#10: Stoke 3-1 Brighton 01/03/2002

#10 STOKE 3-1 BRIGHTON Division Two
Friday 1st March 2002 ITV Sport Channel grab

STO Titles

PRESENTER Simon Hill GUESTS Tony Dorigo & John Hendrie
COMMENTATORS Guy Havord & Jim Beglin REPORTER Peter Stevenson
7.45pm Kick Off; Britannia Stadium, Stoke      7.30-10pm Football League Live on ITV Sport Channel

STO Promo STO Sponsor STO Intro

Context of the Match: The second and final match of Brighton’s to be broadcast Live on the ITV Sport Channel saw the Albion travel to the Potteries on the first Friday of March. The fixture promised to be a crucial one in the race for promotion to Division One, as second place travelled to fourth; five points separated us from Stoke. With a game in hand over table-toppers Reading, and six points worse off, a win for Brighton would not only close the gap on the leaders but also widen the difference from the chasing pack; only two would be automatically promoted. When these two met back in September at Withdean, the Albion ran out one-nil victors thanks to Paul Watson’s last minute winner. Since the last televised match back in January – the horrific four nil defeat at Brentford on ITV – Brighton had lost just once in seven, away at Oldham. The home form at fortress Withdean had been excellent all season for Peter Taylor, just a solitary defeat thus far to the Bees of Brentford. It was on the road where defeats were on the increase, with three since the turn of the year. With ten games remaining, both teams were in a good place to secure a top six spot. But, having been near the top all season, the Seagulls wanted more. They were eyeing up the automatic places for the second successive season. With six further games to come in March, this was the beginning of a crucial period as matches came thick and fast. Gudjon Thordarson’s Stoke side knew all about that end of season pressure, having been unsuccessful in the Play Offs in each of the previous two seasons. After an indifferent start, it was the defeat at Brighton which sparked Stoke into life, winning eight and drawing two of their next ten games. However, things began to fall apart after the new year, losing five out of nine. They got back to winning ways at the Britannia last weekend thanks to a four-nil victory over Bury. Tonight’s match, a few days ahead of the thirtieth anniversary of Stoke’s famous League Cup triumph over Chelsea at Wembley, was sure to be crucial in the fight at the top. The ITV Sport Channel team were present and correct to beam it direct to our screens.

STO Stoke STO Formation STO Brighton

The Teams: The Albion made three changes from the midweek draw at Bournemouth. Simon Morgan was rested for that one, but his presence is required up against a physical, tall Stoke side. Youth product Adam Virgo dropped out. The key absentee remained Bobby Zamora, serving the third and final match of his suspension following a red card during the two-nil defeat at Oldham. Eighteen-year-old Chris McPhee took his place for the first two matches, marking another full debut for an academy player, but Lee Steele was preferred tonight. The third change saw Gary Hart come into the eleven in place of Steve Melton. Junior Lewis linked up with Peter Taylor once again, having worked together most recently at Leicester. The loanee joined at the start of February and has featured in all six games since. Brighton’s formation will be a 4-3-3 come 4-5-1, placing emphasis on the wide play of Hart and Paul Brooker to get forward and support Steele as much as possible. Robbie Pethick joined in the summer ahead of the step up to Division Two, having spent six years and around 200 appearances at Portsmouth. Two years at Bristol Rovers followed for the versatile defender pushing up into midfield here. Richard Carpenter formed the lynchpin in the middle of the park. He protected the back line featuring the ever-dependant Danny Cullip and long-serving full backs Paul Watson and Kerry Mayo. Michel Kuipers kept goal, returning to the side at the end of January having missed the previous month through injury. Peter Taylor did not name a goalkeeper on the bench for the sixth game in a row, with only the inexperience of Will Packham and coach John Keeley eligible ‘keepers on the books. Twenty-one-year-old midfielder David Lee did make the substitutes list, he joined from Hull in February and came up through the Tottenham youth system. Also in the squad was Daniel Webb, son of ex-Chelsea and QPR defender David. He joined on loan from Southend but found his opportunities with the Shrimpers limited after his father’s resignation from the managerial position back in October.

Stoke’s Icelandic manager Gudjon Thordarson switched to three up front for Tuesday’s four-nil win over Bury. It paid dividends and stuck with the trio of Chris Iwelumo, who scored twice in that match, Arnar Gunnlaugsson, on loan from Leicester, and Deon Burton, a Derby loanee, again tonight. The four-three-three formation would rely on full-backs Clive Clarke and Wayne Thomas bombing down the channels to support the attacking threat as the midfield three were quite narrow. That comprised ever-present Bjarni Gudjonsson, Belgian Jurgen Vandeurzen and Irishman James O’Connor. The latter came through Stoke’s youth ranks and been a part of the first team since 1998. Gudjonsson was previously on the books of Newcastle and Genk before moving to the Potteries in 2000 to link up with his dad, the current Stoke boss. More of the Icelandic contingent were on the bench, Stefan Thordarson and Brynjar Gunnarsson. Also warming up on the sidelines was former Dutch international Peter Hoekstra. Refereeing was Bill Jordan.

STO Hill STO Hendrie STO Dorigo STO Commentary Team

Presentation Team: This match was hosted by Simon Hill, more commonly found reporting on the touchline for the ITV Sport Channel. Hill moved across from BBC Radio 5 Live where he was host and reporter on their domestic and European coverage. He was no stranger in front of the camera though this season, co-hosting Division One’s Saturday evening highlights programme Football First with regular Live host Matt Smith. The format of that show allowed Smith and his pundits in the main area to dissect the key games, whilst Hill and his pundit looked at the rest of the Division over the other side of the studio. He was the leading match reporter for the regular Thursday and Sunday night Live games in a busy season for ITV. Joining him in the Britannia Stadium studio were pundits John Hendrie and Tony Dorigo. They were two of four regulars on ITV, with Russell Osman and Garry Nelson the others. Hendrie also covered our last Live match, the four-nil horror show at Brentford, and was back looking at things from an Albion perspective again tonight. The former Bradford, Middlesbrough and Barnsley striker won this Division with the Bantams back in the 1984/85 season. Tony Dorigo spent his final season playing for Stoke where he was club captain before retiring at the age of thirty-five. He moved straight into punditry with the ITV Sport Channel with his familiar Aussie accent, growing up in Adelaide before writing to more than a dozen English football clubs as a teenager asking for a trial. Aston Villa accepted and the defender went on to play more than a century of matches in claret and blue in the eighties before moving to Chelsea for four years then Leeds for a further six. At the Blues he won the second tier Championship and the Full Members Cup, whilst at Elland Road lifted the last top flight trophy before the launch of the Premiership in 1992. He earned fifteen senior England caps and Player of the Year awards at Villa, Chelsea, Leeds and in his one and only season at Italian side Torino. Before seeing out his career at the Britannia Stadium, Dorigo spent two years with Derby County.

STO Studio

In the commentary box were Guy Havord and Jim Beglin. Havord was one of Sky Sports voices of La Liga for four seasons before moving to ITV Digital. He was also used on the world feed coverage of 3pm Saturday Premiership matches, highlights of which were also used by Sky. As well as reporting on the pre-cursor to Sky Sports News, Sky Sports Centre, he was part of the team that covered the 2000 FA Cup Final when he was at the Chelsea team hotel. Prior to his television work, Havord was a commentator on BBC Radio Lancashire covering the success of the likes of Manchester City and Burnley in the North West in the early 90s. Jim Beglin’s successful playing career was devastatingly cut short in 1991 through the recurrence of a serious knee injury aged just 27. His leg was badly broken four years earlier and whilst recovering from that, Beglin picked up a knee cartilage injury too. He spent six years at Liverpool, playing over a century of matches and winning the League and Cup double in 1986 as well as the Charity Shield later that year. He played fifteen times for the Republic of Ireland and lifted the old Second Division title at Leeds in 1990. With his playing days curtailed early, Beglin moved into punditry both at home in Ireland as well as in the UK. He built up a career in the North West with ITV region Granada from the mid-90s, co-commentating on matches, punditing in the studio and even presenting sports bulletins and voicing goals round-ups for the local evening news on Granada Goals Extra and Granada Soccer Night. Beglin was utilised nationally by ITV from the 2000/01 season, working across their domestic and UEFA Champions League portfolio before becoming a prominent voice on the ITV Sport Channel this campaign. Both Beglin and Havord would be playing a part in ITV’s coverage of the 2002 World Cup. Completing tonight’s line up was touchline reporter Peter Stevenson. Like Beglin, his career had largely been based in the North West of England, spending the 1990s on regional news programme BBC North West Tonight. He started as a desk journalist writing bulletins for the programme’s hosts as well as producing studio items before moving out into the field himself. He specialised in sport and, in particular, football covering the likes of Manchester United’s European adventures and the European Championships in 2000. He joined ITV for the launch of the Sport Channel and spent much of his time still in the North West reporting on the clubs in that region for highlights shows and Live match features.

STO League Cup 1972 STO Conroy STO Thordarson STO Brighton team

The Coverage: Tonight’s build up came on-air at 7.30pm, fifteen minutes prior to kick off. This was the regular programme time for a Friday night Live match on the ITV Sport Channel. The Matchday Programme, previewing the entire Nationwide League weekend preceded the Live game from 6.30pm presented in the studio by Lisa Rogers and Albion fan Dave Beckett. This weekly show looked ahead to all the key games over the weekend, whilst an additional Sunday afternoon edition did similar for that evening’s Live match. Our Division Two clash with Stoke was one of up to fifteen matches from the third and fourth tiers of English football to be broadcast Live. The graphics were used across all of the ITV Sport Channel output, heavily relying on different shades of blue and using either a fade in or a smooth reveal across the screen. During the match, replay transitions saw the ‘ITV Sport’ part of the logo wipe from top-left to bottom-right and flipped over to reveal ‘Channel’ at the end. The most fun graphic though was when getting a yellow or red card, as an animated arm would appear and wave the card. The coverage was sponsored by Nationwide and the theme music remained a short library clip to introduce the show. Background music throughout the programme, and indeed the season, was the excellent Another Chance by Roger Sanchez. Presentation came from a studio located in the corner of the stadium. In host Simon Hill’s introduction, he outlined the potential for this Stoke City club to go places – awake “the sleeping giant” – with a stadium fit for First Division football. Meanwhile, the question was asked about how Brighton would cope without “hot-shot striker Bobby Zamora”, suspended tonight as fourth hosted second. After introducing pundits John Hendrie and Tony Dorigo, it was straight down to business. Stoke were celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of their League Cup triumph, a two-one win over Chelsea in the 1972 Final. We saw the goals from that match, complete with original Brian Moore commentary, before going down to pitchside where reporter Peter Stevenson was with the first goalscorer from that day, Terry Conroy. When it cut back to the studio, the team joked that his appearance resembled snooker great Dennis Taylor now!

STO Video Scouting STO Video Scouting analysis STO Junior Lewis STO Matches to Come

Once again, each pundit was loosely designated a team to concentrate on; John Hendrie looking at Brighton whilst, of course, Tony Dorigo focussed on his old team Stoke. Hendrie’s overall assessment of the Albion was of two sides; “Excellent at home, they’ve been absolutely magnificent at home. It’s just the past couple of months away from home, form has been a wee bit patchy.” He had watched Brighton three times in six weeks and, disappointingly, he hadn’t seen a win or even a goal from the Seagulls. Peter Stevenson spoke with the Stoke boss Gudjon Thordarson for his pre-match thoughts. He explained it was a crucial match if they were to be in the hunt for the top two; “It’s a six-pointer. We’re a bit behind and very important for us to catch up and collect the points. It [automatic promotion] will be difficult if we don’t get something out of this game.” The studio team then took a quick look at the two line-ups, singling out Stoke’s front three and Albion’s Lee Steele in “the Bobby Zamora role this evening”. Up next it was the turn of the Video Scouting reports, which you can view at the bottom of this post. Dorigo looked at the problems Stoke have had since changing their formation and style, going narrower making it easier to defend against them and lacking in width. Hendrie looked at the contrast for the Albion when playing with, and without, Bobby Zamora. With him there were chances galore, as he’s able to find space and use his creativity to conjure something up. Whereas without Zamora, the Albion lack a real target man. Clips were shown from the Oldham defeat where Danny Webb was leading the line and did not have the same positive effect. With the build-up done, time to hand over to the commentary team, at a noisy Britannia, of Guy Havord and Jim Beglin. At half time, the studio team spent around five minutes reviewing the key moments from the first half. Specifically, the opening goal from Stoke’s Chris Iwelumo and the Lee Steele chance just before half time for the Seagulls. The ‘John Hendrie jinx’ continued, having watched Brighton four times now and not yet seen them score, losing the previous three. But he was complimentary about the style of play, citing it as the best he’s seen so far from Albion. He praised the closing down and the midfield battling in particular. Just before the start of the second half, another of Stoke’s 1972 League Cup winners spoke with reporter Peter Stevenson; this time Denis Smith. Stoke wore a replica of that ’72 kit, with added modern-day sponsorship, in tribute to the thirtieth anniversary.

STO Yellow Card STO Sub STO Match Analysis STO Coming Up

At half time, the studio team spent around five minutes reviewing the key moments from the first half. Specifically, the opening goal from Stoke’s Chris Iwelumo and the Lee Steele chance just before half time for the Seagulls. The ‘John Hendrie jinx’ continued, having watched Brighton four times now and not yet seen them score, losing the previous three. But he was complimentary about the style of play, citing it as the best he’s seen so far from Albion. He praised the closing down and the midfield battling in particular. Just before the start of the second half, another of Stoke’s 1972 League Cup winners spoke with reporter Peter Stevenson; this time Denis Smith. Stoke wore a replica of that ’72 kit, with added modern-day sponsorship, in tribute to the thirtieth anniversary. Upon the full time whistle, after the commentators took a quick look at the match highlights, Stevenson caught up with Man of the Match; Stoke’s midfield engine James O’Connor. He paid tribute, half in jest, to pundit Tony Dorigo for showing Clive Clarke the ropes during their time together last season. After the break, around ten minutes of the programme remained for the studio team to wrap up and review. A look at the table showed the Albion six points off Reading with ten games left to play. Stoke in third closed the gap on Brighton to two points but having played once more. They analysed the Stoke penalty incident which restored the home side’s lead, clearly highlighting the foul from Cullip which may have been missed by viewers first time round. In his interview with Peter Stevenson, Gudjon Thordarson said it “was a tense start” but “was meant to be a very, very tight game.” He blamed a lapse in concentration for the Albion equaliser but the decision to award his side a penalty just moments later was the correct one. There wasn’t quite time to hear from Peter Taylor during the Live show, or any Brighton representative. The man usually so calm and collected on the sidelines was getting increasingly irate during the match, clearly upset with some of the officiating and furious with some costly errors. The pundits were quick to point out that, although the result was disappointing for the Seagulls, they were still second and flying, Bobby Zamora would be back available for the next match and this was the first season back at this level for six years. Things were definitely still shaping up for another terrific season and with six of the remaining ten matches at home, their destiny was in their own hands.

STO Kick Off STO Comms STO Referee STO Iwelumo goal

Story of the Match: The Seagulls got the game underway, kicking from right to left in the first half, wearing the change shorts of blue so as not to clash with Stoke’s white. The home side signalled their intentions in the third minute when a Deon Burton header went just over from close range; Kerry Mayo the defender doing just enough to put him off. That sparked the supporters into their familiar, and very loud, rendition of Tom Jones’ classic, Delilah. Albion, keen to get behind the Potters defence, were caught offside four times in the opening dozen minutes. Just that bit too eager. Stoke’s confidence grew and Michel Kuipers was called into action on a number of occasions to thwart their long range efforts. At the other end, City’s ‘keeper Neil Cutler got into a tangle with his defender Sergei Shtaniuk which almost presented Lee Steele with a tap in when the ball was dropped to the ground. Unfortunately for Steele, it didn’t come down quick enough for him to swing a leg at and the defender cleared eventually. But it was a goalkeeping error from Kuipers in the twenty-ninth minute which saw the home team break the deadlock. Clive Clarke swung a ball into the box from the left. Chris Iwelumo was the target, around twelve yards out, jumping with Simon Morgan. Kuipers thought the ball should have been his and came flying out of his goal to claim. He mistimed it, aiming a punch nowhere near and allowing Iwelumo to head into an empty net for his third goal in four days. Cue more cries of Delilah from the Staffordshire club. Kuipers had to be alert to get down low and save from Gunnlaugsson’s header just a couple of minutes later. The Dutchman’s agility keeping that effort out with Stoke firmly in the ascendancy. The rebound from Burton was fired into the side-netting. The Albion confidence dropped noticeably for the remainder of the half after the goal. However, a fantastic opportunity found its way to Lee Steele four minutes before the interval. A long ball from Richard Carpenter over the top sent Paul Brooker clear on the right wing. When the bounce settled he whipped in a fabulous first-time cross to the centre where Steele was unmarked. Six yards out, the striker stretched his leg and met it on the volley hoping to just guide it home. But Neil Cutler was alert and spread himself so it hit an outstretched arm for a vital, goal-saving block. It was by far Albion’s best opportunity. The half time whistle gave a chance to regroup with the scoreline kept to just one goal to nil. Stoke began the second half well too and could’ve doubled the advantage but for Kuipers save. Iwelumo continued to cause Albion problems, winning a header to knock it down to Gunnlaugsson. His touch took it past Junior Lewis in the box before Jurgen Vandeurzen took over to shoot. Kuipers blocked with his knees, via a little deflection on the way.

STO Penalty decision STO Missed penalty STO Equaliser STO Full Time

What followed next was a dramatic five minutes in which the game ebbed one way then the other. Lee Steele received the ball around forty yards from goal and showed real desire to take on all-comers. With four Stoke players around him he burst his way through into the penalty area before being upended by Wayne Thomas. The referee gave the penalty. It did look quite soft but the hip of Thomas just seemed to brush Steele and when running at pace it doesn’t take much to knock you off stride. After seeing a replay, cue the surprise of seeing Robbie Pethick placing the ball on the spot in front of 998 travelling Seagulls supporters. This was a man who had not scored for Brighton before and, as far as I could see, had never scored a penalty in his career. Pethick’s kick was tipped round the post by Cutler superbly. However, the drama continued from the resulting corner taken by Paul Watson. The left-footed in swinger was flicked on by Steele to Hart. His instincts stuck out a leg to prod the ball goalwards. Cutler spilled the tame effort right at the feet of Steele to nab an equaliser from just a couple of yards out. Cutler went from hero to zero in less than a minute. Immediately Stoke almost regained the lead direct from a Gunnlaugsson free kick on the edge of the box, Pethick penalised for a foul with a yellow card. To complete this bonkers few minutes, the rebound scrambled around the area before referee Bill Jordan gave Stoke a penalty. The Brighton players were infuriated. The replay showed Danny Cullip’s attempt at blocking off Gudjonsson to be illegal, using the length of his forearm to chop at the neck and correctly a penalty was awarded, with a yellow card to boot. Up stepped Arnar Gunnlaugsson to tuck the dead ball away, low in the corner to his right for his first City goal. Brighton were level for all of three minutes. The hour mark signalled a change for Peter Taylor, in both personnel and formation, bringing Pethick off for Daniel Webb. Lee Steele’s frustrating night was summed up when he was booked for diving when actually there was clear contact. And followed up a minute later when a great pass from Watson sent him through on goal. His touch took it away from firstly Thomas, then the goalkeeper but, off balance, his shot was sliced horribly wide when there were better placed options available. With a quarter of an hour to go, the frustration of Webb got the better of him when he was the next name to go in the book for a wild barge into Cutler. The absence of Zamora loomed large over Brighton. The final roll of the dice saw Steve Melton replace Gary Hart in the middle. Brighton piled on the pressure but Stoke dug deep and restricted them to no serious chances in the closing stages. But it was the red and white stripes who had the final say, clinching victory with another goal four minutes from time. Full back Clive Clarke was the unlikely scorer, his second ever League goal, running in from the left and playing a great one-two with substitute Peter Hoekstra. Clarke continued his run and hit a delightful left-footed strike to almost loop over the defenders and out of Kuipers reach to fly into the far side of the net. A sublime way to round off a vital win for Stoke. Full time under the lights with a fantastic atmosphere, Stoke City three, Brighton and Hove Albion one. The small matter of the leaders Reading was to come for the Albion in eight days’ time; get a result there and not only automatic promotion was very much on, but also the title. The final home match of the campaign against Swindon would turn out to be a celebratory one to cap off a magnificent season for the Seagulls.

STO Table

STOKE 3 BRIGHTON 1
Iwelumo, Gunnlaugsson, Clarke Steele

STO Replay

PREVIOUS; #9 BRENTFORD 4-0 BRIGHTON 24/01/2002

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

#9: Brentford 4-0 Brighton 24/01/2002

#9 BRENTFORD 4-0 BRIGHTON Division Two
Thursday 24th January 2002 ITV Sport Channel grab

BRE Titles

PRESENTER Matt Smith GUESTS Russell Osman & John Hendrie
COMMENTATORS Guy Havord & David Fairclough REPORTER Simon Hill
7.45pm Kick Off; Griffin Park, Brentford      7-10pm Football League Live on ITV Sport Channel

ITV Trail BRE Promo BRE Ident BRE Sponsor BRE Intro

Context of the Match: Brighton’s excellent first half of the centenary season, back in the third tier, had already earned them a Live television when the Sky Sports cameras showcased the FA Cup Second Round’s highest-ranked side defeating Rushden and Diamonds at Withdean back in December. Now it was the turn of Nationwide League broadcasters ITV Digital to put the Albion in the spotlight with this top seven clash at Brentford in late January. After winning the Division Three title last season, not many expected Brighton to be in contention for the prize again this term. Particularly after Championship manager Micky Adams left to become Leicester’s number two in October. The Foxes old boss Peter Taylor went the other way and immediately maintained our winning momentum. His first game in charge saw an impressive three-nil home win over Oldham. Six further victories in the League followed with just a solitary defeat; an uncharacteristic heavy loss at Wigan twelve days ago. It was the amount of draws that were clipping the Seagulls wings at the top – six out of Taylor’s first eleven matches saw the club slide off first position into second. Still, with star striker Bobby Zamora up top and much of the foundations of last year’s side going strong and giving it their all, the club was very much on course for a fast-track through the lower Leagues. The step up in Division proved no problem for this group. The visit to West London for tonight’s clash provoked the ITV Sport Channel to move it forward to the Thursday and select it for Live broadcast; Brighton’s first in the League for three years. The Bees were the only side to win at Withdean in Division Two, goals from Rowlands and Ingimarsson enough for the points. Steve Coppell’s Brentford side were a point outside the Play Off pack and aiming for higher. They made their best start to a League campaign since 1934/35 and topped the table back in the Autumn. However, a sticky spell since November brought about just two wins in twelve as the rot set in. They lost their last five in a row. Now, the Albion stood in their way. Could we pile on the misery in front of the ITV Digital viewers?

BRE Brentford BRE Formation BRE Brighton

The Teams: Peter Taylor called upon one of his former players to deputise for the injured goalkeeper Michel Kuipers when he signed Simon Royce on loan from Leicester in December. He played every League match since, with youngster Will Packham going in for the FA Cup defeat to Preston. With Kuipers now on the mend he could only make do for a spot on the bench. The back line of Paul Watson and Danny Cullip were regular names on the team sheet both this season and last and played together at Griffin Park before joining the Albion. Left-back Kerry Mayo came up through the ranks whilst more recent youth graduate Adam Virgo came in to replace the injured Simon Morgan, who went off with a head knock at the weekend. Providing experience across the middle were the regular trio of Charlie Oatway (another of the ex-Brentford men), Richard Carpenter and captain Paul Rogers. Trickery and pace on the wings came from Gary Hart on the right and Nathan Jones on the left. Leading the charge with twenty League and four Cup goals was the one and only Bobby Zamora. The striker turned twenty-one last week and celebrated with five goals in the two subsequent matches including a hat-trick in the four-three thriller with Cambridge. Attacking options off the bench included Scouse striker Lee Steele, who moved from Shrewsbury ahead of last season, and ex-Nottingham Forest and Stoke midfielder Steve Melton. For the home side, goalkeeper Paul Smith started for just the second time after being signed in 2000 following an impressive display on trial for Crawley against the Bees. He conceded six on his debut at Swansea but came in to the side today in place of fall guy Gottskalksson. Fellow Icelander Ivar Ingimarsson netted in the reverse fixture back in October. Left-back Ijah Anderson began life at Premier League Tottenham where he failed to make any first team starts but moved to Griffin Park in ’95. £110,000 was paid for the signature of midfield captain Paul Evans three years ago. Fans favourite Gavin Mahon was attracting attention from clubs up high after a stellar season. Highly-rated midfielder Steve Sidwell was on a year long loan from Arsenal, whilst twenty-year-old Irishman Stephen Hunt played out wide. Strikers Lloyd Owusu and Ben Burgess, a loanee from Blackburn, were banging in the goals with eleven each in the League to date. Former Cambridge and Charlton man Mark McCammon was on the bench if required. Tonight’s referee was Trevor Parkes of Birmingham.

BRE Smith BRE Osman BRE Hendrie Havord and FaircloughBRE Studio

Presentation Team: The face of the ITV Sport Channel was host Matt Smith. He was signed as the frontman for Live Nationwide League matches as well as weekly Saturday night studio highlights show Football First. In addition, he anchored Worthington Cup, LDV Vans Trophy and UEFA Champions League games for the channel. Prior to ITV, Smith worked on a variety of output for the BBC. This included stints on BBC News 24 and Breakfast as well as secondary presenter on the World Snooker coverage and reporting at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Alongside Katy Hill he hosted Sunday morning children’s programme Football Fever and popped up doing features during Euro 2000. His first sports role was newsreading on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1. Accompanying him in the ITV Sport Channel studio situated in Griffin Park were John Hendrie and Russell Osman. They were two of the regular Live match pundits, with Tony Dorigo and Garry Nelson the others. Former centre-back Russell Osman played eleven times for England in the eighties as well as a dozen games towards the end of his career for the Albion in 1995/96. He’s probably best known for more than three-hundred appearances at Ipswich, where he won the UEFA Cup, he also played over a century of games for both Leicester and Southampton. A role on the big screen arrived whilst at Portman Road when he was one of the prisoners-of-war footballers in the film Escape to Victory. Since retiring in 1996 he had very brief spells in management with Plymouth and Cardiff and joined ITV Sport for the 2001/2002 season. Scottish ex-striker John Hendrie enjoyed success at Middlesbrough for the first six years of the nineties. He won the Third Tier with Bradford in 1985 and the Second Tier with Leeds five years later. He saw out his playing career with Barnsley but couldn’t stop them from being relegated from the Premiership after just one year in 1998. He then took over as manager from ex-Albion Danny Wilson for their Division One return but was sacked in April 1999 after failing to earn a Play Off spot. He too joined ITV Sport for this season. In the commentary box tonight were Guy Havord and David Fairclough. Both moved to ITV specifically for the Nationwide League coverage, where they were a regular partnership throughout the season. Havord joined from Sky Sports, where he was a commentator on Live Spanish football as well as a reporter for the daily news programme Sky Sports Centre. His first match for the ITV Sport Channel came in the opening week of the season, when he voiced the goalless draw between Rushden and Diamonds and Lincoln City alongside David Pleat. Former striker David Fairclough enjoyed an illustrious playing career with Liverpool, earning the affectionate nickname ‘super-sub’ for his game-changing impacts off the bench. During his eight years at Anfield, Fairclough won three League titles, four Charity Shields, the League Cup, the UEFA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and two European Cups. His later career was less successful as he failed to settle anywhere with short spells at the likes of Norwich, Oldham, Tranmere and Wigan. He also played abroad, for Luzern in Switzerland and Beveren in Belgium, before hanging up his boots in 1991. Since retirement he earned a living on the famous after-dinner circuit and was closely associated with Liverpool once more. Completing tonight’s ITV line up was reporter Simon Hill. He joined the Sport Channel from the BBC where he worked across both television and radio. Hill presented stints on BBC News 24 when ITV signed him up to host and report across the Nationwide coverage, on the touchline at the big games as well as fronting the occasional match. Prior to this he worked on Five Live as a presenter and commentator on Premiership and European coverage.

BRE Reverse Fixture BRE Team News BRE Matches to Come BRE Matches to Come 2

The Coverage: The ITV Sport Channel won exclusively Live rights to broadcast the Nationwide League for three seasons from the beginning of the 2001/2002 term, taking over from Sky Sports who held the contract for the previous five years. ITV’s deal entitled them to show 65 Live Division One matches, up to 15 Division Two and Three games and a further 15 Worthington Cup ties each season, plus the LDV Vans Trophy Finals and Divisional Play Off Finals. This was in additional to the UEFA Champions League rights ITV already held and broadcast under the guise of OnDigital, which rebranded to ITV Digital ahead of the flagship Sport channel launch. ITV1 would broadcast the main Champions League tie each round as well as top flight highlights on a Saturday for the first time in the Premiership era. Regional ITV would also show a selected number of Nationwide League matches on a Sunday afternoon. This campaign really was a feast of football on ITV. On the Sport Channel, the main bulk of Nationwide matches were scheduled on Thursday evenings and Sunday teatimes, with Friday nights and Saturday afternoons also utilised when possible. Thursdays and Sundays were the chosen kick off times that avoided a clash with the top flight matches on Sky and pay-per-view. For Thursday games, coverage would begin at 7pm for the 7.45pm start and would be hosted from a studio in the ground. Up to seventeen cameras covered a Live ITV match, more than this level had ever received before. Our host Matt Smith introduced the programme from the corner of Griffin Park between home and away supporters, as the forty-five minute build up got underway. The theme tune chosen was not a recognisable piece of music, instead using a short specially composed ditty over shots of goals and celebrations culminating in the words “Football League Live” appearing on a brick wall outside a stadium.

BRE Bailey BRE Coppell

In the studio with Matt Smith were pundits Russell Osman and John Hendrie. Osman was designated the ‘home’ guest, Hendrie concentrated on the away side. They began by giving a quick word on each team; Osman warned of Brentford’s dreadful run of form sliding them down the League ladder, whilst Hendrie told of how Peter Taylor steadied the Albion ship after taking over from Micky Adams. We then were reminded how the reverse fixture played out back in October, as Albion lost at Withdean for the only time in the League thus far, soundtracked by Seagulls very own Fatboy Slim and Push the Tempo. A glance at the table showed Brentford one point and one place off Tranmere in sixth, whilst the Albion trailed leaders Reading by six points but with two games in hand. Our first VT report of the night came from Robin Bailey and focussed on the Brentford manager Steve Coppell, in his first season in charge. Bailey, living up to his alcohol-related name, explored each corner of Griffin Park where famously four pubs sat. “At each pub you get a different theory as to why Steve Coppell’s men are in the promotion frame.” For example, at The Princess Royal pub they believed Coppell made good players better and improved the club’s potential getting the most out of the squad. During his chat with Bailey, Coppell was happy with that assessment. At The Griffin, it was the goals from Ben Burgess and Lloyd Owusu who impressed the regulars. Over at The Royal Oak it was their belief that the achievement of going top of the table earlier on in the season which gave the team promotion confidence. Whilst finally at The New Inn, they said it was the commitments of the community that was an important factor, like when the game against Peterborough was free to attend. Bailey’s report gave a well-rounded picture of Brentford’s season so far and why they were doing as well as they were. Despite the poor run of form recently, Brighton would be facing a good, well-run club with a good bunch of players. It concluded how all good reports should; by downing a pint.

BRE Taylor BRE Zamora warm up

Our next VT from reporter Linda O’Brien focussed on the Seagulls. She spoke with Peter Taylor about taking over the reins, not having to change too much and the prospect of promotion. Taylor started by bemoaning his luck in the jobs he’s replacing; “I’m one of these fools that keep taking over from good managers! I’ve taken over from Barry Fry when he was flying at Southend, Tony Pulis when he was doing so well with Gillingham, Martin O’Neill of course at Leicester, and Micky Adams here.” On the possibility of successive promotions, Taylor liked what he saw of the Albion. “If we keep our act together, if we keep our form right and we keep free of injuries then we’re gonna be there or there abouts, no doubt about it.” When you have somebody scoring for fun like Bobby Zamora does, the bigger clubs soon start sniffing around. Forty-eight League goals and counting since the beginning of last season has seen interest from the top flight, which Taylor believed was Zamora’s destiny one day. “He deserves to be in the Premiership. He’s a great lad, he’s gonna be a tremendous player, he’s a very hardworking boy and he deserves to play at the highest level. But I’ve said to him there’s gonna be a right time and that time isn’t yet.” Taylor’s biggest bug-bear since joining the South Coast was the severe lack of facilities. Not just the stadium but the training pitch needed work too. “This club is only gonna go somewhere with the right backing and we need a new stadium. Everybody needs this new stadium. I can’t believe that the town is not proud of what Brighton have done and I can’t believe they don’t want to put us into a brand new stadium, like other clubs do, other areas do, so we can be successful,” Taylor cried. Back in the studio, the team discussed the qualities of Bobby Zamora over shots of him stretching out on the pitch. John Hendrie praised his “willingness to work”, “he’s very nimble on his feet and, most of all, he’s an excellent finisher.” They also championed the cause for the new stadium at the proposed site of Falmer. The power of television to get this message across would never not be utilised.

BRE Booker BRE Watson

After the break, touchline reporter Simon Hill spoke with Brentford chairman Ron Noades and we heard again from Peter Taylor, this time on the night. Taylor discussed the lack of goals from people not named Bobby Zamora, emphasising the importance of the young striker to all Albion’s hopes. “We haven’t got enough goalscorers in the team. Bobby of course has been outstanding, I think Lee Steele’s the next one on seven goals so we could with some other members of the team scoring.” He was playing down Brentford’s dreadful run of form, saying “Sometimes that’s the worst time to play somebody,” and stressing the importance of an early goal. Noades was positive about Brighton and thought his club were in for a tough night but he also signalled his intentions of withdrawing his funding from next season as he scaled back his involvement with the Bees after a short association. The chairman was more famously associated with Crystal Palace where he was in charge for seventeen years. The third and final pre-match VT focussed on the links between tonight’s two sides, with Brighton assistant manager Bob Booker and defender Paul Watson interviewed ahead of their return to Griffin Park. Booker spent around twenty years there from a teenager right through to his coaching career. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories there,” Booker told, “I wasn’t that particularly happy the last couple of years once Micky Adams had left so once the chance came to come down to Brighton with Micky I was always gonna grab it.” Whilst Watson explained how a bunch of them followed Adams around too; “Micky Adams took two or three of us from Fulham to Brentford and then we was lucky enough when he took the job down here that he brought a few of us down here as well.” The report, again by Linda O’Brien, also touched upon the continuity from the Brentford contingent through the recent change of management from Adams to Taylor making for a smooth transition. Adams last match in charge of the Albion was the defeat at home to Brentford, which Booker called “a sad evening… We don’t seem to lose many at Withdean so that will stick in the players minds.” Elsewhere in football, news broke that Premiership Aston Villa had lost manager and ex-Albion midfielder John Gregory when he resigned after four years in charge.

BRE Video Scouting BRE Scouting Left Side

The final portion of the build-up centred around the two pundits pre-prepared Video Scouting reports; the set piece of each and every ITV Sport Channel match preview. These scouting reports were detailed analysis of a formation or tactic employed by the team in question and illustrated with footage from a recent match as well as graphics overlaid to emphasise the point. Russell Osman, concentrating on Brentford, talked about the strength of the two centre-backs – Darren Powell and Ivar Ingimarsson – and their work as a pairing. He also highlighted the physical danger Brentford posed from free kicks and corners. John Hendrie’s analysis of Brighton was more negative as he showcased the frailties of the Albion’s left side in the recent defeat at Wigan. With three midfielders chasing back, he noticed left-back Kerry Mayo tried to step up and get involved when he was better tracking back and defending. The next example saw left winger Nathan Jones leave his man for Mayo to pick up meaning the defence wasn’t tight enough to stop a dangerous cross. “Wigan were running riot down the right hand side,” he told. Backing off also allowed space and time for Wigan to create. Hendrie’s second piece of analysis centred on ball watching by the Seagulls. Watching the ball but not the man caught the experienced Simon Morgan out in the same game, as Andy Liddle stole a march. Danny Cullip was a guilty party too when charging out of the box into no man’s land, leaving his marker to drift in to the six yard line unmarked. The next example saw Liddle score as Cullip again was caught out. Hendrie did caveat this by stating “For all what I’ve just shown there, I don’t think this has been a true reflection of their season!” The pundits were split with their predictions, each sticking with the side they did their research on. With that the scene was set and Matt Smith handed up to the gantry where commentators Guy Havord and David Fairclough were standing by.

BRE Analysis BRE Taylor post match

At half time the studio team were full of praise and compliments for the way Brentford dominated the first period. “Brighton weren’t at the races”, was how Russell Osman described the Seagulls efforts, or lack of. John Hendrie wasn’t impressed by Brighton backing off so much in defence and lacking a final ball at the other end. For the analysis of the opening goal, Osman was dumbfounded by Brighton’s lack of men on the post to allow the header to bounce in. Hendrie was unimpressed by the lack of urgency from Taylor’s men to close the ball down and be first, leading to the second goal after good work from Dobson. Reporter Simon Hill managed to squeeze in a word with Brentford’s managing director Gary Hargreaves in the tunnel before the teams emerged for the second half. After the final whistle, as with all ITV Sport Channel matches, commentator Guy Havord talked us through the goals and key incidents from the match in a quick highlight round-up before handing downstairs to reporter Simon Hill for some immediate post-match reaction. He spoke with double goalscorer and Man of the Match Ben Burgess. Before heading to the ad break, Matt Smith and the studio team followed it up with some brief comment of their own. We then returned to Simon Hill who had a delighted Steve Coppell with him. After the commercials, around ten minutes remained to wrap the coverage up before the off-air time of 10pm. The win lifted the Bees into the Play Off spots as fifth was now theirs. Brighton remained in second but had eaten up one of the games in hand over the leaders. The match analysis showed how much better Brentford were at closing the opposition down and giving them no space to move, being more determined and quicker to the ball. When Peter Taylor left the dressing room to speak with Simon Hill, he was gracious in defeat. “We didn’t deserve anything tonight, I thought Brentford deserved everything they got and full credit to them.” He thought his players took too long to get the ball forward combined with Brentford’s quick closing down and hurrying made the home side look even better than they were. The final word from the studio believed both Brighton and Brentford would have enough to secure top six spots come the end of the season. With a quick look ahead to some of the numerous matches coming up on the channel Live over the forthcoming week, it was time to say goodbye after an excellent broadcast despite the terrible result from a personal perspective.

BRE Kick Off BRE Comms BRE Referee BRE Two Nil

Story of the Match: Brentford got the game underway kicking from right to left in the first half. Both sides wore their familiar stripes; red and white for the home team and blue and white away. Co-commentator David Fairclough noted Brentford’s fast start, urging Brighton to take the sting out of the Bees and hold on to the ball for longer periods. After a quarter of an hour, Brentford’s fast start should have been rewarded with a penalty. Only referee Trevor Parkes can answer why it wasn’t given, as Stephen Hunt was scythed down in the box by Richard Carpenter’s lunge. It was a clear penalty with both legs taken away but crucially not seen by the man in the middle. A shaven-headed Adam Virgo, not to be confused with his centre-half partner who also sports a skinhead Danny Cullip, was forced into a lot of work in the early exchanges and had a nasty clash of heads with big striker Ben Burgess. The breakthrough goal took just a quarter of the match. Stephen Hunt whipped in a corner from the far side and amongst the many bodies in the centre, defender Ingimarsson rose highest to nod home past Royce into the near corner of the net. Exactly what pundit Russell Osman pointed out in his Scouting Report videos, the centre back pairing was strong and Brentford posed serious threats from set pieces. The lead had been coming too. The best chance of an equaliser came ten minutes after. Bobby Zamora held the ball up very well with his back to goal. He chipped a cross over the other side of the box for Charlie Oatway. His cushioned header fell to Gary Hart near the penalty spot but his rushed effort sailed way over as he failed to get over the ball enough and the opportunity was squandered. Brighton would live to regret that as a minute later Ben Burgess made it two-nil. Fantastic determination was shown by Michael Dobson on the right wing to react to a loose ball far quicker than Mayo, who waited too long for the ball to drop. That sent the midfielder racing clear on the far touchline. Into the area he flung it low into the centre where Burgess could just guide it into the back of the net from all of five yards for the simplest of finishes to double the advantage. It stayed that way at the break, with a huge amount of work for the Seagulls to do in the second half to get anything out of this match.

BRE Subs BRE Burgess 2nd BRE Sidwell fourth BRE Final Score

Taylor made two changes at half-time as Lee Steele and Paul Brooker came on as the search for goals intensified. Within two minutes it almost brought about the start of an Albion comeback. Steele’s first touch with his thigh put the ball in his path on the far side of the area, after a ball over the top from Oatway. Unfortunately, Steele’s second touch of the match was a terribly weak effort with his right that trickled to Smith in goal. For a moment there was a sight at goal and if that had gone in the game would have been a completely different one in all probability. It was a much more positive start for Brighton but chances weren’t being carved out, with shots from Zamora and Virgo sailing over the top. Just before the hour mark, the game was wrapped up in superb style with another Ben Burgess goal. A free kick was floated to the edge of the box from the half way line. Brighton headed it out but the ball immediately flew back towards them. Burgess took one touch to cushion control it with his right foot before swivelling and shooting. His effort looped up and over Simon Royce and Albion’s good start to the second period was for nothing. The goal was terrific from Burgess, a man Brighton had no answers to. This spurred Brentford on further and had the ball in the net again a minute later from Owusu. The linesman’s flag correctly denied a fourth. However, that next goal did arrive when Steve Sidwell rounded off a nice move just a minute after. Left-back Anderson played the ball down the line for Owusu to hold up. The ball over the top then found Anderson’s run forward with space on the wing. His low cross to the centre was stepped over by Burgess to leave it for Sidwell on the penalty spot. His first-time left foot shot fired past Royce for four-nil to the side that had scored just once since Boxing Day. It was now a dreadful night for the Seagulls and getting worse all the time. Burgess was hunting for the hat-trick and had to be denied by the side-netting and Royce on a couple of occasions. As the game drew to a close Brighton enjoyed more of the ball. The closest to a consolation goal came from a Paul Watson free kick just outside the area, Paul Smith did well to get across his line and grasp the ball as it was heading for the top corner. But that was it on an extremely disappointing night for the Albion. Brentford outplayed us at every point and deservedly won by four goals to nil.

BRE Table

BRENTFORD 4 BRIGHTON 0
Ingimarsson, Burgess (2), Sidwell

BRE Replay

PREVIOUS; #8 BRIGHTON 2-1 RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS 08/12/2001

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

Small Screen Seagulls; Swindon (H) 13/04/2002

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sBrighton’s first season back in the third tier of English football after five away was going extremely well. The momentum gained from last year’s Division Three title success under Micky Adams was maintained into the 2001/2002 campaign. This despite losing Adams to Leicester in the opening weeks. Former Gillingham boss Peter Taylor arrived in October to steady the ship. He kept Albion in the top six throughout, despite stiff competition from the likes of Reading, Brentford and Stoke City. By the time the final home League game came round in mid-April, the Seagulls had already secured another promotion and were aiming for back-to-back titles. The ITV Sport Channel’s dedicated Division Two highlights programme, Football 2nd, came to Withdean for the visit of Swindon, where top spot could be secured and the title party got underway.


Brighton 0-0 Swindon, Division Two; 3pm, Sat 13th Apr ’02

F2 Titles

The ITV Sport Channel boldly burst onto the televised football scene after securing an audacious coup for exclusively Live coverage of all three Divisions of the Nationwide League from the start of the 2001/2002 season. This was a huge period for ITV, having secured top flight Premiership highlights from the same time away from the BBC and Match of the Day. This was on top of their long-running exclusive continental football in the form of the UEFA Champions League since its inception in 1992. A core team was established fronted by Des Lynam and Gabby Logan, supported by pundits Terry Venables, Ally McCoist, commentators Clive Tyldesley, Peter Drury, summarisers Ron Atkinson and David Pleat and reporters Gary Newbon and Gabriel Clarke. New faces were needed for this new venture. Fresh, up and coming talent such as hosts Matt Smith and Simon Hill, pundits Robbie Earle, Andy Townsend, Tony Dorigo and John Hendrie, commentators Jon Champion, Guy Mowbray and Guy Havord, co-commentators David Fairclough and Jim Beglin and an army of reporters such as Dave Beckett, Ned Boulting, Issy Clarke and Carrie Frais all joined the team to provide the lower Leagues with the most comprehensive television coverage ever seen. The ITV Sport Channel launched to much fanfare on 11th August 2001 with Manchester City taking on Watford in a Saturday teatime clash. But it wasn’t just the Live action which would be at the heart of the channel. There were also dedicated weekly highlights programmes for each of the three Divisions. Plus the regional magazine shows on ITV, you were well and truly covered if you were in the Nationwide League this season. Here I take a look at Football 2nd as the third tier highlights show came to Withdean to see if the Albion could clinch the title in the final home match.


Football 2nd, ITV Sport Channel, 11am (Sunday 14th April 2002)

F2 Ident F2 Sponsor

Division One highlights got their own primetime ninety-minute show on the ITV Sport Channel, Football 1st every Saturday night at 8.30pm, whilst Divisions Two and Three were the focus on Sunday mornings. With Football 3rd following right on the back of it, Football 2nd rounded up the action from Division Two every Sunday at 11am for forty-five minutes. With the Saturday show studio based, Sunday mornings were about exploring. Each edition of Football 2nd was presented on location at the ground of the week’s featured match. The host was from a rotating pool of the ITV Sport Channel reporters, most frequently Issy Clarke, Peter Stevenson or Ned Boulting. For this potential title party at Withdean it was the latter. The programme was sponsored, like the League and Live match coverage, by Nationwide and began with some jaunty electronic library music soundtracking the titles. The show was about much more than just a goals round-up, it was a showcase of the League and its members. There would be features, news and interviews alongside the goals, culminating in extended highlights of the main match which for this edition saw Albion host Swindon.

F2 Boulting

Hosting from all around Withdean Stadium was Ned Boulting. He joined the ITV Sport Channel for the launch this season and presented and reported across Football 2nd and Football 3rd. This took him around the country at various Football League grounds, including this very one back in September for the Albion’s centenary celebration match against Bournemouth. He was also involved in ITV’s other football output including the UEFA Champions League and Worthington Cup. Prior to this he spent four years at Sky Sports working on the flagship results service Gillette Soccer Saturday. He reported for the programme doing interviews and features in the build-up as well as being out and about bringing viewers updates from a selected lower League match. He was also involved in Sky’s Live FA Cup Final coverage in 1999 when he reported from the Newcastle team hotel ahead of their Wembley showdown with treble-chasing Manchester United. Boulting would be one of the few to be retained by ITV Sport after the channel closed down a few weeks after today’s match.

F2 Coming Up 1 F2 Coming Up 2

After Boulting’s introduction up in the stands, he set the menu for what was to come for the rest of the programme prior to our main match highlights. Peter Taylor was interviewed about all things Albion, with question marks over the future of himself, star striker Zamora and, of course, the stadium saga. The other key fixtures this weekend involved the teams chasing Brighton for a promotion spot; Reading and Brentford. The Royals hosted Peterborough whilst the Bees journeyed across West London to QPR. Whilst at the bottom, struggling Bury needed to up their game against Colchester. Action from all three matches and the goals from the rest of the Division were to come.

F2 Permutations F2 Zamora celebration F2 Reading Brentford F2 Round Up

Before all that though, our host outlined the story of the weekend for Division Two and the various permutations that come this late in the campaign; with two more matches in the regular season. Bobby Zamora’s winner at Peterborough last week ensured promotion for the Seagulls, another win today would see the title in the bag too. That was because of Reading’s draw at Tranmere, their seventh stalemate in eight matches, sent Brighton up on Sunday without kicking a ball. Cambridge’s fate at the bottom was already secured and they were joined on the way to Division Three by Wrexham last weekend despite winning five-nil! Bournemouth had all but joined them due to their dreadful goal difference. It was one from four for the final relegation spot as Bury, Northampton, Chesterfield and Notts County tussled. The real story to watch was the quest to join the Albion in Division One as Reading and Brentford were separated by just a point and, crucially, would go head-to-head in a final day showdown. Oh, the drama of the Nationwide League! With the scene set, the first batch of goals were shown from the teams hopeful for a Play Off spot beginning with Bristol City’s trip to Blackpool. Mark Tompkins, Nick London and Tom Skippings voiced the round-ups.

F2 Take 2 F2 Lee Sharpe

The show took a more in-depth look at the Division as a whole so a regular news wrap followed, titled Take 2. Amongst the headlines in this edition were Wrexham, with the Welsh outfit hoping to change ownership in the coming weeks. Elsewhere, Oldham’s chairman was looking to buy Boundary Park and increased his stake in the club to do so. Ex-England and Manchester United midfielder Lee Sharpe was linked with a move to Blackpool and Ipswich defender Mark Venus was a target for Colchester if he was willing to drop two Divisions. And finally, Paul Dalglish – son of Kenny – was released by Wigan in order to go for a trial in America’s MLS. With the news covered, it was time for an advert break.

F2 Withdean hill F2 Taylor

Attention turned to the Seagulls next, where both chairman and manager would be interviewed. Ned Boulting introduced this part by saying; “It’s not often that you visit a club where the chairman, the leading striker and the manager are all heroes but here at Brighton, in Dick Knight, Bobby Zamora and Peter Taylor, they’ve got three of the highest order.” Taylor had enjoyed success in the lower Leagues with Gillingham and even took caretaker management of England where he handed David Beckham the captaincy before things started to go wrong for him during his second season at Leicester. That led to his departure and swift return to management with the Albion, where continued the good form for the club that has secured a second successive promotion. “I had no doubts of walking into a changing room and talking to twenty players because I was up for the job. To me, it didn’t take them long. There were a few slight adjustments that were made but things have gone really well”, Taylor said.

F2 Reading score F2 Zamora goal

When Reading could only draw last week, enabling Brighton’s promotion, he said he couldn’t listen to it and was made aware by the physio. The squad were perhaps quicker to realise the news, with Taylor admitting “Looking at them on Monday morning, they definitely went out on Sunday night, without a doubt!” Attention inevitably turned to the future and, in particular, of both himself and Zamora at the club despite the limited resources and facilities. On his star striker, Taylor told; “I think Bobby is a very sensible lad that probably does realise that another twelve months in Division One would be very good for his education.” Taylor’s contract was only until the end of the season and had stalled on extending that. Rumours surfaced linking him with higher Division clubs but he insisted that it was only down to budgetary constraints and he hasn’t been in touch with anybody else. “I couldn’t believe things weren’t getting prepared for us for training etc. What we basically need is probably half a dozen groundsman around Sussex University who are season ticket holders and football fanatics of Brighton because then they would work day and night to get things the way we want it.”

F2 Knight and Boulting F2 Knight

Ned Boulting then spoke with Dick Knight just outside the gates of the stadium and the chairman began in typically quotable mood; “It just shows that even in modern football, miracles can happen! Remember five years ago we were bottom of the pile on the last day of the season needing to get a point to save ourselves and we did. Here we are now going for the Second Division Championship.” He confidently dodged the question about Taylor’s future and requests for improvement on the training facilities, instead wanting to focus on the celebratory aspect of the day and “we’ll address the issues in the near future”. The last time the Football 2nd team were down on the South Coast was the club’s centenary celebrations in the home match against Bournemouth back in September 2001 where there was a big party with dancers and even the cutting of a big birthday cake at half time. Knight was hoping for further celebrations in front of the cameras today, as he paid tribute to the managers and players over the past two years who dragged the club from the foot of the basement Division right up to the second tier.

F2 Tunnel

On the back of that, the next goals round-up featured those scrapping at the bottom, starting with Bury hosting Colchester. The wrap included Cambridge ‘keeper Lionel Perez marking his last ever appearance for United by taking a penalty. No prizes for guessing how that one went! After the final advert break, it was crunch time in Division Two with highlights of the Albion against Swindon. Commentary was provided by Dave Farrar. He was more familiar to viewers of British Eurosport, whom he joined in 1999 when their former number one Guy Mowbray made the move to ITV. Mowbray was by now an established voice on the network, covering Football League and Champions League matches for the ITV Sport Channel. Farrar voiced commentaries and round-ups for the various ITV highlights shows this season, combining it with his Eurosport commitments. His highest profile commentary to date was probably the Euro 2000 Final as Eurosport’s first choice. His familiar voice and excitable style served well on continental highlights show Eurogoals as well as a variety of Leagues and Cups for both broadcasters this year. His first task of the afternoon at Withdean was to talk us through the line-ups.

F2 Brighton

Peter Taylor was forced into two changes from the side that beat Peterborough one-nil the previous week. A broken leg forced Gary Hart out, replaced by Nathan Jones, whilst Lee Steele’s suspension saw Daniel Webb start up top for the ninth time in an Albion shirt. Full back Paul Watson had missed just one League match all season, whilst Danny Cullip was absent for two. The experience of Simon Morgan slotted in alongside for the final season of his playing career. Kerry Mayo was the only survivor from the starting eleven of five years ago at Hereford which kept Brighton’s Football League status. Paul Brooker and Richard Carpenter were on the books of Fulham back then. Junior Lewis joined on loan from Leicester for this season, linking up with Taylor for the fourth time having previously been together at the Foxes, Dover and Gillingham. Bobby Zamora’s thirty-two goals this term was enough to make him the first ever Albion man to win back-to-back Fans Player of the Season awards, narrowly pipping ‘keeper Michel Kuipers. Options on the bench included Charlie Oatway, Robbie Pethick and loan striker Wayne Gray.

F2 Swindon

Andy King was without striker Danny Invincible, not living up to his name as he was out with a groin injury. Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock was on the Swindon books but not selected for this one, he was linked to the Albion a year ago before choosing Town. There were Dutch goalkeepers at both ends of the field, with Bart Griemink between the sticks for the away side. Andy Gurney moved along the M4 from Reading to Swindon in the summer. Centre half Matthew Heywood cemented his place in the side having joined from Burnley. Paul Edwards had spells in non-League with Altrincham and Curzon Ashton. Bobby Howe joined from Nottingham Forest commanding a transfer fee of thirty grand in 1998. The main man is forward Eric Sabin. He scored in the reverse fixture at the County Ground when the sides drew one-all and netted five times for the club. Taking charge of this match was referee Tony Bates.


F2 Kick Off F2 Commentator

Story of the Match: Typically on a day where there was much expectation and excitement, the game fell flat. Paul Brooker had the first real opportunity when he latched onto a good ball from Kerry Mayo on the left. Brooker’s excellent touch to bring the ball down took it past Reeves and presented a shooting chance on the far side of the area. His looping effort dropped just short and wide of the goal. Daniel Webb had a half-chance with a header from a Paul Watson corner, but the youngster on loan from Southend couldn’t direct it low enough to trouble the goal. The Withdean crowd were behind the Albion all the way but chances weren’t presenting themselves. Perhaps frustrated with the lack of opportunities, Zamora took it upon himself to unleash a fierce drive with his right foot more than thirty yards out to sting the palms of Griemink in the Swindon goal.

F2 Second Half F2 Lewis skied it

Into the second half, once more it was top-scorer Zamora causing defences problems. His spin and turn on the left gave him a chance to cross. His fizzed ball into the danger zone was sliced goalbound by Reeves. To Griemink’s relief it hit his legs before gathering safely. The breakthrough wasn’t coming. Wayne Gray came off the substitutes bench in a bid to force it. He reacted quickest to a loose ball and hit a first-time shot on the turn only to see the ball bounce towards the back of the athletics track. Chances for the away side were few and far between. Hewlett drove one from a long way out straight down the throat of Michel Kuipers for a rare touch from the Dutchman. Another Brighton sub, Phil Hadland, arrived to try to change the picture. He picked up a long ball from Junior Lewis to strike from the far corner of the penalty area. Griemink denied the former Leyton Orient striker. A late Lewis strike flew high into the air to confirm that it really wasn’t the Albion’s day in front of goal. The final whistle brought to an end the contest without either side getting on the scoresheet. Brighton nil, Swindon nil.

F2 Final Score


F2 Withdean celebrations F2 Hugs F2 Trophy lift

Before the day’s play, a win was required to guarantee the title. With the goalless draw at Withdean the door was ajar for either Reading or Brentford to make the Seagulls wait for the trophy. In the end neither side could claim a win and it handed the title to Peter Taylor’s men as the four point gap could no longer be overturned. Brighton were Champions and the presentation was next. Cue a mini pitch invasion from the home faithful whilst the rest gathered on the running track behind the dugouts. Once the scenes had settled down the presentation could begin with hugs all round from the chairman. Now everybody was in place on the podium, club captain Paul Rogers lifted the Nationwide Division Two trophy aloft to signal that Brighton were back. Brighton were heading to Division One.

F2 Champagne celebration F2 Taylor interview F2 Zamora interview

As assistant manager Bob Booker and Bobby Zamora led the champagne spraying jubilations, commentator Dave Farrar provided the line; “A Formula One celebration for the side that has motored through the Divisions. Congratulations to Brighton and Hove Albion.” Wearing the Champions medal around his neck, boss Taylor spoke on the pitch with Ned Boulting. “It’s a great feeling for the players. We’re not always the best team but we’re always the best fighters… They’re very honest workers that keep improving every day,” he told. Bobby Zamora wrapped the Nationwide banner around his shoulders whilst his medal was on full display as he spoke with Boulting during the lap of honour. Zamora was quick to praise the team efforts; “It’s been an amazing year for me and all the lads. Two [promotions] on the bounce now, it’s something special.” After a few more words he was left to soak up the adulation of the watching crowd. Those supporters realised there and then that these really were halcyon days for a club that had been through so much in recent times. And the player at the front of it all was destined for even bigger things.

F2 Reading Peterborough F2 QPR Brentford F2 Results

After the celebrations, the final five minutes of the show were used to wrap up Brighton’s closest challengers and explain exactly why the Seagulls were able to be crowned Champions despite only drawing. Two goals from Nicky Forster weren’t enough for Reading as Peterborough thwarted them to draw two-two. Whilst over in West London, the combined efforts of Lloyd Owusu and Mark McCammon couldn’t force a Brentford winner. Instead they mustered a goalless draw at Queens Park Rangers for the second time in the season. Elsewhere the standout result was at the Seaside as Blackpool bagged five against Play Off hunting Bristol City. The table confirmed, with one match still to play, that it was Brighton who would be marching up to Division One with the silverware in hand. Reading led Brentford by a single point ahead of their final day clash at Griffin Park the following Saturday. One of them would go up, the other joined Cardiff, Stoke and Huddersfield in the Play Offs. At the other end, we already knew Wrexham and Cambridge were gone. Bury too, barring a final day overhaul of some eighteen goals! Bournemouth’s win put them within three points of Notts County but a slightly worse goal difference. Everybody else was safe in mid table. And as Ned signed off, he confirmed the programme’s destination for the following week; Brentford for that massive promotion match. But this edition was all about the Albion. Brighton were going up as Champions. Again!

F2 Table top F2 Table bottom

#15: Brighton 2-1 Plymouth 31/01/2004

#15 BRIGHTON 2-1 PLYMOUTH Division Two
Saturday 31st January 2004 Image result for

PLY Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Steve Cotterill
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Gavin Peacock REPORTER Guy Havord
5.35pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium     5.30-8pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

PLY Ident PLY Sponsor PLY Intro

Context of the Match: After just twelve matches back in the Second Division for the Albion, there was a familiar sense of deja vu with yet another manager leaving the club. Steve Coppell was appointed Reading boss in October 2003 following their loss of Alan Pardew to West Ham. Speculation was rife about Coppell’s departure, with him clearly not happy with the facilities and the finances, or lack of. He signed on for a further year in the summer but these short-term deals were clearly an indicator that he didn’t want to commit himself on the South Coast too long unless guarantees could be made. In December 2003, the inspector’s report on the public inquiry into the proposed stadium site of Falmer was sent to Deputy PM John Prescott. In this, it was recommended that Mr Prescott should refuse planning permission, yet another blow to this long-running saga. A public inquiry was ongoing. By this time, former Wolves and Millwall boss Mark McGhee was appointed Brighton manager. The Scot came in at the end of October with good pedigree, having won this Division with Reading in 1994 and Millwall in 2001. The latter were going well in the First Division and many saw his departure there as a surprise, but rumours emerged of a falling out between McGhee and chairman Theo Paphitis, whilst McGhee seemed to suggest his time in South London had reached its natural conclusion. His reign at the Albion didn’t get off to the best of starts, with a draw away at Peterborough before a four-one thrashing at the hands of Bristol City. Back to back wins away at Notts County and home to Wrexham got them back on track and pushing up the League again just outside the Play Off places, having inherited a decent position in the first place from Coppell. December saw just one win, a four-nil thumping of Wycombe on Boxing Day. Last week’s victory over Barnsley was the first of the new year as points were being dropped too often, costing a top two place. Plymouth Argyle led the Division having lost just three times so far all season. Paul Sturrock’s men won nine of their last ten in the League and hadn’t conceded a goal for an incredible seven matches straight, since they went top of the table in mid-December. A seven-nil demolition of Chesterfield last time out showed they were ruthless in their pursuit of a return to the second tier for the first time in twelve years. Sky Sports selected the match for Live broadcast as January came to a close. An early-evening Saturday kick off at Withdean pitted two teams on course for top six finishes.

PLY Brighton PLY Formation PLY Plymouth

The Teams: Mark McGhee side enjoyed a win last week over Barnsley, which was separated by a Leon Knight penalty. The little striker had enjoyed an excellent season, firing eighteen goals in twenty-six League appearances thus far. The disparity was clear to see, with substitute Chris McPhee the next highest goalscorer this term with just four. Ben Roberts returned to the fold in goal of late, having missed around six weeks in the early stages through injury. Michel Kuipers deputised then but himself had been out for a long period following a horrific car crash a couple of months back. He was fit enough to take his place on the bench last week for the first time since that crash and continued to be Roberts understudy here. The back line of Kerry Mayo, captain Danny Cullip and Guy Butters was a tried and trusted solid defence. One change was made from last week, with John Piercy entering the midfield in place of McPhee. Adam Virgo made his first start of the campaign in that game, having been out all season with injury. Richard Carpenter and Charlie Oatway continued to do a superb job of protecting the back line as well as chipping in with the attacks. Striker Trevor Benjamin was the latest partner for Leon Knight up top. He joined on loan from Leicester earlier in the month, this his third start but yet to find the target. Gary Hart and Jake Robinson were waiting in the wings as substitutes if required. One man who was no longer available was Robbie Pethick, who joined Weymouth on loan under their player-manager Steve Claridge. McGhee’s fellow Scotsman, Paul Sturrock, relied upon twenty-year-old goalkeeper Luke McCormick in the sticks and has delivered with seven clean sheets in a row and more than ten hours and counting since he last conceded a goal. Both he and Paul Wotton came up through the youth system, with Wotton playing in his ninth season at Argyle. Defender Graham Coughlan was the club’s top scorer when they won promotion from Division Three in 2002. Left back Peter Gilbert joined in the summer from Birmingham and forged a regular place. Paul Connolly scored an own-goal in the reverse fixture, the thrilling three-three draw back in August. Both Hasney Aljofree and Nathan Lowndes were recruited from the SPL, leaving Dundee United and Livingston respectively. David Friio top scored from midfield with thirteen so far. The manager’s son, Blair Sturrock, straddled the bench alongside the terrifically named Marino Keith. Refereeing the action was Phil Joslin.

PLY Gavin PLY Cotterill PLY Studio

Presentation Team: This season Ian Payne presented all 12.30pm kick offs on the Saturday, be it Premier or Football League, with George Gavin hoovering up the rest of the Live games from the Three Divisions. With this match being a Saturday 5.35pm start, it was Gavin in the hotseat at Withdean. Often this slot would be presented from the Sky Studios as the day’s goals were shown after the match, but tonight they were on location in the South West corner behind the running track. Up on the makeshift gantry amidst all the scaffolding was our guest, Steve Cotterill. He’d been out of the game since he was sacked as assistant to Howard Wilkinson by Sunderland in March 2003. Prior to that he forged a successful early start to management with Cheltenham, his home town. He took them into the Conference in his first full season in charge, going on to lift them into the Football League two years later. Further success occurred when they beat Rushden and Diamonds in the Division Three Play Off Final in 2002, securing his third promotion in five seasons and a remarkable rise up the Divisions. Having taken Cheltenham probably as far as he could, he moved to Stoke that summer as they were promoted up behind the Albion into Division One. It didn’t work out in the Potteries as he surprisingly resigned after just thirteen matches and joined Sunderland as number two. As a player, he started his time in the non-Leagues with Cheltenham and Burton before top flight Wimbledon signed him up in 1989. In his four years there he didn’t really get a foothold in the team due to injury and actually spent eleven League matches on loan at Brighton in 1992, during which time he bagged four goals. He moved to Bournemouth to spend the final three years of his playing career, enjoying a better run in the team. More recently he has appeared in the media spotlight as a studio guest for Sky’s various lower League coverage. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Gavin Peacock. Whilst Crocker was the undisputed League number one commentator, Peacock was a new name to proceedings. Son of former Charlton player Keith Peacock, Gavin spent most of his career at Queen’s Park Rangers at the beginning and end. Spells with Bournemouth and Gillingham came before big moves to Newcastle and, probably most famously, Premiership Chelsea. The midfielder had an eye for goal, finishing top scorer for the Blues in 1995. When he retired in 2002, he moved into the media with the BBC across their various magazine shows and highlights as well as occasional Sky Sports appearances. He combined this with a strong Christian faith, preaching in his local church as his footballing time drew to a close. Completing today’s line up was regular reporter for Divisions Two and Three, Guy Havord. Having gained prominence as a commentator for the world feed 3pm Premiership matches for the final few years in the 90s, he also covered Live Spanish League games for Sky. A move to the ITV Sport Channel to lead their Football League commentaries followed before they went into administration and he ended up being made redundant. When he rejoined Sky towards the end of the 2002/03 season, he worked as a reporter for Sky Sports News and the League. From this season he took over from David Jones as the touchline reporter on top flight pay-per-view channel Premiership+, covering the weekly game.

PLY Theatre of Trees PLY Tunnel  PLY Coming Up PLY Div 1 goals

The Coverage: Saturday 5.35pm was the main Live slot for Sky’s Football League broadcasts since regaining the rights from ITV Digital in 2002. This season Sky would continue the broadcast until 8pm in order to incorporate the Division One goals from that day, as well as comprehensively wrapping up the analysis from the Live game. This particular start time allowed the scores to come in from the 3pm kick offs on Gillette Soccer Saturday, air some post-match interviews and get Jeff Stelling’s pundits reactions and round it all off before leaving at 5.30pm on one of the numbered Sky Sports channels, whilst they carried on over on Sky Sports News until 6pm. This did mean we were pretty much straight into the Live action when the Football League broadcast began, with less than five minutes for pre match build up. The theme tune, graphics and overall look were as they were when Sky last visited Withdean back in August for our two-one victory over a much-fancied QPR. Like with that match, just a five minute build up allowed very little time to talk up the game so host George Gavin and his guest Steve Cotterill barely said more than a couple of sentences before the teams were in the tunnel. That signalled it was time to hand to the commentary team of Ian Crocker and Gavin Peacock. At half time, the stats showed Brighton’s dominance in a deserved two-nil lead. Five out of six attempts were on target for the Seagulls. Guest Steve Cotterill put Plymouth’s disappointing half down to a lack of tempo on their part, believing Paul Sturrock would be mentioning that at half time. He was very impressed by Leon Knight’s “work rate, his hold up play” and pleased he got a good goal. After the final whistle and the post-match advert break, more than twenty minutes of the programme remained to wrap up this match as well as see some of the day’s goals. The full-time stats showed a more equal match than it read at the interval, with Brighton shading the attempts on target seven to five. Man of the Match was given to Danny Cullip, who spoke with reporter Guy Havord afterwards. He thought the first half was the decider; “It was important to start well, we played really well for forty-five minutes. It’s hard to keep that up for ninety minutes but we dug in at the end and got the result we deserved.” He played down the prospect of another promotion, saying there was still a long way to go in the season and they would enjoy this victory first and foremost. Back on the gantry, our studio team reviewed the key moments from the clash beginning with Trevor Benjamin’s opening goal. He was praised for his ‘tireless’ effort all day and showed superb strength to create his chance. Leon Knight impressed Steve Cotterill and believed that if Knight didn’t get that knock at the start of the second half, he may well have gone on to deliver further in this match. Manager Mark McGhee told, in his interview with Guy Havord, how good a game that was for his side; “I think the first half was the best performance since I came here. I think on a very difficult night we still tried to pass the ball. We knew we didn’t want to take Plymouth on in a sense just at their own game, they’re very good when they’re direct and physical, we didn’t want to just do that so we got the ball down.” He was also pleased with the character of the second half to maintain the advantage. Plymouth boss Paul Sturrock gave credit to the Albion, calling it “men against boys first half.” The final ten minutes of the show was given over to showing all the goals from Saturday’s Division One matches, as was the case in this slot all season. The studio pairing talked through the action and incidents. This included another win for high-flying Norwich over Sheffield United, an unfortunate own goal from West Ham’s Tomas Repka, Crystal Palace defeating Wimbledon in the ‘Selhurst Park derby’ and Steve Sidwell netting for Reading’s first home win in six. After a recap on the scores and Division One table, it was time to go as another broadcast came to a close.

PLY Kick Off PLY Comms PLY Benjamin goal PLY Benjamin

Story of the Match: Brighton’s task was a difficult one. Plymouth were top of Division Two and goalkeeper Luke McCormick hadn’t conceded in over ten and a half hours of football, dating back to December 13th. The wind swirled around Withdean on a dark January evening. The club needed the assistance of a tree surgeon on the day of the game to ensure the seats weren’t at risk of falling branches due to the gales. Never a dull moment at the Theatre of Trees. Cries from the crowd of “We want Falmer!” could be heard loudly around the ground as the Albion kicked off, shooting from left to right in the first half. Ben Roberts had to be sharp off his line after ten minutes to smother the ball, frequently getting caught in the wind, as Lowndes tried to latch onto it. But Brighton looked good early on down the channels, with pace and power in the shape of Knight and Benjamin causing the defence issues. And in the twelfth, that’s where the opening goal arose from. Virgo’s throw down the line found Knight, he shrugged off the defender amidst some shirt pulling to cross in with his left. A couple of Plymouth headers cleared only as far as Carpenter on the edge. He then used his head to nod it back into the danger zone. Trevor Benjamin expertly blocked off his opponent using his sizeable frame to turn and get a shot away. As McCormick rushed out, two covering defenders tried to get back towards the line. Benjamin’s low shot bobbled up off Connolly and into the net, bringing Argyle’s club record clean sheet run to an end. Co-commentator Gavin Peacock noted “It’s not a great strike, but he concentrates on getting it on target – that’s all he can do there, on his left foot, a little bit of luck to ricochets into the back of the net.” Confidence was up as John Piercy, absent for the previous three games through injury, tried his luck from long range; comfortable enough for the ‘keeper. The lead was doubled with just over ten minutes to go before the break. Adam Virgo showed nice trickery on the right wing to nutmeg his marker and escape down the flank. His low cross was driven into the centre, missed by Benjamin but following up at the back stick was Leon Knight. The little man was in the right place at the right time to slot home for two-nil Brighton. His shot went through ‘keeper McCormick, the pace just beating him on the way in. Commentator Crocker brought us the stat that “rather surprisingly it’s the first time he’s scored a League goal here from open play since October” for Leon Knight, netting for the twentieth time this campaign bolstered by his excellent penalty record. No better time to adjust that than the present!

PLY Knight goal PLY Knight celebration PLY Lowndes goal PLY Man of the Match

Leon Knight celebrated his goal by running towards the camera behind the goal, a celebration that would be used in future title sequences on both Sky and ITV’s coverage of the Football League. The half drew to a close with the Albion well on top, and deservedly so, against the League leaders. Outside of the two goals there wasn’t too much else of note from either side but Brighton looked decent playing the ball around and looking for opportunities. Plymouth made a double substitution at the break in order to salvage something from this, with Marino Keith and Steve Adams entering the fray. For the Albion, John Piercy picked up a little knock towards the end of the first period in a fierce fifty-fifty ball. He tried to run it off but was abundant at the resume of play that he could continue no longer. It was a shame for Piercy having just had a spell out injured already, he was replaced here by Gary Hart. A ball in the face affected Leon Knight for a brief spell, visibly hurt by the contact. Plymouth applied the pressure in the second half far more so than they did in the first, with greater spells of possession and half-chances being carved out. Ben Roberts almost contributed to them getting one goal back when he came way out of his goal in an attempt to claim a high cross on the edge of his box. He dropped the catch and couldn’t reclaim before Lowndes took it on. Thankfully there were two defenders waiting on the line to clear away when Lowndes tame effort trickled towards goal. With less than half an hour to go, it showed how quickly a game could turn out of nowhere. Sloppiness crept in to Brighton’s game, gifting possession away easily and a slip from Roberts almost presented a golden chance. Charlie Oatway and Danny Cullip defended resolutely throughout and were always there to help out though. Chris McPhee replaced Knight with a quarter of an hour remaining to provide some fresher legs and relieve the pressure off the defence. Brighton’s best chance in the closing stages fell to Guy Butters. A corner was taken quickly, short to Paul Watson. He whipped in a tantalising cross which was flicked on. Butters was stood at the far corner of the six-yard area and volleyed excellently. McCormick showed why nobody had scored past him prior to tonight in seven matches with a brilliant push onto the bar and over to deny what would have been a wonderful goal. The final few minutes became very nervy though when Nathan Lowndes finally did pull a goal back out of nothing. A long punt forward from their own half saw a flick on from Cullip’s head fly towards the Brighton goal. Ben Roberts dived down just managing to keep it out, but couldn’t keep hold of it. Lowndes reacted quickest to the loose ball to stab home from two yards out. Argyle were not to repeat their trick of the reverse fixture when two goals in the final nine minutes rescued a point for them at Home Park, tonight they ran out of time. It finished Brighton two Plymouth one and a huge result for the Seagulls in their push for another change of Division. The table left the Seagulls in fifth place after this win, whilst Argyle remained top of the shop and well placed for automatic promotion.

PLY Table

BRIGHTON 2 PLYMOUTH 1
Benjamin, Knight Lowndes

PLY Goal PLY Replay

PREVIOUS; #14 BRIGHTON 2-1 QPR 18/08/2003

NEXT; #16 SWINDON 0-1 BRIGHTON 16/05/2004

#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

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

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


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

POFHL Titles

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


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

POFHL Ident

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

POFHL Semi Final 1 POFHL Bristol Semi POFHL Semi Final 2

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

POFHL Steggall

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

POFHL Kick Off POFHL Commentator

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

POFHL Brighton

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

POFHL Bristol City

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


POFHL Roberts flap POFHL City chance

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

POFHL Knight crossbar POFHL Half Time

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

POFHL Iwelumo shot POFHL Caught in possession

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

POFHL Sub POFHL Iwelumo header

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

POFHL Foul POFHL Penalty

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

POFHL Scoreline


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

POFHL Full Time POFHL Medal POFHL Trophy Lift

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

POFHL McGhee POFHL Knight

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

POFHL Dick Knight POFHL Fans

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

POFHL Virgo POFHL Oatway

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

POFHL Goodbyes POFHL Endboard

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

POFHL Celebrations

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

#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

#17: Brighton 0-1 Swindon 20/05/2004

#17 BRIGHTON 0-1 SWINDON (1-2 AET, BRI win 4-3 on pens) Division Two Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Thursday 20th May 2004 Image result for

Alt Titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Ian Holloway
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Garry Birtles REPORTER Guy Havord
7.45pm Kick Off; Withdean Stadium  7.30-10.15pm Football League Live Sky Sports 1 (Extended to 10.50pm)

swi ident sky bet sponsor swi intro

Context of the Match: If last Sunday was Brighton’s biggest match of the season so far then this match went one step further; the Albion were now one result away from the Play Off Final and a first trip to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. After an extremely tense and close fought First Leg at the County Ground, tonight was likely to be no different. Brighton held the advantage thanks to Richard Carpenter’s goal with twenty minutes remaining but Swindon warning shots were fired when both Igoe and Mooney hit the woodwork. The Robins were unbeaten in eight visits to Sussex prior to tonight, this was the 100th meeting between the two. Seagulls supporters would feel safer in the knowledge that this defence hadn’t conceded a goal for over nine hours and counting. Boss Mark McGhee was celebrating his 47th birthday this very day. Away goals did not count double in the Play Offs so if Swindon won tonight’s game by a one goal margin, extra time and, if necessary, the dreaded penalty shoot-out would be called upon. The victor knew they would go on to face Bristol City in the Final, after they overcame Hartlepool the previous night. It would be a famous Withdean night under the lights and full in the glare of the Sky Sports Live cameras. The Play Off Semi Finals drew to a close in Sussex, but only once a downpour of rain had begun around an hour prior to kick off. Would Brighton weather the storm?

swih brighton swih swindon swih formation

The Teams: Brighton kept the same starting line up and five substitutes from the victory away at Swindon last Sunday. That meant goalkeeper Ben Roberts was aiming for a club record-equalling seven clean sheets in a row, with protection provided by 1st Leg Man of the Match Danny Cullip and Play Off Finalist for Gillingham in 1999 Guy Butters. Indeed at home Brighton have only conceded two goals since Christmas. Local graduates Adam Virgo and Dan Harding were at full-back. In midfield Richard Carpenter’s goal decided the first match. The little and large duo of Leon Knight and Chris Iwelumo continued to forge a strike partnership since the latter’s transfer here a couple of months ago. Adam Hinshelwood (son of Director of Football Martin) and John Piercy were on the bench should the Albion require youthful legs, whilst the experience of Gary Hart, Michel Kuipers and particularly Kerry Mayo had seen this sort of big game pressure all before at the club. Swindon made two changes from their home defeat, with Grant Smith impressing as a substitute enough to start this one. He’s the son of Scottish striker Gordon, famous for his “And Smith must score!” moment in the 1983 FA Cup Final. The other switch was in midfield as Miglioranzi came in to replace David Duke who dropped out of the squad entirely due to injury. Although they were kept to minimal efforts on target on Sunday, the prolific strike force of Sam Parkin and Tommy Mooney would be the biggest dangers for Andy King’s men. The man with the whistle was the appropriately named Graham Laws.

swih gavin swih holloway swih studio swih commentary team

Presentation Team: As with Sunday and indeed all the Football League matches broadcast Live this season, George Gavin was at the helm. This was his final shift of a seven day consecutive run covering the Division One and Two Play Offs. His guest tonight was Queen’s Park Rangers boss Ian Holloway. His side was promoted in 2nd place in Division Two this season after missing out in the Play Off Final last time to Cardiff. Like with Tranmere’s Brian Little punditing on the First Leg, Holloway’s QPR had faced both Brighton and Swindon this season so was very well placed to call it. Brighton beat QPR at Withdean at the start of the season in front of the Sky Sports cameras but lost 2-1 to them at Loftus Road, whilst Swindon drew one-all with Rangers at home and also lost on their travels. This was around the time Holloway was first beginning to gain notoriety on programmes such as Soccer AM for his humour in press conferences and interviews and he would go on to feature heavily across multiple broadcasters down the years. In the commentary box at a rainy Withdean tonight were Ian Crocker and Garry Birtles. Crocker covered the First Leg alongside Tony Gale. Garry Birtles was on the First Leg of the other Division Two Semi Final – between Hartlepool and Bristol City. He was Sky’s second choice co-commentator and would be expected to cover the Division Two Final so it made sense for him to check out all four potential teams ahead of that fixture. Reporting on the touchline was Guy Havord. After a season commentating for the ITV Sport Channel, Havord rejoined Sky Sports as a reporter in 2002 and has been regular second choice on the Football League behind Fraser Robertson. During the regular season, Guy Havord covered all Division Two and Three Live matches and provided occasional cover for Robertson in the First Division. The pair of them shared out the Play Off Semis and both would be covering all Three Finals later this month.

swi changing room swih paint swih kick off swih comms

The Coverage: Tonight’s broadcast began fifteen minutes prior to kick off with George Gavin hosting again from Sky Studios in Isleworth, with QPR boss Ian Holloway as pundit. The build up was uninterrupted by adverts so there was plenty to get in before crossing to our commentary team. Gavin opened the show by explaining “It’s the last night of the Play Off Semi Finals. The biggest winning overall margin so far has been just one goal and that’s exactly the slender lead Brighton have over Swindon after their 1st Leg.” We were in for a close encounter. After a quick recap of that match, the other Semi Final in the Division – Bristol City v Hartlepool – was highlighted. We now knew the winners of tonight’s game would go on to face the Robins of Bristol in ten days time. We got a rare look insight the portakabin changing rooms at Withdean, which were leaking slightly due to the torrential rain in the hour or so before the match. The open surroundings for fans and players alike were going to add an extra element. Ian Holloway described his relief at not having to take part in these games this season, already sat waiting for the third team to join him up in Division One next time. He also discussed the terrible Withdean setting, having never won there, over shots of staff repainting the touchlines and digging as much water out of the muddy goalmouths as possible. In his interview with Guy Havord before the game, Mark McGhee used the conditions as a further reminder as to why the new stadium site in Falmer is so needed; “We’ve got thousands of supporters sitting over there in the open, and it highlights again the ludicrous circumstances we find ourselves in.” He also confirmed the approach would be to go out and play Swindon rather than sit back from the off. Swindon manager Andy King highlighted the importance of the first goal and signed off by giving a shout-out to a couple of serving soldiers in Afghanistan whom he spoke to before the match. The fans were also interviewed outside the ground, both sets in confident mood that their team would progress. The build up was complete so just before the teams came out our commentators were seen in-vision – a rarity on League coverage – to show the ‘glamour’ of the Withdean gantry.

swih ucl final swih sub

An addition to the graphics was the aggregate score tacked onto the scoreboard by the team names. As with Sunday, tonight there was a Division Three Play Off Semi Final match taking place at the same time; Mansfield v Northampton. Again, goals were shown during our match and at half time. The goals from that game gave the team something to chat about as there was extremely little to analyse from the first half in Brighton. There was a quick advert break in between the 2nd half and the start of extra time for viewers to regroup and calm those nerves. The scoreboard got extended further to add “ET” by the time. Once those additional thirty minutes were up we stayed with pictures from the stadium as our studio team talked us through until the penalty shoot-out could begin. Holloway did not want to call it either way. The game in Mansfield from Division Three was also going to penalties after they couldn’t be separated either, so we were informed of that result once our match had finally concluded. “It had to end like this didn’t it?! The incredibly dramatic week of Play Off Semi Finals that we’ve had,” said Ian Crocker. Once the spot kicks were taken and Andy Gurney’s decisive one crashed against the bar, our commentator cried “And Brighton held their nerve and against all odds there has been yet another twist in the tale in the Play Offs. They really do leave you breathless!” They sure do. The fans burst onto the pitch, leaving us with the great sight of Mark McGhee running towards the tunnel for dear life ushering supporters aside to no avail. And there it was confirmed on the graphics on the screen, it would be Brighton versus Bristol City Live on Sky Sports 1 from 2pm on Sunday 30th May 2004. All the Play Off reaction would come after a much-needed advert break. The concluding penalties from the Mansfield match were shown, despite a couple of technical issues, as they booked their place in the Division Three Final against Huddersfield at Northampton’s expense. Back in Brighton, Guy Havord grabbed a word with “speechless” winning manager Mark McGhee, admitting “we’ve mugged them completely.” We then heard from hero of the hour Adam Virgo, saying “I’m just in shock at the minute. A last-minute goal and win on penalties, it’s a dream come true really.” Ian Holloway talked us through the penalty misses and gave a rousing speech for the Swindon fans to regroup and take the positives for next season. The Albion fans were interviewed in buoyant mood. George Gavin reminded us of all three Finals to come as well as the weekend’s Cup Finals from England and Scotland and Sky’s first UEFA Champions League Final before pointing us towards the now-delayed FIFA Centenary Match which would follow this programme. He eventually was allowed to sign off, joking “I’m going away to lie down in a darkened room ’til the Play Off Finals in Cardiff! From all of us, bye for now.”

swih attendanceswih scoreline swih virgo

Story of the Match: Brighton nearly undid their hard work from the 1st Leg just four minutes in here when a deep cross was over Ben Roberts in-goal and put behind by Charlie Oatway but almost ended up putting it in the back of his own net. The wet conditions played a part, with passes getting stuck in the mud and loose balls having to be dealt with cautiously. The fans made sure “Stand up if you want Falmer” rang loudly at every and any opportunity and around the advertising hoardings various slogans and reasons for the stadium were addressed to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who’d have the ultimate say on the matter. An almighty scramble in the box ensued in the seventeenth minute when a ball towards Parkin was half cut out by the defence, Roberts couldn’t get a safe pair of hands on it and the striker almost stabbed home. A couple of early warning signs for the Albion. Half chances fell for Adam Virgo at one end and Tommy Mooney at the other but the breakthrough was again proving elusive. Right on half time Matt Heywood had a header which seemed to go across the box rather than goalwards which caused a little concern but that was it for any goalmouth action here; nil-nil at the break. The second half was equally as tight, chances were virtually non-existent for so long. It wasn’t until the 70th minute that Brighton really came close through substitute Adam Hinshelwood. Nathan Jones cross to the back stick found the Hinshelwood unmarked, his half-volley was well saved by Evans in goal to keep the score level, turning it round the post for a corner. Eight minutes later Tommy Mooney turned Virgo, swung a leg and smashed the bar from twenty yards out. Swindon were pushing and at long, long last their goal finally came. Mooney again had a long-range shot this time parried out by Roberts to Igoe. His cross/shot was parried out by Roberts again, opposing players both slid for the ball but it scrambled over to Sam Parkin who could bundle it past the defender on the line from just a couple of yards out. Breakthrough for Swindon with nine minutes remaining. And that’s how it remained for the remainder of the ninety; one-nil to Swindon.

swih penalties swih celebrations  swih mcghee swih adam virgo
After 180 minutes of football the scores were level on aggregate at one each, extra time was required in front of the highest Withdean attendance of the season. Both sides made a sub at the start to bring those all-important fresh legs on. A sub made during the ninety was to bring on Rory Fallon for the away side and after six minutes of extra time he had turned the tie around. Igoe won the ball back on the half way line and set Mooney free to charge forward. His angled pass found Fallon behind the defence who was able to lift it over the onrushing goalkeeper and in the goal for two-nil on the night and two-one on aggregate. Cue wild celebrations in the away end, once he’d got over the athletics track. The Albion’s fans thought the aggregate-equaliser had come just two minutes later through sub John Piercy’s drive from the edge of the box but he hit the side of the net rather than the back of it. Mooney had another chance just before the end of the half but his volley was straight at Ben Roberts. Swindon tried to waste time as early as the tenth minute of the extra period, and the match was held up further by injury to a key man in Sammy Igoe. Further half-chances fell for Chris Iwelumo, Adam Hinshelwood and Danny Cullip but time was running out for Brighton and quality as well as composure was lacking. The extra period was drawing to a close but, as commentator Ian Crocker noted, “The thirty minutes are almost up, Swindon fans. But you’re not there yet!” A long throw-in from Charlie Oatway was flicked on by Danny Cullip towards the penalty spot. There were four Swindon defenders nearby but it was Brighton-born Adam Virgo who showed the most determination, willingness and bravery to get there first. His diving header flew into the bottom right-hand corner of the net. A goal in the most dramatic of circumstances, added time of extra time after two legs couldn’t separate the sides. “In it goessss… oh it’s gone in! Brighton in added on time have snatched a goal through Virgo. Incredible!” was the cry from Crocker. And it was incredible! “Late, late, late drama” he went on to say as Adam Virgo’s equaliser on aggregate sent the game to a penalty shoot-out. Swindon would go first, with goalscorer Sam Parkin taking the opening spot kick, sending it high into the top corner for one-nil. Scorer of the only goal in the 1st Leg, Richard Carpenter, was first up for the Albion. He sent Evans the wrong way to level it up. Heywood was next, sending his kick down the middle with Roberts narrowly missing the block. With Leon Knight off the field after injury, the onus was on his fellow striker Chris Iwelumo to step up. His fine finish went above the ‘keeper to nestle in the corner for two-two. Tommy Mooney went next and having hit the bar in both matches, the pressure was on their Player of the Year. His penalty was excellently saved by a flying left arm to Ben Roberts’ right. Brighton would have the advantage if the next player scored. That’s exactly what young John Piercy did, driving it low and hard into the bottom right hand corner of Evans’ net. Rory Fallon levelled it up again for Swindon with the next kick but they were playing catch up now having gone first. Adam Virgo, the man who rescued the tie in the dying seconds just about ten minutes earlier, took Brighton’s fourth penalty. He smashed it in off the underside of the bar to put them in pole position. Swindon’s final penalty was to be taken by Andy Gurney. He stepped up to cries from the crowd of “Hit the bar, hit the bar, hit the bar!” He didn’t listen to that. He hit the post instead. It was all over, Brighton had prevailed. They had won their first ever Live televised shoot-out but much more importantly than that, they would be the ones to join Bristol City in the 2004 Division Two Play Off Final. A tie which swung both ways, twisting and turning, was eventually settled on spot kicks in a rain-soaked Withdean Stadium. Ten days from now it would be the Seagulls against the Robins in the Welsh capital. Next stop; the Millennium Stadium. All aboard!

swih coming up

BRIGHTON 0 SWINDON 1
Virgo

1-1 on Aggregate after 90 minutes1-2 After Extra Time (2-2 agg). Brighton win 4-3 on penalties

Parkin, Fallon

swih replay 1 swih replay 2 swih goal graphic

PREVIOUS; #16 SWINDON 0-1 BRIGHTON 16/05/2004

NEXT; #18 BRIGHTON 1-0 BRISTOL CITY 30/05/2004

#16: Swindon 0-1 Brighton 16/05/2004

#16 SWINDON 0-1 BRIGHTON Division Two Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg
Sunday 16th May 2004 Image result for

swi titles

PRESENTER George Gavin GUEST Brian Little
COMMENTATORS Ian Crocker & Tony Gale REPORTER Fraser Robertson
4pm Kick Off; County Ground, Swindon     3.55-6.30pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

swi ident sky bet sponsor swi intro

Context of the Match: This was Brighton’s first foray into the end of season Play Offs since 1991 and that Final defeat at Wembley to Notts County. Whilst that match only featured in ITV highlights with Brian Moore’s commentary, today’s Semi Final at Swindon was given the full Sky Sports Live treatment. The Albion had finished fourth in Division Two, six points off QPR’s 2nd automatic promotion place, with Swindon in fifth place and four points worse off. As a result of the higher finish, Brighton would be at home in the second leg and supposedly have the advantage. Swindon possessed the most potent attack of the four Play Off teams and surprised most pundits by even getting to this stage. The Seagulls had dropped down from Division One after last season’s relegation and were looking for an immediate return. Leon Knight was the Division’s top scorer with 25 goals, joint with Stephen McPhee from a Port Vale side who missed out on this on just goal difference. The head to head record this season for the Robins and the Seagulls read as a draw at Withdean and a Brighton loss here at the County Ground, and going back further Swindon hadn’t lost to us in ten meetings. However as we’d already beaten the two sides who gained promotion, Plymouth and QPR, and both victories coming Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras, the mood was quietly confident ahead of this Sunday 4pm clash. As with all Live opportunities, fans used this to remind everyone about the club’s desperate need for the new stadium with chants and banners proclaiming Falmer as the only option – “One Site in Brighton”.  Whatever happened today it would only effectively be ‘half-time’ with the second leg to come on Thursday back in Sussex. It was sure to be a very close tie as the last of this season’s Play Off Semi Final 1st Legs got underway.

swi swindon swi brighton swi formation

The Teams: Mark McGhee made just one change from the side which won comfortably at Wrexham on the final day of the regular season, with midfielder Richard Carpenter returning in place of long-serving Gary Hart who dropped down to the bench. Top-scorer Leon Knight was leading the line with Scotsman Chris Iwelumo who joined in March. The core of the side that won back to back promotions under Micky Adams and Peter Taylor remained despite relegation last season, with Nathan Jones, Charlie Oatway and Danny Cullip starting whilst Michel Kuipers and Kerry Mayo were amongst the substitutes. Experience and strength at the back in the form of Guy Butters was complemented by skill and pace in midfield via new Australian signing Paul Reid for the Seagulls, who joined a few weeks ago initially until the end of this season. Ben Roberts in-goal had kept five successive clean sheets. Knight and Cullip were both in the PFA Division Two Team of the Season. The home side named former Premiership striker Tommy Mooney and Chelsea graduate Sam Parkin in their starting eleven. They provided a formidable 42 goal partnership up front, the best pairing in the Division. Defender Matt Heywood returned after an ankle injury. Andy King’s side look to cross at any opportunity so Brian Howard and Sammy Igoe on the wings would be ones to look out for. On the bench for Swindon was Grant Smith, son of Albion Cup Final striker Gordon. Premiership referee Neale Barry was in the middle.

swi gavin swi little swi studio

Presentation Team: George Gavin was Sky’s host. Presented from the studio, his guest this Sunday afternoon was Brian Little; a regular over the past two seasons but appearing slightly less now he’s back in management at fellow Division Two side Tranmere, whom he joined in October last year. He knows the League well, the Play Offs even better and it’s always a pleasure when he’s on punditry duty. You’re under the impression he and Gavin get on well which makes for much easier viewing. Little’s Tranmere had faced these two sides this season; beating both 1-0 at home but losing away. In the commentary box were Ian Crocker and Tony Gale. Crocker was firmly established now as the Football League number one, covering the vast majority of matches and only really missing out when logistics are against him. His fondness for a pun or a tabloid-style line make his goal calls all the more memorable and perfect for use on promos and clips. His partner today was one of Sky’s three regulars this season in Tony Gale. He’s a former West Ham defender who had been involved with Sky for a couple of years. He’s established as the League number three this season behind Chris Kamara and Garry Birtles. Reporting on the match was Fraser Robertson. He became Sky’s League reporter around November last season and covers the vast majority of the Live matches. Prior to this he reported for Sky Sports News and has also covered FA Cup Finals from the team hotels.

swi kick off swi comms swi other game swi coming up

The Coverage: The programme was due to begin half an hour before kick off but had to be cut right back until 3.55pm due to the overrunning programme preceding it. Sky Sports 1 had Live coverage of the 1pm kick off Conference Play Off Final between Aldershot and Shrewsbury which went all the way to penalties at Stoke’s Britannia Stadium. This meant there was just enough time to show the winning moments and trophy lift before coming off air in time for the start here. It would have been interesting to have seen what was planned to be featured during the proposed thirty minute build up, most likely a review of the Play Off action so far this week. There was still another match going on, in the Division Three Semi Final between Northampton and Mansfield, of which goals were being shown as they went in during coverage of our match. The five-minute build up included just a brief comment from Little and the only goal of the match thus far from Sixfields before our commentary team took over. Coverage was being presented from Sky’s Studios in Isleworth, allowing George Gavin to host all Play Off matches during this busy period. Sky increased their commitment to the end of season extras by broadcasting all four Division Two Semi Final matches Live this season – a first for the Third Tier. Previously only the four Division One Semis were shown Live, with the first dip into this level last year when the second leg of Bristol City v Cardiff was on. Titles and graphics remained as they had been for the regular season, with the red, black and white scoreboard style intro and The Skids’ catchy ‘Into the Valley’ instrumental theme tune. The replay transition was a very quick flash of the two team badges one after the other instead of the trophy that was used in the League season.

swi yellow swi carpenter

Half time analysis fed on the scraps we saw in the first half, with chances mainly falling Swindon’s way. After reviewing those, the goals from the Division Three Play Off match were shown. With that a 3pm kick off the match was now over, finishing two nil to Mansfield. In the second half at Swindon Sky briefly pulled the plug on the match, losing pictures around the 66 minute mark, with Gavin and Little having to fill for a minute by showing one or two bits of match action until the engineers fixed the connection. Once the pictures were back it took another minute or so before the commentary line was restored too. Thankfully the problems here were nothing like the repeated interference on our previous Live match against Rushden in 2001! After the game, reporter Fraser Robertson interviewed goalscorer Richard Carpenter alongside Man of the Match Danny Cullip, who was awarded a big bottle of champagne courtesy of League sponsors Nationwide. Gavin and Little talked us through the key moments of the match, with particular focus of course on the deflected goal itself as well as Brighton’s excellent defending to keep yet another clean sheet. We heard from winning boss Mark McGhee who admitted “there was a certain amount of fortune” for his team with Swindon hitting the frame of the goal twice. He was pleased with the shape, giving Swindon limited options. He also confirmed Brighton would be going out for the first goal in the Second Leg to kill off the tie, rather than sit back and defend from the off like here. Swindon manager Andy King thought his “were the better side by far”, disagreeing with McGhee’s assessment. He was understandably frustrated by the loss and having more chances but just one on target was the crucial factor. The Town fans interviewed afterwards were very confident they could go to Brighton and overturn the scoreline. The final few minutes of the half hour post match was devoted to the Play Off picture as a whole before, soundtracked by the excellent ’77 Strings’ by Chamonix, signing off for the afternoon with all First Leg matches now complete.

swi 2nd leg swi stats swi man of the match swi mcghee

Story of the Match: Play started fairly tamely with very little goalmouth action either end. The atmosphere was the liveliest part of the first half, with Brighton fans behind the goal to the right of camera packing out the away end and Swindon fans in full voice elsewhere. Leon Knight was proving a bit of a handful for the defence, even managing to win flick ons and headers despite his 5ft5 frame. After the half hour mark Andy Gurney jinked past a couple of Brighton defenders before unleashing a shot which flew well wide and very high. And that summed much of the opening 45 up; a little promise but no end product. At the other end, Nathan Jones was looking particularly lively down the left-wing and managed to provide a couple of really decent crosses which came to nothing. With ten minutes remaining before the break Tommy Mooney was presented with a golden chance with a header at the back post which he put wide when it seemed like the goal was gaping. A covering defender’s lunging body was enough to put him off to keep it goalless. Sammy Igoe had the first effort on target after forty minutes for the home team, his long-range effort very comfortable for Ben Roberts in-goal. But three minutes later he came the closest of anyone when his neat one-two on the edge of the box gave him a shooting opportunity which flew past the ‘keeper only to be thwarted by the post. By the time the whistle went for half time Swindon were looking the better of the two. This didn’t carry on when the second half got underway, with Brighton on the front foot. But still the cutting edge was lacking and chances were frustratingly rare. Swindon grew back into the game and after 63 minutes hit the woodwork again! Igoe and Smith linked up on the left flank, with the latter crossing a very dangerous ball in for Mooney’s volley six yards out to crash against the bar, whilst Parkin’s follow-up was tipped over. The home side would really rue these missed opportunities as with eighteen minutes remaining it was Brighton who took the lead. Iwelumo held the ball up strongly in the area, laying it off for substitute Gary Hart on the edge. He couldn’t find space for a shot but did find Richard Carpenter twenty yards out who hit it first time and, via a slight deflection off (would you believe) Grant Smith, the ball ended up in the net. Breakthrough! The Albion gameplan for this Leg was all about defending resolutely and grabbing a chance on the break or from set pieces, and that’s exactly how it played out. Cullip and Butters were solid at the back, ably assisted in front by Oatway and Carpenter. Swindon couldn’t find a way through as the Seagulls completed the shut out for six clean sheets in a row. Advantage Brighton ahead of the decisive Second Leg in four days time.

swi play off picture

SWINDON 0 BRIGHTON 1
Carpenter

swi replay 1 swi replay 2

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

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

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

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

Meridian Match 95.JPG

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

Steggall

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

Meridian Match programme

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

Meridian Match 94 studio

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

Meridian Match police

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

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

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

Bournemout ITV 95 Manager interview caption

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

BOURNEMOUTH 3 BRIGHTON 1
Jones, Robinson (2) Chapman

Bournemouth protest

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

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

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

Meridian Match news report Meridian Match Dave Beckett