Small Screen Seagulls; Arsenal (H) 26/01/2013

Small Screen Seagulls LogoAfter an exciting debut season at The Amex, Brighton pushed on further under Gus Poyet during the 2012/2013 campaign. The club had its sights set on a top six finish, with the Championship Play Offs a real possibility. The Seagulls wanted to be plying their trade with the best the country had to offer in the Premier League. Opportunities arose in the Cup competitions for the Albion to test their mettle against the big clubs. Already in this stadium, they had seen off higher Division opponents in Sunderland and Newcastle (twice), as well as test Liverpool. The Fourth Round of the FA Cup in January 2013 presented another chance to showcase where this club could go as Arsenal came to town. BBC Football Focus previewed the match, whilst Saturday night highlights were shown on ITV as the Albion story was back in the television spotlight again.


Brighton 2-3 Arsenal, FA Cup R4; 3pm, Sat 26th Jan ’13

FAC Titles

Brighton progressed to the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 2013 after knocking out Premier League Newcastle United Live on TV for the second successive season. Goals from Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins secured a two-nil victory at the start of January. The draw was conducted the following day Live on ITV and ESPN. Overseen by Mark Pougatch at Wembley Stadium, ex-Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman picked out the home teams whilst former Albion ‘keeper and a winner of the competition with Wimbledon twenty-five years earlier, Dave Beasant selected the away teams.

Seaman picked up ball number two, giving Brighton another home tie. When Beasant picked out ball eleven, you could hear the nervous grimace from his colleague as it would be Arsenal who would be coming to The Amex – providing they could win their Third Round Replay. The Gunners drew two-all away at Swansea City in the original tie, with a Replay at The Emirates set ten days later. A goal from Jack Wilshere with four minutes remaining broke the deadlock there to send Arsenal through.

The broadcasters had already made their television selections by that time and opted not to risk a potential Brighton v Swansea fixture ending up on their screens, whilst Brighton versus Arsenal would have been much higher up the pecking order. So, because of the Replay, the match wasn’t selected for Live broadcast and therefore was played in the traditional slot of Saturday 3pm. It did garner media attention in the form of highlights on the Saturday evening, but first, I begin by looking at the BBC’s feature on the fixture from Football Focus.

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Football Focus, BBC One, 12.15pm (Saturday 26th January 2013)

FF Ident FF Titles

Saturday afternoons on BBC One had featured preview show Football Focus throughout the season dating all the way back to 1974. It was an integral part of Grandstand from then until 2001, when it was separated out to become a programme in its own right. Previous hosts included Sam Leitch, Bob Wilson, Gary Lineker and Ray Stubbs, but it was Dan Walker who became the latest face of Focus, when he joined the programme in 2009. This particular edition on Saturday 26th January was broadcast in its usual forty-five minute slot from a quarter past midday coming Live from BBC Sport’s home at Media City in Salford. The show never really stuck with a theme tune for very long, tending to change it each season. Soundtracking this one was Undegpedwar by Welsh instrumental band Y Niwi.

FF Walker FF Studio

Joining host Dan Walker was BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Ince and Bradford boss Phil Parkinson. Walker was born in Crawley, whom he supports. His broadcasting career began straight out of university in radio in Sheffield, where he studied, before moving to Manchester’s Key 103 for four years. He moved into television in the area with a brief spell at ITV Granada and then BBC North West from 2003. He began coverage for national television in 2008 when reporting at various major sporting events for the BBC including Wimbledon tennis and Royal Ascot horse racing before taking over this gig from Manish Bhasin in 2009. For the 2012 series, Walker also hosted regional magazine show Late Kick Off in London and the South East.

FF Protests FF Brady tenure

Reporter Mark Clemmit, regularly seen on highlights programme The Football League Show, produced a feature for Football Focus ahead of Brighton’s FA Cup clash with Arsenal taking place later that day. He focussed on one man who linked the two clubs; Liam Brady. The Irish attacking midfielder spent the 1970s at Arsenal, playing over 250 times and lifting the FA Cup in 1979.  He moved to Italy with the likes of Juventus and Inter Milan before returning to England in 1987 to see out his playing days with West Ham. After retiring, he managed Celtic for two years before joining the Albion in 1993, when the club was becoming overshadowed by financial problems. His two-year spell at the Goldstone came when Brighton were sinking down the Leagues and fans were beginning to uncover the truth about the corrupt ownership of the club. After departing in November 1995, Brady went on to lead a consortium bidding to take over the club but it was unable to achieve that.

Clemmit’s report began with Brady explaining the dire situation at the Albion in the 1990s over footage of fan protests and news reports about the chairman and chief executive, Bill Archer and David Bellotti. “They were in a bad way, they had no financial resources”, Brady explained, “inches away from going out of business completely”. The plan was for Archer and his cohorts sell the Goldstone Ground, profit from that and get out of the club, leaving it to die without a home. Brady added that Brighton had “great support in the city, in Sussex as well. And these people just didn’t care.”

FF Brady FF Knight

Brady talked about his time with the Seagulls and what caused him to leave in 1995. “I was better on the outside probably for the club that I was on the inside, because on the inside I couldn’t do anything. I was employed by them!” He started a campaign to stop the move away from the Goldstone, which had some success in delaying the sale back by a year. He paid tribute to Dick Knight, Brighton chairman between 1998 and 2011, whom Brady teamed up with during these troublesome times and was an important ally of Knight. “I helped him, I was always there. And all the people are so pleased that the club is in the position they’re in”, Brady added.

FF Poyet tenure FF Poyet interview

The report then shifted towards modern day Albion and the job Gus Poyet was doing for the three-and-a-bit-years since his 2009 appointment. Again in conversation with Mark Clemmit, Poyet revealed his first team coach Charlie Oatway had given him the lowdown on Brighton’s struggles in the 1990s and the history of all that; “He knows how much it means for people of Brighton”.

Poyet was asked what he knew about Liam Brady and particularly his time at the Albion which, as you may expect, wasn’t too much. “I hope he’s happy with what I’m doing because I’m sure that he’s got some part of his heart in Brighton.” Brady was happy; “You’ll only get highly technical players by playing in a highly technical way. And I think Poyet and Arsene Wenger do that.”

The report concluded by looking ahead to this Cup fixture. Poyet spoke of its importance; “When I sit there, 3 O’clock, it becomes the most important game of my life. Don’t worry, everybody’s going to be awake and it’s going to be a good game.” As the show returned to the studio, host Dan Walker remarked; “A lovely bit of telly, that, with the great Liam Brady.” Former Albion defender turned pundit, Mark Lawrenson, summed up the situation. “I think it’s a real tough tie for them but when you consider that game against Hereford all those years ago when they could’ve gone out the League and where they are now, it’s an absolutely fantastic story.” It really is, Mark. The scene was set very nicely for the big match.


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FA Cup Highlights, ITV, 11pm (Saturday 26th January 2013)

FAC Smith FAC Studio

ITV continued to broadcast coverage of the FA Cup this season, having won it back in 2008 from the BBC. Brighton supporters were well versed with ITV’s coverage of the competition this season having been shown Live on the channel in Round Three. Since that point, the ITV network underwent a rebrand. ITV1 became simply ITV, whilst their portfolio of channels all received a new logo which permanently remained in the top corner of the screen.

At the beginning of this season ITV launched new graphics and title sequence for their coverage. The specially composed music was by Jim Copperthwaite, a composer who had worked on several television and advertising soundtracks, and was simply known as ‘FA Cup’. The cinematic titles include various famous Cup moments from the ITV archives, including the great Brian Moore welcoming us to the coverage. The clips all form part of the trophy that slowly came together during the sequence.

Hosting the programme was Matt Smith, the usual highlights presenter and an ITV Sport anchor since 2001. He turned his hand at any sport the network threw his way, including darts, boxing, cricket, motor sport and, of course, football. He was even involved in the ITV coverage of the Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. For tonight’s highlights show he was joined in the studio by pundits Clarke Carlisle and Gordon Strachan, both regulars on ITV this season. Commentary was provided by Peter Drury, who also voiced our Third Round match.

FAC Teams

Gus Poyet gave a run out to former first choice goalie Casper Ankergren, now the club’s designated Cup ‘keeper. Inigo Calderon was preferred at right back to his Spanish compatriot Bruno. Despite being on loan, left back Wayne Bridge was given the go ahead to feature in the Cup as there were no plans for him to return to parent club Manchester City, likewise Dean Hammond in midfield on loan from Southampton. There was a first start for new £2million signing Leonardo Ulloa. The Argentine striker joined from La Liga’s Almeria ten days earlier. He partnered Ashley Barnes up front, who scored in two of his last three appearances. Options on the subs bench included Craig Mackail-Smith and Kazenga LuaLua if the attack needed fresh legs.

Arsene Wenger introduced a new front line for the 2012/2013 season in a bid to end a trophy drought dating back to 2005. German striker Lukas Podolski was signed for just under £11million from Cologne, and Frenchman Olivier Giroud switched from Montpellier for a rumoured £13million. In goal, Polish ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny was handed the number one shirt following the release of Manuel Almunia. German central defender Per Mertesacker was handed the captain’s armband for the first time today and had only missed one match so far this season. Czech international Tomas Rosicky missed the first few months of the campaign after injuring his achilles during Euro 2012. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was part of Southampton’s midfield when they were promoted behind the Albion from League One in 2011, making the Division’s PFA Team of the Season in the process and earning his move to the Gunners that summer. The referee was Michael Oliver.

FAC Comm FAC Giroud goal

The first chance fell the way of the Albion as Ashley Barnes went very close to breaking the deadlock. The move began with a throw in on the far touchline and, a couple of passes later, David Lopez was flicking on his header behind the Arsenal defence. The looping ball fell for Barnes, but he didn’t quite connect fully with the volley. It was hit into the ground rather than cleanly, enabling Szczesny to get fingertips on it and keep it out. This proved crucial.

The resulting corner was dealt with by the goalkeeper eventually, who then started a lightning quick counter attack to result in the opening goal in the sixteenth minute. Tomasz Rosicky was allowed to carry the ball forward from the half way line up to near the Brighton penalty box. He found Podolski who laid it off to Olivier Giroud inside the D on the edge of the area. Giroud curled a superb effort into the top corner of the net with his left foot for one-nil to the Arsenal.

FAC Barnes goal.JPG

Brighton thought they’d got an equaliser through debutant Leonardo Ulloa only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out for offside. The replay confirmed the decision, as he strayed just too much beyond the last defender when Inigo Calderon delivered his cross. Szczesny parried that into Ulloa’s path but by then it was too late and the flag was aloft. A bit of momentum was building though for the home side.

Moments later, the equaliser arrived through a powerful Ashley Barnes header. Will Buckley played a corner short to David Lopez on the near side. His delivery was perfectly into the heart of the six yard area. As Szczesny came to punch clear, he was beaten to the ball by Barnes who buried his header into the empty goal from just a couple of yards out with thirty-three minutes on the clock.

FAC Subs FAC Giroud second

Into the second half, Brighton changed things up a bit with the arrival of Gary Dicker and Kazenga LuaLua to bolster the midfield. But it was the Gunners who fired first and almost regained their lead. Adam El-Abd’s foul on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain presented a shooting opportunity from a free kick twenty-five yards out. Lukas Podolski did almost everything right but for the placement, as it cannoned off the crossbar with Ankergren beaten all ends up.

The visitors did have their lead back after eleven second half minutes and again it was Olivier Giroud who scored it. Abou Diaby chipped the ball from half way inside Brighton territory over the heads of the back line. Giroud brought the ball down and got the better of his marker El-Abd. As Ankergren rushed out of goal to close down the angle, Giroud stretched to rifle the ball home from the left of the six yard area to crash the back of the net. Two-one Arsenal.

FAC Ulloa goal

Albion heads did not lower despite the setback. Although, their second equaliser needed a stoop from Ulloa to connect with his head on the way to goal ten minutes later. Dean Hammond played the short ball out wide to Ashley Barnes. His cross was inch perfect into the danger zone where Ulloa had run between two Arsenal defenders. Being just six yards out, he only needed to nod the ball home and it would beat the ‘keeper for pace from that distance. The Argentinian watched it all the way, timed his run and netted a goal on his first start in the blue and white stripes. Game on again at two-two.

Arsenal changed their personnel, bringing on Theo Walcott and the man who rescued them in the last round, Jack Wilshere. Whilst the Seagulls swapped Ulloa out for the tireless running of Craig Mackail-Smith for the final part of the contest.

FAC Walcott goal FAC Final Score

For all the fight and spirit from the Albion, it took a deflected goal near the end to finally kill them off. Casper Ankergren flapped at an Arsenal corner. He pushed the ball to the edge of the box where Theo Walcott was waiting. He used his side foot to volley a shot back in. It looked like it was going centrally before taking a huge nick off what looked to be an instinctive arm out from the goalkeeper. That sent the ball into the other side of the goal, beyond Mackail-Smith on the line. Arsenal had their third lead of the match with just five minutes to hang on to it.

Craig Mackail-Smith had his appeal for a penalty late on turned down by referee Michael Oliver. He appeared to be shoved over in the area by Carl Jenkinson whilst awaiting Liam Bridcutt’s delivery but these cries were ignored. And it ended up being the last action of the match. Arsenal progressed to Round Five, knocking Brighton out at The Amex by three goals to two. They would go on to face Blackburn in the next round, where they’d suffer a surprise defeat at home. Meanwhile, Brighton could put all their focus onto the promotion push where they’d ultimately come unstuck in the Play Off Semi Finals.

FAC Wenger FAC Poyet

In his post-match interview, victorious manager Arsene Wenger admitted his nerves at the prospect of not winning on the day as Albion kept fighting back; “In the last twenty minutes I thought there was a bit nervous because, I thought, we do not want the replay and, of course, we do not want to go out.” Winning goalscorer Theo Walcott thought his fortunes were finally in with the deflection for the decisive strike; “I’m due a lucky goal! I haven’t had a lucky goal for a long time.”

Albion boss Gus Poyet spoke of Leonardo Ulloa’s goalscoring debut. “He’s the only one who looks a little bit happy in the dressing room!” He went on to add his disappointment about not quite getting the result the performance merited.

FAC Carlisle FAC Strachan

In ITV’s London Studio, Matt Smith analysed the match with his pundits; Clarke Carlisle and Gordon Strachan. Carlisle described the enjoyment he had of what he was watching; “The quality that was on show, the atmosphere in The Amex stadium, it made for a fantastic spectacle.” He praised the quality of Olivier Giroud, showcasing his talents with two very good strikes to get his brace.

Gordon Strachan referenced Arsenal’s replay victory at Swansea, which needed game changing substitutions to see them through. And the same happened here, with the introduction of Walcott to win it late on. “They brought the cavalry on again today. I don’t care what tactics you’re using, if you bring on three great players like that, your game will improve.” The difference in quality between the top clubs and teams in the Championship should always be the deciding factor, and it was on this occasion. Though, Brighton ran their Premier League opponents very close and real confidence could be taken from this performance.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2012/13 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoThe opening months of the 2012/2013 season put the Albion within touching distance of a Play Off place, improving upon the progress made the previous year. The second half of the campaign would be dominated by meetings with arch rivals Crystal Palace en route to the bitter end. Relive some of the highest highs and lowest lows against them here, as well as crucial points picked up against East Midlands clubs going well in the Championship. After Christmas, the grit and determination turned possible defeats into tangible points as the Seagulls soared up the table to end in fourth spot. Gus Poyet didn’t quite have it all his own way, with off the field matters proving his ultimate downfall. This year showed the fine margins between great success and failure.

Here are some of the features and coverage during the Albion’s highest placed finish for thirty years. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC nationally and locally. This is part two, the first part is HERE.


Crystal Palace 3-0 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (1st December 2012); Championship

CRYA Titles CRYA Bhasin

After a terrific start to the campaign, hitting highs of first place at the end of September, Brighton were winless in October sliding down towards mid-table. Wins against Peterborough, Huddersfield and Bristol City last time out in midweek, along with draws with Leeds, Wolves and Bolton saw Albion surge back strongly. Ahead of this trip to rivals Crystal Palace, Brighton sat in seventh spot.

Crystal Palace were flying under Ian Holloway, going top of the table in mid-November. A loss and a draw in their last two games ahead of this one moved them down to second, but a win would see them at the summit again. Despite the good start, they lost manager Dougie Freedman to Bolton near the end of October, with Holloway replacing him soon after. In the lead up to this derby game, Holloway admitted he was ‘baffled’ by the rivalry but would soon learn.

The BBC’s Football League Show was on the road for a rare outside broadcast this edition, owing to a reduced schedule. The Second Round of the FA Cup consumed most League One and Two fixtures, so host Manish Bhasin presented solo from The Den for Millwall’s match with Charlton. As well as that London derby, our match at Selhurst was one of the featured commentary games. BBC Radio Solent man Laurence Herdman was behind the mic.

CRYA Palace CRYA Brighton

The standout man from the Crystal Palace starting line-up was, of course, the former Brighton striker Glenn Murray leading their line after suspension for five bookings. Murray had fifteen goals to his name already this season and joined the club in May 2011. He scored in Palace’s win at The Amex last season. Elsewhere, defenders Joel Ward and Peter Ramage were close season signings. As was Congolese winger Yannick Bolasie who joined from Bristol City in August.

Brighton welcomed back their top scorer Craig Mackail-Smith after being rested in midweek. He netted nine goals thus far and partnered Ashley Barnes up front. Will Hoskins and Stephen Dobbie dropped to the bench, with a total of two goals so far between them – both for Dobbie. Midfielders Dean Hammond, on a season-long loan from Southampton, and Andrea Orlandi, signed from Swansea in the summer, were both on the scoresheet last time out.

CRYA Comm CRYA Red Card

Brighton got off to the worst possible start when defender Lewis Dunk was shown a straight red card within eight minutes for a foul on Palace’s Yannick Bolasie. A pass from Bruno to his centre back was miscontrolled by Dunk twenty-five yards from goal. Bolasie nipped in to push the ball forward. Dunk stretched out a leg in a desperate bid to win the ball back, he was nowhere near. Instead, he just brought the attacker down.

The referee had no hesitation in brandishing the red and the Seagulls were on the back foot for the rest of the contest. The resulting free kick by Owen Garvan hit the top of the crossbar with Brighton still rocked. Later on, Bolasie himself had a go. His fierce shot from the corner of the penalty area was palmed away by Tomasz Kuszczak in the Albion goal.

CRYA Murray 1st CRYA Murray 2nd

With seven minutes remaining in the first half, the home side took the lead via a Bolasie corner. From the other side of the pitch, the kick was swung in to the near post where that man, Glenn Murray, leapt highest to head on beyond Kuszczak and into the net. Of course it had to be Murray. The man Gus Poyet stubbornly allowed to leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract in 2011 was coming back to haunt the Albion. He refused to celebrate his goal, but the Selhurst Park support made sure we all knew what had happened. He made it look so simple.

Brighton almost got straight back into it when Liam Bridcutt crossed in for Ashley Barnes. The striker couldn’t quite manage to connect with a diving header, but Julian Speroni in the home goal still had to be alert to push away the bouncing cross. Then, after the interval, Craig Mackail-Smith was freed by Barnes to run behind the defence. He dribbled into the penalty box, slightly left of goal, with commentator Laurence Herdman describing the run as “like a rampaging Viking”. As Speroni narrowed the angle by advancing off his line, Mackail-Smith shot beyond him with his left foot, but it crashed against the post and wide.

A let off for the Eagles, who would soon punish the Seagulls. It took just nine second half minutes for them to double their lead. They worked a counter attack very well from one end of the pitch to the other, Bolasie again causing problems. He was brought down on the edge of the box but, in doing so, flicked the ball forward for an unmarked Glenn Murray. As the forward tried to round the ‘keeper, he was felled for a penalty. The ex-Albion hero stepped up to take the spot kick that he won and fired it into the bottom left hand corner of the goal sending Kuszczak the other way. Two-nil down and with ten men, this was turning out to be a terrible afternoon for the Albion.

CRYA Garvan penalty CRYA Full Time

Things got even worse with twenty minutes to go, when a second penalty was awarded. What is it about this fixture and penalties?! Yannick Bolasie crossed to the far post for Glenn Murray, who went to ground upon leaping with Gordon Greer. The referee awarded the spot kick for a shove by the Albion skipper, which looked to be a silly move. Murray did not take the kick this time and did not complete his hat-trick, instead it was left for Owen Garvan who just about managed to sneak it past the goalie’s outstretched arms. Three-nil.

The result showed Brighton still had a bit of work to do if they were going to be up there with Crystal Palace at the end of the season. Everything went the way of the hosts on this December Saturday, not helped by a rash sending off in the first ten.

Afterwards, Gus Poyet pointed to the Mackail-Smith chance just after half time as the turning point, citing chances needed to be taken. “That is the moment when you need to take advantage, because you will have one or two and you need to take it.” He went on to say he had “no complaints” with the result and “we need to accept that”. Onwards and upwards. Indeed, the Albion’s form after the turn of the year dramatically improved, with no greater day than our next feature.


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Brighton 3-0 Crystal Palace Highlights

Late Kick Off, BBC One South East (17th March 2013); Championship

CRYH Titles CRYH Studio

Regional Football League magazine show Late Kick Off returned to the BBC in January 2013 for another run, this time moving from the Monday night slot to a Sunday night. In our region, London and the South East, there was a change of host as Dan Walker was replaced by Jacqui Oatley. Walker’s Christian beliefs meant he did not work on Sundays, so he left the programme after one series.

Oatley’s broadcasting career began in hospital radio before moving around various local BBC radio stations and then up to 5 Live as a commentator and reporter. She covered the 2005 UEFA Women’s Euros in England for the station but became infamous in April 2007 when she became the first female to ever commentate on a men’s game for Match of the Day, when Fulham hosted Blackburn. This earned her huge press attention, largely negative. Since then she has returned to the programme on occasions to voice other Premier League games as well as covering the Olympics and Euros in 2008 for television. She is heard more frequently on radio covering both the men’s and women’s games and has branched out into television presenting to add to the commentating and reporting.

Oatley was joined in the studio for this Sunday 17th March edition of the show by former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright and Gillingham manager Martin Allen. The main feature of the programme centred around a clash between two of the regions clubs; Brighton and Crystal Palace. The match was moved to a Sunday noon kick off on the advice of the authorities and this gave Late Kick Off the perfect opportunity to cover the match highlights. Commentary was provided by Jamie Reid, better known as a presenter and commentator for BBC Radio in London.

CRYH Ulloa goal

Brighton’s home form in 2013 had been terrific, taking thirteen points from a possible fifteen at The Amex since the turn of the year. Crystal Palace though were flying and a win here would have sent them second in the table.

After the obligatory video to explain why these two clubs are rivals, it was down to the action as the Seagulls aimed to avenge the three-nil reverse back in December. The first chance fell Palace’s way, albeit through the unlikely source of Albion defender Matthew Upson. His low header from a free kick almost went into his own goal, but for a good reflex save from Tomasz Kuszczak. Left back Jonathan Parr was later presented with a good opportunity for the visitors, his shot much simpler to handle for the Pole in our goal.

They would go on to rue the missed opportunity when Brighton took the lead through January signing Leonardo Ulloa. Will Buckley ran down to the byline and stood up a cross to the back post. Ulloa jumped highest to head. He slightly mistimed things, with the ball going off his head down on to his knee to deceive goalkeeper Julian Speroni into the net. It was a scrappy finish but it did not matter, Brighton had the lead two minutes before the break.

CRYH Lopez goal

In stoppage time at the end of the first period, things got even better for the Albion. Will Buckley again did well on the right wing, cutting inside before being scythed down by Kagisho Dikgacoi twenty yards from goal. Two of the Spanish contingent stood over the free kick but it was David Lopez, who joined from Athletic Bilbao in August, that won the vote ahead of Andrea Orlandi to strike. The rest is history, as Lopez wrote his name into Albion folklore in sensational style.

His right foot strike found its way into the top right-hand corner of the goal, clipping the underside of the crossbar to bounce down over the line in the process. Nicknamed ‘Spanish Dave’ by the Seagulls support, he instantly became a fans favourite with one clean, beautiful strike of a ball. It came at the perfect time, with two goals in three minutes sending the home side into the lead at the interval.

CRYH Ulloa 2nd

The elation continued for Brighton five minutes into the second half when a third goal was scored, this time in front of the noise of the North Stand. A very well worked goal began with holding midfielder Liam Bridcutt chipping the ball from thirty yards out towards the six-yard box. Andrea Orlandi was the target. He saw the better opportunity was waiting centrally in Leonardo Ulloa. Orlandi’s cushioned header was pin-perfect for the Argentinian striker to volley home past Speroni and seal three precious points for the Seagulls.

More chances fell the way of Ulloa and Buckley but neither could increase the deficit further and it ended Brighton three, Crystal Palace nil. What a joyous Sunday afternoon it was.

CRYH Full Time CRYH Table

The win was Albion’s first over Palace at home for twenty-five years, since a three-one scoreline on Boxing Day 1988 at the Goldstone. The result meant the Eagles stayed in fourth, missing the chance to move up to the automatic promotion places occupied by Cardiff and Hull.

Brighton went level on points with Leicester in the final Play Off position with eight matches to play. Crucially, they still had the Foxes to play at The Amex, Forest away next as well as winnable games against the likes of struggling Blackpool and Wolves. Supporters were starting to believe.

CRYH Poyet CRYH Bright

After the match, Palace boss Ian Holloway assessed things fairly and honestly, saying “They took their opportunities and we didn’t take ours.” Gus Poyet explained how the game went to plan, praising his side’s organisation. “We knew the danger, we knew what would happen if we went ahead, we knew that Ian would throw as many players as possible forward”, he said before adding of his players, “I think they were fantastic today.”

In the studio, Crystal Palace fan Mark Bright was visibly disappointed with his side’s effort, or lack of, during the match he attended. He cited Jonathan Parr’s miss as the key moment; “If they score first, they don’t lose. If they go behind, they don’t win.” He added it was the worst he’d seen Palace play since their first away game of the season – a four-one defeat at Bristol City. He concluded by diplomatically pointing out that it all made it more exciting for the region’s teams. Indeed, three of the four Play Off teams could come from this Late Kick Off area.


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Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brighton Highlights

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

FOR Titles FOR Comm

The game of the day in the Championship saw fifth placed Nottingham Forest host seventh placed Brighton at the City Ground. The Seagulls bounced back in superb style before the international break with that wonderful win over Palace, ending a three-match winless streak. Forest’s form of late was sensational under Billy Davies, winning their last six League games and moving into the top six after spending much of the season in mid-table. They had lost at home just once since early December. The reverse at The Amex ended goalless.

This afternoon’s fixture was the BBC’s featured match on The Football League Show. Manish Bhasin was back in the usual studio, joined by pundit Leroy Rosenior for this edition. Commentary was provided by Alistair Mann. The former ITV Granada man’s been a regular voice on the BBC since joining the Match of the Day roster in 2006 and covered the 2008 and 2012 Olympic football tournaments.

FOR Nottingham Forest FOR Brighton

If Billy Davies’ side won here, they would equal a club record of seven straight wins stretching back 120 years. Davies only took over the reins at the beginning of February, his second spell in charge having spent two-and-a-half seasons with Forest from January 2009. He was the club’s fourth manager since the end of last season, with Steve Cotterill, Sean O’Driscoll and Alex McLeish all departing. The Forest squad included Darius Henderson up front, who had a ten-match loan spell on the South Coast a decade earlier. Gonzalo Jara Reyes on the bench had two loan periods with Brighton last season from West Brom, he joined Forest temporarily this January.

A big change for Brighton saw first choice goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak absent through injury, allowing Casper Ankergren to make his first start in fifteen months. Midfielder Liam Bridcutt was another key man out injured. He picked up a knock during his international debut in the week for Gordon Strachan’s Scotland against Serbia. Andrew Crofts took his place in the middle alongside Spanish contingent David Lopez and Andrea Orlandi. Wingers Kazenga LuaLua and Will Buckley supported £2 million signing Leonardo Ulloa, who had already netted eight goals since arriving at the end of January. He was certainly needed, with Craig Mackail-Smith sidelined for a long time through injury and Ashley Barnes suspended after picking up two red cards in the space of five weeks.

FOR LuaLua yellow FOR Ulloa goal

This would be remembered for a ‘mixed’ afternoon for stand-in goalkeeper Casper Ankergren. He rescued Brighton early on with a good double save, the second particularly vital as he dived in the way of Darius Henderson’s close-range effort.

Tempers frayed in the first half, with Forest captain Danny Collins going in referee James Linington’s book for a late foul on Ulloa. A petulant shove to the ground from Kazenga LuaLua on Hutchinson earned the winger a yellow later, his silliness to react risked a red and was brought off after the break. An uneventful first half ended goalless.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Brighton took the lead through Leonardo Ulloa. A corner was whipped into the danger area from the left. Buckley’s tame shot was blocked into the path of Ulloa, who was waiting between the penalty spot and six-yard line. With four Forest bodies in his way, he struck powerfully, low and hard. It found its way into the bottom left hand corner of the net via a slight nick on the way through.

FOR McGugan goal FOR Buckley goal

Brighton were in confident mood and almost added to the lead from a Matthew Upson header. He diverted a Hammond shot goalwards, with Karl Darlow needing to parry away. But it was the home side who scored with just eight minutes remaining, getting the equaliser from a tight angle through Lewis McGugan. There didn’t appear to be much danger as McGugan took the ball forward on the right side of the penalty area. But he unleashed a shot which looped over Ankergren at his near post off Hammond’s boot and nestled into the other corner of the goal. One-one.

Undeterred, Brighton went up the other end to regain the lead just three minutes later. Calderon clipped it up for Ulloa, one of four Albion men in the Forest penalty area. He held the ball up well before sliding it wide to an unmarked Will Buckley. You cannot leave that man on his own with the goal in front of him. Buckley’s first-time strike found the same corner of the net that Ulloa hit earlier and Brighton were back in front.

FOR Ankergren error FOR Rosenior

But, as four minutes of added time were announced over the PA system, a terrible error by Brighton’s Danish goalkeeper threw the lead away and handed Forest a precious point. Henri Lansbury hit a shot from outside the box which was straight down Ankergren’s throat. It should have been a comfortable save. Having done so well earlier on to deny the home side, this was just a momentary lapse in concentration. He allowed the ball to slip through his grasp and under his legs to trickle into the back of the net, Massimo Taibi style. “Lansbury can’t believe his luck! Ankergren, who’s been outstanding all afternoon, makes an horrendous blunder”, cried commentator Alistair Mann.

It finished two apiece. Before kick-off, Albion probably would have taken that result, given Forest’s form to keep them at bay. Being just minutes away from a famous victory, the draw felt a bit like a disappointing result. That sentiment was shared by Gus Poyet when he said in his post-match interview; “Unfortunately today we had a massive error at the back and we gave two points away.” Their manager Billy Davies said afterwards, “If we didn’t get anything, it would’ve been a complete travesty.”

In the studio, pundit Leroy Rosenior talked through Casper Ankergren’s day; the good and the bad. “He made some terrific saves and he looked very sharp. At times he kept Brighton in the game.” Blaming concentration for the error, Rosenior believed it wouldn’t affect the goalie any more than this moment; “He’ll come back because he had a decent game today. When ‘keepers make mistakes, it’s obviously highlighted.” Still, a point is no bad result at that place and the Seagulls were very much in the promotion hunt.


4

Brighton 1-1 Leicester Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (6th April 2013); Championship

LEI Titles LEI Comm

With Brighton’s form picking up again after a dodgy spell at the beginning of March, Leicester’s had completely tailed off as they dropped from second place in February down to seventh today. Four defeats in their last five for Nigel Pearson’s men scaled up to just one win in eleven as they crumbled at the worst possible time.

The Albion displaced them in the final Play Off spot ahead of this crunch meeting at The Amex, with only six League games to go. A goalless draw at home to Charlton stuttered the upwards charge but Brighton’s destiny was still in their own hands to secure a top six finish for the first time since 1991 at this level.

The Football League Show had Brighton versus Leicester as the opening match of this early April broadcast. Manish Bhasin was in the IMG studio in London alongside Leroy Rosenior. Former ITV Anglia, MUTV and Eurosport commentator, Dan O’Hagan provided the words to meet the pictures. He made his Match of the Day debut at the age of just twenty-six on Boxing Day 2004 at Norwich, reuniting with his Anglia TV roots.

LEI Brighton LEI Leicester

Brighton’s main man was Leonardo Ulloa, making an instant impact since his transfer from Almeria in January. His goals were keeping the side in the hunt for the top six in the absence of Barnes and Mackail-Smith. The likes of Will Buckley and Andrea Orlandi provided the creative outlet, with Liam Bridcutt bridging the gap between defence and attack. Former England defender Matthew Upson came in from Stoke on loan until the end of the season back in January, providing that much needed top-level experience as the Seagulls aimed for the Premier League. Spanish magician Vicente was among the substitutes, he netted twice in four days back in February including the televised winner against Hull.

Andy King’s goal decided the reverse fixture back in October, as the Foxes won one-nil to top of the League. He started up front with David Nugent, who scored on his one and only England international cap in 2007. Midfielder Matthew James graduated through Manchester United’s youth academy, whilst former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper tended to the Leicester goal. Centre back Michael Keane was on loan from Old Trafford. On the bench, Harry Kane was loaned out by Tottenham whilst former Albion striker Chris Wood joined from West Brom in January.

LEI Off the line LEI Schlupp chance

It was the unlikely figure of Inigo Calderon who almost broke the deadlock early on, when he had an effort cleared off the Leicester goal line. Calderon made the smart run in the box to head Orlandi’s corner, but Danny Drinkwater was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line. Drinkwater had to improvise well, flicking out a right leg to keep it goalless.

Brighton were enjoying themselves in the first half, building up a momentum but not quite nabbing that breakthrough goal. David Lopez floated the ball across the box for the head of Leo Ulloa but the Argentine didn’t quite time his header right as it looped over the bar.

For all the possession and good spells Albion had, a warning sign was fired by Andy King when he crashed an effort against the bar after good work by Jeffrey Schlupp. And the two very nearly combined later on but the other way around, with King setting Schlupp free. Kuszczak raced out of his goal and, indeed, penalty area. As Kuszczak starfish jumped to try and block the potential shot with his body, the Leicester man slid his effort low. The goalie just about got a foot on it as he landed to prevent the inevitable goal and it remained without score at the break.

LEI James goal LEI LuaLua

Both King and Schlupp continued to look dangerous in the second period, forcing the Brighton stopper into action to prevent their efforts on goal. At the other end, some nice work from early sub LuaLua on the left provided Ulloa with a guilt edged chance just a few yards out. He wasn’t quite firing, as the touch was stabbed wide across the goal past the far post.

The goal soon did arrive, and it was the away team who scored it through Matthew James. A long throw-in from the near touchline alluded Wayne Bridge and just bounced off Matt Upson behind him. The loose ball was seized upon by James, who danced past Upson and the despairing lunge of Dean Hammond to create a sight of goal. His finish low into the bottom right hand corner of the net was too quick for Kuszczak as Leicester took the lead. Leicester went for the kill, bringing on sub strikers Chris Wood and Harry Kane, with the latter forcing Kuszczak into a decent save before Wood’s rebound was blocked.

As time began to run out, Brighton pulled a hugely important equaliser out of the bag from Kazenga LuaLua. As fellow substitute Vicente appealed for a penalty for a soft push, waved away by referee Jonathan Moss, LuaLua picked up the ball on the near side of the box. He took a couple of touches to dribble more centrally before blasting the ball for goal. It bounced just to the left of Kasper Schmeichel on the way through, with the ‘keeper visibly frustrated at not quite being able to reach. “It’s a big-time leveller for Brighton scored by Kazenga LuaLua”, came the call from commentator Dan O’Hagan.

LEI Oatway LEI Studio

An important point was secured with late drama on the South Coast. This result changed the Play Off picture, swinging back in Brighton’s favour and keeping the Foxes at bay. First team coach Charlie Oatway told afterwards of the take away from this draw and how scorelines hadn’t quite gone the way of the Albion recently; “We’ve had a couple of results away from home that we felt we should’ve got more points and this one could’ve been a lot more of a happier point than what we got.” Whilst Leicester’s Nigel Pearson spoke of how stalemates at this stage weren’t enough, they needed victories.

Leroy Rosenior in the studio thought a draw was about the right result. “If Brighton had come away with nothing, that would’ve been a travesty. They certainly deserved something. But it was a very nervy, disjointed game.” He was asked to evaluate the Albion’s season to this point, with them firmly in the Play Off shake up. Rosenior had nothing but praise; “You’ve got to remember where they’ve come from, how they’ve developed the club in terms of the stadium, everything that’s gone into that club. I think they’re above where they would’ve expected to be in their plan.”

Most Seagulls supporters would agree with that sentiment. Brighton went on to finish fourth in the Championship table and qualify for the Play Offs. Despite a well-earned goalless draw at Selhurst Park as we faced Crystal Palace once more, in the Second Leg it all fell apart and Gus Poyet’s tenure came to a bitter end shortly afterwards. However, with The Amex packed and rocking and a very talented squad assembled, the foundations had been laid for a bright future.


This is the second part looking back at Season 2012/2013. The first part is available HERE.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2012/13 Season part 1

Small Screen Seagulls LogoBrighton settled into life back in the second tier of English football, and at their new home in Falmer, with a very impressive campaign last time out. The Seagulls surprised most with their form as they narrowly missed out on a top six finish. But this season those Play Off places were a legitimate and realistic target. With Gus Poyet still at the helm and a squad full of talent, the mood was quietly confident on the South Coast. One of the improvements needed was to convert draws into wins. The Amex Stadium had been expanded to include an upper tier in the East Stand and further developments in the offing. It was a year that promised so much yet would all end in bitter tears.

Here are some of the features and coverage during the Albion’s highest placed finish for thirty years. Screenshots are provided from various clips of coverage by BBC Sport and Sky Sports. This is part one, the second part is HERE.


Craig Mackail-Smith phone interview

The Fantasy Football Club, Sky Sports 1 (28th September 2012)

FFC Titles FFC Hosts

For this season, Sky Sports introduced a new weekly programme on Friday evenings to replace football quiz Take It Like A Fan, called The Fantasy Football Club. This was based on the popular fantasy football game where competitors picked a ‘dream team’ comprised of players from a variety of top flight clubs. This studio show was again presented by John Fendley, AKA Fenners. Joining him was former Arsenal and England creative midfielder Paul Merson, part of the Soccer Saturday panel working with Jeff Stelling. The set was decorated out like a changing room and each week a guest would join them and a Live studio audience to talk through the game, their career and culminated by picking their ‘One2Eleven’; a starting line-up made of the best eleven they ever played with. As with most Sky magazine shows, there were also games, challenges and features to fill the hour, as well as a Fantasy Football Club scarf up for grabs for the viewer who picked the best fantasy team of the week.

Part of the show’s title sequence was filmed at The Amex, with them using the tunnel area before running out onto the turf. On Friday 28th September, Brighton’s Craig Mackail-Smith was interviewed on the phone to chat about his season so far. And, along with loan signing Wayne Bridge, he would be going head-to-head with Fenners and Merse in a round of the fantasy game. This was a regular feature, with the pair taking on Norwich’s John Ruddy and Anthony Pilkington the previous week. The Norwich duo scored more points which led Merson into the forfeit of wearing a full replica kit for the start of this week’s programme. They were also joined in the studio by West Ham midfielder Matt Taylor.

FFC Head to Head FFC Mackail-Smith on the phone

The phone interview kicked off with Mackail-Smith joking about how confident he was of beating the hosts after their recent form. Talk turned to a potential forfeit, with the striker offering Fenners the chance to come down to the Albion and train with the squad; “Maybe at the end stick you in goal and have a bit of shooting practice against you!”

Attention then turned to real life football, with Fenners reminding Mackail-Smith of the “dream start” this season; top of the Championship with Craig scoring six in seven so far. “I’m catching my target from last season quite quickly”, he said. Merson asked what had been different this year, to which Mackail-Smith responded; “Last season we kept the ball a lot and we didn’t really penetrate teams so well. I think this season with Bridgey and Bruno left and right wing back, we’re getting higher up the pitch and probing, getting more shots away.”

FFC Overhead kick FFC Oatway

They talked through his spectacular overhead goal against Burnley from the start of the month, where Albion went on to win three-one at Turf Moor. It was also pointed out during the celebration that Ashley Barnes got a bit carried away with the knee slide, careering straight into the goalscorer, giving him a bit of a dead leg in the process. They also discussed his rather unusual athletic prowess growing up; the pole vault. In typically modest fashion, he said; “I went and had a go and I wasn’t too bad at it and did it for three or four years”. On that note, the interview was concluded with results about the fantasy challenge to come the following week.

So, on Friday 5th October, Fenners was back to see which pairing came out on top. Points were awarded for players in the fantasy team that scored goals, provided assists and defensively for clean sheets, whilst yellow and red cards were punished as were goals conceded. The Brighton boys scored a total of eighty-two points between them, a whopping thirteen more than the hosts, meaning it was the Seagulls who defeated Sky in this challenge. First team coach Charlie Oatway, never one to stray away from the limelight, send the show a video message from the team bus implying they didn’t know what they were talking about and needed to “watch a proper game, like us.” He was right, Brighton’s season had begun so very well.

FFC Results


2

Brighton 0-1 Middlesbrough Report

The Football League Show, BBC One (20th October 2012); Championship

MID Titles MID Clem

BBC highlights programme The Football League Show returned for its fourth season, and the first of a new broadcast contract, for the 2012/2013 campaign. There were a couple of changes; where previously the BBC held ten Live Championship fixtures and three League Cup games, it was now just highlights for the next three seasons. For this late October edition, regular host Manish Bhasin was joined in the studio by pundit Leroy Rosenior. Reporter Mark Clemmit was dispatched to Brighton to get an insight into how things had progressed during this second Amex season, ahead of a visit from fellow promotion candidates Middlesbrough.

Last season the format was tweaked slightly to drop the, admittedly unnecessary, viewer emails and texts read out by the likes of Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes and Jacqui Oatley. This year saw further amendments. The theme tune was changed to now use an actual piece of music! Out went the drum beating, crowd noise style opening replaced by Snow Patrol’s In the End. The title sequence featured football freestylers doing tricks and flicks in front of a brick wall. The wall was decorated with various Football League bits and pieces which then flew from the wall to become highlight clips from years gone by before bringing us up to date. It was an improvement on the previous sequence, for sure.

MID Poyet MID Building site

Mark Clemmit’s report began with a quick reminder of Brighton’s stadium saga; saying it “shaped a generation of supporters who were as familiar with land wrangles as football formations.” With development work done over the summer to increase capacity of The Amex from around 22,000 up to more than 27,000 now, with a further increase by the end of the campaign to sit at an incredible 30,750. Such was the demand for tickets so early on, the folk of Sussex couldn’t get enough! With things never better off the field, Clem explained that the next challenge was to re-write the history books on it. “Since their formation in 1901, Brighton have been in the top flight for only four seasons.”

He spoke with manager Gus Poyet near the dugouts in the empty bowl, the calm before the matchday storm. They talked through the fantastic facilities and the change in such a short space of time to when they last were together on this site, two years ago during the construction stage. Poyet told, “Last year it was spectacular, great football days here. And then I found out we were putting an extra five, six-thousand seats and I’m thinking ‘More pressure for the manager!'” But he said he loved the pressure, as long as there were no upper limits to where it could take us; “If we don’t hit the roof, if there is no roof and we can always go and improve, then I will stay here for long.” That ‘roof’ word would come back round a couple more times during the campaign when Poyet spoke of frustrations.

MID Barber MID Fatboy Slim

Changes were made to the Albion at boardroom level during the summer of 2012 as Paul Barber was appointed Chief Executive. The businessman moved from North American side Vancouver Whitecaps, where he oversaw two stadium moves in a short space of time. Prior to that he was Tottenham’s Executive Director, running the club’s day to day operations for five years from the mid-noughties. Perhaps his highest profile, and most successful, job came at the English FA where he worked for over a decade as their Commercial Director. This was during highly controversial times; appointing England’s first foreign manager, rebuilding Wembley and moving international matches and Cup Finals all around the UK. He arrived in Sussex with an impressive CV. Speaking with Clemmit in the hospitality lounge, Barber confirmed planning permission had been granted for a state-of-the-art training ground in Lancing; the next step on the way to attracting and attaining the best young players.

One of the biggest criticisms when a club moves stadium or makes major changes it that the ‘soul’ of the club is lost. Superstar DJ, Seagulls supporter and Falmer campaigner Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim, confirmed that was definitely not the case here. “It’s just got very bigger, very quickly. When we first got here, you had to pinch yourself, because we gone up the Division and were still playing well.”

MID Comm MID Goal

Next came the brief highlights from the match. Defeat on the opening day at Hull for the Albion followed an embarrassing Capital One Cup First Round exit to lower Division Swindon Live on Sky. Things were back on track by the end of August, with a five-one thumping of Barnsley which started a run of five consecutive victories. September ended with defeat at home to Birmingham to set off a three-match streak without a win, ahead of this clash with Middlesbrough. The Albion sat in fifth place at the start of the day, whilst Tony Mowbray’s ‘Boro were down in eleventh after a stop-start, inconsistent beginning.

Commentary was provided by Paul Walker. As well as commentating now, Walker was previously more familiar in a reporting role voicing the round-ups. He came from BBC Radio Sheffield where he hosted phone-in shows, Live football on Saturdays and covered other sports such as ice hockey and boxing.

The first piece of action shown was the goal, which arrived on twenty-one minutes through Marvin Emnes. The Dutchman was provided the ball on the right by Grant Leadbitter. He travelled ten yards forward to the corner of the penalty area, where he struck for goal. It took a huge deflection off Gordon Greer on the way through to wrong-foot summer signing Tomasz Kuszczak in goal, send the ball the other way and sneak in.

MID Full Time MID Studio

Brighton created several opportunities for the likes of Ashley Barnes, Will Buckley and Craig Mackail-Smith but they weren’t taken. ‘Boro goalie Jason Steele kept out a header from Barnes but Mackail-Smith really should have buried the rebound. Instead, he blazed over from five yards. Leadbitter tried one from range for the visitors which didn’t trouble Kuszczak too much but at the final whistle, it was the team in red who took all three points to leapfrog Brighton in the table.

Speaking with Clemmit after the game, Gus Poyet told of a couple of things his side needed to get used to if they were to go one further and make the Play Offs this time. As well as the increased crowds at home, Poyet said; “Second one is how the opposition is going to play here, how difficult they’re gonna make it for us.” Taking chances was crucial. Back in the studio in London, host Manish Bhasin surmised the team were being targeted for the success of late, whilst pundit Leroy Rosenior said “They’re being shown the respect they deserve. I saw them early on this season and was very impressed.” That result made it three home games in a row without a win for the Seagulls, as players adapted to the extra noise and pressure from the expectant crowd.


3

Blackpool 1-1 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (27th October 2012); Championship

BLA Titles BLA Comm

The Albion were the featured match on The Football League Show the following Saturday, as the Seaside trip to Blackpool came calling. Host Manish Bhasin described it in the intro as; “Two ambitious clubs with realistic prospects of automatic promotion, but they share the same problem – lack of consistency.” Ian Holloway’s Blackpool finished fifth last year in their first campaign since Premier League relegation but ultimately lost in the Play Off Final to West Ham. After starting this season with four wins out of six, form dried up with five defeats from their last eight. The Albion followed up last Saturday’s Middlesbrough loss with a midweek defeat at Leicester to slide to ninth in the table and just a point above today’s hosts.

Steven Wyeth was the match commentator. Like Paul Walker, he was previously a long-standing local radio employee having worked at BBC Manchester since 2000 specialising in covering Manchester United. He went freelance in September to commentate across a wider variety including The Football League Show and European matches.

BLA Blackpool BLA Brighton

Blackpool welcome back French winger Elliott Grandin back for his first start in ten months, having joined Nice in January. He returned earlier this season but was left out altogether for the past five games and trained with the development squad for a perceived bad attitude. Striker Gary Taylor-Fletcher scored the club’s first ever Premier League goal on the opening day of the 2010/11 season. Attacking player Tom Ince started his career at Anfield but failed to break into the first team before moving to the Seaside in 2011. He’s the son of former England midfielder Paul Ince. There was a heavy Scottish presence in the side, with goalkeeper Matt Gilks, defenders Stephen Crainey and Kirk Broadfoot, making his home debut, and midfielder Matt Phillips all starters.

Gus Poyet made one change from the midweek defeat as Gary Dicker dropped to the bench for Dean Hammond to come in. Hammond returned to the Albion where he began his career after four years away, joining on a season-long loan from Southampton. Another loanee for the year was former England and Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge, dropping down from Manchester City. Andrew Crofts also made a comeback to Sussex, re-joining from Norwich after two seasons. Right-back Bruno transferred in from Valencia on a free. Craig Mackail-Smith top scored with six thus far, whilst Ashley Barnes netted three. On the bench sat striker Stephen Dobbie, who had two loan spells with Blackpool in the last two years. He joined on transfer deadline day from Swansea.

BLA Barnes goal BLA Grandin goal

The early chances fell Blackpool’s way, with Kuszczak denying Ince and Taylor-Fletcher narrowly heading wide from a corner. Centre-half Alex Baptiste was in the thick of Brighton’s half too, trying a shot from long range which went wide of the target. The Albion offered very little in the first period and went in goalless at the break.

That changed eleven minutes into the second half when Ashley Barnes nabbed the scrappiest of goals. A long ball from Adam El-Abd on the halfway line was flicked into the area by Mackail-Smith to Crofts. In battle with Broadfoot, the ball bounced around the penalty box. Gilks came out of goal to claim but instead tangled with the pair and the ball broke loose. Standing next to them was Barnes who was able to instinctively stab home into the empty net from six yards.

The opportunities were still falling the home side’s way, with Ince guilty of missing a golden chance with the goal gaping five yards out. With father Paul watching on in the stands, Tom Ince couldn’t adjust his body to turn the ball home and instead scooped it over the bar. Brighton were soaking up a lot of pressure again. But with less than twenty minutes to go, the equaliser finally came. Elliott Grandin provided the home relief, diving in for a header six yards out to connect with Matt Phillips’ perfect delivery.

BLA Full Time BLA Claridge

Kuszczak had to fly around his goal to keep Grandin from scoring again a minute later as Blackpool didn’t want to rest on their laurels. Another great chance had to be denied when substitute Nathan Delfouneso failed to connect properly central to the goal. The stripes too had their moments, including an attempt at an overhead kick from Mackail-Smith. The bounce unfortunately took the ball up and over the crossbar. When the full-time whistle arrived, it was a relief that the Seagulls clung on to the draw, finishing one a piece.

Gus Poyet summed it up well by saying; “The effort was there, desire was there. Quality was missing today.” Ian Holloway was frustrated by the missed chances and the “calamitous” goal they conceded but was pleased with the domination overall. First choice FLS pundit Steve Claridge analysed the Albion approach in the studio; “They just slightly tinkered and changed the emphasis on the way that they play. I look at the midfield; Buckley who can play a little bit, then you’ve got Hammond, you’ve got Crofts, you’ve got Bridcutt who are all players who are renowned for their defensive qualities. So there’s a little bit of an emphasis change there… bit of resilience.” He pointed out that just nine goals conceded shows an improvement in that area.

Both this game and the Middlesbrough one highlighted the difficulties faced in the Championship. Despite outplaying the opposition, Brighton came away empty handed last week. This week, they got an undeserved point on their travels. If the Play Offs were to be reached this season, there needed to be an upturn in consistency and winning whilst on top.


4

Craig Mackail-Smith and Charlie Oatway on the sofas

Soccer AM, Sky Sports 2 (3rd November 2012)

SAM Titles SAM Hosts

Sky Sports Saturday morning football and entertainment show Soccer AM was by now in its eighteenth season, fantastic for a low budget satellite programme. From the 2008/09 season it was hosted by Max Rushden with Helen Chamberlain. The latter had been there since the first season back in 1995, working first with Russ Williams, Jane Hoffen and Gary Stevens before Tim Lovejoy took over and shaped what the show was to be recognised for. When Lovejoy left with most of the established crew including Fenners, Andy Goldstein came in for a season before ex-BBC London and radio presenter Rushden got the gig and had to move the show into a new dawn.

The show received an overhaul, with new graphics, titles and studio set as well as features and games. The duration was cut from three hours to two in 2010 in a bid to improve quality, now airing from 10am until midday. Entertainment always remained at the heart of it, with certain features standing the test of time, such as Taxi, Showboat, Third Eyes, Goals of the Week and the famous kicking the ball through a hole in the carpark, whilst others fell by the wayside as society moved away from the laddish nineties.

SAM Green Room SAM Walk On

On Saturday 3rd November, Brighton striker Craig Mackail-Smith and first team coach Charlie Oatway journeyed to Osterley in West London to Sky HQ to adorn the famous orange sofas. The last time Brighton had anyone from the club on this programme, Oatway was still a player and joined Nathan Jones and Leon Knight back in December 2004! Things had changed a lot since then. Now, with Albion playing the night before Live on Sky against Leeds, a rare Saturday off gave them the chance to join Max, Helen and the gang in the studio. Although, it was supposed to be Gus Poyet joining Oatway. He decided against it late on so sent Mackail-Smith instead. And completing the line-up were Suggs and Woody from the band Madness. The fans of Blackburn Rovers provided the noise in the Luther Blissett Stand, supported by a Live studio audience.

SAM Guests.JPG

Charlie Oatway’s cheeky nature was a good fit for a show like Soccer AM, where he could fit in with the mickey taking and show off. The previous night’s Leeds game was talked through, ending in a two-two draw with Mackail-Smith bagging both Brighton goals. Rushden said the Albion were “miles better” than their opponents, with Oatway adding “If it was a boxing match it would’ve been stopped”. Unfortunately Mackail-Smith saw his penalty saved to deny him the hat-trick and all three points. Having already scored from the spot earlier in the game, he was asked if it was mentally tough to take two penalties in a game. “Sometimes you change your mind, I thought I hit it really well.” Oatway joking; “Didn’t hit it well enough!”

SAM Leeds game SAM Studio

Having started the season so brightly in the first two months, form dropped off in October and the Albion pair were asked if that was a concern. Oatway batted it away saying performances were good; “I don’t think you really have to worry yourself, just keep going with what you’re doing and how the boys are playing.” Mackail-Smith’s form over the past eighteen months earned him a Scotland call up by manager Craig Levein, which Oatway also joked about. It backfired when Mackail-Smith enquired about Oatway’s international cap tally but, as always, the Londoner had the last laugh; “I’d rather none than play for Scotland!”

On a more serious and worthy note, they discussed Oatway’s testimonial year with the club. Having joined in 1999 from Brentford, he played for the Seagulls until 2007 before professional retirement. Then when Poyet was put in charge in late 2009, he rejoined the club on the coaching staff, with the combination of roles taking him to the tenth year with Brighton. With half of the earnings going towards Albion in the Community, the club’s charitable arm, he outlined what was in store; “We’ve got a game next year, we’ve got a golf day, we’ve got other events…”

SAM Bugs SAM Oatways Ordeals

He also explained the concept of ‘Oatway’s Ordeals’, in which he completed a series of challenges decided by a vote, all designed to play to his weaknesses and fears. He said he had fears of flying and being stranded in water, amongst others, so obviously they were going to be two of his challenges upcoming. Another was eating insects and, through the magic of television, Helen Chamberlain unveiled an ‘I’m A Celebrity’ style plate of bugs for him to try Live on the show. Mackail-Smith dived in to eat one first, before Oatway and Rushden joined. Suffice to say they didn’t recommend them to us. In return, Oatway’s testimonial events would be plugged on the Soccer AM website.

SAM Hairy Strikers SAM Sausage smashing

The main interview had concluded by the boys would stick around for the rest of the show. One of the Live studio sketches for the season was ‘The Hairy Strikers’, parodying its name from the Hairy Bikers television programme. The skit involved crew members Dave Morgan and Rocket Long dressed as hairy strikers Andy Carroll of West Ham and Everton’s Marouane Fellaini, as well as two of the sofa guests taking part in a game or challenge. For this edition falling during National Sausage Week, Craig Mackail-Smith and Suggs had to smash as many raw sausages with a mallet as they could in thirty seconds. And why not, all part of the fun.

SAM Carpark Game.JPG

The traditional culmination of the show took place outside in the Soccer AM car park with the end game featuring the Fans of the Week. The aim was always for them to kick a ball through a hole and score as many as possible within the allotted time. This season saw a variation on the format with five holes to choose from, as they had to progress in turn from the biggest – League Two – up through the Divisions to the smallest hole – the Champions League. After the fans had their go, it was the turn of the guests. Unfortunately for Suggs, Charlie Oatway was around and threw a football at his when he was about to strike. The Blackburn fans reached League One whilst none of the guests could get their effort on target. And once everyone was back inside, it was time to end another fun-packed programme as our Seagulls were once again in the TV spotlight.


This is the first part looking back at Season 2012/2013. The second part is available HERE.

Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 2

Small Screen Seagulls LogoAfter a sensational start to the first campaign at our magnificent new home which saw Albion lead the Championship table in September, form dipped in the autumn with no wins in October. Following the Southampton defeat as featured in part one, Brighton won three League games in a row to send the Seagulls hovering around the edge of the Play Off places. A dreadful December saw four consecutive losses before a fantastic return to form in the New Year. This included knocking out Premier League Newcastle in Round Four of the FA Cup before bowing out to Liverpool for the second time in the Cups this season. As we entered the closing months, a place in the Play Offs was a real possibility. They couldn’t, could they?!

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


Brighton 2-0 Portsmouth Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (10th March 2012); Championship

POR Titles POR Comm

Since the turn of the year, Brighton were unbeaten in eleven League games ahead of this clash with Portsmouth as the club climbed back up from mid-table to sit in seventh. Pompey however were having a terrible time. They were rock bottom of the Division and on the verge of financial ruin, thankfully granted a reprieve by the League in the days leading up to this match. BBC highlights programme The Football League Show chose the South Coast clash as one of the featured matches.

This edition was presented by the usual host, Manish Bhasin. He gave up the Football Focus gig to lead the BBC’s Football League coverage when they gained rights to the three Division in 2009, their first time broadcasting this level since 1991. Alongside him was Leroy Rosenior, the former West Ham striker turned pundit. He was a familiar face to fans of both Brighton and Portsmouth with his work on magazine show Late Kick Off in the BBC South region. Commentating on the match was John Roder. He too was familiar to the Southern clubs with longer memories, as he was ITV Meridian’s lead commentator between 1997 and 2003 before moving on to Eurosport’s Serie A matches then BBC Match of the Day.

POR Brighton POR Portsmouth

Gus Poyet brought three players into the club on loan during the January transfer window, they all started this match. Up front, Sam Vokes of Premier League Wolves made the switch until the end of the season, having not started for his parent club all campaign. He scored on his full home debut as the points were shared with Millwall a month ago. Vokes was preferred ahead of summer capture Craig Mackail-Smith. West Brom allowed two of their players to gain first-team football in Falmer, signing defenders Joe Mattock and Gonzalo Jara Reyes until June. The latter already had a spell here this season, featuring from October until Christmas before being briefly recalled by the Baggies. The Chilean already had more than fifty international caps to his name. Joe Mattock actually had a loan spell earlier in the season with today’s visitors, making seven appearances.

The visitors were managed by Michael Appleton in his first permanent role. They exited both Cup competitions at the first hurdle and had just the two away victories to date, coming at Burnley and Peterborough. Brighton won one-nil at Fratton Park back in August, with Mackail-Smith netting the winner. Among Portsmouth’s key men today, Greg Halford was a summer signing from Wolves, as was new captain Jason Pearce who moved from Bournemouth. With finances stretched to the limits, regular goalkeeper Stephen Henderson was about to be sent on an emergency loan to West Ham in a desperate bid to cut the wage bill. Seventeen-year-old academy graduate defender Adam Webster filled a place on the bench, having made just three sub appearances to date. Mike Dean was the referee.

POR Vicente sub POR Vicente 1st goal

The first half was one of few chances for either side. Sam Vokes tried to nip in and round goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown after a defensive mix up saw him intercept a backpass from Pearce. It was to no avail. At the other end, Gordon Greer and Peter Brezovan tried their best to help Portsmouth’s situation by gifting them possession on the edge of the box. Scott Allan chipped his effort just over the bar. An almighty scramble in first half stoppage time nearly saw Brighton take the lead but for some resolute defending to ensure it was goalless at the break.

Joe Mattock was the unlikely man the ball dropped to at the back stick in the second half following a Liam Bridcutt cross. Mattock’s shot was deflected onto the post through the goalkeeper’s legs. The game changing moment was the introduction of former Valencia star Vicente. His fancy footwork twenty-five yards out was enough to bamboozle the Pompey defence and bring him down in a dangerous position. The winger got up to take the kick and struck it brilliantly, low and hard into to bottom-right of Ashdown’s goal (above, right). Albion had the lead with a quarter of an hour to play. Gus Poyet’s way of celebrating this was to turn and face up towards the director’s box to make a money gesture with his hands (below, left), frustrated with the budgetary constraints.

POR Poyet money gesture POR Vicente 2nd goal

In stoppage time, sub Kazenga LuaLua battled excellently on the near touchline firstly to hold up the ball to waste time. Then secondly, win the ball back from a tussle with Tal Ben-Haim. He galloped into the penalty area to lay it off to that man Vicente. The ball was very slightly behind him but that did not matter to a man in possession of thirty-eight caps for Spain. He adjusted his position to swing that magical left foot back and hook in a second goal to seal a hard earned three points for the Seagulls.

In his post-match interview, Poyet praised the match winner for coming back strong after injury problems blighted much of his first season in Sussex; “Without any doubt he was the difference because it was a difficult game, close, not too many chances. You needed a bit of quality and Vicente’s got that.” Back in the studio, Leroy Rosenior outlined why Brighton need Vicente to stay fit and how they haven’t quite seen the best of him yet; “Having only played seven games this season, Gus is desperate to get him on the pitch. He has got great quality and he’s got a great left foot.” The win sent Brighton up to fifth in the Championship with ten matches remaining.

POR Full Time POR Studio


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Long Drive Golf challenge with Sam Vokes and Craig Mackail-Smith

Football League Weekend, Sky Sports 1 (16th March & 27th April 2012)

FLW Titles FLW Everton

As part of Sky Sports’ build up to the three Divisions of the nPower League, every Friday evening they broadcast preview programme Football League Weekend from Sky Studios. The magazine show had goal round-ups, interviews, previews and features packed into a one hour slot, hosted by George Gavin. He’d been involved in Sky’s Football League output heavily since they regained the rights from ITV Digital in 2002, first fronting the coverage as main host and more latterly as the face and voice of the magazine programming in the studio.

The show used a pool of reporters to get the interviews up and down the country, most of whom were Sky Sports News regulars. These included the likes of Peter Stevenson, David Craig, Jonathan Oakes, Mark McAdam and Tony Lockwood. During the 2011/2012 season, another name was added to the fold; Chloe Everton. She first found fame whilst appearing as a contestant on the third series of Channel 4 reality show Shipwrecked broadcast in late 2001. She went on to do some presenting work on satellite channels before joining Sky Sports in the summer of 2007. Everton presented on Sky Sports News, mostly in the Good Morning Sports Fans slot, and co-hosted phone-in show You’re on Sky Sports firstly with Gary Newbon and now Jason Cundy when that relaunched with a new set a couple of years back.

FLW Vokes FLW Mackail-Smith

FLW Golf challenge FLW Laptop

One of the features on the programme this year was a footballers’ golf challenge called Long Drive, hosted by Chloe Everton. There was a long standing link between footballers and enjoying golf in their spare time. The aim of this challenge was simply to find out which of the Championship strikers could hit a golf ball the furthest. On Friday 16th March, it was the turn of two of the Albion forwards; Sam Vokes and Craig Mackail-Smith.

The game involved a real life golf shot taken on the course and relied upon computer technology to measure the distance of the drive with software on the laptop. A leaderboard was kept in order to determine which of the Championship strikers was the best driver of a golf ball. It was also a good excuse to interview a couple of footballers in a more relaxed environment than your straightforward sit down chat.

FLW Vokes shot FLW Vokes distance

FLW Mackail-Smith shot FLW Mackail-Smith distance

The pair chatted about the season so far, as just ten League matches remained. They both praised the efforts of the squad, particularly the recent unbeaten run to climb into the Play Off places. Mackail-Smith was excited by the prospects of the run-in; “Everyone’s enjoying training and looking forward to every game. The next four of five games we’ve got are a few teams around us which will shape our season. But everyone’s loving life and when the sun comes out it’s a nice place to be.”

On loan Wolves striker Sam Vokes was first to take up the challenge. He said he played off a handicap of eighteen, two more than that of Craig Mackail-Smith. The lowest scores were Watford’s Lee Hodson with 195 yards and Bristol City’s Brett Pitman on 196, and ahead of the game that was the Seagulls minimum target to beat; don’t come last! After a few attempts each, it was clear they weren’t going to be languishing near the foot of the board. In fact, Vokes recorded an effort of 303 to climb into second position overall. Before his strike partner went even further with a colossal drive of 324 yards. Mackail-Smith’s faux-surprise tried to suggest he “didn’t even catch that right.” He most definitely did, sending the ball flying further than anyone else.

FLW Leaderboard FLW Top ten

With only a handful of shows remaining, this was a chance for the Albion pair to secure their places at the top of the leaderboard. The likes of Derby, Burnley, Reading and Doncaster had already submitted their efforts. It was Barnsley’s Matt Done who lead the way ahead of Brighton’s go; achieving a score of 307, the only man to go above the three-ton mark before today. With Sam Vokes effort of 303 yards and Craig Mackail-Smith’s 324, both Albion strikers joined Done in that exclusive club. We were used to him running and running on the pitch, covering the length of the pitch. Turns out Mackail-Smith could also do it on the golf course. They would have to go some to dislodge the Scot from his lofty perch.

FLW Studio FLW Remaining Fixtures

Back in the studio, host George Gavin was joined by recently departed Sheffield Wednesday manager Gary Megson. Upon watching Mackail-Smith’s drive, Megson remarked “I don’t go that far on my holidays!” He was clearly a big fan of the Albion number twelve, going on to say; “If there was one player who I could sign outside the Premiership it would be that Mackail-Smith. Terrific player.” The studio pair then discussed Brighton’s form and upcoming fixtures in the hunt to secure a top six finish. Megson put things into context; “Given the fact they came up last year and if somebody had said to them where they would be at this stage of the season, they’d certainly take that. Wherever they finish, it’s been a great season.” They cited Norwich doing a double promotion in the previous two campaigns and the importance of momentum to promotion charges.

FLW CMS vs Pro FLW Trophy presentation

On Friday 27th April, ahead of the final game of the season, Football League Weekend wrapped up the final standings of the Long Drive challenge. Nobody had managed to trouble the top three since Brighton claimed two of those spots a month or so earlier. Therefore Craig Mackail-Smith claimed the prize of top Championship striker with the longest golfing drive at a fantastic 324 yards. Sam Vokes remained in third spot. Chloe Everton revisited Mackail-Smith for one further challenge before presenting him with the overall trophy. They were joined on the course by the UK’s longest driver, professional golfer Adam Stacey.

Mackail-Smith was no match for the pro, as Stacey recorded an effort of 405 yards. He even managed to hit a good couple of hundred once on his knees and another time using just a putter. He was showboating. Upon accepting his trophy in front of an invited crowd including his manager Gus Poyet and his father-in-law the ex-Peterborough boss Barry Fry, Mackail-Smith joked it was “the best award I’ve ever won”. In the studio that week were George Gavin and Peter Beagrie, who briefly touched upon the Albion’s season as a whole. Beagrie commented, “Massively overachieved and what a brilliant debut season in that fantastic stadium. After promotion last year, they’ve been amazing”. Kind words, indeed.


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Interview with Vicente and Inigo Calderon

Late Kick Off, BBC One South East (2nd April 2012)

LKO2 Titles LKO2 Walker

Dating back to the beginnings of ONdigital in 1998, which went onto be the ill-fated ITV Digital and then Freeview, the digital switchover project had been ongoing in the UK ever since. In a bid to convert analogue terrestrial television broadcasting to digital terrestrial by the end of 2012, changes were made to the way viewers received free television channels. As part of this, in March 2012 the Brighton and Hove area saw their BBC region switched from South to South East. This impacted BBC regional programming, with ITV Meridian unchanged.

Consequently, the region now received BBC South East Today as their local bulletin instead of BBC South Today, whilst the regional football magazine programme came from London and the South East. Albion fans would no longer be grouped with the likes of Bristol City and Exeter, but now with Millwall, Crystal Palace, West Ham, Charlton, Crawley, Stevenage, Aldershot, Gillingham, QPR, Brentford, Watford, Wimbledon, Barnet, Leyton Orient, Wycombe and Dagenham and Redbridge.

LKO2 Studio LKO2 Bright

Football Focus host Dan Walker presented the programme for its 2012 run, usually alongside former Crystal Palace striker and BBC pundit Mark Bright. For this edition Walker was joined by former QPR midfielder Marc Bircham and Crawley boss Steve Evans. The show, broadcast on Monday 2nd April 2012, saw Bright travel to The Amex to hear from two of Albion’s influential players of late; Spanish pair Inigo Calderon and Vicente. For Vicente, his grasp of the English language was not the best so it was an added bonus to be playing alongside a fellow compatriot in Calderon. He also acted as translator for this interview, conducted in the padded seats of the West Stand.

LKO2 Vicente and Calderon.JPG

Vicente was first asked about the differences between La Liga, where he arrived from last summer, and the English Championship. He answered by saying “In Spain, the players are better technically but here in England, it’s more physical, more aggressive.” He explained he had always expressed a desire to play in this country and after speaking with Gus Poyet, Vicente was sold on the club’s ambition. He admitted there were other opportunities in Spain but had no regrets about his choice on the South Coast.

Poyet paid his tributes to the star man too; “He makes this team stronger, when we attack he makes this team different. Because when he’s on the ball, everything can happen.” Inigo Calderon was asked about the ‘promotion’ word, where he was in confident mood of sustaining the fourth or fifth position currently held. Vicente added they were in a good place for it despite not having the budget others enjoyed. As for his future in Sussex, Vicente didn’t yet know but did express he was happy to stay, happy with his contract, the club and embracing life in Brighton.

LKO2 Vicente quote LKO2 Vicente shirt

Back in the studio, guest Steve Evans complimented the job Poyet was doing with the Seagulls; “He’s a football purist… he wants them to play in a style which gets the ball down and play.” The presentation team then talked through the goals from the weekend’s one-all draw at home to Middlesbrough, which saw Calderon nod home the equaliser from a Kazenga LuaLua corner. Pundit Marc Bircham didn’t think Calderon would “adjust to the English style of play in the lower Leagues” when he first arrived but admitted his opinion had since been changed completely. Brighton were leading the renaissance of the South Coast teams, with Evans expecting them to be a Premier League club in the very near future.


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West Ham 6-0 Brighton Highlights

The Football League Show, BBC One (14th April 2012); Championship

WHAM Titles WHAM Fisher

After the Portsmouth victory placed the club in the top six, it was followed up with just one further win all season. Two draws then two defeats in a row saw the Play Off places head out of their own hands. With four matches remaining, this trip to promotion chasers West Ham would be a big chance to gain some ground on those above them. Win and the dream is still alive, lose and that’s pretty much the season done and dusted. The Hammers hadn’t won at Upton Park since February though, as their automatic push fell a little flat.

As you would expect, the BBC picked this game to feature on their highlights programme The Football League Show. The main pairing of Manish Bhasin and Steve Claridge presented the action, with commentary from Martin Fisher.

WHAM West Ham WHAM Brighton

Gus Poyet had Liam Bridcutt back in the side after serving suspension for his tenth booking of the campaign. Left-back Marcos Painter returned for the first time after three months out injured. A new name on the sheet was Gai Assulin, signed on loan from Manchester City in mid-February as part of a double deal with Abdul Razak until the end of the season. Assulin was preferred to ten goal Craig Mackail-Smith who hadn’t netted since 3rd March.

Sam Allardyce named Henri Lansbury in the starting line-up for the first time in a month. Striker Ricardo Vaz Te was in great form, having scored five in his previous four games. Captain Kevin Nolan scored the decisive goal at The Amex in the reverse fixture back in October, a match which was televised Live on Sky Sports. Taking charge of the Upton Park clash was referee Roger East.

WHAM Vaz Te opener WHAM Nolan three nil

On the day that Neptune Collonges won the last Grand National to be televised Live on the BBC, this match was very much a one horse race right from the off. The warning sign came immediately when Lansbury’s deflected shot looped over Peter Brezovan and onto the bar in the first minute. The Slovakian goalkeeper didn’t cover himself in the third minute either, as Ricardo Vaz Te’s ferocious strike from thirty yards sailed through his arms and in for one-nil. Brighton were under severe pressure and needed their ‘keeper to up his game, which he did in the following few minutes making two vital blocks. But the Hammers were not stopping there and Vaz Te doubled the advantage with less than eight minutes on the clock. His head connected with the deep cross and beat Brezovan low to his right.

Incredibly, it was three-nil just three minutes after that as West Ham went all out to obliterate the Albion within the opening passages of play. “Brighton have not turned up, this is already embarrassing,” cried commentator Martin Fisher. The marking was slack from Matt Taylor’s floated free kick. James Tomkins headed it back across goal and captain Kevin Nolan was waiting on his own to tap home into the roof of the net from all of three yards. It was a shocking start from the Seagulls, conceding three very early goals in the net right in front of the travelling support. The attack calmed down somewhat as the half progressed but by that point it was already too late to recover. Gordon Greer had an effort clawed off the goal line when it looked suspiciously over, but it would have been little reward. The deficit remained three at the break.

WHAM Vaz Te spectacular WHAM Own goal

Seventeen minutes into the second half, the West Ham onslaught continued with two quickfire goals in three minutes. Their fourth of the afternoon was the pick of the bunch, as Ricardo Vaz Te completed his hat-trick in spectacular fashion. Taylor’s cross to the back post was headed into the centre by Carlton Cole. Appeals for a penalty when Liam Bridcutt appeared to bundle over Lansbury were waved away. But it didn’t matter as the ball bounced for Vaz Te to try a bicycle kick. It absolutely flew into the back of the net for one of the finishes of the season.

When it’s not your day, the luck goes against you. It certainly didn’t go our way for West Ham’s fifth. Carlton Cole drove into the box from the left, skipped past one defender before unleashing a fierce drive. But the ball skipped up off the heels of Lansbury as he tried to get out of the way. The deflection gave Brezovan no chance as he was already committed on the ground. That was the final straw for large sections of the away support, who headed for the exits to the pub early enough to still catch the Grand National race.

Continuing on the hard luck theme, the sixth and final goal was an own goal from Gary Dicker. Mark Noble’s in swinging corner could only find Dicker just inside his own six yard box. As he tried to volley clear, he got his timing all wrong. Attempting to boot it with his right, he missed the ball completely and it bounced into the back of the net off his standing left leg. It completed a day of abject misery for the Albion, and it was somewhat fortunate to get away with just the six.

WHAM Full Time WHAM Studio

Brighton’s heaviest defeat since the seven-one humiliation at Huddersfield in August 2009 under Russell Slade put pay to the Play Off hopes this time. Albion were five points off the top six with just three matches remaining. We went so near, yet so far. But what a return to the second tier of English football. Gus Poyet knew the West Ham game plan would be to try and press and try to win it in the first twenty minutes but didn’t deal with it. “A big question that we need to ask ourselves if it was because we have a bad day or because we were not strong enough.”

In the studio, one time Seagull Steve Claridge explained how to shape up against his former side. “There are two ways of playing Brighton; you can sit off them and let them play out from the back and let them dictate the play. Or you can get after them right from the very start.” Sam Allardyce opted for the latter with unstoppable consequences, with Claridge saying it could’ve been five in the opening twenty. This was an unusual result for the club, having kept a tight ship all year. Too many draws in the final weeks of the season cost Brighton a Play Off place, but the supporters couldn’t grumble too much after making such fantastic strides at The Amex. Next season was shaping up to be a cracker.


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Report on The Amex bucking the trend of dwindling attendances

Late Kick Off, BBC One South East (23rd April 2012)

LKO3 Titles LKO3 Gupta

BBC Late Kick Off in London and the South East region featured a report on attendances at Football League matches. Host Dan Walker began, “Football would be nothing without the fans but these days it’s rare to see a packed stadium outside of the Premier League.” He then handed to Rajeev Gupta’s report detailing some of the challenges clubs faced in with their fanbase in times of austerity. Gupta was a broadcast journalist and producer for the BBC, working across various outlets including this regional magazine programme, having joined the corporation out of university four years earlier.

His report centred around two of the London and South East region clubs with contrasting fortunes; Brighton and Millwall. At The Amex, attendances couldn’t be better. The stadium was packed every week and plans had been given the go ahead already to extend the capacity to include filling in corners and adding in an upper tier to the East Stand. Three-thousand plus people were on the season ticket waiting list. But the Albion were very much an anomaly. “Football League attendances as a whole have been falling and that’s meant some clubs have had to come up with new ways to try and bring fans into grounds”, Gupta explained.

LKO3 Dix LKO3 Ambler

The report used a stadia consultant by the name of John Dix to add context to the worrying trend of dwindling support. “When you start drilling down a bit lower, what you see is the Premiership is quite insulated – not surprisingly. But it’s when you go to Championship and Leagues One and Two that you start to see some of the fans maybe drifting away there.”

We then heard from representatives for Millwall, who had the lowest average gate of any of the London sides in the Championship. Andy Ambler, their Chief Executive, shared some of the schemes they were getting behind in order to win back those fans whose interest may have lessened in recent times. The family section had changed with a concerted effort made to bring in more from the community to that part of the stadium. Things such as food options and overall facilities had been tweaked to appeal more to the whole family.

LKO3 Fans LKO3 Hebberd

John Dix outlined some of the key things clubs should be doing in order to attract higher attendances. He said they needed to understand exactly who their supporters are, where they would draw them from and target them specifically. “We see some clubs who put out a lot of information but it’s focussed at one key group; the diehard fans who will come week in, week out anyway. It’s about looking at the occasional fan.” The impact of a new stadium can benefit clubs hugely, expanding the fanbase and providing introductory offers that then convert people from newbies to regulars. Something Brighton was managing very nicely.

The Albion’s COO Richard Hebberd discussed how the club were encouraging people to make a day of it, rather than just coming for those two hours from three o’clock. The stadium opening hours were extended on matchdays, with turnstiles up two hours before kick-off. More importantly though, certainly as far as revenue was concerned, it was after the match that was proving popular. One of the areas of The Amex was open until eleven on the matchday of filming. Hebberd said, “They’re entitled to feel they’re being well treated… At the end of the day, people will spend money on something that’s good.” Seagulls supporters certainly could not grumble too much about that first season in Falmer. The club missed out on the Play Offs, what a ride it was along the way. But the only thing that ever mattered was getting into that home we could call our own. Now, for many more wonderful years to come!


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

Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 1

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

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


Away Days visit to Brighton

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

SAM Soccer AM titles SAM Away Days

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

SAM Pier SAM Sealife centre SAM Laughter therapy SAM Stadium

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

SAM Dicks Bar SAM In the stands

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


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Quiz Show from The Amex for Brighton 2-2 Blackpool

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

TILAF Titles TILAF Hosts

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

TILAF The Possession Game TILAF Home or Away

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

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

TILAF Birds Eye View TILAF Brighton players

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

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

TILAF Poyet TILAF Full Time

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

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

TILAF Half Time TILAF Penalty

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

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


3

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

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

CCUP Titles CCUP Comms

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

CCUP Teams

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

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

CCUP Post CCUP Dive incident

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

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

CCUP Goal CCUP Full Time

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

CCUP Mackail-Smith CCUP Studio

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


4

Southampton 3-0 Brighton Highlights

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

SOU FL Show titles SOU Comm

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

SOU Southampton SOU Brighton

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

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

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

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

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

SOU Poyet SOU Studio

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

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


5

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

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

LKO1 Titles LKO1 Studio

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

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

LKO1 Steggall LKO Bristol ale

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

LKO1 Touring LKO1 Martin Perry and Guy Price

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

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

LKO1 Doncaster game LKO1 Lynam

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


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

Small Screen Seagulls; FC United of Manchester (H) 27/11/2010

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sGus Poyet’s first full season in charge of Brighton had begun magnificently. The Uruguayan arrived in November 2009 with the club sat 20th in the third tier. His first task was to keep the club up and build from there. He achieved that and then some! Having lost just twice in the opening four months of the 2010/11 season, the Seagulls were flying high at the top of League One. In the final season at Withdean before moving at long, long last into a home they could call their own, promotion was in sight. As the highest ranked team currently in the FA Cup, the spotlight fell on Brighton when they were drawn with seventh tier breakaway club FC United of Manchester in Round Two. It took the Albion a penalty shoot-out replay to dispatch of non-League Woking in the First Round. With FC United defeating League opposition in the shape of Rochdale, they travelled to Withdean in buoyant mood. Waiting in the wings were the ITV cameras filming extended highlights.


Brighton 1-1 FC United, FA Cup R2; 3pm, Sat 27th Nov ’10

FCU Titles.JPG

ITV Sport regained terrestrial FA Cup broadcast rights from the BBC in 2008 after an absence of seven years. The entitled them to show Live matches from every round of the competition from the First to the Final, as well as comprehensive highlights programme. The traditional Saturday night slot was where the channel would schedule the main highlights action each round, with Sunday afternoons favoured for the Live match. Their satellite partners from this season were ESPN, who stepped in to replace Setanta when they went bust in 2009. That meant ITV had a season covering the whole thing on their own last year. With no Premier or Football League rights, ITV could devote their Saturday night schedule to the Cup. Ninety minutes of Second Round football came on-air just before eleven o’clock, hosted by Matt Smith in the South Bank Studio. Albion’s tie with non-League FC United of Manchester at Withdean was chosen to lead the programme, with Brighton firm favourites to progress to Round Three.


FA Cup Highlights, ITV1, 10.55pm (Saturday 27th November 2010)

FCU Ident FCU Sport Ident

The highlights show was the first chance to see any of the day’s FA Cup goals, with ITV1 making viewers wait until 10.55pm before coming on-air. As an ITV Sport production, their ident followed the main ITV1 sunflowers. Car company KIA sponsored the coverage, both Live and in highlight form, with three peculiar characters named Keith, Ian and Andy travelling across the country to get to their match. The title sequence was in the style of a comic book and really focussed on the famous giant-killing aspect of the old Cup. The music for the second season running was provided by Coventry band The Enemy and their hit single “Be Somebody”, whilst new graphics this season were similar in principle to their World Cup 2010 coverage. Freezing temperatures across the land put pay to two of Saturday’s Cup ties, but not at Withdean where extended highlights were on the way. Following our match, the best of the ties between AFC Wimbledon and Stevenage, Dover versus Aldershot, Crawley taking on Swindon Town whilst Swindon Supermarine went to Colchester, as well as every goal from every game. Matt Smith anchored proceedings from the ITV studio alongside his pundits John Scales and Gareth Southgate. Smith had been at ITV since 2001 and presented hundreds of hours of football, Live and highlights, for the broadcaster. He was behind Adrian Chiles in the pecking order and hosted secondary Live matches as well as the bulk of the Cup highlights.

FCU Sponsor FCU Smith FCU Studio

Gareth Southgate was one of ITV’s regulars having concentrated more on media work since leaving his role at manager of Middlesbrough in October 2009. He went to the 2010 World Cup as a star analyst and previously covered Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006 for them both in studio and latterly as England co-commentator. As a defender, he played for Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough. He won the second tier with Palace and the League Cup with both other clubs. He was part of the Boro side which incredibly made it all the way through to the Final of the UEFA Cup in 2006 with some remarkable comebacks on the way, only to lose heavily to Sevilla at the last hurdle. He won 57 caps for England but probably is most famously remembered for missing the crucial penalty in the Semi Final shoot-out against Germany at Euro ’96. John Scales was less familiar with studio punditry, having only appeared a handful of times since ending his playing career in 2001. He played three times for his country in 1995 when at Liverpool. He also enjoyed spells at Tottenham, where he won the League Cup for a second time, Bristol Rovers and Ipswich. The defender is most remembered for his time at Wimbledon from 1987 to 1994, where he was part of one of the biggest Cup Final upsets of all time when his ‘Crazy Gang’ beat Liverpool’s ‘Culture Club’ one-nil in ’88. Commentating on the big match at Withdean was Jon Champion. He joined ITV in 2001 for the launch of their Premiership highlights as well as the ITV Sport Channel, having previously worked for BBC Match of the Day for six seasons. He combined his ITV work with leading Setanta’s Live Premier League commentaries for the two seasons they had English football rights from 2007 before doing the same role for ESPN from the start of last season. He has covered four World Cups and three European Championships for television to date and is one of the most recognisable voices in the country.


FCU Teams

Gus Poyet made seven changes to the Albion side that drew nil-nil at Southampton in midweek. In came Peter Brezovan in goal to replace Casper Ankergren, just as he had done in both previous FA Cup matches. Three of the back four were changed, with only Marcos Painter surviving. Out went Gordon Greer, Adam El-Abd and Inigo Calderon with Tommy Elphick, Lewis Dunk and 37-year-old assistant manager Mauricio Taricco in their places. Liam Bridcutt returned to the holding midfield role after three games out, no room for Gary Dicker. Elliott Bennett and Radostin Kishishev both missed the First Round home tie with Woking three weeks ago but began here. Cristian Baz came in for his third start of the season, all in Cup competitions, as Agustin Battipiedi dropped down. Loan striker Chris Wood was ineligible so Glenn Murray was in the starting XI to partner Ashley Barnes.

The visitors from the seventh tier of English football were set up in protest at the Glazer’s ownership of Manchester United in 2005. They plied their trade in the Evo Stik Northern Premier Division and were managed by Karl Marginson since formation. Jake Cottrell scored in the First Round against Rochdale to have reached this point, receiving the Player of the Round award in the process. Chris Ovington was the only player not to start that memorable night. Striker Michael Norton got the last-gasp winner. Nicky Platt was formerly on the books of Liverpool and Burnley. Goalkeeper Sam Ashton played for Sam Allardyce’s Bolton in an FA Cup tie as an emergency striker in the Third Round back in 2006 before joining United of Manchester later that summer. Refereeing was Chris Sarginson.

FCU Comm FCU Barnes header FCU Goal

Brighton dominated possession and chances early on. Ashley Barnes almost capitalised from weak defending after a long ball from Elphick over the top. Ashton saved low to his left. Cristian Baz then had an opportunity but headed down instead of goalwards. The best chance though went Barnes’ way but again the Albion couldn’t get their headers right (above, top right). He met Painter’s excellent cross from the left but Ashton again denied the number nine. Elliott Bennett got in on the act with a long-range shot moving on its way through, Ashton again called into action. So it came as quite the shock when the visitors took the lead seven minutes before the break with their only shot on goal. Some nice footwork on the near touchline from Carlos Roca enabled him to get a cross into the box. Michael Norton held up before laying it off to Nicky Platt around fifteen yards out. Platt ran onto it to strike first time low and hard into the far corner past Brezovan and FC United had the lead. “It couldn’t happen again, could it?” asked commentator Jon Champion.

FCU Second Half FCU Sub FCU Red Card

That’s the way it stayed at the break. Poyet changed things around at the start of the second half, with Spanish former Valencia B and Dundee United forward Fran Sandaza entering the fray. He joined on a free back in September. He made an immediate impact, finding two chances falling to him but unable to keep either of them below the bar. The equaliser seemed inevitable, with United unable to deal with Albion’s crossing. That was made even more likely when an off the ball incident, missed by the cameras, saw the away side reduced to ten men. Defender Scott McManus was shown a straight red card, seemingly caught out by the linesman, for a push on Gary Hart. They had twenty minutes in order to hang on to a famous victory and a place in Round Three. A chance to double the lead went to Munroe when his head met the corner from Roca. Thankfully for the Seagulls, it was straight down the throat of Brezovan.

FCU Equaliser FCU One all FCU Penalty saved

Seven minutes remained on the clock when, at last, Brighton bundled home an equaliser to the relief of a frustrated Withdean crowd. Mauricio Taricco was heavily involved but substitute Fran Sandaza got the decisive touch. Taricco initially crossed for Sandaza, who couldn’t quite steer it towards goal with his head. The ball went to the far side where Marcos Painter kept it alive by lobbing the ball back into the penalty area. Taricco headed it into the danger area and Sandaza stuck a leg out on the way to guide it home from just a few yards out (above, top left). One-one and Brighton sensed blood. Taricco nearly assisted again moments later when his shot was turned goalwards by the outstretched foot of Ashley Barnes. Munroe’s head on the goal line saved United. Then deep, deep into stoppage time Munroe turned from hero to villain when he bundled over Sandaza to concede a ninety-sixth minute penalty. He could have no qualms about the decision. Elliott Bennett stepped up to take the all-important spot kick to seal a place in Round Three and join the big boys of the Premier League. To his amazement, and the delight of the travelling support up the other end behind the running track, Bennett’s penalty was saved terrifically by Sam Ashton flying to his right (above central). And in doing so earned his side a replay at Gigg Lane as it finished Brighton one, FC United of Manchester one.


FCU Final Score FCU Marginson FCU Poyet

FC United’s only-ever manager Karl Marginson was honest in his post-match assessment, saying “I wouldn’t say we were unlucky because Brighton controlled long parts of the game. I think we only had one shot in the first half and got a goal from it.” Goalkeeping hero Sam Ashton told of the research they, and specifically assistant manager Roy Soule, put in regarding penalties. “Every penalty that they took, they hit down the right apart from one lad who’s hit ’em down the left.” Albion boss Gus Poyet was disappointed to have to play a replay, giving credit to his opponent, and admitted he would be looking to play a second string team for that match. “We respect the opposition, we respect the fans, we try to put a team in there to go and win the game it was superior to the opposition. We didn’t win it. I don’t want the second game to affect the position that we are in the League.”

FCU Southgate FCU Scales

Back in the studio, a few minutes were devoted to analysing the key moments of the match with pundits Gareth Southgate and John Scales. Southgate believed United “rode their luck at times today and they nearly cost themselves with some ill-discipline at the end. But a fantastic performance from the League they’re in to be in the Third Round draw.” Scales was quick to praise the performances of the United players and particularly goalkeeper Sam Ashton. He mentioned the unrest amongst the Seagulls supporters upon the final whistle, with boos and groans, noting Brighton had enough chances to have won the game. The pair then analysed the goals with Matt Smith. For the FC United goal, striker Norton was singled out for his tireless efforts and good hold up play to lay it off for Platt to strike. The arrival of Fran Sandaza (“playing more like a San-dancer than a Sandaza” quipped Southgate) swung the game in Albion’s favour and Southgate liked what he saw of the home side. “Brighton play some fabulous football, they really do. Gus Poyet’s got them playing it out from the back, they’re well ahead in their League at the moment and you thought it was just gonna be one of those days when it wouldn’t happen for them.” The pundits agreed it was a definite penalty at the end and gave full credit to Ashton for saving and the backroom team for their meticulous research in predicting he’d go that way. It was all set up for a cracking replay; one which would be televised by ESPN eleven days later.

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

Small Screen Seagulls; Play Off Final v Notts County, 02/06/1991

Brighton on TVEight years after slipping out of the top flight and reaching the Wembley Final of the FA Cup for the first time, Brighton were poised for a return to the big time. The club were ninety minutes away from getting back into Division One, all that stood in their way were Notts County in the Barclays League Division Two Play Off Final. This was the Albion’s first visit back to the National Stadium since the 1983 Cup Final Replay defeat to Manchester United. Since then, Barry Lloyd had rejuvenated the club and snuck into the Play Offs in sixth position in the Second Tier. Highly rated Neil Warnock was the County boss aiming to thwart Lloyd’s plan. A Sunday out in the Wembley sunshine in June determined the victors. Would the Seagulls fly high again or was it the turn of the Magpies to perch on the top branch? ITV’s South and Central regions were there to see.


Notts County 3-1 Brighton, Play Off Final; 3pm, Sun 2nd Jun ’91

91POF Titles

The Football League Play Offs were introduced in 1987 as a way of determining the final promotion place in Divisions Two, Three and Four. As of 1990, they were contested by the four teams finishing just outside the automatic spots and consisted of two two-legged Semi Finals and a one-off Final held at the National Stadium of Wembley. The Play Offs were credited as being a huge success in harbouring excitement for special occasion of a showpiece Final, as well as ensuring many more meaningful and competitive games towards the latter stages of the campaign as more teams had things to play for. ITV held exclusive television rights to the entire Football League from 1988 to 1992, with regular networked Live matches from Division One as part of The Match presented by Elton Welsby or Jim Rosenthal mostly on Sunday afternoons. The regions were sometimes utilised for highlights programming, showcasing the goals from the local games, but Live games took priority. With the Play Offs still in its infancy in 1991, this match between Notts County and Brighton was not broadcast Live. As a somewhat rare treat, thirty-minute highlights were shown later that Sunday night in both the Central region and TeleVision South.

91POF Table

The final Division Two table saw Oldham promoted as champions along with West Ham and Sheffield Wednesday. Missing out by just two points were Notts County who had to settle for fourth and a place in the Play Offs in their first season back at this level. They gained promotion via the Play Off Final in 1990, defeating Tranmere by two goals to nil to take the Third Division trophy. Manager Neil Warnock was being touted for the vacant Chelsea job ahead of this match but had a job to complete; back to back promotions. They dispatched of seventh-placed Middlesbrough to reach this stage, as a Paul Harding goal with twelve minutes to go in the Second Leg made the difference. They drew the First Leg at Ayresome Park one-all. Brighton meanwhile did the double over Millwall to book their spot at Wembley. A comprehensive four-one win at the Goldstone on the Sunday set them in great stead for the trip to The Den. Mark Barham’s equalising goal just before the break was followed by a quickfire three further in the space of seven second half minutes as Mike Small, Clive Walker and Robert Codner all added their names to the scoresheet. The rematch three days later saw Millwall take the lead early on, as they did in the First Leg. But goals from Codner and John Robinson in the second half ensured a fantastically comprehensive six-two aggregate win. This was in stark contrast to the regular League results, where there was a stalemate at the Goldstone and then a three-nil defeat in South London. It was a similar story against Notts County, again a goalless draw at home was paired with an away defeat. It would be a close Final to call.


Television South & Central Sport Special, ITV (Sunday 2nd June 1991)

91POF TVS ITV Central 91

The ITV region serving Brighton and the South Coast was TVS; TeleVision South. They took over the franchise from Southern on New Year’s Day in 1982. The flagship broadcast of the station was Coast to Coast, the daily regional bulletin which won the RTS award for Best News Programme in both 1989 and 1991. Faces of the South included Fred Dinenage and Fern Britton, whilst the famous logo on the ident featured a six-coloured symbol rotating. For the ITV network, it produced such hits as gameshow Catchphrase, classic kids favourites Art Attack and Finders Keepers, and part of long-running morning talk show The Time, The Place. TVS improved the regional sport programming launching with their own weekly football highlights show in ’82, Sunday Sportshow and latterly The Saturday Match, whereas Southern had often just simulcast LWT’s The Big Match. The likes of Dinenage, David Bobin and Gerald Sinstadt were involved over the years before the main highlights were networked across the country from LWT. Both TVS and Midlands region Central broadcast thirty-minute highlights of the showpiece Play Off Final here.

91POF Newbon

Commentary on Notts County versus Brighton was provided by ITV’s main voice, Brian Moore. Joining the broadcast in 1968 for the launch of LWT and The Big Match, he established himself as a personable frontman and outstanding commentator covering all the showpiece occasions at home and abroad. Interviewing the players and managers was reporter Gary Newbon. He had a long history with the midlands, working as a reporter for ATV in the 1970s (ITV’s first midlands region) before holding the position of their Controller of Sports for more than two decades as well as presenting the local Central sports news and shows. He worked on football, darts and boxing for ITV Sport and was the touchline reporter on Live football from the 1980s onwards. For today’s broadcast, he introduced the programme for Central viewers with a brief piece to camera pitchside before handing over to Brian Moore.

91POF Brighton

Moore talked us through the team news, starting with Brighton. Barry Lloyd joined the Albion as Alan Mullery’s assistant in 1986 and took over the main job the following January. He couldn’t do enough to prevent the second relegation in five seasons though. An immediate return to Division Two came about in his first full season in charge, finishing second behind Sunderland. Lower half finishes in 1989 and ’90 were forgotten about when he guided them to this Play Off spot and just one game away from the promised land of the top flight. He made just one change to the starting line-up that defeated Millwall in the Semi Finals, Clive Walker returned to the fold having had stitches in the First Leg when colliding with an advertising hoarding. Perry Digweed in goal joined a decade earlier from Fulham. Also joining the club in 1981 was defender Steve Gatting from Arsenal who, unlike Digweed, played in the ’83 Final the last time Albion were at Wembley. The club broke the record transfer fee for a non-League player when Nicky Bissett joined from Barnet for £20,000 in March ’88. Colin Pates concluded his loan spell from Arsenal. This was Dean Wilkins’ second spell at the Albion, having played a handful of times in the 83/84 season. Midfielder Mark Barham won two international caps with England in the eighties. Winger Clive Walker was most known for his eight-year spell with Chelsea, a club synonymous with defender Gary Chivers who spent his first five professional years there. Romanian Stefan Iovan recently joined from Steaua Bucharest where he played for more than a decade. Mike Small was the top scorer this campaign with twenty-one goals in his debut season at the Goldstone. He partnered Robert Codner up top. Options on the bench were defender Ian Chapman and Republic of Ireland international striker John Byrne.

91POF Notts County

Notts County managed by Neil Warnock were an industrious, hard-working side. The world’s oldest Football League club named talented young midfielder Mark Draper and twenty-year-old striker Tommy Johnson in the starting eleven. The pair graduated through County’s youth system. Goalkeeper Steve Cherry hadn’t missed a game in the previous two campaigns. An experienced defence included ex-Peterborough right back Alan Paris and former Hull man Charlie Palmer. Centre back Craig Short was a signing from Scarborough in 1989. Midfielder Don O’Riordan scored a cracker against Spurs in the FA Cup Quarter Final back in March, ultimately losing two-one. Dean Thomas spent five years in Germany with Fortuna Dusseldorf. Phil Turner established himself as a stalwart of the County side over the previous two years. Striker Dave Regis was the younger brother of Cyrille and cousin of sprinter John. On the bench was Paul Harding, whose winner was the decider against Middlesbrough in the Semis, and forward Kevin Bartlett, who scored when the two sides met on New Year’s Day. Refereeing was Harrow schoolmaster David Elleray.

91POF Tunnel 91POF Warnock tunnel 91POF Referee 91POF Kick Off

Brighton wore their change kit, the so-called ‘Chewit wrapper’, of red and white. Notts County kicked the match off in their familiar black and white stripes, shooting from right to left in the first half. Neil Warnock emerged from the tunnel in the suit before dashing off to change into the tracksuit just as the game got underway following referee Elleray’s signal. The Albion had the first real chance of the match, beginning brightly. Dean Wilkins corner from the right was swung towards the back stick. A flick on saw the ball fall at the feet of Clive Walker. His shot almost snuck through the legs of goalkeeper Steve Cherry and in, instead deflecting it narrowly wide. The resulting corner was cleared all the way up the other end and almost presented County with a great opportunity, but for the alertness of Digweed to smother. He was forced off his line when a proposed backpass from Barham didn’t quite have the legs after it deflected off Gatting, Tommy Johnson not quite able to nip in. Cries from the Seagulls supporters of “There’s only one Perry Digweed” rung round loudly.

91POF Corner. 91POF Opening goal

However the opening goal came shortly after, with Notts County the ones celebrating and cheering. It came about after a dubious corner was awarded the Magpies way. Albion defender Gary Chivers was adamant the final touch did not come off him but Elleray disagreed and awarded the corner. Replays suggested that Chivers played it onto the foot of Dean Thomas. That was played short before being whipped in by Phil Turner from the near side. Tommy Johnson ran across his marker and glanced the header home from the six-yard line. There was very little Digweed could do about that one from such close range. The delivery was excellent and Johnson just needed a slight touch to guide it in for one-nil just before the half hour mark.

91POF Small 91POF Brighton bench 91POF Post 91POF Half Time

As Barry Lloyd, Martin Hinshelwood and co watched on from the bench unlucky to see Brighton behind, Clive Walker almost came up with the goods to equalise. He was the width of the post away from doing so just a minute before the break. Barham crossed from the right and Walker flew across the box to meet the delivery with his head, very unlucky to see it crash against the post (above, bottom left). This encouraged the crowd once more. “Seagulls! Seagulls! Seagulls!” On the break, Notts County created a half chance for Johnson which was comfortable for Digweed and so it remained one-nil to the black and white stripes at half time.

91POF 2nd Half 91POF Crossbar

Brighton got the game back underway after the break, trailing by that Johnson goal. They began the second half much like the first; well. Having struck the post earlier, it was now the turn to strike the crossbar (above right). Dean Wilkins floated a lovely ball towards the net from a free kick some thirty yards out. It beat Cherry in goal but didn’t quite dip enough and bounced off the top of the bar right in front of many of the travelling Albion faithful. But County always posed a threat and went close again through an excellent chance for Johnson. A terrific through ball from Thomas sent Johnson clear goalside of his marker. He took the shot early on the edge of the area but dragged it wide of the post.

91POF Johnson 2nd 91POF Subs

A quarter of an hour into the second period brought about the second goal, also for Notts County. Strong work by Regis on the far side to hold off Bissett was supported by Johnson nearby, County’s biggest threat. He got his shot away low, hard and, crucially, early from the far corner of the box. It flew in, beating Digweed’s hand to nestle into the bottom of the net. As commentator Brian Moore pointed out, there looked to be no danger until it was too late; “Played in by Dave Regis, taken by Tommy Johnson, wallop! And that’s two-nil.” This brought about a Brighton double substitution almost immediately, with Byrne and Chapman coming on for Iovan and Gatting.

91POF THAT Kit 91POF 3rd goal

It’s worth taking a closer look at that kit! Above left, Gary Chivers is sporting the incredible ensemble sponsored by Nobo, the office supplies company. With just under twenty minutes remaining, sub Ian Chapman scythed down Turner just outside of the right-hand side of the penalty area. The resulting free kick was curled in to the far side of the box by Mark Draper. Up jumped Dave Regis who gently cushioned the ball into the goal off his chest from six yards. An unconventional finish but an effective one none the less and that put the game out of Brighton’s reach, if it wasn’t already.

91POF Replay 91POF Mid game interview

From a coverage viewpoint, even though the match was not televised it had the unusual distinction of replay transitions. These came in the form of a picture flying into the centre with a yellow border, then flying back out again when it’s finished. Another peculiar part was when reporter Gary Newbon interviewed County boss Neil Warnock on the bench just after the third goal went in! Warnock remarked “Brighton have never worked as hard all season and I think it’s been a cracking game.” That feature was probably not going to catch on, with Warnock surprisingly accommodating despite being in the midst of a Wembley Final.

91POF Wilkins goal 91POF Brighton fans

The match wasn’t quite over as there was still time for an Albion consolation. After some terrific work from John Byrne, jinking into the box from near the left touchline he squared it. Barham let it run through for Dean Wilkins to finish first time (above left). His left footer sent the ball through the legs of defender Craig Short and out of reach of Cherry. It was celebrated in true consolation style, with little more than a handshake and a trot back to the centre circle with the game already up. But at least it gave those travelling Seagulls supporters something to cheer about. Just shy of half the 59,940 in attendance at Wembley were pleased with that last-minute strike.

91POF Trophy

There it was, the final whistle blew and Notts County were promoted back up to the top Division. Two goals from Tommy Johnson and a third from Dave Regis were the difference, with Wilkins adding no more than a personal highlight at the end. It was the black and white stripes who climbed the Wembley stairs up to the Royal Box to receive their trophy. Commentator Brian Moore crowned the moment; “Out of the Second Division and into the First by way of a Play Off victory at Wembley this season. Phil Turner raises the trophy, Notts County are back in the First Division.” Congratulations to the club and Neil Warnock, who was interviewed more traditionally by Gary Newbon to close the programme in the dressing room, followed by goalscorer Tommy Johnson. Brighton were so close but fell at the final hurdle. The top Division suddenly seemed a long way away again now.

Small Screen Seagulls; Aldershot (A) 18/11/2000

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sBrighton negotiated a move back to Sussex to play at Withdean Stadium in 1999 and immediately took to the new, if unusual, surroundings. The first campaign there brought about the highest League finish for four seasons, ending the campaign in eleventh place in Division Three. Form towards the end was particularly impressive and had the season carried on for a few more games, the Albion might even had found themselves close to a Play Off spot. Things were on the up and, in Micky Adams, the club had a bright, young manager who resonated with players and fans alike. After starting the 2000/01 campaign brightly, a tricky trip to non-League Aldershot awaited in the First Round of the FA Cup. This garnered interest from BBC Match of the Day with the potential for a Cup upset on the cards. Could the Seagulls avoid national embarrassment and progress through?


Aldershot 2-6 Brighton, FA Cup Round 1; 3pm, Sat 18th Nov ’00

ALD Titles

Beginning in 1964 to help build the public interest in football ahead of the World Cup to be staged across the country two years later, Match of the Day went on to become one of the most iconic and recognised sporting television brands. The early years had highlights of one pre-selected game per week, hence the name, the show then expanded at the end of the decade to incorporate further matches on firstly a regional, then a national basis. By the 1980s there were three fixtures selected for extended action on MotD, before losing the top flight League action in 1988. For the following four years it was FA Cup all the way until the birth of the Premiership on Sky Sports in 1992. The BBC had the highlights of this exciting new Division and typically showcased the best of three games plus a goals round-up of the rest in both League and Cup. By the time tonight’s edition was on, in November 2000, Live FA Cup rights were with Sky and ITV but, curiously, highlights of the grand old competition remained with the BBC. Which brings us up to date ahead of this clash between Aldershot and Brighton. After seeing all the top flight goals, one match received the full MotD treatment from the First Round of the FA Cup and what better choice than the Albion? Gary Lineker presented from the studio at Television Centre in London, whilst Tony Gubba was dispatched to the corner of Hampshire to commentate on this potential Cup banana skin.


Match of the Day, BBC One, 10.30pm (Saturday 18th November 2000)

BBC One ident 2000 BBC Sport ident 2000

A mammoth one-hundred-minute Match of the Day was broadcast on BBC One in the regular 10.30pm slot on Saturday 18th November 2000. Earlier in the evening you could have seen Ant and Dec host Friends Like These after a bit of The Generation Game hosted by Jim Davidson. Classic Saturday night family entertainment, even with Davidson. The extended edition of the Beeb’s long-running highlights programme was to incorporate the best of the FA Cup action alongside the regular Premiership highlights, with a full round in swing. The famous globe idents were still being used and were followed by a quick BBC Sport sting before that unmistakable title music played. It was a big day of Premiership football, with both the Manchester and North East derbies taking place. Manchester United and Sunderland came out on top of those matches, respectively. Elsewhere Charlton defeated Chelsea, causing Alan Hansen bafflement at some of the Blues defending. And in the basement battle, Bradford remained rooted to the bottom after defeat at Derby. With the top flight action complete, attention could turn to the magic of the Cup. The first goals round-up came before the extended highlights of the Seagulls visit to this garrison town. Also making the trip would be commentator Tony Gubba, a regular across BBC’s sporting output since the 1970s. He covered every Olympics from 1972 and every World Cup from 1974. He also presented midweek highlights show Sportsnight for three years until 1975. Behind Motson and Davies in the football pecking order, Gubba would often cover more of the middle ranging matches but did voice a World Cup Semi Final in ’86 and the ’96 Charity Shield in amongst his wide range of other sports such as darts, ice skating and hockey. He was a true all-rounder.

ALD Lineker ALD Pundits ALD FA Cup graphic ALD Referee

Former Leicester, Tottenham, Everton and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker successfully made the transition from player to broadcaster after retirement in the early 1990s. He began as a pundit, making appearances on ITV during the World Cup whilst still a professional, before being given more regular work by the BBC when his playing career was drawing to a close. When he moved to Japan, he still cropped up on Match of the Day and BBC Radio 5 Live when available. He fully concentrated on his media aspirations after calling it a day in ’94 and wanted to go down the presenting route more so than sitting on the other side of the studio. He first big hosting role came in 1996 when he took over preview programme Football Focus from Steve Rider and went on to front Grandstand and Match of the Day as cover for the main hosts. His biggest gig came when Des Lynam transferred to ITV in August 1999 which enabled Lineker to step into the great man’s shoes and become the BBC’s face of football. He was joined in the MotD studio for this edition by regulars Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson. The former Liverpool defenders were long-standing members of the BBC football team. Hansen joined in 1992 for the re-launch of the new Premiership-based programme, having tried his hand in the studio for Sky Sports on their Sunday afternoon Italian football matches the season before, straight out of retirement. With his distinctive Scottish accent and erudite analysis, Hansen quickly became one of the leading pundits on television and was the corporation’s first choice. Mark Lawrenson also began his punditry career elsewhere before becoming a mainstay of Match of the Day, with appearances on ITV’s Welsh and West Country region, HTV West, as well as Sky Sports Soccer Saturday and European matches. He had a brief spell coaching at Newcastle in the mid-90s before returning to the television studio and radio gantries with the BBC. The pairing was now their first choice studio pundits.


ALD Aldershot

The story of today’s hosts, Aldershot Town, is one of hope from despair. Their predecessors, Aldershot FC, racked up debts they just couldn’t afford to pay back and were wound up in March 1992. In doing so they became the first Football League club to go out of business during the season since Accrington thirty years earlier. Aldershot regrouped later in ’92, adopted the Town name and began life as a football club five Divisions lower than their March position; Isthmian League Division Three. Fans stuck with them with big attendances and success came quickly as they climbed back up the pyramid. Two promotions in the first two seasons saw them compete in the Isthmian League Division One by 1994, and the Premier Division by 1997, the level where they were at when Brighton came to town. This was one level below the Conference. Manager George Borg took over for the 97/98 campaign and gained promotion in his first year and local Cup joy in subsequent ones. The star name in his side was veteran striker Gary Abbott, a non-League legend showing no signs of slowing down at the age of thirty-six. He built a name for himself scoring goals for Welling in the 1980s, joined the Shots in 1998 and won last year’s Non-League Player of the Season. He’s partnered up top by Wayne Andrews, a pacy twenty-two-year-old signed from St Albans in February. Captain Mark Blake began at Southampton before spells at Fulham, Shrewsbury and Cannes in France. Winger Mark Graham enjoyed Football League experience, spending five years at QPR before moving on to Cambridge. Substitute Stafford Brown had a three-month spell with Brighton at the start of season 1998/99.

ALD Brighton

Micky Adams brought his side to Aldershot sitting second in the Division Three table and on course for promotion. He’d built a consistent core team with three starting all eighteen League matches thus far. Amongst those were top-scorer Bobby Zamora, with ten goals to his name, all coming at Withdean. His strike partner Gary Hart was also an ever-present, as was left-footed right-back Paul Watson. He was also a dead-ball specialist, adept at free-kicks and penalties. Combative midfielder Charlie Oatway returned to the starting line-up after suspension, receiving a red card in the top of the table defeat at Chesterfield. Alongside him was Richard Carpenter, who missed two matches in the early stages of the season but has been immovable since returning. The same goes for Danny Cullip, a rock at the back. Matthew Wicks was his centre-back partner, a former Arsenal and Manchester United youth prospect who joined initially on loan from Peterborough before making the switch permanent this year. The defence ably protected Dutch goalkeeper Michel Kuipers, signed on a free transfer from Bristol Rovers over the summer. Captain Paul Rogers had top flight experience with Sheffield United and even scored the winner for Wigan in the Auto Windscreens Shield Final at Wembley in 1998. Options from the bench included Scouse striker Lee Steele, tricky winger Paul Brooker and solid centre back Andy Crosby. Refereeing the contest was Paul Rejer.

ALD Carpenter 1-0 ALD 1st penalty challenge ALD 1st penalty ALD One One

The Albion got the game underway in the rain sodden pitch, kicking from right to left in the first half. It didn’t take them long at all to settle into the match, scoring the opener after just two minutes. Charlie Oatway was tripped by Ricard Gell around thirty yards from goal. Paul Watson with his left foot and Richard Carpenter with his right both stood over the set piece. It was the latter who struck it and struck it well (above, top left). It flew around the wall and into the back of the net, goalkeeper Pape was nowhere near it. The perfect start and what a fantastic goal from Carpenter. Commentator Tony Gubba drew comparisons with England’s own free kick specialist David Beckham, adding “he won’t have scored many better himself.” Aldershot got right back into the Cup tie around twenty-five minutes when Danny Cullip fouled Wayne Andrews in the box to concede a penalty. Kerry Mayo cut out Protheroe’s forward ball, diverting it into the area. Andrews got there quickest ahead of Cullip, whose outstretched leg brought the striker down (above, top right). The Shots talisman Gary Abbott stepped up and blasted his kick straight down the middle but, crucially, high enough for Kuipers not to get a meaningful hand to it, just fingertips on the way through (above, bottom left). One-one and it was game on at the Recreation Ground.

ALD Zamora challenge ALD Watson 1st pen

The pace of Andrews up top almost put the home side in the lead soon after the equaliser. He picked up a pass around the halfway line before going on a lightning run through to the area. Matthew Wicks did his best to stay with him all the way and just did enough, with Andrews forced slightly wide his shot smashed into the side netting. Brighton then began to take control of the match and should have taken the lead through Bobby Zamora. He latched onto a fantastic Watson cross, the header just not quite on target as it smacked against the crossbar and out to safety. Very unlucky. He was not to be deterred though as he raced onto a Kerry Mayo ball over the back line. Zamora’s first touch took him into the box out on the left whilst his second put the ball past the outrushing goalkeeper. Pape had already slid in and his arms caught Zamora to bring him down for a penalty, this time to the Albion (above left). It may have looked a little theatrical but the contact was there and enough to send Zamora flying and hand the ‘keeper a card. Paul Watson stepped up and converted the spot kick expertly (above right), tucked into the corner low and hard to his right to give Brighton a two-one lead right on half-time.

ALD Second Half ALD Oatway ALD Oatway goal 2 ALD One Three

Into the second period and it didn’t take Brighton long to extend their lead, beginning the second as brightly as they had the first half. A positive drive down the left flank from Welsh wizard Nathan Jones gained territory. His cut back found Charlie Oatway in space some twenty-two or so yards out. He took two touches to get the ball out of his feet before looking up and curling a shot magnificently into the top right-hand corner of the net (above, top right and bottom left). What a sensational goal! The rare sight of an Oatway goal must have caught everybody by surprise, particularly the extravagant manner of it. Commentator Tony Gubba called; “Good strike! Ohhhh well done Oatway. It’s three-one now, Brighton and that might well knock the stuffing out of Aldershot.” The replay from behind the goal showed just what a strike it was, no chance again for the goalie. Oatway notched his first of the campaign eight minutes into the second half and the travelling supporters began chanting and singing his name.

ALD 3rd penalty foul ALD Watson 2nd pen

There was no let up from Brighton, keen to get the game beyond the reach of the Reds. Zamora tried a long crossfield pass to Jones, which was just cut out by Protheroe. His header sent the ball bouncing around and into the penalty area. Pape came to claim but lost possession in a tussle with Jones. The ‘keeper then proceeded to drag the Welshman down in the resulting scramble (above left), with referee Rejer under no illusions and awarded the third penalty of the match. Paul Watson again took the kick and again sent it flying into the back of the net (above right). It was identical to his first in that it was struck low and hard into the bottom right-hand corner past the stretched arm of Pape, the only difference was it was now at the opposite end. It was another fantastic penalty and surely now the game was beyond the non-League outfit. Four-one the score at the hour mark as the rainfall got heavier in Hampshire.

ALD Subs ALD Zamora goal ALD Wicks goal ALD Wicks celebration

A triple substitution for Aldershot prompted a response, with one-time Albion man Stafford Brown bundling the ball into the goal. However it was deemed unfair by the referee who adjudged the number fifteen to have fouled Michel Kuipers. He pretty much jumped into him as Kuipers claimed a routine cross, with the result that both he and the ball ended over the line. A double sub of their own saw Lee Steele and Paul Brooker on for Albion. And a fifth came shortly after. Gary Hart’s cross from the right bounced up off a defender in the box and landed kindly at the back post for an unmarked Bobby Zamora to nod home from just a couple of yards out (above, top right) with a quarter of an hour to go. It was his first away goal of the season. And the rout was completed following an Oatway corner late on. Gary Hart hung out a leg to meet it fifteen yards from goal. His touch fell to Matthew Wicks on the edge of the six-yard box who instinctively prodded home (above, bottom left). It just needed a little touch as the combination of the slick surface and the close proximity to goal was too much to prevent it going in.

ALD Consolation ALD Goalscorers

A six-one scoreline perhaps flattered Brighton a little, who had been by far the better side but took their opportunities better and stood firmer. As commentator Gubba pointed out, “As the rain continues to fall, Aldershot’s defence proving as leaky as their guttering.” The giantkilling potential had long gone but there was still time for the home fans to cheer something as they scored a consolation second with a couple of minutes left. Some nice work from sub Brown presented Abbott with the ball near the eighteen-yard line. His fierce shot stung the palms of a diving Michel Kuipers to force a corner. The resulting set-piece was swung in to the near post and temporarily cleared after a scramble. Left-back Chewins crossed it back in high towards the back stick. Waiting there was, of course, Gary Abbott who arched his neck and powered a header across the face and into the corner of the net. It was a great header and no more than he deserved having worked tirelessly all game in difficult circumstances. And so they pulled one back to make the final scoreline Aldershot two, Brighton six. It was excellent reading for Seagulls supporters; the upset was avoided and then some! The ghosts of the previous non-League defeats to Kingstonian, Hereford and Sudbury were banished for now. National television highlights coverage was one to savour rather than peer behind the sofa at. Micky Adams and his men were through to Round Two.


ALD Scoreline ALD Borg ALD Adams

In the post-match interviews we heard from Shots boss George Borg as well as their scorer Gary Abbott. Borg was disappointed at half-time to have conceded so close to the break to go behind but remained gracious; “All credit to Brighton they played very well today, knocked it around and we’ve got no complaints really.” Abbott agreed that the first half penalty was the turning point after putting up a decent fight. Micky Adams returned the compliments to the hosts, saying “I thought they were terrific today. On their day I think they’ll cause teams a lot of problems.” The teams were friendly at full-time, applauding each other off the pitch after a crackingly entertaining and open Cup tie. However, it was not to last for Borg who left Aldershot later that month. Micky Adams meanwhile continued to lead Brighton on to greater things and sealed promotion from Division Three at the end of the season with the title trophy secured in the process.

ALD Studio ALD Lawrenson

With so many games and so many goals to cram in, there was no time for any analysis on Match of the Day back in the studio other than a brief word from former Albion defender Mark Lawrenson. He played over 150 times for the club in the late seventies and early eighties before securing his big move to Liverpool where he became a household name. After the ten minutes or so of match action, Lawrenson said “It’s always nice to see your old team do well. If you consider, what, two or three years ago could’ve gone out the League and could’ve actually been playing Aldershot in a League match. They’re doing very well in Division Three, right manager in Micky Adams and long may it continue.” Hear, hear, Lawro. And that was it as far as the Albion were concerned for this edition of the programme. Lineker introduced the rest of the round-ups before the long night was over. Brighton’s progress in the FA Cup came to an end in Round Two with a two-one defeat away at fellow Division Three side Scunthorpe. Better things were to come but for now, that six-two scoreline would do very nicely thank you very much. Six of the best.

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 1

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

SUN Commentary Box

OPENING IN STYLE (7th August 1999) Division Three

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

Mansfield Titles Mansfield Lorenzo

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

Mansfield Intro Mansfield Lynam Mansfield Freeman first Mansfield Thomas

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

Mansfield Freeman hat trick Mansfield Six

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


2

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

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

Chesterfield Intro Chesterfield aston

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

Chesterfield Goal Chesterfield Scoreline Chesterfield trophy Chesterfield celebrations

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

Chesterfield Adams Chesterfield Goalscorers chart Chesterfield final table

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


3

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

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

Bradford Titles Bradford Division One

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

Bradford Scoreline Bradford Penalty  Bradford Rodger Bradford Foul

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

Bradford Kuipers Bradford table

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


4

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

The Championship, ITV1; Brighton 1-0 Rotherham

Rotherham titles Rotherham Intro

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

Rotherham Townsend Rotherham Claridge Rotherham McGhee Rotherham Claridge playing

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

Rotherham Harding Rotherham scoreline

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

5

AND AGAIN (26th December 2004) Division One

The Championship, ITV1; Brighton 2-1 Gillingham

Gillingham titles Gillingham Smith

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

Gillingham intro Gillingham Crofts Gillingham Carpenter equaliser Gillingham Virgo winner  

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

Gillingham scoreline

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


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