Small Screen Seagulls; 2013/14 Season part 2

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

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

Tour of new Training Ground in Lancing

SportsHub, BT Sport 1 (14th February 2014)

HUB Titles HUB Presenters

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

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

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

HUB Entrance HUB Perry

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

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

HUB Forster-Caskey HUB Orlandi

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

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

HUB Corridor HUB Replica pitch

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

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

HUB Building site HUB Studio

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

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


Craig Mackail-Smith’s injury rehab

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

FL1 Titles FL1 Studio

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

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


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

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

FL1 Rehab FL1 Family

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

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

FL1 Training FL1 Barker

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

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

FL1 Leeds win FL1 Fixtures

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

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


Brighton 1-2 Wigan Report

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

WIGH Titles WIGH Clemmit

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

WIGH Clem WIGH Garcia

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

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

WIGH Barber WIGH Reporter

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

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

WIGH McArthur goal WIGH McCann goal

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

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

WIGH Ulloa goal WIGH Studio

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

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

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


Brighton 1-1 Reading Highlights

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

READ Titles READ Studio

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

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


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

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

READ Comm READ Own Goal

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

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

READ Greer red card READ Drenthe goal

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

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

READ Corner Post READ Full Time

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

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

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


Push for the Play Offs

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

FL2 Titles FL2 Studio

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

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

FL2 Garcia

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

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

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

FL2 Blackpool FL2 Ulloa

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

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

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

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


#58: Brighton 2-3 Arsenal 25/01/2015

#58 BRIGHTON 2-3 ARSENAL FA Cup Round Four
Sunday 25th January 2015 Image result for bt sport logo

58ARS Titles.JPG

PRESENTER Jake Humphrey GUESTS Adam Virgo, Ian Wright & Steve McManaman
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Robbie Savage REPORTER Ray Stubbs
4pm Kick Off; The Amex     3.30-6.30pm FA Cup Live on BT Sport 1

58ARS Intro


Sami Hyypia resigned from his position as Brighton and Hove Albion manager on Monday 22nd December 2014, with the club four points adrift in the Championship relegation zone.

Hyypia was in charge for just twenty-five first team matches. With a win ratio of just 24%, he achieved victory in just six games, half of which came in the League Cup. In fact, the Capital One Cup was probably the only success of his time on the South Coast, as the Seagulls went through to the Fourth Round for just the fifth time in the history of the competition, and the first since the 1979-80 season. Wins came against lower League opposition; defeating Cheltenham at The Amex before overcoming Swindon and Burton Albion on their travels. The run came to an end at White Hart Lane when Tottenham knocked Brighton out by two goals to nil.

Of the three League victories, two came back in August when Leeds and Bolton were dispatched back-to-back. The defeat of Wigan back on 4th November ended a run of eleven without success in the Championship. The team that had overachieved to reach the Play Offs in each of the previous two years were now sat in the drop zone at the halfway point in the campaign. Head of football operations, David Burke, followed Hyypia out two days later, indicating that it was recruitment as well as performances that the club struggled with.

Assistant manager and former Albion winger Nathan Jones took temporary charge and brought an immediate upturn in fortunes over the Christmas period. Boxing Day saw an entertaining two-all draw with Reading as Glenn Murray frustrated his former employers by scoring twice for the Royals. This was followed up three days later with an outstanding two-nil win away at Fulham to give the supporters some end of year cheer.

58ARS Hughton

On New Year’s Eve, former Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich boss Chris Hughton was appointed manager on a three-and-a-half-year deal. As a player, Hughton spent thirteen years with Tottenham before a couple of years with West Ham and then Brentford took him into the early 1990s. He played over fifty times for the Republic of Ireland, making the squads for Euro ’88 and World Cup ’90. At Spurs, he lifted the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Cup in a successful start to the 1980s. He returned to the Lane coaching straight after retirement in 1993, where he moved up the rankings from being in charge of the under-21s, then the reserves before coaching the first team over a fourteen-year period.

Hughton first made the step up to manager at Newcastle United in 2009 and achieved promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking. Despite this, he was surprisingly sacked in December of the following season in a move which was condemned by players, fans and pundits alike. After a six-month break, he was back in management at Championship side Birmingham. He guided them to fourth place but lost in the Play Off Semi Finals to Blackpool. On the back of this, top flight Norwich City came calling. Tasked with keeping the Canaries up, he achieved an eleventh placed finish in his first season. Things didn’t go quite as well during the second year, but the club pulled the trigger somewhat at an odd time, with just a month left. They were in seventeenth and a point above relegation when Hughton was dismissed but were relegated a few weeks later under replacement Neil Adams. In the eight months that passed, Hughton was reportedly approached by other clubs but did not accept.

He cited the infrastructure at Brighton as being a deciding factor in choosing this one. Hughton’s first game in charge saw the Albion progress past his old club Brentford in the Third Round of the FA Cup with two late goals. That was followed with a one-nil victory at Charlton before Brentford got a revenge win at The Amex in the League. In midweek, another victory arrived as Ipswich were edged out three-two to ease the pressure and move the club up into nineteenth.

Today’s opponents Arsenal were enjoying much more consistency under Arsene Wenger. They won the FA Cup last season to end a run of nine years without a trophy and began this 2014/15 campaign well. They sat fifth in the Premier League, losing just five matches. To reach the Fourth Round they defeated Hull in a rematch of that Final. The Gunners defeated Brighton at this stage of the competition back in 2013, would they repeat the feat this time round with the added spotlight of Live television coverage?



58ARS Brighton

This was the fifth match of Chris Hughton’s reign at Brighton, beginning with the Brentford victory in the previous round. Captain Gordon Greer and makeshift right midfielder Inigo Calderon had started every game under the new boss and were also the only two Brighton survivors from this fixture two years ago. Goalkeeper David Stockdale signed from Fulham in the summer and played the first three months of the season before picking up an injury. That forced a ‘keeper crisis which saw Ali Al-Habsi drafted in on an emergency loan for one match and teenager Christian Walton start away at Tottenham in the Capital One Cup followed by two unbeaten Championship appearances in November. Since returning at Norwich later that month, Stockdale had played every minute. Lewis Dunk’s red card in the League loss to Brentford saw him miss the Ipswich game this week but was straight back in the eleven here.

Midfielder Dale Stephens remained a long-term absentee, having been forced off last April with an ankle problem. Impressive loanee Joao Teixeira was missing through illness. Dutchman Danny Holla and young Englishman Jake Forster-Caskey took two of the spots in the middle. Rohan Ince joined last season in mind for the development squad but quickly became a part of the first team. He scored a wonder volley at Swindon in the League Cup tie back in August, which earned him the Seagulls 2014 Goal of the Season accolade.

Around £2million was spent on striker Sam Baldock from Bristol City. He returned just two goals to date, including the opener in midweek. Chris O’Grady scored in stoppage time at Brentford in Round Three, his first for the Albion. Despite only joining in July, he struggled to get into the first team under Sami Hyypia and spent a month on loan at Sheffield United before being recalled on the day of the Fulham victory after Christmas. Adrian Colunga was an attacking presence on the bench, alongside Craig Mackail-Smith and Solly March. Defender Glen Rea was yet to play for the Seagulls but did make his Republic of Ireland under-21 debut in November. The contrast between Sami Hyypia’s squad and this one was clear; only one loanee started today – Aston Villa’s Joe Bennett. In the last televised starting eleven, at Millwall in December, Brighton fielded the maximum of five loan players.

58ARS Arsenal

Arsene Wenger made seven changes from their crucial two-nil victory at Manchester City in the Premier League. This included a return for goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, his first start since New Year’s Day. Defender Calum Chambers won the fans Player of the Month award for August, having joined from Southampton in the summer. Left-back Kieran Gibbs represented England at under-19, 20, 21 and senior level all since signing pro terms with Arsenal in 2007.

Theo Walcott scored in this fixture in 2013 but suffered FA Cup heartbreak the following season when he ruptured knee ligaments. That kept him out of the 2014 World Cup and on the sidelines for ten months before returning in November. Fellow midfielder Aaron Ramsey began life at Cardiff before transferring to London in 2008. He became a key part of Wales core and played in all four of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic matches. Three-time Czech Republic Player of the Year Tomas Rosicky won the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund.

Striker Olivier Giroud netted twice at The Amex last time out. Mesut Ozil started for the first time since early October. Among the substitutes included talisman Alexis Sanchez, signed from Barcelona for £30million this season, and Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla won the European Championships in both 2008 and 2012. Also on the bench was England under-19 striker Chuba Akpom. The match referee was the Premier League’s Michael Oliver.

58ARS Formations



58ARS Humphrey 58ARS Virgo

The face of football on BT Sport was their star presenter Jake Humphrey. He was one of BBC Sport’s rising stars, hosting Olympic and Commonwealth Games, NFL Superbowl and BBC Sports Personality of the Year coverage, amongst other big events. He first came to prominence on children’s television, hosting programmes such as Bamzooki and the Fame Academy spin-off. After serving his apprenticeship with CBBC, he was keen to move into sports broadcasting and hosted all sorts of lower profile events that didn’t have a regular core team. He provided holiday cover on Football Focus and Final Score. Undoubtedly, the biggest sporting break came in 2009 when the BBC won back rights to Formula One, naming Humphrey as anchor. His profile grew, playing a part of Euro 2012 and both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. When the call came from BT Sport to front their Live football, he made the switch to launch this new venture.

Joining Humphrey pitchside at The Amex were pundits Ian Wright, Steve McManaman and Adam Virgo. Wright and McManaman were both key regulars on BT’s Premier League coverage, whilst Virgo was their co-commentator on the National League. Former Albion defender Virgo needs little introduction on here, having already played, scored, pundited and commentated on previous televised Brighton matches! He spent seven seasons playing for the Seagulls, over two spells, having graduated from the youth system. Spells at Celtic, Yeovil and Colchester followed before bringing his playing career to a close at Bristol Rovers. Following retirement in July 2013, he made the move into the media having previously appeared on Sky Sports and BBC Radio Sussex. In the Autumn of 2013, Virgo made his television co-commentary debut on BT Sport’s coverage of the National League alongside Steve Bower, a position he instantly made his own and became a BT regular.

58ARS Wright 58ARS McManaman

Ian Wright was very much the one that got away as far as Brighton were concerned. In November 1983, recently appointed Albion boss Chris Cattlin had nineteen-year-old Wright on trial at the Goldstone. The striker played twice for the reserves, scoring in the first match but was not taken on full-time, much to his surprise and disappointment. The Albion’s loss was Crystal Palace’s gain, as he joined Steve Coppell’s lot in 1985 where he began banging in the goals in a six-year spell at Selhurst. His big move was to join Arsenal in 1991 for £2.5million where he went on to earn legendary status, becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer (which he held until 2005) and bagging the League title in the process. He also lifted two FA Cups, a League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup at Highbury. Post-Arsenal, he played for West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley before calling it a day in 2000. Since even before then, he forged a hugely successful television and radio career as both a pundit and an entertainment presenter. He joined BT from launch in 2013 to work across their domestic football, as well as being in the unusual position of doing BBC Match of the Day and international football for ITV.

Steve McManaman’s playing career was most associated with nine years at Liverpool before joining Spanish giants Real Madrid in 1999. He lifted the UEFA Champions League in his first season, scoring in the three-nil Final victory over Valencia. Subsequent seasons saw two La Liga titles and a further Champions League victory before he returned to England in 2003 with Manchester City. He won thirty-seven England caps, scoring three goals including the crashing strike to go two-nil up against Portugal in Euro 2000. He hung up his boots in 2005 upon his release by City and subsequently became a leading television pundit, firstly for Setanta Sports between 2007 and 2009. He teamed up in the commentary box with Ian Darke for America television with ESPN before joining BT in 2013.

58ARS Studio

His old sparring partner was on The Amex gantry here, as Ian Darke was joined by Robbie Savage. Darke covered boxing and football for BBC Radio for more than a decade before joining Sky Sports ahead of their Premier League launch in 1992. Teaming up with Andy Gray on the first three seasons of Monday Night Football, Darke then moved across to be the voice of boxing for a generation. He combined this back with Live football again from 2005 but was soon back behind Martin Tyler and Rob Hawthorne in the pecking order. In 2010 he made the move to the States with ESPN, covering the pick for the English top flight, before returning to UK screens to lead BT’s commentaries in 2013.

Robbie Savage worked hard to forge a career as a battling midfielder in the Premier League for the likes of Leicester, Birmingham and Blackburn having been released from Manchester United’s phenomenally successful youth side of the early 1990s. He switched to Derby in January 2008 but couldn’t force his way into the side for the start of the next campaign. He somehow ended up joining Brighton under Micky Adams, whom he worked with at Leicester. His one-month loan was hardly a success but, crucially for Savage, at least he was back playing in the first team again. After linking back up with Derby, and following a managerial change, Savage was a regular fixture in the midfield a renaissance in the East Midlands for another two seasons before retiring in 2011. His niggly, irritating playing style earned him a bad reputation amongst supporters of all clubs, often being the butt of jokes or the designated ‘boo-boy’. Despite this, he enjoyed a post-playing career in the media, starting with the BBC and ESPN before being taken on by BT as an analyst and co-commentator. From this season, along with BT commentator Darren Fletcher, he hosted two-hour Saturday morning preview programme Fletch and Sav ahead of the Live Premier League match.

One of the on-air mistakes Setanta made when joining the English football market was with their pitchside reporter. Alex Hayes, a fine print journalist at The Independent on Sunday, struggled to ask fluent questions of managers and players with the microphone, making for an awkward watch, before being dumped a few weeks in for Kelly Cates and Dan Roan. BT made no such mistake with their interviewer, employing a man with thirty years’ experience at the BBC and ESPN; Ray Stubbs. He joined BT as number one reporter from launch, covering the Premier League and FA Cup. Previously, he was front and centre hosting ESPN’s Live coverage of the same competitions, as well as a whole raft of high-profile events on the BBC. This included Match of the Day, Sportsnight, Grandstand, Football Focus and Final Score, as well as three Summer Olympics, the 1998 Winter Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He reported from the England camp in both Euro ’96 and World Cup ’98 and interviewed at various FA Cup Finals throughout the 1990s. Stubbs brought an authority and gravitas to BT amongst a largely younger approach.



58ARS Promo 58ARS Sponsor

The newest players on the British football broadcasting scene, BT Sport, were in their second season following launch in August 2013. Built on the foundation of thirty-eight exclusively Live Premier League matches having outbid previous holders ESPN, they then acquired the channel – in the process obtaining their key rights such as Premiership Rugby and American sports. This also included the final season of their FA Cup deal, which expired last season. From the start of this campaign, the Cup switched hands from ITV to BBC, whilst BT Sport retained their position as the satellite broadcaster. Under the new contract, BT would air up to thirty matches Live throughout the competition, including sharing the Final. Which brings us to this Fourth Round weekend as January drew to a close. BT’s three Live picks kicked off with Liverpool versus Bolton on the Saturday evening and concluded with Rochdale against Stoke on Monday night. Sandwiched in the middle was the Albion, who were drawn to host holders Arsenal in this Sunday afternoon clash.

58ARS Drone shots 58ARS Withdean

Coverage was sponsored by William Hill, yet another gambling firm to get involved in football broadcasting. BT Sport didn’t really do title sequences. The intros last season consisted of the BT globe logo spinning from the centre into the bottom left hand corner, with a short burst of music. That was retained for League coverage this year, but the FA Cup was given a makeover with an animated trophy and block bars listing the two clubs. The music was specially composed for BT to use on their Cup broadcasts, in use for its second season. Build up began thirty minutes before the 4pm kick-off, with beautiful aerial drone shots hovering over the Pier, seafront, the site of the former Goldstone stadium, now a retail park, and Withdean. This was all to highlight the contrast in where Brighton were from the glory days of the 1983 FA Cup Final through to the dark days of the 1990s. The graphics had been used since BT’s launch, nicely animating in and out from the channel logo position in the bottom right corner of the screen.

The presentation team of Jake Humphrey with pundits Adam Virgo, Ian Wright and Steve McManaman were situated pitchside at The Amex in front of the West Stand. Pitchside presentation was very much BT’s go-to position, allowing Humphrey the freedom to move around and explore the stadium in similar fashion when he successfully fronted the BBC’s F1 broadcasts. With Ian Wright very much an Arsenal man, McManaman assumed the role of neutral, whilst Virgo was clearly present to talk eloquently and knowledgeably about the Albion. The FA Cup trophy itself was on display alongside the team, on the back of three of the Premier League’s top four crashing out the previous day. Some of the goals and incidents from the key games played thus far on Fourth Round weekend were shown, with the pundits talking us through the action. Manchester United could only muster a goalless draw at Cambridge, League One Bradford ran riot at Chelsea scoring four, Spurs crashed out and Manchester City were upset by Middlesbrough.

58ARS Gordon Smith 58ARS Jimmy Case

The focus of the VT package in the pre-match coverage was around the Seagulls 1983 FA Cup campaign. Of course. Two members of the Cup Final starting line-up – Gordon Smith and Jimmy Case – both recounted their tales from that memorable run. Striker – and often forgotten as a Final goalscorer – Smith outlined the Albion thought process; “We had this plan, let’s be really relaxed and see how the Man United boys cope with that. We’ll come in the tunnel laughing and joking.” Tough tackling midfielder Case spoke about getting stuck into Manchester United’s Ray Wilkins early on; “I clattered Wilkins a couple of times. I used to love some of them tackles what you used to throw in every now and again!” Physio Malcolm Yaxley was also interviewed, as he tried to repair Chris Ramsey on the pitch following a hard challenge by Norman Whiteside. It was to no avail as Ramsey was just a yard short of Frank Stapleton who netted United’s equaliser after Smith put Brighton in front. Then came the famous Gordon Smith moment. In the last minute of Extra Time, with the scores level at two-all, he was put through on goal. Cue Peter Jones’ BBC Radio commentary line, with the commentator not missing a beat, “And Smith must score. And he hasn’t scored. And Bailey has saved it. And there goes the whistle for the end of Extra Time.” Of that chance, Smith honestly and bluntly admitted; “My decision I made was wrong, and I cost Brighton the Cup.”

58ARS Last meeting 58ARS Dunk

Attention then turned back to this afternoon’s clash. The two sides met at this stage two years earlier, with the Gunners edging a five-goal thriller. Humphrey asked Virgo if Brighton had a similar performance in them now to that day. “Well they have now, under the new manager Chris Hughton”, Virgo began. “I must admit if Sami was still here then you’d be slightly worried about the performance.” They picked out defender Lewis Dunk to preview, with Humphrey saying, “lots of clubs were sniffing around him.” As a former defender, Adam Virgo was well placed to praise the current Albion centre half, highlighting his ability on the ball as a particular strength on top of the threat he posed from set pieces in attack.

58ARS Cool people 58ARS Walcott

After the break, we saw a Brighton-made video spoofing one of the latest adverts BT used to promote their coverage. In BT’s ad, a few of their star names were shown walking slow-motion down the touchline with the strapline “The cool people to watch football with”, which Humphrey insisted was “completely tongue in cheek!” So a few Albion fans followed suit, with Albion Roar radio hosts Alan Wares and Ady Packham amongst the contingent. Wares then briefly chatted to Humphrey pitchside to explain “the mickey take of a mickey take”.

Back to the more serious business, reporter Ray Stubbs spoke with both managers; Chris Hughton and Arsene Wenger. Hughton explained the absence of star midfielder Joao Teixeira, missing through illness. It was a tough blow, particularly after another impressive performance in the midweek Ipswich win. Asked about his early impressions of the Albion’s potential, Hughton was quick to talk the club up; “Everyone will see today the stadium that we have here, which I think is a record crowd for the stadium. The training facility is excellent. But we’re not in the best position in the League and that’s certainly our priority.” After this, we heard the final thoughts of the studio team as they picked out returning stars Walcott and Ozil among Arsenal’s danger men, before another quick break. After which, we headed up to the gantry where commentators Ian Darke and Robbie Savage were waiting to take over.

58ARS BT Box 58ARS Coming Up

A feature of the channel’s coverage was their picture-in-picture split-screen, dubbed the ‘BT Box’. This was utilised, especially on replays, to show the Live action in the box and the replayed passage on the main screen. The box would also be used to show the bench or a different part of the action during play. At half-time, still presenting from pitchside, the team reviewed the two Arsenal goals. For the opener, Wright and Virgo were critical of Sam Baldock’s lack of challenge on the wing to allow Calum Chambers a crossing opportunity. They were impressed by Walcott’s finish and cited the difference in quality between the two Divisions as the difference. McManaman described Brighton’s half as “very, very poor”, allowing Arsenal too much space to play their football and showing a lack of adventure going forward.

58ARS Sub 58ARS European Football Show

After the final whistle and the advert break, there was around half an hour left before James Richardson and his journalistic experts took over for the usual Sunday evening European Football Show, rounding up the events on the continent before hosting Live coverage of a top match; tonight Fiorentina versus Roma. Reporter Ray Stubbs was busy in the tunnel gathering interviews with all the key men. He spoke first with two of Arsenal’s goalscorers; Theo Walcott and Man of the Match Tomas Rosicky, then latterly the manager Arsene Wenger. The studio team repositioned themselves slightly, in front of the dugouts by the tunnel, to wrap things up.

For Brighton’s first goal by Chris O’Grady, Adam Virgo dismissed talk of a foul on Chambers before the strike. Ian Wright questioned why Brighton didn’t make more use of O’Grady’s strength and power in the second period, seconded by Steve McManaman. On Arsenal’s third, it was of Brighton’s own making by giving away possession cheaply and dangerously. The finish though, real quality. Baldock’s goal to make it two-three was labelled “a great finish” by Virgo, with the assist from Holla also garnering praise. He also was pleased to see Brighton “passing with a purpose”, rather than just keeping the ball for the sake of it. Some of Arsenal’s defensive play caused concern for Wright.

Chris Hughton’s post-match thoughts were gathered by Ray Stubbs, particularly pleased with the response after the break. “Too often in that first half period we were too deep, not allowing ourselves to get out of trouble but I thought we stretched the game better in that second half. We certainly made more of a game of it and close in the end.” The final portion of the programme centred around the FA Cup weekend as a whole, with a glossy report reviewing some of the key incidents, goals and upsets from the previous day. This included a Leonardo Ulloa goal for Leicester in their surprise win at Tottenham. Back pitchside, the pundits talked through the goals from Sunday’s other ties as West Ham and Aston Villa both progressed. And with that it was time to go as another Live Albion broadcast came to a close.



58ARS Kick Off 58ARS Comms

In front of a record crowd at The Amex of 30,278 supporters, Arsenal kicked the game off shooting from right to left using the Cup’s salmon pink ball. And they got the breakthrough after just eighty-nine seconds thanks to that man again, Theo Walcott. Calum Chambers did well on the far touchline to skip past Sam Baldock’s challenge and gain a bit of space. His cross found Walcott twelve yards out on the right of the penalty area. The touch to control allowed him to quickly adapt his feet and suddenly a shooting opportunity arrived. Walcott drove the ball low and hard across the goal into the corner of the net for the perfect start. Arsenal executed their game plan well in the first period, dominating the ball and attacking with threat. When Brighton were in possession, Arsenal allowed them to play it round the back and keep it in their own half. The two strikers switched over from their starting positions, with O’Grady moving from centre to the left wing to allow Baldock a chance to lead the line and try to get more joy. The two swapped and changed throughout.

Arsenal’s superior quality showed, particularly when in attack, with frightening pace and better decision making. With a quarter of the match played, they made it two-nil. It was all thanks to some patient build up play and Brighton standing off their top flight opponents. Tomas Rosicky was allowed the time to dribble the ball in acres of space from the wing to the middle, waiting for the right moment to make the pass. He picked it out superbly, cutting out four Albion defenders in the process, to find Mesut Ozil inside the penalty box. Before Lewis Dunk could slide across to attempt to block, Ozil got his shot off. Around twelve yards out, his left foot effort nestled in the left-hand corner of Stockdale’s net for another well taken goal. “Carved apart like precision surgeons there,” cried commentator Ian Darke. Co-commentator Robbie Savage had harsher words for the Albion play; “They’re giving top quality players too much space, they’re not winning second balls, they’re not getting the ball in the final third, Szczesny’s yet to be tested. We’re twenty-five minutes in, Darkie!”

Brighton’s first real chance came just before the half-hour point, when Sam Baldock curled an effort just high and wide. The ball broke to him free at the back post after Laurent Koscielny was caught dithering in the area by Calderon. Baldock’s right-foot aimed for the top corner but just couldn’t quite achieve the desired accuracy. The rest of the half was an improvement for Brighton but they could not penetrate the back line of the team in yellow. At the break it was two-nil to the Arsenal.

58ARS OGrady goal 58ARS Baldock goal

As the second period began, Robbie Savage was urging Brighton on to give it a go, totally unimpressed by their efforts thus far. Within five minutes, the deficit was halved through Chris O’Grady. Albion’s attack wasn’t cleared properly by Arsenal, with Rosicky booting the ball high up in the air instead of away from goal. Baldock outjumped Chambers to win the challenge as it dropped from the sky. The ball rolled off Chambers to the feet of O’Grady with his back to goal just inside the box. He cleverly let the ball run to his right foot on the half-turn, rolling his marker Mathieu Flamini in the process. O’Grady unleashed a fierce low drive into the near corner, through Koscielny’s legs en route, to give the Seagulls hope. The goalkeeper had no chance and the crowd roared, scoring with their first shot on target. Game on. “Ooh we’ve got a Cup tie now!” enthused Savage.

The bright spell continued for the next five minutes or so but you could sense Arsenal had more of a killer instinct. And if he didn’t cover himself in glory for the Brighton goal, Tomas Rosicky certainly made up for it just before the hour mark to restore their two-goal margin. Rosicky won the ball back off Holla in a dangerous area and provided a no-look pass to Giroud on the left of the penalty area. The striker chipped up a return pass to the Czech international on the edge of the box who volleyed it into the back of the net. What a strike. But again, no Albion shirts within five yards of him, allowing so much space and time to pick his target. Brighton’s response was to bring on Solly March to add another body going forward. Arsenal didn’t rest on their laurels, perhaps wary of another Brighton resurgence, bringing on strikers Chuba Akpom and Alexis Sanchez for the final twenty minutes.

However, Brighton did force their way back into it. Sam Baldock was the man to finish off a neat move to bring Albion back to within one of Arsenal. Lewis Dunk brought the ball forward from the half way line, allowed the freedom to stroll out of defence with no Arsenal man in sight. He found Danny Holla in space between the Gunners midfield and defensive lines. He guided it on to Baldock who latched onto the through ball. As Szczesny rushed out of his goal, Baldock gently lifted it over him to nestle nicely into the back of the net. A very well worked goal gave the Seagulls renewed hope into the final quarter of an hour.

If the first half was a disappointment for Brighton, the second was much better. It was more determined, more spirited and they showed more fight than before. But ultimately, as in 2013, it was not to be. Arsenal’s quality just too much to handle and the Gunners took the tie by three goals to two. The performance grew and gave Hughton and the supporters enough belief to believe they could do much better than the current League position of nineteenth showed. The rest of the season was now all about proving that and moving away from the Championship relegation zone. Arsenal would go on to lift the Cup for a second successive season.

58ARS 5th Round.JPG

O’Grady, Baldock Walcott, Ozil, Rosicky

58ARS Replay



BHAFC Premier League Commentaries 2019/20

img_1598Brighton just about scraped their way to safety following a dismal run towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign, surviving over Cardiff by just two points. Manager Chris Hughton seemingly paid the price as he was sacked the morning after the season concluded. Swansea boss Graham Potter was the chosen one to replace him for the Albion’s third successive top flight season. 2019 saw the start of a new Premier League broadcasting contract, with Sky and BT remaining as the dominant partners. Also entering the fray were online streaming giants Amazon, who held the rights to show two midweek rounds in full Live. Whilst the money from this domestic deal was slightly down on the previous one, there was a significant increase from overseas broadcasters making the Premier League once again an embarrassment of riches. Sky no longer held rights in Ireland but did continue to show all non-Live matches in thirty minute highlight form, meaning every game enjoyed full commentary.

Here are the full commentary details of Brighton’s third Premier League season.

# Date Fixture H/A UK TV Live / World Feed Match of the Day
1 Sat 10 Aug Watford (W3-0) A Tony Jones & Tony Gale Mark Scott
2 Sat 17 Aug West Ham (D1-1) H Guy Havord & Tony Gale John Roder
3 Sat 24 Aug Southampton (L2-0) H Gary Taphouse & Keith Andrews Simon Brotherton
4 Sat 31 Aug Manchester City (L4-0) A David Stowell & Keith Andrews Martin Fisher
5 Sat 14 Sep Burnley (D1-1) H Guy Havord & Andy Walker Robyn Cowen
6 Sat 21 Sep Newcastle (D0-0) A Sky; Bill Leslie & Alan Smith Guy Mowbray
7 Sat 28 Sep Chelsea (L2-0) A Gary Taphouse & Tony Gale Jonathan Pearce
8 Sat 5 Oct Tottenham (W3-0) H BT; Darren Fletcher & Glenn Hoddle Simon Brotherton
9 Sat 19 Oct Aston Villa (L2-1) A Rob Palmer & Iain Dowie Jonathan Pearce
10 Sat 26 Oct Everton (W3-2) H Gary Taphouse & Andy Walker Conor McNamara
11 Sat 2 Nov Norwich (W2-0) H Guy Havord & Garry Birtles John Roder
12 Sun 10 Nov Manchester United (L3-1) A David Stowell & Iain Dowie Conor McNamara
13 Sat 23 Nov Leicester (L2-0) H Guy Havord & Davie Provan Simon Brotherton
14 Sat 30 Nov Liverpool (L2-1) A David Stowell & Davie Provan Steve Wilson
15 Thu 5 Dec Arsenal (W2-1) A Amazon; Clive Tyldesley & Alan Shearer Mark Scott*
16 Sun 8 Dec Wolves (D2-2) H Sky; Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe Simon Brotherton
17 Mon 16 Dec Crystal Palace (D1-1) A Sky; Bill Leslie & Alan Smith No highlights
18 Sat 21 Dec Sheffield United (L1-0) H Gary Taphouse & Andy Walker Tony Husband
19 Thu 26 Dec Tottenham (L2-1) A Amazon; Guy Mowbray & Glenn Hoddle Guy Mowbray
20 Sat 28 Dec Bournemouth (W2-0) H Sky; Martin Tyler & Alan Smith Steve Wilson
21 Wed 1 Jan Chelsea (D1-1) H BT; Peter Drury & Glenn Hoddle Simon Brotherton
22 Sat 11 Jan Everton (L1-0) A Rob Palmer & Davie Provan Martin Fisher
23 Sat 18 Jan Aston Villa (D1-1) H Gary Taphouse & Davie Provan Steve Wilson
24 Tue 21 Jan Bournemouth (L3-1) A Rob Palmer & Garry Birtles Tony Husband
25 Sat 1 Feb West Ham (D3-3) A Tony Jones & Keith Andrews Simon Brotherton
26 Sat 8 Feb Watford (D1-1) H BT; Ian Darke & Jermaine Jenas Jonathan Pearce
27 Sat 22 Feb Sheffield United (D1-1) A Rob Palmer & Keith Andrews Alistair Mann
28 Sat 29 Feb Crystal Palace (L1-0) H BT; Darren Fletcher & Martin Keown Jonathan Pearce
29 Sat 7 Mar Wolves (D0-0) A Rob Palmer & Keith Andrews Jonathan Pearce
30 Arsenal H
31 Manchester United H
32 Norwich A
33 Liverpool H Sky;
34 Manchester City H Sky;
35 Southampton A
36 Newcastle H
37 Leicester A
38 Burnley A

Matches 10 & 14 were shown delayed in full as the Game of the Day.

*Goal clips with commentary were shown on Football Focus as MOTD aired the night before match 15.

The season had a temporary break with all football postponed from 13th March due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus.

Final Premier League position;                        [Key; WIN, DRAW, LOSE]

The Amex as seen on Premier League Match Pack

Sky Sports Match Choice 2019/20

Match Choice 2019/20 img_9656

Match Choice provided 30 minute highlights of every single non-Live Premier League game throughout the season. There was a new title sequence for this campaign, used across the Live Super Sunday, Friday Night and Saturday Night Football shows; soundtracked as the theme tune by Labrinth’s “Something’s Got to Give”. The programme remained sponsored by Renault. The titles featured each of the twenty Premier League teams with a player posing behind the team name representing them. With Anthony Knockaert leaving the Albion for Fulham, he was replaced after two seasons on Sky’s titles by Jose Izquierdo. With the winger out injured for the majority of the season, Pascal Gross was edited in to replace him on the Live coverage from December. The programme itself just uses commentary, with no host or voiceover linking in and out. Graphics were the same as this year’s Live Sky Sports set, which in itself were a tweaked version of the previous season’s graphics. Game of the Day followed the same pattern.

BBC Match of the Day 2019/20

img_9649 img_9658 img_9647 img_9648

Match of the Day went through an overhaul of its look this season, with all football related programming now being presented via a fully virtual ‘stadium studio’. This enabled the background to constantly change according to the discussion at the time. Some things should never change though, and thankfully that familiar theme tune remained in the titles. Each Premier League club featured in the intro sequence, and each of the day’s fixtures were incorporated in text form. Brighton were represented by both a flying seagull (above, bottom left) and then star striker Glenn Murray (above, bottom right), who stood alongside Harry Kane near the end of the sequence.

MOTD 19-20 Live link up MOTD Studio 360 19-20

The studio in Salford incorporated 360 degree virtual reality technology for the first time. Gary Lineker hosted on the left with his two pundits on the right. Pictured above are Alan Shearer and Ian Wright; other regulars used throughout the season included Danny Murphy, Jermaine Jenas, Phil Neville, Kevin Kilbane and Martin Keown as well as newcomers Peter Crouch, Micah Richards, Tim Cahill and Karen Carney. Graphics were unchanged from the last couple of seasons. Team line ups used images of the players laid out in formation if it was a main game, shorter highlights edits had the player pictures animate on the lower third of the screen. Lineker would often speak to one manager after the match (above, top left) via videolink, with the commentators conducting the rest of the chats.

MOTD 19-20 MOTD Brighton Background 2019 MOTD line up 2019 MOTD Line ups 2019

BBC Match of the Day 2 2019/20

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Highlights of Sunday matches were broadcast on Match of the Day 2, shown on BBC One around 10.30pm each matchweek. The titles were a slightly modified version of the main show’s, with many clubs having a different player representing them on Sunday to Saturday. This season, new signing Neal Maupay was the Brighton man featured in the MotD2 opening sequence fresh from his debut goal. Once again, Mark Chapman was the regular host in the studio. He was sat in the middle of his two pundits, with the studio design adopting blue virtual stadium seating colours to contrast it with the red on the main show. In the screenshot below left, Chapman was joined by Tim Cahill and Danny Murphy. The show utilised the regular pool of BBC pundits listed above but also included guests from the world of football such as current and former managers, current players and footballers recently out of retirement. Additionally, semi-regular pundits who didn’t tend to appear on the main show did on MotD2 and the FA Cup highlights; Mark Lawrenson, Dion Dublin, Alex Scott, Jon Walters and Leon Osman. The rest of the programme followed the familiar pattern with round ups of the previous day and a lighter look at the weekend. Graphics were the same as used on MotD.


VAR; Video Assistant Referee

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The use of VAR was introduced to all Premier League matches from the beginning of the season, having been trialled in the FA Cup and League Cup in the previous year or two and at the FIFA World Cup in Russia 2018. This was given its own graphics and font used across all broadcasters worldwide. Although there were teething problems and a lack of clear communications, VAR was implemented to aid the on-field referee using replays and various angles and graphics to try to eliminate match changing mistakes. Stockley Park in West London was the location of the VAR room for all Premier League matches this campaign. The implementation of it was a total shambles.

FA Cup 2017

BBC Match of the Day broadcast highlights and goals from the FA Cup this season, many with full commentary edits, whilst both they and BT Sport held the Live rights. After last season’s run to the Semis, Brighton crashed out at the first stage this year to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

R3 Sat 4 Jan Sheffield Weds (L1-0) H World Feed & MOTD; Matt Davies-Adams

#4: Brighton Women 0-4 Arsenal Women 28/04/2019

#4 BRIGHTON WOMEN 0-4 ARSENAL WOMEN Women’s Super League
Sunday 28th April 2019 BT 2015

ARSW Titles

PRESENTER Clare Balding GUEST Alicia Ferguson-Cook
COMMENTATORS Adam Summerton & Lucy Ward REPORTER Connie McLaughlin
12.15pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     12-2.30pm Live on BT Sport 2

ARSW Sting ARSW Sting 2 ARSW Intro

Context of the Match: Approaching the business end of the season, today was Brighton’s final home match in their debut season in the Women’s Super League; England’s top professional Division. The campaign was thought of a success; reaching the Quarter Finals of the WSL Continental Cup, the Fourth Round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup and securing survival in the top flight for another year with games to spare. Victories were extremely hard to come by, with as many in the Cups as in the League – three in each thus far. In the WSL, only one team were relegated to the Championship and for a long time there was a three-way battle between the Albion, Everton and Yeovil to avoid the drop. This came to a premature conclusion at the end of March when struggling Yeovil Town Ladies were forced into administration amidst huge budget cuts. This gave them a ten-point deduction from the Football Association and, having already secured the lowest number of points of any team with just five at the time, were a long way from safety on a negative tally. Relegation was then confirmed mid-April with a five-nil home defeat to Reading. This boosted the confidence of Brighton, now able to play the final couple of rounds safe in the knowledge that they would be a WSL club again. Today’s opponents Arsenal in contrast had everything to play for; a win would secure them the League title for the first time since 2012. The Gunners ran out four-one winners in the reverse fixture back in November, Live on the BBC Red Button, and were strong favourites ahead of this one. Albion chiefs elected to host the match at the American Express Community Stadium in Falmer for its first Super League game, instead of the usual home in Crawley. A bumper crowd was anticipated with men’s team season ticket holders able to claim a free ticket. Attention was heightened as BT Sport broadcast the match Live to the nation at the earlier time of a 12.15pm kick off. With the World Cup to come in France in the summer, a season-long behind the scenes BBC documentary on West Ham United Women, the FA Cup Final this coming Saturday evening Live in primetime and the launch of a new terrestrial magazine programme last weekend, the spotlight was increasingly shining on the Women’s game.

ARSW Brighton ARSW Arsenal ARSW Formations

The Teams: Hope Powell made two changes from the defeat to Reading last time out. Emily Simpkins came in for her second League start of the season in the middle, whilst Tory Williams returned at the back. Longest serving player Kirsty Barton’s more familiar in midfield but reverted to right back for this one. She appeared in both previous women’s matches held at this stadium; a two-nil victory over Charlton in May 2015 and a three-one win against Sheffield two years ago. On the left wing, Aileen Whelan was named the club’s Player of the Season, as chosen by the coaching staff. Kate Natkiel grew up through the ranks at Arsenal whilst captain Dani Buet spent seven years there. Republic of Ireland international Megan Connolly joined the club in January from College football in America. Wales international Kayleigh Green led the line up top hoping to add to her solitary League goal this term. Ini Umotong scored the opener in the reverse fixture in Boreham Wood but began on the bench today. She was joined by Northern Ireland international defender Laura Rafferty who had recently recovered from injury having missed the past couple of months. Joe Montemurro’s high flyers needed just one more victory to secure the title and named the same starting eleven as last week’s win over Everton. Defender Leah Williamson, a graduate of the Arsenal academy, and striker Beth Mead will both be hoping to go to the World Cup in Phil Neville’s England squad in the summer. Midfielders Dominique Bloodworth and Danielle Van de Donk were amongst the scorers in the four-one win over the Seagulls in November. Captain Kim Little won the League with Arsenal when they last claimed the title seven years ago. Striker Vivianne Miedema broke the record for most number of goals in a WSL season back in December and was looking to add to her tally of seventeen; a figure higher than the entire Albion squad’s goals to date. She was also named PFA Women’s Player of the Year for this season. The referee was Lucy Oliver, whose husband Michael officiates in the men’s game.

ARSW Balding ARSW Ferguson ARSW Studio

Presentation Team: Hugely popular multi-sport broadcaster Clare Balding anchored BT’s coverage of today’s fixture. A former amateur jockey, Balding made her name hosting horse racing on firstly the BBC before switching to Channel 4 when they secured exclusive terrestrial rights from 2013. She’s also the lead presenter for BBC Sport on major Games such as the Olympics and Commonwealths, earning ‘national treasure’ status for her superb handling of the swimming during London 2012. With her stock at its highest following those Games, her freelance work stretched across multiple broadcasters on a wide range of sports; from Rugby League and the Boat Race on the BBC, Crufts on Channel 4 and her own sporting chat show on BT Sport. In 2017 she fronted Four’s coverage of the Women’s European Championship football – her first step into this sport – and has maintained links since. Balding has presented the odd WSL match for BT previously and is the face of the new Channel 4 magazine programme Women’s Football World which launched Saturday morning. Alongside her at The Amex was former Australian international striker Alicia Ferguson-Cook. Having spent most of her playing career in her native land, she moved to England for work purposes and was used by ESPN as a pundit on the newly-launched professional WSL. She also worked for the American version during the 2011 World Cup. Whilst in England she resumed her playing career, joining Millwall Lionesses for a couple of years before retiring in 2013 to move full-time in media, specifically production. Her current role is behind the scenes, as a producer on Women’s Football World and with production company Sunset+Vine. In the commentary box were regular pairing Adam Summerton and Lucy Ward. Summerton is the voice of BT’s National League coverage alongside ex-Albion man Adam Virgo. Additionally, he’s used across Europa and Champions League games, European Leagues and England Senior Women’s and Men’s under-21 internationals, all on BT Sport. Prior to this he worked for Manchester United’s club station MUTV from 2007, taking over hosting and commentary duties from Steve Bower. Coincidentally he went on to also replace Bower on Conference and Women’s football with BT. Lucy Ward is the UK’s premier co-commentator on Women’s football, having been behind the mic for well over a decade across ESPN, BBC, Channel 4 and BT. With a strong Yorkshire accent, she spent her entire playing career there with Leeds and Doncaster before carving out a hugely successful media career. Completing the presentation line up was touchline reporter Connie McLaughlin. Having begun her media career in her resident Scotland, he made her name with BBC Radio hosting and reporting various sports programmes where she still contributes to this day. In the past eighteen months she’s been a regular on BT Sport, providing in-game updates on the biggest Scottish football match of the day for results service BT Sport Score. She also occasionally features on their SPFL Live coverage.

ARSW Dugout ARSW Warm Up ARSW Powell ARSW Nobbs

The Coverage: This was the penultimate Live match of the WSL season for BT Sport, who came on air fifteen minutes prior to the 12.15pm kick off. Host Clare Balding began the programme by interviewing Arsenal Women’s coach Joe Montemurro in the dugout before handing over to reporter Connie McLaughlin who was speaking with Albion coach Hope Powell in the tunnel. When asked if playing today’s match at The Amex brought on extra pressure, Powell said “Probably there will be some pressure. The crowd that’s expected is probably the biggest they will have played in front of so that in itself brings a little bit of pressure. But really we want them to enjoy the occasion. They’ve got to showcase themselves.” Balding then moved to the pitchside position from which the rest of today’s coverage would be presented from, in front of an empty West Stand, where she was accompanied by pundit Alicia Ferguson-Cook (captioned just as Alicia Ferguson throughout). They began by discussing the WSL as a whole and how initiatives like this, housing a match at the main stadium, will only improve upon the integrity and quality of the League. Ferguson-Cook highlighted Ini Umotong’s absence from the Albion starting XI, explaining she’s expected to come on in the second half, but emphasising how impressive she has been this season with pace and strength up front. However today was Arsenal’s day and they were focussed on for much of the build up as they attempted to secure the WSL title. Injured midfielder Jordan Nobbs joined the pundits pitchside to give an insight into the buoyant dressing room. She also discussed the key Arsenal players; record-breaking goalscorer Vivianne Miedema and fellow Dutch international Danielle Van de Donk. Clips of Scotland’s Kim Little were ran, showcasing her influence this campaign. An advert break separated the chat from the action, after which Balding handed over to commentary team Adam Summerton and Lucy Ward with the players ready to emerge from the tunnel.

ARSW Team of the Season ARSW Miedema ARSW BT Box ARSW Celebrations

At half time Balding and Ferguson-Cook analysed the key moments including both Arsenal goals. Miedema’s footwork was praised for the first goal whilst her vision was crucial to the second. The gap in quality between the home and away sides was evident. The presentation team also looked through the PFA Women’s Team of the Year, with three Arsenal representatives as well as several England players. Manchester City captain Steph Houghton and striker Nikita Parris were named, as was Demi Stokes and Chelsea’s Hannah Blundell; all of whom were set to join Phil Neville’s National side at the World Cup in June. The aim of BT’s WSL coverage is to be as inclusive as possible, whether you’re a first time viewer or seasoned fan. After the match, around fifteen minutes were afforded to wrap things up and celebrate the Arsenal title victory. The trophy wouldn’t be presented today – that would come during their Live broadcast in two weeks time at Boreham Wood when the season concludes – but the emotions were poured out and the joy evident on the Gunners players. The cameras joined the team on the pitch as their huddle took place for a quick debrief with the manager before they all burst into song and chants of “Championes!” Reporter Connie McLaughlin spoke to two of the scorers in the centre circle; Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema. Many of the record crowd stayed behind to join in with Arsenal’s triumph as the PA system blasted out Queen’s We Are the Champions. Following an advert break, we returned to our pitchside position to review the match with our host and pundit who were joined by a few of the Arsenal squad and proud boss Joe Montemurro. Captain Kim Little was alongside him firstly, singing the praises of her teammates. In a moment of inevitability, Danielle Van de Donk gatecrashed the interview to spray her captain and manager with water bottles. Of course, Clare Balding wasn’t immune and had to try and jump out of the way, to little avail! Talk immediately turned to next season and how Arsenal could improve upon this, with European glory the next aim. The final few minutes were devoted to analysing the terrific finishes in the second half that doubled Arsenal’s lead from two to four-nil. The BT Box – picture-in picture – was utilised as Player of the Match Van de Donk joined the team to review her own goal before it was time to sign off as another top class broadcast came to a close in an historic year for the Albion Women; the first season they’ve had Live television exposure and four matches to boot. They’d be back in the top flight for another campaign in the autumn and we look forward to further coverage of this ever-improving club.

ARSW Kick Off ARSW Comms ARSW Huddle ARSW Yellow

Story of the Match: The Sunday afternoon kick off saw a record Women’s Super League attendance of 5,265 flock to The Amex to witness the matchup between debutants Brighton and title-chasing Arsenal. The previous record also featured the Gunners, when 5,052 saw them face Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium back in 2012. The spectators didn’t have to wait long for the opening goal, a fantastic strike from Arsenal’s top scorer Vivianne Miedema. The Dutch striker dispossessed Tory Williams almost twenty-five yards out before unleashing a fierce shot. The effort fizzed past ‘keeper Marie Hourihan, whose fingertips brushed the ball before it crashed down over the line off the crossbar. The visitors were in the ascendancy, controlling possession and dominating chances. The second goal came after some nice play between Kim Little, Miedema and eventual scorer Katie McCabe. Little on the left found Miedema centrally. She chipped the ball over the Albion defence for Ireland captain McCabe to run onto. Using her body to shield the ball from defender Williams, she was able just to help the ball in with her outstretched left foot past Hourihan and into the far corner to double the deficit. Commentator Adam Summerton surmised; “They play some of the best women’s football in the country, Arsenal, and there was a fine example of it. A great move rounded off superbly by McCabe.” Later in the half Williams had to deny Arsenal a third, heading Quinn’s looping effort off the line from a corner. That ensured the scoreline remained just two at the break.

ARSW Mead Goal ARSW Umotong Sub ARSW Champions

Brighton began well in the second period and had their first proper opening early on. Skipper Dani Buet’s cross from twenty-five yards on the far side got the better of Arsenal’s failed offside trap but had just too much on it for Aileen Whelan to nip in. Sari van Veenendaal in goal had to get down low to her right to palm the ball behind. For all the encouragement in this half for the home side, the goal wasn’t coming and shots on target were few and far between. Meanwhile Arsenal looked a danger from every attack and with twenty minutes left on the clock, they put the game and indeed the title to bed with one of the goals of the season. The visitors won the ball back around the half way line and were quick to break forward. Van de Donk stroked a ball towards the left wing where Beth Mead was running to. Her first two touches controlled the ball before taking it past Barton to run into a bit of space. She took just two further touches to dribble forward before firing an unstoppable curler into the top left-hand corner of Hourihan’s goal. The Albion ‘keeper could get nowhere near it, struck to perfection it looked a better goal with each replay shown. The trajectory of the ball barely moved as it sailed in from more than thirty yards. Her celebration included running over to the bench where England teammate Jordan Nobbs was watching on; a long-term absentee which ruled her out of the upcoming World Cup. And the icing was put on the cake six minutes later with Arsenal’s fourth. Miedema’s cross was part-cleared by the back of Barton. The loose ball was picked up by Van de Donk who laid it off for Little. She returned the favour to Van de Donk who given space on the edge of the box to roll the ball with her studs and calmly place it into the bottom right of the net. Brighton went close to a consolation goal in stoppage time when the impressive Megan Connolly saw her right-footed attempt land just wide of the post from outside the area but it was Arsenal’s day in the Sussex Downs as they ran out four-nil winners and in the process became League Champions with a game to spare. Brighton’s aim would be to end the season on a high in two weeks’ time and a trip to FA Cup finalists West Ham, but survival was the overriding aim at the beginning of the campaign and that had been secured. The next women’s football at this stadium would see the England national team make their final preparations ahead of the World Cup in France with a friendly against New Zealand in June.

ARSW Table

Miedema, McCabe, Mead, Van de Donk

ARSW Replay


EXTRA; BBC magazine programme The Women’s Football Show came from pitchside at The Amex today for the first time following this match with Arsenal. Broadcast on BBC One at 11.45pm after Premier League highlights on Match of the Day 2, the thirty-five minute show was hosted by Reshmin Chowdhury. The main focus was the match between Brighton and Arsenal, highlights of which formed the first half of the show. The extended edit had commentary as BT Sport, provided by Adam Summerton and Lucy Ward. This was the usual case that the highlights used the commentary from the Live matches shown on BT and BBC Red Button as well as the WSL Facebook stream.

Women's Football Show WFS Chowdhury

After the match, and with Arsenal securing the title with the win, reaction came from captain Kim Little and manager Joe Montemurro pitchside with Chowdhury. She then linked to highlights and round-ups of the other matches, as commentary was provided by Chris Sharples whilst Lynsey Hooper narrated. Following this, Brighton defender Laura Rafferty joined the presenter pitchside to discuss the Albion’s first season in the WSL and the aims of the club. Rafferty plays an important role as a Club ambassador and is often the poster girl for the Women’s team. She explained “It’s been busy, half of the team have come from being part-time to going full-time so it is a massive transition for the club.” The show continued with a further round-up and a look at the table before glancing at the Championship results and table. It concluded with a brief highlights edit of the Live Red Button match earlier today; Chelsea versus Lyon in the Champions League Semi Final 2nd Leg and comment about Youth Finals.

WFS Comms WFS RaffertyWFS Two Shot





#50: Brighton 1-1 Hull 17/02/2014

#50 BRIGHTON 1-1 HULL FA Cup Round Five
Monday 17th February 2014 Image result for bt sport logo

HUL Titles

PRESENTER Darrell Currie GUESTS David James & Jimmy Bullard
COMMENTATORS Ian Darke & Adam Virgo REPORTER Chris Hollins
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7-10pm FA Cup Live on BT Sport 1

HUL Promo HUL In Play Bet HUL Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton had started to find the consistency required if they were to make the top six in Oscar Garcia’s first season in charge. With two-thirds of the Championship campaign gone, the club were seventh in the table. A run of just two defeats in fourteen across all competitions saw the Seagulls cement their place as one of the contenders. The last three home matches were all settled by a solitary Brighton goal to nil, highlighting the defence’s solidity. With Gordon Greer and Matt Upson almost immoveable from the team sheet, 2011 Player of the Year Adam El-Abd wasn’t getting a look in so chose to depart for Bristol City in the January transfer window. He played his 300th, and final, League match for the Albion in the victory over Birmingham. Tonight ordinarily would have been an opportunity for him to have featured, being a Cup tie, as he did in the Third Round one-nil win over Reading at The Amex. Andrew Crofts got the only goal of that match. In Round Four the team beat League One Port Vale, managed for former Albion boss Micky Adams. Goals from Rohan Ince, Solly March and Jon Obika saw off the Valiants three-one to progress to this Fifth Round tie tonight. Newly promoted Premier League Hull City were drawn to come to The Amex. The Tigers went up as runners-up last year and were holding their own back in the top flight, sat thirteenth in the table. The last time they came to The Amex was a televised League match in which Vicente scored the only goal of the game almost a year ago. More recently, wins had been very hard to come by with just two in thirteen in the League. In the Cup they reached this stage by defeating Middlesbrough and Southend both by two goals to nil. Tonight’s Championship versus top Division clash attracted the attention of BT Sport, in their first season of broadcast, to elect to cover the game Live. The date was set for a Monday night fixture under the lights and in front of more than 21,000 spectators. The draw for the next round had already been done, with the winners due to host Sunderland. They of course were now managed by a certain Gus Poyet. Would the reunion be on or would it be Steve Bruce taking Hull to face his former club?

HUL Brighton HUL Hull HUL Formations

The Teams: Two key components of the League One title-winning squad left in the January transfer window. Midfielder Liam Bridcutt, pivotal to the Albion’s solid line and back-to-back Player of the Season in 2012 and 2013, was snapped up by his old boss Gus Poyet at Sunderland after weeks of speculation for around £3 million. This followed the news of striker Ashley Barnes move to Burnley after four years in Sussex. The Premier League was slowly picking apart the successful squad, a common theme during the Championship years. With Tomasz Kuszczak and Gordon Greer rested for the Cup and Adam El-Abd sold, Slovakian Peter Brezovan and academy graduate Lewis Dunk came into the starting eleven. With limited first-team football available this season for Dunk due to the experience of the regulars in his position, he joined Bristol City on loan for a month back in October. Previously he profited from injuries to Tommy Elphick and El-Abd by starting the early parts of the first season at The Amex back in 2011. Left-back Adam Chicksen had only started twice for the Albion before tonight; both in the FA Cup. Jake Forster-Caskey had featured in the majority of the League games so far but missed Rounds Three and Four. With Andrew Crofts out for the past month, midfielders Keith Andrews and Rohan Ince got more of a regular berth having featured on and off all campaign. Will Buckley had missed all of January through injury but returned to the bench last time out, graduating to a start tonight. Hampered by a lay-off mid-season, Kazenga LuaLua had only begun eight matches before this. Top scorer Leo Ulloa was back in goalscoring form, netting in both of Albion’s previous two matches. Local lad Solly March scored his first goal for the club during the Fourth Round victory at Port Vale and provided an option on the bench. For Hull and Steve Bruce, the squad was strengthened over the summer ahead of their step-up to the Premier League with goalkeeper Allan McGregor and defenders Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davies all signing. Midfield duo Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore moved from Tottenham. Captain Robert Koren missed more than a month through injury earlier on in the year. On the bench was Steve Harper, who had a brief time at the Albion on loan in 2011. Refereeing was Lee Probert.

HUL Currie HUL James HUL Bullard HUL Pitchside

Presentation Team: A familiar name to Brighton’s FA Cup coverage from the past few years hosted tonight’s broadcast. Scotsman Darrell Currie joined BT Sport at launch to be their face of Scottish Football. He transferred from ESPN where he was the pitchside reporter and occasional presenter North of the border, as well as doing FA Cup and Europa League matches. A similar approach was taken here by BT but instead of interviewing, he was now front and centre as host of the various competitions. Joining him tonight was one of BT’s star pundit signings David James. The former England and Liverpool goalkeeper retired from the professional game a year ago and has since been on BT’s roster, rotating with the likes of Owen Hargreaves, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen. James had previous punditry experience having been a part of the BBC’s Euro 2012 line-up. During his playing career he lifted the League Cup with Liverpool and the FA Cup with Portsmouth and won over fifty caps for his country, including wearing the jersey at the 2010 World Cup. Alongside David James on analysis duties was former Hull midfielder Jimmy Bullard. He spent eighteen months with the Tigers, with perhaps his most infamous moment coming during a goal celebration which spoofed his manager Phil Brown’s on-field team talk from an earlier match. Bullard enjoyed greater success at Fulham, reaching the Europa League Final, and Wigan, League Cup runner-up. He came to the attention of Sky’s cult Saturday morning show Soccer AM where his personality and character shone through on funny clips and features. He retired from the game towards the end of 2012 having had several serious knee problems throughout his career. His profile remained high through various media appearances and occasional spells in non-League. On the touchline was reporter Chris Hollins. BT made a habit of sharing ‘talent’ with the BBC and employed many of their presenters across their sports coverage on an ad-hoc basis. This included the likes of Mark Clemmit and Helen Skelton on the National League, Clare Balding was given her own chat show, and Steve Bower and Darren Fletcher commentated for both. Hollins was more familiar on BBC light entertainment, hosting Watchdog and BBC Breakfast sport bulletins and even won the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing. I don’t think any of our other presenters on the Albion games could ever say they’ve achieved that! He’s the son of former Chelsea star John Hollins and even played a bit during his youth, featuring for Aldershot and Charlton. His appearances on BT were sporadic but mainly included youth internationals and lower-profile football and rugby but more often than not was in the studio for the daily news programme SportsHub (formerly BT Sport Live).

HUL Dugout HUL On Pitch

In the commentary box were two recognisable names from previous televised Albion matches, and both for different reasons, Ian Darke and Adam Virgo. Commentator Darke was, alongside Martin Tyler, the voice that launched Sky Sports coverage of the new Premier League back in 1992, covering their Monday Night Football strand for the first three years before moving across to boxing. He returned full-time to football in 2005 with Sky where he covered all the Leagues, including our match at Leyton Orient and the JPT defeat to Luton on penalties. He went to the 2010 World Cup for the American version of ESPN and viewers enjoyed his commentaries so much he joined the broadcaster permanently towards the end of that year, ending a long-running association with Sky and the UK. When BT launched at the start of this season, he was one of the first people snapped up, as lead commentator on Premier League and FA Cup duties. Sharing a gantry with him tonight was the former Albion defender-turned-emergency striker Adam Virgo. His playing career has been documented through previous posts here, most famously perhaps during the 2004 Division Two Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg when his goal in the final minute of Extra Time against Swindon took the game to a penalty shoot-out where the rest, as they say, is history. He was forced into early retirement last October and has been appearing across a variety of media outlets. He covered our last Live Amex game for Sky Sports as a studio pundit – the draw with Watford. He’s also regularly heard on BBC Radio Sussex’s commentaries of the Seagulls at The Amex this year. His association with BT Sport began back in November when he was in the commentary box on their new National League (formerly Conference) broadcasts where he was since become their regular. He took over from James Beattie who struggled to get to grips with Live analysis having done BT’s early handful before Virgo joined and stayed pretty much since, in partnership with Steve Bower. Virgo has a good broadcast voice, provides strong analysis and works very well with whoever he’s paired up with; he clearly has a future in this line of work. It was a vote of confidence from his new employers at BT to give him a relatively high-profile Live match here tonight.

HUL Tunnel HUL VT StatsHUL Naylor HUL Back of the tunnel

The Coverage: BT Sport launched in August at the start of this season as the new direct rival to Sky Sports. In the Olympic summer of 2012 they surprisingly won the rights to broadcast 38 Premier League matches exclusively Live for three seasons from 2013, taking the place of then-holders ESPN, with Sky retaining the vast majority. ESPN was then incorporated into the BT Sport family and therefore many of their existing rights now belonged to BT, including Premiership Rugby and the FA Cup. BT’s move into the pay TV market seemed to come out of the blue, having previously been a leader in telecommunications mainly. Several channels launched from their hub at the former Olympic Park broadcast centre in Stratford, where three multi-purpose shiny studios were housed and the majority of their own programming derived. Key talent were signed up including Jake Humphrey, the face of the channel. Their Premier League offering was initially hosted from their studios, complete with a glass pitch and huge towering screens, however they moved to present from pitchside from November onwards. The regular kick off was Saturday 12.45pm before their Live Rugby Union action. The whole day had a sort of Grandstand feel to it, with the presenters handing over to the next set of hosts at the end of many of their broadcasts, treating the days like one big event. Consequently, full title sequences weren’t really a thing, they appeared more like break bumpers in the bottom left corner. They launched with much fanfare and intrigue and soon signalled their intentions by winning the star prize of exclusive Live UEFA Champions League broadcast rights from long-running partners Sky and ITV having only been on-air for a few months. The rights wouldn’t begin until 2015 but a huge buzz was around the new BT Sport group so early on in its existence. In terms of their FA Cup coverage, this was all presented pitchside from round one onwards, utilising their wider talent that covered both English and Scottish League football. The graphics were used across all their own programming, both Live and magazine formats. The BT logo – complete with their multi-coloured ‘connected globe’ – was key to this set, using it as the replay transition, the titles and the different coloured microphones for presenters. Whilst their Premier League theme tune was Primal Scream’s excellent ‘Come Together’, the FA Cup music was specially composed for them. The biggest change to the norm was moving the scorebar from the top to the bottom of the screen. It was something Sky trialled briefly for a few months in 2007 before viewer feedback led them to revert back, however BT persisted and it worked nicely with their graphics and on-screen channel logo. The in-game astons would peek out from the DOG in the bottom-right, to fill the screen across to the scorebar. They were black and slightly translucent, whilst the programme astons were on purple and grey backgrounds flying in from either side. They were nice and sleek, less flashy than their rivals at Sky.

HUL Ulloa pre match HUL View from the tunnel

Tonight’s broadcast began at 7pm, forty-five minutes before kick off, and was presented from pitchside, and indeed all around the Amex, as BT gained access all areas. Host Darrell Currie introduced the show walking across the pitch to meet his guests for the evening, Jimmy Bullard and David James, waiting in front of the tunnel. This allowed them to grab a quick word with players going out to warm up, first of whom was Hull’s captain Curtis Davies. The presentation team ran through the weekend’s other Fifth Round goals and talking points at the top of the show. After running through the team news, they then went for a little wander inside the tunnel, on the pitch, anywhere they could. These were the advantages of the access-all-areas coverage BT enjoyed and did so well. A VT outlined the differences and similarities between tonight’s two clubs and a potted history, including of course the 1983 Final. A further VT went a little bit more in-depth into the Albion’s past, with interviews with local press gurus Andy Naylor of The Argus and Ian Hart, formerly of BBC Radio Sussex and a fanzine editor, all voiced by reporter Alex Gordon-Martin. They spoke of Tony Bloom’s ownership, the conditions at Withdean in comparison to now, Gus Poyet and current head coach Oscar Garcia, who we also heard from during the piece. Garcia told how he learnt his philosophy at Barcelona; “I was very lucky to play with most of the best players around the world. I learned to be proactive and I like my team to be proactive as well. The first day I came here, I said I want to play for the fans, for the supporters.” The Premier League was the aim, a realistic one at that, no longer the dream, and that’s perhaps the biggest difference over the past few years. On the back of the report, Brighton’s chief executive Paul Barber and tonight’s co-commentator Adam Virgo joined Darrell Currie in the dugout to chat more about the current day club.

HUL BT Box HUL Possession HUL Upson HUL Lifes A Pitch

Adam Virgo stayed with the rest of the presentation team for a bit longer before heading up to the gantry. They kept the step count up by walking and talking on pitch, weaving around the warm ups as we watched desperate for someone nobody to get hit by a stray football. They highlighted Leonardo Ulloa – captioned as Jose as technically that is his real first name. After the break, reporter Chris Hollins picked the brains of both managers in the tunnel. Garcia explained the changes made to his starting XI, believing those selected would have enough to do the job; “I am only focussed on this game and I prepared a team to do everything we can to get through to the next round,” whilst acknowledging of course that he was expecting a tough game. As kick-off neared, we got a further glimpse inside the tunnel as they kept on the move. Currie handled proceedings seamlessly, with a few technical hiccups with lights and microphones unsuccessfully trying to throw him. A final pre-match prediction before handing up to the commentary team saw both James and Bullard predicting comfortable Hull wins. One feature of BT’s big match coverage saw a split-screen bet365 (them again!) advert with Ray Winstone offering odds to “bet in play now!”, becoming his trademark as the last thing before the game kicked off. This was around the period that advertisers could add live info over the top of commercials, betting companies suddenly exploded and were ubiquitous in football coverage. One of the innovations BT claimed was the ‘BT Box’; a small picture-in-picture video which showed another angle to the main coverage. It was particularly useful for showing Live events during a replay or if an off-the-ball incident was occurring. However it was mainly wasted on manager shots and close-ups of players unfortunately. The idea was good, the execution wasn’t quite right. Just after the final whistle, Man of the Match Matt Upson was interviewed in the tunnel by Currie with his pundits, stating it was “Quite an intense game, bit disappointed, feel a little bit down when you lose a goal so late on but we’re still in the round.” The half and full-time analysis came from the corner between the West and East Stands, one of the few areas of the stadium they didn’t visit during the build up. Around fifteen minutes were afforded after the game to wrap things up and review the goals with the pundits. As usual, Oscar Garcia wasn’t ready to be interviewed prior to the programme coming off-air, though we did hear from Steve Bruce just before closing time. When ten o’clock approached Currie handed over to the next programme, Life’s a Pitch, coming Live from BT’s Stratford hub presented by Des Kelly. This ran most weeknights, reviewing the day’s football news and results and gained notoriety in its early weeks for a rare interview with former Sky anchor Richard Keys, who added fuel to his own fire denouncing his sexist remarks as “just banter.”

HUL Kick Off HUL Comms  HUL Sub HUL Goal

Story of the Match: Immediately prior to the match getting underway, a minute’s applause was held following the death three days ago of Sir Tom Finney. He was acknowledged by many as one of the greatest to have ever played the game, capped 76 times for England and spent his entire professional career at Preston, Finney died at the age of 91. Brighton got the match underway with the FA Cup’s salmon pink ball used this season. The home side made the brighter start, with particular joy on the right hand side through today’s captain Inigo Calderon and Will Buckley. Leo Ulloa used his presence and power up front to cause problems for the Hull back line. It was Hull who went closest first, hitting the crossbar from an excellently improvised overhead kick by Sagbo. Elmohamady crossed in from the right to the edge of the six yard box where the striker was waiting. Having just got in front of the cross he flung his right leg up acrobatically to flick goalwards, crashing against the bar. Peter Brezovan in between the sticks could only look on, relieved the woodwork came to his rescue. But it was Brighton who struck first at the half hour point. Moving the ball from the back, Jake Forster-Caskey played it to Ulloa ten yards inside his own half. He back-heeled it first time to Will Buckley to drive into the Hull half. His through ball sent Ulloa running towards goal in the clear, taking two touches before dinking it over the onrushing goalkeeper for a lovely finish to a fantastic move. The Tigers came roaring back and almost equalised within two minutes. Tom Huddlestone’s corner was powerfully met by the head of Curtis Davies, this time the post came to the Albion’s rescue. The resulting scramble ended up flicking off the knee of Upson into the grateful arms of Brezovan. Warning signs either side of taking the lead had come. In first half stoppage time the Albion should have doubled their lead through Ulloa once more. Buckley’s cross on the right was perfect for the Argentinian to head home ten yards out. It appeared he had too much time and space to make up his mind as he sent his header just inches wide when the chance was crying out for someone with his talents to meet it.

HUL Yellow Card HUL Equaliser

Solly March replaced Buckley at the start of the second half as Albion freshened things up bringing on the teenager. Hull began brighter this time, taking the game to their hosts and controlling the possession. Adam Chicksen picked up a yellow card for a foul at left-back on his one hundredth career appearance. The resulting free-kick was driven across low and the touch could have gone anywhere, luckily for Brighton it skewed over the bar. A tactical change from Hull came with twenty-five minutes left, as striker George Boyd came on for defender Abdoulaye Faye. Steve Bruce was looking to avoid a similar outcome in a Cup tie to when his Sunderland team lost here in 2011, but clear-cut chances were few and far between. The game opened up in the final stages, with counter attacks from both sides. The patience of the Tigers finally paid off with five minutes left as Yannick Sagbo grabbed an equaliser with a well worked finish. Sone Aluko curled a ball towards the penalty spot where Sagbo was waiting. His first touch got in front of Dunk and took it past the defender who laid sprawled out on the floor. Sagbo then found himself one-on-one with Brezovan to calmly slot the ball between his legs and into the goal. Brighton had sat deep, too deep for co-commentator Adam Virgo’s liking, for much of the latter stages and were finally punished. The Albion weren’t too downbeat and with a minute to go almost regained the lead from a corner. Upson’s header on was headed up by Curtis Davies, just enough to creep over his own crossbar. At the other end in stoppage time David Meyler saw his header cleared off the line by Jake Forster-Caskey as neither side wanted to give in for a Replay. It remained one-all at the final whistle, meaning these two would have to have another attempt next week in their bid to join the rest of the Quarter Finalists.

HUL Quarter Finals

Ulloa Sagbo

HUL Replay HUL Replay Outro


NEXT; #51 HULL 2-1 BRIGHTON 24/02/2014

#1: Brighton Women 0-1 Liverpool Women 23/09/2018

Sunday 23rd September 2018 BT 2015

Women titles

PRESENTER Natalie Quirk GUESTS Sue Smith & Kelly Smith
COMMENTATORS Adam Summerton & Lucy Ward REPORTERS Natalie Quirk & Adam Summerton
12.15pm Kick Off; Broadfield Stadium, Crawley     12-2.30pm on BT Sport 1

Women presenter  Women guest 1  Women guest 2  Women studio

Context of the Match: This was the first ever live televised Brighton Women’s match. The Albion went into the match in their debut season in the Women’s Super League, the top division, having lost their opening two league fixtures under new manager Hope Powell. Liverpool came to Crawley without a manager after Neil Redfearn resigned having taken charge of just one league match.

Women line upWomen tactics

The Teams: Last season’s player of the year Dani Buet captained Brighton, linking up with ex-England boss Hope Powell again after she gave her her 8 international caps. Striker Ellie Brazil is the daughter of former Preston & Fulham striker Gary Brazil. Jess Clarke was amongst the more familiar Liverpool players with 52 England appearances.

Women kick off Women comms

Presentation Team: BT Sport regularly cover the Women’s Super League with a match on most weekends. Their top team consists of presenter Natalie Quirk and commentators Adam Summerton and Lucy Ward. Quirk and Summerton double up as reporters. Ward has been the go-to co-commentator for the women’s game for a number of years, working on live games on BBC, Channel 4 and BT. Summerton is also BT’s National League commentator and Quirk covers Speedway and reports on various football. The guests were vastly experienced pundits Kelly and Sue Smith, so this is pretty much BT’s strongest team for this league.

Women inplay Women interview

Story of the Match: A poor game in truth with very little quality or chances, substitute Rinsola Babajide scored the only goal of the game with five minutes remaining. Gillett in the Brighton goal was caught way out of position as Babajide’s shot from the edge of the box had her scrambling in vein across her goal-line. The defeat left Brighton on three losses from three in the league and second from bottom.


Women replay


BHAFC Premier League Commentaries 2018/19

img_1598Brighton kept their top flight status with a win against Manchester United in May 2017. As with last season, every Premier League game received a full commentary for the world feed and also for the BBC Highlights show Match of the Day, in addition to the separate commentaries used on the live matches selected by UK rights holders Sky Sports and BT Sport. The world feed commentaries are used by international broadcasters showing the games live, and are also deployed on the extended delayed coverage on Sky; 30 minute highlights of every non-live UK match as well as the best Saturday 3pm kick-off shown again in full at 8.30pm as ‘Game of the Day’. Sky Sports viewers in the Republic of Ireland have a bonus live Saturday 3pm match, so the opportunity to see, here and around the world, the Albion fight for another season amongst the country’s elite had never been greater.

Here are the full commentary details of Brighton’s second Premier League season.

# Date Fixture H/A UK TV Live / World Feed Match of the Day
1 Sat 11th Aug Watford (L2-0) A Guy Havord & Don Goodman John Roder
2 Sun 19th Aug Manchester United (W3-2) H Sky; Martin Tyler & Gary Neville Jonathan Pearce
3 Sat 25th Aug Liverpool (L1-0) A BT; Darren Fletcher & Steve McManaman Martin Fisher
4 Sat 1st Sep Fulham (D2-2) H Jonathan Beck & Efan Ekoku Mark Scott
5 Mon 17th Sep Southampton (D2-2) A Sky; Alan Parry & Alan Smith No highlights
6 Sat 22nd Sep Tottenham Hotspur (L2-1) H BT; Darren Fletcher & Glenn Hoddle Jonathan Pearce
7 Sat 29th Sep Manchester City (L2-0) A David Stowell & Keith Andrews Alistair Mann
8 Fri 5th Oct West Ham United (W1-0) H Sky; Bill Leslie & Jamie Carragher Simon Brotherton
9 Sat 20th Oct Newcastle United (W1-0) A Tony Jones & Andy Walker Guy Mowbray
10 Sat 27th Oct Wolves (W1-0) H Gary Taphouse & David Phillips Steve Wilson
11 Sat 3rd Nov Everton (L3-1) A Tony Jones & Iain Dowie Guy Mowbray
12 Sat 10th Nov Cardiff City (L2-1) A Sky; Bill Leslie & Alan Smith Alistair Mann
13 Sat 24th Nov Leicester City (D1-1) H Guy Havord & David Phillips John Roder
14 Sat 1st Dec Huddersfield Town (W2-1) A Gary Taphouse & Garry Birtles Steve Wilson
15 Tue 4th Dec Crystal Palace (W3-1) H Tony Jones & Keith Andrews Alistair Bruce-Ball
16 Sat 8th Dec Burnley (L1-0) A David Stowell & Keith Andrews Martin Fisher
17 Sun 16th Dec Chelsea (L2-1) H Phil Blacker & Garry Birtles Jonathan Pearce
18 Sat 22nd Dec Bournemouth (L2-0) A Guy Havord & Terry Gibson Tony Husband
19 Wed 26th Dec Arsenal (D1-1) H Sky; Rob Hawthorne & Alan Smith Steve Wilson
20 Sat 29th Dec Everton (W1-0) H Guy Havord & David Phillips Jonathan Pearce
21 Wed 2nd Jan West Ham United (D2-2) A Paul Gilmour & Davie Provan Simon Brotherton
22 Sat 12th Jan Liverpool (L1-0) H Alan Parry & Davie Provan Jonathan Pearce
23 Sat 19th Jan Manchester United (L2-1) A Ian Crocker & Davie Provan Steve Bower
24 Tue 29th Jan Fulham (L4-2) A Jonathan Beck & David Phillips Mark Scott
25 Sat 2nd Feb Watford (D0-0) H Tony Jones & Garry Birtles Steve Wilson
26 Sat 9th Feb Burnley (L3-1) H BT; Darren Fletcher & Steve McManaman Simon Brotherton
27 Tue 26th Feb Leicester City (L2-1) A Jonathan Beck & Don Goodman Steve Bower
28 Sat 2nd Mar Huddersfield Town (W1-0) H Guy Havord & Tony Gale John Roder
29 Sat 9th Mar Crystal Palace (W2-1) A Sky; Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe Jonathan Pearce
30 Sat 30th Mar Southampton (L1-0) H Gary Taphouse & Tony Gale Conor McNamara
31 Wed 3rd Apr Chelsea (L3-0) A David Stowell & Keith Andrews No highlights
32 Sat 13th Apr Bournemouth (L5-0) H Ian Crocker & Andy Walker Jonathan Pearce
33 Tue 16th Apr Cardiff City (L2-0) H David Stowell & Efan Ekoku No highlights
34 Sat 20th Apr Wolves (D0-0) A Alan Parry & Davie Provan Steve Bower
35 Tue 23rd Apr Tottenham (L1-0) A Sky; Rob Hawthorne & Alan Smith No highlights
36 Sat 27th Apr Newcastle United (D1-1) H BT; Darren Fletcher & Steve McManaman Jonathan Pearce
37 Sun 5th May Arsenal (D1-1) A Sky; Rob Hawthorne & Alan Smith Simon Brotherton 
38 Sun 12th May Manchester City (L4-1) H Sky; Martin Tyler & Gary Neville Guy Mowbray

Matches 22, 23 & 34 were shown live on Sky in the Republic of Ireland only.

Matches 4, 22 & 38 were shown delayed in full as the Game of the Day.

The 13 Live Premier League matches broadcast this season earned the Albion a whopping £15.7 million in TV income.

Final Premier League position; 17th                       [Key; WIN, DRAW, LOSE]

MNF 2018 Brighton


Sky Sports Match Choice 2018/19

img_7105 img_7069-1

Match Choice provided 30 minute highlights of every single non-live Premier League game throughout the season. The title sequence again was the same as the Live Super Sunday, Friday Night Football and Premier League Live intro, using Tom Grennan’s “Found What I’ve Been Looking For” as the theme tune for the second season running. The programme was now sponsored by Renault, replacing Nissan. The titles feature each of the twenty Premier League teams with a stat, nickname or line of info about the club along with a player to represent them. Replacing Brighton’s “Premier League Debut” of last year was simply “The Seagulls”, with Anthony Knockaert remaining the main man for the Albion. The programme itself just uses commentary, with no host or voiceover linking in and out. Graphics were the same as the Live Sky Sports set. Game of the Day followed the same pattern.

BBC Match of the Day 2018/19

MOTD 17-18 MOTD 18-19

The Match of the Day titles used this season again were similar to the previous season, with a few minor tweaks with updated players and teams. Each Premier League club featured in the intro sequence, and each of the day’s fixtures were incorporated in text form. Brighton were represented by last season’s key provider Pascal Gross and grouped together with the two other South Coast teams Bournemouth and Southampton. The theme tune, as ever, was the regular MotD theme.

MOTD Studio img_7229

The studio design was kept the same as the previous few seasons, with Gary Lineker hosting on the left and his two pundits on the right. Above are Danny Murphy and Ian Wright; other regulars used throughout the season included Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, Phil Neville, Ian Wright, Kevin Kilbane and Martin Keown. As with last season, Match of the Day 2 on Sundays was hosted by Mark Chapman sat centre of his two pundits. Graphics were the same as the previous season and World Cup 2018. As with last year, team line ups used images of the players and were laid out in formation.

img_7228 img_7230 BHA team

BBC Match of the Day 2 2018/19

MOTD2 titles 2018 MOTD2 Murray

Highlights of Sunday matches were broadcast on Match of the Day 2, shown on BBC One around 10.30pm each matchweek. The titles were a slightly modified version of the main show’s, with many clubs having a different player representing them on Sunday to Saturday. This season, Glenn Murray was the Brighton man featured in the MotD2 opening sequence. Once again, Mark Chapman was the regular host in the studio. He was sat in the middle of his two pundits, with the studio design adopting blue colours to contrast it with the orange on the main show. In the screenshot below, Chapman was joined by Ian Wright and Jermaine Jenas. The show utilised the regular pool of BBC pundits but also included guests from the world of football such as current and former managers, current players and footballers recently out of retirement such as Stephen Warnock and Matt Upson. The rest of the programme followed the familiar pattern with round ups of the previous day and a lighter look at the weekend. Graphics were the same as used on MotD.

MOTD2 Studio MOTD2 Stat


Due to the Albion’s progress to Wembley in the FA Cup, here are the commentary details of that Cup run. BBC Match of the Day broadcast highlights and goals from the FA Cup this season, many with full commentary edits. *However during our Round 3 & 4 matches, a voiceover report covered the limited highlights of the game whilst a longer edit featuring commentary was available on the BBC Sport website.

FA Cup 2017

R3 Sat 5th Jan Bournemouth (W3-1)


*World Feed; Gary Taphouse
R4 Sat 26th Jan West Brom (D0-0)


*BBC Online Highlights; John Roder
R4R Wed 6th Feb West Brom (1-1, W3-1 AET)


BBC Live; Steve Wilson & Kevin Kilbane
R5 Sat 16th Feb Derby (W2-1)


BT Live; Darren Fletcher & Adam Virgo MOTD Highlights; Robyn Cowen
QF Sun 17th Mar Millwall (2-2 AET, Win 5-4 on pens)


BBC Live; Jonathan Pearce & Jermaine Jenas
SF Sat 6th Apr Manchester City (L1-0)


BBC Live; Steve Wilson & Martin Keown


BHAFC Premier League Commentaries 2017/18

img_1598Brighton made their Premier League debut – and first top flight campaign for 34 years – in the 2017/2018 season. With this step up in opponents came a step up in television coverage. Every Premier League game receives a full commentary for the world feed and also for the BBC Highlights show Match of the Day, in addition to the separate commentaries used on the live matches selected by UK rights holders Sky Sports and BT Sport. The world feed commentaries are used by international broadcasters showing the games live, and are also deployed on the extended delayed coverage on Sky; 30 minute highlights of every non-live UK match as well as the best Saturday 3pm kick-off shown again in full at 8.30pm as ‘Game of the Day’. Sky Sports viewers in the Republic of Ireland have a bonus live Saturday 3pm match, so the opportunity to see the Albion in action here and around the world had never been greater.

Here are the full commentary details of Brighton’s debut Premier League season.

# Date Fixture H/A UK TV Live / World Feed Match of the Day
1 Sat 12th Aug Manchester City (L2-0) H BT; Darren Fletcher, Steve McManaman & Glenn Hoddle Jonathan Pearce
2 Sat 19th Aug Leicester City (L2-0) A Tony Jones & Don Goodman Steve Wilson
3 Sat 26th Aug Watford (D0-0) A Jonathan Beck & Tony Gale Guy Mowbray
4 Sat 9th Sept West Brom (W3-1) H Tony Jones & Don Goodman John Motson
5 Fri 15th Sept Bournemouth (L2-1) A Sky; Bill Leslie & Jamie Carragher John Roder
6 Sun 24th Sept Newcastle United (W1-0) H Sky; Rob Hawthorne & Andy Hinchcliffe Jonathan Pearce
7 Sun 1st Oct Arsenal (L2-0) A BT; Ian Darke & Martin Keown Simon Brotherton
8 Sun 15th Oct Everton (D1-1) H Tony Jones & Keith Andrews Jonathan Pearce
9 Fri 20th Oct West Ham United (W3-0) A Sky; Bill Leslie & Jamie Carragher Mark Scott
10 Sun 29th Oct Southampton (D1-1) H Sky; Bill Leslie & Alan Smith Steve Wilson
11 Sat 4th Nov Swansea City (W1-0) A Phil Blacker & Garry Birtles Conor McNamara
12 Mon 20th Nov Stoke City (D2-2) H Sky; Alan Parry & Andy Hinchcliffe No highlights
13 Sat 25th Nov Manchester United (L1-0) A Ian Crocker & Davie Provan Steve Bower
14 Tue 28th Nov Crystal Palace (D0-0) H Bill Leslie & Tony Gale Tony Husband
15 Sat 2nd Dec Liverpool (L5-1) H Alan Parry & Davie Provan Martin Fisher
16 Sat 9th Dec Huddersfield Town (L2-0) A Jonathan Beck & Keith Andrews Guy Mowbray
17 Wed 13th Dec Tottenham Hotspur (L2-0) A Martin Tyler & Tony Gale Simon Brotherton
18 Sat 16th Dec Burnley (D0-0) H Gary Taphouse & Garry Birtles Steve Wilson
19 Sat 23rd Dec Watford (W1-0) H Tony Jones & Keith Andrews Jonathan Pearce
20 Tue 26th Dec Chelsea (L2-0) A Gary Taphouse & Andy Walker Jonathan Pearce
21 Sat 30th Dec Newcastle United (D0-0) A David Stowell & Davie Provan Alistair Mann
22 Mon 1st Jan Bournemouth (D2-2) H Sky; Bill Leslie & Andy Hinchcliffe Jonathan Pearce
23 Sat 15th Jan West Brom (L2-0) A Daniel Mann & Garry Birtles Conor McNamara
24 Sat 20th Jan Chelsea (L4-0) H Sky; Alan Parry & Alan Smith Simon Brotherton
25 Wed 31st Jan Southampton (D1-1) A Tony Jones & Efan Ekoku John Roder
26 Sat 3rd Feb West Ham United (W3-1) H Ian Crocker & Davie Provan Jonathan Pearce
27 Sat 10th Feb Stoke City (D1-1) A Rob Palmer & Tony Gale Martin Fisher
28 Sat 24th Feb Swansea City (W4-1) H Phil Blacker & Iain Dowie Steve Wilson
29 Sun 4th Mar Arsenal (W2-1) H Sky; Alan Parry & Alan Smith Steve Wilson
30 Sat 10th Mar Everton (L2-0) A Gary Weaver & Davie Provan Steve Bower
31 Sat 31st Mar Leicester City (L2-0) H Gary Taphouse & Keith Andrews Tony Husband
32 Sat 7th Apr Huddersfield Town (D1-1) H Phil Blacker & Garry Birtles Steve Wilson
33 Sat 14th Apr Crystal Palace (L3-2) A Rob Hawthorne & Andy Hinchcliffe Jonathan Pearce
34 Tue 17th Apr Tottenham Hotspur (D1-1) H Sky; Martin Tyler & Davie Provan No highlights
35 Sat 28th Apr Burnley (D0-0) A Jonathan Beck & Keith Andrews John  Motson
36 Fri 4th May Manchester United (W1-0) H Sky; Rob Hawthorne & Gary Neville Jonathan Pearce
37 Wed 9th May Manchester City (L3-1) A Ian Crocker & Keith Andrews No highlights
38 Sun 13th May Liverpool (L4-0) A Sky; Martin Tyler & Gary Neville Steve Wilson

Matches 13, 15, 26, 30 & 33 were shown live on Sky in the Republic of Ireland only.

Matches 11, 13, 15 were shown delayed in full as the Game of the Day.

Final Premier League position; 15th [Key; WIN, DRAW, LOSE]

MNF 2017 Brighton


Sky Sports Match Choice 2017/18

Match Choice 17-18 img_7357

Match Choice provided 30 minute highlights of every single non-live Premier League game throughout the season. The title sequence was the same as the Live Super Sunday, Friday Night Football and Premier League Live intro, using Tom Grennan’s “Found What I’ve Been Looking For” as the theme tune. The titles feature each of the twenty Premier League teams with a stat, nickname or line of info about the club along with a player to represent them. This season Anthony Knockaert was the main man for the Albion. The programme itself just uses commentary, with no host or voiceover linking in and out. Graphics were the same as the Live Sky Sports set. Game of the Day followed the same pattern.

BBC Match of the Day 2017/18

MOTD 17-18 MOTD 17

The Match of the Day titles used this season were similar to the set introduced in the previous season, with a few minor tweaks with updated players and teams. Each Premier League club featured in the intro sequence, and each of the day’s fixtures were incorporated in text form. Brighton were represented by club captain Bruno and grouped together with the two other South Coast teams Bournemouth and Southampton. The theme tune, as ever, was the regular MotD theme.

MOTD Studio 17-18 MOTD Studio 17

The studio design had been the same for the previous couple of seasons, with Gary Lineker hosting on the left and his two pundits on the right. The red coloured panels behind the presentation team last season replaced the previous gold scheme retained after the show’s fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2014/15. Above are Jermaine Jenas and Danny Murphy; other regulars used throughout the season included Alan Shearer, Ruud Gullit, Phil Neville, Ian Wright, Martin Keown, Kevin Kilbane and Frank Lampard. Graphics were tweaked for the new season with a yellow and white background and a sleeker wipe animation, with augmented reality providing virtual graphics all over the studio. These were used across the BBC Sport output.

img_9552 img_9551

Match of the Day 2 on Sunday nights used the same studio and set, but with host Mark Chapman now sat in the middle with his two pundits either side of him. The titles were broadly the same as the main show, except Bruno was replaced by Anthony Knockaert, as most of the teams had a different representative for MotD2.


As an aside, due to the Albion’s progress in the FA Cup to the quarter final stage, here are the commentary details of that Cup run featuring two live games and two matches chosen for extended highlights.

FA Cup 2017

R3 Mon 8th Jan Crystal Palace (W2-1) H BT Live; Ian Darke & Adam Virgo
R4 Sat 27th Jan Middlesbrough (W1-0) A MOTD highlights; Vicki Sparks
R5 Sat 17th Feb Coventry City (W3-1) H MOTD highlights; Jonathan Pearce
QF Sat 17th Mar Manchester United (L2-0) A BT Live; Ian Darke & Steve McManaman. MOTD Steve Bower


The 2017/2018 season saw another 15 live matches for Brighton, in the process taking the historic total to more than 100 live UK televised games. A win over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup saw the first time VAR could be called upon if necessary for the club, for the stadium and the competition. The best away performance of the season was televised, courtesy of an outstanding, comprehensive victory over West Ham at the London Stadium. A big defeat of Arsenal in March goes down as a highlight. But the moment of the season was a famous victory over Manchester United in May, courtesy of Pascal Gross’ goal-line-technology-approved winner, ensuring the club’s Premier League status for a second season. Which means we get to do this all over again next year!

Baker & Kelly’s VSPO; 107 hours of joy

I haven’t got any pets. In fact I don’t particularly like animals at all. But I appreciate lots of people do. They connect with them in a way that others simply don’t ‘get’. Imagine the sadness if they were then to lose said pet. A feeling that something’s missing, a slight emptiness in their routine. I feel that when a television show I grow fond of comes to an end. Surprise turns to shock, followed by sadness then anger that’s it’s been allowed to end before finally resigning myself to the fact it’s gone and I ain’t changing anything. It was like that when TFI Friday finished. It was like that when The Big Breakfast was ended. I even shed a tear at Big Brother’s Channel 4 funeral. At least those shows had a good run. Several years on telly is no mean feat.

So imagine my horror when Danny Baker and Danny Kelly brought down the curtain on another excellent season of their BT Sport vehicle VSPO on Monday 18th May by announcing it was the last live show ever. The title stands for Vaguely Sporting Phone Out as subjects for discussion were offered up by the two Dannys for us to then get in touch and, for a select few, get a call from them to regale on air. It’s a format they’ve done, both together and separately, in various guises down the years very successfully and made its television debut in August 2013 when the newly created BT Sport launched. Friday nights at 6pm live for one hour of unscripted, free-flowing wit and charm. A certain TFI Friday could be boiled down to that sentence too. I took to it from the start.

It was clear that the genius of Danny Baker was heavily involved in much of the creativity and spontaneity of the show. Anyone who has read both best-selling autobiographies, with more to come, or listened to just a snippet of his radio work knows that genius is but an understatement for the man. His writing style on TFI was also clear on VSPO. But I think it was Danny Kelly who played the most vital part of the show. Often relegated to sidekick when Baker is in full flow, he seems to hold the show together and able to keep it ticking along nicely. The long-standing friendship and mutual respect the two have for each other was an essential element for its success. They complemented each other. The rapid wit and thinking-on-feet of Baker matched the carefully chosen, lovingly-crafted factoids brought in by Kelly. To see the pair on top form is a broadcasting treat.

The show threw a load of ideas out there week in, week out. Some stuck, and the public ran with it. Some didn’t. Graeme Le Saux’s giant chess game perhaps didn’t catch the nations attention as might have hoped! Early success stories seem to develop organically, a major beauty of the show and it’s free-flowing format. A footballer baked in bread and sent in by a viewer for show one developed a lovely item in season one called Roll Models. A full squad of edible ballers was soon assembled as others got in on the act. A giant ball of football socks was built over the first few months as viewers and guests alike were ecouraged to donate to the cause. A mountain of matchday programmes was erected on the cluttered desk, with the excitement building as to which fixture would be the one to topple it. Very early on a tarot card reader was a regular fixture as we looked at the supernatural forces predicting football. It was of course nonsense, but the Dannys knew that full well. It was a testament to them that the item worked for as long as it did, whilst giving subtle and knowing nods and asides to our camera. We were treated as equals eavesdropping in on our mates rather than talked at or down to.

The key to it was simple, joyous fun. It was a football show about the fans as much as it was about the game itself. “A funny thing happened on the way to a game” was an example of the many subjects we were offered. Contact the show, tell the nation about your funny story. “Did you ever write to a player or club?” When Ray Wilkins was on as a guest there was indeed a caller who wrote to Ray as a child. A lovely moment remembered from probably 30 years or more in the past. Our hosts were on our side; the fans side. They weren’t trying to compare who the best footballer ever was; is it Pele or is it Messi? Who cares?! They’re different generations in different games. Incidentally we were made aware that a certain Mr Pele’s penis makes an appearance in a book of football photographs, much to the amusement of Baker who happened upon that book himself. 

They were our voice on telly. Not content with accepting the ridiculous wage demands of Adebayor and Sterling, or the outrageous attempts at cheating from others, they wouldn’t brush over that for fear of ‘upsetting the individuals’, they would rightly point it out for the farce it was. Danny Kelly’s regular cries of “Come on Guy!” became an ell-encompassing catchphrase for the sillier, more frustrating side of the modern game. Premier League players complaining of tiredness 3 weeks into the new season? Come on Guy! Celtic getting knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers twice in one season? Come on Guy! As well as the bad, Kelly also kept us regularly informed of the great and the good still in football. Nuggets of information such as the European league in which with 7 games to go, it was still mathematically possible for any team in the league to become champions. Or the progress of Hyde FC who hadn’t won a single league game all season. Or Scunthorpe in League 2, who would go up having drawn more games than they’d won. The show was classic Reithian; inform, educate, entertain.
Entertain they did in buckets! Two of the most fondly remembered features will be the toasters and Keep or Delete. Both born from very straightforward premises, but both hugely captivating. Two see-through toasters, A and B to give them their names, would each week be used to predict which team would win the big match upcoming. Predictor games have been a big part in football comedy shows over the years, from dogs choosing to eat from a variety of bowls to fish tank footbal games. This was as simple as whichever popped up with the toast first would win the game. The fantastic thing was the toasters started to get the winning team right. The luck continued week after week. They even managed to predict a draw when both bits of toast popped up at the same time! The success rate was remarkable and the show had a hit on its hands. They didn’t quite do so well in season two and were often replaced with other predictor games Danny Baker had thought up, often using vinyls and other props lying around his house, but they were a mainstay for much of the run. They even warranted their own a Twitter accounts. Now that is infamy.

Keep or Delete was another succes of the show, born out of a growing trend for people at football matches to just photograph everything. Every time there’s a corner or a throw-in you’ll see people behind the player taking a picture of what must just be his back. So the show would decide once and for all whether the photo sent in would be kept or if it was just so bad it had to deleted forever. It even came with its own TFI style jingle and title sequence. There were some shocking photos sent in; some out of focus, some completely missing any of the action on the pitch instead getting the back of the bloke in front. It was honest, recognisable fan interaction. It’s the only football show where they actually ask proper, interesting questions. You came away learning something from every show. Players shooting waywardly into the crowd during the warm ups; they actually are aiming to hit us! Just ask Ian Wright. They questioned ex-pros about the everyday things taken for granted, like the kit or signing cot tracts and transfer dealings. Don’t dismiss the show as two blokes having a laugh about footy, they got us the answers we never really thought we’d get. Always managing to get the best out of players, which wasn’t always easy with some.

The high point was when the show did a run of 32 consecutive nights for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – where the nuts come from! It was a perfect antidote to the bland, stuffy studio chat in between the games that the BBC and ITV were offering up. 32 different predictor games, no toasters in sight. We heard what it would have been like if Jools Holland (voiced by Wisby) were the commentator. With Jools’ odd intonations, just hearing “NeyMAR, ladies and gentleman, NeyMAR!” still brings back happy memories. We saw 11 year odd pundit Harvey, updates from Baker’s radio sidekick Lynsey Hipgrave out in Rio and a regular news update keep the legitimacy amongst the fun and frivolity. Baker and Kelly Not in Rio was a joy to watch. I even managed to contribute via Twitter with my name mentioned and my joke getting a laugh.

The gallows humour of the show “the only thing on BT Sport right now”, being able to laugh at themselves and the channel was a refreshing welcome. Baker’s regular digs at the BT canteen facilities or suggesting the pitch side desk used on the live coverage was actually a piano was great. During the final live show there were several mentions about it being the last ever; during the toaster prediction the chosen game was the Championship play off final which “like us won’t be on BT Sport”, I assumed to be another part of the humour. Sadly it seems like I’m wrong and, after 107 live shows over three fantastic series, the show really has come to an end. Just like The Big Breakfast did, and TFI Friday all those years ago. I’ve felt the shock and the sadness and the anger, and this was the reflection. So thanks to everyone who worked on the show, who contributed, to those who watched (clearly not enough of us) but “chiefly yourselves” Danny Baker and Danny Kelly. Thank you for providing me with such fantastic TV memories. I now have three shows to bring back when I launch my own channel. I just hope it’s very soon.

FA Cup Final : BT Sport Coverage 2014

“For the neutral, an absolutely terrific start” [Ian Darke, BT Sport commentator, 2014]

I don’t want to talk about the ‘magic of the cup’. I don’t want to mention that bloody nine year wait for an Arsenal trophy. I certainly don’t want to discuss the idiot who leaked a picture of the Arsenal victory parade bus before they had won it. All of those things will have been done to death in the days preceding the 133rd FA Cup final. It is of course nowadays just another footy match to most. The magic has long gone. The laughter about Arsenal’s lack of success has turned to sadness and pity. And the less said about that bus the better. The only thing keeping my interest in the FA Cup final this Saturday evening, 5pm kick off now folks, was the extensive TV coverage afforded. I mean just look at the number of people newcomers BT Sport had on air!

BT Sport

BT’s FA Cup Final team

We all know about the traditions of lengthy build ups to this match, stretching all the way back to the 1960’s and fantastically documented in the Football Attic blogs here and here. In recent seasons this sort of thing has made a comeback through Setanta and ESPN. The fact both their UK football output is now defunct is neither here nor there. Perhaps the most similar reincarnation of the old World of Sport style has been with BT Sport, who like to link together their sporting output as if the whole day is one big programme. Presenters chat to the next set of presenters before they hand over in the faux-chummy way we’ve become accustomed to, nobody really saying goodbye. On this occasion during Cup final day the coverage shifted from Wembley between 1pm and 4.15pm for some live Premiership rugby.

Before the egg-chasing, BT viewers saw a Cup themed Sports Panel with the excellent James Richardson filling in. From midday there was then an hour long preview show live from Wembley (and I mean all over Wembley) anchored by Jake Humphrey. Opening the show on Wembley Way in front of some early rising Hull fans alongside Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand, Ian Wright and Jimmy Bullard, dressed as if off to the darts in a stereotypical blokey loud shirt. I do wonder what these fans do having arrived at the ground a whole five hours before kick off. There’s only so much pestering of the cameras one can attempt before it becomes irksome. Yet year after year there are fans there waiting.

That wasn’t it for the BT line up. Throughout the hour we also saw regular pundits Neil Warnock, Steve McManaman and David James cropping up in unusual places around the ground. Of course all bases were covered elsewhere; with Darrell Currie and Lynsey Hipgrave at the nearby hotels, Arsenal fan and actor Tom Watt convening with his own kind (fellow Gooners, not other luvvies) and professional Frenchman David Ginola inside the stadium. Ginola has had a couple of hosting roles this season and has done alright. Here his role mainly consisted of being excited and enthusiastic while asking quite basic questions to move the show along. Enthusiasm is not a bad thing, certainly compared with the pure disdain we’ve suffered from the likes of Lawrenson, Hansen and Shearer on the BBC in the past at having to cover games that aren’t blockbusters. So it was also a great sight to see ex-Hull midfielder Bullard genuinely delighted to be there. Right from the start he talked of how it was a privilege and honour to be granted access-all-areas at the home of football, not having been fortunate enough to have played there before. It was a refreshing change not to see pundits going through the motions, counting down the days until the next golf match.

BT Football

BT Sport’s first FA Cup final

Ian Wright is what’s known as a ‘personality’. That usually means he rubs viewers up the wrong way but there’s no doubt he’s a TV natural and does really care about the game. I’ve never really had a problem with him, he’s been used by all the major broadcasters over the years and will be going to the World Cup with ITV in Brazil. As an Arsenal favourite he was in his element during the build up, strolling round the pitch perimeters lapping up the applause and mingling with the fans. He was lively and unpredictable. The sort of thing these long broadcasts need every now and again.

If Wright and Watt represented the Arsenal perspective, Bullard and Warnock were most certainly pro-Hull. The underdogs in a Cup final are often treated with a mixture of disrespect and patronisation. It wasn’t really the case today. Chief reporter Ray Stubbs, a veteran of Cup final interviews gone by, had an interesting chat with Hull boss Steve Bruce about his Wembley experiences as a player. Helen Skelton of Blue Peter fame, now BT’s lower tier football host, drew the short straw by travelling down on the Hull supporters coach and having to interview the fans. The inserts weren’t live of course, BT have had their knuckles rapped for that recently. All these little things did add to the occasion and provided the colour and much-overused word ‘atmosphere’ that we’re told we need for these days.

It’s difficult really to innovate football coverage, most of the good ideas have been in place for years and the ones that aren’t any good are soon binned. So you have to credit them for some nice little touches for their debut final. Jake, Michael and Ian recreated the short journey the team bus takes whilst inside the Wembley complex, underground in the bowels of the place you don’t normally see. It was on a golf buggy and seemed a bit naff but it was still a nice idea which I haven’t seen before. And I watched all twelve hours of last year’s coverage on ESPN. Another quirk was Lynsey, David and Steve tracing the walk the winners, and losers, make from the tunnel up to the Royal Box to collect the trophy. Sure it was nothing groundbreaking but in a condensed format compared to previous efforts it flowed nicely and wasn’t too long or drawn out.

From a geekier point of view, if this can get geekier, other very nice touches were in the little bits just before the adverts. The theme music was adapted from the regular tune to a classical, stirring version. Either side of the breaks classic Cup final goals were shown, with original commentary. Nothing new there but the clip began by focussing on a live shot of the part of the empty Wembley turf that the move began on, then fading seamlessly into the archive footage. Again something I’d never seen previously but proved a really nice way of introducing an old favourite. As ever viewer interaction was utilised in the form of a Twitter hashtag (#MyFACupFinalDay) which was exactly what you think it was. Tweets sprawled up at the bottom of the screen with the usual nonsense fans talk about; superstition, beer, ‘come on you Tigers’, it goes on. A child was also involved, briefly, in the form of Joseph Hadfield who won the Young Presenter of the Year competition that ran much of the season. His prize was to have a quick chat with Michael Owen as the pair emerged from the tunnel. Host Humphrey seemed as up for that part as he did the whole day. He has received mixed reviews on his debut season as a football presenter but for all his faults he really does try to bring the viewer in as much as possible and comes across as a genuinely likeable person. He had dreamed of hosting this event since childhood. He did himself proud.

Three man commentary team

Warnock and Owen didn’t forward Darke the light-blue shirt memo

Once the build up was over and Leona Lewis had finished the usual double of Abide With Me and the National Anthem, the only real point of note was the three man commentary team as opposed to the usual two. BT’s first ten or so Premier League matches used this set up of lead commentator, co-commentator and occasional summariser in the form of ex-referee Mark Halsey. He was quickly shown to be out of his depth and they reverted back to the traditional two-man line up. However for this final Ian Darke and Michael Owen were helped out by Neil Warnock, who added infrequent opinions. It actually did seem to work. It allowed Owen a bit more time to think and less time to waffle, gave Darke a bit more to work with and can certainly see a similar set up being introduced next season. My main concern was about Warnock talking too much but he was very laid back and understood his role well. The criticism would be that he was very pro-Hull and quite bitter towards the Arsenal players and refereeing decisions but considering that was also my stance I wasn’t too fussed. It was also probably Owen’s strongest commentary to date.

As the game went into extra time the broadcast was extended by 45 minutes until 8.15pm to allow time for the winning goal, trophy presentation and post match dissection. Again the bright points during this included a distracted Ian Wright playing up to the crowd around him. And the benefit of pitch side presentation was the players milling around behind them so the likes of Jack Wilshere and Yaya Sanogo came and joined the pundits for a quick chat too. It worked out well for BT with the coverage going as smoothly as you could have hoped for. The game was also a decent one; the highest scoring final for six years. It draws the curtain down on a very impressive first season for them at the top level. The best could yet be to come with the continued Premier League and FA Cup rights and then the big one – the Champions League exclusively live – from 2015. It’s just a shame Arsenal had to go and ruin it all by winning the damn trophy.

Watch the BT Sport FA Cup Final promo
Watch Ian Wright’s post final celebrations on BT
Read my blog on how ITV covered the 2014 FA Cup final