Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 1

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

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


Away Days visit to Brighton

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

SAM Soccer AM titles SAM Away Days

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

SAM Pier SAM Sealife centre SAM Laughter therapy SAM Stadium

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

SAM Dicks Bar SAM In the stands

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


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Quiz Show from The Amex for Brighton 2-2 Blackpool

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

TILAF Titles TILAF Hosts

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

TILAF The Possession Game TILAF Home or Away

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

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

TILAF Birds Eye View TILAF Brighton players

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

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

TILAF Poyet TILAF Full Time

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

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

TILAF Half Time TILAF Penalty

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

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


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

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

CCUP Titles CCUP Comms

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

CCUP Teams

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

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

CCUP Post CCUP Dive incident

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

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

CCUP Goal CCUP Full Time

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

CCUP Mackail-Smith CCUP Studio

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


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Southampton 3-0 Brighton Highlights

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

SOU FL Show titles SOU Comm

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

SOU Southampton SOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

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

SOU Poyet SOU Studio

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

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


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

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

LKO1 Titles LKO1 Studio

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

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

LKO1 Steggall LKO Bristol ale

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

LKO1 Touring LKO1 Martin Perry and Guy Price

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

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

LKO1 Doncaster game LKO1 Lynam

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


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

Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup in the Nineties part 2

Brighton on TVBrighton’s exploits in the FA Cup during the nineties provide a decent insight into the rollercoaster experience of being a Seagulls supporter during the most troubling of decades for the club. As Brighton dropped down the three Divisions of the Football League, the FA Cup represented the club’s best chance of gaining television exposure for the match action. Off the field matters attracted the most coverage unfortunately. Appearances in the high court were more frequent than appearances in the latter stages of the Cup. Whilst Cup ties in the 1990s saw the Albion excite in matches against top flight giants Liverpool and Manchester United as well as thrash local side Crawley, some of the lowest lows on the pitch also happened. Non-League Sudbury Town and Kingstonian provided huge shocks whilst Canvey Island forced a replay. If ever you needed illustrating just how desperate things had gotten, this whirlwind look back should provide some insight. This is the second part, the first is available HERE.


 

1994/95 Round One goals

Match of the Day, BBC One (12th November 1994); Kingstonian 2-1 Brighton 

94R1 Kin intro 94R1 Kin opener

In November 1994 Brighton were sat in the bottom half of the Division Two table, a continuation of the fourteenth place finish the previous campaign. That season saw them crash out of the FA Cup at Bournemouth, losing in the 1st Round for the first time since 1976. Keen to avoid a repeat, this season’s draw took the club to non-League Kingstonian; a team full of part-timers with proper day jobs. One of the many FA Cup cliches is to mention the minnow player’s craft, especially if they score or cause an upset. So Brighton’s poor performance at Kingsmeadow gave BBC Match of the Day reporter Gerald Sinstadt plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast. “Glazier, carpet fitter, financial consultant and so on, currently in the lower half of the Diadora Premier Division”, his report began. That’s the Isthmian League if you don’t recall the sponsorship, one below the Conference South. The Albion got off to the worst possible start when, after just ninety-three seconds, Kingstonian took the lead. Jamie Ndah opened the scoring with a terrific overhead kick eight yards out (above right) after the away side failed to clear their lines. He was the brother of Crystal Palace striker George Ndah whilst other brother Micky was also on the field today in defence. And half an hour later it was Micky Ndah who was involved in the next goal, the Seagulls equaliser. Ndah’s attempt to clear danger scooped the ball high in the air. Junior McDougald outjumped his marker to nod across the box to Robert Codner (below left), who stooped to conquer from six yards out. The ‘keeper got a touch on the header but the power beat him, as his fingertips only pushed it into the corner. One-one. That’s how it stayed until the final ten minutes. An almighty goalmouth scramble ensued from a corner, in one of the most mid-nineties football clips you will see. The kick was flicked on at the near post, then flicked up in the air by the attacker, Nicky Rust in the Albion goal came to punch away but just punched up. It was eventually headed down to the ground and waiting to pounce was that man again; Jamie Ndah. He was first to the loose ball to poke home just a couple of yards out to send Kingstonian through to the 2nd Round of the FA Cup for the first time in their ninety-nine-year history. The reward was a tie with Aylesbury, where they went on to lose four-one. For Brighton and manager Liam Brady, simply an embarrassing day to forget.

94R1 Kin equaliser 94R1 Kin scoreline


1995/96 Round One report

FA Cup Special, Sky Sports (12th November 1995); Canvey Island 2-2 Brighton 

Fulham FACup Gavin 95R1 Can Keeley 95R1 Can Cramped dressing room Fulham FACup Ryan

The FA Cup had a title sponsor for the first time ever from this season, as Littlewoods joined forces. After Sky Sports Live 1st Round broadcast of the game between York and Notts County this Sunday afternoon, they showed a seven-minute report on the day’s other Cup match; Canvey Island against Brighton. Reporter George Gavin was dispatched to deepest Essex to take in the atmosphere. His report began on the coast ahead of “the biggest match in Canvey Island’s history”. Gavin told of how, in 1953, the Thames river burst its banks and flooded the area engulfing Canvey’s football club records. Like with Kingstonian last season, Brighton had a tricky trip to a non-League outfit to kick off their Cup exploits. This was the first time Island had reached this stage of the competition and had never played a Football League side ever. We saw shots of the various preparations for the match, with the kit men in the dressing room, the local fire brigade and police making their inspections and the teams arriving in by coach. Park Lane was used to attendances of around 400, this match saw them squeezing in around 4,000 fans. One link between Canvey and Brighton was goalkeeper John Keeley, who George Gavin spoke to ahead of the kick off. Keeley was at the Albion for four years in the late 1980s, making over 140 appearances but was now on the books of Canvey Island. He was still on good terms with his former club; “I’ve still got lots of friends down there, like half my house is full out with them! I did alright down there, I enjoyed my time.” When the Seagulls arrived, the surroundings were not quite what they were used to. The dressing room was packed to the rafters (above, bottom-left) which forced manager Liam Brady into limiting access to only those key men; “the lads who are not playing can you get out! Make a bit of room.” Assistant Gerry Ryan chatted on the pitch, undaunted by the prospect; “Cup runs start at places like this, you know. Played at plenty of places like this in my career starting out.” He stressed the importance of having the right attitude or risk getting turned over. From the Canvey perspective, manager Jeff King and their supporters were in hopeful mood. One woman personified the Essex girl stereotype by saying; “I must watch my white stilettos don’t get stuck in the mud though when I get on the pitch and do me streak!”

95R1 Can McDougald goal 95R1 Can McDougald 2nd 95R1 Can Equaliser 95R1 Can Brady

Onto the match action and if Brighton were worried about another shock upset, they didn’t show it early on by taking the lead after sixteen minutes. Dean Wilkins floated in a free kick from the left, met by the head of ex-Tottenham youth Junior McDougald (above, top-left) to go one-up, flying past the goalkeeper’s full-stretch dive. The lead didn’t last though with an equaliser coming in the thirty-third minute in similar circumstances. The cross from the right was finished by a terrific guided header by Steve Porter, with our reporter pointing out he’s a teacher during the week. They celebrated as if school was out for the summer. Their joy was also short-lived when Brighton regained the lead five minutes on. A long punt upfield from Nicky Rust sailed over the head of everybody and suddenly McDougald was in behind the defence. As a defender rushed back to block, the Albion man was able to get his strike off just in time (above, top-right) to finish into the bottom corner of the goal, losing a boot in the process. Two-one the score at half time. A chance for Brighton’s and McDougald’s third was presented by Peter Smith in the second half but the ball seemed to get stuck under his feet, preventing a clean strike as it dragged wide. And the miss would be rued as another equaliser came with nine minutes left. A long throw in was flicked on to Alan Brett waiting in the centre. His header six yards out (above, bottom-left) beat Rust to cue wild celebrations from the bumper crowd. They went close to a winner even later on, with the defence having to dig deep and scramble away. But the Cup upset was avoided, just, and the sides would meet at the Goldstone for the replay a week on Tuesday. Liam Brady said afterwards “This kind of pitch and the environment you come to is a leveller, it evens things out, but the players battled. I felt we were in control for long periods of the game and probably missed a chance to kill the game off early in the second half.”

 

Round One Replay goals

Meridian Tonight, ITV (22nd November 1995); Brighton 4-1 Canvey Island

96R1R Can Steggall 96R1R Can Acknowledgement

It was all change at the Albion since the last meeting with Canvey Island just over a week earlier. On Monday 20th November, following a three-nil home defeat to Walsall at the weekend, manager Liam Brady resigned. The following night the replay at the Goldstone was due to take place. On the day, the board acted quickly to draft in reserve coach Jimmy Case as first team manager and he took charge of the Cup match almost as soon as he agreed terms. Local evening news programme in the South, Meridian Tonight, reported on the match the following evening. Sports presenter Andy Steggall introduced the report, which showed the goals courtesy of FA Cup rights holder BBC, as well as a couple of interviews. Behind the scenes there were all sorts of issues relating to the ownership, with talks of planning a new stadium on the horizon and selling the Goldstone whilst debts continued to build up. Indeed, money that was loaned to the club by president Greg Stanley was now reported to be charged at an interest, further adding to the money owed whilst lining his own pockets. A visit from the FA also came at this busy time, seeking assurances of finances. On the pitch though, for tonight at least, things were looking up as Jimmy Case made a winning start to his managerial reign. Meridian’s Geoff Clark reported.

96R1R Can Byrne goal 96R1R Can Smith goal

John Byrne gave Brighton the lead with a powerful header down from a cross on the stroke of half time. The lead was doubled two minutes after the break by Junior McDougald, adding to the two he got in the original game, with a well taken half-volley into the top corner. John Byrne added another (above left) to make the game safe with just over twenty minutes remaining, slotting home past the ‘keeper. Canvey got one back five minutes later through Glenn Pennyfather before a fourth was scored by Peter Smith (above right). Smith made the goal all by himself when his initial through ball was blocked by a defender, he picked up the loose ball to continue his charge through as the back line opened up. Just entering the penalty area, he lifted his shot up over the onrushing goalie to put the cherry on top of the cake. Four-one the final scoreline. Jimmy Case downplayed his role in the win, paying tribute to the former boss; “Sometimes you get a reaction from whatever’s gone on. But I think Liam built the team as it stands.” George Parris, signed permanently in September 1995 after a loan spell from Birmingham the season before, said perhaps they did “put in a little bit more effort” for this new boss as “you wanna try and impress them and I think it showed again tonight.” Onto Round Two where a trip to Fulham awaited. That also went to a replay at the Goldstone, which was selected for Live television coverage by Sky Sports; that report is available via this link. The good form did not last though and by the end of the season, Brighton were relegated to Division Three for their first spell in the fourth tier since 1965.

96R1R Can Case aston 96R1R Can Parris


1996/97 Round One round-up

Match of the Day, BBC One (16th November 1996); Sudbury Town 0-0 Brighton 

96R1 Sud Intro 96R1 Sud Minton crossbar

Another season, and another First Round trip to non-League opposition. This time it was to Sudbury Town of the Doc Martens League; the sixth step of the English football pyramid, one below the Conference. Even though Brighton were now just two steps above and struggling at the foot of Division Three, anything other than a resounding victory would be seen as a humiliation. Cue classic mid-90s Brighton then as the first tie ended goalless. Sharing billing with the Premiership, a new look BBC Match of the Day squeezed in thirty seconds to round up this match, voiced once again by Gerald Sinstadt. Jeff Minton went closest for the stripes, smacking the crossbar with a fizzing left foot drive on the edge of the box. The ‘keeper Steve Mokler at full stretch could get nowhere near it. This was Sudbury’s debut in the First Round proper of the competition and they nearly went one better but for a disallowed goal. A high cross took an age to come down to Earth, at which point Nicky Rust in the Brighton goal went up to claim it. He was challenged by the Sudbury forward Ian Brown leaping at the same time (below left). It appeared as Rust was landing, the ball bounced off the striker and to the floor where he stuck a foot out to nudge it towards Christian McClean who volleyed it into the roof of the net. However, the referee ruled it out for Brown’s foul on Rust and the scoreline stayed nil-nil. So another replay was enforced, and this too went the distance, finishing one-all and needing a penalty shoot-out to decide the victor. The non-Leaguers prevailed winning four-three on penalties to send Albion to its lowest point on the pitch. The season continued with misery upon misery, stranded at the bottom of the entire Football League. Boss Jimmy Case departed in the weeks after, with former Charlton player-manager taking his place in December with the club eleven points adrift. He managed to work an absolute miracle in the League to pull off the greatest of great escapes during the utter mayhem going on around the club. This was without doubt the worst season in Brighton history; typified by this Cup exit, exacerbated by the sale of the Goldstone Ground without anywhere to move into by the shambolic ownership, the prospect of playing home games all the way up in Gillingham from the following season, it was Gritt by name and grit by nature. The final day relegation shoot-out draw at Hereford sent them down and kept Albion up on just goals scored. If you can bear it, further information and snippets from the 1996/97 season can be found in a separate report via this link. Sudbury meanwhile were knocked out in Round Two by Brentford.

96R1 Sud Foul 96R1 Sud Scoreline


1997/98 Round One highlights

Match of the Day, BBC One (15th November 1997); Hereford 2-1 Brighton 

97R1 Her Titles 97R1 Her Lineker

Hereford were also able to get a very small slice of revenge on Brighton just six months after their relegation to the Conference on the final day when the sides were drawn together in the First Round of the FA Cup. Extended highlights were shown on BBC Match of the Day presented by Gary Lineker with Jimmy Hill and Mark Lawrenson. This was a week when the Premiership took a back seat for the international break, so the FA Cup was afforded its own hour long MotD programme, as second choice Lineker gave Des Lynam the week off. The lead match was Hull against Hednesford Town with commentary by Tony Gubba, and our trip to Hereford was the other feature. In his third season on the show Jon Champion commentated at Edgar Street, having transferred over from Radio Five Live during the 1995/96 campaign.

97R1 Her Hereford 97R1 Her Brighton 97R1 Her Referee 97R1 Her Gritt

Brighton boss Steve Gritt named seven of the starting eleven that saved the club’s League status in this fixture in May; Nicky Rust among those that didn’t feature last time. Rust was in for regular ‘keeper Mark Ormerod, who was out with a twisted ankle. It was Craig Maskell’s shot which was pushed onto the post for Robbie Reinelt to react quickest and net the equaliser in May. Gary Hobson skippered the side. Kerry Mayo was the unfortunate man who turned into his own net to give Hereford the lead in the previous meeting. Left back Stuart Tuck was a product of the Albion youth academy, joining as a YTS in 1991. Scottish winger Paul McDonald was signed for £25,000 last year. Number nine Stuart Storer scored the final goal at the Goldstone in the victory over Doncaster which allowed Brighton to go to Hereford and get that draw. Five of Albion’s squad were on the transfer list, simply in a bid to bring in some much-needed cash. The home side, still managed by Graham Turner despite him handing in his resignation following demotion to the Conference, had just three survivors from that fateful day here; Andy de Bont in goal and Rob Warner and Brian McGorry in the middle. Taking charge of the encounter was referee Gerald Ashby.

97R1 Her Crossbar 97R1 Her Penalty 97R1 Her Missed penalty 97R1 Her Opening goal

Brighton wore their change kit of all red for this First Round Cup tie. A chance came their way thanks to the running of John Westcott down the right flank. He was put through by an excellent reverse pass by Storer. Westcott dribbled into the box, slowed down momentarily by the challenge of Fishlock, before laying it off to Maskell. His effort was weak and just chipped up into de Bont’s grasp. The home side almost took the lead when Cook’s header looped up over Rust but crashed against the crossbar (below, top left) and back down into the grateful ‘keeper’s arms. Into the second half, Brighton were awarded a penalty when Walker’s lunge took the legs of Maskell away (above, top right). Paul McDonald stepped up with his left foot but de Bont guessed correctly to parry it away to his right with an excellent full-stretch save (above, bottom left), maintaining the deadlock. But it didn’t last for long as Hereford took the lead after fifty-six. Top scorer Neil Grayson added to his tally with a smart finish. Fishlock’s cross from the left found Pitman who cleverly backheeled the ball on. Grayson gathered and, sensing Rust sliding out to claim, sidestepped him to slot into the empty net.

97R1 Her Storer equaliser 97R1 Her Level score 97R1 Her Another penalty 97R1 Her Winning goal

Paul McDonald’s corner wasn’t claimed by de Bont, the ball falling through his fingertips, which presented an equalising opportunity for Stuart Storer. From a tight angle and with bodies on the line and in front of him, Storer angled his shot to net superbly past the lot of them (above, top left). “From despair to delight. And the lead lasted barely four minutes”, called commentator Champion. Hereford weren’t despondent though and almost regained the lead through substitute James McCue. Ian Foster charged down the left and crossed into the middle, McCue almost ran past the ball and had to hang his leg back which scooped the ball up and high over the bar from seven yards. The pressure applied from Gary Hobson was enough to put him off. He had another effort moments after with his left just outside the box, this shot also going just too high but was getting closer. Then the referee gave another penalty, this time to Hereford. Peter Smith battled with Ian Foster, with the Albion defender judged to have pulled Foster back as the tangle continued into the area (above, bottom left). Paul Grayson, scorer of the first, got his second of the match as he blasted the penalty kick emphatically down the middle (above, bottom right). Rust had no chance due to the sheer power and Hereford led by two goals to one with just over a quarter of an hour to go. And that’s how it stayed, with the non-League side knocking out the Third Division (just about!) Seagulls. In the studio, pundit Jimmy Hill (below, bottom right) said “You feel for both those sides in a way… For Brighton, with all their problems as well. They put on a fine Cup tie.” He praised Hereford’s style, playing the better, more attractive football. Their reward was a Second Round trip to Colchester, where they triumphed on a penalty shoot-out in the replay to make Round Three. That’s where their Cup run came to an end, with a three-nil defeat by Tranmere. In the League they finished sixth in the Conference, whilst Brighton once again finished 91st out of the 92 League teams. Thankfully it didn’t go down to the wire this time, finishing fifteen points better off than relegated Doncaster. But Steve Gritt paid the price for more dismal form, with former player Brian Horton coming in to replace him in February 1998 and kept them up in April.

97R1 Her Final Score 97R1 Her Studio 97R1 Her Hill


The decade ended with defeats in the early stages of the competition as first Leyton Orient knocked the Albion out four-two in 1998. Then in 1999 draws in both the First and Second rounds ensured four FA Cup matches were played in the season, more than the previous three seasons combined. After seeing off Peterborough in the First Round Replay, Plymouth knocked us out in the Second after a rematch on our own patch. As the 1990s went on, the Cup increasingly became less important to Brighton as the main objective was the League. With the Goldstone Ground sold off in 1997, home matches were played in Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium for two seasons, making home Cup ties even less appealing for the Albion faithful. By the time the club came home to Sussex, playing at Withdean Stadium from 1999, the form dramatically improved on the pitch and the Cups became a vital source of income as the fight for a permanent home took its toll on the budget. The story of further Cup exposure, drawn away from the Withdean to Premier League teams in the 2000s, is detailed in a separate post available HERE.

The first part of this two part 1990s FA Cup televisual rewind is available to view HERE.

 

 

Small Screen Seagulls; Play Off Final v Bristol City, 30/05/2004

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sThe story of Brighton and Hove Albion around the turn of the Millennium was of a club finally on the rise again. After a disastrous decade in the 1990s – losing at Wembley in a Play Off Final, embarrassing exits in the FA Cup to non-League teams, almost becoming one of those non-League teams but for the skin of our teeth at Hereford and, of course, corruption in the boardroom leading to the sale of the Goldstone and nowhere to call home – the 2000s began with back-to-back titles flying up the Football League. By May 2004, still homeless and fighting, Brighton had the chance to enjoy a moment in the spotlight in the Nationwide Division Two Play Off Final. It was the opportunity for the Seagulls to take flight into the second tier, win a trophy, play at a National Stadium and, most importantly, champion the Albion cause in public. The match was Live on Sky but for those at the game or who didn’t have digital telly, ITV in the Meridian region broadcast a full thirty minute highlight programme.


Brighton 1-0 Bristol City, Play Off Final; 3pm, Sun 30th May ’04

POFHL Titles

Meridian Broadcasting gained the ITV franchise for the South and South East from 1st January 1993, taking over from Television South (TVS). Since then the ITV regional programmes for that part of the country fell under the Meridian (or ITV Meridian) branding. What this meant in terms of the football coverage, not much changed initially. TVS did not have their own production for the Live matches involving the regions Football League teams once ITV lost top flight rights in 1992. Instead they showed the networked or LWT (London) productions. When Meridian took over this continued until the beginning of the 1994/95 season, when weekly highlights show The Meridian Match was brought in. Every Sunday afternoon, Andy Steggall would round up the weekend’s action from our local Football League teams; Portsmouth, Reading, Bournemouth and Brighton as well as Southend and Swindon who were on the edges and also covered by other regions. Southampton were predominantly a Premiership club during this period but would often be spoken about and featured whenever rights permitted. The Meridian Match would also feature occasional Live matches up until 1997 and then again in 2001/02, where highlights of the other teams would fit around. When Sky gained exclusive Live Football League rights, the regional programme would continue with half-hour highlights shows instead. Supplementing The Meridian Match on Sundays would be a midweek version; Meridian Soccer Night, also usually hosted by Steggall. This afforded the regions clubs regular exposure and highlights on the main commercial network and was how the majority of fans would view their team goals. For matches of significance, a special edition of the programme would air. When Reading reached the Play Offs in 2001 this was the case, and it was repeated in May 2004 when Brighton and Hove Albion travelled to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to take on Bristol City. At stake was a place in the second tier – to be renamed the Championship from August. Having followed Albion closely all season on Sunday afternoons, it was only right that Meridian got their chance in the Cardiff sunshine to see how it all ended.


Soccer Night, ITV1 Meridian, 11.45pm (Monday 31st May 2004)

POFHL Ident

A thirty minute highlight programme in the Meridian region was slotted into the late night Bank Holiday Monday ITV1 schedule to cover Brighton’s Division Two Play Off Final with Bristol City. Monday nights were football nights on ITV that season, with the regular edition of The Premiership on Monday chaired by Matt Smith and his panel of experts from 11pm. This was followed into the early hours of Tuesday morning by Nationwide Football League Extra, ITV’s weekly round up of all the goals from the three lower Leagues and voiced by the trio of Tom Skippings, Trevor Harris and Tony Jones on a whistlestop tour of goals and features. UEFA Champions League Weekly was also part of the late night/early morning three course football feast, as the best of the action from the continent’s premier competition got an airing. But on this particular Monday night, with the regular League seasons done and dusted, it was here where ITV1 Meridian could broadcast Soccer Night, showcasing the action and reaction from the Albion’s final match of a long season, complete with the regional ident featuring long-serving Meridian Tonight news presenters Debbie Thrower and Fred Dinenage.

POFHL Semi Final 1 POFHL Bristol Semi POFHL Semi Final 2

The programme began by having a quick recap of the Semi Final matches for both Brighton and Bristol City, seeing how they got to this stage. Fourth placed Brighton’s journey began away at fifth in the table Swindon Town on a very sunny Sunday afternoon in mid May. Richard Carpenter’s deflected goal the difference as the Albion claimed a one-nil victory. Bristol City, the highest placed side in third, secured a one-all draw away at Hartlepool in their first leg thanks to Tony Rougier’s opener after just five minutes. In the second leg it took two late, late goals to overturn the ‘Pool lead given to them midway through the second half. First Goodfellow in the 88th, then Christian Roberts in stoppage time saw the Robins of Bristol progress to the Final in dramatic circumstances. However, the Seagulls showed them what drama really was the following evening in their second leg! Sam Parkin’s goal ten minutes before the end of the ninety meant Extra Time was required. Rory Fallon then gave Swindon the advantage overall until that Adam Virgo header in the last minute of Extra Time dragged the Albion level once more and headed for a penalty shoot-out. With Mooney missing, Virgo put Brighton in the ascendancy meaning Andy Gurney had to score or Swindon were out. The crash of the ball against the crossbar sent Brighton fans running onto the pitch, boss Mark McGhee sprinting for his safety to avoid a mobbing and, most importantly, set up this Final clash with Bristol City at Cardiff’s magnificent Millennium Stadium.

POFHL Steggall

Familiar face to the Meridian region for ten years, Andy Steggall presented from pitchside at the Millennium Stadium. Steggall’s career in broadcasting began in local radio for the BBC in Leicestershire having studied at university there before moving to Southern Sound – the precursor to Southern FM in Sussex. He transferred into sports television in the local area with TVS for eight years from 1984 as well as working for Channel 4 on their daily breakfast show at the start of the 1990s. After a year doing the sport for GMTV, in 1994 he moved into the role he’s had to this point; presenting the sport for Meridian. This incorporated news programme Meridian Tonight as well as weekly highlights show The Meridian Match. During the early part of his time with Meridian he presented Live Football League matches when ITV held the rights from the studio in Southampton. The region’s highlights show has seen him travel the country following the exploits of the likes of Reading, Bournemouth, Pompey and the Albion through real highs and desperate lows. He introduced this programme before handing straight up to the action with our match commentator.

POFHL Kick Off POFHL Commentator

Voicing the best of the action from the gantry was Phil Duffell. He had long been ITV’s voice of football in the West (HTV) region, commentating on their version of Soccer Sunday (The West Match) regularly from around 1995. These commentaries would then be heard across other regions on occasions, and even the main networked highlights show Football League Extra. During the 2001/02 season, he got the opportunity to commentate on a Live match for HTV West, as Bristol Rovers took on Plymouth, when the various ITV regions were able to broadcast occasional Football League matches as part of Soccer Sunday Live. For today’s Play Off Final, he was primarily there commentating for HTV covering Bristol City, with Meridian opting to use the commentary too. During the regular campaign this season on Meridian, the usual commentator was Ross Dyer. If he wasn’t around, Andy Ford would voice the goals. The pair took over from John Roder who had been a mainstay of The Meridian Match since 1997, including the couple of Live outings in 2001/02. Roder benefitted during the 2003/04 season from British Eurosport having the Live rights to Serie A, meaning his association on the South Coast came to an end. With Premiership highlights returining to the BBC from the upcoming 2004/05 season, Roder would become one of the new voices on the programme.

POFHL Brighton

Mark McGhee made one change from the last Brighton match; the topsy-turvy Semi Final Second Leg with Swindon. In came Gary Hart as Paul Reid made way. Captain Danny Cullip was named in the PFA Division Two Team of the Season whilst centre-back partner Guy Butters was voted the fans Player of the Year. Hero of that Swindon night Adam Virgo took his place at right-back with another local lad on the left; Dan Harding. Welshman Nathan Jones joined Englishmen Richard Carpenter and Charlie Oatway in the middle of the park. Club top scorer Leon Knight wanted to add to his tally of twenty-five goals. The big man/little man striking combination was completed by Chris Iwelumo. His victory in this game for Stoke two seasons ago made the big Scotsman the only Albion player to have featured on this Millennium Stadium surface before today.

POFHL Bristol City

Ex-Albion midfielder Danny Wilson brought his Bristol City side back to this Cardiff pitch for the second time having secured the LDV Vans Trophy last season. Three of his starting eleven were named in the PFA Divisional Team this term; Steve Phillips in goal, Louis Carey at the back and Brian Tinnion in the middle. Striker Tony Rougier made a handful of appearances for Brighton towards the end of the last campaign. Scottish forward Lee Miller played in the majority of the club’s matches but had only netted eight goals thus far. Christian Roberts was born in the host city. Refereeing the clash was Richard Beeby.


POFHL Roberts flap POFHL City chance

Story of the Match: The prize was spelled out by commentator Phil Duffell right at the start of the match. “It’s five years since Bristol City last played in Division One. Brighton’s exile at present stands at just one season. In ninety minutes time, maybe more, one of these teams will be mixing it with the likes of Leeds, Sunderland, West Ham and Wolves. It’s a cast they all want to join.” The first action shown was a nervy moment for Albion ‘keeper Ben Roberts, who flapped at a cross as he dropped it onto Guy Butters before bravely throwing himself in the way of any follow up as the stripes were able to clear. Moments later he again failed to clear danger from a ball into the area, as big City centre half Tony Butler got in his way. The ball dropped to Butler who blazed way over, with the linesman’s flag only slightly sparing his blushes. It wasn’t the brightest of starts for the man who had performed so well between the posts all season. Bristol City were considered by many as favourites for this match and they began accordingly.

POFHL Knight crossbar POFHL Half Time

Brighton’s first chance of note came when Leon Knight took a free kick from just outside the box. Welsh winger Nathan Jones, playing in the National Stadium of his home country for the first time, was tripped at speed by the smallest of contacts to earn the foul. Up stepped Brighton’s top scorer to curl the set piece towards the goal. It had Steve Phillips scrambling on his line to get there but he was assisted by the crossbar. It was a terrific effort to get it up over the wall and back down from a relatively short distance but just didn’t quite have enough to sneak in. But it was a warning shot that the Albion weren’t here for a day out. The first half lacked quality from either side as the tension of the occasion perhaps got the better of one or two, and the first half highlights came to a close with the score goalless.

POFHL Iwelumo shot POFHL Caught in possession

The match continued to be too close to call, with nothing able to separate them as the second half wore on. Both were restricted to half chances at best, with long range efforts and weak attempts on goal. As soon as one team had the ball, the other would win it back shortly after but not able to do much with it before being dispossessed. It would not be one of the famous Play Off classics, that’s for sure! An excellent crossfield pass from Semi Final hero Adam Virgo found Chris Iwelumo who took it on his chest. He created space and had time, more time than he perhaps realised as he rushed into a volley some thirty yards out which skipped off the turf and bounced well wide. Brighton almost created a problem for themselves out of nothing at the other end when Butters was caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area. The ball was being casually played around the back line and goalkeeper when the former Gillingham defender was guilty of being too relaxed. Tony Rougier charged him down but the dispossession took the ball flying out behind for a goal kick towards the corner flag. One mistake was probably going to be all it took to decide this, as the ninety minutes drew closer and Extra Time loomed large.

POFHL Sub POFHL Iwelumo header

It’s never a good sign on a highlights programme when a substitution being made is shown in full. That’s how light we were on match action I’m afraid! But John Piercy came on to replace Jones, who had enjoyed a little bit of rare success on the day and was unlucky not to last the full ninety. Piercy was involved straight away and it was his cross from the left which saw an Iwelumo glancing header drop just wide of the far post as Phillips gathered before it fell behind the line. The Seagulls supporters sensed an opportunity and sung loudly to galvanise the side to get it done within the regulation time. And they were right to lift those spirits as, with time running out approaching the final five minutes, Brighton rewarded them with the crucial breakthrough.

POFHL Foul POFHL Penalty

Adam Virgo gathered a loose ball on the half way line and chipped it down the line for Iwelumo to chase. The big Scotsman held it up whilst support moved ahead of him. He shrugged off one challenge before dribbling the ball forward towards the area. Faced with two red shirts he pushed it through for Leon Knight. The diminutive striker couldn’t quite collect the pass under the challenge of Danny Coles but Iwelumo had continued his run. Just as he got his foot to the ball and looked like he was about to unleash an effort to trouble Phillips, Coles took a big swipe in an attempt to hoof the ball away but Iwelumo was too quick for him and ended up being scythed down. It was a definite penalty, for which referee Richard Beeby had no doubt. Up stepped Knight to coolly slot the spot kick home and Brighton had the lead! “One nil Brighton and Hove Albion! Who else but Leon Knight has the goal which has Brighton one step nearer to Division One. The shirt’s off, the celebrations have started,” was the call from our commentator Phil Duffell. The seconds ticked away before the full time whistle had blown. Brighton were back in the second tier at the first time of asking.

POFHL Scoreline


“There goes the final whistle. Brighton and Hove Albion are back from whence they came last season. It’s Division One for the Seagulls thanks to Leon Knight’s penalty. It’s Knight’s day in Cardiff,” commentator Duffell exclaimed. The twelve minutes or so of match highlights that ITV Meridian had managed to scrape together during a tight, turgid affair had came to an end and the result was that it would be Brighton going up, with Bristol City suffering Play Off heartache for the second successive season. Before the interviews and celebrations could begin, it was time for the advert break so the final ten minutes of the programme could be spent basking in Albion’s jubilation.

POFHL Full Time POFHL Medal POFHL Trophy Lift

The celebrations began with the trophy lift. Manager Mark McGhee led the players up the platform on the pitch to collect their winners medals, followed by everybody involved from Nathan Jones and Chris Iwelumo through Gary Hart and Charlie Oatway right up to Adam Virgo and, of course, captain and Man of the Match Danny Cullip. A sea of blue and white remained in the Albion end, with the contrast shown over in the City side where the pain was very real once more. Cullip lifted that lovely looking trophy to signify once and for all that the Seagulls were soaring up to Division One!

POFHL McGhee POFHL Knight

Andy Steggall conducted the interviews with the winning team, beginning with the gaffer. McGhee began by stating the importance of the victory in the wider context; “It means so much to us not just about playing in the 1st Division, about playing at Molineux, The Den and Walkers Stadium, the Stadium of Light instead of some of the places we’ve been this year, but also about our own stadium. This is a demonstration to anybody why we need a ground.” Goalscorer Leon Knight was up next, who admitted his penalty didn’t need anything special just do the job. “It weren’t well hit but it was in the corner and that’s the main point and it went in the back of the net”, having described it as the best penalty of all his.

POFHL Dick Knight POFHL Fans

The chairman was just an important role in the recent successful years at Withdean as much as any of the playing staff. Dick Knight heaped praise on the squad as well as sending out the rallying cry in the need for Falmer’s permanent home. “A wonderful achievement by our players and Mark McGhee. But it also makes such a strong statement about the incredible support that we have. We brought nearly 30,000 people here today so, frankly, they’re chanting behind me ‘We want Falmer’, they deserve Falmer.” Nobody had featured more or done more in the campaign for the new site than Mr Knight himself; always there, always ready with a soundbite and fought the Albion cause so, so well.

POFHL Virgo POFHL Oatway

Sussex born Adam Virgo held the trophy in his hands as he was interviewed by Steggall. We’ll gloss over the fact Meridian captioned him as Gary Hart though! With the backdrop of the ecstatic fans over his shoulder, Virgo gave credit to his fellow players for their efforts and talked about the emotions of the day. “I was in the hotel room, so excited to get out it was like Christmas Eve! I just wanted to get out and play and if I wanna play at the top I’ve got to play under the biggest pressure.” Midfielder Charlie Oatway, who had been in and out of the side all season, discussed his part in it all. “You can’t bottle what this club has got. For me personally it’s been up and down, but I’m so pleased it’s finished up with a high.” The interviews were interspersed with shots of the crowd celebrating and the other players lifting the trophy. It was a joy to watch all connected with the Albion having the day out they deserved. Danny Cullip had the Nationwide promotion flags wrapped around him and a big blue and white soft hat on, beaming with his winners medal around his neck.

POFHL Goodbyes POFHL Endboard

And with that, presenter Andy Steggall stood pitchside and rounded off the final programme of the season for Brighton and indeed the other clubs in the Meridian region. “As Fatboy Slim nearly said,” he began to close, “First Division football starts right here, right now. And what of the future? Well, on a personal basis thankyou for all your support, your letters, your questions – no, this isn’t a perm! Thankyou to all of your teams who’ve supported me so well throughout this season. On behalf of all the production team, we couldn’t do it without you, we wouldn’t want to. From all of us, for another season goodbye.” The credits rolled to an Oasis cover of David Bowie’s classic “Heroes” and the curtain came down on a successful season for Brighton and Hove Albion – going back to the big time.

POFHL Celebrations

Full report on the Sky Sports Live programme covering this Play Off Final is available HERE.

Small Screen Seagulls; 1996/97 Season

Brighton on TV

The 1996/1997 season was Brighton’s final one at their home of 96 years – the Goldstone Ground. The off-pitch battles were fierce, difficult and extremely fraught. Excellent articles and books, such as Build a Bonfire, have been written documenting the entire battle to save the ground, save the club, oust the board and keep Brighton in Brighton, which I won’t go into on here. Instead here are some brief snippets from the media coverage of the 96/97 season, where for the first real time since the 1983 FA Cup Final, Brighton were the subject of media attention (albeit for truly terrible reasons). Screenshots are provided from various clips of news and highlights coverage by ITV Sport, Meridian, Sky News and BBC South.

 


South Today, BBC South (16th October 1996);

Brighton 0-1 Hereford, 15/10/96 – Division Three

Protest presenter 1 Protest presenter

Brighton fans had already had to protest, invade the pitch and cause an abandonment, in the 1995/96 season plus one just a couple of weeks before this match, to get their story heard amidst an ongoing battle with the board – namely chairman Bill Archer and chief executive David Bellotti. They had planned to ease the club’s mounting debts by selling the Goldstone Ground, however there was no new home lined-up and it was revealed they had changed the club’s constitution in an effort to profit from such sale. In order to get this story nationwide, fans organised a series of protests for publicity. At the time of this report on local news bulletin BBC South Today, there was a blueprint for ground-sharing with Portsmouth from the following season. This of course never materialised and Gillingham were instead landlords for the two seasons after this one. Regular presenters at this time in the region were Harry Gration (above left) and Roger Finn (above right).

Protest fireworks Protest outside

Fireworks in the 75th minute provided the cue for much of the 3,500 Seagulls supporers to walk out of the ground in protest, with around a thousand congregating outside the stands and by the directors’ entrance. “We’re just sick to death of what’s going on down there, it’s ridiculous. We just want Archer out” one fan commented. As the game drew to a conclusion with more fans outside the ground than in it, the Albion lost one-nil to Hereford; a team who would crop up again in an absolutely pivotal way later on this season.

Protest reporter Protest baine

The report was compiled by Sean Killick, long-time BBC South Today ‘Sussex reporter’ who chatted with fans and protesters. “It’s gonna carry on and carry on until he goes cos there is no future for this club with Bill Archer here and everybody agrees with that. There isn’t one single person in the whole of Sussex who supports him!” said John Baine of the Brighton Independent Supporters Group. Baine is better known as punk poet Atilla the Stockbroker, one of the leaders in the fans campaigning and later one of two voices over the PA at our time at Gillingham and Withdean Stadium. Whilst the message was being heard loud and clear inside and outside the ground, as well as starting to filter around the rest of the country, the football on the pitch was still dreadful. The defeat left Jimmy Case’s Brighton bottom of the entire Football League, four points adrift with little sign of improvement.


Meridian Tonight, ITV Meridian (4th December 1996);

Brighton 2-3 Darlington, 03/12/96 – Division Three

Case sacked presenters Case sacked protest

Meridian Tonight reported on the surprise sacking of manager Jimmy Case the morning after a midweek defeat to Darlington at home. Main presenter Fred Dinenage was in conversation with sports presenter Andy Steggall on the local news bulletin. Steggall began by not messing his words one bit; “I think it’s extraordinary. I don’t know what the directors are playing at. They haven’t got a friend in the world, the fans hate them,” before confirming that the FA and Football League are investigating them too. This match was seen as a must-win for Brighton, as most were, as Darlington were just one place above the Seagulls ahead of the match, with Brighton still at the foot of the table.

Case sacked board Case sacked quote

The protesting began just three minutes into the match, as Chief Executive David Bellotti was chased out of the directors box followed by a small group of fans running onto the pitch and crossing stands. Steggall went on to point out how strange the timing of the decision to get rid of Case was, having stated in the programme notes only the night before how everyone should “get behind Jimmy and the players… Jimmy and the team deserve better than this.” They really did. Then came the statement thanking Case for his efforts and urging supporters to get behind the new incumbant. Case left the Albion after almost a year exactly, having took charge of 59 games with just nine wins. He acknowledged before this decision that things were “going steadily down hill… I’ve learned to put up with a lot… But I still want to see it through.” The club would face an even bigger uphill battle now without a manager, losing to their nearest rivals and sitting glumly at the bottom of the entire Football League without a home to play in next season. It would take a minor miracle to turn this around in 1997.


Sportsline report, Sky News (27th April 1997);

Brighton 1-0 Doncaster, 26/04/97 – Division Three

Goldstone sky news host Goldstone sky news reporter

Before the Sky Sports News 24 hour rolling channel existed, sports news on Sky came via the Sky Sports Centre, a pre-cursor to SSN with excellent daily bulletins, or from Sky News regular updates in Sportsline. The latter is where we saw a report on Brighton’s last ever match at the Goldstone Ground. Chris Skudder hosted from the Sky News centre, with Pete Barraclough reporting from Brighton, both long-standing members of the Sky reporting team.

Goldstone sky news pub Goldstone sky news invasion

Barrclough’s report began by mentioning the National Lottery funding granted to Brighton’s West Pier to prevent it crumbling further into the sea, before moving down to the Hove Park Tavern, a couple of minutes walk from the Goldstone. The pub exterior still looks the same twenty years on as it did in 1997, the difference being how much more populated it was back then. After a quick chat with a couple of fans in buoyant mood, including one who had travelled back from Washington DC for this, it was onto match action. This was slightly spoiled by the caption for Brighton manager Steve Gritt flashing up instead as “Stuart Storer Brighton Goalscorer”, whose interview was yet to come. After showing the goal, we saw the scenes of elation at the final whistle as the players ran off and the fans ran on, eager to claim their little souvenir from the soon-to-be demolished stadium.

Goldstone sky news goal Goldstone sky news storer

Stuart Storer’s name would never be forgotten by Albion fans for his decisive goal to secure the win against Doncaster and keep Brighton in with a fighting chance of avoiding relegation against all odds. The ball was headed onto the crossbar and fell to Storer’s feet five yards from goal to blast home on the half-volley above the multiple bodies on the goalline. Brighton had done it, the fairtytale ending to 96 years at the grand old stadium, in doing so meaning survival was then in their own hands ahead of the final day showdown at Hereford the following Saturday. “We didn’t play very well,” Storer began after the match, “but at the end of the day the result matters and a lot of people have gone home very happy but probably with a tear in their eye as well.” This time the correct caption was put up! The final shots of the report showed the fans knocking out the old wooden seats to take home with them, as the demolition work effectively began.


Nationwide Football League Extra, ITV (5th May 1997); 

Hereford 1-1 Brighton, 03/05/97 – Division Three Final Day

Football League Extra Titles FLE Gabriel Clarke

Gabriel Clarke hosted the weekly Football League highlights programme from Hereford on the final day of the season, broadcast late Monday night networked across the ITV regions. Football League Extra was a popular review programme featuring all the goals from all three Divisions, a nostalgia section looking back at a classic match, and a club feature or interview. The show came about during ITV’s exclusive coverage of the Football League and continued after they lost Live rights to Sky in 1996; FLE ran from 1994 to 2004, replaced by Sunday morning show The Championship on ITV. This particular match was absolutely huge, effectively a play-off to decide who gets relegated to the Conference. Brighton went into it knowing that if they avoid defeat they’ll stay up, Hereford had to win or they would go down. “There has never been a last day scenario quite like the one played out at Edgar Street this weekend. Hereford and Brighton met for a match guaranteed to span sports emotional extremes. At the end of Saturday, one of them would be dropping out of the Nationwide League,” Clarke opened the show.

FLE Steve Gritt FLE Fans

“There’s an awful lot at stake, really it’s not worth contemplating relegation really because it will mean so much to everyone connected to the club to stay in the league,” were the pre-match thoughts of Brighton boss. Steve Gritt joined the club in December 1996 when the Albion were bottom of the table and needed results fast. It was already some achievement, given what was going on around him off the pitch, to have put Brighton with their fate in their own hands on the last day in 23rd position, level on points with the home side both on 46 points. The sharp plummet of Hereford to the foot of the table had been overshadowed somewhat as a result. They were in the play-offs the previous season.

FLE Kick off FLE one nil

Gabriel Clarke voiced an extended report at the top of the programme incorporating the highlights, devoting the first seven minutes of the 40 minute programme. The rain fell before kick off to make the playing conditions even trickier. The home side were able to adapt better quicker and dominated possession early on. It took just 21 minutes for the breakthrough to come. Tony Agana found a bit of space in a crowded box and hit a cross-shot towards the centre of the six yard box and turned into his own goal by 19-year-old local defender Kerry Mayo. It would’ve been more before half time if it weren’t for Brighton’s resolute defending throwing bodies on the line. Some things never change.

FLE one one FLE chance

This continued into the early stages of the second half, where Hereford were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty. The decision mattered even more in the 62nd minute. Craig Maskell shot on the volley and was millimetres away from writing his name into Brighton history, instead the honour going to Robbie Reinelt. Maskell’s shot hit the post, with the goalkeeper scrambling around to get back on his feet the rebound fell to the inrushing Reinelt to calmly slot the ball home from seven yards out. Brighton were level with one of the most important goals in the club’s history. Instantly there was a role reversal, it was Hereford who were now on the back foot and looking nervy and tired. Chances still fell, with Agana’s header inches wide as Brighton ‘keeper Mark Ormerod failed to punch clear. Disaster almost, and definitely should have, struck in the final minute as the Albion defence were caught wide open. Hereford striker Adrian Foster was in on goal with just Ormerod to beat but the shot fell straight into his arms and that was almost it.

FLE Dick Knight FLE Reinelt

Robbie Reinelt said in his interview after the game it was “probably the best moment of my career. I’ve been at Gillingham when they nearly went out of business, I was with Aldershot when they out of business, Colchester nearly out of business. So today I break my duck!” What were Brighton thinking signing such a jinx! Having led the fan charge to take over the club from David Bellotti and Bill Archer, local businessman Dick Knight was chairman for the final two games of the season, seen by many as one of the saviours of the club. Knight was quoted on the show as saying it was “tense, nailbiting… and that was just the kick off!” After 46 games and 47 points for both Brighton and Hereford, the Albion survived by virtue of a better goal difference of just two goals. The tightest of margins.

FLE Final whistle FLE Hereford

What a contrast of emotions at the final whistle. Steve Gritt and his staff were of course jubilant. Nobody wanted the Brighton job before he was appointed in December with the club twelve points adrift at the foot of the entire Football League, he did a remarkable job to lift the players, lift the fans and grind out those all-important results. It is widely believed that the club wouldn’t have survived in the Conference, probably having to go part-time playing their games miles from home without their own stadium. Debt, a player exodus, a disengaged fanbase; it doesn’t bare thinking about. For Hereford that was their reality – relegation out of the League after 25 years. They were to remain a full-time club but their problems would begin as soon as the final whistle blew. Manager Graham Turner, shown with his head in his hands above, immediately offered his resignation. Over the summer his resignation was rejected and he ended up staying with Hereford for a further 12 years, eventually guiding them back up into the League and then a further promotion to the third tier whilst also being a major shareholder in the club. Whilst he was the man that took the club down he was instrumental in saving and rebuilding them and deserves a lot of credit.

#4: Bournemouth 3-1 Brighton 24/09/1995

#4 BOURNEMOUTH 3-1 BRIGHTON Division Two
Sunday 24th September 1995 Meridian

Meridian Match 95.JPG

PRESENTER Andy Steggall
COMMENTATORS David Smith & Alan Mullery REPORTER Chris Maughan
3pm Kick Off; Dean Court, Bournemouth     Meridian Match Live on ITV Meridian

Steggall

Context of the Match: Brighton went to Dean Court on a Sunday afternoon in September 1995 to play Bournemouth in a first for the region; the Meridian Match made its Live debut (previously any Live Football League games in the region were simulcast from LWT or elsewhere). This was also the first time the Albion had a League fixture televised Live and the first from any competition for almost 12 years, as documented in the previous matchday programme (below). There was a slight sense of gallows humour about choosing this match, as Brighton fans were severely disgruntled with the way the club was being run and local reports indicating the board were looking to sell the Goldstone Ground. The club were languishing in 23rd place in the third tier of English football at the start of the game, and would go on to be relegated at the end of this season. Fans organised a pitch invasion to protest against the asset-stripping during this match, shortly after Bournemouth’s third goal went in. The commentary team and manager Liam Brady condemned the protests at the time, as did the wider media and public, however the long-term battle was only just beginning. Highlighting this to the region using the opportunity of Live television was the first necessary step. As for Bournemouth, they were a mid-table side looking to climb into the play offs.

Meridian Match programme

The Teams: Long gone were most of the stars of the last televised match, the famous FA Cup win against Liverpool, however Gerry Ryan was now assistant manager. The club was sinking fast down the leagues, the stadium was to be sold to developers without a new home planned. Former Arsenal and Republic of Ireland midfielder Liam Brady was in charge for this fixture, having joined in 1993. Brady was not to last in the job much after this game and wouldn’t manage another club, however would make a name for himself in his native country as a pundit for RTE for many years. Irishman Paul McCarthy would go on to take over captaincy from Steve Foster, who himself was coming towards the end of his second spell at the Albion. Future manager Dean Wilkins was a regular, as was former Tottenham trainee Junior McDougald.

Meridian Match 94 studio

Presentation Team: Andy Steggall hosted from Meridian’s Southampton studio, as he did for all Live and highlights programming. It is unclear who was guest pundit for the broadcast. Commentary was provided by David Smith and Alan Mullery. Smith in his first season as the Meridian Match Live voice, Mullery a regular contributor in the studio. Local sports news reporter Chris Maughan was pitchside to interview players and managers and was brought in to fill during the fans pitch invasion protest. It was reported that Meridian were prepared to cut the broadcast if a rumoured protest came to fruition, in order to not be seen to condone the actions. However, as the protest was settled down within five minutes of it starting, the broadcast remained uninterrupted. Unfortunately details I have found of this programme are minimal.

Meridian Match police

The Coverage: The match is most remembered for the Brighton fans pitch invasion above anything else. You can see a short 5 minute clip of the Meridian Live pictures on YouTube. This extract is pretty much all I have to go on regarding the coverage of this fixture, so I’m as yet unaware of the punditry details or the programme listing. During this 1995/96 season ITV held exclusive live rights to the Football League; encompassing the restructured Divisions One, Two and Three following the launch of the Premier League in 1992. This was the final season in which ITV would have live rights as Sky snapped these up too from 1996. What ITV offered that Sky couldn’t was regionalised programming, and so this match was live on ITV but only in the Meridian area. Each region also had a weekly highlights programme showing the goals from their local teams. For us this was the Meridian Match, hosted by Andy Steggall. As the region only had five* main Football League teams (none of whom did particularly well at the time) – Bournemouth, Brighton, Gillingham, Portsmouth and Reading – we were afforded more regular air time than if the highlights were networked only. The highlights this season would regularly go out for half an hour at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, plus occasional midweeks. It would be realistic to suggest that, with today’s match being a 3pm kick off, the live broadcast could have followed the highlights show at 2.30pm running until 5pm. In additional to the local coverage, weekly highlights of the entire Leagues were broadcast under the fondly-remembered Endsleigh Football League Extra brand; mostly shown late Monday night.

In the clip the voices that can be heard are lead commentator David Smith and co-commentator Alan Mullery. Former Albion manager Mullery was a regular contributor to both the Meridian programming as well as Sky Sports, later going on to be a regular pundit on Gillette Soccer Saturday’s early incarnation. David Smith was our number one commentator for a couple of years from 1995, becoming the first Meridian-specific live voice. Previously other voices were used as feeds were taken from other regions such as LWT. For highlights Gary Bloom and Brighton fan Peter Brackley were the main voices prior to Smith’s arrival. Live matches were infrequent so a regular co-commentator wasn’t recruited, appointments were made on a match specific hence Mullery’s natural inclusion here. Jim Smith would crop up, as would still-active Paul Walsh and future ITV regular Barry Venison. The touchline reporter was Meridian News Sports correspondent Chris Maughan, also heard in the clip interviewing Brighton boss Liam Brady during the fan protest. Maughan joined Meridian in 1993 and went on to work for them solidly for 16 years, becoming a regular face in the area. Graphics on the broadcast were minimal, with no scoreboard or clock, but lower-third astons faded in for name captions. The theme tune was a very forgettable guitar riff, one of a few tunes the Meridian Match had during its Football League run. Whilst the above screenshots of the studio were not taken from this match, the set design was the one used during the 1995/96 season. Coverage was not presented on-site.

* Southend and Swindon were also sometimes featured in the Meridian region, as were Southampton when in Cup action due to their Premiership status. There was also an occasional crossover with the London LWT/Carlton region teams like Charlton.

Bournemout ITV 95 Manager interview caption

Story of the Match: Bournemouth ran out comfortable winners in front of the 4,500 crowd at Dean Court. They took a three goal lead before defender Ian Chapman pulled a consolation goal back. In between, Brighton fans invading the pitch and rushing the terraces is pretty much what most people will recall from this, certainly from a Brighton perspective. Condemned for their actions by the media, press, manager and board, this was just the start of the fans bid to save the club. The season didn’t go to plan at all, much like the match, but the job here was to gain notoriety for what the directors were planning on doing – selling the stadium – and that goal was very much achieved.

BOURNEMOUTH 3 BRIGHTON 1
Jones, Robinson (2) Chapman

Bournemouth protest

PREVIOUS; #3 BRIGHTON 2-0 LIVERPOOL 29/01/1984

NEXT; #5 BRIGHTON 0-0 FULHAM 14/12/1995

EXTRA; Meridian News clips from the night of the game show a young ‘David’ Beckett reporting on the match and protest. The broadcaster and Brighton fan became known as Dave Beckett and is synonymous with Football League coverage, providing voiceovers for Football League Extra in the 1990s, The Championship on ITV in the noughties and various subsequent goal round-up, review and preview shows, generally considered amongst the best in the business.

Meridian Match news report Meridian Match Dave Beckett