding in terms of scoring at the right times for us.” The pundits reviewed the goal, saying defender Mike Williamson was just unlucky that Buckley’s shot hit him to deflect over Tim Krul in-goal. They looked in detail at the kick out from Cabaye on El-Abd. It was later said by Pardew that he was furious with Ray Stubbs for being “ferocious” in the discussion about the incident and blamed him for getting him restrospectively banned, whereas both pundits seemed to suggest it was just a flick rather than a stamp and should not have been a red card. Stubbs certainly argued the case for a red, more by playing devil’s advocate than anything else. After a little more chat it was time to go, closing the show with “Brighton rocks!”.

NEW CMS NEW Knight

Story of the Match:  This was the first meeting between Brighton and Newcastle in twenty years, with the Albion emerging victorious by the solitary goal to nil that day. Ten minutes into today’s match Leon Best nearly opened the scoring from a long ball over the top, his shot just rolling wide. He had another chance two minutes later when his header off a Shola Ameobi assist flew high over the bar. If Best could finish he would’ve been a far better player. Ameobi was winning headers and getting the better of the Brighton defence often. The home side’s first opening came after half an hour when a decent move was concluded with Craig Mackail-Smith driving the ball high and wide from outside the box. That was the pattern of the first half, with very few chances for either side, little goalmouth action, both teams just sussing each other out in midfield. Into the second half and again it was Best who should’ve opened the scoring. A neat turn and lay off from Ameobi found Best in the box in space, his shot saved by Brezovan. From the resulting corner Ameobi himself got a chance when the cross bounced off the back Dunk, his swing well saved by Brezovan once more. Just after the hour mark there was an incident between Adam El-Abd and Yohan Cabaye where the Newcastle player appeared to kick out towards El-Abd’s face following a tumble. The referee did not spot it and had no help from his assistant so it went unpunished at the time, though retrospective action was taken in the days that followed the match. Into the final twenty minutes the game began to come to life. Mackail-Smith carved a chance out for himself; he span past one defender, shifted wide of another before unleashing a left foot shot twenty yards out which needed to be turned away by Tim Krul. Finally, the break through came. “Buckley, easily away from Simpson. Mackail-Smith pulling away, trying to find space in the middle. Buckley past Cabaye, deflection and in! Brighton’s big moment” was how commentator Jon Champion expertly described the moment. Will Buckley brought the ball forward from around thirty yards inside his own half, skipped past Danny Simpson and ran the length of the Newcastle half to reach the penalty area. His left-footed shot, a somewhat tired effort, took a huge looping deflection off of Mike Williamson on its way through giving Krul no chance. Buckley deserved the goal but it would actually go down as a Williamson own-goal as the shot was actually going wide before the deflection. Nonetheless it was Buckley who rightly took all the plaudits and Brighton had a lead to hang onto for the final fifteen minutes. The Albion defended deep into their own half as nothing was getting past them today. They even survived a clear handball appeal when Barnes was back defending, shielding his face would’ve been the excuse used. In a match of very few chances, Brighton marched through to Round Four at the expense of a top Division team for the first time since 1986. The team knocked out then? Of course, it was Newcastle.

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BRIGHTON 1 NEWCASTLE 0
Williamson (Own-Goal)

NEW Replay

EXTRA; Tonight’s late kick off was also the first on ITV’s Saturday night highlights programme. The channel held the terrestrial FA Cup rights, entitling them to up to fifteen Live matches as well as regular round-up shows. Whilst Adrian Chiles was the main Live host, Matt Smith chaired the highlights programmes. The first fifteen minutes or so of the show was given over to probably the biggest upset of the Round that Saturday; our defeat of Newcastle.

ITV Titles ITV Teams

Commentating on proceedings were Jon Champion and Chris Waddle, as per ESPN. The two channels pooled resources to minimise expense. Champion had been heard on ITV since 2001, covering League Cup Finals and Play Off matches for the highlights as well as several World Cups and European Championships for both ITV and BBC. Dave Beckett’s interviews with the two managers post-match were also shown on ITV, Beckett being a regular voice to the goal round-ups. In the studio with Matt Smith were regular pundit Gordon Strachan and Neil Warnock, who had recently left Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League having got them promotion the previous season. They both agreed Newcastle were unlucky, should’ve had a penalty but it was pleasing that Brighton had enjoyed a slice of fortune which their attractive passing style deserved.

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