Small Screen Seagulls; In the Spotlight at Withdean

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sDuring our twelve-season tenancy at Withdean the club was extremely successful. Three League championships were won, with a fourth promotion via the Play Offs. The Albion arrived in the lower half of the lowest League, Division Three, before consolidating, improving and taking the fast track up to Division One. Two relegation seasons in the dozen years saw some of the lower on-field moments, but the club were determined to be in the second tier by the time the new home was in place. The fairytale story was completed with the League One title secured prior to the final match in April 2011. As the success grew, television naturally came calling that little bit more. Here, look back at some of the programmes that showcased the Seagulls players and surroundings on screen whilst at Withdean. The piece begins with a cult Saturday morning football show on Sky in December 2004.

1

SOCCER AM (18th December 2004) Sky Sports 1

SAM Ident SAM Sponsor SAM Titles

To get you in the matchday mood you had Football Focus in the 1970s. Saint and Greavsie dominated the 1980s. Fantasy Football took the mid-1990s by storm. And as the 20th Century drew to a close, a small budget early morning entertainment programme on satellite was beginning to make big waves in the footballing community. Soccer AM began life on Sky Sports in 1995 as a four-hour discussion and phone-in show with Russ Williams and Jane Hoffen at seven in the morning, before Gary Stevens and Helen Chamberlain joined later on. It was a bit bland, a bit straight but it filled up lots of hours of Sky’s schedule when there was little chance of Live sport. When Tim Lovejoy came on board as producer and presenter in 1996 he changed the show beyond recognition and took it to new heights, with the aim being to replicate the excitement and build up that the Cup Finals of the 70s and 80s got on the telly. They built up a small but loyal following over the next couple of seasons on Saturday mornings, inviting viewers into their world of silly costumes, funny sketches, games, goals and star names. Soon everybody was clambering to be on the show, from the likes of Ray Winstone and Chris Evans, through Noel Gallagher to Rio Ferdinand and Paul Gascoigne. It was the place to be and soon became one of Sky’s most talked about shows. By 2004 it was a staple of the football coverage; for three hours each and every Saturday morning forty weeks a year from 9am you would tune into Soccer AM to see Tim and Helen, along with crew members Fenners, Sheephead, Tubes, Rocket, Robbie and co, entertaining you ahead of the big matches over the weekend. The show was sponsored by Yorkie, during the chocolate bar’s “It’s not for girls” campaign. With Brighton’s promotion into the Championship via the 2004 Play Off Final, media exposure was on the rise. On 18th December 2004, having played (and lost to Stoke one-nil) on the Friday night, three of Albion’s finest were invited onto the famous orange sofas to talk all things Brighton. They were striker Leon Knight, winger Nathan Jones and midfielder Charlie Oatway.

SAM Presenters SAM Sofas

With the show being three hours long at this point, the first hour was usually spent looking back at some of the best goals of the week along with funny moments, features and sketches. Particular highlights included Boston Goals, a parody of the unusual phrases American commentators use for football, showed the goals from Boston (in Lincolnshire as opposed to New York!), there was Northern 1970s style comedian Big Stan Hibbert (“I’m here all week!”) telling a classic gag and crew member Sheephead with his Topless Weather, once again pointing out down South there was “light drizzle!” These things sound ridiculous in isolation but once you joined in with the world Soccer AM created in that Isleworth studio, you were hooked and part of the gang. The second hour of the show was all about the guests and there were a whopping 7 (seven!) of them on this episode. As well as the Albion trio, joining later was former Spurs and Chelsea man Jason Cundy and three members of The Charlatans, backed by the noise of the Fans of the Week from Oxford United. When introducing them all at the top of the show, Lovejoy asked Chamberlain, “What’s Charlie Oatway like, Helen?” To which she replied, “He’s brilliant. He’s hard as nails so don’t upset him!” And the final hour, with the guests still present on the sofa, would go up a gear as the big hit features came out. The likes of Third Eyes, Showboat, Crossbar Challenge, Soccerette, Live link-ups to a ground and the locker sketches were amongst the most popular items before the show culminated with the fans kicking footballs through a hole in the end game. We’ll return to that last one later.

SAM Guests SAM Stoke game SAM Trio

Tim Lovejoy introduced the Brighton boys onto the show for their main interview with the line, “Our first guests have got their Christmas party tonight so are getting very excited. Please welcome Brighton’s Leon Knight, Nathan Jones and Charlie Oatway.” After the opening pleasantries they showed Ade Akinbiyi’s decisive goal from the previous night’s loss at Withdean to Stoke as well as Oatway’s chance towards the end, his miss getting a ribbing from the other Seagulls. That was going to be the order of the day, it was just a chance for each of them to take the mickey out of the other. Helen Chamberlain brought up Knight’s yellow card during the game, his fifth of the season, for an apparent dive. Both Knight and Chamberlain protested it should have been in fact a penalty, whilst a researcher frantically trawled through the tapes in order to find the incident. No sympathy from Jones though; “Ask him what his other four bookings were for though?” with Oatway adding “Exactly the same thing!” As Lovejoy mentioned in his intro, it was the Albion Christmas party that night and each of the boys drew out a famous name to dress up as. Knight got the short straw, his own words, and ended up as a lion, Jones got Dolly Parton and Oatway had probably the best you could get, Freddie Mercury. They talked about the Play Off Final victory in Cardiff, where the club produced a DVD using Charlie Oatway’s self-filmed footage behind the scenes that day. A clip of him imitating boss Mark McGhee running away from the fans during the Semi Final pitch invasion was shown and Oatway revealed the money he received from that would go to an unnamed player who recently had to retire due to illness.

SAM Jones press ups SAM Jones Soccer Skills SAM Basil Fawlty SAM Bus Stop

A feature of the show during the 2004/05 season was a footballer would do press-ups as the end credits rolled. The previous week had seen Nathan Jones’ attempt, which was controversially discounted as the arms didn’t lock back on the way up, enabling him to do more quicker. As he pointed out after seeing a clip, “Brian Jacks won Superstars with them!” In a bid to rectify that, Jones agreed to do press-ups Live at the end of the show, and Leon Knight being the competitive type decided he’d go head to head with him. It wasn’t the first time Jones had been featured on the show though, as a couple of years earlier his tricks earned himself its own item called ‘Nathan Jones’ Soccer Skills School’. In it, Fenners voiced a heavily exaggerated Welsh accent over the top of three of Jones’ tricks. The first, entitled the ‘Basil Fawlty’, saw him hugely overestimate a step and stretch his leg out in the style of Fawlty impersonating a German (above, bottom left). He actually won a penalty with the move. The second was the ‘Exaggerated Rhondda Valley Stepover’, in which he comically feigned a stepover. And the final one came in the same passage of play, after he did the stepover and sent the defender in a spin he just stopped and put his hands on his hips, AKA the ‘Bus Stop’. All set to the tune of The Entertainer. Afterwards, Jones revealed, “To be honest with you, it’s a bit detrimental because I used to get booted.” During the week, the guest researchers would phone the players up to get some idea of stories for the show and the Brighton players just used this as an excuse to wind the others up. As a result, Leon Knight was accused of having the driest shins of any footballer, Nathan Jones was revealed to be obsessively neat and tidy yet never washed his clothes and Charlie Oatway used and abused his local trainer store by returning each pair after he wore them. “I had that shop in the bag, now you lot have killed it!” he laughed. At which point the interview came to an end but the trio would still be hanging around in the studio for the rest of the morning.

SAM Stools SAM Knight Crossbar

A little bit later on the crew had dug out the Knight penalty incident from the Stoke game which saw him pick up his fifth caution of the season. After seeing it twice, it seemed only Knight and Chamberlain still thought it was a penalty, with the rest laughing at the comical fall. Lovejoy recommended he got Chris Kamara to highlight it on Goals on Sunday, as he often did with incorrect refereeing decisions. Fast-forwarding some more past next guest Jason Cundy’s chat and it was time to bring out the band. In order to accommodate The Charlatans on the sofa for their chat, the other four guests had to relocate. They were placed on stools behind the sofa, which gave the team a huge laugh as they knew what was coming next. A pan up of the camera was accompanied by a burst of the “Fool Again” chorus by Westlife, with the boyband famous for just sitting on stools when performing. It was so funny they did it every chance they could! The Charlatans were unable to stay for the whole show so the stools were only utilised for a few parts unfortunately before the boys returned to the sofa area. Fun whilst it lasted! The previous week it was Brighton’s turn to feature on the Crossbar Challenge, where all they had to do was hit the crossbar with a shot from the halfway line. It proved harder than it sounded. We saw our three guests attempts again this week (above, top right), with none of them able to get anywhere near. “Bit far” was Jones’ excuse.

SAM Oxford fans SAM Oatway Kick SAM Press Ups

The traditional climax to the show was outside in the Frank McAvennie car park where the Fans of the Week had sixty seconds to score as many balls through the hole as possible, with the caller guessing nearest winning a t-shirt and other merchandise. This year, as last, the show was celebrating Sky’s purchase of UEFA Champions League football rights with the game “We are the Champions League”. The target was the star-shaped hole in the middle of the ball logo, with the guests acting as ballboys for them before it was their own turn to have a kick. The Oxford fans were not very good at all, only managing two. Of the four guests, only Charlie Oatway was able to convert his kick (above, top right). They all rushed back inside to close the show with the head-to-head press-up challenge as Knight took on Jones, Live! The credits rolled along the bottom of the screen, along with the joke names and gags, whilst a version of Santa Baby played, given the time of year. Nathan Jones’ press-ups didn’t seem to dissimilar to the ones he executed (badly) previously but even so, he couldn’t keep pace with Leon Knight over the minute and the striker took it 71 to 61. And another excellent show came to a close. It was the first taste of a big light-entertainment show featuring any of the Withdean crop and they did well. The club got plenty of mentions, came out of it looking like they were up for a laugh and joined in with all the craziness that went with Soccer AM.


2

COCA COLA’S ‘WIN A PLAYER’ PRIZE (30th May & 30th June 2005) Sky Sports

WIN Group

The Football League went through its biggest rebranding since 1992 when it renamed the three Divisions in 2004. Division One became the Championship, whilst Two and Three became League One and League Two respectively. A new sponsor was gained in the form of fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola, replacing Nationwide on the titling. As part of their sponsorship, Coca-Cola went into marketing overdrive. Their iconic red logo was adapted into the colours of each and every one of the seventy-two League clubs for use in the stadium, in the programmes, online and in print. The new logos were everywhere. They even redesigned the lower League and Play Off trophies into what looked sort of like a drinks bottle. But the most memorable campaign came towards the end of that first season of sponsorship when they launched their ‘Win a Player’ promotion. In exchange for buying a bottle of Coke, fans could enter into a prize draw where their football club would receive £250,000 to go towards a player, or players. The winning fan would also receive £10,000 for themselves. It was a simple yet brilliant idea, with a quarter of a million being a deciding factor in whether or not a club with little to no money could afford to actually spend money in the transfer market. For the lower League clubs this could be season changing. Even though the Albion were now competing in the Championship, finances were all being poured onto the campaign for Falmer which was still ongoing at this point. So this money would be a wonderful addition in order to welcome a new face to the club. The Terms and Conditions allowed for entries for multiple supporters from the same club rather than just one chance in seventy-two. The clamour for Coca-Cola bottles was on up and down the land!

WIN Cheque WIN Aaron Berry WIN McGhee WIN Studio

After eighty days of the promotion, a winner was drawn from the hat and would be revealed during the pre-match build up to the Coca-Cola Championship Play Off Final at the end of May 2005. Sky Sports televised the match Live between Preston and West Ham United at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Reporter Chris Kamara, who had been heavily involved as one of the faces of Coke’s promotion, was standing by the centre circle with the winning fan along with their club’s manager and chairman. Over one million entries were received. So imagine the delight when up pops Dick Knight and Mark McGhee next to Kamara. They were joined by the winning supporter, Albion fan Aaron Berry, all behind the giant cheque confirming a quarter of a million pounds was heading to the South Coast. The rules stated the money had to go towards the transfer and/or wages of players and couldn’t just be pocketed by the club and that £250,000 needed to be spent by the end of August that summer. This gave Coca-Cola the opportunity to market the player for the new season. During the Live Sky Sports interview, Dick Knight joked that the winnings could afford Mr Berry to become the chairman now! Knight spoke of how this would “double the playing budget” and would invest wisely. Always alert to the bigger picture, he of course stressed the need for a new stadium, really taking that television opportunity to remind everyone watching – and especially John Prescott – once more. He, thankfully, never missed a trick in promoting the needs of the club. Manager Mark McGhee responded to Kamara’s question of how he would spend the money simply with one word – “Wisely!” He added, “We’ve now got a budget!.. It’s a fantastic windfall for us. It really could be the difference between us staying in the Division and being relegated.” Up in the studio, host George Gavin and his guests George Burley and Paul Jewell echoed the chairman’s words regarding a new home. Gavin said, “All the problems they’ve had, I’m not sure any fan in the country would begrudge Brighton having that money if they couldn’t have it.”

 

WIN Sky Sports News WIN Kazim-Richards

A month later, on 30th June 2005, Brighton used the whole £250,000 windfall to sign eighteen-year-old striker Colin Kazim-Richards from Bury (or you could say Berry, after winning fan Aaron) on a three-year contract. Sky Sports News reporter Jeremy Langdon was there to cover the story as Kazim-Richards posed with Berry, Knight and McGhee for Coca-Cola’s promotional material. The new signing was immediately dubbed “The Coca-Cola Kid”, a tag which he would always be remembered. Speaking on the moniker, he said “I’d rather just Colin! But it’s nice for someone, anyone, to just know who I am.” Mark McGhee hoped that is exactly what he’d be known for as opposed to anything else. Whilst the chairman explained Kazim-Richards had been on their radar for some time, even before the money, fighting off competition from the likes of Wigan and Leicester. Signed as a prospect for the future, he lasted just one season at the Albion before being shipped on at his own request, but did score a memorable last-minute equaliser in the Live televised match at Sheffield Wednesday which was probably one of his highest points with the Seagulls.


3

THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE SHOW (1st January 2011) BBC One

FLS Potted History FLS Clem Goldstone FLS Wembley 83 FLS Goldstone Retail Park

The spotlight dimmed when the Albion were relegated from the Championship in 2006 and took a few years to find their feet in the third tier. By the time the BBC took over highlights of the Football League in 2009, their Saturday night programme The Football League Show had extended coverage of a couple of the day’s matches, all the goals from all the rest of the games and a report or feature. The latter involved their reporter Mark Clemmit providing a ‘Potted History’ of a club, looking at some of the key moments and achievements of a team’s past. He would also report from a selected match from the three Divisions to take a closer look behind the scenes and interview players and managers. Clemmit was a familiar voice on BBC Radio Five Live and in his native Middlesbrough and transferred to television with this programme. On the 2011 New Year’s Day edition, Clemmit’s potted history was on Brighton and Hove Albion. Soundtracked by ‘Sussex By the Sea’, the report began with shots of the home at the time; Withdean Stadium before a note on the formation of the club in 1901 and subsequent move to the Goldstone Ground a year later. He appeared from behind the gold rock (above, top right) located in Hove Park from which the stadium took its name. He then moved on to 1920, when the club first joined the Football League, before looking back at the Albion’s main piece of national notoriety; the 1983 FA Cup Final appearance (above, bottom left). By law, any mention of that match must then include Gordon Smith’s chance to win in in the last minute of extra time. Twelve years later the bitter row between the inept board and the heroic fans was chronicled, as the iconic Goldstone Ground became just another retail park (above, bottom right) when the site was sold for redevelopment. Clemmit touched upon the final day relegation escape at Hereford in 1997 and the subsequent two-year ground share with Gillingham as the 1990s drew to a bitter close.

FLS Goldstone now FLS Goldstone then FLS Withdean FLS Withdean North Stand

The Goldstone now (above, top left) and then (above, top right) were compared and contrasted before moving to the current situation of playing at Withdean Stadium, the temporary home since 1999 (above, bottom left and right). “The athletics stadium, formerly a zoo, was supposed to be a temporary one. By the time they move to their £93 million new home next season, they’ll have been here twelve years.” He told how the club’s nickname changed from the Dolphins to the Seagulls in 1976, in direct response to rivals Crystal Palace and their Eagles moniker. The potted history concluded with shots of the pier (below, left) as he gave details about the club song Sussex By the Sea; it “was written in 1907 as a military march. It was a favourite of former Brighton director, the late Norman Wisdom.” Following the report was a quick round-up of the Albion’s match that day against Leyton Orient. The result was a comprehensive five-nil victory over Russell Slade’s side, the man who kept the Seagulls in the Division just eighteen months earlier. Dave Beckett voiced the action, starting with Glenn Murray netting courtesy of a Chris Wood cutback. Wood, on loan from West Brom, crossed from the left less than two minutes later and saw it fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Jamie Jones to double the lead. In the second half, Liam Bridcutt was sent through on the near side. He fired it low across the box for Murray to finish first time for three-nil. His hat-trick was complete on the hour mark when Elliott Bennett slid a pin-point ball through the defence and extend Murray’s excellent goalscoring form. A fifth was added by Ashley Barnes when he latched on to his own headed flick, with the Orient defence giving him acres of space. A five-star performance for manager Gus Poyet and his League One leaders, who said afterwards; “Passing the ball, moving around – it’s a pleasure. As a manager to achieve that with the players that we’ve got in this Division is absolutely fantastic.” Almost five months later the Albion were crowned Champions as their time at Withdean, finally, drew to a close.

FLS Piers FLS Scoreline


4

TAKE IT LIKE A FAN (21st January 2011) Sky Sports 2

TILAF Titles TILAF Presenters

After leaving Soccer AM with Tim Lovejoy and half the crew in 2007, Fenners returned to Sky Sports three years later to do some interviews for Soccer Saturday and then co-host his own weekly football quiz show on location; Take It Like A Fan. The show was new for the 2010/11 campaign and aired on Friday nights, usually following the Live Football League match. Fenners, AKA John Fendley, and co-host Charlotte Jackson from Sky Sports News would present the show from a football ground each week, playing various games and quizzes in order for fans to win money. In January 2011, with the club going very well at the top of League One in the final season ahead of the move to Falmer, the programme came from Withdean Stadium around the Peterborough match. Fenners and Jackson would ask various questions in rounds before and after the match, and a special prize for one of the fans would be to take a penalty kick at half-time in order to win big. Welcome to Take It Like A Fan! They had a cracking theme tune too, Hunger by Frankie and the Heartstrings.

TILAF Round One TILAF Zamora goal TILAF Zamora question TILAF Zamora guesses

The show began with the round borrowing from a famous line of commentary; “There’s Some People on the Pitch”. So-called because the spot from where they film from is based on a famous moment on that pitch. After showing Kazenga LuaLua’s spectacular strike against MK Dons earlier this season and the incredible comeback against Swindon in the 2004 Play Off Semi, it was then decided as to where our first quiz would be taking place. For this Withdean special it came from the spot within the penalty area where Bobby Zamora volleyed a superb goal past the Halifax goalkeeper back in March 2000. After seeing the goal, we met the two contestants who were going head-to-head to win the chance to take a penalty at half-time and win £500. Playing today were Albion fans Christos and Joel. They were asked to write down how many of Zamora’s 117 goals thus far were scored for Brighton, the nearest would take the spot kick later. Unfortunately for Christos, the answer was 76 and so Joel Kaltz would be stepping up to test his shootout skills.

TILAF Dugout TILAF Home or Away 1 TILAF Home or Away 2 TILAF Oatway

Our hosts caught up with manager Gus Poyet in the dugout as he went about his pre-match routine. He pointed out it was the half-way point of the campaign, unbeaten at home so far but too many games were played at this level. They also mentioned his son, Diego, who had represented England – and not Uruguay – at under-16 level recently. Before leaving they tested him out with one of the quiz questions; Which Spanish club are nicknamed El Submarino Amarillo (the Yellow Submarine)? Quick as a flash he named Villarreal and won £10, sent straight to charity. The next round was Home or Away, very much not the same as the round in A Question of Sport as the ‘Back off Barker’ campaign from the show attempted to make clear so Sue doesn’t sue. Joel’s brother Jake took part in this one, with the aim of the game being to answer three questions correctly about either today’s home team – Brighton – and win a tenner or, for fifty pounds, the away team – Peterborough. He went with the home option for the first question, shown above top right, which he correctly bagged ten pounds. For the remaining two he went away, getting the second correct but unable to name which of Mark Wright, Terry Butcher and Tony Adams had a spell managing today’s visitors. After the three, there was the option to go double or quits and answer question four, shown above bottom left. He got it right and doubled sixty quid to one-hundred-and-twenty English money pounds. First team coach Charlie Oatway popped up pitchside before the warm up to give Fenners some grief about his jacket choices and answer the following question, somehow, correctly; ‘Which club did Manchester City sign Eden Dzeko from?’ So off he went ten pounds richer.

TILAF Fenners Tenners TILAF Tenners TILAF Players TILAF Goal

Tenners galore were up for grabs in the next round, where our contestant was hairdresser Adam who had sixty seconds to get as many questions right to stack up the cash. Amongst the teasers he got were; ‘Who are the only non-League club left in this season’s FA Cup?’, ‘What is Cesc Fabregas’ squad number at Arsenal?’ and ‘Which club play their home games at The Lamex Stadium?’ He got eight correct within the minute and tried to double it with this killer question; ‘Who has scored more goals for Liverpool – Robbie Fowler or Kenny Dalglish?’ He guessed correctly and pocketed a cool £160 before it was time for the adverts. Part two kicked off with three of the Albion squad members, above bottom left, answering a mini thirty-second edition of Fenners Tenners. Their questions included; ‘Which Scottish club play their home games at Hampden Park?’ and ‘Who knocked Newcastle out of this season’s FA Cup?’ They scored a fantastic seven correct, bagging seventy pounds, before blowing it all in the double or quits question when guessing Olof Mellberg’s current club incorrectly. Charlotte Jackson caught up with camera-shy Barry Fry, Peterborough’s Director of Football and former manager before we saw the goals from the big match as the Albion hosted the Posh. Chris Wood opened the scoring after twenty-five minutes with a near post header before Elliott Bennett doubled the lead two minutes later with a nice curling effort from just outside the penalty area (above, bottom right). And that led us nicely onto the next segment at half time.

TILAF Penalty TILAF Penalty Miss TILAF Full Time TILAF Where on Earth.

It was time for earlier winner Joel Kaltz to take his penalty. The opponent in the sticks was Brighton academy ‘keeper Josh James. If Joel netted, and he was confident, he’d take home the £500, if it was saved he’d get nothing. He stepped up and struck it low just left of centre but James guessed the right way and gathered well to keep it out (above, top right). “Fluffed it” was Joel’s reaction before adding, “Had a ‘mare!” Josh James’ reward for saving the show £500 was a ton himself. Back to the match and the second half continued where we left off, with Albion adding a third through Wood again, this time bundling in Glenn Murray’s cross. Peterborough pulled one back through Lee Tomlin with twenty-four minutes remaining but it was just a consolation, the final score ending three-one. Next up was back to the quizzing, with Sean taking on the ‘Where on Earth?’ round. He was shown a series of cards with players on, he just needed to name the country they were from. For every one right he’d receive ten pounds and had sixty seconds to pick up as many as possible. Examples included Eden Dzeko (that man again!), Alexander Hleb, Ali Al-Habsi and Dani Alves. He managed eleven correct but threw it all away by incorrectly answering where on Earth Brede Hangeland was from. He was not Swiss.

TILAF Wood TILAF Trackside

The programme ended with a quick natter Posh boss Darren Ferguson before hearing from two-goal hero Chris Wood (above left), both speaking to Charlotte Jackson. He joined on loan from West Brom in November until the end of the season, scoring on his debut as well in the recent Cup win over Portsmouth. And finally, the last word from Brighton went to gaffer Gus Poyet, who had something to say about the referee during the match, as often the case. Poyet said the show was welcome back anytime now that they won the match, with them hoping to return the following season in the new surroundings at The Amex. With that, our presenters Fendley and Jackson bid us farewell and onto the next show at another football stadium next week. Brighton continued the terrific form and stayed on their lofty perch at the top of League One for the foreseeable.


5

LATE KICK OFF (18th April 2011) BBC One South

LKO Ident LKO Titles LKO Richardson LKO Murty and Rosenior

The Seagulls soared to the top of League One and never looked back during the 2010/11 campaign. Promotion was secured with a sensational four-three win over Dagenham and Redbridge and that was followed up four days later with a superb three-one victory at Walsall. That was enough to secure the League One title with four matches to spare and two of Albion’s heroes all season – Tommy Elphick and Elliott Bennett – appeared in the BBC South studio on the Monday evening to celebrate. Late Kick Off was the BBC’s weekly regional Football League magazine programme. It launched in January 2010 to cover the second half of the season, the BBC’s first as League rightsholder in the deal, and returned for the second half of this 2010/2011 season too. The country was split into seven regions and Brighton were predominantly served by the South, West and South West version which also covered Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Reading, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Swindon, Exeter, Plymouth, Aldershot, Oxford, Cheltenham, Torquay, Wycombe and Yeovil. To complement the main highlights programme The Football League Show on Saturday nights, Late Kick Off aired on Monday nights showing the goals from the region as well as reports, interviews and analysis. Match of the Day commentator Jonathan Pearce presented our region’s first season but did not return for this one. His place was taken by former Channel 4 Football Italia host and king of wit and wordplay, James Richardson (above, bottom left). Joining him in the studio were regular pundits Graeme Murty and Leroy Rosenior (above, bottom right).

LKO Trophy in studio LKO Inflatable trophy LKO Going Up

The programme began with Richardson introducing his two guests, Elphick and Bennett, sat on the sofa who temporarily displaced the usual pairing of Murty and Rosenior. The latter would be back towards the end of the show. The shiny League One trophy was also present, with Brighton not able to get their hands on it for real until the final home match against Huddersfield in just under two weeks’ time. By Tommy Elphick’s own admission, the players had been partying almost non-stop since securing the title on the Saturday so any croakiness of voice would surely be forgiven here. A VT montage played of the two matches over the past week which secured firstly promotion followed by the championship, cut with the scenes of jubilation and celebration. It was set to Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days are Over”, appropriately enough. Thoughts immediately turned to next season and the Championship Division. Elphick responded to Richardson’s question of nerves with, “I think with the way the club’s going and everything, that we should be well in hand for next year and prepared.” He praised the people in charge at both the club and manager level.

LKO Elphick LKO Bennett LKO Bennett goal LKO Studio

Brighton had three players named in the PFA Team of the Year for League One, with defenders Inigo Calderon and Gordon Greer joining Elliott Bennett. Perhaps harshly overlooked was striker Glenn Murray, with Bennett arguing his case; “Top player, he’s scored over twenty goals this season. Hopefully the club can tie him down to a long contract and he can score some goals next year as well.” He provided Murray with a lot of assists but it was the winger who scored the final goal in the weekend’s match at Walsall (above, bottom left), a cracker from twenty-five yards that flew past the ‘keeper in the final minute. Elphick added of it, “We see it every day in training. Nothing surprises the lads when he pulls one of them out the bag.” The trio also discussed manager Gus Poyet, with plenty of superlatives for him as a person and coach. Elphick told of the changes he brought about to transform the club from the bottom end of the table to the very top within eighteen months. “He brought a real winning mentality to the squad. Everything we do in training, whether it be a five-a-side or head tennis, it’s all down to winning whatever way you do it. I know we’ve done it the right way and passed the ball a lot but we have got the other side to the game as well which I think does make you Champions.” Elliott Bennett confirmed the next target of theirs was to go for the one-hundred points marker. He also played down his PFA accolade, saying it could have been any one of the team included, which presenter Richardson wasn’t quite buying the modesty! Some of his goals were shown as they discussed the achievement, in the process almost creating his own ‘Goal of the Month’ compilation they were that good.

LKO Group shot

The opening third of the programme focussed entirely on the Albion and the two studio guests before continuing almost as normal with reports and goal round-ups. Graeme Murty was sent to Southampton on an access-all-areas mission to provide an insight into what the day is like from a player’s perspective before he, Richardson and Leroy Rosenior voiced over all the goals from the region’s clubs from the weekend. Elphick and Bennett moved back to the sofa for the final few minutes of the show, along with the regular threesome to form a packed studio. Richardson quipped, “It’s kind of like a before and after, isn’t it, of footballing careers and the effect it can have on your body!” The long goodbye to Withdean Stadium and the move to Falmer was touched upon. Elphick saying “I believe it’s the biggest pitch in the Football League” before appealing for Murty to come down and film one of his tactical reports that he filed for the show earlier. He also said he was not sad to be bidding farewell to the athletics stadium; “We’ve obviously had some great nights there and some good games but I think for the club to progress the way it wants to we’ve definitely got to get out of there.” And that was just about that as they closed the show for another week. The Albion didn’t go on to win the last Withdean game, or indeed any of the final four fixtures missing out on the century of points. But who cares now?! A new Division and, most importantly, a new stadium was on the horizon. A home the Seagulls could finally call their own. What a time to be a Brighton fan.


Twelve seasons at Withdean Stadium began in the basement Division, scrambling for survival in the Third, and ended up flying high with the League One title and a place in the Championship upon arrival at the magnificent new home in Falmer. It was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish; with the uncovered stands, the shoestring budget, the battling on and off the pitch and some remarkable afternoons and evenings that supporters will never forget. For the players, appearances in the spotlight on the likes of Soccer AM brought the sort of exposure you only really get as a footballer at a certain level the higher up the Leagues you go. The history of the club and the fight for a home became a story told on an increasingly frequent basis as the years at Withdean went on. National coverage of it was always welcomed. Things would go up, in all areas, several notches by the summer of 2011 and the opening of the American Express Community Stadium. The Withdean years, though, should never be forgotten.

#14: Brighton 2-1 QPR 18/08/2003

#14 BRIGHTON 2-1 QPR Division Two
Monday 18th August 2003 Image result for

QPR Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Peter Taylor
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Guy Havord
8pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium     7.55-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

2003 Ident QPR Promo QPR Intro

Context of the Match: The final day of last season away at Grimsby proved to be one dramatic hurdle too many as the Albion were unable to escape the drop. Back in Division Two after a year away, many people saw Brighton as being well-equipped to challenge for a promotion place once more. But they’d have to do it without star striker Bobby Zamora who, after speculation all season, transferred up to the Premiership with Glenn Hoddle’s Tottenham Hotspur in the summer. The fee of £1.5 million was a huge boost to the Albion coughers, but the loss of his eighty-three goals in one-hundred-and-thirty-six appearances was always going to be tough to replace. The first man tasked with getting the goals in Zamora’s absence was Leon Knight. The twenty-year-old signed on loan from Chelsea in July, which was made a permanent transfer in the days after tonight’s QPR match. Another front man brought in was Darius Henderson, on a two-month loan from Reading. 1997 FA Cup Final goalkeeper Ben Roberts returned to the club this season, joining permanently after a brief three match spell back in January during the ‘keeper crisis that eventually saw veteran Dave Beasant see out the season with us. Beasant played his last competitive match in that final day draw with Grimsby but did sign on the books of Premiership Fulham this campaign ‘just in case’. Possibly the most important summer signing was of the manager, Steve Coppell. When he came in during the lowest period last year, the club were rooted to the foot of Division One and seemingly cut adrift. He got the most out of a downbeat squad but had only signed on for a year. Chairman Dick Knight managed to extend that for a further year, despite offering a longer deal. The sticking point for him, and any manager, was always going to be the facilities, or lack of, with no good news on the Falmer front forthcoming. Withdean Stadium remained our makeshift home, entering its fifth season. The opening home game of the Division Two campaign pitted the Albion against last season’s beaten Play Off Finalists Queens Park Rangers. Ian Holloway’s side pushed Cardiff all the way to Extra Time in May but couldn’t quite get the breakthrough. They were strongly tipped to go again this time round so tonight saw an early opportunity for Brighton to test their mettle against leading opposition. The clash intrigued Sky Sports enough to shift the tie from Saturday to the Monday night, bringing with it more vital income for the public inquiry fund. The opening match saw a triumphant return to the League, leaving Oldham with three goals and three points. More of the same here, please.

QPR Brighton QPR Formation QPR QPR

The Teams: Steve Coppell was able to keep hold of the majority of the squad which dropped down from Division One, minus the glaring space left by talisman Zamora. His initial two replacements, Leon Knight and Darius Henderson, made the perfect start on the opening day. Both men scored in the three-one win away at Oldham, with Knight bagging a brace. The good start was followed up by a one-nil win away at Bristol Rovers in the League Cup First Round last Tuesday, with the majority of the line-up starting both. Young striker Chris McPhee scored the winner there and a bigger involvement was planned for him. He made his debut at the age of just sixteen back in December 1999 but had largely spent his time in the reserves and youth sides since. He was an option on the bench tonight. The return of Ben Roberts in goal this season resulted in just one conceded in two matches. He was protected by a back core that established itself throughout all three Divisions these past three years; Paul Watson, Danny Cullip and Kerry Mayo. Cullip’s centre-back partner had changed throughout, with Dean Blackwell fulfilling the role during occasions in Division One but injuries hampered that. Graduate Adam Hinshelwood, nephew of Martin, was the man filling the role in all three matches so far. In the middle of the park, Paul Brooker left after three seasons when his contract expired and linked up again with Micky Adams for a third time, now at Premiership Leicester. Simon Rodger and Nathan Jones played in the two previous matches and made it three in a row here. However Jones would be missing in future, after he picked up a red card in the Cup win. Charlie Oatway famously is named after all eleven players in the 1973 QPR first team but only made the bench tonight. Other Albion stalwarts, Gary Hart and Richard Carpenter, completed the first eleven. For Ian Holloways’ Rangers, their team began with seven of the eleven who started that unsuccessful Play Off Final back in May. This included defender Clarke Carlisle, who gained notoriety in January 2002 when he won ITV’s quiz show Britain’s Brainiest Footballer, competing against such renowned wise men as former Sky co-commentator Alan Brazil and England World Cup winner George Cohen! Cautious-when-naming Danny Shittu was solid at the back. Tom Williams, on loan again from Birmingham like last season, joined Marc Bircham in the middle. Experienced striker Paul Furlong enjoyed two loan spells with the Rs before moving permanently in 2002, having also started his career there was a youth player. Amongst the subs was former Everton trainee Kevin McLeod who made a permanent move to Loftus Road this week. Their opening result saw a five-nil victory over a Seaside team in Blackpool, hopefully this would not continue on the South Coast. Tonight’s referee was Mark Warren.

QPR Gavin QPR Taylor QPR Studio

Presentation Team: This was Sky’s second season back covering the Nationwide, and the team established then remained largely in place now, with one or two additions. George Gavin was very much Sky’s face of the League, hosting Live games and the Thursday evening Football League Review magazine show. He spent a greater time in the studio this year with the move of the Saturday evening kick offs to be hosted from Isleworth in order to incorporate the First Division goals at the end of the broadcast. Whereas last season, this didn’t tend to be the case and the majority of matches came from the stadium. His workload was reduced slightly with the arrival to the broadcaster of Ian Payne from BBC Radio 5 Live. He was drafted in to take some of the matches from chief football anchor Richard Keys given Sky now held Live rights to the UEFA Champions League. Therefore Payne did every Live English match on Saturday lunch time, whether that be Premier or Football League. In addition, he hosted the top flight Monday Night Football coverage in the studio with a panel of fans. Other than Saturday 12.30pm kick offs, George Gavin did the rest of the Football League. His guest tonight at Withdean was Peter Taylor. He left his post as Brighton manager in April 2002 after winning the Division Two title. By November of that year he was back in the game, taking the job at Hull City, just in time for the opening of their brand new stadium; a factor which proved the stumbling block in agreeing a new deal on the South Coast. His Hull side were currently competing in Division Three and hoped the new facilities would provide a boost to their bid in climbing the ladder. Taylor was also a pundit on the Seagulls Live televised match at Wolves last season. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara. They were Sky’s number one League pairing, with Crocker beginning that role with the new rights cycle in 2002. Kamara still managed his commentary commitments around his work on Sky’s other high-profile shows reporting on Gillette Soccer Saturday and co-hosting Goals on Sunday with Rob McCaffrey. Taking Kammy’s place on the gantry on Saturdays and Sundays were, from this season, Garry Birtles and Tony Gale, with occasional other guest co-commentators drafted in too. This pretty much signalled the end of Alvin Martin and Ray Houghton’s involvement on this coverage, though Houghton continued to cover Republic of Ireland games and Martin was heavily involved with Talksport radio. After being introduced to the coverage on the final day of last season, reporter Guy Havord was much more involved from this season. Fraser Robertson still did the bulk but Havord now did all Live Division Two and Three games as well as helping out in the First. He also reported on the top flight for pay-per-view channel Premiership Plus from this year. It was Havord on the Withdean touchline tonight, with it being a Second Division clash.

QPR New beginning QPR Tunnel

The Coverage: The broadcast was short and sweet, perhaps cautious of the huge problems experienced the one and only previous time Sky showed a match Live from Withdean back in 2001 against Rushden and Diamonds. That afternoon both pictures and sound were lost, with host Rob Wotton and guest John Byrne having to keep popping up to fill the dead air until normal service could be resumed. There hadn’t been a Live match at the athletics ground since until tonight. Host George Gavin and his pundit Peter Taylor were situated behind the goal, and therefore behind the athletics track, left of the open-air South Stand on a makeshift gantry. Coverage came on-air just five minutes before the 8pm kick off and finished almost as soon as the match was over. This was how the 5.35pm kick offs started off last season, before extending the post-match to include analysis, interviews and round ups after a couple of months. So it was disappointing that this top Division Two clash had reverted back to the basic coverage. Nevertheless, a Live match was definitely a bonus for Brighton and provided a much-needed cash injection. The programme was still sponsored by the flatmates at SkyBet, with the theme tune remaining as The Skids’ Into the Valley. The titles were basically the same, just using more up to date clips and action as you’d expect. The graphics were also as they were last season, with the red and blue astons flying in from the edges of the screen. The replay transition was still the respective competition’s trophy, which for us this year was that pretty Division Two silverware. The scorebar and clock though had evolved to look more like the Sky Sports logo, with straight, full blocks instead of a slanted translucent strap. All of it complete with those big whooshing noises. The programme began by reminding us of the two sides heartbreak in May; the Albion relegated and QPR losing in Extra Time of the Play Off Final, before a more uplifting message of ‘A New Beginning’. Host George Gavin billed it as “an early opportunity to assess the chances of two of the form teams.” He then introducing his guest, the last man to manage Brighton in this Division, Peter Taylor.

QPR Coming Up QPR Full Time stats

The set up was improved this season to include multiple cameras for the studio at the ground instead of the single-camera setup for our games last year. There was barely time to say anything other than reminding the neutrals that Bobby Zamora was no longer ours, before handing up to the gantry as the teams emerged from the tunnel over in the North East corner of Withdean by the away supporters. Up in the box were commentators Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara. Some kind words were said by the pair about the club and supporters ahead of kick off regarding the stadium situation, with a decision due. “All credit to the Brighton fans who have stayed faithful to their club and they’ve had to spend four years now here at the Withdean Stadium, which is never going to feel like a football ground. A decision is expected in October as to whether Brighton can build a new stadium, a 22,000 seater stadium, in Falmer. The ultimate decision lies with John Prescott and let’s hope they get that new stadium because they really need to move onwards”, said Crocker. Kamara added “Well it should be a foregone conclusion. Brighton’s a footballing town and let’s give them a new stadium!” At half time, the stats showed an equal amount of shots on target, with Brighton shading the corners, in what was an even contest. The studio team analysed the goals, with Taylor calling the conceding of the free kick for the opener “a really, really cheap foul… a nothing free kick.” Plaudits went the way of both Hart and Knight for Brighton’s equaliser, with Knight praised for his sharpness and movement, Hart for the excellent delivery. Reporter Guy Havord had a quick word with a few of the fans at the end of the half time segment, with Knight again singled out for good work. There was no time to wrap things up after the final whistle owing to the tight scheduling. Chris Kamara summarised that there were three deciding factors in the result; “Leon Knight probably the first one. Danny Cullip and his superb defensive play. But it’s the lad, Terrell Forbes, who’s the turning point in the game.” George Gavin ran through the full-time statistics, which reinforced the scoreline and Albion’s deserving win. They were the early season pacesetters at the top of the Division Two table. Just a brief sentence from guest Peter Taylor at the end to close before signing off for the evening from Withdean.

QPR Kick Off QPR Comms QPR Opening goal QPR Equaliser

Story of the Match: Rangers got the game underway kicking from left to right in the first half in the August late evening haze. The perimeters of Withdean were decorated with messages to deputy Prime Minister John Prescott asking him to “Listen to the people” with regards to the 60,000+ signatures petitioning for the stadium site to be approved. Paul Furlong smacked the post for QPR after three minutes but the linesman flagged for offside anyway, as the away side made themselves feel at home very early on. The crowd were buoyant, making lots of noise for the Albion’s return for the new campaign. But it was the visiting set of fans who were cheering loudest in the ninth minute. Gino Padula whipped in a free kick from the near side with his left foot. The QPR strikers couldn’t quite get their head on it but it didn’t matter as the bounce just before it reached Ben Roberts, together with the bend and pace, saw it skim off the surface and into the back of the net. Brighton fired back level within three minutes. Gary Hart delivered a fabulous cross on the far side towards the six yard area. Stretching, Leon Knight stooped to head home past Day for one-all. It was all about the delivery from Hart to enable Knight’s touch, a perfect response against a team high on confidence and goals after the early season form. Credit too must go to Knight’s movement, as highlighted on commentary by Chris Kamara; “Two great bits of quality. One is the cross to begin with but look at the movement of the little fella. He’s hovering around that eighteen yard box. As soon as it’s on its way, he knows that he’s just got to get the other side of the big centre half. Once he does that then he’s in with an opportunity.” The game continued in this end-to-end fashion. Roberts had to be alert and sensible when Danny Shittu sent through Sabin for QPR, the goalie off his line to smother well. The intensity dropped off from the halfway point of the first half, not helped by a couple of stoppages for injuries, and it fizzled out slightly to a draw at the break.

QPR Red Card QPR Forbes headbutt QPR Knight winner QPR Winner

The second period began a little brighter, with the Seagulls creating a flurry of half-chances in a row, first with Knight unable to connect with Henderson’s fine cross, then Hart’s effort blocked and Carpenter’s follow up volley saved by Chris Day. At the other end, substitute Kevin McLeod created his own chance with his pace. Picking up a loose ball after Hinshelwood slipped, McLeod skipped past him with ease into the near side of the penalty box. With Roberts rushing out, he jinked just wide of him to get the shot away, it lacked any sort of power from a very difficult angle and Hinshelwood got back to put it behind. On the hour mark, the match changed due to a moment of petulance from QPR defender Terrell Forbes. He received a straight red card for a headbutt on Kerry Mayo. The pair went in for a fifty-fifty challenge strongly, neither wanting to back out. Whilst both were getting up off the ground, Forbes kicked out at Mayo’s ankle. They then squared up to each other and that is when Forbes pushed his head onto the Albion number three, with the referee nearby he rightly received his marching orders and Rangers were down to ten needlessly. With the game more open, Brighton were finding a bit more space to get into and test Day further. Two shots in quick succession, firstly from Knight and then Henderson, forced the ‘keeper to dive around and stay alert. But, with twenty-two minutes to go, there was nothing he could do about Leon Knight’s next effort to put Brighton in the lead. Danny Cullip’s free kick on the half way line was launched up field. Darius Henderson flicked it on with his head from the edge of the area. It looped over Danny Shittu and Leon Knight stuck out a leg to toe-poke it towards goal just as it hit the ground. From seven yards or so out, any touch on target would beat Day, who could just scramble low to his left and see the ball sail past him into the corner. The Seagulls were confident. They were on top with both a man and a goal advantage. With a quarter of an hour to play, Leon Knight almost turned provider for Henderson, his header blocked by Clarke Carlisle. Nathan Jones picked it up from there and went past Carlisle who appeared to have caught the Welshman with his leg for a potential penalty. The referee wasn’t having it and replays seemed to show there wasn’t contact. Charlie Oatway got his chance to play against the team he grew up supporting, providing commentator Ian Crocker with the go-to line about the midfielder; rattling off all eleven of his given names! Three minutes of added time were played but, in truth, it was elementary. QPR never really threatened after the sending off and Brighton held firm to maintain the one-hundred-per-cent start to the season. Injury to Carlisle in the additional minutes meant we’d played ninety-six before full time was finally called, but joy at the whistle as Brighton got their home season off to a flyer.

QPR Table.JPG

BRIGHTON 2 QPR 1
Knight (2) Padula

QPR Replay QPR Goal

PREVIOUS; #13 GRIMSBY 2-2 BRIGHTON 04/05/2003

NEXT; #15 BRIGHTON 2-1 PLYMOUTH 31/01/2004

#12: Reading 1-2 Brighton 04/04/2003

#12 READING 1-2 BRIGHTON Division One
Friday 4th April 2003 Image result for

REA Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Ray Houghton
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Fraser Robertson
8pm Kick Off; Madejski Stadium, Reading     7.30-10.10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 2

REA Promo REA Ident REA Intro

Context of the Match: What a turbulent season Brighton had back in the second tier for the first time in a decade. Having lost Peter Taylor due to budgetary restraints after securing the Division Two title, new manager Martin Hinshelwood was moved upstairs by the start of October. When Steve Coppell was appointed he couldn’t halt the slide of twelve successive defeats and inherited an Albion side low on confidence rock bottom of the League. It took a couple of matches to get the team playing the way he wanted but results soon picked up. In the last televised match back in November, Brighton picked up an invaluable point away at high-flying Wolves and were fifteen minutes away from a shock win. A win against Derby and a point at Preston saw the club close the gap on those above and suddenly relegation didn’t seem quite so nailed on. Coppell brought in a few players of his own, changed the formations up and made them a more solid, resilient side. A win away at Norwich sparked an unbeaten January in the League, with Steve loanee midfielder Steve Sidwell chipping in with three more vital goals to support star striker Bobby Zamora. Yet the Seagulls were still on the brink of the danger places towards the foot of the table. A thumping four-one victory over Wolves got the ball rolling for a fantastic three wins in a row to close February with renewed hope. This was scuppered by a costly defeat at relegation rivals Stoke but the team spirit was clear to see in battling wins against Rotherham and Play Off candidates Nottingham Forest. Draws in the last two outings – away at Ipswich and at Withdean to bitter rivals Crystal Palace – meant the Albion came into tonight’s televised clash with Reading having lost just once in five. In contrast, Reading were in with a real chance of a Play Off place up to the Premiership in only their first season back in the second tier. The Royals finished runners-up to Brighton last campaign but nine draws in their final ten matches cost them the title. This was clearly something that had been noted had drawn just four League games in this entire season. Five wins out of five in February saw them soar further up the table into the top six but March was very inconsistent, with each win immediately followed by a loss. It summed up this topsy-turvy Division in which anyone really could beat anyone. Having won at Bradford last time out, form would suggest Reading were due a loss tonight. The clash was moved forward to the Friday, kick starting the weekend’s action, to be televised Live by Sky Sports. It’s fourth top against fourth bottom. Under the Madejski Friday night lights, who would emerge the victor in this Meridian regional fight?

REA Reading REA Formation REA Brighton

The Teams: Brighton suffered an almighty goalkeeping crisis throughout the second half of the season. Number one Michel Kuipers started the campaign but injury forced him out for two long spells. First Andy Petterson replaced him for eight games before recovering until the New Year. Then a second setback saw a number of ‘keepers taking to the net. Ben Roberts made a brief cameo on loan from Charlton for three appearances before veteran Dave Beasant made the move from Wigan for the rest of the season. The forty-four-year-old triggered a clause in his contract in order to make the switch to Sussex in persuit of first team football and grabbed the opportunity with both hands. In his ten starts thus far Beasant kept four clean sheets as the Albion picked up eleven crucial points. If the last line of defence was constantly changing, the manager enjoyed a settled group in front of him. Paul Watson, Kerry Mayo and captain Danny Cullip were amongst the first names on a Steve Coppell teamsheet. Dean Blackwell hadn’t featured due to injury for a while so Coppell brough in another of his former players; Ivar Ingimarsson. The Icelandic defender slash midfielder came in on loan from Wolves. His start tonight meant he had the distinctive honour of playing in three of Brighton’s last four televised matches – and for three separate teams; for Brentford last January, for Wolves in November and now for us tonight. In the middle of the park, long-serving Gary Hart and Richard Carpenter rose through the Leagues with the Albion. Tricky winger Paul Brooker scored the decisive goal in last month’s win over Forest. Up front, striking duo Bobby Zamora and Graham Barrett’s partnership had been hampered by the latter’s niggling injuries and spells on and off the sidelines. Former West Ham and Newcastle forward Paul Kitson was one of Martin Hinshelwood’s first summer signings but rarely featured due to a number of injuries. The lesser-spotted Kitson featured in just five matches, with the last coming off the bench back in January. Patience ran thin with the Seagulls supporters who had barely witnessed him in consecutive matches let alone see a goal from him, but was on the bench tonight nevertheless. He sat alongside Albion stalwarts Charlie Oatway and Nathan Jones, waiting to come on and make an impact. Alan Pardew’s fourth placed Reading kept largely the same side that won promotion from Division Two behind the Albion last season. Top scorer that year and this, Nicky Forster, was the key man up top. Jamie Cureton got the goal on the final day last May to secure second place at Brentford’s expense but began on the bench today. Glen Little, signed on loan from Burnley a few days earlier, got the nod in his place. Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick was drafted in on loan initially for a month back in February before extending it the deal until May. Right-back Graeme Murty has made more appearances for the Royals than anyone else this term and last. American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann spent a short period on loan before joining permanently in the summer. On the bench was Steve Sidwell, who enjoyed a successful loan spell with the Albion in the autumn but were outbid by Reading when Arsenal sold him on permanently in January. Refereeing at the Madejski was Mark Cowburn from Lancashire.

REA Studio REA Kick Off REA Comms

Presentation Team: Sky Sports stuck with much of their team throughout the season that were hastily assembled in the weeks before the campaign began, having secured exclusive Live rights to the Football League at short notice in the summer. This followed ITV Digital’s collapse and liquidation, ceasing broadcast in May 2002 following the Live transmission of the Division Two Play Off Final. George Gavin hosted Sky’s Football League broadcasts, both Live and magazine programming. This was his busiest season to date for Sky, having joined in the mid 90s as a touchline and features reporter. With games being presented from the stadium, as much as possible this year, Gavin travelled the length and breadth of the country but so far had not taken in Withdean; both our Live matches had come away from home thus far. Joining him in the Madejski stands was Ray Houghton. The Glasgow born midfielder played internationally for the Republic of Ireland, scoring famously in World Cup ’94 and the winner against England at Euro ’88. His club career took off at Fulham before winning his first major trophy with Oxford in 1986, scoring in their League Cup Final victory. He then secured a move to Liverpool where he made the most appearances for the Reds than any of his other clubs, winning two League titles and two FA Cups in the process. At the start of the Premier League era Houghton was a major signing for Ron Atkinson, coming close to another League title in the first season. He later had spells at Crystal Palace and two years at tonight’s hosts Reading before ending his career in 2000 with Conference side Stevenage. He moved into media work with his distinctive Scottish accent, co-commentating and punditing for Sky Sports on Republic of Ireland internationals and Football League matches as of this season. He also became a regular voice on radio with Talksport. Houghton, along with Alvin Martin, would commentate on the League when number one Chris Kamara’s workload would not permit. This was usually Sundays, due to presenting Goals on Sunday, and some Saturdays, when he’d be at a ground reporting in-vision for results service Soccer Saturday. With this being a Friday, Kamara could take up his usual position alongside first choice Ian Crocker on the commentary gantry. The pairing covered our last televised match, the creditable one-one draw away at Wolves. During that match, Crocker pointed out Albion had never won a Live League fixture on the box. Quirky research, puns and enthusiasm were all key components to an Ian Crocker commentary, with his excitable, memorable goal calls often featuring in promos and adverts for upcoming matches. He made his name in Scotland and is very fondly thought of North of the border, leading Sky’s SPL commentaries for four years from 1998 before they lost the rights. Completing Sky’s broadcast team was a new name to Seagulls on the small screen – reporter Fraser Robertson. The Scotsman began television work on STV before moving to Sky in the late 1990s. He was a familiar voice on Sky Sports News reports and covered the 2000 FA Cup Final by reporting from the Aston Villa team hotel. Robertson joined the Football League team in November and has become the number one reporter since, replacing Bryn Law who began the season in the role.

REA Robertson REA Salako REA Reading form REA Little

The Coverage: Pre match build up began half an hour before the 8pm kick off, with Reading’s midweek matches usually beginning at this time instead of the regular 7.45pm start most others use. This extended the Sky coverage beyond the usual 7.30-10pm programme by an extra ten minutes or so. Still sponsored by SkyBet with those blokes enjoying a pizza and a gamble in their living room, the title sequence soundtracked by The Skids’ Into the Valley remained as it was for our last televised match at Wolves back in November. Host George Gavin introduced the programme by highlighting the contrasting fates of tonight’s two clubs; “They’re nervous, both sets of supporters, but for different reasons. Can Reading go up to the Premiership? Can Brighton avoid going straight back to Division Two?” With the intros done, Gavin brought in his guest for the evening, Sky regular Ray Houghton, up on the gantry. The studio coverage was still a single-camera set-up, meaning both were in shot when the other was speaking at all times and with a less experienced guest could make for slightly uncomfortable viewing. Houghton though was becoming well versed in telly since retirement. A glance at the table showed how precarious Brighton’s position was, out of the relegation zone on goal difference only and having played a game more than Stoke; both on thirty-seven points. There was a further six point gap to the team above in twentieth place – Derby County. At the other end, a win for Reading would move them one place up to third for the time being at least, though they’ve already played once more than current occupier Sheffield United as well as fifth placed Nottingham Forest. The Sky graphics were backed by Albion shirt sponsors, Skint records; their band Mighty Dub Katz and their track Let the Drums Speak, which I absolutely loved. The team news was brought to us by touchline reporter Fraser Robertson where the headline was Bobby Zamora’s return after two games out with a hamstring injury. The first VT piece centred around Reading, with their experienced midfielder John Salako talking us through their squad and the campaign overall. He was well placed having played under Steve Coppell and alongside Alan Pardew, both whilst at Crystal Palace. He singled out striker Nicky Forster for praise; “Great pace. I think Nicky would scare the life out of defenders and do really well in the top flight. I think he feels, at twenty-nine, that it may have passed him by but he’s got all the attributes and all the requirements to play at the very top level.” Reading’s form this season was documented, with 100% records in both November and February propelling them up the table. Manager Pardew spoke with Robertson on the touchline in cautious mode; “We need to have calm heads tonight and if we do that we’ll win… No-one gives up anything lightly, this is proper football tonight and looking forward to it.” Debutant Glen Little was in the spotlight, having joined from Burnley on loan; he’d be sure to be one to watch having already scored past us this campaign for his parent club.

REA Beasant REA Palm Reader REA Crystal Ball REA Zamora stats

When the attention turned to the Albion, the first man focussed on was the oldest; forty-four-year-old goalkeeper Dave Beasant. What followed can only be described as one of the most bizarre VT ideas in football as Beasant was sent along with Seafront to visit a palm reader! The full package is available to view at the foot of this post. With the Harry Potter music playing, Beasant was sat alongside this reader who predicted a bright future. “I’m very happy to see that you, and the people are you, are going to rise above where you are right now. I’m pleased to see that you and your team are going to do well because the outcome is what we’d all wish.” Presumably that wish being for this madness to end. I can only think that because of his big, goalkeeping hands they thought this palm reading idea up otherwise I’m really struggling. Because, after her empty platitudes (what else was she going to say? ‘I see you and your team being relegated by the end of the month’?!), Beasant had a normal interview in a normal surrounding. He told of the similarities between here and previous clubs; “The day I walked in the dressing room door at the training ground, the atmosphere in there was one that was very, very similar to what I left at Wimbledon all those years ago. It had got some characters in there; Charlie Oatway, Bobby Zamora.” Following this, the studio team analysed a man half Beasant’s ago; Zamora. Houghton was full of superlatives; “Fantastic player, a real livewire. Got all the ability, all the tricks and it’s tremendous news for Brighton this evening that he is fit and well and he looks like he really is up for this game.” His stats were displayed alongside him warming up, proving just what a huge part he played in the two title successes. His absence was sorely missed, with no wins this season when he didn’t play. The man trying to get the best out of him, Steve Coppell, then spoke in the tunnel to Fraser Robertson. He explained the team selections and the remaining games, taking his usual calm, measured approach to things. When asked why he believed they can save themselves from the drop, he responded with “I don’t know whether we can to be honest! If we’re good enough we can but that’s something we’ve got to prove over the next six games.” Sometimes he was a bit too honest. After a little more studio chat it was time to head for the adverts as kick off fast approached. Upon the return, the teams were in the tunnel and our commentators took over; Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara.

REA Infobar REA Coming Up REA Added Time REA MOTM

The Sky Sports Infobar at the bottom of the screen kept viewers up to date with the latest scores from the other match being played tonight; in Division Two between Northampton and Wigan. During half time, Gavin and Houghton looked back at the key incidents of the first period, which centred around the excellent decision making of Paul Brooker and Bobby Zamora to combine for the goal. The infobar showed Reading having had more attempts and corners but it was the goal that mattered most. George Gavin described it as “the cleverest goal you’ll see all season.” Houghton had no qualms over the decision to award the free kick saying it was a “definite backpass”. He did think Brighton rode their luck during the half at times and probably didn’t quite deserve a lead at the break. I think the 8pm kick off may have caught the schedulers out somewhat, as some listings had the programme down to finish at 10pm. As such, Sky actually continued until 10.10pm but did not take an advert break after the match, once it had finally finished following five minutes stoppage time and a referee change. This meant we got around ten minutes or so of post match reaction and analysis, beginning with a word from Man of the Match Bobby Zamora. On the unusual circumstances for the opening goal, Zamora explained his thought process; “It’s worth a try. You know, quick free kick and resulted in a goal – if he says no then we just take it again.” He paid tribute to the tireless defence for giving them a shout of survival before picking up the bottle of Champagne. The table made for much better reading for Seagulls fans, putting pressure on those above them now as well as inching clearer of those below. The studio team analysed the goals in more detail. Praise was placed upon Carpenter for his delivery in the second Brighton goal but the lack of marking of Paul Kitson was Reading’s undoing. Remarkably that was Kitson’s first goal since November 2001, when he scored a hat-trick for West Ham in their televised match with Charlton. Seeing the replay of the Cureton goal for the home team, the amount of swerve on the ball was evident. The surprising stat was the amount of corners; Reading having nine and Brigthon not a single one. But Beasant dealt with them all extremely well, commanding and claiming like the experienced pro he is. We also heard from Steve Coppell with Robertson. He said he could see Reading had the initiative as the final fifteen of the first half went by and wanted to quieten things down in the second, which is exactly what happened. Ray Houghton called for Coppell to be manager of the year if he kept Brighton up. After tidying up the other result from the night and looking at the League standings, it was time to shut down for the evening as George Gavin bid us farewell and “bye for now”.

REA Away fans REA Referee REA Quick free kick REA Brooker goal

Story of the Match: The Albion kicked off the match in their change kit of all red. It started positively with both goalkeepers getting early touches, with little concern. Referee Mark Cowburn signalled his intentions straight away by awarding Reading’s Steve Brown a yellow card in the fourth minute for a tackle from behind, forcing the centre back into having to be more careful for the entire match. The referee was involved again when the first real incident of note occurred after a quarter of an hour. Bobby Zamora brought the ball forward from the halfway line skipping past one defender before being dispossessed quite heavily by the next. A combination of Royals defenders then passed the ball back to goalkeeper Hahnemann who picked it up. Zamora appealed for the backpass, which the referee obliged with the indirect free kick in the area. The next thing you heard was the sound of the ball hitting the net and a cheer going up from the away supporters, whilst the camera had focussed in on Cowburn. It was a goal! The quick-thinking of both Bobby Zamora and Paul Brooker combined to break the deadlock in creative fashion. Once the kick was given, Hahnemann was being wrestled for the ball by Zamora. The ‘keeper threw the ball away but only as far as Paul Brooker on the edge of the box. He kicked it back to Zamora who was standing where the infringement took place, he settled the ball with his hand before tapping it to Brooker unmarked eight yards out who coolly slotted home for his sixth of the season, past the despairing dive. All this was done whilst Reading defenders stood around aimlessly, expecting the referee to disallow it. But he quite rightly deemed it a legitimate goal and it was their own fault for lacking concentration, just like the Sky match director in missing the goal Live. It was excellent work from the Albion, what a huge goal this was. It took Reading a full ten minutes to get over the goal and create a chance of their own. The ball bobbled around at the back post following a corner, Cullip couldn’t quite clear and it fell to Forster who scooped it high and wide when normally he’d bury it. As the half went on, Reading enjoyed a greater share of possession and many corners but very little was coming from this. That was until the thirty-ninth minute when James Harper’s corner was met by the head of Glen Little unmarked at the back stick. Paul Brooker was the man to rescue Brighton as he headed it off the line. A few minutes later it was Little again who had to be thwarted. It was chipped up to him to volley from fifteen yards which thankfully went straight down the throat of Beasant who was able to parry away and clear with the help of the defence. There were warning shots being fired Albion’s way for sure and the break probably came at the right time. Not before Nicky Forster was denied a penalty when Kerry Mayo tangled legs with him. The referee’s position prevented him from seeing the incident clearly enough and it was one-nil to the Albion at half time.

REA New Referee REA Subs REA Kitson goal REA Reading goal

One man heavily involved in the game that would not be returning for the second half was the referee Mark Cowburn. He picked up a calf injury and had to be replaced by Fourth Official Clive Penton, causing a momentary delay to the restart. Tottenham boss Glenn Hoddle was amongst those watching at the Madejski, with long-standing rumours about Spurs seeking Bobby Zamora. Brighton sat back and invited Reading pressure on them in the second half. Chances were few and far between as the Seagulls held strong. The usually dependable Forster for Reading just wasn’t firing tonight. In the sixty-seventh minute it looked like he had carved an opportunity out for himself when he cut inside Danny Cullip but sliced the curling shot high and wide. A minute later though he went very close to the equaliser. Harper’s excellent through ball beat the offside trap. Forster managed to hold off Ingimarsson and took a shot on the slide as he approached the six yard box, the effort trickling just wide of Beasant’s far post. It was not his night. With less than twenty left on the clock, Brighton made a double substitution. Gary Hart, one of the most underrated players in the club’s history surely, ran himself into the ground all night and was replaced by Nathan Jones, whilst Paul Kitson made a rare cameo too. Whilst Reading made their second change having brought Kevin Watson on earlier, Jamie Cureton now entered the fray too. With less than a quarter of an hour remaining, Simon Rodger burst down the left wing at pace, only stopped by Murty’s foul. The resultant set piece was swung in to the middle of the box by Richard Carpenter where newbie Paul Kitson rose to glance a header goalwards. The ball went through Hahnemann’s legs and squirmed in to double the advantage. What an impact substitution! Finally, Kitson gave the Seagulls supporters something to cheer about after a season of virtually nothing, mainly due to injuries. For that moment, for those fans, it didn’t matter what went on before because suddenly a vital, precious win was well within their reach. Things got a little nervy with six minutes remaining when sub Cureton pulled one back for Reading from nowhere. A bouncing ball some thirty-five yards out sat up for the striker who hadn’t featured since January. He just went for it and, with Beasant on the six yard line, it flew into the goal. It was a wonderful strike, bending into the top corner for two-one. Somehow an additional five minutes were signalled by the new Fourth Official at the end of the ninety, prolonging the Albion agony. As they had done all evening, the Seagulls stood strong and came away with all three points as Reading could not force an equaliser. It was a huge result, giving a three point cushion above the drop zone, albeit having played more. But suddenly the great escape looked a slight possibility when for so long it was but a dream. The Albion had broken the television hoodoo, this the club’s first ever Live TV League win. Oh what a night!

REA Table.JPG

READING 1 BRIGHTON 2
Cureton Brooker, Kitson

REA Replay REA Goal

PREVIOUS; #11 WOLVES 1-1 BRIGHTON 11/11/2002

NEXT; #13 GRIMSBY 2-2 BRIGHTON 04/05/2003

 

#11: Wolves 1-1 Brighton 11/11/2002

#11 WOLVES 1-1 BRIGHTON Division One
Monday 11th November 2002 Image result for

WOL Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Peter Taylor
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Chris Kamara REPORTER Bryn Law
7.45pm Kick Off; Molineux, Wolverhampton     7.30-10pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

WOL Promo WOL Sponsor WOL Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton competed in the second tier of English football for the first time since the 1991/92 season, following back to back title successes under first Micky Adams and then Peter Taylor last year. The recent promotions came after a decade of decline which stemmed from the Play Off Final defeat at Wembley to Notts County in ’91. Subsequent seasons saw the Albion sink down the Divisions and almost out of the Football League in 1997, finishing 91st out of the 92 teams then and again in 1998 amidst huge upheaval and uncertainty. The move to Withdean for some temporary respite coincided with a massive upturn in form which brought us to this point; going toe-to-toe with the big clubs of Nationwide Division One. Teams such as Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Leicester were all now in the same League as the Albion, as were recent top flight clubs like Ipswich, Coventry and Derby. If the Brighton supporters were excited about trips to Portman Road, The City Ground and Brammall Lane ahead of the new campaign, they were certainly brought crashing back down to Earth within a few weeks. Twelve League defeats in a row saw Brighton’s make a disastrous start to the campaign, including a humiliating five-nil scoreline at Selhurst Park. It had started so brightly with a terrific three-one win away at Burnley on the opening day, followed by a goalless draw at home to Coventry the following Tuesday. But the rest of August and the whole of September and October brought about no further points. The run came to an end with a hard fought three-two victory over Bradford in the rain at Withdean to avoid a club record thirteenth consecutive loss last week but the Albion remained rock-bottom and several points from safety. Seven points from fifteen games was dreadful and the manager paid the price. Peter Taylor left the club in the summer shortly after guiding us to the Division Two title, citing a lack of a clear future as the final straw. The issue of a permanent home, poor facilities and minimal finances forced his hand just when things were looking up. Chairman Dick Knight decided to promote Martin Hinshelwood from youth team coach to the main gig. He previously took caretaker charge when Micky Adams walked out a year earlier but now he had the job full time for the first time. Hinshelwood’s playing career was cut short by injury at a time when he was starring in Crystal Palace’s midfield during their FA Cup Semi Final run in 1976. He struggled to get fit again and had to call it a day the following year, where he moved into coaching roles at the club and in the non-Leagues. But his inexperience showed and Brighton’s dismal run saw Hinshelwood moved upstairs to a Director of Football role during the October international break. In a surprise move, the man that came in to replace him was another man very closely associated with arch-rivals Crystal Palace; Steve Coppell. The former Manchester United and England winger, another forced into early retirement due to injury in his late twenties, had four different spells in charge of Palace over a period of sixteen years. He was the subject of a derogatory chant still used by Albion supporters right up to the time he was appointed and was in charge of the club’s heaviest defeat of last season when his Brentford side thrashed Brighton four-nil Live on the ITV Sport Channel. It was a shock for the fans that he was brought in and even reportedly fell asleep during his job interview. His first two matches in charge here couldn’t stop the rot, losing to Sheffield United and Crystal Palace, before the vital win over Bradford finally brought a bit of cheer. Tonight’s fixture was a different test altogether though, as a trip to Molineux to face Play Off chasing Wolves was selected for Live television coverage by Sky Sports. On the 11th November, would it be a Monday night to remember?

WOL Wolves WOL Formation WOL Brighton

The Teams: New manager Steve Coppell’s reign at the Albion hadn’t got off to the best of starts. During his first and so far, only win, against Bradford last time out, goalkeeper Michel Kuipers received his marching orders for a professional foul. However, he was available for tonight, with suspension not due to begin until after this match. In any case, that card was overturned and reduced to a yellow on appeal meaning Australian back-up Andy Petterson would not add to his eight Albion starts. Having joined in the summer he replaced Kuipers briefly during the terrible run, before the Dutch stopper returned at the end of September. Right-back Paul Watson and midfield general Richard Carpenter started every match thus far. Coppell brought about a change in formation in an attempt to shore up the backline, switching to a three-five-two and bringing in Robbie Pethick after almost two months out. Dean Blackwell joined on an initial month contract in October to slot in alongside captain Danny Cullip. Long-serving left-back Kerry Mayo and Paul Watson were deployed in wing-back roles supporting the midfield. Striker Gary Hart dropped back to the middle whilst new signing Simon Rodger played on the left of Carpenter. Rodger spent almost twelve years at Crystal Palace and was reunited with former boss Coppell a couple of weeks back. Winger Paul Brooker was suspended after a red card during the Palace defeat, whilst Charlie Oatway found himself relegated to the bench under the new manager whilst former skipper Paul Rogers struggled to force his way off the bench this term. Star striker Bobby Zamora scored in the opening day win but was out for six weeks with injury. He scored a brace last time out and provides Albion with that much needed star quality, having caught the eye of many scouts during the two title winning seasons. He was supported by young Irish international forward Graham Barrett, on a season-long loan from Arsenal. He got off to the worst possible start, sent off on his debut away at Portsmouth for an off the ball scuffle and only returned to the starting XI in recent weeks. He scored his first goal for the club in the defeat at home to Sheffield United. Options on the subs bench included former manager Martin Hinshelwood’s nephew Adam, highly-rated midfielder Steve Sidwell – another loanee from Arsenal – and forward Daniel Webb, son of ex-Chelsea defender David, back on loan for a second spell after some success last year. Dave Jones’ Wolverhampton Wanderers really should have been promoted last season, after throwing away a spot in the top two very late on. They occupied the automatic promotion places along with Manchester City from the start for much of the campaign, but the wheels came off completely during the final two months, with just two wins from the final nine games dropping them agonisingly to third as fierce rivals West Brom took advantage. They then lost to sixth placed Norwich over two-legs in the Play Offs. Their summer spending was huge ahead of that year but brought in very little this summer, with the marquee signings being free transfers Paul Ince from Middlesbrough and his former Manchester United teammate Denis Irwin. This sort of experience perhaps was required last time to get them over the line, with the club strongly tipped to achieve it this term. Irwin started tonight alongside Young Player of the Year Joleon Lescott and ahead of young local lad Matt Murray in goal. Ivar Ingimarsson played and scored against the Albion for Steve Coppell’s Brentford in January’s thrashing and joined after being released in July. Player of the Year Alex Rae was a battling Scotsman in the middle of the park. Irishman Mark Kennedy could strike a ball so hard with his ferocious left foot and started for the first time since April. Up top Kenny Miller and Dean Sturridge were a deadly combination, with the latter netting twenty-one times last year. Sturridge enjoyed a cameo appearance in Sky One drama Dream Team back in 1998 as himself. Taking charge of the match was footballer-turned-referee Steve Baines.

WOL StudioWOL Kick Off WOL Comms

Presentation Team: The previous broadcast team Sky assembled had all moved on since they last held the rights so a hastily arranged squad was ushered in to launch the season in August after securing the contract on the back of the ITV Digital debacle. Previous host Marcus Buckland had moved across to front the new pay-per-view matches on PremiershipPlus alongside George Graham last year, so former touchline reporter George Gavin stepped in front of the cameras to lead the new era. Gavin joined Sky in the mid-90s working as a reporter on the Premiership and FA Cup matches taking over from Nick Collins. Gavin had previously presented and commentated on BRMB in the Midlands on some hugely famous nights for Birmingham and Aston Villa, he also chaired a famously feisty phone-in show which is still looked back on fondly by listeners. He has also turned his hand to hosting tennis and fishing, amongst other sports, for Sky during his career and is the consummate professional. His Football League role this season was expanded in October to include a new Football League Review programme on Thursday nights, rounding up the action and previewing the upcoming fixtures from Sky’s chairless studio in Isleworth. Gavin was joined on the Molineux gantry by last season’s Albion gaffer Peter Taylor for tonight’s broadcast. Taylor had years of television experience, regularly being called upon to provide punditry and sometimes co-commentate for Sky on League, Cup and England matches. With his various roles across football – managing in the Premiership with Leicester, internationally with the England under-21s right down to the lower Leagues with us and Gillingham – he’s often in a good position to cover a wide range of matches. Taylor was back in management when he took charge of Hull earlier this month. In the commentary box, Rob Hawthorne had also gained a promotion since he was last the voice of the Football League between 1996 and 2001. Last season he took over Alan Parry’s role on the Premiership’s Monday Night Football coverage alongside new signing Alan Smith, with Parry and former League co-commentator Brian Marwood joining Buckland on the PPV channel. After four seasons of Scottish Premier League games, the SFA bungled the contract by snubbing Sky’s renewal bid in the doomed hope of setting up their own channel (which never came to fruition and they had to go to BBC Scotland with their tail between their legs). This left Sky’s English voice of Scottish football, Ian Crocker, free to step across to the Football League main commentator role. He would be joined in the box by a rotating group of co-commentators including Chris Kamara, Alvin Martin, Ray Houghton and Bryan Hamilton this season. Chris Kamara was in the commentary box tonight and previously covered the competition back in the 2000/01 season. From 2001/02 he also co-presented magazine highlights programme Goals on Sunday alongside Rob McCaffrey, ruling him out of Sunday games. Kamara’s Saturdays were taken up by reporting for results service Soccer Saturday, where he pioneered the in-vision updates from the stadium to complement host Jeff Stelling’s studio pundits. The touchline role went to Sky Sports News reporter Bryn Law for the first four months of the campaign, as Sky’s core team were assembled. Law was positioned in the North West for the News channel, particularly focussing on Leeds and his native Wales.

WOL Sky Sports WOL Coming Up

The Coverage: The broadcast rights to the Football League should have remained on the ITV Sport Channel, as they were last season, for at least two further years but that all went horribly wrong. The £315 million three-year contract, which was a huge increase on the previous one Sky Sports agreed, unfortunately proved too costly to sustain a subscription channel with the lower Leagues as the main attraction and potential customer uptake was vastly overestimated. Rumours began circling less than halfway through the debut season that the channel was in trouble, with parent companies Carlton and Granada placing it into administration at the end of March 2002. This was as a result of a failure to renegotiate the Football League deal to reduce the costs, rejected by the League, and the channel shut down and handed back the rights in May. In July Sky Sports stepped in to pick up the broadcast rights for the three Divisions at a bargain price of £95 million for four seasons; that’s £10 million less than what one season on ITV was worth. It highlighted how desperate the League was, with almost half of their clubs facing a real prospect of bankruptcy having gambled on ITV’s money. It was dire times for football in this country. Sky’s new deal unexpectedly brought the League back to their screens after a season away, having previously covered it for five years in the late 1990s. The new deal permitted seventy-five Live matches per season, which broke down as fifty regular season fixtures from Division One, ten from Divisions Two and Three plus Play Off matches including all three Finals. Following ITV’s lead, Sky would present the vast majority of Football League matches from the ground instead of their Isleworth studios like before. George Gavin would be joined by a whole host of guests standing pitchside or up on the gantry initially in a single-camera setup. The regular kick-off time was 5.35pm on Saturday evenings, allowing them to come on-air with a five minute build up and longer time post-match to round up the entire day’s action. As well as the new Saturday evening slot, the more familiar Friday and Monday nights would also be utilised. The pre-match build up was often short, understandably so given the late addition of the contract to Sky’s schedules in these early stages of the season. For Saturday evenings you had five minutes before the kick-off, whilst night matches were afforded fifteen minutes to preview. Tonight’s broadcast began at 7.30pm ahead of the 7.45 KO.

WOL Live fixture WOL Zamora aston

The coverage was sponsored by Sky Bet, featuring a group of fans watching the TV in their living room and cutting to dream sequences of what they would do with the money they’d make from winning bets. The new broadcast contract gave Sky a chance to bring in a new title sequence and theme tune. They opted for an instrumental version of the Skids’ 1979 punk hit Into the Valley. Probably their best known track, it had football connotations as both Dunfermline (the Skids local team) and Charlton (appropriately named home ground, The Valley) played it in their stadium. The titles began with black and white shots of Nottingham Forest’s wonderful City Ground and featured goals and match action from previous games interspersed with flashes of a bright red and white scoreboard. The scoreboard showed the trophy and League logos as well as key introductory text such as ‘Three Divisions’ and the name of the programme; ‘Football League Live’. The scoreboard flashed red and white to black and red to end with the programme name again. It was short and sweet and the track was an unusual but iconic choice. Sky’s graphics for the Football League were very similar in style to the Premiership ones introduced this season, but with a subtly more basic animation. Whilst their main ones had blue and white astons flying in from the left and right, the lines of text also flew in from the opposite side to give it a sleek animation, before exiting in the same manner. The League graphics didn’t have the text fly in separately and either just faded out of flew back out with the text and aston grouped. There were also entry and exit swoosh noises to accompany both sets. It was Brighton fan and TV critic Mike Ward who described them as having “those Dolby Surroundsound whoosing noises that frighten the dog!” Since the turn of the century, Sky’s graphics had evolved to be more complex, more stylish and incorporated greater use of computer imagery. This extended to the replay transitions, which now had the competition trophy crash into the middle of the screen whilst rotating. When goals were scored, the 3D club crest would do the same and they both looked excellent; a class apart from anything rival broadcasters were doing at this time.

WOL Zamora stats WOL Head to Head

With the single-camera setup, host George Gavin and pundit Peter Taylor were in-vision together for the majority of the time so whilst one was speaking, the other could still be seen when normally there would be a cutaway to focus solely on the person talking. This meant that invariably both would look directly at, and address, the camera like they do on American sportscasts, something which pundits rarely did in this country outside of Andy Gray. This was fine when the likes of experienced TV pundits Tony Cottee, Brian Little, Chris Kamara and Taylor himself were used but for newer performers it looked a little awkward and Sky would eventually get a multi-camera setup on the gantry as their coverage got more refined towards the end of the campaign. They began by highlighting Brighton’s terrific record against tonight’s hosts, having won ten of the fourteen previous League meetings. Though tonight was their first clash since 1991. Attention then turned to some of the key prospects; Dean Sturridge and Mark Kennedy for the home side and, of course, Bobby Zamora for the Seagulls. Taylor commented; “Bobby Zamora is an outstanding talent. He’s a tremendous finisher, he’s a lovely lad, he’s a great professional that’s gonna get even better. I’m very confident he will score at whatever level he plays at.” High praise indeed from his former boss. The stats proved just how good his goalscoring record was with Brighton, averaging two goals every three matches. An array of Zamora’s goals were shown to highlight Taylor’s points, including his finish in our last Live Sky match; the FA Cup victory over Rushden and Diamonds last season. Reporter Bryn Law spoke with both managers in the tunnel for their pre-match thoughts. Steve Coppell spoke of how he wanted his team to thrive against the big boys with expectation levels at a low; “It’s one thing that I’ve stressed to the players over the last couple of games – nobody’s expecting anything from Brighton in the position we’re in. So in a way, that takes the pressure off.” He also praised the workrate and commitment of the players on a day to day basis despite the awful run of form. George Gavin’s final words before the advert break were to remind us that Brighton have never won a Live televised League game. Thanks George! When they came back, the teams were waiting to emerge from the tunnel so it was time to hand over to commentators Ian Crocker and Chris Kamara. At half time Peter Taylor thought the Seagulls were good value for their lead; stating they “thoroughly deserve it, I think Brighton have been absolutely outstanding and been very, very hard to play against.”

WOL Coppell WOL Man of the Match

That lead was not to last though and after the final whistle ad break, Gavin and Taylor analysed the match for the final ten minutes or so of the broadcast. The full time stats that flew in along the bottom of the screen highlighted how the home side had more chances – twenty-three attempts with fifteen on target to Brighton’s ten shots and five goal bound – but the most important piece showed one-one. There was high praise for Bobby Zamora’s excellent chip over the ‘keeper, which was shown from every angle at every opportunity. They explained how important he was to Brighton’s survival bid, with the lack of goals when he was out of the side and the extra quality he brings when he’s in the team. On Wolves, they admitted it was close but they did up their game in the second half to fight back well for the draw. Taylor believed one or two Albion defenders were “a touch too deep” for the equaliser with a stroke of fortune coming via Miller’s deflection onto Rae deceiving the outstanding Kuipers. Reporter Bryn Law spoke with Steve Coppell to gain his understanding of the play, with the Brighton manager calling it a “hard earned” point. “I thought in the first half we were excellent. We played some terrific football, we laid out our stall to play a certain way but we still showed an awful lot of composure when we had possession.” He was proud of the effort of his players, particularly in the second half when they knew they’d be under increased pressure. The studio team also poured plaudits on Michel Kuipers for his Man of the Match performance, especially his incredible double save in the second half to deny two Wolves efforts. The former Dutch marine was then interviewed by Bryn Law where he was presented with his bottle of celebratory Champagne. Wolves boss Dave Jones kept his players in the dressing room for a bit longer than usual so there was no time in the Live broadcast to get his thoughts. The round up was completed by taking a look at the table, with Brighton still rock bottom and eight points off safety but slowly closing that gap. Wanderers remained in ninth, three points off the Play Offs. With everything said and done, George Gavin signed off with his traditional catchphrase, “from all of us, bye for now”, before the credits rolled.

WOL Fireworks WOL Minute Silence WOL Zamora goal WOL Bored Coppell

Story of the Match: The two sides ran out of the tunnel to a firework display on this November night. And with tonight being the eleventh of said month, a minute’s silence preceded the action to remember the fallen heroes of war. Wolves also took this opportunity to pay tribute to two former players who recently passed away; Cliff Durandt and Ron Hindmarch. Wolves, in their famous old gold shirts, got the game underway kicking from left to right in the first half. “Many do see this as a home banker,” began commentator Ian Crocker, “but football is rarely so straightforward.” So it proved as it was Brighton who made the better start taking the game to their hosts. Graham Barrett had the first sight of goal after eleven minutes. The striker, called up to the Republic of Ireland squad earlier in the day, held off Joleon Lescott in the area and swivelled with his back to goal. He kept the ball close to his feet to ward off two further defenders before unleashing a left footed strike early which almost caught Matt Murray out. The ball brushed the side netting. But Brighton weren’t to be denied and struck a breakthrough three minutes later. A loose ball just inside his own half was gathered by Danny Cullip to launch it long and forward. Lescott headed it back whence it came from where Richard Carpenter was waiting inside the centre circle. His first time cushioned pass caught the Wolves defence out, namely Mark Clyde, which gave Bobby Zamora something to chase. The seemingly harmless ball completely deceived the defence, and the viewers, as suddenly Zamora was clean through on goal with only Murray to beat. As the ‘keeper rushed out of his goal, Zamora calmly and expertly chipped it over his diving body on the edge of the box and into the back of the net. It was a fantastic finish from the star man for his fifth of the season. And he almost grabbed a second not long after. A bodged attempt at a clearance saw the ball cannon off Lescott’s face into Zamora’s path. Thirty-seven-year-old Denis Irwin came to Wanderers rescue though as he just about got in quick enough on the edge of the box to prod it behind for a corner, just as the striker was shaping up to strike. It was a vital interception as Zamora ended up striking Irwin’s boot rather than a ball, which actually caused a bit of pain on and off for the rest of the half. Barrett couldn’t quite get to the loose ball quick enough for a tap in to an empty net as it trickled behind. The first proper goalmouth action for the home team came from a Mark Kennedy corner over on the far side. Icelandic midfielder Ivar Ingimarsson met it with a good header from eight yards, fortunately it hit his own player, Dean Sturridge, standing in the centre of the goal. The rebound fell to the feet of Ingimarsson this time but his shot was smothered by the alert Michel Kuipers, ably protected by Robbie Pethick. Brighton’s formation change seemed to be doing the job, as players were defending well but also getting forward in their numbers. Nevertheless, Steve Coppell looked considerably bored when the camera cut to him sitting in the stands midway through the first period, head slumped against his hand! He wouldn’t be taking anything for granted. Gary Hart had a header saved by Murray as Brighton continued to create chances and restricted Wolves to long-rangers.

WOL Kuipers first save WOL Kuipers double save WOL Double Sub WOL Added Time

It was a credit to the Albion’s first half performance that the Wolves fans grew evermore impatient as that period went on. They began the second half a goal down but determined to put that right. Kevin Cooper fired a warning shot after four minutes when he dispossessed Dean Blackwell ten yards inside the Brighton half and burst forward. His shot on the edge of the box went just shy of the near post. That’s not to say the Seagulls spent the rest of the time on the back foot. An opportunity went the unlikely way of a Kerry Mayo burst when the back line opened up for the local lad to run through. His shot took a big deflection outside the area off Lescott which wrongfooted Murray and could have spun in any direction. As it was, it clipped the outside of the netting as it went inches wide. The resulting corner kick eventually found its way to the head of Danny Cullip, whose brave header was creeping in and had to be helped over the crossbar, which was missed by the officials. At the other end, Kuipers had to be on red alert as he could be called into action at any point; such was the open, end-to-end nature of this match. Just before the hour mark he pulled off a remarkable double save to deny first Alex Rae then Kenny Miller in a frantic few seconds. Marc Edworthy’s ball in from the right alluded everyone until Rae struck in the area with a nice curler. That forced Kuipers to get down low to his left to parry away. The quickest to react to the loose ball was Miller who pinged an effort towards the upper reaches of the goal that surely couldn’t be saved. Yet up came the outstretched, upright arm of Kuipers to deny him with the save of the match. To top it all off the ball fell straight into his grateful arms, what a moment! And the big Dutchman had to stand firm again just a minute later when Sturridge showed great pace and strength to run the ball in from the left touchline. He made the chance all by himself, bringing it forward from near the halfway line and not letting Mayo get near the ball. It left him one on one with Kuipers but the goalie didn’t commit himself and blocked off the effort to keep it one-nil to the stripes. With twenty left on the clock Wolves made a double change, bringing on Shaun Newton and Keith Andrews in the middle. It took just five minutes for the goal to arrive, in scrappy circumstances as Wolves pressure finally paid dividends. Another good ball in from the right from Edworthy found an unmarked Kenny Miller on the penalty spot. His volley took a big deflection off Rae standing just a yard or two in front. The touch was enough to take it past a despairing Kuipers and into the corner of the net for one-one, as Miller wheeled away and sighs of relief were breathed around Molineux. Brighton immediately responded with a double substitution of their own in an attempt to consolidate the level scoreline as midfielders Sidwell and Oatway came on for the final quarter of an hour. Adam Hinshelwood came on for the closing minutes as the packed Albion defence stood firm and resolute for an excellent away point. Brighton looked a whole lot more confident under Coppell and gave glimmers of hope that all wasn’t lost in this campaign despite the start. Onwards and upwards for the Seagulls, we hoped!

WOL Table

WOLVES 1 BRIGHTON 1
Miller Zamora

WOL Replay WOL Goal

PREVIOUS; #10 STOKE CITY 3-1 BRIGHTON 01/03/2002

NEXT; #12 READING 1-2 BRIGHTON 04/04/2003

#18: Brighton 1-0 Bristol City 30/05/2004

#18 BRIGHTON 1-0 BRISTOL CITY Division Two Play Off FINAL
Sunday 30th May 2004 Image result for

POF Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUESTS Chris Kamara & Gordon Strachan
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Garry Birtles REPORTERS Fraser Robertson & Guy Havord
3pm Kick Off; Millennium Stadium, Cardiff     2-6pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

swi ident sky bet sponsor POF Intro

Context of the Match: The big day had arrived. Sunday 30th May 2004 saw the teams of Brighton and Bristol City meet in a one-off match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium to determine who would be joining Queens Park Rangers and Plymouth in gaining promotion to the second tier of English football. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday in the Welsh capital for the Division Two Play Off Final. The end of season Play Offs were introduced in 1987 and have become one of the highlights of the domestic calendar, with nerves, tension, excitement, glory and despair all rolled into one. Brighton’s only prior foray into this stage came in 1991 when they were ninety minutes away from the top flight. Having defeated Millwall in the Semi Finals that year home and away, a Wembley showdown with Notts County ended with the Magpies victorious by three goals to one. The Albion’s fate had plummeted since then, dropping down the Divisions to almost slipping out of the League altogether a couple of times in the nineties. More recently, back to back title wins in 2001 and 2002 saw the club rise to the second tier, only to be relegated on the final day last season. An immediate bounce back up was on the cards today if the Seagulls could beat the Robins. During the regular season, City got the better of Brighton, winning four-one at Withdean in November and holding us to a stalemate at Ashton Gate five weeks ago. To reach this point, the Albion finished in fourth place in the Second Division. They were six points off the automatic promotion places and five behind today’s opponents who ended in third. After a forgettable Semi Final First Leg at the County Ground where Richard Carpenter’s goal separated Brighton and Swindon, the Second Leg was an incredible spectacle of drama as Swindon scored late to level on aggregate and force Extra Time. When Rory Fallon put them two up it looked like being all over, but for Adam Virgo’s last-minute diving header to take it to penalties. The Albion converted all four of their spot-kicks and when Andy Gurney struck the post it was all over; Brighton were going to the Final! Bristol City avoided having to go into overtime however their two-legged affair with Hartlepool also contained much drama. The first match at Victoria Park ended all square, with Pool equalising late in the second half. The rematch in Bristol was going the way of the away side after the hour mark when Antony Sweeney put them ahead. But Bristol City would not suffer Play Off Semi Final heartbreak for the second season running, as two goals in the final two minutes of the match overturned that advantage and sent the Robins down the M4 and over the border into Cardiff. Both teams enjoyed some late fortune in their respective matches and this Final would be decided on the day; with the potential for Extra Time and Penalties if required. Indeed, four of the last five Second Division Finals had gone beyond the ninety minutes, the exception being Stoke City in 2002. Sky Sports broadcast all three Divisional Play Off Finals Live from the Millennium Stadium across this weekend. After Crystal Palace’s victory over West Ham on the Saturday, could the Seagulls follow the Eagles in gaining promotion?

POF Brighton POF Bristol City POF Formation

The Teams: Mark McGhee’s Brighton made one change from the starting line-up from the Second Leg of the Semi Final at Withdean. Gary Hart was favoured over Paul Reid on the right of midfield. Hart was infamously signed for £1000 and a set of tracksuits from non-League Stansted in 1998 and had seen two promotions already at his time here. Originally a striker, Hart became more of a utility player as his career progressed – filling in at the back as well as in midfield. Reid joined from Bradford with a few games to go before the end of the season and started both legs of the Semi Finals. In goal, former Middlesbrough ‘keeper Ben Roberts was the first choice. He played the majority of this campaign having joined last year and previously started for Boro in FA and League Cup Finals at Wembley, losing on both occasions. Captain Danny Cullip – named in the PFA Division Two Team of the Year – partnered the fans Player of the Year Guy Butters in the centre of defence, with Second Leg hero Adam Virgo on the right and academy graduate Dan Harding on the left. The midfield core of Carpenter, Oatway and Jones had been with the Seagulls since the start of the Withdean era. Carpenter had won five promotions in his career and hoping for a sixth. The striking options were top-scorer Leon Knight – twenty-five goals thus far, the join best in the Division earning himself a place in the PFA Team of the Year – and Scotsman Chris Iwelumo. He was in the Stoke side that won this match two years ago and joined us from them on loan back in March. He was the only Albion player to have featured at the Millennium Stadium before, whilst he and Guy Butters had won this Final previously. With a lack of forward options in the squad, no strikers were on the bench. Former Tottenham youth midfielder John Piercy was named as substitute, with Reid, Adam Hinshelwood, goalkeeper Michel Kuipers and longest serving current player Kerry Mayo. Mayo scored the own goal in the draw at Hereford which kept Albion in the Football League seven years ago but had since gone on to play regularly at left-back. Bristol City manager Danny Wilson had the longest spell of his playing career at Brighton, in the heart of the midfield for four years. He named a side which included three players named in the PFA Team of the Year. Goalkeeper Steve Phillips, defender Louis Carey and midfielder Brian Tinnion, getting the accolade for the second time in four seasons. Tony Rougier had a short loan spell with the Albion at the back end of last season, starting five times and scoring twice. Striker Cristian Roberts was born in the host city Cardiff and began his career in the Welsh capital. This was Bristol City’s second appearance at the Millennium Stadium, having won the LDV Vans Trophy Final in 2003 beating Carlisle with goals from Lee Peacock and Liam Rosenior; neither of whom were involved today, the latter having left the club after that match. The attacking option on the bench was Scott Murray, who rejoined the club in March after less than a season away. He previously spent six years at City. Refereeing was Richard Beeby.

POF Gavin POF Kamara POF Strachan POF Studio

Presentation Team: This was host George Gavin’s second season presenting the Play Off Finals and his second match this weekend following the Division One Final the previous day. That saw Crystal Palace defeat West Ham during a mammoth five hour Live broadcast. Gavin had been at the helm during the regular season, travelling the length and breadth of the country to bring us Live Football League games, other than the Saturday lunchtime kick offs that Ian Payne covered this year. During the Play Off Semi Finals he was based at Sky’s Isleworth studio in order to cover the lot but was back in the stadium for the Finals. Keeping Gavin company in the studio was regular Football League number one co-commentator and co-host of Sunday morning review programme Goals on Sunday, Chris Kamara. Kamara would be involved in all three Finals this weekend, having commentated on yesterday’s match, in the studio today and reporting on tomorrow’s Division Three clash. And this is the third Play Off Finals campaign that Kamara has covered for Sky, having taken over from Alan Brazil as co-commentator on the 2001 Division One Final, reprising his role when the rights were regained from ITV last year. Kammy was joined in the studio, eventually, by Gordon Strachan. I say eventually, as he missed the first part of the programme due to being stuck in traffic! Strachan had been out of work since leaving Southampton back in February, somewhat earlier than anticipated. He was due to quit the club when his contract concluded this summer, wanting to take a break from the game having been in permanent employment as a manager for more than eight years on the back of a successful playing career. However, news of his plan was leaked and the club took action to replace him immediately. It was clear Strachan’s next move during this ‘break’ would be in the media and his appearance in the studio today was an indication of that. He would be signed up by BBC Sport to lead their revamped Premiership highlights punditry when rights returned for next season, joining Adrian Chiles on the new Match of the Day 2 on Sunday nights. Strachan’s humour and straight-talking won him plaudits from supporters during press conferences and interviews, known for answering silly questions with silly answers, so his presence on television would be a welcomed addition.

POF Robertson POF Havord

In the commentary box were the regular partnership of Ian Crocker and Garry Birtles. Crocker had been the voice of Sky’s Football League games since the beginning of last season and combined this with Scotland international matches. With today’s Final taking place just weeks before a major tournament, international fixtures took place across the same weekend and thus meant Crocker had to miss his first Scottish international for many years in order to commentate in Cardiff. Rob Hawthorne took his place in Edinburgh. Commentating with Crocker was Garry Birtles who was working on his first Play Off Final for Sky having joined at the beginning of the campaign, taking over from Alvin Martin who did this fixture a year ago. Birtles quickly established himself as a key part of Sky’s coverage of the Football League and Champions League, with his distinctive Nottingham accent and strong opinions. Prior to Sky he worked for local radio in his hometown for many years. As is tradition for major Finals, Sky deployed two pitchside reporters; broadly covering one team each although this wasn’t strictly adhered to 100%. Generally, Guy Havord was with the Bristol City team whilst Fraser Robertson interviewed Brighton. Havord and Robertson would do all three Finals this weekend, just as they did last year. Robertson covered the majority of the Division One matches this season, whilst Havord was Sky’s man on the sidelines for the ten Division Two and Three broadcasts as well as deputising for Robertson in the big League.

POF Graphic POF Crests

Pre-Match Coverage: This four hour broadcast would be the most comprehensively covered match the Albion had enjoyed since the first Live game back in 1983. Whilst we didn’t quite get build up from 11am today like at Wembley, we did receive Sky’s full treatment of this Division Two Play Off Final at the Millennium Stadium. Coverage came on-air at 2pm, an hour before kick-off, as the stadium began to fill up. Host George Gavin and pundit Chris Kamara were based in the corner of the ground in their glass box, a familiar location for Sky viewers over the past three seasons for showpiece events. The title sequence was a specially adapted Play Offs edition, with the usual theme tune of The Skids’ Into the Valley accompanying shots of classic action from yesteryear including the likes of Martin O’Neill and Peter Reid managing, and Paul Dickov and Steve Fletcher scoring, in past Finals. The introduction VT was very dramatic, the usual set piece from Sky’s top level coverage, in which the voice of the channel Bruce Hammal threw out emotive language to stir the emotions. “Fear me, my foe, for I know the ways of this chequered battle field!” This was followed by shots of the players arriving at the ground, making their way up the famous Millennium Stadium corridor, before we saw huge crowds gathering outside waiting for the gates to open in the glorious sunshine. “Brighton have sold more than 25,000 tickets. Their temporary home is the 7,000 capacity Withdean. They’re making a huge point about the need for a new stadium by arriving in so many numbers here today,” commented host Gavin. The stadium campaign was a huge part of today for the supporters and was long a feature of the television coverage which would continue in years to come. Sky Sports adopted flashy new 3D graphics for their Premiership and Cup coverage back in February but so far that hadn’t filtered down to the Football League which continued with last season’s set. However, an exception was made for this Finals weekend, which meant we got the full animations and flying name astons which were a marked improvement on the basic graphics of old. The blue and red backgrounds remained but didn’t quite cover up the entire length of the screen, instead animating in and out via a whooshing laser-like line. The trophy accompanied our hosts in the studio for the first part of the show.

POF Oatway POF Suits

As the players were taking a walk round the pitch to check out the conditions, reporters Fraser Robertson and Guy Havord caught up with a few of the players. Charlie Oatway told of how he was present this time last season as a fan, watching the club after he was named; QPR. They lost that day and he was hoping to be a bit luckier this time with the Albion. We also saw shots of Danny Cullip and Richard Carpenter getting fitted for their Cup Final suits in town, with the Albion opting for the smart wear in contrast to Bristol City’s tracksuits. A recap of the Semi Finals followed, with plenty of late drama across both ties as City overcame Hartlepool and the Seagulls swooped on Swindon via the shoot-out. Fraser Robertson brought us the team line up for the Albion whilst Guy Havord delivered the Bristol City news, which was dissected by Kamara in the studio. Of Leon Knight his criticism centred around the lack of consistency and enthusiasm, saying if he was up for it more often he’d still have been playing at the higher level where his career began. After the break, our other studio guest was able to make it through the crowds as Gordon Strachan joined the team. He opened with stating this is “the most exciting weekend of the season, ‘cos the League’s been boring, Arsenal won that… even the Cup Final last week, that was boring!” He started as he meant to go on.

POF Two Shot POF Little and Large

Brighton’s striking duo, Leon Knight and Chris Iwelumo, were granted a VT feature together sat on the beach as they discussed their ‘little and large’ partnership, each other’s strengths and the Albion in general. Iwelumo, on loan from Stoke, was keen on extending his stay; “It’s been brilliant, it’s been such a good time for me just to play first team football again… Great bunch of lads, accepted me from the minute I walked in and I’d love to stay here.” To really emphasise the height difference, they pair went head to head on the seafront basketball court; Knight emerging the victor. Gordon Strachan is good friends with Mark McGhee and has kept an eye out for the club in recent times. “Speaking to him this morning, I got a hint of why they play the way they do. First of all, the two strikers are good so get the ball up to them. I think the midfield as a unit defensively are great, but as an attacking unit not that great at all.” He told of how his other teams have been more passing based and attractive due to the better players they had in midfield. We then heard from the man himself, Mark McGhee in conversation with Fraser Robertson in the tunnel. He emphasised the importance of concentration during this match after a hard slog of a year; “We’ve got young players who have had a long season, been introduced at this level, and they’re gonna be tested in that respect. They’re gonna be asked questions of their concentration, I think, that they’ve not been asked so far.”

POF Iwelumo Stats POF Coming Up POF Albion Support POF Tunnel

After the break the attention turned to Bristol City, whose fans were interviewed outside the ground in very confident mood. Their striker Christian Roberts recorded a VT in and around Cardiff, as he looked back on their LDV Vans Trophy Final victory at the Millennium Stadium last season and, perched in front of the castle, reviewed his winning goal in the Semi Finals a couple of weeks ago. He had to choose club or country for today’s fixture, with Wales facing Canada in Wrexham at the same time. Club won out and he started up front for Bristol City, particularly important for them given the absence of Lee Peacock through injury. Former Albion midfielder Danny Wilson was in charge of City, spending four years with us and now in his fourth year as their manager. We heard from him in the tunnel with Guy Havord. As we neared closer to kick off, the crowd filtered in and created an excellent pre-match atmosphere. The studio team commented on how good the stadium looked and what a great set of supporters both sides brought along with them. Host George Gavin asked for his pundits’ final predictions. Kamara went with Bristol City as they’re “the best footballing side and if Brighton play too direct, they’ll lose.” Strachan was more cautious, hoping for “a tight game, hopefully exciting and I don’t know what to say because they’re too terrific fellas.” He then joked “I’d like to get Mark through obviously, but I’m scared for his weight ‘cos every time he gets successful his weight balloons up!” And the scene was set, after the adverts the teams would emerge from the tunnel to the theme tune from Kill Bill and it would be time for our commentary team of Ian Crocker and Garry Birtles to take the reins.

POF National Anthem POF Referee POF Kick Off POF Comms

Story of the Match: With a sea of blue and white to the left of camera, the Albion supporters made themselves heard. The players were introduced to the dignitaries consisting of Football League Chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney, and representatives of the outgoing title sponsors Nationwide. The National Anthem was performed by Laurence Robinson. Brighton got the match off and underway kicking from right to left in the first half in their traditional blue and white stripes up against the red of Bristol City. “Stand up if you want Falmer!” rang around the ground in the early stages of the match, the Seagulls supporters aware they had their own job to do today in front of the cameras; to really hammer home that need for planning permission to be granted by John Prescott MP. Nathan Jones showed he was up for the match taking place in his home country, as he burst half the length of the pitch after some neat skill to drive the Albion forward. His frustrations at the lack of end product got him involved in a shoving match with opposition defender Louis Carey, with the City man raising his hands towards Jones and perhaps fortunate to escape a card. In goal Ben Roberts enjoyed a couple of early routine catches to give him confidence and get a feel for the match. He was present when City put four past us at Withdean back in November. The sun had the potential to cause problems for him and the players on the far side of the pitch, with the near side covered by the shadow of the retractable roof. “It takes a while for teams to settle in these games”, remarked commentator Ian Crocker inside the opening quarter of an hour. The opening half was marred by several late sliding tackles which culminated in Adam Virgo receiving the first yellow card of the match thirty-three minutes in. The resulting free kick came to nothing and this was typical of the football as a whole; extremely little in terms of goalmouth action with chances even rarer. It was tense, it was fraught and it was too close to call. The lack of quality was typified when Tony Butler, City’s defender up for a set piece, hooked his shot high and wide from just a few yards out. Even though it wouldn’t have stood due to a foul on Ben Roberts, it was still a terrible miss. Shortly before the whistle, the breakthrough so nearly came with the first real bit of quality. Leon Knight struck a superb free kick from the far edge outside the penalty box which cannoned off the crossbar and had the goalkeeper scrambling all ends up. Brighton couldn’t muster much with the follow up but what an effort from Knight, who had been quiet thus far. The teams went in goalless. The stats during the half-time coverage showed Bristol City to have edged it, with 56% possession, but perhaps with that warning sign from Knight, Brighton were in the ascendancy.

POF Virgo Yellow POF Substitution

Bristol City were slightly delayed making their way out for the second period as captain Tommy Doherty was being sick in the dressing room. He continued to play on. And Leon Knight wasn’t feeling too bright within the opening couple of minutes after a very heavy collision with Danny Coles left him requiring treatment from physio Malcolm Stuart. He too played on. The Robins were the first to make a change, as Scott Murray replaced Lee Miller up top on the hour mark. This was followed by an Albion substitution as Australian Paul Reid took Richard Carpenter’s place after a knock. Brighton were trying to push forward with Iwelumo leading various charges, but the final ball was really lacking from the Scotsman. A free kick from the half way line almost went all the way through but for the hands of City’s ‘keeper. The flick on nearly found Iwelumo in its path but the pace just beat him on. A further change for the Albion was made for the final quarter of an hour as Nathan Jones came off slightly surprisingly, and on ran John Piercy, a former Tottenham graduate. Piercy had been in and out of the side all season due to injury but was there when it mattered, scoring in the shoot-out win against Swindon to get to this point. He almost made an immediate impact in this match, floating in a cross from the left touchline. Iwelumo’s head met it but the power was lacking and the effort landed just the wrong side of the post. The crowd made their voices heard again and could sense Brighton grow in confidence and belief. With seven minutes remaining they were proved correct. Chris Iwelumo held the ball up on the right wing but with few options close to him he decided to attack the space in front. A ten yard dribble took him past one City defender before playing it on towards Knight, which displaced two more. Last man Danny Coles was vying for the loose ball with Knight, with neither able to get it under control. It left an opportunity for Iwelumo to pick it back up as he charged into the box. As Coles got up off the turf he swung a leg to boot the ball away but in doing so only whacked the leg of the striker and clipped his heels to bring him down. Penalty! Referee Richard Beeby was right on the spot, giving the signal for the foul. The pressure kick fell to top scorer Leon Knight. He did his familiar stutter before taking the kick, which was very well placed into Phillips’ bottom-right hand corner of the net. Goal for the Albion! Commentator Crocker called it; “Here he comes… and Leon Knight fires Brighton in front and fires the dream! The dream of promotion to Division One!” Summariser Birtles praised the striker; “As cool as you like there… Tremendous penalty.” It was penalties that got us to this point and it was now a penalty which looked like taking us up, Knight’s eighth successful spot kick out of eight this season – a remarkable record. The crowd of 65,167 watched on as the final few minutes ticked by all too quickly from the red side’s point of view. And they ticked by without incident, which meant Brighton were the winners. Brighton had won promotion to Division One. Brighton had done it via the Play Offs for the first time. It was a Knight to remember!

POF Goal POF Knight aston POF Goal Replay

BRIGHTON 1 BRISTOL CITY 0
Knight

POF Replay 1 POF Replay 2

Post Match Coverage: “They’ve got what they hoped for. They’ve got what they prayed for. They’ve got what they came for. Brighton are promoted to the First Division, up, up and away!” were the words from Ian Crocker upon hearing the full time whistle. It was the cue for the players and coaching staff to rush onto the pitch to celebrate and congratulate the men in blue and white. They say promotion via the Play Offs is the best way to do it, and at that moment nobody with any connection to Brighton and Hove Albion would disagree with you. Just shy of an hour remained of the programme after full time, which gave plenty of opportunity to hear from the squad, analyse the key moments and bask in the Albion’s glory. The first player up for questioning was Chris Iwelumo with reporter Guy Havord. The striker was in his element; “Just look at this. This is what it’s all about. This is why you play football, for days like this. Unbelievable, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.” Up next was the goalscorer, with reporter Fraser Robertson, in a humble mood; “I’m not a hero, it took eleven men out there plus the subs, the backroom staff. There’s no heroes in this team, we’re all heroes today!” Charlie Oatway was high on emotions but remembered the key message about Falmer; “It just shows you what we can get and it’s a shame that we haven’t got the ground and hopefully the decision’ll go for us and we’ll get this regularly, I’m sure we will.” The manager was collared by Havord for a brief chat before he had to be called away to collect the trophy. “It’s not a day for me,” he began, “it’s a day for the players, for the supporters. I’m thrilled for them, delighted obviously for myself, they’ve worked hard for it.” Whilst all this was going on, the stage was being set on the pitch for the presentation of the prize, with no steps to climb like at the old Wembley it was all done on the field of play.

POF Iwelumo POF McGhee POF Man of the Match POF Going Up

Mark McGhee led the squad up to collect their winners medals, each and every one of them. There are no losers medals in the Play Offs, only losers. With everybody in place, it was just left for captain Danny Cullip to go last and collect his before moving across to be front and centre for the big moment. “On the wings of a Seagull, Brighton are promoted to Division One!” The fireworks began to go off, the music started to blare out and the celebrations with the trophy could really get going. Champagne all round soundtracked by Sussex by the Sea. Ian Crocker once again summed it up perfectly by saying, “By no means a classic match, but a classic day and a day that will go down in Brighton and Hove Albion’s history.” The skipper Cullip was named the Man of the Match and made a direct appeal to John Prescott to listen to the people and grant planning permission for the stadium, with centre back partner Guy Butters following suit. Chairman Dick Knight was in amongst all the celebrations, getting his hands on the trophy as Havord interviewed him. Knight was an old pro at getting the message across in impassioned speeches and creative campaigning; “I feel so proud to be the chairman, what a wonderful day. Our fans have been brilliant, 30,000 people here today, the team were even better. They fought and they won the game and they deserved to win the game.” He continued “Brighton is on the football map, Brighton should have a stadium.” Nathan Jones’ interview was interrupted by jubilant players jumping in to celebrate with a very proud Welshman in Cardiff. What an incredible day to be a Seagulls supporter.

POF Trophy Lift POF Crowd POF Knight Trophy POF Chairman Trophy

Full credit to Sky for staying with the extended celebrations and not rushing off for an advert break, having gone uninterrupted from the start of the second half some seventy-odd minutes earlier. The scenes were unique for the Albion and those of us in the stadium wanted to savour every second of it and try to translate that back to the watching world. Voicing the pictures were now the studio team of George Gavin, Chris Kamara and Gordon Strachan. The latter was fully supportive of the Albion’s stadium bid in his own inimitable way; “You’re there to serve the community and the community are shouting ‘Give us a stadium’. OK there’s fifty people that might wanna save the greenback frog or whatever it is, or a couple of weeds, you know, for the green belt. But who cares about two frogs and a couple of weeds?!” And as the players inched towards the tunnel area on their half-lap of honour, it was time for Sky to take that advert break. Upon our return, cameras followed Mark McGhee and co into the dressing room whilst the players tucked into pizza and plenty of alcohol. An attempt was made to speak with Adam Virgo inside the dressing room but that was only ever going to begin one way; covered in champagne and food! When it had calmed down slightly, Fraser Robertson noticed the trophy had been slightly bent out of shape! Virgo saying, “I think Guy [Butters] sat on it, to be honest.”

POF Dressing Room POF Bent Trophy POF Link Up

The closing portion of the programme was largely studio based, as the trio analysed the goal and got further reaction from both clubs. Praise was heaped on the supporters with Kamara saying; “The fans were the winners today, we were sat out there and it was a really great atmosphere.” The stats scrawled across the bottom of the screen to highlight just how tight the match was, with just a single shot on target for each side and possession shaded by the defeated team 53% to 47%. Gordon Strachan told of the huge importance of set pieces and good set piece takers. He praised Knight’s coolness and technique for the winning penalty as well as his free kick which crashed the crossbar. Mark McGhee joined the boys via an earpiece link-up from the tunnel, all in good spirits. The gaffer spoke highly of Iwelumo’s performance; “As a centre forward, Chris Iwelumo gives us something that we didn’t have all season. I said I think if we had had Chris, we’d be up automatically because I think we have a lot more to come.” He revealed the tactics used in the dressing room before the match to inspire the players, with a list of desired venues next season in Division One – Stadium of Light, Molineux, Upton Park – alongside a list of other names that were less desirable, and it was up to them as to where they would end up next year. After the final advert break of the day, attention turned to the Play Off Finals as a whole, with Mansfield against Huddersfield to come the following afternoon. We also heard from Danny Wilson, ever gracious in defeat but clearly heartbroken that he’s been denied in the Play Offs for the second year in a row and would go on to leave the club over the summer. And so, it was also time for us to leave as this fantastic programme concluded. This day, the memories, the penalty and the celebrations would live forever in the minds of Seagulls fans. How does flying high in the second tier again sound?

POF Trophy Winners

EXTRA; For coverage of the ITV Meridian Soccer Night Play Off Final highlights programme click HERE

PREVIOUS; #17 BRIGHTON 0-1 SWINDON 20/05/2004

NEXT; #19 LEICESTER 0-1 BRIGHTON 30/08/2004

Small Screen Seagulls; The Dignity and Class of Chris Hughton

Small Screen Seagulls LogoChris Hughton is often referred to as one of the nicest characters in football, and rightly so. His pre and post-match interviews are conducted with honesty, respect and always amiable. In an industry increasingly full of loud, brash, soundbite-grabbers, Hughton is a charming contrast. He is a quiet, intelligent thinker and as such doesn’t tend to be at the forefront of media coverage. Punditry appearances are rare, long-form magazine programme interviews infrequent. His television opportunities are largely centred around press conferences and matchdays. That’s not to say that he didn’t feature from time to time. During his tenure as Brighton manager he became an ambassador figure for the city, particularly as the achievements on the pitch began to mount. He was bestowed the freedom of the city by the Council following promotion to the Premier League in May 2017. The University of Sussex awarded him an honorary degree in January 2019, citing ‘considerable success in his field despite barriers’. This was in reference to being one of a very select few managers in the English game at the time coming from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, for whom Hughton could be seen as a role model. This post takes a look back at some of the features the boss was a part of around his time at the Albion. The two stand-out themes throughout were dignity and class.


Chris Hughton, Brighton Manager 31st Dec 2014-13th May 2019

Chris Hughton
Chris Hughton with Ciaran Moynan and myself in 2015

The morning after Brighton and Hove Albion’s second Premier League season in succession came to a close, with Manchester City clinching the title at The Amex in front of the watching world, our manager Chris Hughton was relieved of his duties after four and a half years at the helm. I think ‘relieved’ is an appropriate word in this story. After a catastrophic collapse which saw the Albion freefall from mid-table at Christmas down to just two points off the drop come the final day, there was huge relief for the fans that nearest survival rivals Cardiff were not good enough to claim the necessary points to overtake. Brighton survived due to others incompetence as opposed to hauling themselves out of danger. There was relief from the Owner and Chairman Tony Bloom that his team would still be in the top-flight next season when at times it looked precarious. And perhaps there may even be a modicum of relief for Chris Hughton himself, that he exits the club as one of the most successful managers the Seagulls have ever seen, having done the jobs he set out to do upon appointment on New Year’s Eve 2014.

It’s debatable how much further he could have taken the club and, unlike his time at Norwich, he departed on good terms with the fans. He was able to see out the full season and achieve the primary objective of staying up. It’s very unfortunate that it had to end in this way – he couldn’t finish it on his own terms – because Hughton conducted himself admirably at all times and got the results on the field. His tenure will never be forgotten by the Albion faithful and we will always owe him a huge debt of gratitude for salvaging a bit of a mess under Sami Hyypia, rousing the troops to keep an underperforming squad in the Championship when a place in League One was calling. In his first full season the transformation was underway; the club started the season with a record unbeaten run which saw the Seagulls sit amongst the top three or four clubs from the beginning to the end. It wasn’t quite to be, missing out on automatic promotion on goal difference to Middlesbrough, but that did not halt the charge. The following season the promised land of the Premier League was reached in style, Brighton blew away the rest of the chasing pack and finished behind only his former side Newcastle to take their place amongst the country’s elite. The honour had alluded the club for thirty-four years. The achievement in itself was huge, perhaps no better day was had under Hughton than when it was finally secured on Easter Monday against Wigan at The Amex. The manner of the victories, with exciting attacking football and high-scoring victories, brought about excitement and interest from the rest of the country.

Hughton Promotion

Ahead of his Premier League challenge, the squad was strengthened significantly. Home form was crucial as Fortress Falmer stopped all but the biggest teams from claiming victory. A win over Manchester United had fans pinching themselves as another season in the big League was clinched with time to spare. The second season in the Premier League began with more expectation but double the pressure as big spending teams came up from the Division below. The first half of that campaign saw similar results, home form claiming wins over Everton, West Ham and – once again – Manchester United. But the tide turned after Christmas. Certain sections of the home support were getting restless about a negative approach that was adopted in order to counter the undoubted superiority many top flight teams had over us. Goals were hard to come by, players were under-performing and Chris Hughton changed tactics in a bid to improve. The change in formation from a flexible 4-4-1-1 in 2017 to a rigid 4-5-1/4-3-3 this time was plainly not producing the desired effect. The lone striker was isolated, as support from the wing was restricted due to a defensive, negative set up. The dreadful run of form in 2019 saw Brighton freefall down the table to the point where, for the first time, questions were raised about the security of his job. The lowest moment of his time in charge came when Bournemouth put five past us on the Saturday followed by the team hot on our heels – Cardiff – striking a further two goals without reply just three days later. Morale had hit rock-bottom but Hughton remained calm and managed to steer the ship to safety with two games of the season still to play. Despite this and reaching a first FA Cup Semi Final since 1983, Tony Bloom’s mind was made up and the parting of the ways came on Monday 13th May 2019.

Hughton Manager of the Month

Chris Hughton’s level-headed, conservative nature was in step with his solid, defend-from-the-front football. He was extremely likeable, had time to stop and chat to everybody and was always an absolute credit in the way he conducted himself at the Albion. His achievements surpass any manager the club has had in the modern era; only Jimmy Melia had taken Albion to a Wembley in the Cup before, and only Alan Mullery had won promotion to the top flight some, forty years ago. Hughton became the first BAME boss to win the Premier League’s Manager of the Month Award when he picked up the honour in February 2018. And he created a family atmosphere and togetherness within the club which was never more abundant than when the entire squad flew to France for the funeral of Anthony Knockaert’s father in November 2016. The win ratio of 41% under Hughton is particularly impressive given almost half of that time was spent in the Premier League, highlighting just how good a job he did. Let’s take a look at some of the standout appearances he made on our television screens, beginning with his reaction to being linked to the job in the week that Sami Hyypia left.

 

Goals on Sunday, Sky Sports 1 (28th December 2014)

GOS Studio GOS Hughton

Chris Hughton was a guest on Sky Sports long-running morning review show Goals on Sunday just after Christmas in 2014 alongside fellow job seeking manager Uwe Rosler. Hughton had been out of work since being dismissed by Norwich back in April, with the club in seventeenth position coming towards the end of their second Premier League season. In the period since, he was offered jobs as an assistant to other top flight clubs but was holding out for the main job. With Crystal Palace sacking Neil Warnock the day before this programme, Hughton was linked with that as well as being named by some bookmakers as the favourite for the Brighton job. When hosts Ben Shephard and Chris Kamara put this to Hughton, he replied “The good thing for myself is when a job becomes available, I’m still getting linked with these positions.” He went on to explain that when in situations such as this, he believed it to be the club that should make any further comment and drive the negotiations forward; “If you’ve been linked and have spoken to a club, then I think the onus is on them to make that known as opposed to yourself. So yes I want to get back in at the best level possible.” When pressed which of Palace and the Albion he’d prefer, Hughton remained ever the diplomat; “I think on their own merits they’re both very good jobs.” He did, though, point out the great facilities in Sussex; “Brighton have a wonderful structure, a wonderful stadium, new training facility and, of course, they are a side that have been very close to the Play Offs in two previous seasons.” And three days later, Chris Hughton was appointed the permanent manager of Brighton and Hove Albion on an initial three-and-a-half-year contract with the club twenty-first in the Championship table.

GOS Presenters GOS Guests


My Icon: Chris Hughton, Sky Sports Mix (13th October 2017)

My Icon 2017 ICON Hughton

During every day of October 2017, Sky Sports released a new episode of the series My Icon, which was a collection of short ten to fifteen minute films interviewing stars from the world of sport of a BAME background. Such participants included the likes of Thierry Henry, Rachel Yankey, Anthony Joshua and Maggie Alphonsi. The fourteenth episode of the series was with our very own Chris Hughton, with the programme synopsis stating he “discusses the individuals that have inspired him during his life and career.” Hughton enjoyed a successful playing career, especially at Tottenham where he won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup. He became the first full international player for the Republic of Ireland to come from a black background. In this film he spoke of the racism that he and other players had to endure on an all-too frequent basis from opposition supporters during his playing days; “It was something that we, and I, experienced on a regular basis… I don’t think any black footballer growing up and playing in the late ’70s and ’80s would not have experienced it.” At the time of the interview, Hughton was one of a very tiny few managers in the English game of black origin and repeated calls were made to change that to make coaching and jobs of authority in the game more inclusive. Hughton explained; “I don’t think that there’s anybody in football that doesn’t want to see a diverse game. A diverse game means not only of course on the football pitch where the makeup of what plays on a football pitch, that means in managerial level, that means in boardroom level, that means in other aspects of football in higher positions.” He called for people already representing the sport to use their platform to encourage others; “I think it’s the responsibility of us in the game, for the stakeholders in the game, to not only show enthusiasm, but to put that enthusiasm into action.”  Chris Hughton is a fantastic role model for all footballers, not just minorities, with what he has achieved as a player, an assistant coach at Tottenham and Newcastle and of course his three Premier League promotions thus far as the gaffer. The manner in which he conducts himself should be seen as a blueprint for others. He speaks with authority, passion and decency on sensitive issues like race and diversity, as demonstrated during this film.

ICON Interview ICON Dressing Room


The Premier League Show, BBC Two (27th September 2018)

Premier League Show titles PLShow Training ground

To coincide with a new broadcast rights deal, the BBC launched an additional regular weekly magazine programme called The Premier League Show at the start of the 2016/17 season, focussing on all matter top flight. It gave them an extra flexibility to discuss matters off the pitch in greater detail and in longer form. When Brighton gained promotion to the elite League in 2017, a report was shown about the club’s journey. And the BBC Sport cameras returned during the opening weeks of the 2018/19 campaign as Match of the Day host, and former Tottenham colleague, went to the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre in Lancing (AKA the training ground to you and I) for his first visit to discuss a whole host of topics with Chris Hughton as he embarked upon his second Premier League season with the Albion. The report began with Lineker and Hughton embracing in his office whilst various members of the club, such as captain Bruno and Chief Executive Paul Barber, gave glowing reports of the manager’s characteristics. “Chris’s stock is as high as any manager that we’ve had here in the club’s history and long may that continue” Barber noted. A glowing tribute was also paid by the club’s Football Admin Manager Suzi Swadling, saying “He’s very personable with all of us. He knows everyone by name from everyone he works close with down to the cleaners.” This would’ve come as little surprise to any Albion fan, he made time for the lot of us. Lineker asked Hughton if he was ‘too nice’ to be a football manager; “In as many situations as possible I’m fair, that’s what I’d like to think. But you can’t be nice all the time… We have to make so many tough decisions.”

PLShow Interview PLShow Hughton

Along with Sean Dyche of Burnley and Eddie Howe of Bournemouth, Chris Hughton was amongst the longest serving British and Irish managers in the Division. When asked if he would prefer to be managing the Champions League teams, he responded “I generally only think of the job where I am at the moment. My ambitions are not to manage at the top clubs, my ambitions are to do the very best job that I can in the job that I’m doing.” Many others would have used that question to berate his lack of opportunities for himself or British managers, like Sam Allardyce has in the past, or use it to launch a personal bid to get a bigger job, in the way Jose Mourinho has. That wasn’t on Hughton’s radar. The question of race naturally came up, as it did during his appearance on My Icon. The progress slowly being made, with conversations at the very least being had, encouraged Hughton; “We are at a different phase at the moment. There’s no doubt there’s a huge imbalance… [In the past] Black players were seen as good athletes, good forward players but not captain material, not managerial material. I think it persisted because of society.” Similar subjects to the previous film were touched upon here, as he told of having to put up with racist abuse from opposition players and fans; “You had to work through it really on your own. Although you had a supportive team behind you, you generally didn’t talk about these issues.” Looking at his own club Brighton, Hughton saw changes at the grass roots level where lots of players from all backgrounds would be training and progressing but the changes weren’t replicated at the highest levels of the game.

PLShow Barber PLShow Embrace

The report concluded by discussing Hughton the coach. “I like a team that’s organised and prepared to work hard for each other. If you are able to bring in gifted players, it’s more about making sure them gifted players fit in to what we do here.” When mentioning teams that played a more expansive style, Lineker asked if that would be a recipe for disaster for Brighton. “For us, yes. I think for those that do play that way with the players that they’ve got it’s wonderful to see… At this moment we’re playing in the top League, we’re playing against teams that have spent more money, have better players than us so they’re great challenges.” So, when the time comes around and he beats a team like Manchester United, as the Albion did a few weeks before this interview, it’s all the more special for Hughton; “It’s what you work for and for a club like this, that feeling lasts for a while.” An extended version of the broadcast interview can be viewed below.


BBC South East Today, BBC One South (13th May 2019)

SET Titles SET Presenters

On the early evening of Monday 13th May, local BBC news programme South East Today reported on the news that Chris Hughton had been dismissed from Brighton after four-and-a-half-years in charge. The feature was the second story of the bulletin hosted by regular presenters Rob Smith and Natalie Graham. As of the digital switchover in 2012, BBC viewers in Brighton and Hove began receiving the South East version of the programme, replacing the old South Today which would continue to serve West Sussex and beyond. Our hosts introduced the report by listing a number of achievements – good and bad – during Hughton’s reign; “In total he was in charge for 215 games and had a win rate of almost 41%. But this season the Seagulls fell rather flat, winning just three of their last twenty-three games in the League.” They also cited chairman Tony Bloom’s comment about it being “undoubtedly the most difficult decision” he’s had to take before playing out Ian Palmer’s report. This began with footage from the previous day’s final match of the season, with Hughton speaking with the Match of the Day reporter in the tunnel. He spoke of the year ahead and how the job was getting increasingly tougher, clearly unaware of the news to come. “We want to be better next season and we will need to be because, if anything, this Division is getting more demanding”.

SET Studio SET Hughton

Palmer’s report outlined the season just gone, with the positive mid-table start deteriorating after the New Year particularly away from home before narrowly surviving ahead of the nearest rivals. Journalist and club website contributor Nick Szczepanik was interviewed with the stadium in the horizon. He told how close the relegation battle ended up being; “The actual margin of safety ended up being only two points over Cardiff City in the end. That all hinged on one result which was out of Brighton’s hands – Crystal Palace winning at Cardiff.” We then heard brief soundbites from local residents, perhaps fans, who gave the usual mixed reactions of ‘disappointed’, ‘shock’, ‘a shame’ and ‘maybe it’s time for a change?’ As insightful as any vox-pop has ever been. The report concluded with shots of departing captain Bruno now being followed out the door by the manager. Reporter Ian Palmer remained nearby to The Amex in the blinding sunshine for a Live link-up with the studio. He was able to give further context to the recent reactions of some supporters stating; “There has been a lot of disquiet amongst some fans for quite some time, particularly on social media. A lot saying that Chris Hughton’s tactics were negative, they were defensive and frankly some had become rather tired of watching that style of football.” Whilst this was true, I think there were still large sections of the support who were behind Hughton, but this wasn’t really covered. He ended by shoehorning in a bizarre and quite unrelated comparison to the leadership of the Conservative Party, whereby changing the person at the top doesn’t necessarily change the numbers of the vote or something along those lines – basically suggesting a lot of money would be required on players over the summer and the right appointment would be crucial. It didn’t quite work but you could kind of see what he was hinting at. Little was made of the togetherness, overall record and fantastic times Hughton brought to the club, instead concentrating on the poor run of form in recent months. Perhaps if the story was covered by the dedicated sports reporter more would have been made of this as Hughton deserved plaudits for the fantastic job he did.

SET Szczepanik SET Reporter


BT Hughton

Whilst Hughton’s personal appearances in the mainstream national media were all too sparse, he was in charge when Live match exposure had never been greater for the Seagulls on the small screen. Of the 215 matches he was at the helm for, 66 of them were broadcast Live in the UK with even more made available around the globe. His televised win ratio was just shy of his overall record – with 34.85% or just over one-in-three. A quarter of them were draws, as his safety first approach at the top level paid dividends. Some of his highest highs were in front of the cameras, with back-to-back victories over Manchester United, beating Crystal Palace home and away, a penalty shoot-out win at Millwall to set up a Cup Semi at the National Stadium, comprehensive Championship triumphs over Leeds, QPR, Nottingham Forest and Brentford amongst others, whilst crucial points were picked up twice versus Arsenal, at home to Spurs and the goal that all but secured survival second time around against Newcastle in his penultimate Amex match. The club goals of the season from Knockaert at Palace in 2019 and Steve Sidwell from the half-way line in Bristol back in 2016 were both Live and the rarity of a match having to switch channels occurred when the West Brom Cup Replay went into Extra Time on BBC One then Two! Chris Hughton’s calm, measured interviews were a staple of these broadcasts. He never got too carried away or ahead of himself, he maintained the quiet dignity and class for which the title of this post is all about. The Chris Hughton we saw week in, week out on the touchline came across well on the screen. He brought tremendous success to the South Coast at a tricky time. He leaves with his head held high as he no doubt walks quickly into another job. He restored immense pride to the city. For all that and much, much more, I cannot thank the gentleman enough. There’s only one Chrissy Hughton.

Sky Hughton

#8: Brighton 2-1 Rushden & Diamonds 08/12/2001

#8 BRIGHTON 2-1 RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS FA Cup Round Two
Saturday 8th December 2001 Sky 1999

FACup2000 Titles

PRESENTER Rob Wotton GUEST John Byrne
COMMENTATORS Rob Hawthorne & Chris Kamara
12pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium      11.55am-2pm FA Cup Live on Sky Sports 2

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Context of the Match: This was Sky Sports first visit to Withdean Stadium, the ground having housed Brighton for nearly two and a half seasons by this point. The Albion won the Third Division title the previous season and had started this one in fine form. They were one of the highest placed teams going into this FA Cup 2nd Round tie. Rushden & Diamonds had a similar story, albeit in the league below, as they had achieved promotion from the Conference up to Division Three last year and were going well again this season just outside the play-off places. They were also no strangers to FA Cup surprises having held Premiership Leeds United to a goalless draw two years earlier, and narrowly losing to Division One Sheffield United on penalties in a 3rd Round replay last season, both whilst competing in non-League. With Sky no longer holding broadcast rights to the Football League, this match was to be the only opportunity they got to see two of the lower league’s in-form teams in 2001/2002. The Live TV opportunity was again utilised by fans, this time to voice their support for the proposed new stadium site in Falmer; “Stand up if you want Falmer” ringing round during the match. It was to be the start of another long, arduous battle. To reach this stage of the competition Brighton knocked out Shrewsbury 1-0 in the First Round at Withdean, whilst Rushden & Diamonds won away at Worcester City by the same scoreline. A place in the Third Round awaited.

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The Teams: Brighton striker Bobby Zamora was grabbing all the headlines for his incredible goals tally; scoring in eight consecutive games. If he were to score for a ninth game today he would set a new club record. Commentator Rob Hawthorne’s team news were pun-laden focussing on it “reading like a Radio 2 playlist” with Rogers and Hart, Richard Carpenter and Nathan Jones all starting. Jones had enjoyed notoriety for his stepover trickery on Sky’s Saturday morning magazine show Soccer AM during the previous couple of seasons, showboating the ‘Rhondda two-step’ complete with mickey-taking Welsh voiceover in a mock Soccer School. Manager Peter Taylor had only been in the job a matter of weeks, after title-winning boss Micky Adams left in October to become Dave Bassett’s assistant at Premiership Leicester replacing, of course, the incoming Albion boss who was sacked after a poor start to the season at Filbert Street. Taylor had enjoyed a good start to his reign here, unbeaten in the League and only lost once; the midweek before today in the LDV Vans Trophy. He inherited a good squad, largely unchanged from last year’s success, with Simon Morgan brought in at the back to shore up the defence alongside club captain, and one of my childhood heroes, Danny Cullip. For Rushden & Diamonds, they lined up 4-4-2 with two players who featured at the last World Cup in France in 1998; Onandi Lowe up front for Jamaica, and Paul Hall in midfield. Northern Irish central defender Barry Hunter was a vastly experienced rock that Zamora, Hart and Brooker needed to negotiate past if the Seagulls were to progress. Rushden wore their yellow away kit and taking charge was ref Steve Bennett.

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Presentation Team: The match was part of an FA Cup double on Round Two Saturday Live on Sky Sports, with Exeter v Dagenham & Redbridge at 5.30pm, and therefore was hosted from their studios in Isleworth. As mentioned above, Sky had lost Live Football League rights from this season (initially for three years but it turned out to only be one) to ITV Digital. Therefore the team that had covered the 72 outside the top flight had all been moved on to other roles; Marcus Buckland began hosting Sky’s pay-per-view football on Premiership Plus where Brian Marwood was the co-commentator forming a long partnership with Alan Parry, Rob Hawthorne was promoted up to Monday Night Football alongside Alan Smith, Alan Brazil left Sky to join Talksport in 2000 and reporter Alan Bentley changed direction completely to form a production company specialising in betting. Without a regular lower division team Sky called upon whoever they could for these early round matches. That opened up the opportunity for Rob Wotton to host, more familiar on Sky Sports News and (for this season only) Live German Bundesliga coverage. His pundit was former Brighton striker John Byrne, a regular contributor to local radio in Sussex watching the majority of Albion’s games. He was part of the Brighton side that struggled in the mid-nineties, and had the distinction of scoring in every round of the FA Cup for Sunderland except the final in 1992. A few weeks before this match, at the age of 40, he had turned out a couple of times for local side Whitehawk under former Albion teammate Ian Chapman. In the commentary box were Rob Hawthorne and Chris Kamara, survivors of the Football League Live years. Kamara began reporting for Sky’s Football League Review show in the 1998/99 season before moving to the studio and commentary box in the subsequent years. From 2000 Kamara was also co-presenter of Goals on Sunday next to Rob McCaffrey, where he would stay in the chair for the majority of his broadcasting career. Kamara was also a Soccer Saturday regular, and the first reporter to get his own in-vision camera (dubbed Kamara Cam) on location, laying the foundations for his excitable ‘unbelievable Jeff’ catchphrase. Kammy was a mainstay of Sky’s early round FA Cup coverage for years to come.

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The Coverage: With the game being a midday kick-off, coverage began on Sky Sports 2 just five minutes earlier. This meant an extremely brief pre-match chat in the studio between Wotton and Byrne, where they were excited to see Bobby Zamora play, before handing over to Kamara and Hawthorne at Withdean to see the teams emerge onto the field. The title sequence for every season before and after this match for Sky’s FA Cup coverage was basically the same and used a version of Jerusalem as the theme tune. Tweaks were made to the pictures as they got updated over time with more modern goals. Sky had a new set of graphics for this season, ones which set their stall out for years to come as they got more and more modern and animated. This set marked the first real steps away from the simple fade in and fade out they had throughout the 90s. In their Premiership coverage, with these graphics the red and blue curves either side of the aston would fly in from the edge of the screen however a more simplistic fade actually appeared for this match. When the commentators names were revealed this was done by flipping over. The scoreboard would still disappear when a goal is scored however, and the replay graphic (pictured at the bottom) had been similar in principle for a couple of seasons now; flash up an image of the competition trophy over a colourful background.

For all the shiny graphics, the basics were letting Sky down during this broadcast. An early indication of this came just three minutes in when the picture faded to black and sound was lost for a couple of seconds. This was restored in time for Bobby Zamora to get the opening goal in the sixth minute however the celebrations may have dislodged some cabling somewhere as first sound, then pictures were lost in the eighth minute. Sky cut back to Wotton and Byrne in the studio to fill until normal service was resumed, meaning we lost about a minute early on, instead seeing a replay and Byrne’s analysis of the goal as Sky engineers scrambled frantically to restore the pictures. They went again just a few seconds later, and intermittently for only a few seconds at a time throughout the following few minutes. It was all hugely frustrating. An on-screen caption was put up for the first time in the fifteenth minute apologising for the ‘technical difficulties’. These had calmed down somewhat by the 20th minute or so but still sound dips crept in for the remainder of the half. Commentary went again with five minutes to go before half time, with Wotton and Byrne having to voice pictures for 30 seconds or so. Half time analysis provided respite from the technical issues, with another few chances to review the record-breaking Zamora goal. The issues did not continue into the second half thankfully and we could enjoy the sort of broadcast we had expected as the nerves began to creep in. The programme was scheduled to come off-air not long after the final whistle so there was no time for any interviews or reaction, so the reporter that day remains a mystery. It was most likely to have been Bryn Law who reported on women’s football and youth matches. It was Sky’s first visit to Withdean and Brighton’s first Live match of the 21st century, however the coverage and engineering was probably worse than Brighton’s first Live FA Cup home tie back in 1984. Sky needed to up their game as they would end up being frequent visitors to this ‘temporary’ home over the coming decade.

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Story of the Match: Both teams started the match brightly for an early kick-off but it was Brighton who would get the breakthrough goal after just five minutes with the first attack. It had to be Bobby Zamora, who broke the club’s all-time record for scoring in consecutive games – his ninth in nine. The ball was crossed into the area towards Zamora by Nathan Jones down the left-wing, goalkeeper Billy Turley went up to claim it but didn’t claim cleanly allowing Zamora to get his head onto it. As the loose ball was bouncing up cleared high into the air by the defence, Turley scrambled to get it away under pressure from Gary Hart and it broke for Zamora to just nod the ball home a few yards out for one-nil. Rushden were complaining of a foul from either Zamora initially or Hart on the loose ball, possibly both, but neither referee Steve Bennett nor the commentators and pundits were having it and signalled for the goal, Zamora’s eighteenth of the season. The rest of the first half went by without too many goalmouth chances but both Zamora and Paul Watson had efforts at goal. The second half started just like the first, with Brighton netting after five minutes. A throw-in from the right eventually found its way to centre half Danny Cullip on the edge of the Rushden area, who showed quick feet to turn on to his left foot, leaving the defender for dead, and curl a shot low inside Turley’s right-hand post for an excellent finish any striker would be proud of. It was Cullip’s first goal of the season and what a goal! Less than ten minutes later and Rushden would find themselves with a way back into the match as Cullip gave away a penalty. He was adjudged to have fouled striker Onandi Lowe by holding him across the neck during an aerial tussle. The ref gave it straight away but it seemed a little soft. Michel Kuipers in goal tried his best to delay the spot kick by tieing his shoe laces but Ritchie Hanlon kept his cool to smash the penalty into the bottom left hand corner of the goal for two-one, despite Kuipers getting a hand to it. A nervy last half hour ensued for the home team. Kamara commented shortly after the goal that “the crowd are giving Lowe the bird! But I don’t think he was feigning injury for that one.” A rare acknowledgement of crowd behaviour there! Kammy gave Cullip the man of the match award for his excellent display. Few threats came after that but three minutes into stoppage time Rushden really should have had another penalty after Charlie Oatway threw himself in front of the ball to block a shot which hit his arm, but the penalty wasn’t given. Brighton found themselves for the first time since 1993 in the Third Round, where Taylor’s men would host (and lose to) Division One’s Preston North End. Rushden & Diamonds fine form would continue all the way to the Division Three Play Off Final, which saw them lose out on promotion to Cheltenham. Whilst Brighton would feature in another two Live televised ties this season, starting with Brentford away the following month.

BRIGHTON 2 RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 1
Zamora, Cullip Hanlon

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