World Cup 1994 on ITV

World Cup Logo

FIFA brought the world of football to the United States of America for the staging of the fifteenth World Cup in 1994. However, the tournament would perhaps be best remembered for events off the field. On the opening day, America was gripped by an altogether different occasion involving a sports star as former NFL player OJ Simpson went on the run from the police in a car chase which gripped the nation and played out Live on television, following suspicions of murdering his wife. When the football did get underway, it was once again Diego Maradona who grabbed the headlines for the wrong reasons when he was sent home after two group matches due to failing doping. He was found with a ‘cocktail of drugs’ in his system, which came as no surprise to anyone who saw his extreme close-up celebration at the camera after his one and only goal this summer against Greece. And Colombian defender Andres Escobar was tragically murdered by members of a drugs cartel five days after his country was eliminated from the tournament, believed to be in retaliation for his own goal against the host nation in the group stages. Elsewhere there were no home nations present at the World Cup for the first time since 1938, owing largely to Graham Taylor’s disastrous campaign with England and a Scotland side in decline. Republic of Ireland were the nearest representative and upset the odds immediately by beating Italy in New York. They graced the knockout stage before elimination at the hands of the Dutch. The competition culminated with the first ever Final penalty shoot-out, as Italy were defeated by Brazil in one of the most laboured of matches. British broadcasters BBC and ITV were there to beam the vast majority of matches direct to our late-night living rooms. In this post I look at the efforts of ITV, who opted to base themselves over in the International Broadcast Centre in Dallas.

 

ITV Sport logoPresenters; Matthew Lorenzo, Tony Francis
Pundits; Denis Law, Ray Wilkins, Don Howe, Jack Charlton
Commentators; Brian Moore, Alan Parry, John Helm, Peter Brackley, Rob Palmer
Co-Commentators; Ron Atkinson, Kevin Keegan, Trevor Francis
Reporters; Gary Newbon, Gabriel Clarke, Phil Mepham


TITLE SEQUENCE & THEME TUNE

ITV Titles

Theme: Daryl Hall & The Sounds of Blackness – Gloryland

ITV’s title music was also the tournament’s official song, sung by Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates fame, accompanied by Minnesota based gospel choir The Sounds of Blackness. Gloryland featured heavy saxophone use, patriotic lyrics and was very catchy. The titles lasted just under a minute and incorporated the ITV Sport logo and programme sponsors Panasonic into the piece. The song was also used on the closing credits as well as instrumental stings going in and out of advert breaks.

ITV titles 1 ITV titles 2 ITV titles 3 ITV titles 4

Lots of typical American imagery featured, with the flag draped and the eagle flying through, mixed with football action which was updated throughout the tournament. The flags of the various participants were also shown rippling across the screen. It ended with the eagle landing and turning its head to the side, where its eye would form the letter O of the World Cup 94 title card. Early in the tournament, the flags would unveil US landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty or Mount Rushmore instead of footballing action, and were variable depending on the match or programme it was introducing. Below is the title sequence to the Italy v Spain Quarter Final.


PRESENTATION TEAM

ITV Lorenzo IBC

Matthew Lorenzo anchored ITV’s World Cup coverage for the one and only time, in doing so becoming the youngest lead presenter of a tournament at the age of 35. He enjoyed rather a whirlwind success with ITV, having joined the Sport department ahead of the 1993/94 campaign to front Live Champions League football. The competition had launched the year before with Ian St John at the helm but a shake-up of personnel saw huge change. Carlton and independent production company Grand Slam Sports took over from LWT in producing the football and cleared out the majority of their old guard; Saint and Greavsie, Elton Welsby and Nick Owen to name a few. In came Lorenzo with a newer breed of pundit; Don Howe, Ray Wilkins, Trevor Francis and, a returning favourite, Denis Law. This new team saw one of the most dismal England campaigns in recent times as, under Graham Taylor, the national side failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup. ITV picked up away matches in the Netherlands and Poland as well as friendly competition the 1993 US Cup. England failed to win any of those five matches.

Lorenzo 94 Tony Francis 94ITV Studio 2

Undeterred by England’s failure, ITV decided to base their entire production on location for the first time at a World Cup. In 1990 there was a dual presentation from London and Italy and previous tournaments had largely been based in their London Studios. But for this one their infamous Dallas bunker was the setting, part of the International Broadcast Centre shown above right. However, as this was a windowless studio disconnected from the atmosphere of the grounds and the comforts of home it really lacked the desired effect. Indeed, many viewers perhaps would not have known they weren’t in London at all. Lorenzo was a perfectly competent host, hired on his ability to remain cool, relaxed and witty in the style of Des Lynam on the Beeb. But that doesn’t translate as well when there are regular ad breaks and scripted links. ITV’s coverage of the tournament was panned by critics, viewers and even their own staff and it seemed Lorenzo was made scapegoat. When the tournament ended he was given the boot and wasn’t even invited to their World Cup wrap party – according to a 2017 interview Lorenzo gave to the hugely entertaining Quickly Kevin 90s football podcast. He returned to where his broadcasting days began – Sky – and forged a successful career hosting multiple Live sports and magazine programmes including the first incarnation of Goals on Sunday. When Matthew wasn’t hosting in Dallas, his understudy on highlights, previews and other Live games was Tony Francis (above right); previously ITV’s Champions League reporter and host in the Central region.

Law 94 ITV WilkinsITV duo

ITV’s core punditry line up was small but their US base did allow for co-commentators to do stints in the studio and vice versa. Leading the line was former Manchester United striker Denis Law. After a hugely successful career in the North West of England, the Scotsman became a regular in the media after retiring in 1974, including at the ’78 World Cup for BBC. In the 1980s co-hosted Granada’s highlights show Kick Off Match with Elton Welsby. He was part of ITV’s commentary team for the 1982 World Cup, a role he resumed alongside Brian Moore for Manchester United’s early Champions League adventures at the beginning of the 90s. For this World Cup he was largely studio based with occasional stints on the road up on the gantry. As the tournament progressed, so did his tan as those hot summer days started to show! A mainstay of this ITV studio was former England international Ray ‘Butch’ Wilkins. The ex-midfielder was a regular at tournaments for the national side before his last cap in 1986. Whilst still playing at club level he was now a regular in the media. For Italia ’90 he co-commentated for BBC and was a constant presence on Channel 4’s groundbreaking coverage of Serie A in the early part of the decade. When ITV picked up a couple of England Live matches, he joined the team for those, including a furious appearance after defeat to the Netherlands thanks to Ronald Koeman left England all but unable to qualify for USA ’94. His combative playing style was at odds with his friendly, charming persona on television and would go on to feature heavily on the box for many years to come across a variety of broadcasters as well as being in and out of coaching.

Howe 94 ITV Charlton

Another stable of Channel 4’s excellent Football Italia coverage was Don Howe (above left). Going into this tournament, Howe had recently joined new England manager Terry Venables’ set up as assistant coach, having previously worked under Ron Greenwood and Bobby Robson for several years. As a right-back, his playing career was largely at West Brom before joining Arsenal. When he went into management, he took charge of both clubs amongst others. Howe’s reputation as a coach was very high and was brought in to add a tactical perspective, following Andy Gray and Alan Hansen’s lead on other networks. The fourth regular in the studio team was Trevor Francis, another of ITV’s recent England international recruits. Francis’ distinctive West Country accent and nasally tone made his voice instantly recognisable and, like Wilkins, came across as a very likeable man on screen. Despite being 40 years old at this World Cup, Francis had only just finished playing, enjoying a player-manager role at Sheffield Wednesday. He worked for ITV’s coverage of the 1990 World Cup as well as the 1988 European Championships and was a voice in demand when his playing and managing schedule could fit. The final member of the ITV studio was unavailable for the first couple of weeks due to actually being part of the tournament! Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton slotted in to the line-up after his side exited at the last 16 stage. His brother Bobby had been a familiar presence over on the BBC during the 1980s, punditing and commentating on Cup Finals and major tournaments, whilst Jack had been involved on ITV even earlier; part of the fiery 1974 World Cup panel in London with Brian Clough and Derek Dougan. Jack Charlton took over the reins of Ireland in 1986 and had successfully guided them to the Finals in his first four qualification campaigns – ’88, ’90, ’92 and this one. During the Euros in Sweden two years earlier, he also worked for ITV once Ireland had been knocked out and during his weeks in America made many friends with press and journalists around the world. He’d continue to be a presence on ITV for the following years.

ITV Moore & Atkinson

In the commentary box leading ITV’s coverage was once again Brian Moore. This was his seventh World Cup with ITV and was very much THE voice of football for them stretching back three decades. With ITV’s relatively small portfolio now compared to previous years, he would cover pretty much every big match they had; European Cup Finals, England internationals and major tournaments. For this Cup, he was reluctant to spend the duration away from his family and so had a break during the last 16 matches, returning to England for a few days. This gave an opportunity for bigger Live matches to the rest of ITV’s bunch; Alan Parry, John Helm and Peter Brackley. As with 1990, Moore focussed solely on commentating instead of combining it with presenting. Opening ITV’s tournament was second choice Alan Parry. He joined the network from the BBC in 1985 principally for Live athletics commentaries. Over the next couple of years he became more and more involved in their football, and by the time Martin Tyler left for Sky, Parry had risen to number two for Italia ’90 and Euro ’92. He was Central’s voice of the Football League, commentating on a Live match most weeks and one of only a few who survived the big overhaul behind the scenes. Helm joined Yorkshire Television in 1981 and covered matches around the country when the highlights were networked two years later. This was his fourth World Cup for ITV and was given perhaps his most high profile assignments yet, covering the non-Live Semi Final and Third Place Play Off matches for the highlights shows. This was Peter Brackley’s first World Cup back at ITV after four years on satellite television with Sky and Eurosport; including Italia ’90 for the latter as well as the former’s first ever Live match which came from the Zenith Data Systems Cup (also Sky One showed a tie from that Cup between Crystal Palace and Swindon in February 1990, which coincidentally had Matthew Lorenzo as pitchside reporter and Ron Atkinson alongside Brackley). Completing the commentary line up was Rob Palmer. He was one of ITV’s rising stars, having joined Granada from BBC radio earlier in the decade. His previous career was actually on the field, as goalkeeper for the likes of Derby’s youth academy as well as in America and non-League. For ITV his voice was heard on Live League matches in the North West and various highlights, including for the first time at a major tournament.

Atkinson & Newbon

Keeping the commentators’ company on the gantry were ITV regulars Ron Atkinson and Kevin Keegan, along with the previously mentioned Trevor Francis and Denis Law who combined it with studio appearances. Atkinson was the principle summariser and had been on and off for many years, whenever he wasn’t in management. His major tournament commentaries date back as far 1980 where he did the Final with Brian Moore and covered ever subsequent Championships to this point bar Euro ’84. His perma-tan, recognisable voice and fondness for creating his own language turned him into a popular cult figure and was the go-to man for ITV whenever a big match was on and was Central Television’s main man. His partnership with Brian Moore was particularly enjoyable. The other regular partner was Kevin Keegan. The ex-England hero had featured in the studio for ITV during his playing career, including on the groundbreaking World Cup punditry panels during the 1970s which continued on into the 80s. With Ian St John dropped, Keegan took his tournament co-commentary spot behind Atkinson for this Cup and featured on the Champions League. He combined this with his first managerial position at Newcastle United where he was enjoying great success. ITV used him whenever they could from this point on.

ITV Newbon Clarke 94

Reporting on the action around the country and on the touchlines were Gary Newbon, Gabriel Clarke (above right) and Phil Mepham. Newbon was the chief reporter and covered the Republic of Ireland matches as well as the pick of the rest, interviewing players and managers. His association with ITV dates back to the 1960s when he began with Westward TV before becoming most known for his work in the Midlands on ATV then Central. He was the main pitchside reporter across ITV’s Live output – England, European Cup and tournaments – as well as hosting regional presentations of news and sport. Understudy to Newbon was Gabriel Clarke. He joined Saint and Greavsie‘s show as a reporter in 1991, voicing goal round ups, features and interviews until its demise the following summer. He would appear in front of the camera following this tournament, hosting the new Endsleigh Football League Extra networked highlights programme. Another voice heard during coverage of this World Cup was Phil Mepham, doing programme features and round ups. Mepham was a sports reporter for the Central region, clearly signalling which area the new ITV Sport bosses were getting much of their talent from. In the Final credits, Mepham was listed as ‘News Editor’ rather than reporter.


LIVE MATCH SELECTION

ITV’s pick selection of the World Cup was front-loaded, choosing to guarantee themselves with a couple of the Republic of Ireland’s group matches ahead of unknown knockout clashes. As a result, this left them with the middle of the night kick-off time for the Semi Final and the weaker looking Quarter Finals. They showed one fewer match in the group stages than their BBC counterparts (technically one and a half as only the second half of USA v Romania was Live and even that was a last minute decision replacing scheduled highlights), which lead to calls of their coverage being a bit half-bothered. With the kick-off times being quite unfriendly to UK audiences, and having no English representatives, it was impressive that so much of the group stage was covered Live. Clashing matches were not, with Eurosport picking up the bulk of those (and simulcasting many others with the terrestrial channels). Overall, ITV broadcast nineteen World Cup matches Live and direct from USA 1994.

GROUP STAGES; Friday 17th June
Spain 2-2 South Korea (12.30am Kick Off)

Saturday 18th June
Rep of Ireland 1-0 Italy (9pm)

Monday 20th June
Netherlands 2-1 Saudi Arabia (12.30am)

Tuesday 21st June
Germany 1-1 Spain (9pm)

Wednesday 22nd June
USA 2-1 Colombia (12.30am)

Thursday 23rd June
South Korea 0-0 Bolivia (12.30am)

Friday 24th June
Rep of Ireland 1-2 Mexico (5.30pm) & Sweden 3-1 Russia (12.30am)

Saturday 25th June
Belgium 1-0 Netherlands (5.30pm)

Sunday 26th June
USA 0-1 Romania (9pm) *2nd Half Live only*

Tuesday 28th June
Brazil 1-1 Sweden (9pm)

LAST 16; Saturday 2nd July
Spain 3-0 Switzerland (9.30pm)

Sunday 3rd July
Sweden 3-1 Saudi Arabia (6pm)

Monday 4th July
USA 0-1 Brazil (8.30pm)

Tuesday 5th July
Italy 1-1 Nigeria, 2-1 AET (6pm)

QUARTER FINALS; Saturday 9th July
Italy 2-1 Spain (5.05pm)

Sunday 10th July
Sweden 1-1 Romania, 2-2 AET – SWE win 5-4 on penalties (8.30pm)

SEMI FINALS; Wednesday 13th July
Brazil 1-0 Sweden (12.30am)

FINAL; Sunday 17th July
Brazil 0-0 Italy, AET – BRA win 3-2 on penalties (8.30pm)


COVERAGE & GRAPHICS

ITV Sport Ident ITV Sponsor

The ITV Sport logo kicked off the coverage of each programme by fading in over a spinning football, incorporated into the title sequence and sponsorship whilst Gloryland began to play. The logo was adapted to have the American style stars and stripes across the letter V. ITV’s coverage was sponsored by Panasonic using the tagline “Great shots of the World Cup”. Their sponsorship bumpers had children painted with the various colours of the competing nations flags. After this, the USA flag draped over the screen and the full title sequence came to life as the beat of the music kicked in.

ITV intro ITV Mepham

ITV’s graphics were simplistic, mostly using a lower third bar flying in and out from right of screen. The Americanised ITV Sport logo was placed on the left whilst the text was bold on the top line and italicised on the bottom line. These were used during the studio coverage. Above left; we have an example of the introductory graphic setting the scene for the upcoming Live game with the fixture and kick off time. Above right; the on-screen graphic at the beginning of Phil Mepham’s report captioning his name in the build up to Italy versus Spain.

ITV graphics 1 ITV aston 1

Above left; Full screen graphic outlaying Italy’s group and their odds to win it at the beginning of the tournament during the preview programme. The background featured a couple of flags, as also appearing in the title sequence. Above right; ITV’s World Cup astons for managers and players. The additional detail shows the flag of the country, in this case Brazil for their manager Carlos Alberto Parreira.

ITV Italy line up ITV Spain line up

ITV’s team formation line up graphic would differ depending on what part of the programme they were shown, with an opaque background if shown during the studio parts and a semi-translucent background for kick off. Above left; the Italy formation for their match against Spain as shown during the pre-match build up with the pundits. The same background is being used as earlier and the starting eleven is lined up in their playing positions. Above right; the formation graphic that the commentator ran through immediately before kick-off. The semi-translucent graphic allowed the stadium to become the background. This example is also from Spain’s clash with Italy.

Ireland Team FIFA graphics

If ITV did not use their own graphics for the team line ups ahead of kick off, the world feed graphics would be used, as shown above left. This would be the same on the BBC. The world feed graphics had a blue background with italic writing and underlining dots. During the match at occasional intervals, the clock would appear in the top right of the screen, as shown above right. Any in-game graphics for player names, yellow cards, substitutions etc would all be world feed.

ITV Kick Off ITV Comms

At the kick-off of each ITV match, the scene would be set by graphics in the lower third on the right hand side. The fixture would flash up followed by “Live from the” stadium and location information; above left. ITV then added their commentary team name checks; above right. These were made in the style of the official world feed, with a blue background and white text. The panels featured the same faint lines within the blue, mimicking the official tournament branding.

ITV replays ITV in game aston

For action replays, the footage would fly in from the left of screen into the middle with a big white border; above left. Once done, the replay would fly out to the right hand side in a similar fashion. This was the same across the world and occurred for all matches bar the final, where the white border was replaced by a thicker bar stating the two competing countries. Above right; an example of an in-game name aston for Swedish forward Kennet Andersson. As mentioned earlier, these graphics were provided by the host broadcaster for the tournament and used around the world.

ITV Scorebar

The host broadcaster did not provide a permanent scoreboard, allowing each rights holder to add their own custom one over the top of the pictures. Scoreboards and on-screen clocks weren’t particularly common on UK television. Indeed, it was seen as somewhat revolutionary when Sky Sports adopted one for the launch of their Premiership coverage in 1992, however other sports and broadcasters had used permanent scoreboards on occasions prior to this. ITV followed suit the following year for their European and domestic football coverage and by the time of the 1994 World Cup it was very much a rarity to not have the constant reminder of the score and clock present on the main UK broadcasters. Above; the US-style ITV Sport logo was slapped on the top-left of screen, with translucent boxes surrounding it. The scoreline with full team names appeared in a bar on the right, whilst the timer went underneath the logo. For broadcasters that did not use a permanent clock, the world feed graphics popped up on occasions with a reminder of the score at the bottom of the screen and the time in the top right above a nice little pie chart showing the match progress (demonstrated higher up the page). This was very similar in principle to the domestic scoreboard used in previous months by ITV, with the logo left of the fixture and clock.


FEATURES & SUPPORT PROGRAMMING

Highlights and preview programmes did exist in the ITV schedule but they were not regular. The late night kick offs did allow for an extended build up and therefore an opportunity for highlights of that day’s other matches. For the primetime kick offs, coverage was generally kept to a minimum, with fifteen to thirty minute intros and little by way of post-match reaction and analysis. Tony Francis often presented what little amount of preview and review programming there was, with former magazine staple Saint and Greavsie now axed following the loss of top flight football in 1992.


THE FINAL

ITV’s coverage of the World Cup Final was hosted Live from their Dallas studio inside the International Broadcast Centre. Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton was a guest alongside the regular studio team.

BRAZIL 0-0 ITALY (AET, BRA win 3-2 on pens) World Cup 1994 Final, Los Angeles
Sunday 17th July 1994, 8.30pm Kick Off ITV Logo

ITV Credits 1 ITV Credits 2

PRESENTER Matthew Lorenzo GUESTS Jack Charlton, Don Howe, Ray Wilkins & Denis Law
COMMENTATORS Brian Moore & Ron Atkinson
Hosted from the IBC, Dallas     8-11pm Live on ITV (Extended to approx 11.30pm)

Trophy Lift 2

For details on BBC’s World Cup 1994 coverage click HERE.

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.