Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe opening months of Brighton’s 2013/14 campaign had mixed results. After spending much of the early stages around the middle of the table, a key victory over high-flying Leicester City at The Amex seemed to kick start Albion’s push up towards the coveted Play Off places. January saw Brighton make the top six for the first time in the season, albeit briefly. Consistency would be the key, converting losses to draws and draws to wins. Away from the pitch, the much-anticipated training ground neared completion. Just when things seemed to be coming together again, the transfer window robbed the squad of a number of key players as they were sold on to higher placed clubs. The season’s dramatic climax would go right down to the wire.

Here are some of the features and clips during the sole season under the reign of Oscar Garcia. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC, BT Sport and Sky Sports. This is part two, the first part is HERE.


Tour of new Training Ground in Lancing

SportsHub, BT Sport 1 (14th February 2014)

HUB Titles HUB Presenters

BT Sport launched on our televisions as the new rival to Sky on 1st August 2013. They wrestled Live Premier League rights away from ESPN and incorporated their FA Cup, Europa League and Rugby Premiership contracts to form a decent portfolio. To bulk up the daily schedules, BT had a plethora of magazine and news programmes coming Live from their Stratford home on the site of the London 2012 Olympic Broadcasting Centre during their first season on air. One of the regular shows was a daily news bulletin around 7pm weeknights, which began life simply as “BT Sport Live” before being rebranded as a more authoritatively named “SportsHub” after Christmas. The show was similar in remit to the “Sky Sports Centre” from the mid-1990s, the pre-cursor to Sky Sports News.

SportsHub aimed to bring us the day’s sporting news, supported with interviews and studio guests. The show uses a variety of hosts, from freelancers to their own talent, to front it. On this Friday 14th February edition, Helen Skelton and Chris Hollins were in the chair. Skelton rose to fame as the thirty-third presenter of flagship children’s show Blue Peter on the BBC for five years from 2008. Whilst there, she dabbled with primetime presenting on Countryfile and competing in the 2012 Christmas edition of Strictly Come Dancing. After leaving Blue Peter, she moved into sport with BT this season co-hosting coverage of the National League with Mark Clemmit as well as fronting their Women’s Super League matches.

Chris Hollins was also a familiar BBC name, having presented the sport on Breakfast for seven years from 2005. Joining BBC News in 1999, he reported at various major tournaments including the 2002 and 2010 World Cups and the Masters golf. His father, John, was He became a household name in 2009 winning Strictly and went on to front consumer shows Watchdog and Food Inspectors, and became a small part of BT’s output upon launch.

HUB Entrance HUB Perry

SportsHub went to visit the site of Brighton’s new training ground in Lancing, ahead of the Albion’s Live FA Cup appearance on BT against Hull the following Monday. The training ground wasn’t due to be completed until the summer so was still a work in progress, but the crux of the structure was in place. It promised to be a state-of-the-art world-class facility, with ‘Category One’ status – the highest that can be had – using the Elite Player Performance Plan mostly achieved by Premier League clubs. Around £32million was being invested by the club as they moved away from using the University to train in and had a base of their own.

First-team players Andrea Orlandi and Jake Forster-Caskey were shown around the site by Executive Director Martin Perry. All donning hi-vis jackets and hard hats, they made their way around the bricks and mortar to see just what the players would be getting, from first team all the way through the youth ranks and children’s levels. Martin Perry led the way for the Albion during the most difficult of times in the 1990s. He was part of the original consortium to buy the club in 1997 and became Chief Executive with the move to Withdean in 1999 – a position he held until 2012 when Paul Barber was appointed. Perry – along with former chairman Dick Knight – was at the forefront of all the public battles over planning permission for The Amex and did so again to bring this new training ground to fruition.

HUB Forster-Caskey HUB Orlandi

Jake Forster-Caskey rose up through the youth academy at the Seagulls, joining in 2007 at the age of fourteen. He gained a first team contract in April 2010 and immediately was named on the bench the following day. In the final match of that League One title winning campaign, he came on to make his debut. In doing so, he became the youngest Albion player ever. He featured with regularity during the 2013/14 campaign under Oscar Garcia having only made a handful of starts in previous years. He was always going to be a footballer as his father is former Reading midfielder Darren Caskey and is the stepson of ex-Albion striker Nicky Forster.

Andrea Orlandi joined the Seagulls from Swansea in August 2012. The winger spent five years in South Wales, signed by fellow Spaniard Roberto Martinez, helping them to Premier League promotion. Orlandi began his career with Alaves of Spain but enjoyed more regular action with the Barcelona B team prior to his move to Britain. Orlandi compared this set up with the one he had at the Catalan giants; “Barcelona, when I was there, kind of built a new training ground and honestly it is similar to this one. I wouldn’t say that one is worse than the Barcelona one, which is incredible for Brighton.” After appearing regularly in his first season at the Albion, game time this campaign was much more limited.

HUB Corridor HUB Replica pitch

Martin Perry acted as tour guide for the two midfielders and us. He explained the Y shaped building, as seen upon entry, would split the facilities essentially into two halves; one half for the first team and the other half for the academy. Above left we see the trio standing in the corridor. Perry talked through the proposals; “You’ve got each age group working down the corridor.” The aim was to give a visual progression of literally working your way up the ages. Forster-Caskey pointed out the under-14 changing room where he would’ve started his journey had this been around then.

Perry pointed out the numerous surrounding pitches outdoors. One was specifically a soil-based pitch, whilst there was also space reserved for a synthetic pitch, a dreaded running hill and a specific surface for futsal. Orlandi was less than impressed by the running hill! The manager’s office had a wonderful windowed view overlooking a pitch that was an exact replica of the surface at The Amex, with the same dimensions and even undersoil heating (above right). This was all a million miles away from plodding around Hove Park and Waterhall.

HUB Building site HUB Studio

Most of the interior was still a way off completion so a lot was left to the imagination in terms of what Martin Perry was trying to have us visualise. For the players, luxuries such as a pool table, soft-seating areas and games consoles would all be included. Upstairs, a huge dining room and eating area was located opposite a gym, as they made their way around the builders working hard to ensure delivery on time and on budget. The whole place sounded incredible, especially given how far the club had come in a short space of time.

Back in the studio, guest Clarke Carlisle gave his take on the facilities. “If they can ally those facilities with a level of coaching you get at, say, the likes of Southampton, two or three players through the system and it’ll pay for itself.” The former Blackpool and Burnley centre half continued, “It will enable them to get the quality of player that’s usually monopolised by the Premier League clubs.” That being the Division Brighton were now aiming to be in, sooner rather than later.


2

Craig Mackail-Smith’s injury rehab

FL72 Preview, Sky Sports 1 (20th February 2014)

FL1 Titles FL1 Studio

Brighton featured on Sky Sports Thursday evening lookahead FL72 Preview on 20th February, as they went to the home of Craig Mackail-Smith as the striker was slowly on his way back and off the treatment table. Having missed almost a year through an injured achilles, there was finally some light in the darkness for the Seagulls one-time record signing.

Long-serving host, and ultimate professional, George Gavin was joined in the cafe setting of Sky Studios for this edition by the Portsmouth manager Richie Barker. The Sheffield-born striker spent eighteen months with the Albion in the late 1990s during the club’s spell ground sharing with Gillingham. More recently, as a manager he was up the road with Crawley Town before moving to Pompey.

FL1 CMS

Craig Mackail-Smith talked us through his spell on the sidelines and how important it was for him to return at the right time. “I don’t wanna come back and I’m struggling, and people start saying ‘Oh, he’s not the same as he was before the injury.’ I wanna come back and I wanna hit the ground and I wanna be flying.” The hardest part for him was the mental strain, not being able to play and do something he loved but seeing the rest of the squad doing so on a daily basis. “Now it’s getting closer and it’s weeks and weeks, I’m kind of getting more and more excited because I know it’s not too far away. But at the beginning it was like, flipping hell, this is gonna be a drag.”

Mackail-Smith earned much attention the season before joining the Albion, scoring an incredible thirty-five goals for Peterborough as they achieved promotion to the Championship via the Play Offs. In the first of his four seasons with the Posh, he helped the club move from League Two up to League One. Prior to joining, he spent three years at Dagenham in the Conference. He made seven international appearances for Scotland, scoring one goal in 2011.

FL1 Rehab FL1 Family

We were shown footage of some of the recovery he was going through to rehabilitate his injured ankle. A lot of fitness work, building up strength and small steps progressing as the weeks and months went by.

During his time on the sidelines, Mackail-Smith’s first child was born; daughter Isla. His wife Amber is the daughter of former Peterborough manager, chairman, owner and all-round character Barry Fry, who even assisted with the delivery of the baby! Mackail-Smith believed his daughter had helped him through the pain of being on the sidelines and something he focus on.

FL1 Training FL1 Barker

The thing strikers miss most is scoring goals. He recalled a nice story from a recent training session, where he was allowed to join in with the squad at The Amex. “I scored a goal against Casper [Ankergren] and all of them started cheering, making loads of noise and it was just such a great feeling.” Such a huge part of Mackail-Smith’s game, particularly for Brighton where he was often isolated up top, was about running here, there and everywhere. It was important that he could still bring this to the team despite such a long time out. He paid special tribute to his physio, Steve McAleer, and would be the first person he’d celebrate with upon his comeback. His focus now was to be back fit in time to elevate Brighton into those Play Off spots.

Back in the studio, guest Richie Barker could empathise with Craig’s situation. His own career was ended earlier than he’d have liked through a knee injury, and stressed the importance of making a full recovery, not returning too early but would be very welcome when fit. “They’ve done OK over the last couple of weeks but he’d be a timely boost, I’m sure, for everybody at Brighton to have him back for the last ten games or so.” The club sat four points off sixth place and with a game in hand.

FL1 Leeds win FL1 Fixtures

George Gavin and Richie Barker discussed Brighton’s prospects. They talked through the only goal of the game as Brighton defeated Leeds one-nil last time out in the League. A burst from the halfway line to the penalty box down the left flank from Kazenga LuaLua created the chance for Leonardo Ulloa. He took one touch to set it up before flicking the ball with the outside of his foot, whilst in mid-air, into the net past the Leeds goalkeeper.

Barker was positive about Albion’s Play Off chances when asked if he thought they could make it again. “I do, yeah, just because I think The Amex is such a tough place to go and the way that they play with the possession that I can’t see many teams coming away with anything.” Crucial games were upcoming, with fellow hopefuls Wigan up next followed by key clashes with Reading and QPR to follow.


3

Brighton 1-2 Wigan Report

The Football League Show, BBC One (22nd February 2014); Championship

WIGH Titles WIGH Clemmit

The Football League Show brought highlights and round ups of all the action from the three Divisions on Saturday 22nd February. Presented by the usual pairing of Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge, the show had extended highlights of Charlton against Queens Park Rangers as well as the Sky Live lunchtime clash between Middlesbrough and Leeds. But our focus was on The Amex as the race for the Play Off places intensified. Roving reporter Mark Clemmit watched on as Brighton hosted Wigan.

WIGH Clem WIGH Garcia

Clemmit introduced his report in the North Stand by recapping on the end of Albion’s last season, and that dreadful defeat to Crystal Palace. “Last season’s Play Off’s ended messily for Brighton, in more ways than one!” he joked. Before bringing us up to date with the current situation, managed by former Barcelona midfielder Oscar Garcia who, Clem explained, “lists Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Sir Bobby Robson and Johan Cruyff amongst his mentors”.

Clemmit caught up with the coach in the dressing room warm up area. He asked him about the so-called ‘Barcelona way’ of playing and if it remains with you throughout your career. “Yeah”, Garcia replied, “I grow with this philosophy, I grow as a person as well and, yes, it’s in my blood.” Fellow Spaniard Inigo Calderon said of his coach, “When you have a lot of managers you just take the best things of everyone. That’s the way you have to improve, we are lucky with that.”

WIGH Barber WIGH Reporter

Chief Executive Paul Barber explained the reasons for appointing Garcia to the Albion from Israel side Maccabi Tel Aviv. “The style of play was the most important factor and I think our fans have become accustomed to a style of play. We had the players to play our sort of way, pass and move, attacking football. Oscar plays that style.” The final word went back to Garcia himself, before we saw action from the clash with Wigan. He said, “What I want is to keep going, to keep improving, to keep being better every day and this is our philosophy.”

As with all Mark Clemmit reports on The Football League Show, he focussed on the before and after of a match whilst one of the voiceover reports described the match clips. Today it fell to Tom Skippings, a veteran of the art of football narration. He was a mainstay of ITV’s Football League Extra and The Championship during the 2000s as well as doing the same for Sky Sports in the late 1990s. As a freelance, he added his talents to the BBC’s version in the 2010s to maintain a long working relationship with England’s lower Leagues.

WIGH McArthur goal WIGH McCann goal

This was a busy period for the Seagulls, with an FA Cup Replay scheduled for Monday night against Hull Live on ITV4 following the previous Monday’s one-all draw. With games coming thick and fast, tiredness crept in and Wigan were gifted their opening goal. Matthew Upson’s attempt at a pass on the centre spot was charged down by James McArthur who then ran all the way to the edge of the penalty area. Still with much to do, he curled a left footed shot round Upson, past Tomasz Kuszczak and into the bottom corner of the net for one-nil.

Brighton midfielder Dale Stephens signed from Charlton in the January transfer window after an impressive spell with the Addicks. He went close twice in this match, first with a header just wide whilst the game was goalless, and second with a shot that crashed down off the crossbar. Into the second half, those misses proved crucial as Wigan doubled their lead through Chris McCann. He headed in from a corner on the far side after winning the tussle with David Lopez.

WIGH Ulloa goal WIGH Studio

With twelve minutes remaining, Leonardo Ulloa scored his fourth goal in four matches to halve the deficit. Matthew Upson headed down an Andrea Orlandi corner, it ricocheted off a Wigan body into the path of the Argentine finisher to strike from six yards out, hitting through the bodies on the line. It wasn’t enough to rescue a point, even with a late long-range effort from Rohan Ince going close. Wigan took maximum points and an advantage into the hunt for a top six position.

Afterwards, Garcia spoke with Clemmit to explain how undeserving his side were not to get anything from that performance. “We played, in the first half, their best game of the season. We had more than twenty chances to score and we only took one.” Wigan boss Uwe Rosler called the Albion “a fantastic footballing side” with a good squad, delighted to come away with a victory.

Pundit Steve Claridge in the studio gave his thoughts on Oscar Garcia’s season so far. “He’s got a wonderful squad, they have lost one or two important players, but when you take over a football club, normally it’s under circumstances where the manager hasn’t done very well and he’s had to move on.” He then questioned what Brighton’s ambitions were; having made the Play Offs last season would it be a failure if they weren’t to do the same this year? He summed up by saying, “I think he’s done OK; I still think there’s a little room for improvement.”


4

Brighton 1-1 Reading Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (8th March 2014); Championship

READ Titles READ Studio

After the Wigan defeat, Brighton lost to Hull in the FA Cup Fifth Round Replay, leaving the Seagulls free to concentrate fully on the League campaign as we entered the final third. A David Lopez penalty was the decider in a close fought tie at Millwall last time out, keeping Albion in eighth place on the fringes of the top six. Next up they hosted a Reading side also hoping to extend their season beyond the regular forty-six League matches.

The Football League Show afforded the clash extended highlights, presented by Manish Bhasin with Steve Claridge. Seventh placed Reading had a disappointing draw with struggling Yeovil, who finished with eight men, last week and had lost their last two at home. They were hoping life on the road would continue to bring more joy. After a televised goalless draw at the Madejski back in September in the League, the Albion knocked out Reading at The Amex in the FA Cup Third Round back in January thanks to an Andrew Crofts winner. Another similar result would be even better today.

READ Teams.JPG

Brighton changed two of the line-up that defeated Millwall. Rohan Ince and Jake Forster-Caskey came into the midfield, replacing Dale Stephens and Andrea Orlandi. Exciting attacking midfielder Jesse Lingard joined on loan from Manchester United at the end of February until the end of the season. The twenty-one-year-old made his Albion debut at Millwall and previously had a loan spell with Birmingham in this Division, where he hit four goals in his first match. Brighton were the lowest scorers amongst any of the top eighteen in the Championship, Leonardo Ulloa’s nine League goals were carrying a lot of the weight following Ashley Barnes departure to Burnley in January. He remained the second top scorer with five.

For Nigel Adkins’ Reading, four changes were made from the Yeovil performance. They had to rely on a John Lundstram own goal to cancel out Shane Duffy’s opener that day. Royston Drenthe made his first start of 2014. The Dutch winger spent four years at Real Madrid before a season-long loan deal saw him move to Everton. Captain Danny Guthrie spent time in the youth ranks of both Liverpool and Manchester United. Striker Adam Le Fondre was leading the club’s goalscoring charts, just as he had done for each of the previous two seasons in Berkshire. He was partnered up top by Welshman Hal Robson-Kanu. The referee was Fred Graham.

READ Comm READ Own Goal

Commentary was provided by Paul Walker. He had done voiceover reporting for The Football League Show in previous seasons but was now getting a run out as a commentator. He was a more familiar voice to listeners of local BBC radio in Sheffield, hosting their Saturday sports programme and phone-in show, as well as covering a variety of events right across the station.

Brighton began well, knocking the ball around with confidence and style. A nicely worked move caused confusion in the Royals backline and Chris Gunter nodded into his own net to give Albion the lead just after the quarter-hour mark. Ulloa, Lingard and Keith Andrews formed a neat triangle of passing before finding David Lopez. His ball over the top aimed to match Lingard’s run. As Alex McCarthy recklessly abandoned his goal line to claim the cross, an unaware Gunter tried to calmly head back to his goalkeeper. But with the net empty, he only succeeded in nodding the ball home.

READ Greer red card READ Drenthe goal

Six minutes into the second half, Brighton were reduced to ten men with the dismissal of captain Gordon Greer. He was shown receiving a yellow card for pulling down Adam Le Fondre in the first half action and received a second caution for a late challenge on the same man despite the protestations from the men in stripes. It seemed a rather petty yellow card to award from the referee for just a block.

Reading punished Brighton with their man advantage, as Royston Drenthe cut inside from the right of the area to equalise. He took a touch to move the ball onto his left foot before unleashing a fierce drive low to Tomasz Kuszczak’s left, catching the ‘keeper cold and squeezing the ball into the corner of the net inside the near post. It was the power in the shot that defeated him more than anything, and Reading were level just after the hour point. He made a point of running straight to the touchline where former Albion player, coach and manager Dean Wilkins stood. Wilkins had fallen out somewhat with the club since his surprise dismissal back in 2008. He went on to link up with Nigel Adkins first at Southampton before again with the Royals.

READ Corner Post READ Full Time

Chances fell to both sides to win it in the closing stages. Nick Blackman had an effort comfortably kept out by Kuszczak whilst the Albion had a rare venture forward when substitute Will Buckley was put through by Leonardo Ulloa. Buckley’s left footed shot just inside the box was dragged a foot or so wide of the far post. The best opportunity, though, was from Reading’s Jobi McAnuff after just coming on. He latched onto the ball before Bruno could attempt a backpass, racing clear on goal. Kuszczak stood tall and firm to deny him brilliantly. A bizarre moment at the other end saw another sub, Solly March, hit the post direct from his corner, almost catching McCarthy unawares. But it wasn’t to be and it ended all square.

In his post-match interview, Oscar Garcia spoke of the character of his players to hold out despite the dismissal of the skipper. “I’m very proud of all my players and the performance. Even though we had ten men, we created some good chances and we could have won.” A frustrated Nigel Adkins thought his side should have come away with all three points.

Steve Claridge told Manish Bhasin in the studio how the red card altered the game completely. “They [Reading] needed something like that to happen in this game and when it did, it changed the whole complexion because it was almost like a free-for-all but for both sides cos there were plenty of chances after that.” The draw kept both teams just outside the Play Offs but still in with a big shout come the final reckonings.


5

Push for the Play Offs

FL72 Preview, Sky Sports 1 (24th April 2014)

FL2 Titles FL2 Studio

Sky Sports looked ahead to the penultimate weekend of action across the Sky Bet Football League with magazine show FL72 Preview on Thursday 24th April, presented from the cafe in Sky Studios by main Live presenter Simon Thomas alongside Charlton midfielder Andy Hughes. The Sky Sports cameras were travelling down to The Amex to broadcast the following evening’s match between Albion and Yeovil Live. Ahead of that, reporter David Craig caught up with Oscar Garcia as his side sat seventh in the table and a point behind Reading in the final Play Off spot. They’d have to overtake the Royals across the final two matches to make the end of season showdown for a second successive season.

Brighton came unstuck in March, suffering three successive defeats to Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough. But since then they picked up form and started winning again to put them within touching distance of the Play Offs. Whilst it was still just out of their hands at this late stage, they’d be buoyed by excellent wins over Charlton and a four-win demolition of Champions Leicester on their own patch. Two more wins and they might be having to push back those summer holidays.

FL2 Garcia

Garcia set his mind firmly on securing a Play Off spot, he knew how much promotion would mean to the Albion. “You are playing and you are fighting for something special because this club hasn’t been in the Premier League and it will be a big achievement for us.” He wasn’t concerning himself about other teams and results, he knew he needed to do his job first and foremost and that was to win the remaining matches. Touching on the match against Yeovil in which the Glovers could be relegated, Garcia knew there were no easy games in the Division. “With the teams at the bottom, it’s hard to play well, to play comfortably. We always want to win; we are always positive with our substitutions.”

The Spaniard emphasised the dependency, if somewhat over-reliance, on Argentine front man Leonardo Ulloa. “When he scores, normally we win the game. Then it’s so important when he is fit and he can score goals.” The goalscoring struggles would be eased somewhat with the return to first team action of Craig Mackail-Smith now. “We wanted to have him back before, but it wasn’t possible.”

The old adage of experience being pivotal in high pressure games was not something Garcia wanted to focus on, with Albion only appearing in the Play Offs at this level once in the previous twenty years. Instead, he hoped the Seagulls desire would make the difference. Personally speaking, Garcia featured in a lot of big games as a player and could bring other experiences to the situation. “What I learned from my best coaches is this; that you have to be calm because you reached this stage because you were calm and you know how to play.”

FL2 Blackpool FL2 Ulloa

In the cafe, Simon Thomas and Andy Hughes discussed Garcia as well as Brighton’s form of late. The one-all draw with Blackpool on Easter Monday was a disappointing result given the two teams were at opposite ends of the table but it’s about picking up these points and not losing too much ground. Dale Stephens scored Brighton’s goal with a terrific strike from twenty-five yards out into the top corner of the net. An equally terrific equaliser was hit from outside the box former Seagull Stephen Dobbie.

They finished by turning their attention to two key men in the hunt for goals; Craig Mackail-Smith and Leonardo Ulloa. Hughes gave particular praise to the latter, putting him in the same bracket as the Championships leading marksmen Jamie Vardy, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes. Hughes pointed out that whilst the other names had been doing so in partnerships for promoted clubs, Ulloa tended to have to work on his own. “He’s pivotal, they play the ball into him, he holds the ball up, he gave the run-around to us the other week… He was the most impressive player on the pitch, for me.”


The season ended with two victories out of two as Brighton leapfrogged Reading into the final Play Off place. The last-gasp victory at Nottingham Forest, with Leonardo Ulloa’s headed goal in the final moments, provided Albion fans with one of their greatest away days in a decade. The journey of getting into the top six was, sadly, far greater than being in those Play Offs. An aggregate defeat to Derby by six goals to two showed the gulf in class, and the following day Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation as he felt he couldn’t do much more with what was available. But the job he did in somewhat difficult circumstances – taking over from a terrific job done by the previous manager, fans expectations on the up, yet key players sold off in January – Garcia’s reign has to be remembered as being a success. He was responsible for some great days which I’ll always look back fondly at. Brighton needed to rebuild over the following season if they were to mount a serious bid for top flight promotion.

This is the second part looking back at Season 2013/2014. The first part is available HERE.

 

#43: Brighton 2-0 Newcastle 05/01/2013

#43 BRIGHTON 2-0 NEWCASTLE FA Cup Round Three
Saturday 5th January 2013 ITV1 logo 2010

ITV Titles

PRESENTER Matt Smith GUESTS Gordon Smith & Gordon Strachan
COMMENTATORS Peter Drury & Jim Beglin REPORTER Ned Boulting
12.30pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     12-3pm FA Cup Live on ITV1

ITV Ident ITV Sponsor ITV Intro

Context of the Match: After reaching Round Five of the FA Cup in each of the past two seasons, Brighton went into the competition this year hoping to build on that. FA Cup days have brought some of the best memories for Albion fans, stemming from our first televised match – the 1983 Final against Manchester United. Trips to Premier League Aston Villa, Stoke and Liverpool more recently might not have brought about success, but it did give the Albion license to ply their trade against the country’s elite teams in what we hoped to be practise for joining them in the not too distant future. In the Fourth Round a year ago, Brighton defeated Newcastle United by a goal to nil. In the Third Round this campaign, the same opponents were returning to The Amex looking to avoid another upset. You’d have to go all the way back to 1930 for the last time the Toon beat Brighton in the Cup. Since then, four meetings have resulted in three Albion victories and a draw. When the two teams faced off last season, Newcastle were going well in the Premier League and challenging for a European spot. Fast forward twelve months and they were struggling in fifteenth and leaking goals. They hadn’t won an away game in any competition at all this season. Brighton had enjoyed another decent first half of the season in the Championship, sat in the top half ahead of this match. Both clubs were knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the first attempt earlier in the season; Brighton losing heavily at Swindon in Round One whilst Newcastle were knocked out by Manchester United in Round Three. They had made it out of the group stages of the Europa League though, with a trip to Kiev to come the following month. ITV chose today’s fixture for broadcast; our first Live game on terrestrial television since the League defeat at Bournemouth in 1995, and our first national terrestrial outing since the 1984 FA Cup win over Liverpool. The country awaited this early Saturday afternoon clash. Owing to the form of the two clubs, some bookmakers even made the Albion favourites.

ITV Line Ups ITV Newcastle ITV Brighton

The Teams: Compare and contrast from the two starting line-ups this year with last season’s fixture and you’ll find only five Albion players and four Newcastle men started both. At the back skipper Gordon Greer and Adam El-Abd survived, as did the key to the midfield Liam Bridcutt. Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith going forward were the other two to feature in both. Brighton’s tradition of using a Cup specific goalkeeper continued, with Casper Ankergren relegated to this role since Tomasz Kuszczak arrived. Ankergren was in the Leeds side that famously won at Old Trafford in this competition three seasons ago, beating Manchester United side that included Kuszczak. Man of the Match last January Will Buckley was not fit enough today. New arrivals this campaign were Wayne Bridge at left back, David Lopez filled in at right back for the injured Bruno when he was more used to starting in midfield, and further forward was fellow Spaniard Andrea Orlandi. Dean Hammond started centrally; he previously worked under Alan Pardew for his parent club Southampton. On the bench, Kazenga LuaLua joined the Seagulls from Newcastle. The Magpies that featured both today and in the previous encounter were restricted to James Perch and Davide Santon at the back, captain Shola Ameobi up top, and Mike Williamson whose deflection separated the sides. Newcastle wasted no time in engaging in some early transfer business during the January window, as star striker Demba Ba was sold yesterday to Chelsea and defender Mathieu Debuchy coming in from Lille. Sammy Ameobi linked up with his brother to become the first Newcastle Cup brothers to start for sixty years. The referee, as he was for the meeting last year, was Lee Probert.

ITV Matt Smith ITV Strachan ITV Gordon Smith ITV Studio

Presentation Team: Matt Smith was in the hotseat for today’s Live broadcast at The Amex. He joined ITV in 2001 to launch the new ITV Sport Channel, hosting the majority of their Live Football League games. The channel unfortunately ceased broadcasting at the end of that season, with Smith hosting the final programme – the Division Two Play Off Final between Stoke and Brentford. That summer he chaired the daily World Cup highlights for ITV before taking over The Premiership on Monday the following season for the final two years of ITV’s top flight round-up shows. He has hosted hundreds of Live games since, from World Cups and European Championships with the channel and has been the regular FA Cup highlights presenter since rights transferred in 2008. He also had the opportunity to front the FA Cup and Champions League Finals Live for ITV in 2010 when they were in-between changing their number one presenter from Steve Rider to Adrian Chiles and it all got a little bit complicated. Matt Smith is the consummate professional and an excellent broadcaster. His regular pundit this season has been Gordon Strachan, usually the highlights programme pairing. Strachan has never been short of work since retiring from playing in 1997, following spells at Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds amongst others. Since taking charge of Coventry in 1996 he’s also successfully managed Southampton, where he got them into Europe, and won the lot domestically at Celtic. When not managing, he’s called upon to analyse for television as a pundit. He was the resident guest on Match of the Day 2 when that begun with Adrian Chiles in 2004, and since leaving Glasgow has taken up a regular spell on ITV’s Cup and Champions League coverage as well as going to Euro 2012 with them. Joining Smith and Strachan in Brighton was our former striker Gordon Smith. Even if you knew next to nothing about the history of the Albion, Smith’s name would be immortalised because of that Cup Final in 1983. “And Smith must score” were the words uttered by BBC Radio commentator Peter Jones, one of the most incredibly respected voices of football, when Smith had a golden chance to win the Cup for Brighton in the last-minute of Extra Time with the scores at two-two. Gary Bailey saved and Manchester United won the Replay, that much everybody knows. Gordon Smith’s autobiography was titled “And Smith did score” in retaliation at the famous commentary, referencing the oft-overlooked goal he did get during the ninety minutes of that original match. He spent three years on the South Coast in the 80s playing over one hundred games, having moved down from Rangers for a record transfer fee of £440,000. After retirement he spent time as an agent before heading up the Scottish Football Association as Chief Executive for three years. He was also no stranger to the studio, having appeared frequently on BBC Scotland before.

ITV Comms ITV Coming Up

In the commentary box were Peter Drury and Jim Beglin. This was a familiar partnership on ITV, covering numerous World Cup and European Championships together over the past decade as second choice behind Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. Drury joined from BBC Radio 5 Live for the 1998 World Cup where he immediately made a mark with his poetic style and excellent use of language. He remained as ITV’s second choice since that summer, calling Europa League Finals Live as well as League Cup and Play Off Final highlights. When England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, Drury was given the chance to call the Final of that tournament when ITV opted not to show the culmination Live. Jim Beglin’s playing career was cut short at the age of 27 due to an horrific leg injury and subsequent sustained knee damages. He was most remembered for his time as Liverpool but also featured for Leeds and the Republic of Ireland. Since then he forged an excellent career in the media, both with RTE and ITV. He began covering Manchester United and Liverpool matches regionally for Granada as pundit, co-commentator and even occasionally voicing round-ups. His wider break came during the ITV Sport Channel season when he was featured heavily on the Football League coverage nationally and remained a big part of ITV’s European and domestic coverage since. Reporting on the touchline was Ned Boulting. He was another ITV Sport Channel graduate, joining that from Sky’s Soccer Saturday. During the 2001/2002 season he hosted lower League highlight programmes Football 2nd and Football 3rd as well as reporting on the touchline during Live games. He was kept on at ITV after that, going to the major tournaments as a reporter, following the Republic of Ireland during Euro 2012 as well as occasionally fronting highlights programming. Away from football he’s the reporter on all ITV’s darts events and has been there every step of the way for ITV4 on Le Tour de France each summer.

ITV 1983 ITV Pier ITV Poyet ITV Magnifier

The Coverage: ITV regained Live terrestrial rights to the FA Cup in 2008 after seven seasons away. They get the first pick of every round, with ESPN their current satellite partners. Between them they broadcast up to 40 FA Cup matches each year. At the beginning of this season ITV launched new graphics and title sequence for their coverage. The specially composed music was by Jim Copperthwaite, a composer who had worked on several television and advertising soundtracks, and was simply known as ‘FA Cup’. The cinematic titles include various famous Cup moments from the ITV archives, including the great Brian Moore welcoming us to the coverage. The clips all form part of the trophy that slowly came together during the sequence. The graphics were silver and black predominantly, with a smooth sliding animation to enter and exit. Replays were transitioned by several blocks forming the trophy sliding across the screen. Today was the first of two Live Third Round matches on ITV that day, with West Ham versus Manchester United playing at 5.15pm with Adrian Chiles. Both matches were presented on site so separate teams were required. In the North Stand glass box was our host Matt Smith, next to pundits Gordon Strachan and Gordon Smith. They made good use of the studio, decorating it out with their Cup backgrounds used in their regular base on the South Bank. By contrast it looked cramped and small when Sky had been in there in the past couple of Live games. Build-up began thirty minutes before the 12.30pm kick-off, starting with an intro recalling some of the classic Third Round underdog stories of yesteryear. The nostalgia continued, quite rightly with Gordon Smith present, with a quick look at the 1983 FA Cup Final; showing both his goal and his, erm, other chance. Thirty years on, it’s still something that Smith has to live with. “I made a mistake, I take full responsibility for it, I should’ve scored. I actually should’ve lifted the ball a little bit, if I’d lifted the ball, he’d already committed himself.” He also credited the Brighton supporters who had been “fantastic” to him over the years since. Fast-forward to the present and the team line-ups were laid out in formation for the studio team to talk through. The spotlight was turned on Gus Poyet with Ned Boulting’s pre-recorded feature taking the Uruguayan back through his career in England, gaining the ‘radio’ nickname for his non-stop chatter and how he took notes on his former manager Gianluca Vialli. It was clear several in that Chelsea dressing room would go onto manage, and Poyet discussed his successful time at the Albion so far before finishing on his FA Cup exploits, winning the competition in 2000. Reporter Boulting spoke with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew on the day before the teams emerged from the tunnel and Matt Smith threw to the break. Only a brief run through the line ups occurred immediately before kick-off from commentator Peter Drury before the match got underway.

ITV Sub ITV MOTM

Going in and out of the advert breaks this season, ITV used a couple of great instrumentals as backing tracks; including The Heavy’s “What makes a good man” and Katy Perry’s “Hot ‘n’ Cold”. At half time we had around five minutes or so to review the first period. Gordon Smith surmised that Brighton deserved the lead, having created the better chance. Newcastle didn’t have enough going forward to assist Shola Ameobi up front. Gordon Strachan’s analysis of the goal praised the attacking side for the nice move and “back-hand volley” style finish but criticised the lack of urgency or press from Newcastle; namely Williamson at the back and Obertan’s failure to track back Bridge. Co-commentator Jim Beglin named his Man of the Match as Albion’s Liam Bridcutt for his tenacious tackling and efficiency on the ball. After the break, reporter Ned Boulting spoke to the two goalscorers; Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins. Then around twenty minutes were afforded to the studio team to wrap things up. When analysing the second goal, credit was given to Hoskins for the timing of his run. There was concern about the performance from the away side, not just the result but how it came about and how little they threatened Brighton. They both thought the red card for Shola Ameobi wasn’t deserved, both challenges for the yellow cards had minimal contact. Gordon Smith believed they actually played better with ten men. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew agreed with the pundits regarding the sending off during his post match chat, saying he was disappointed with David Lopez’s reaction. Gus Poyet told Ned Boulting “Technically they are ten times better than you, and today maybe it was a bit more equal in general play. Which that gave us maybe a little advantage.” The last five minutes of the programme was devoted to the rest of the Third Round, including ITV’s second Live match of the day coming up from 4.30pm; West Ham v Manchester United. Reporter Gabriel Clarke was at Upton Park to provide a preview and chat with Hammers boss Sam Allardyce. Matt Smith and Gordon Strachan would be back at 11pm, joined by Andy Townsend, for the day’s highlights so bid farewell, for now, just before the 3pm matches kicked off.

ITV Orlandi ITV Red Card ITV Hoskins ITV Block 

Story of the Match: The home side began the brightest, enjoying possession and bringing the game to their Premier League opponents. A David Lopez cross found its way through to the far side of the six yard box to be met by the head of Gary Dicker. James Perch had to get back to clear just in front of the goalline. As was often the case, Brighton saw a lot of the ball without really creating many clear-cut chances. It took until the twentieth minute for Newcastle to have a shot on target, comfortably parried away by Ankergren. The deadlock finally broke in the 33rd minute through Andrea Orlandi. A long cross-field ball from Greer at the back went searching for Wayne Bridge charging down the left-wing. He somehow managed to keep the ball in and deliver a ball in the box to Orlandi. His first touch sent the ball up in the air and with his second he flicked it into the back of the net with a smart finish on the volley. Williamson in the defence stood off Orlandi to allow him to recover from a slightly loose initial touch to give Albion a deserved lead. At the start of the second half, commentator Peter Drury pointed out that Newcastle in the League had not won a single game having fallen behind whilst Brighton hadn’t lost after taking the lead. Shola Ameobi picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Dicker just minutes into the half. After an hour, Kazenga LuaLua came on to replace goalscorer Orlandi, giving the former Newcastle winger a chance to get one over his old team. He had said apparently if he were to score he would not do his trademark backflip celebration. It went from bad to worse for the away side when their captain was sent off for a second yellow card. Both bookings were for minor, late fouls and the combination was a little harsh to result in red. For the second, he clipped Lopez just after the ball had gone. LuaLua’s introduction gave Brighton an extra dimension going forward, he took on players and got behind the defence to provide crossing opportunities. Additionally his pace and trickery put opponents on the back foot straight away. Poyet changed it up again with twenty left on the clock, as Will Hoskins replaced a relatively quiet Craig Mackail-Smith in a straight change up front. Despite being a man down and a goal down, Newcastle still posed a threat. A header on from Williamson following a long punt forward caused an aerial battle. The resulting ball dropped to Marveaux to shoot, Liam Bridcutt threw his body on the line to block for a corner. They didn’t show much in the second half but the top teams usually have that one moment of quality which separates them from the lower Divisions. The longer the game went on, the longer the ball was kicked forward in persuit of the equaliser. Casper Ankergren didn’t have many touches but had to be alert when a Sammy Ameobi cross was deflected towards his own goal by Greer, the Dane managed to claw it away. Back at the other end LuaLua continued to impress, going close with a long-range strike into the side-netting. The game was put beyond any doubt with three minutes left of the ninety when Ashley Barnes and David Lopez linked up well on the right touchline. Lopez found space to provide a killer pass through for Will Hoskins who shook off his marker. One-on-one with the goalkeeper Hoskins did not disappoint to slot the ball through the legs and double the lead. “Done and dusted! Barely past lunchtime on Third Round Saturday and we have the first Third Round upset”, cried commentator Peter Drury. The run was timed well, the ball played to perfection and that wrapped it all up. The final action of the match summed up the Albion’s commitment to the cause, when three bodies were all in the way trying to charge down a late Newcastle shot in the box. That was blocked, they were blocked and the Seagulls marched on to Round Four once more. The reward in the draw was a home tie against Premier League Arsenal. Bring it on!

ITV Full Time

BRIGHTON 2 NEWCASTLE 0
Orlandi, Hoskins

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NEXT; #44 BRIGHTON 1-0 HULL 09/02/2013

Brighton Season Review 2013/2014

“The club will always have a place in my heart and I hope very soon they will be competing at the top level in English football.” [Oscar Garcia, former Brighton manager, 2014]

I am both surprised and saddened to be writing an end of season report which, just one week ago, was looking oh, so different. Oh, so positive. Not so much now. Today is three days after the Play Off semi final 2nd leg defeat to Derby. They were the better team by far. We looked fragile. Out of sorts. Out of luck. In the 72 hours that have passed the club has gone into meltdown. Again.

Garcia goes

Oscar Garcia during happier times

For the second season running we are now without a manager and about to lose some of our best players. Oscar Garcia handed in his resignation on Sunday night. By Monday afternoon the club confirmed it had been accepted. As his letter to the fans shows, he’s not got a new job lined up and he certainly has not been asked to leave. So the big question is why has he decided to go; a decision, apparently, which has been thought over for the past few months? This is the man who joined only last summer after Gus Poyet left the club in such clouded circumstances, again so soon after losing in the Play Offs.

It doesn’t make sense and points to bigger problems behind the scenes. I thought the days of managers leaving due to budget constraints and lack of ambition were left behind at Withdean along with temporary seating, waterlogged pitches and terrible chips. Selling excellent players in January in Bridcutt, Barnes and El Abd and not replacing them was a major blow, two of whom will be in the Premier League next season. We won’t. But that’s not so bad. I was never expecting to be there. The Play Off defeat this season was so much different to last year’s. This was a magnificent bonus that was secured in the most dramatic, last-gasp fashion at Nottingham Forest by Leo Ulloa. What a great day that was for me; dressed in full Harchester United kit, it really was like something out of Dream Team. Since then only nightmares.

Dream Team

Harchester kit amongst Brighton and Berlin

The most disappointing thing now is that it looks like we’re having to start again despite picking up the pieces so well from the mess of last summer. Back to square one. No manager to make the decisions on signings; who to keep, who to bring in, who to get rid of? This morning the retained list was announced. Star goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak and flair midfielder Andrea Orlandi are the big names out of contract and, amazingly, won’t be offered a new one. What madness. The goalkeeper is the second most important part of a Championship team after a goalscorer. Kuszczak is amongst the best in the league. He’s now going somewhere else for free.

It’s a real shame to be starting this in such a negative tone because again it’s been an incredible season with so many highs. It took a while to get going at the Amex but once we did it was well worth another season in the back row of the North Stand. Key wins over champions Leicester, promoted Burnley and Play Off finalists QPR showed we could beat the best on our day. Yet that was countered with a frustrating draw with Blackpool, which nearly ended the dream of promotion, an against-all-logic defeat to Wigan and back to back catastrophes against Ipswich and Middlesbrough. At times the home form seemed to be costing us but we’d soon go and pick up a vital win. Consistently inconsistent on the South Coast.

The North Stand

The North Stand at the Amex

Away from Sussex there were some wonderful days out as ever. If Forest on the final day was the cherry on top of the clichéd cake, then count the Christmas jumper-infested surprise win at Middlesbrough as the icing, Port Vale in the cup as the necessary but nostalgically brilliant jam and overnight party trip to Bournemouth as the sponge all good cakes need. I think you can tell that I’m no Gordon Ramsay so I’ll leave the food analogy there. Special mentions also to great days at Wigan and new forays for me into Reading, Blackburn and Yeovil. All genuinely enjoyable in their own ways and reminders as to why football is the greatest game in the world.

Middlesbrough away

Christmas jumpers all round at Middlesbrough

On the pitch exceptional seasons from player of the year Matthew Upson (another one worryingly out of contract), Andrew Crofts (his season cruelly cut short half way through by injury) and top-scorer Leo Ulloa who had the unenviable task of having to win flick-ons and then chase it down all on his own. He seems to have mastered the trick of both creating the assist for, and scoring, his own, unstoppable goals. Fingers crossed the sniffing dogs of Leicester and their millions of pounds will be kept at bay over the summer as we cannot afford to lose him. Rohan Ince, or Ronan Since as my autocorrect keeps trying to put, has been a revelation in the midfield and is going a long way to replacing Bridcutt. Solly March is featuring and impressing more and more. Stephen Ward has replaced Wayne Bridge in the role of ‘excellent on-loan left back who for some strange reason won’t be around next season’ brilliantly. And finally, after more than a year out, Craig Mackail Smith has returned and will hopefully lead the line when we go again in August.

We were defensively amongst the best in the league but going forward left a lot to be desired and ultimately too many draws cost us cementing a higher finish. Still though, 6th place is excellent. It’s better than I could have hoped for. A remarkable achievement to have steadied the ship and guided it round that iceberg when many thought we were heading straight for it. It seems there may be a different obstacle this summer with no manager to guide us just yet. If bookmakers are to believed, and of course they aren’t, then gilet-wearing, borderline maniac Tim Sherwood will be in charge or, failing that, former never-say-die defender and friend of idiot owner Vincent Tan, Malky Mackay. Either appointment would be a clear step in the right direction. As would anyone on the supposed short list apart from Alan Curbishley. Or Alan Pardew. Or any Alan. It’s just a name synonymous with poor management.

Sherwood's famous gilet

Is Tim Sherwood next in the Amex dugout?

So the World Cup is around the corner. The fixtures for next season are out in five weeks and I start a new job at Sky in four. I’ve renewed my season ticket and only a dozen grounds away from ticking off all 92 league clubs. Exciting trips to Norwich, Brentford and Wolves await the Albion and for me some extra journeys across to Swansea, Everton and further north with a bit of luck. Seasons come and go and tend to be remembered for how they end. The season just gone is defined by further play off heartbreak and managerial uncertainty but throughout the campaign there were more than enough reasons to do it all again next season. So I’ll see you back here for pre-season in less than two months. You just know it’ll be here before we have time to draw breath.

Fan made YouTube Season Review video by jmac8