Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 1

Small Screen Seagulls LogoOscar Garcia was the surprising candidate who emerged to become the new Brighton and Hove Albion head coach following the dismissal of Gus Poyet after almost four years at the helm. Poyet’s tenure ended with defeat in the Play Offs, whilst Garcia’s task was to steady the ship and aim again for a top six berth. Using largely the same squad as the season before, the Seagulls had to regroup quickly. The style of play, emphasising quick passing and an attractive watch, remained in place during this transition. With The Amex regularly topping the attendance charts in the Championship, Brighton had a solid foundation on which to build from if League form could be a bit more consistent.

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 and Sky Sports. This is part one, the second part is HERE.


Craig Mackail-Smith’s suit fitting featured on ’92 Live’

92 Live, Sky Sports News (1st August 2013)

92LIVE Titles 92LIVE Jim White

To celebrate the upcoming start of the new season, and in a television first, Sky Sports News embarked on an ambitious task of reporting Live from each and every one of the ninety-two League clubs in English football on Thursday 1st August 2013. Kicking off at seven in the morning and running throughout the day, a team of nineteen roving reporters were deployed across the country to deliver reports, interviews and updates from each team to give a glimpse into the preparations ahead of a new campaign. And it was in no way a gimmick to scupper the launch day of new rival broadcaster BT Sport, who came on air at 6pm on the same day.

More than one-hundred-and-twenty people Sky employees were utilised, from presenters, reporters, producers and outside broadcast engineers, to bring the magic of Live television to our screens. Leading the charge was host Jim White. Having presented sport for STV in the 1980s and 90s, he moved to Sky in 1998 to launch their exclusive Live coverage of the newly rebranded Scottish Premier League, as well as Scottish internationals and Cup football. When SPL rights were lost, White became a key part of the Sky Sports News presenting line-up and went on to make their coverage of Transfer Deadline Day his own during the latter part of the Noughties.

92LIVE Presenters 92LIVE Split Screen

Jim White was provided with his own helicopter for the day to allow him to fly between certain venues. He began the 92 Live coverage at 7am from the roof of Sky Studios, setting the scene for what was to come throughout the day and making a big deal of the chopper sat just behind Sky’s Osterley headquarters. He explained it would be making its way to Arsenal to see the groundsman, then on to Premier League newcomers Cardiff as well as opening Swansea’s new supporters club before concluding at the home of the Champions, Manchester United.

In the studio, presenters Mike Wedderburn and Hayley McQueen chaired the first few hours of the day. They introduced the usual news updates and reports as well as linked to various locations around the country for the Live features. Wedderburn joined Sky in 1998 for the launch of the new round-the-clock News channel and was most often found hosting the breakfast show Good Morning Sports Fans from six until ten. A former fast bowler for Hampshire, Wedderburn also presented cricket highlights and occasional matches for Sky including the World Cup.

Hayley McQueen joined Sky Sports News for a year in 2005 from Middlesbrough’s in-house online channel Boro TV. Next, Manchester United’s MUTV channel came calling where she hosted match day coverage, news bulletins and a phone-in show. Daughter of former United defender Gordon McQueen, Hayley returned to Sky Sports News in August 2010 when the channel relaunched to begin broadcasting in High Definition and is one of its most popular anchors.

92LIVE Jamie Weir 92LIVE Mackail-Smith

Albion fans didn’t have to wait too long for our moment in the spotlight during 92 Live. Just before twenty past eight in the morning, Sky Sports News crossed Live to reporter Jamie Weir at The Amex as they made their tenth visit to a club. Northern Irishman Weir was a reporter previously on Setanta Sports News, the rival broadcaster to Sky for the near eighteen months that channel was on air for between 2007 and 2009. He then switched to Sky Sports News to become a reporter as well as occasional stints presenting and reporting on sport for Sky News.

Weir was joined by Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith for the segment. Mackail-Smith was interviewed whilst getting his new club suit fitted for the upcoming season, with views of The Amex stadium in the sunshine visible through the windows. He had been out injured for almost five months, with rehab ongoing, and sported a new look with short hair. He explained, “I cut them off for charity. Once I got injured I needed a change, a fresh start, so they went but I’m slightly missing them now!”

92LIVE Suit Fitting 92LIVE Suit switch

Mackail-Smith spoke positively about the season ahead despite having to change coach. “We’ve still got a good squad, the new manager’s come in and he’s implemented his own way so we’re looking forward to pushing on and hopefully going one better.” Reporter Jamie Weir also had a brief word with the tailors fitting the suit to talk through the process. Weir tried a jacket on himself before the price tag was revealed at a steep £249. Bargain. With that, it was back to the studio to continue the tour around the country.


2

Brighton 1-1 Millwall goals

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

MIL Intro MIL Comm

The BBC’s Football League Show returned for its fifth season on BBC One, the second year of a new broadcasting deal. On 31st August edition, a very brief goals edit on the Brighton versus Millwall match featured commentary from Nigel Adderley, more familiar to BBC radio listeners but also deployed across the Football League output. His surname was incorrectly captioned as Adderly by the graphics department.

Millwall were in their fourth successive season at this level but had declined in the standings each time. They were tipped for more misery this year under the guidance of new manager Steve Lomas. The Albion hadn’t enjoyed huge amounts of joy thus far in the Championship, losing the opening two games of Garcia’s spell. They were back on track with wins at Birmingham thanks to Andrew Crofts second half winner. This was followed up by a terrific home display to beat Burnley by two goals to nil, Crofts again on the scoresheet and a third of the campaign from Leonardo Ulloa securing the points last time out.

MIL First goal MIL Red card

In fact, this goals edit was so brief it only lasted two minutes and was just as comprehensive as a regular voiceover report. Nevertheless, they persisted with the commentary and the clip began with action from six minutes into the second half. Millwall played the ball around from the halfway line nicely in what commentator Adderley described as “a rare break forward” by the Lions. Scott McDonald laid the ball off to Richard Chaplow on the edge of the box. He played in Martyn Woolford, who was free on the left of the area, to calmly slot the ball into the far corner of Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal to give the visitors the lead.

Millwall’s Irish right-back Alan Dunne was shown receiving a caution for perceived timewasting whilst taking a throw-in. Anybody who’s ever watched football highlights shows before knows that can only mean one, ominous thing. Sure enough, a little later on he was shown picking up a second yellow card, and therefore a red, when he upended Andrea Orlandi just outside the penalty area. Referee Bobby Madley had no hesitation in brandishing the card and Millwall’s lead was made even more difficult to cling on to.

MIL Equaliser MIL Full Time

Just before the dismissal, we saw Leonardo Ulloa have a goal ruled out. He connected with his head to guide Orlandi’s whipped free kick into the back of the net, but the referee was again in the thick of things, ruling it out for a push by the Argentinian. The game ticked on and the Albion side were desperately searching for an equaliser. They were made to wait until a minute from time when Ulloa did now get his leveller.

Some quick footwork on the far side from Kazenga LuaLua drove the winger to the byline. He flashed a dangerous ball right across the face of goal where there were a total of eight players inside the six-yard box. Waiting just outside, unmarked at the opposite post, was Ulloa. The ball ran straight into his path to hit home at last. The Seagulls almost won it at the death when Will Buckley’s deflected touch was hooked off the line by Shane Lowry as it finished one-one. Commentator Adderley’s closing line summed up the home frustration; “Somehow, Millwall hold on!” Oscar Garcia was frustrated that his side only started to play in the second half and was seeking improvements as the season wore on.


3

Brighton in the Football League Trust Futsal Cup

Soccer AM, Sky Sports 1 (26th October 2013)

SAM Titles SAM Presenters

Sky Sports Saturday morning magazine show Soccer AM, presented by Max Rushden and Helen Chamberlain, brought the skills and technical abilities of the game of futsal onto our television screens during the 2013/14 season. The show joined forces with the Football League Trust to take us behind the scenes and showcase the best of the action from the new FLT Futsal Cup, sponsored by Soccer AM. The game of futsal is all about close ball skills and touches, quick thinking, creativity and tactical awareness. It’s a five-a-side game using hockey size goals and a smaller, heavier size four ball. Matches last two halves of twenty minutes.

In England, the first futsal League was formed back in 1990 based in Lancashire but didn’t really begin to take off until at least a decade later. League emerged in places such as Grimsby in 2002 and a London Cup the following year. Subsequent years saw international involvement, with the game being the only form of indoor football recognised by FIFA and UEFA. An England team began in 2003 and an FA National League set up in 2008.

SAM Futsal SAM Garcia

2013 saw the introduction of this FLT Futsal Cup, featuring over fifty Premier and Football League clubs lending their name behind a team for teenagers aged between sixteen and eighteen. On the 26th October edition of the programme, Soccer AM highlighted the efforts Brighton made for the competition, with the show having previously visited Leeds and Cardiff. Crew member James Kirtland voiced the Cup reports which included interviews with first team players and managers, as well as those more involved in the competition.

Albion head coach Oscar Garcia spoke of the importance of futsal, particularly where he’s from as it had a big influence on the Spanish style of play growing up. “Barcelona’s always training in small pitches, in small areas, because then you have to think quickly.” He was present at one the Brighton training sessions to pass on his own wisdom.

SAM Fisher SAM Calderon and Bruno

Brighton’s futsal coach was Owen Fisher, working as part of Albion in the Community. He also acted as one of the club’s goalkeeping coach at various levels. He mentioned the fact that Oscar Garcia visiting the futsal training was a fantastic opportunity for these youngsters to learn and grow their game. “Knowing someone who’s played this game, [they can] get some real good information from what he can teach them and where he’s got to through playing futsal.”

Albion first team regulars, and Garcia’s fellow Spaniards, Inigo Calderon and Bruno also dropped in on the session. They too grew up playing futsal back home. Calderon explained, “We played in school in the break between the classes. We had always to run to the pitch to get a pitch and play with friends.” Calderon went on to explain how the greatest players in the world, such as Lionel Messi and Neymar, began their careers playing futsal. Bruno was also a keen player in his youth. “I was playing two games a week. One game with my school; futsal. And with my club I was playing normal football.”

SAM Brighton team SAM Match Action

The Leyton Score Centre, near Orient’s Brisbane Road ground, played host to the latest round of fixtures in the South East Division of the Soccer AM Futsal Cup. Brief action was shown from those games in the round-up. Southend defeated Ipswich six-three and hosts Leyton Orient were downed three-one by Crystal Palace. The highlight though, of course, was Fisher’s Brighton side thrashing Chelsea by five goals to nil, including a couple of cracking long-range strikes to keep the Albion’s hopes of progressing to the knockouts alive.

Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the Seagulls, losing in the next stage last-32 of the competition finishing third in Group Five including to eventual overall Champions Grimsby Town. Still, not a bad first effort for the Sussex boys and the future looked in good shape.


4

Wigan 0-1 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (23rd November 2013); Championship

WIGA Titles WIGA Oatley

The Football League Show on BBC One brought together all the day’s action across the three Divisions on 23rd November, including highlights of Nottingham Forest versus Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday against Huddersfield. Plus, Brighton’s trip to FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium. Jacqui Oatley stood in for regular host Manish Bhasin in the studio whilst he was away. Joining her in this season’s new look studio was Steve Claridge. Gone was the brickwork effect, replaced by blue panels. The title music was still provided by Snow Patrol with their single In the End.

Both sides went into this match unbeaten in four, drawing two and winning two, after indifferent starts to the campaign. Having been relegated from the top flight in May, Wigan bounced back to winning ways in the Championship with an opening day thrashing of Barnsley. But just one win in the next five followed and the distraction of the UEFA Europa League group stage saw little reward on the pitch. Since losing to Blackpool in mid-October, the Latics began to slowly climb the table again, moving from thirteenth up to tenth at the start of today.

Albion too had spent much of the opening months occupying middling positions in the Division. A poor October performance saw no wins in five games but three goals in each of the last two victories – at Doncaster and at home to Blackburn – got Oscar Garcia’s men back in form. Commentary was provided by North West regional television stalwart Alistair Mann.

WIGA Teams

Owen Coyle and Oscar Garcia both named unchanged starting XI’s from last time out. For the home side, that meant places for summer free transfers Chris McCann from Burnley and Marc-Antoine Fortune from West Brom. Grant Holt joined to partner the latter up front for a fee of £1.5million from Norwich. Winger Callum McManaman grew up at Everton but later progressed through Wigan’s academy system before gaining a first team place under Roberto Martinez.

Albion’s side included loan signing Craig Conway, promoted from this Division last season with Cardiff. Andrew Crofts scored the equaliser in the televised match with Watford at the end of last month, adding much needed goals to his game. As had Jake Forster-Caskey, who netted in each of the last two wins. In Leonardo Ulloa’s absence through injury, Ashley Barnes scored two goals in the three-nil defeat of Blackburn a fortnight ago. Defender Matthew Upson made his Albion loan move permanent over the summer and was in fine form at the back. Iain Williamson refereed the contest.

WIGA Comm WIGA Half Time

A first half opportunity on goal fell the unlikely way of Spanish full back Bruno for the Seagulls wearing yellow. He was allowed to freely roam into the Wigan penalty box and hit a sweet strike from a bouncing ball after a knock down from home skipper Emmerson Boyce. At the other end, Cup Final winning goalscorer Ben Watson almost broke the deadlock when his determination saw him in a shooting position on the far corner of the penalty box. His early shot fizzed just wide of Tomasz Kuszczak’s post.

On loan Manchester United forward Nick Powell tested Albion’s Polish ‘keeper with an effort just inside the area. It was a half with little by way of quality and finesse and the sides went into the break goalless.

WIGA JFC Chance WIGA Crofts goal

Straight from kick off in the second period, Brighton had a wonderful chance to take the lead through an unmarked Jake Forster-Caskey at the back post. He got his header wrong from an Ashley Barnes cross, if only the move was the other way around, and it was an easy save for Nicholls in goal. Wigan were given a terrific opening when last man back Gordon Greer dithered on the ball. Grant Holt stole the ball from the Brighton captain and raced clear one-on-one with Kuszczak. Holt opened his body up to curl it into the corner but just got too much on it and it flew narrowly wide of the post. A real let off for the visitors. Commentator Alistair Mann joked, “You would have put your mortgage on Grant Holt. Well, I have to say, you’d be homeless.”

Wigan would rue that missed shot as Brighton immediately took the lead. With eighteen minutes remaining, Andrew Crofts netted with his head. Craig Conway found David Lopez on the right wing. He crossed to the centre where again Forster-Caskey was left on his own. At full speed to try to connect to the cross with his head, it ended up bouncing down hard and flicked up into the air by goalkeeper Lee Nicholls for a brilliant save. Crofts was there waiting for the ball to drop, along with three striped defenders surrounding him. The Seagulls midfielder got his head to the ball and it looped up over Nicholls and in.

WIGA Garcia WIGA Claridge

Craig Conway tried his luck from just inside the box to try and double the lead but again Nicholls stood firm. Whilst Grant Holt’s head forced Kuszczak into a fabulous low save to maintain Brighton’s clean sheet late on. It finished one-nil to the Albion, what a big three points on the road that was. Oscar Garcia spoke of ending Wigan’s unbeaten home record, “To come here and win at this big team with a strong squad, a good manager, it’s not easy because nobody did it before.”

Back in the studio, pundit Steve Claridge thought that the result was probably just about right, with the Seagulls edging the game. Of the goal, he bemoaned Wigan’s lack of reaction following the terrific save from Nicholls. “Crofts is the only one really who’s proactive in that situation. There’s three defenders around him. It’s almost as if they think, because the save’s been made, the danger clear.” Crofts was a former teammate of Claridge at Gillingham however he was ruled out for the rest of the season after Christmas through injury. The team’s form continued to pick up for Brighton in the coming weeks, including an outstanding victory over the League leaders Leicester in December, when The Football League Show was hosted from The Amex.


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

 

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 1

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sThe media spotlight didn’t often shine on the Albion. Outside of the glorious run to the FA Cup Final, and Replay, in 1983, appearances on the television were rare. Goal clips were shown on the news and, if you were lucky, the Brighton game might have been selected for extended highlights on Match of the Day or The Big Match. Live games were even rarer, with the Seagulls on screen just three times in the 1980s and four in the 1990s. The satellite television boom didn’t really reach the South Coast until the 21st Century. The story of the club’s homelessness, two-year exile to Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium and twelve year stay at Withdean did garner some attention. Television helped play its part in this. This piece remembers some of the milestone matches Brighton played at their temporary abode. Our story begins on a sunny Saturday afternoon back in August 1999.

SUN Commentary Box

OPENING IN STYLE (7th August 1999) Division Three

Soccer Extra, Sky Sports 2; Brighton 6-0 Mansfield 

Mansfield Titles Mansfield Lorenzo

The long-awaited first League match back in Sussex could not have gone any better for Brighton and Hove Albion and their supporters. The two years sharing with Gillingham saw a continuation of the poor performances on the pitch, finishing 23rd and 17th at the foot of the English League structure. There was hope upon moving to Withdean that this would galvanise the fans and the team and finally start to turn the fortunes around. This six-nil thumping of Mansfield poured fuel to those fires. In the 1999/2000 season, lower League highlights were shown in the middle of Monday night on ITV’s Nationwide Football League Extra, regionally on the local ITV station on Sunday afternoons and on the Saturday evening news bulletins depending on how quick they could turn it around. Sky Sports held the exclusive Live rights, and with that they could show goals from all the other matches too. This took the shape of a weekly Football League Review studio show and Sunday morning goals round-up Soccer Extra, essentially the forerunner to what became the Chris Kamara-fronted Goals on Sunday. In this clip we have the goals from Soccer Extra presented by former ITV World Cup anchorman Matt Lorenzo, back on Sky fronting all sorts of magazine shows and the odd Live match, having rejoined in 1997. Nick London voiced the goals report.

Mansfield Intro Mansfield Lynam Mansfield Freeman first Mansfield Thomas

New ITV signing Des Lynam was in attendance (above, top right). His transfer away from Match of the Day meant he could now attend more Albion games with his Saturday afternoons freed up. The visiting team got off to a dreadful start when David Kerr was sent off after eleven minutes for use of the elbow in a challenge with Jamie Campbell. The rest of the day’s headlines were stolen by new boy Darren Freeman, who would forever be remembered for this debut hat-trick. His first came two minutes after the red, when the ball dropped nicely for him on the edge of the six-yard box following a free kick. He lashed it into the roof of the net from close range (above, bottom left). His second goal six minutes later came after a defensive mix up enabled him to nick the ball and get behind them. He rounded the goalkeeper for a cool finish. Into the second half, Rod Thomas made it three with a superb strike just inside the area (above, bottom right). The winger was signed ten months earlier from Chester after fans contributed money towards a ‘Buy a Player’ fundraiser.

Mansfield Freeman hat trick Mansfield Six

Freeman got his hat-trick after a neat through ball left him one-on-one with goalie Richardson. As he came rushing out, Freeman kept his nerve to slide it past him and hurdle the challenge. The covering defenders could only run back and watch as the ball rolled into the far corner for four-nil (above, left). The scoring didn’t end when Freeman was replaced, as substitute Aidan Newhouse bagged a brace in the final quarter of an hour. Newhouse joined from Swansea in the week of the game on a monthly rolling contract and wasted no time in opening his account. David Cameron battled on the far touchline to win the ball back and burst into the box. His cut back was hit first time into the roof of the goal for five. And the rout was complete when the same pair combined for Newhouse’s header to loop up over the goalkeeper and in. Six-nil! What an incredible result for Micky Adams and his men. They went on to finish eleventh in Division Three that season, the highest since relegation to this level in 1996. It was dubbed ‘the season that ended too soon’ though, as a push for the Play Offs was left just too late. As the profile grew, fans of many other clubs soon got to see for themselves the charms that Withdean had to offer during a march up the Divisions.


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SECURING THE LEAGUE TITLE (1st May 2001) Division Three

Football League Review, Sky Sports 1; Brighton 1-0 Chesterfield

Chesterfield Intro Chesterfield aston

In Brighton’s second Withdean season, the club kicked on from the good end to the last campaign to surpass even the most optimistic of supporter’s expectations. After an indifferent opening month, a six-two victory over Torquay was the catalyst for a ten match unbeaten run. In fact, the only defeat in nineteen matches came at the hands of Chesterfield when a last minute goal sunk ten-man Albion. Form in the New Year continued well, with just one defeat in each of February and March, and the club found themselves in with a shout of one of three automatic promotion places available at the top of Division Three. Chesterfield and Cardiff were also going very well. Promotion was secured on Easter Saturday with a two-nil victory at Plymouth, now the Seagulls set their sights on the title. Brighton and Chesterfield had battled it out all season at the summit, forming a rivalry this campaign. However the Spireites were docked nine points and fined £20,000 for breaching financial regulations over the transfer of striker Luke Beckett from Chester. The deduction was applied in late April, taking them off the top of the table to be replaced by Brighton. On the Tuesday before the final weekend of fixtures, the top two met at Withdean in a match which would decide, once and for all, the destiny of this year’s Division Three championship. The Albion also wanted to prove a principle that they didn’t require the points removal in order to win the trophy, they wanted that gap to be more than nine points. Going into this clash, the final match of the year at Withdean, Brighton sat top on 88 points with three games left whilst Chesterfield were second on 86 and two to play, but that would go down to 77 points when the penalty’s taken into consideration.

Chesterfield Goal Chesterfield Scoreline Chesterfield trophy Chesterfield celebrations

Rights holder Sky Sports rounded up all the final midweek action with their Thursday night magazine programme Football League Review, which was voiced out-of-vision by number one Live match host Marcus Buckland. The reporter for Brighton versus Chesterfield was Nick London. Brighton were romping home, unbeaten in ten with seven of those as wins, and on course for more than ninety points. Stark contrast to just three years earlier when consecutive 23rd placed finishes made for drab viewing and on the verge of going out the League at the other end. They found things a little tougher up against Chesterfield in this match, with Bobby Zamora unable to take a couple of decent chances. Kerry Mayo also went close to a collector’s item goal after a mazy run from the halfway line. Step forward Danny Cullip to secure the win when his powerful header went in (above, top left), via a deflection off Chesterfield’s David Reeves, with twelve minutes left on the clock. They’d done it, Micky Adams and his men could celebrate promotion and the League title to boot. The trophy was presented there and then on the Withdean pitch, our first silverware since winning the equivalent Division in 1965! What a fantastic achievement for the Seagulls, flying high once again.

Chesterfield Adams Chesterfield Goalscorers chart Chesterfield final table

Micky Adams was full of praise for his squad afterwards, telling Football League Review; “Give them the credit they deserve because they’ve worked their socks off.” Bobby Zamora in particular did, ending up the Division’s top goal scorer with thirty-one in League and Cup. The final League table the following Saturday confirmed Albion’s place at the very top of the League for all the history books to show, and they did finish more than those nine deducted points ahead of Chesterfield, legitimising the win further. They ended up third some twelve points back, with Cardiff sandwiched in the middle. An average of exactly two points per game for the Albion is a phenomenal record and a real confidence booster for the players and supporters who were languishing around the mid-to-lower half of the table for the previous few years. Perhaps this temporary home was going to be alright. The momentum gained from this outstanding season was carried over to the 2001/2002 campaign where back to back championships were secured. Even a change of manager, with Micky Adams departing for Premiership Leicester early on to swap the South Coast with the departing Foxes boss Peter Taylor, couldn’t hamper the Albion’s rise up the Leagues. Extended highlights of the match with Swindon, and the subsequent title party, when the Division Two title was secured twelve months later is covered in a separate post. Within three Withdean years, Brighton had jumped from fourth tier to second and a place in Division One awaited in the 2002/03 season. The next aim was to stay up there.


3

AVOIDING AN UNWANTED CLUB RECORD (2nd November 2002) Division One

Football League Extra, ITV1; Brighton 3-2 Bradford City

Bradford Titles Bradford Division One

Following a season of exclusive Football League rights belonging to ITV Digital, it all ended rather sour. The company went into administration at the end of the first of a three-year deal, meaning emergency contingencies had to be put in place. This hugely impacted the finances of many lower League clubs who were banking on the vast amounts of money ITV had promised but would never materialise. Consequently on the broadcasting side, Live rights transferred back to Sky Sports and we were without a highlights deal for the first three months of the 2002/03 campaign. Brighton had won back to back League titles to rise from Division Three to Division One here but got off to a disastrous start. After a fantastic opening day win away at Burnley, things went from bad to worse to the verge of an unwanted milestone. A draw in the first home match of the season was followed by an incredible twelve League defeats in succession, culminating with the worst of the lot – a five-nil scoreline at arch rivals Crystal Palace in midweek, the first meeting for thirteen and a half years. Saturday 2nd November saw the visit of Bradford City to Withdean, where another defeat would be a club record. Manager Martin Hinshelwood paid the price for the poor form early on, with former Palace and Manchester United boss Steve Coppell now in charge at the Albion on a one-year contract. This was his third game at the helm.

Bradford Scoreline Bradford Penalty  Bradford Rodger Bradford Foul

This match marked the start of a new highlights deal which saw the welcome return of ITV’s middle-of-the-night goals programme Nationwide Football League Extra, which had covered the best of the action in a concise forty-minute slot since 1994. For this return, Tom Skippings led the voiceover round ups of our match and the rest of the second tier; assisted by Tony Jones and Trevor Harris each taking one of the other two Divisions. Brighton made a dream start when Bobby Zamora tucked away a penalty in the tenth minute. Gus Uhlenbeek tripped Paul Brooker in the box, allowing Zamora to convert low to the goalkeeper’s right (above, top right). Albion raced into a two-goal lead three minutes before the break. Zamora laid the ball off for midfielder Simon Rodger to hit a scorcher from twenty-five yards (above, bottom left) which flew into the top corner of the goal. Into the second half, the dream start got a bit nervier when Andy Gray halved the deficit with a stooping header from Paul Evans’ inswinger. Just six minutes later the two-goal cushion was restored, courtesy of Wayne Jacobs’ foul on Albion’s on-loan striker Graham Barrett (above, bottom right).

Bradford Kuipers Bradford table

Up stepped Zamora to convert another spot kick for three-one. This was the sixth penalty Bradford had conceded in their last six games, with ‘keeper Steve Banks saving one in each of the previous two games. He had no chance with this one, Zamora sent him the wrong way. In the final minute of the match, the man between the Albion posts rushed out of his goal all the way to the edge of the box and upended Stephen Warnock to give Bradford a penalty (above left). Kuipers received his marching orders from referee Brian Curson, with Andy Petterson coming on to keep goal. He couldn’t stop Andy Gray’s penalty to make it three-two. The Seagulls survived stoppage time to finally put that record behind them and begin to pick up Division One points again. Further joy came against Preston, Derby and Live on Sky against Wolves as the gap at the bottom started to close. However, by the end of the season it was just a little too much to do and the club were relegated back to Division Two on the final day following a draw at Grimsby, also Live on Sky. It was a topsy-turvy few years for the club as we yo-yoed around the Divisions but it was certainly never dull!


4

BEATING YOUR RELEGATION RIVALS (4th December 2004) Division One

The Championship, ITV1; Brighton 1-0 Rotherham

Rotherham titles Rotherham Intro

Mark McGhee took over as manager in October 2003 after Steve Coppell’s departure to Reading. In that season McGhee guided the club up via the Play Offs with a Final victory over Bristol City Live on Sky to gain entry to the newly rebranded Championship. The new name brought with it a new highlights programme to accompany Sky’s Live coverage, with ITV again the broadcaster. Their programme, imaginatively named The Championship, was broadcast at 10.30am on Sunday mornings and consisted of one featured match, usually two additional reports and a goals round up of the rest of the Leagues at the end. Brighton started life back in the second tier much better than when we were last at this stage in 2003, with four wins in the opening two months. Form in October and November had dipped and the club found themselves in the (realistic) position in the bottom third of the table. We would be in for another relegation battle this season but with that bit more experience, things were hopeful of turning out differently. And they didn’t come much more experienced than thirty-eight-year-old striker Steve Claridge, who joined the Albion on a month’s contract. Prior to this he had been player-manager at non-League Weymouth after a long playing career which dated all the way back to 1983 and Fareham Town. He enjoyed spells at Cambridge, Birmingham and Portsmouth as well as linking up with McGhee at Millwall where they missed out on Premiership promotion in the Play Off Semi Finals in 2002. His move to Sussex garnered the interest of ITV’s highlights show, which sent Andy Townsend down to Withdean for his first visit. Regular presenter Matt Smith hosted the show from the main game at the Stadium of Light – for Sunderland against West Ham – and linked to our report after highlights of that clash.

Rotherham Townsend Rotherham Claridge Rotherham McGhee Rotherham Claridge playing

Townsend’s report began in the temporary stand behind the goal at Withdean as he introduced the piece before zooming out to reveal just a handful of fans dotted around him. The main focus was on Steve Claridge, whom he interviewed first in the tunnel. The pair had a chuckle at the surroundings before Townsend asked Claridge if he still felt the same about the game or if it had started to wane; “I don’t see how it ever does if you’re fit and you can play and can do a job, just take the enthusiasm for granted because I don’t think that ever goes.” Manager McGhee told Townsend that Claridge was “one of the fittest players you’ve ever seen, either as a player or as a manager… He’s made a big difference.” They touched upon the contract situation, with him only signed up for a month which was due to expire after the match the following week. McGhee stated he wanted to extend it but the club may say otherwise due to the costs and the financial constraints the stadium situation placed upon them all. Before showing the best of the action, we returned to Claridge who outlined the importance of this match; “We’ve lost a couple recently, it just puts a bit of difference between us and the bottom three if we can win today.” You have to beat the teams around you in relegation battles and failure to do that cost the Albion last time in this League.

Rotherham Harding Rotherham scoreline

Rotherham were right down at the foot of the table, with just one win in the last twenty-one matches. That came in the previous game so were in buoyant mood ahead of this crucial clash. Townsend voiced the footage which used pitch-level cameras and jaunty angles, a trademark of this type of report on The Championship. Townsend highlighted Claridge’s first half performance as the biggest threat, constantly looking lively and dangerous as we saw two of his shots saved by goalkeeper Mike Pollitt. Into the second period it was Leon Knight who looked liveliest now, having an effort cleared almost off the line by Ronnie Moore’s defence. The clock ticked away quickly with neither side quite doing enough. That was until the 82nd minute when left-back Dan Harding netted his first for the club (above left). A free kick bounced around the area before dropping to Harding on the left of the box to strike from seven yards. It crept into the far corner for a priceless goal and all three points. The VT ended with Claridge explaining his final match for Brighton was due to be in the upcoming Millwall trip but he was on his way in to see the manager now for clarity. It turned out that his contract wasn’t extended. But that was not the end of his Football League career as, remarkably, he went on to play for a further seven League clubs over the course of the next three years! The result sent the Seagulls seven points clear of the drop zone, now a few games past the half way stage of the season.

5

AND AGAIN (26th December 2004) Division One

The Championship, ITV1; Brighton 2-1 Gillingham

Gillingham titles Gillingham Smith

Three weeks after the victory over bottom of the table Rotherham came another crucial clash in the relegation battle; Gillingham were the visitors to an icy Withdean on Boxing Day 2004. The Gills were below the Albion in the standings but Brighton suffered back to back defeats following that Rotherham win. A two-nil loss at Millwall was followed by Stoke claiming all three points on the South Coast. As the country suffered another cold wintery Christmas period, Withdean was usually one to fare particularly badly. A number of games had been postponed since arriving at the athletics track in 1999 due to the weather, with rain causing waterlogs and ice or snow taking its time to clear. Presenter Matt Smith was wrapped up warm with a big coat and scarf as he introduced the day’s festive football from the featured match Coventry versus Sheffield United. Voicing the goals and incidents in our match was fellow Brighton fan Dave Beckett, who sounded a little bunged up no doubt due to the weather.

Gillingham intro Gillingham Crofts Gillingham Carpenter equaliser Gillingham Virgo winner  

The report began by mentioning Stan Ternant’s Gillingham side’s cause for concern about the state of the pitch, with a white sheen present brought about ice. But it was they who broke the deadlock thanks to future Seagull Andrew Crofts. He latched onto Nicky Southall’s cross, appearing to burst in from nowhere and more determined than anyone. His header burst the net and flew through goalkeeper Kuipers, Crofts leaving his marker Paul Reid flat footed (above, top right). It looked like it was going to be a frustrating Christmas for Seagulls supporters all the way until the 78th minute when up stepped Richard Carpenter. As a headed clearance fell to him, he took one touch to set himself before hitting a divine half-volley from almost thirty yards (above, bottom left) which skipped off the turf and slid right into the bottom left hand corner of the net. A fantastic way to equalise but more was still to come. A Mark McCammon header was saved well by Paul Gallacher. But he wasn’t to deny Adam Virgo, who turned home the winner three minutes from time. A long throw in was flicked on by McCammon with Virgo arriving in the centre. He made connection before his marker and struck past Gallacher, who managed fingertips to it (above, bottom right).

Gillingham scoreline

Another terrific result for Brighton who were managing to get the better of the teams around them at the bottom. This ensured they did the double over the Gills and entered the New Year a whole seven points clear of the drop zone. The form continued into January taking ten more points from the next six unbeaten matches. A fantastic victory over leaders Sunderland followed in February, as featured as the main game on The Championship, and come the final day of the season just a point was required to maintain their Championship status. That’s exactly what happened when Adam Virgo netted in a Sky Live one-all draw with Ipswich in May. Brighton would remain in the second tier for another season under Mark McGhee. Though the 2005/06 campaign fared much worse and Brighton were relegated finishing bottom of the table, the more important result came off the field when permission for the new stadium site in Falmer was initially given the go-ahead by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in October 2005 and, after another legal challenge delaying the saga further, the stadium finally could at last begin building work in the latter half of the noughties with the club consolidating in League One.


This look back over Albion’s tenure at Withdean Stadium continues with part two which can be accessed HERE.

#48: Brighton 1-1 Watford 28/10/2013

#48 BRIGHTON 1-1 WATFORD Championship
Monday 28th October 2013 Image result for

WAT Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUEST Adam Virgo
COMMENTATORS Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe REPORTER Jonathan Oakes
Delayed 8pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10pm FL72 Live on Sky Sports 1 [Extended to 10.15pm]

WAT Ident WAT Sponsor WAT Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton were still finding their feet under new manager Oscar Garcia, with form best described as mixed. The club had won just three League matches out of the opening twelve, with just one in the last eight. Four defeats and five draws placed the club in sixteenth place in the Division. Goals were a problem with just eleven in twelve matches coming from only five different goalscorers. The top scorer Ulloa was out injured, leaving midfielder Andrew Crofts as the man with the most prolific record in the current squad. He had netted thrice before tonight. Striker Ashley Barnes was suffering from a lack of scoring which stretched as far back as April. Support was brought in up front in the form of loan signing Leroy Lita. Much was being heaped on the young shoulders of Jake Forster-Caskey to create openings. The defence remained solid, with the core of Bruno, Greer, Upson and Ward protecting Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal. Both the Albion and today’s opponents Watford had an unfortunate thing in common from last season; they were both defeated by Crystal Palace in May’s Championship Play Offs. Brighton lost in the semis whilst Watford went down in extra time. The Hornets had started well again this season, sitting in the top six. However their form had also suffered of late with two defeats in the last three, compounded by losing to promotion rivals Derby at home last week. If both sides were to repeat an extended season, consistency would be key. The corresponding fixture back in December 2012 was televised by Sky Sports in a post-Christmas Saturday evening kick-off, resulting in a three-one away win. Sky picked the match once more for Live broadcast, this time on a Monday night during half-term. Halloween was coming, Brighton were hoping to avoid a scare this time round.

WAT Brighton WAT Subs WAT Watford

The Teams: Brighton’s talented squad was being decimated by an ever-growing injury list, with several key players having lengthy spells on the sidelines. Among these include Liam Bridcutt, Craig Mackail-Smith, Andrea Orlandi, Kazenga LuaLua and Leonardo Ulloa. One change was made from the goalless draw last time out away to Yeovil, with Jake Forster-Caskey coming in for Rohan Ince. He grew up in the Chelsea academy, winning the FA Youth Cup in 2010 before turning professional. He joined the Albion initially with the development squad back in February before moving into the first team under Garcia. As the name suggests, he is related to former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Ince, being his third cousin. Will Buckley made his 200th career appearance tonight, whilst Craig Conway started at The Amex for the first time. Among the substitutes were new loan signing Leroy Lita, who joined last week from Swansea until January. The striker enjoyed success at Bristol City and Reading early in his career and most recently at Middlesbrough. Also named as a substitute was 19-year-old winger Solly March. He grew up in Eastbourne and signed with the Albion in December 2011 but didn’t feature until earlier this campaign when he made a couple of appearances off the bench. Gianfranco Zola made four changes to his Watford side that lost three-two at home to Derby in their last game. Talisman striker Troy Deeney returned, with Sean Murray, Lloyd Doyley and Davide Faraoni all coming in. Fernando Forestieri would be one to watch up front for his trickery and ability. Last season they were a squad full on loanees with some fourteen players only temporary, this time round a lot of their key players had been signed to the club on permanent deals The biggest loss from the last campaign was striker Matej Vydra who was now a West Bromwich Albion player. Blowing the whistle for tonight’s clash was Keith Hill.

WAT Thomas WAT Virgo WAT Studio

The Coverage & Presentation Team: Sky hosted tonight’s match from the permanent studio within the North Stand, as was now the norm. Regular host Simon Thomas began coverage at 7.30pm, initially fifteen minutes before kick-off but this was pushed back to an 8pm start due to travel problems delaying supporters getting to the ground on time. So we got an extended build up with Thomas and his guest, the former Brighton defender Adam Virgo. He announced his retirement from the game last week after failing to recover from a knee injury at the age of just thirty. Virgo enjoyed two spells as a player with the Seagulls, either side of a move to Scottish champions Celtic in 2005. During his time with us he was used as both a defender and an emergency striker. Now he was in the process of completing his coaching badges and hoping to forge a career in the media. Once this season’s titles played out and the new-for-this-season graphics introduced the fixture, Thomas and Virgo previewed the game starting with a focus on the home team. Virgo explained the differences the club have faced from a couple of years ago to now, unluckily missing out in the Play Offs back in May. He also talked about the challenge Oscar Garcia faced taking over the club that had been shaped by Poyet, with him having a say in the stadium, the pitch and the training facilities and now all of a sudden a new man had to carry that forward. Owing to the various injury problems to the squad as a whole, Ashley Barnes was highlighted as a key man having to step up and play front and centre. FL72’s regular reporter Jonathan Oakes spoke with Garcia ahead of the delayed kick-off, who bigged up the opposition; “They are, for me, one of the three best squads in the Championship and all the players can be a threat for us.” An advert break was taken before attention switched to the away side, highlighting Troy Deeney’s return up front and speaking with manager Zola. The same fixture last season was recalled, as Watford’s devastating counter attack broke Brighton’s excellent home form that night. The scene was set on what the club designated as Halloween ‘Fright Night’, and after another break it was time to hand over to the gantry. Commentary was once again provided by Bill Leslie and Andy Hinchcliffe, who were both present on our previous Live match this campaign at Reading.

WAT Delay WAT Team   WAT Possession WAT Half Time Stats

The half time stats showed Brighton were dominant in terms of corners and edged the possession but the most important line showed Watford one-nil up. Pundit Adam Virgo commented that Stephen Ward lacked a bit of conviction in terms of fully closing down the shot, it was his deflection which broke the deadlock. He praised Will Buckley for getting in some good positions and delivering quality crosses, the finish just lacking from all in blue and white thus far. A clear direction Sky wanted to go in this season was hearing from one of the managers before the second half, we heard from Garcia in the last televised match at Reading and today Gianfranco Zola was interviewed briefly as the half got underway. This coincided with Watford almost doubling the lead so it was ill-advised to cross to him at that point but the goal wasn’t given. Goal line technology was introduced into the Premier League this season but not the Football League. This was discussed in the post-match analysis. Straight after full-time, Jonathan Oakes was on the pitch chatting to the Man of the Match Watford’s Manuel Almunia alongside our captain Gordon Greer. He was asked about the ghost-goal, describing it as “too close to tell. I just tried to get a touch on it and clear it. I knew it was close but I never knew how close it was!” Solid batting away of the question from the Scotsman. After the break, Thomas and Virgo rounded things up, with the show extended from 10pm until quarter-past owing to the delayed kick-off. Virgo believed Brighton would probably be the happier of the two, given their table positions, the threadbare squad and the current form. He agreed that the goal-that-wasn’t definitely should have been and could only suggest the referee just didn’t see it. Gianfranco Zola was interviewed in the tunnel and was shown the incident with Greer and the ball over the line. His reaction was to laugh, commenting “I think there’s no need to say anything… It was a goal, that’s for sure.” Whilst advocating goal line technology, he understood the costs involved which is why the Football League hasn’t gone the same way as the top flight yet. After a few more words from the studio, it was time to come off-air after another solid broadcast.

WAT No Goal WAT Greer

Story of the Match: When the kick off did arrive, fifteen minutes later than scheduled, it was the away side who began on the front foot with a goal inside four minutes. Sean Murray was given a lot of space to receive the ball around thirty yards out. He took just one touch before ambitiously striking for goal. His shot took a deflection off the head of Stephen Ward on the way through to deceive Kuszczak and put Watford one up. The touch didn’t really alter the direction of the ball too much, it appeared more to speed up the pace to take it into the corner of the net. Brighton were caught cold. They were caught in possession just minutes later, trying to be too clever near their own box. The ball found its way to Lewis McGugan whose shot curled just wide of the post. Brighton almost grabbed an equaliser after a quarter of an hour through the head of Ashley Barnes. He powered it towards Almunia’s goal from an inch perfect Will Buckley cross, the ‘keeper though managed to get a strong hand to palm it away. The rebound was volleyed into the side-netting. After Watford’s strong start, Brighton took the game to them after that. Another deep Buckley cross gave Craig Conway an opportunity, his header going wide despite timing the leap well. It was Buckley himself who had the next best chance a minute before the interval. Conway’s cross from the left alluded everyone to the back stick where Buckley met it on the half-volley. He put the ball back in the danger zone with a cross-come-shot which was begging to be tapped home, the Watford defence alive to it quicker. Oscar Garcia would go into the half time break disappointed to be behind having created a couple of good chances, work was required to improve the finishing. Watford began the second half lightning quick and actually should have been awarded a second goal within the first thirty seconds. Whilst Sky were chatting to Gianfranco Zola, we witnessed the Hornets get behind the Albion defence and Forestieri shoot for goal. He beat Kuszczak but not Gordon Greer who blocked the initial effort. Greer’s heavy touch though took the ball towards the line, and indeed about a yard over it, before booting it away. The refereeing team did not spot this and Brighton got away with one, it remained just a goal to nil. Replays confirmed it was a definite goal. Ten minutes into the second half Brighton found their equaliser. Craig Conway’s corner into the middle aimed for the head of Greer. The ball scrambled around before falling to Andrew Crofts side-on. It sat up nicely for him to improvise a fantastic half-volley on the turn which flew into the top corner. He used fantastic technique to adjust his position and execute a clean strike on goal which was never being saved, and Brighton were level. Bruno almost scuppered this five minutes later after a late lunge not only risked him a second yellow card but also a penalty, as the foul was right on the edge of the box on the far side. Fortunately neither occurred. The resulting free kick from McGugan needed to be tipped over the bar. Ashley Barnes led the Brighton attack gallantly but he was having to do everything himself, with little in the way of support. It was a thankless task, slightly alleviated by the introduction of recognised forward Leroy Lita, but chances were at a premium. Watford almost snatched a late winner after a terrific run from the halfway line from Faraoni to cross for Forestieri. His header back across goal bounced off the near post and cleared away by Upson. With less than five to play, Brighton forced Almunia into a save to prevent Crofts getting a brace. Lita crossed for Buckley to lay it off with a lovely cushioned touch. Crofts hit one on the half-volley which was always rising but remained on target. The defence had to be alert in the final few minutes but they held out for the draw which was a fair result overall and an improvement on the three-one defeat last time out at home to the Hornets. Onwards and upwards for Brighton.

WAT Table

BRIGHTON 1 WATFORD 1
Crofts Murray

WAT Replay WAT Goal

EXTRA; Sky Sports magazine programme FL72 Review was broadcast immediately prior to tonight’s Live show. Hosted from Sky Studios cafe, presenter George Gavin was joined by regular third choice co-commentator Garry Birtles to look back at all the weekend’s goals as well as a quick preview of the big match at The Amex. The cafe setting allowed for staff to mill around in the background as the hosts sat with a large coffee perched front and centre.

FL72 Titles FL72 Studio

George Gavin spoke with tonight’s co-commentator former England international Andy Hinchcliffe, who was standing by pitchside in Falmer. He mentioned Brighton’s injuries to five or six key players, giving hope to the side upon their eventual return; “Oscar Garcia will be desperate for those players to come back and come into the side, and when they do Brighton will be a very different team and I’m sure they’ll climb up the table very quickly.” We talked up Watford’s abilities, following on from going close last season they scored plenty of goals and played attractive, flowing football.

FL72 Split Screen FL72 Hinchcliffe

As there wasn’t time to hear from Oscar Garcia after the match, his interview was added to the highlights of the match shown throughout the night and on Sky Sports News. In his chat with Jonathan Oakes he said regarding his side’s reaction to the numerous injuries plaguing the team; “We had two options; to cry or to look forward. And we are looking forward, for this I am very proud of my players.” He also believed goal line technology would be a bonus, the more things to help improve the better.

WAT Garcia

PREVIOUS; #47 READING 0-0 BRIGHTON 15/09/2013

NEXT; #49 BOURNEMOUTH 1-1 BRIGHTON 30/11/2013

#28: Southampton 1-3 Brighton 15/11/2009

#28 SOUTHAMPTON 1-3 BRIGHTON League One
Sunday 15th November 2009 Sky 2007

Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Peter Beagrie
COMMENTATORS Martin Tyler & Garry Birtles REPORTER Greg Whelan
4.30pm Kick Off; St Mary’s, Southampton     4.15-7pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

SOU Intro

Context of the Match: This match kick started a whole new era for Brighton and Hove Albion, Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras. The club were languishing near the bottom of the League One table, starting the season as poorly as the previous campaign had. With Micky Adams departing just a couple of days after our last televised match – the JPT Area Final defeat to Luton – Russell Slade was brought in to rescue the club from relegation. He did so on the final day by beating Stockport which earned him a two-year contract. However his initial success was temporary and a poor start to this year saw Slade sacked with the club just one place above the relegation zone. Slade was in charge for little under eight months whilst his assistants Dean White and Bob Booker also left the club after a long spell working alongside several different managers. The final straw was a three-all home draw with Hartlepool at the end of October. Martin Hinshelwood took charge temporarily until today where the Albion had somehow managed to convince former Chelsea and Uruguay midfielder Gus Poyet to join. This was his first job as manager having worked as assistant at Leeds, Tottenham and Swindon in recent seasons. He brought with him former Spurs left back Mauricio Taricco as number two and former Seagulls midfield battler Charlie Oatway. Today also marked his 42nd birthday and what better way to spend it than to take charge of a new club Live in front of the nation. No pressure, Gus. Southampton were starting to hit form this season having dropped down to the third tier for the first time since 1960. They were hampered with a ten-point deduction due to going into administration towards the end of the last campaign but were unbeaten in their last eight matches and could finally move out of the relegation zone for the first time this season with a win today. For the away side, the appointment of a big name like Poyet, albeit untested in management, was a huge statement to make and a big departure from the likes of the older British managers of recent times – Peter Taylor, Micky Adams, Russell Slade.

SOU Southampton SOU Subs SOU Brighton

The Teams: Brighton went into this fixture having won just one of the last ten so Gus Poyet immediately made three changes here. Long-serving ‘keeper Michel Kuipers was restored in place of Graeme Smith who made his debut as substitute earlier this season in the 7-1 humiliation at Huddersfield. Arsenal loanee Gavin Hoyte was suspended for Andrew Whing came in at right back. The final change saw youngster James Tunnicliffe, signed in the summer from Stockport, take captain Adam Virgo’s place in defence. Other new faces brought in to the squad over the summer included winger Elliott Bennett and midfielders Gary Dicker and Andrew Crofts. The attacking trio of Dean Cox, Nicky Forster and Glenn Murray were key to survival. Local lads Tommy Elphick and Adam El-Abd came through the youth system and had been enjoying regular football for the past couple of seasons. Southampton’s side was packed full of quality that really shouldn’t have been at this level. Former Premier League goalkeeper Kelvin Davis returned to the side after being rested. Dan Harding left the Albion in the summer of 2005 following his desires to be playing at a high level; just four years on he’s back in League One now with the Saints. Dean Hammond spent eight years playing for the Seagulls until joining Colchester last year and now the home side today. Despite being made captain towards the end of his time at Withdean, he refused to sign a new contract unless the club showed ‘Championship ambitions’. Glenn Murray was brought in for 300k but this wasn’t enough, Hammond was sent off on his final Brighton appearance and moved to Colchester in January of last year for a quarter of a million pounds. Youngsters Adam Lallana, Michail Antonio and Morgan Schneiderlin would all go on to enjoy Premier League football. Rickie Lambert up front was vastly experienced in the lower leagues with Stockport, Rochdale and Bristol Rovers but it was at Southampton that his career was really beginning to move up, joining earlier this season. David Connolly had also enjoyed a terrific career thus far, for the likes of Wimbledon and West Ham in the top flight, and had joined Alan Pardew’s men just a month earlier. Watching on from the sidelines as Saints assistant manager was ex-Brighton player, youth coach and manager Dean Wilkins. Taking charge of the match was Kevin Friend.

SOU Gavin SOU Beagrie SOU Studio

Presentation Team: George Gavin presented from St Mary’s stadium alongside Football League number one pundit Peter Beagrie. Gavin’s Live appearances are mainly lower league games and Cup competitions, with particular emphasis on games over the international break when regular staff often appear elsewhere. This is highlighted in the commentary box with an extremely rare appearance from Sky’s number one Martin Tyler on the Football League as a whole let alone the Third Tier. His only previous match for Sky as far as I can recall was a Championship tie in August 2006 though he would go onto cover the League One Play Off Semi Finals at the end of this 2009/10 season too. Even so, extremely rare appearance for him so it was a delight that it was for an Albion match. He of course reported on our first ever Live televised home game; FA Cup 4th Round win over Liverpool on ITV in 1984, as well as working for the local ITV region Southern during that period. He joined Sky as their lead commentator at the start of the 1990s and has been the undisputed number one pretty much ever since (barring a small period in 2005 when games began to be shared around between Ian Darke and Rob Hawthorne more). The more familiar voice of Garry Birtles to League One action was alongside Tyler. He was second choice to Don Goodman in the pecking order. Reporting on the touchline was Greg Whelan, having been the number one reporter for the Leagues ever since Coca Cola took over the branding of the Divisions in 2004.

SOU Pre match3 SOU Pre match4 SOU Kick Off SOU Comms

The Coverage: This season Sky Sports changed their Football League titles and theme tune from the previous All Together Now (January 2005-May 2009) to Candi Staton’s You Got The Love, across Live and magazine programming. The song is a belter, particularly this New Voyager mix, and the instrumental used as backing music just before and after the breaks is very nice. This coincided with George Gavin moving away from more Live matches in favour of David Jones who had become number one increasingly over the past year or so. Gavin did all preview and review shows Football League Weekend and occasional lower League matches such as today’s third tier clash so still remained prominent. Also from this season, terrestrial highlights rights transferred from ITV to the BBC in the form of Saturday night post-MOTD slot The Football League Show hosted by Manish Bhasin with former Sky pundit Steve Claridge. The contract also incorporated ten Live matches for the Beeb, bringing free Championship games for the first time since the ITV regions in 2002. The graphics on Sky’s coverage hadn’t changed from last season, with the familiar red and black astons and trophy replay transitions we’ve seen before.

SOU Pre match1 SOU Pre match2 SOU Coming Up SOU Analysis

Coverage began fifteen minutes before the unusual 4.30pm kick off. This was international break weekend hence highlighting a Live match from League One. Gavin hosted alongside regular pundit Peter Beagrie from the stands at St Mary’s. They spoke about Southampton’s excellent form and Brighton’s ambition by appointing Gus Poyet. He was interviewed before the game by Greg Whelan who began by asking how much he was looking forward to his first managerial match; “I’ve been looking for ten, eleven months… we had a very good day today, we’ve done everything possible because it’s only three days – normally you have a month or pre-season.” His early assessment of the side was there was ‘talent, quality’ and goals up front but poor defensively, something he wanted to address immediately. The studio team backed this up by highlighting the goal threat Nicky Forster possessed. Beagrie believed that the future was certainly going to be bright for Brighton after some tough times of late. Ricky Lambert was the player in the spotlight for the home side before hearing from their boss Alan Pardew. Our commentator Martin Tyler took over to talk us through the teams before they emerged from the tunnel and a chance for him to use his famous catchphrase “And it’s Live!” A quick break was squeezed in before a minute’s silence to honour those who passed away over the last twelve months. When the match got underway it was Garry Birtles alongside Tyler in the box. Once the ninety minutes were over, Gavin and Beagrie had around twenty-five minutes or so to wrap things up and analyse the game. Man of the Match Glenn Murray and goalkeeper Michel Kuipers were interviewed together by Greg Whelan. Both players were quick to praise the efforts of the team as a whole, all wanting to prove themselves in front of the new manager. After reviewing the goals and key incidents in the studio, we heard from birthday boy Poyet himself. He was particularly pleased that, despite the limited preparation time, the players listened to his instructions, applied them and kept strong throughout the match. After hearing from Saints boss Pardew, Beagrie and Gavin talked us through selected highlights of some of the other League One action from the weekend and looking at the table before signing off.

SOU Stats SOU Table SOU Round Up SOU Top of Table

Story of the Match: The early stages of the match were lively with both sides posing an attacking threat. Michail Antonio in particular down the right wing was causing all sorts of problems with his pace and power. Nicky Forster was leading the charge for Brighton with a couple of half-chances he created from nothing, neither too threatening for Davis though. The breakthrough came in the sixteenth minute from Glenn Murray. Dean Cox worked his way into a good crossing position on the right, outrunning Dan Harding, before delivering for Murray waiting around the penalty spot. He just guided the ball into the net with a lovely cushioned volley into the corner for the perfect start to the Poyet regime. Murray continued to be a threat all afternoon and just five minutes later he doubled the lead. A throw from El-Abd on the far touchline was flicked on by Murray to Forster. He held the ball up, turned and found the path of his strike partner to burst into the box. He needed just one touch to set himself before shooting ahead of the onrushing Harding. Davis got a touch to deflect it onto the post but it rebounded right into Glenn Murray’s path to volley into the empty net from six yards out for two-nil. What a fantastic five minutes for the 3,000 travelling supporters. Southampton were shell-shocked. The onslaught continued and Nicky Forster could have grabbed a goal himself just minutes later when he was sent clear by Murray, Forster’s touch and pace letting him down as he was forced wide and dragged his shot with his weaker left. And again just afterwards he found himself with an opportunity to lob Davis from twenty yards or so, not getting the connection quite right. Brighton were creating so many chances it was difficult to keep up in that opening half hour.

SOU Poyet SOU Man of the Match SOU Interviews

Slowly Southampton were creeping back into the game, enjoying more and more possession, with the early tempo inevitably dropping from the Albion. Rickie Lambert had a free kick central about twenty-five yards out which forced Kuipers into a low save ten minutes before the break. Four minutes later a volley from Lambert in the box had to be kept out again as the entire match was being played in the Brighton half. The pressure paid off just a minute later when Andy Whing dragged Adam Lallana down in the area defending a cross, giving the home team a lifeline. Lambert smashed his penalty home to the goalkeeper’s left and into the corner. The power behind the shot gave Kuipers no chance and right on half time it was game on again. The whistle came at the right time for Brighton, giving Poyet a chance to calm his team down and regroup after such a fantastic start for the team in yellow and blue. It seemed to do the trick as they were on the front foot again at the start of the second half. Nicky Forster’s high chipped cross from the near side turned into more of a shot, even if he didn’t mean it to be, as it sailed over Davis to clip the far post. Southampton then went straight up the other end and forged a decent chance themselves from a long throw. The resulting scramble fell to Dean Hammond who leaned back and shanked it high over the bar, later on Adam Lallana had a good chance too but his header went wide. Long throws were causing all sorts of panic in the Albion defence with Whing’s header away coming dangerously close to an equalising own-goal. Andrew Crofts had Brighton’s best real chance during this spell, when the ball broke loose his way twelve yards out. His low drive was kept out well but the captain was not to be denied later on. With five minutes remaining substitute Liam Dickinson was found running in behind, he cut it back to the incoming Crofts on the edge of the box who slid in as he launched a fierce drive low to the ‘keeper’s left and beat him for pace. “Crofts! It’s in the bag for Brighton” was the call from Martin Tyler. After having to soak up so much second half pressure the defence which had been so leaky so far in the League held strong and Brighton had the three vital points. “A new regime at the club has got off to a tremendous beginning; Southampton one, Brighton three” Tyler closed his commentary with.

SOUTHAMPTON 1 BRIGHTON 3
Lambert Murray (2), Crofts

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PREVIOUS; #27 LUTON 1-1 BRIGHTON 17/02/2009

NEXT; #29 COLCHESTER 0-0 BRIGHTON 08/03/2010

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