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.

1

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.


2

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; 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.

#9: Brentford 4-0 Brighton 24/01/2002

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

BRE Titles

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

ITV Trail BRE Promo BRE Ident BRE Sponsor BRE Intro

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

BRE Brentford BRE Formation BRE Brighton

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

BRE Smith BRE Osman BRE Hendrie Havord and FaircloughBRE Studio

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

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

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

BRE Bailey BRE Coppell

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

BRE Taylor BRE Zamora warm up

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

BRE Booker BRE Watson

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

BRE Video Scouting BRE Scouting Left Side

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

BRE Analysis BRE Taylor post match

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

BRE Kick Off BRE Comms BRE Referee BRE Two Nil

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

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

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

BRE Table

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

BRE Replay

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

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

Withdean on Screen; Milestone Matches part 2

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. This is the SECOND part of the story, the first can be found here.

Ipswich 05 Pitch invasion

1

BIGGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY (11th November 2006) FA Cup Round One

Match of the Day, BBC One; Brighton 8-0 Northwich Victoria 

Northwich Intro Northwich red button

After a disappointing 2005/06 season which saw the Albion relegated in last place from the Championship, and further frustrating delays over the planning permission for the new stadium in Falmer, the club were back in the third tier for a period of transition. It got worse just a month into the campaign when boss Mark McGhee left after a lacklustre start and three consecutive losses. Hopes of bouncing straight back up like the last time they were at this level were quickly diminished. Chairman Dick Knight said at the time he thought McGhee had lost the fans and accepted his proposal to stand down. Former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins, coach of the academy, was appointed initially in a caretaker role before being given the post full time. Results weren’t showing much sign of improving with five defeats on the bounce, including a disappointing defeat Live on Sky against Blackpool in October. That proved to be a bit of a turning point as Wilkins’ young Seagulls then began a six match unbeaten run, five of them wins, ahead of an FA Cup 1st Round tie at home to Conference side Northwich Victoria. As the 1990s showed, Albion taking on non-League sides in the Cup wasn’t always a guarantee of a result. Terrestrial FA Cup broadcaster BBC showed the pick of the First Round ties at the end of an extended one-hundred-minute Match of the Day, once all the Premiership highlights had been on. In fact there were so many goals to get through, there was only time to show three of ours on the main show, with the rest shunted to the BBC Red Button where every goal from every game was played on a loop overnight. Damien Johnson voiced all eight Albion finishes, eventually!

Northwich Cox opener Northwich Robinson 2nd Northwich Revell Northwich Rents

Dean Cox got us off to the perfect start with a goal in the eighth minute. A positive surge from Dean Hammond brought the ball inside the area where Cox finished first time to curl into the bottom corner (above, top left). Jake Robinson doubled the lead ten minutes later when he skipped past two to drill low into the corner past goalkeeper Phil Senior. The juniors were out on top at half time and it was three nil ten minutes after the break. Robinson was again the scorer, cutting in from the right touchline past his marker and finishing from a wide angle under the ‘keeper (above, top right). The low corners were proving to be the weak spot for Senior and Alex Revell took full advantage with a fantastic strike (above, bottom left) from twenty-five yards. Four more goals were added in the final twelve minutes, the first of which completed Jake Robinson’s hat-trick (below left). This time the effort flew high into the roof of the net from range. The sixth came about when, for some reason, the furthest forward was Adam El-Abd who saw his shot parried into the path of Joe Gatting, son of former Albion defender Steve, to tap home from six yards. That was his first senior goal for the club after coming up through the ranks and another also got that accolade with a minute to go. Sam Rents was put through by Dean Cox with time and space to make it number seven (above, bottom right). And it was Cox who rounded things off neatly, scoring the first and the last, to make it a great eight-nil. His run into the area was spotted by Gatting, the through ball perfect for Cox to lift it over the goalie and into the top corner. A fantastically ruthless display from a Brighton side full of youth and excitement. They progressed to the Second Round with the biggest margin of victory Withdean would see.

Northwich Robinson Hat Trick Northwich Scoreline

This result didn’t quite prove to be the shot in the arm to push on for the rest of the season. Further exploits in the Cup continued, ending with a Third Round defeat to Premiership West Ham away. League form was patchy and the club trundled to an eighteenth place finish in League One in 2007, picking up just eight points from the final twelve matches. The following season was much more positive though and Wilkins narrowly missed out on a Play Off spot by a single place. The biggest result came off the pitch, with permission finally granted for Falmer, this time Lewes District Council decided not to challenge. Things were on the up again! But sadly not for Dean Wilkins, who was relieved of his duties at the end of the season, in a surprise move. Brighton searched through their former glories and brought back Division Three winning manager Micky Adams after seven years away for the 2008/09 season. What could possibly go wrong?!


2

BIGGEST SHOCK (24th September 2008) League Cup Round Two

Carling Cup Highlights, ITV1; Brighton 1-1 Man City (2-2 AET, 5-3 on pens) 

Man City Intro Man City Skippings

In September 2008, Manchester City were taken over by an Abu Dhabi Group consortium for £200 million which instantly made them the richest club in world football. The club finished ninth in the Premiership the season before and were now competing in Europe this time round. On Transfer deadline day they bought Brazilian superstar Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5 million. By contrast at the same time, Brighton were competing in League One having brought back the manager who left to become an assistant at Leicester seven years earlier, beginning their twelfth season without a home, lost to Crowborough Athletic in the final pre-season match and the biggest bit of transfer news was the re-signing of Adam Virgo on a free, having not spent a penny on a new player all summer and relying on youth, free agents and loans. So when the two sides were drawn to play each other in the Second Round of the Carling Cup it was fair to see it was a complete mismatch. The City schedule was jam-packed due to their progression in the UEFA Cup so this match had to be played when pretty much everybody else was playing the Third Round. They went into the match off the back of a six-nil thrashing of Portsmouth and won three out of the first five Premiership games. Brighton’s form had regressed since an unbeaten August, without a win in four and lost the previous Saturday to the nine-men of Walsall. Nobody really held out much hope of making it to the League Cup Third Round this Wednesday night at Withdean. Football League highlights broadcaster ITV put on a late-night programme at 11.35pm to round up the events of the week presented by Matt Smith in the studio, with our match receiving the voiceover treatment from regular reporter Tom Skippings.

Man City Opener Man City Murray Man City Anyinsah Man City Equaliser

Big money signing Robinho was a no-show but City’s side included several famous names, the likes of Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper, Richard Dunne, Vincent Kompany, Michael Ball (not that one), Michael Johnson (not that one either) and Jo all starting. The Albion’s team featured local born Adam Virgo, Tommy Elphick, Adam El-Abd and Tommy Fraser alongside new signing David Livermore and Ipswich loanee Matt Richards. But honours were even in the first half, with Steve Thomson nearly even putting Brighton one up when he struck the post. However, City took the lead just after the hour mark. Gelson Fernandes saw his effort take a huge deflection of Elphick and fly past Kuipers (above, top left). Just when you thought that would be that, Brighton popped up with an equaliser in the final minute after great work from Thomson. He received the ball from a throw-in on the left touchline, dribbled past Stephen Ireland and through Vincent Kompany. He received the ball in the box from a Virgo flick over the top before stabbing the ball goalwards. Waiting to pounce from no more than two yards out was Albion striker Glenn Murray who got there ahead of Fernandes to equalise (above, top right). Extra Time was required. Brighton turned the game around just five minutes in when substitute Joe Anyinsah, on loan from Preston making only his second appearance, pounced in the area (above, bottom left) after good work from Dean Cox. For all their wealth, experience and technique, it took Mark Hughes’ Manchester City side to go route one for their equaliser three minutes into the second period. A long punt upfield from goalkeeper Schmeichel was missed by everyone and allowed to bounce just outside the box. Stephen Ireland latched on to it to squeeze between the central defenders and slot the ball through the legs of Kuipers for two-two (above, bottom right). They still couldn’t be separated and a shoot-out was next.

Man City Richards penalty Man City Adams Man City Scoreline

Penalty shoot-outs had served Brighton rather well, with a superb dramatic win over Swindon in 2004 on the way to Play Off glory being the most famous thus far. Nobody was giving an inch during this, with the first seven spot kicks all being converted. Livermore, Elphick, Murray and Virgo scored for the Seagulls, with Ched Evans, Elano and Kompany replying for the visitors. Michael Ball couldn’t follow, with his kick saved well by Kuipers low to the Dutchman’s right. That presented Matt Richards with the opportunity to win it, which he duly did; dispatching his penalty to the left (above, top left) sending Schmeichel the wrong way and Brighton through! Cue a mini pitch invasion, the hoardings and running track of Withdean no barrier for the fans. There was no doubting this was an embarrassing exit for Manchester City, who would get over it in subsequent years of course. Pure elation for Brighton, supporters getting that little chance to gloat over the big clubs. In his interview afterwards, Micky Adams said “The fans have thoroughly enjoyed it tonight. It’s nice to see the Withdean packed out.” Adams wouldn’t go on to see that again too much. Defeat to Derby in Round Three saw a swift exit, they were knocked out of the FA Cup in Round One via a replay and were a penalty shoot-out away from a Wembley Final in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy but Luton edged it that night, Live on Sky. Form in the League crashed and burned and he was sacked in February after just nine months as the club slid into the relegation zone. An emergency rescue operation was required in the final third of the season to avoid falling into League Two.


3

THE GREAT ESCAPE IS ON (18th April 2009) League One

The Championship, ITV4 (repeat); Brighton 3-1 Oldham

Oldham Titles Oldham Smith

With Micky Adams losing his job in February and the club in the bottom four of League One, it was a tall order to reverse the slide with so few matches remaining. Come in, Russell Slade! The 2007 League One Manager of the Year was appointed in March until the end of the season, giving him just fourteen matches to lift them from 22nd place. Early on he got the better of his old side Yeovil with a five-nil thrashing but that was the only win in March. Defeats on the road at Walsall, Scunthorpe and MK Dons followed before a vital win at Hereford. An Easter Monday victory at Colchester kick-started an incredible finish to the season which continued with this match, at home to Oldham. Joe Royle’s side were comfortably mid-table with the Play Offs not quite in reach so essentially had little to play for. But Brighton had the worst home record in the Division, with just two wins at Withdean since 1st November – that’s an astonishing thirteen matches. ITV’s The Championship continued to be the terrestrial highlights programme for the Football League but despite the name, they did show the goals from all three Divisions. Matt Smith presented the Sunday morning show on ITV1, repeated on Monday nights on digital channel ITV4, from Molineux as Wolves celebrated promotion. Reporter Chris Hall talked through the goals on a big day for Brighton.

Oldham League One Oldham 1st goal Oldham Owusu header Oldham consolation

Dean Cox got Brighton off the mark after twenty-six minutes, left unmarked at the back post to nod home Lloyd Owusu’s cross. And the assister became the goalscorer just before half-time in slightly unusual circumstances. Gary Hart, who was actually released in the summer by Dean Wilkins only to be immediately brought back when Micky Adams was appointed, provided a similar looking cross to the back stick where Owusu stood. The striker joined in March on loan from Cheltenham. He was denied a goal at the first attempt when his stooping header was saved by goalkeeper Mark Crossley but his quick reactions ensured he wasn’t to be denied completely. Whilst lying full stretch on the floor, he flicked the loose ball in from all of a yard to improvise brilliantly (above, top right). You don’t see too many horizontal headers! After an hour, Lewis Allesandra pulled a goal back for the Latics when he outmuscled Adam El-Abd to win a ball over the top and calmly slot past Michel Kuipers (above, bottom left). The hope was short-lived as Lloyd Owusu grabbed his second and Brighton’s third less than two minutes later to seal the points. Somehow the ball trickled through the middle of the Oldham defence and Owusu latched onto it to slot past Crossley (below left).

Oldham Owusu 2nd Oldham table

Three-one was the final scoreline as Brighton completed a huge victory and shook off that Withdean hoodoo. There were three more matches in order to pull off the greatest of great escapes, with just one of those coming at Withdean. The League One table still made for uncomfortable viewing from an Albion perspective, with the club languishing in 22nd spot but three vital points brought them that little bit closer to getting out. Hereford’s fate was sealed that weekend after another defeat, just three other spots now waited to be filled. Brighton followed up these back-to-back wins with two more great away performances. A two-one victory at Bristol Rovers saw the Seagulls come from behind to snatch the three points. That man Owusu scored again, cancelling Rickie Lambert’s opener, whilst on-loan Crystal Palace forward Calvin Andrew got the winner. This was backed up by a crucial point at Huddersfield, who had veteran Andy Booth still firing strong and on the scoresheet. Again, Andrew and Owusu netted. These results lifted Albion out of the relegation zone and meant that a win in the final match of the season at home to Stockport would be enough to complete what was unthinkable just a few short weeks ago; stay in the Division. Could the Seagulls hold their nerve for one more match?

4

FINAL DAY SURVIVAL (2nd May 2009) League One

Big League Weekend, Sky Sports 1; Brighton 1-0 Stockport

Stockport Titles Stockport Gavin

Sky Sports previewed the final weekend of the Football League season with their usual Friday night magazine show Big League Weekend 1. This replaced the old Football League Review show on Thursday nights in previous seasons with a Friday preview and a Monday review show under the Big League banner. This was introduced for the 2007/08 season. George Gavin was the main man fronting it in the presenter’s seat. Gone are the days of having to stand around that podium for an hour! Graphics and titles were the same as used on the Live matches. For this edition, Gavin was joined in the studio by Brentford manager Andy Scott and Sky Sports pundit Scott Minto.

Stockport Slade dugout Stockport Studio 1  Stockport table before match Stockport Fixtures

The studio team looked ahead to the intriguing battle at the bottom, where five teams were battling to avoid the drop; Crewe, Carlisle, Northampton, Hartlepool and, of course, the Albion. Crewe had the unenviable task of playing Champions Leicester and even a win might not have been enough for the Railwaymen to avoid joining Hereford and Cheltenham. Perennial escape artists Carlisle could do it again as they hosted Millwall, the Lions with nothing much to play for but pride having already secured a top five spot. Hartlepool headed South West to Bristol Rovers knowing a point would be enough for them. Northampton faced a tricky tie at Play Off bound Leeds, where coming away with anything is usually tough. And at Withdean, Stockport were dragged down towards the battle after a ten point deduction for going into administration. However, with their positive goal difference it was almost impossible for Carlisle to overturn that swing so effectively were safe. Brighton knew a win would secure the great escape for Russell Slade having only taken the reins in March. Reporter Dominic Johnson voiced a package interviewing someone from all the clubs involved in the relegation battle. Slade said “That was my biggest worry, that there wasn’t a lot of game to be played and to turn it around in such a short space of time.” Pundit Scott Minto thought Northampton and Crewe would be the two to drop, with tough final day fixtures for the pair.

Stockport Titles 2 Stockport Studio 2 Stockport Withdean merchandise Stockport Knight

The Monday after the Saturday before, Sky Sports broadcast their ninety minute weekend round-up of the Football League in Big League Weekend 2, presented by George Gavin with Birmingham’s Kevin Phillips and Burnley’s Robbie Blake. Tony Lockwood voiced a report detailing the season’s conclusion at the foot of League One, having discounted Crewe after their defeat at Leicester sent them down. Four teams remained trying not to get that final spot. The package began on the South Coast with the sun shining at Withdean as the fans and staff went about their preparations. Chairman Dick Knight was interviewed pitchside prior to kick off putting an excited, positive spin on the events. “It’s actually why we come to football, days like this, a wonderful, exciting day. We’re very optimistic, we’ve got a full house, record crowd that’s ever been here.” 8,618 turned up to the pack out the athletics ground, fully expecting a good result for Russell Slade’s miracle men.

Stockport Intro Stockport Forster goal Stockport Full time Stockport Forster

Things didn’t get off to the best of starts though as an early goal from Graham Kavanagh put Carlisle one up in their match and with the Albion level with Stockport, the goal put Brighton into the relegation zone. However, that position didn’t last for long as a Leeds goal against Northampton sent the Cobblers dropping instead. As things stood, Brighton and Carlisle were safe, Northampton were joining Crewe, Cheltenham and Hereford in League Two. Carlisle extended their lead against Millwall to save them from the drop and Leeds soon doubled their advantage against Northampton. A third goal for the Yorkshire team secured Northampton’s fate late on. With seventeen minutes to go, Brighton made sure of it when Nicky Forster pounced to score the sort of poacher’s goal he was famous for (above, top right). On loan Gary Dicker’s volley on the edge of the box was parried by goalkeeper Conrad Logan but only as far as Forster who tapped home from five yards. It was enough to get the win, with the final whistle a cue for a pitch invasion to celebrate (above, bottom left). Afterwards, Forster (above, bottom right) was full of praise for the support; “It was a fantastic atmosphere, the fans came in force and that was definitely key to the day.”

Stockport Slade Stockport Celebrations Stockport Player of the Month Stockport Owusu

Russell Slade told Sky Sports “The lads have responded exceptionally well in recent weeks and I think they deserve it.” The boss was carried on supporters’ shoulders (above, top right) on the pitch, enjoying every second of this magnificent achievement. It’s easy to underplay it in hindsight but when he arrived the club morale was low; the home form was abysmal and it was difficult to see where the next win would come from. A couple of loan signings and some fresh thinking from the manager galvanised the side into promotion form in the final third of the campaign, ending with a five-match unbeaten run taking thirteen points out of fifteen. Six goals from striker Lloyd Owusu earned him the Powerade Player of the Month award for April (above, bottom left and right). He rejected the offer of joining permanently in the summer, but there was better news (initially) for Russell Slade, who was offered the job on a two-year deal. The final table (below) actually saw the Seagulls leap up to sixteenth position, three points clear of the drop zone but four places. As Scott Minto predicted on the Friday show, it was Crewe and Northampton who joined the already relegated two on their journey down to the basement League. It could so easily have been Brighton were it not for good old Russell Slade. It was a shame that his good impact didn’t stretch into the 2009/2010 season where a terrible start saw him dismissed in November to be replaced by former Chelsea midfielder Gus Poyet for his first managerial role. The rest really was, as they say, history!

Stockport Final Table


5

THE FINAL MATCH (30th April 2011) League One

The Football League Show, BBC One; Brighton 2-3 Huddersfield

Huddersfield Titles Huddersfield Studio

When Gus Poyet was appointed Albion boss in November 2009, the club were just above the relegation zone in League One. His first match was televised Live on Sky Sports and the terrific three-one away victory at Southampton was a taster of results to come. It wasn’t all rosy though and the first few months were hit and miss. Gradually as the campaign wore on, he went about adjusting the playing style to a more fluid, passing one. He got the best out of the likes of Adam El Abd at the back, Matt Sparrow in the middle and Ashley Barnes up top alongside Glenn Murray. There was a clear identity about the club again. That season ended with the club climbing the League table from twentieth in January up to thirteenth in March, where the club would finish. The second half of the season was more like the Brighton we would come to see during the 2010/11 campaign; our final year at Withdean Stadium. With a new look structure of Tony Bloom as chairman and Gus Poyet as manager, the Albion stormed League One from the off. Just one defeat in fifteen saw them in the top six places and they would never look back. A terrific run of eleven wins out of twelve in March and April saw firstly promotion clinched with a four-three defeat of Dagenham, then the title secured with a three-one scoreline at Walsall. The foot eased off the gas a little towards the end of the season, the first home defeat was inflicted by Southampton at the end of April before a comedic own goal at Colchester, Live on Sky, saw further points dropped. The target of one hundred points was just slightly out of reach. And so the final match after twelve long, hard seasons at Withdean was upon us. Huddersfield were the visitors, themselves needing the points to join Albion in the Championship next season. Terrestrial highlights had switched from ITV to BBC in 2009 so The Football League Show presented by Manish Bhasin in the studio with Steve Claridge was where we could witness the best of the action.

Huddersfield Intro Huddersfield Barnes Huddersfield Sparrow Huddersfield Winner

It was only right that Dave Beckett, a Brighton supporter and voice of the Football League for more than a decade, got to narrate the final ever Albion match at Withdean. Beckett was there throughout the entire story of the sale of the Goldstone and playing at Gillingham, where he reported for ITV Meridian News. He was the presenter of ITV’s Football League Extra in the early years at Withdean before providing the reports for The Championship when that began in 2004. And when the BBC gained the League highlights he became one of their principle voices on the round-ups. He summed up the departure of Withdean nicely, beginning his report with “No electronic scoreboard at Withdean’s humble surroundings, a ground Brighton’s fans are delighted to say goodbye to after twelve years, even if it has seen some excellent seasons.” Huddersfield provided a guard of honour for the Champions but soon took the lead after just eight minutes. Benik Afobe swivelled to sell Gordon Greer a dummy in the area before slotting the ball under Peter Brezovan’s dive and into the back of the net. Brighton had their chances to equaliser, immediately with Ashley Barnes thwarted then later with Chris Wood, who saw his header crash against the crossbar. The Terriers lead at the break but just two minutes into the second half there was a chance of an equaliser when Elliott Bennett was fouled for a penalty. Up stepped Barnes. Goalkeeper Ian Bennett guessed the right way to keep it out but couldn’t do anything about the rebound, as Barnes stooped to nod in (above, top right). With less than half an hour remaining, Huddersfield regained the lead through Afobe’s second. He was presented the opportunity from a mistake by right back Inigo Calderon, whose chest back to Brezovan did not reach the intended target and Afobe nipped in to finish smartly. Eight minutes later and the Seagulls were on level terms again. A terrific through ball from Greer was dummied by Gary Hart to allow Matt Sparrow to latch onto it. Through on goal, he took two touches before finishing into the far corner for two-two (above, bottom left). That wasn’t the end of things as Danny Ward won it for Huddersfield in stoppage time when he put two Albion defenders on their backsides with one simple touch before firing past Brezovan at the near post (above, bottom right). Three-two the final scoreline for the final match.

Huddersfield scoreline Huddersfield Table Huddersfield Poyet Huddersfield Brighton Champions

That win for Huddersfield kept alive their hopes of joining Brighton in the Championship via the automatic promotion route, going level on points with Southampton in second place. The Saints also won that day, a three-nil scoreline at Brentford, but with a game in hand they were still favourites to go up. That’s exactly what happened, with Huddersfield having to try their luck in the Play Offs. For Brighton fans, the final ninety minutes was just a sideshow for the main event of the day – saying goodbye to this peculiar stadium in style with the presentation of the League One trophy. Captain Gordon Greer held the silverware aloft as the champagne flowed and the celebrations began. Manager Gus Poyet was lapping it up with the supporters (above, bottom left). It capped off a remarkable last season there, blowing away the rest of the competition and ending up on a hugely impressive 95 League points. The second tier would be where Brighton would begin life at Falmer in. The 2011/2012 season would not only see a change of Division, but also a change of home. At long, long, long last! Goodbye Withdean, and thanks for the memories.


Huddersfield Goodbye

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.

Small Screen Seagulls; FA Cup Away at the Big Boys

Small Screen Seagulls 2000sWith the move to the Withdean Stadium in 1999, Brighton’s fortunes on the field began improving markedly. Whilst the 1990s was a decade of decline, slipping down the Leagues and almost into oblivion, the early part of the 21st Century was a complete reversal of this. The biggest of the FA Cup ties whilst at Withdean were actually played on the road, with four trips to Premier League sides during that period. As the Albion climbed up the Football League, the ultimate aim was to join these Big Boys in the top flight for the first time since 1983. That season, the one and only time Brighton had reached the FA Cup Final (well, technically two including the Replay) was combined with relegation from the elite League. With financial troubles and homelessness, we seemed a world away from the huge riches of the Premier League but the ambitions of the club laid there. Here, take a look at the four occasions where Brighton got that little taste of the top table as we travelled in the FA Cup away at the Big Boys. Relive the games through clips of extended highlights and round up from BBC and ITV.


 

2004/05 Round Three goals

Match of the Day, BBC One (8th January 2005); Tottenham 2-1 Brighton 

2005 R3Tot Titles MOTD Studio 2005 2005 R3Tot Intro

The 2004/05 season was Brighton’s first back in the second tier after a year away. Having won the Division Two Play Off Final in May 2004, the Seagulls were plying their trade in the newly named Championship and things had begun a lot better than the last time at this level. At the mid-way point of the season, an FA Cup trip to White Hart Lane presented Mark McGhee’s men with a chance to face Premiership opposition in the form of Tottenham Hotspur. BBC held terrestrial FA Cup rights and a report was shown on Match of the Day on Third Round Saturday, the first time teams from the top two tiers entered the fray. The show was presented by Mark Pougatch, normally a leading voice on Radio Five Live, in a busy day for him having presented the lunchtime Live match that day. He was joined in the studio in London for the highlights by Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock, two fringe BBC pundits. Reporter Rebecca Lowe voiced the goals round up.

2005 R3Tot Carpenter crossbar          2005 R3Tot King goal 2005 R3Tot Equaliser          2005 R3Tot Celebrations

Brighton, wearing the change kit of yellow, began well and hit the crossbar after a quarter of an hour when Richard Carpenter struck one from twenty-five yards out on the half-volley (above, top left). But it was the higher Division side who took the lead just before the break. A short corner on the far side was crossed into the box. England defender Ledley King met with a header on the edge of the six yard line which looped up and over goalkeeper Michel Kuipers to bounce in (above, top right). A couple of minutes after half time, Albion found the perfect response when Carpenter did get his goal this time. It came directly from a free kick from twenty-two yards which curled round the wall and beat Paul Robinson in goal to equalise brilliantly (above, bottom left). As the game was heading for a replay, Robbie Keane won it with an extraordinary goal from the edge of the area (below, top left). Seven minutes remained when the ball was chipped in to him from the left. With his back to goal and Guy Butters pressing high, he took one touch to control with his chest before swivelling and shooting on the volley. It flew into the top corner for one of the goals of the season. Afterwards, the Irishman presented his old Wolves manager McGhee with a signed shirt and had praise for the Albion in his interview; “They didn’t give us many chances, Brighton. They were so tight and congested in the midfield.” Spurs progressed to the Sixth Round where Newcastle eventually knocked them out, whilst Brighton survived relegation from the Championship thanks to a final day draw with Ipswich Live on Sky.

2005 R3Tot Keane winner 2005 R3Tot Keane 2005 R3Tot Final score


2006/07 Round Three highlights

Match of the Day, BBC One (6th January 2007); West Ham 3-0 Brighton 

2007 R3WHam Titles 2007 R3WHam Studio 2007 R3WHam Comm 2007 R3WHam Team News

Following relegation from the Championship in 2006 and a poor start to the League One campaign, Mark McGhee was sacked in September and replaced by youth team coach and former Albion midfielder Dean Wilkins. Brighton’s FA Cup matches couldn’t have gone better this season, back having to begin at Round One again after a couple of years in at the Third. The first game saw a Withdean record; an eight-nil victory over non-League Northwich Victoria. This was followed up by a three-nil scoreline against another non-League outfit, Stafford Rangers. With the top teams entering at Round Three, last season’s losing finalists West Ham were drawn to play the Seagulls at their famous Upton Park stadium. Terrestrial Cup broadcaster BBC showed brief highlights of the clash with commentary during their Saturday night Match of the Day broadcast. This was hosted from Television Centre by Ray Stubbs alongside pundits Lee Dixon and Gavin Peacock. When the Premiership highlights returned to the BBC after three years away in 2004, every match was covered with a commentary and these extra voices were utilised during the Cup shows. Commentating on our tie was MotD regular Alistair Mann. The edit was only short so the teams were not displayed in full, instead opting to use the scrolling info bar at the bottom of the screen, where Arsenal defender Joe O’Cearull made his Albion debut.

2007 R3WHam Opener 2007 R3WHam Cole goal 2007 R3WHam Zamora chance 2007 R3WHam Third goal

The Seagulls wore their change kit of white shirts with blue shorts and socks. The two debutants, O’Cearull for us and Luis Boa Morte for the home side, tangled legs in the first half and risked giving West Ham a penalty. Referee Mark Halsey deemed it accidental. Tommy Fraser had a good chance for Brighton when presented with a heading chance unmarked in the centre, the connection though lacked any pace and was easy for Roy Carroll in the sticks. Right at the start of the second half, the deadlock was broken by youth graduate Mark Noble – his first goal for the club. Boa Morte’s cross on the left was flicked over by Guy Butters, then headed down by Carlos Tevez into Noble’s path to run on to. As the defender rushed to block, Noble got his shot away (above, top left) on the half-volley which Wayne Henderson in goal wasn’t quite able to keep out. Alex Revell came close to an equaliser but couldn’t quite reach to nod home from Hart’s cross as the opportunity flashed across goal. Punishment came just before the hour mark when Carlton Cole made it two (above, top right), despite Albion protesting offside. Boa Morte’s cross found Cole unmarked to sidefoot volley into the top corner. Former Seagull Bobby Zamora, on the books of West Ham having moved from Spurs, came on and was inches from netting. Yossi Benayoun made contact with the ball to send it skidding to the back post where Zamora was. Zamora tried to get the definitive touch just as it was about to touch the post and it just ended up flying back off the woodwork (above, bottom left), the offside flag would have prevented him had he scored anyway. With virtually the final kick of the match, West Ham got their third through Hayden Mullins heading home Shaun Newton’s cross (above, bottom right). Three-nil the final scoreline.

2007 R3WHam Final Score 2007 R3WHam Wilkins 2007 R3WHam Analysis

In his post match interview, manager Dean Wilkins thought his young side showed their inexperience in attack; “I think if we’d have shown a bit more calmness, a bit more awareness, within the final third once we did break I think we could have scored the first goal.” Former Albion player Alan Curbishley had newly been appointed West Ham boss and called for his fans to get behind their midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker after being on the end of plenty of abuse all season. The stats showed equal possession but West Ham dominating the shots and corners. In the studio, Gavin Peacock analysed the Clarets new look, with particular focus on how well Carlos Tevez played; “He was bright and he was lively and aggressive in his running.” The Hammers exited at the hands of Watford in the next round. Brighton’s season saw them continue to struggle as costs were tightened and the playing squad increasingly dominated by unknown youngsters. The Albion finished in eighteenth in the League One table.


2009/10 Round Four highlights

FA Cup Highlights, ITV1 (23rd January 2010); Aston Villa 3-2 Brighton

2010 R4Vil Titles 2010 R4Vil Studio 2010 R4Vil Intro

Much had changed at Brighton since the FA Cup trip to West Ham in 2007. The biggest news was the stadium, as Falmer had finally been given the go-ahead and work had begun at the site with completion due for summer 2011. The man in the dugout at Withdean had changed twice since then too. After a makeshift first season, Dean Wilkins guided the Seagulls to an impressive seventh place in the 2007/08 campaign, narrowly missing out on the League One Play Offs. Yet that wasn’t enough to keep his job and former boss Micky Adams returned to the hot seat in May 2008. Having guided us to the, then, Division Three title in 2001 before the Premiership came calling, optimism was high upon his return. However that did not work out at all, with League form slipping finishing sixteenth in 2008/09 and not improving much in the opening months of the 2009/10 campaign. Chairman Dick Knight wielded the axe in November and brought in former Chelsea and Tottenham midfielder Gus Poyet for his first managerial role. With the club in the bottom six upon his arrival, he changed the philosophy of the team from long-ball to a skilful passing side. Some took to it better than others, whilst others such as Adam El-Abd were transformed under Poyet. He got off to a perfect start with a three-one away win at Southampton Live on Sky in his first match, and steadily lifted the club up the table. The FA Cup campaign began with a caretaker manager, Martin Hinshelwood took charge of the incredible four-four draw at Wycombe, before the two-nil victory at Withdean saw Poyet make it two wins out of two. In Round Two there was a closer-fought three-two win to knock Rushden and Diamonds out, whilst Torquay were dispatched in Round Three by a goal to nil at Plainmoor. The Fourth Round draw saw a trip to the Midlands to face Premier League Aston Villa, managed by Martin O’Neill. FA Cup rights had transferred from the BBC to ITV in 2008, and the commercial network broadcast their Fourth Round highlights show on the Saturday night which included a short commentary edit on our clash. Their theme tune brought in this season was by The Enemy, titled Be Somebody; rather apt for a competition known for smaller clubs making their name.

2010 R4Vil Comm 2010 R4Vil 1st goal 2010 R4Vil Elphick goal 2010 R4Vil Young goal 

Ned Boulting was in the presenter’s chair in the London Studio for this edition, joined by ITV pundit Robbie Earle and former Brighton manager, amongst many other clubs, Steve Coppell. In the commentary box was John Rawling. He was more familiar as their voice of boxing, having covered the sport previously for Radio Five Live and Setanta, but was used over the past couple of seasons infrequently on Football League and Champions League highlights shows. Gus Poyet was relying on his prolific strike force of Glenn Murray and Nicky Forster to continue to fire together, with support from the likes of Andrew Crofts and Elliott Bennett behind them. Adam Virgo had returned to the club after a couple of seasons away and joined a defence which included academy graduate Tommy Elphick. Villa’s side included former Albion loanee Steve Sidwell in midfield and had hit scored six past Blackburn whilst conceding four in the League Cup the previous midweek. Fifty-six League places separated the sides at the start of play, and it was Villa who got off to the better start with a goal after just five minutes. Captain Ashley Young sent Marc Albrighton running down the wing. He skipped past the lunge of Elphick before crossing low for Nathan Delfouneso to steer home from close range (above, top right). Brighton responded four minutes before the break through Elliott Bennett’s corner on the far side. A number of Albion players were waiting in space in the middle. It came off Adam El Abd and landed on the six yard line for fellow defender Tommy Elphick to swivel and finish expertly (above, bottom left) for the equaliser past several claret and blue bodies in the way. Rawling rightly described them as “the Villa defence all over the place!” It took just three second-half minutes for the home side to regain the lead thanks to Young’s header. Stewart Downing stood the ball up to the back post where Young jumped highest and saw his header fly past Kuipers and in off the post (above, bottom right).

2010 R4Vil Delph goal 2010 R4Vil Forster goal 2010 R4Vil Final Score 2010 R4Vil Poyet

James Milner provided Fabian Delph with an excellent chance to score a third but Kuipers was equal to it, using his body to block effectively before the defence helped him out. The two Villans combined with less than half an hour to play and this time they did make it three-one. Milner sent Delph clear, covering defender Inigo Calderon got back to force him to check his run. However, the opportunity still presented itself and his strike on the edge of the box went through Calderon’s legs and under the diving hand of Kuipers to score and put the game to bed (above, top left). Brighton did get a consolation in stoppage time thanks to Nicky Forster to make the scoreline more respectable. The ball across was dummied and found Forster in the centre with his back to goal. He held off the defender before arching his body to swivel and shoot, much like Elphick in the first half. The finish was clinical, as you’d expect from a man who scored goals wherever he went in his career, low and hard into the back of the net past Brad Guzan (above, top right). This was the striker’s fiftieth for Brighton. It was too little too late for the Seagulls, whose FA Cup adventure came to an end at the Fourth Round stage for the first time since a trip to Manchester United in 1993. Gus Poyet afterwards admitted he was aware of the size of the task against a Premier League club; “I knew it was difficult to cope for more than an hour with the same pace, the strength of the opposition… They are not only better technically, they are better physically.” Villa progressed all the way to Wembley and the Semi Finals. After seeing off Crystal Palace and Reading, it was eventual winners Chelsea who knocked them out. Brighton continued to flourish under Poyet, who steered them to a thirteenth placed finish in League One with the foundations laid for a good season to come.


2010/11 Round Five highlights

FA Cup Highlights, ITV1 (19th February 2011); Stoke City 3-0 Brighton 

2011 R5Sto Titles 2011 R5Sto Smith 2011 R5Sto Teams

The 2010/2011 campaign was Brighton’s final one at the eleven-year temporary home of Withdean Stadium. Gus Poyet and his entertaining football side were tearing League One apart, climbing to the summit early on and never looking back. They were on course to open the new home in Falmer with Championship football and a title to boot. The good form also transferred to the FA Cup, where Brighton reached the Fifth Round – the last sixteen of the competition – for the first time in twenty-five years. After a shaky start, drawing nil-nil at home to Woking and needing a penalty shoot-out in the replay to progress, round two saw a shock draw with non-League FC United of Manchester. A four-nil win in the replay was more like it. The third round saw an impressive three-one victory over Portsmouth, Cup finalists the year before and a Division above in the Championship before a further second tier side was sent packing in round four as Watford were beaten on their own patch. This set up a meeting with Tony Pulis’s Premier League Stoke City at the Britannia. It would be a clash of styles, with Pulis known for the long ball game and utilising throw-ins, up against Poyet’s more modern, passing game. The Cup schedule was a little all over the place, with Fourth Round matches taking place at the same time owing to postponements and replays congesting matters. So ITV’s Saturday night highlights show featured action from both stages, presented by Matt Smith. The theme tune was the same as the previous year; The Enemy with Be Somebody, but the graphics went through a transformation. Commentating on the action was freelancer Jim Proudfoot, formerly of Sky Sports and Setanta but here more frequently heard on ESPN’s European Leagues and talkSPORT radio. He is also remembered fondly by Albion fans for his excited scream of “STORERRRRR!” during his South Coast Radio days, commentating on Brighton’s final game at the Goldstone against Doncaster in 1997 alongside Tony Millard.

2011 R5Sto Comm 2011 R5Sto Carew goal 2011 R5Sto 2nd goal 2011 R5Sto Shawcross goal

Elite level referee Howard Webb was the man in charge of this tie. The team line ups saw almost a full strength Stoke, with last year’s top scorer in the Cup John Carew up front. Kenwynne Jones was missing but had regulars Jon Walters, Jermaine Pennant, Rory Delap and Matthew Etherington all ready to create the danger. The back line of Shawcross and Huth took no prisoners in a physical set up. The Albion had Cup ‘keeper Peter Brezovan in goal, supported in front by Tommy Elphick, captain Gordon Greer and Marcos Painter. Elliott Bennett and Gary Dicker would look to provide Barnes and Murray with the opportunities, whilst Liam Bridcutt was the rock protecting the defence. Set pieces were Stoke’s main goal threat, be it free kicks, corners or the throw in. Rory Delap was renowned for the latter and it was exactly that which created the opening goal. Delap chucked it in to the mixer where Brezovan came to collect. He didn’t get there ahead of big John Carew who just flicked it on with the top of his head and into the net before the quarter of an hour mark. It soon became two-nil eight minutes later after Jermaine Pennant teed up Marc Wilson to cross on the overlap. His ball in was met by the head of Walters at the near post through the arms of Brezovan and gave the Albion a mountain to climb so early on. Brezovan wasn’t covering himself in glory and flapped at another punch later on, giving Walters another chance which had to be headed off the line by Greer. Barnes and Murray combined with an interchange to give Barnes a rare sight of goal but his effort was lifted high and over. The third Stoke goal came two minutes before the break and began, you guessed it, from another dangerous corner. Pennant’s ball in was flicked on at the near post to the far one where Ryan Shawcross was arriving. He lost his marker and bulleted the ball in with his head, nobody on the line and too much power for Brezovan to react in time. The Potters captain had sealed the result before we’d even reached half time, Brighton had no answer to the brute force of the red and white stripes. Substitute Cristian Baz went closest for the Seagulls in the second half but in truth it wasn’t troubling Sorensen whilst another sub – Jake Forster-Caskey – also tried his luck but it wasn’t to be and Brighton lost by three goals to nil.

2011 R5Sto Final score 2011 R5Sto Poyet 2011 R5Sto Studio 2011 R5Sto Allardyce

Gus Poyet said in his post match chat “We tried. I think the best part is we didn’t change our game.” This point was picked up on by the former Bolton and Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce in the London Studio for ITV; “If you go and watch Stoke City and do your scouting, your normal game you cannot play if it’s a passing game because Stoke don’t let you.” He said the application of constant pressure, corner after corner, broke down Brighton and the physical edge paid dividends once more for them at the Brit. It was a tactic that took Stoke City all the way to the FA Cup Final where they lost to a solitary Manchester City goal at Wembley in the process securing them a thirteenth place Premier League finish and a spot in the UEFA Europa League qualifying. The Seagulls soared to the League One title, beating Southampton by three points, to secure a dream start to life at Falmer with a promotion party. In doing so they were one step closer to that top flight dream. With the foundations in place for something special, the early years at the new ground would be about building on all these experiences gained during the Withdean years and push for that final hurdle up to the top. It was beginning to look very exciting again for Brighton and Hove Albion.


Although the Albion lost on all four of these occasions, they were reaching the stages of the FA Cup where they hadn’t been for a long time. Therefore the opposition were of increased quality. The trips to these fantastic Premier League stadiums were in stark contrast to the home ground where Brighton had played since 1999; Withdean. This spurred the players on to perform better, to show they are worthy of these fine venues and, most importantly, highlighted how much of a necessity it was that the Seagulls had one of these to call their own. The Amex opened its doors in the summer of 2011 with Brighton League One Champions and about to compete in the second tier again. Within weeks of the new campaign at the new home, Premier League teams were coming to our place and being impressed with the facilities. The next aim? To become one of those elite clubs ourselves. Withdean served us well but Falmer would catapult the club to new heights with the big boys, and the Cup would provide some great days.

#51: Hull 2-1 Brighton 24/02/2014

#51 HULL 2-1 BRIGHTON FA Cup Round Five Replay
Monday 24th February 2014 LIVE on itv4

HULR Titles

PRESENTER Matt Smith GUESTS Gordon Strachan & Phil Brown
COMMENTATORS Sam Matterface & Clarke Carlisle REPORTER Ned Boulting
7.45pm Kick Off; KC Stadium, Hull     7.30-10pm FA Cup Live on ITV4

HULR Ident HULR Sponsor HULR Intro

Context of the Match: Tonight’s FA Cup Fifth Round Replay came just a week after the original tie in Falmer. That night ended in a one-all draw, with Leo Ulloa opening the scoring finishing superbly to lift it over the goalkeeper. The Albion held out until five minutes to go when Yannick Sagbo slotted home the equaliser. The draw for the Quarter Finals meant Sunderland awaited the winners, and a chance for Brighton to reunite with last summer’s departed manager Gus Poyet. The additional fixture tonight was the last thing either side wanted, with Hull using all their resources to remain a Premier League club again next season whilst the Seagulls are in the midst of another slog towards a Play Off place in the Championship for the second season running. Forty-six  League games plus several Cup matches really do take it out of you. To make things more complicated, this midweek had Champions League and Europa League fixtures in place. An agreement between UEFA and the various Football Associations tries, where very possible, to avoid scheduling top-level domestic fixtures up against UEFA matches to avoid a television clash. Consequently it was agreed that, as it was to be broadcast Live by ITV, the game would take place on the Monday night – just as it was in the original tie seven days ago. This forced both sides into playing two games in just over forty-eight hours. The Albion lost two-one at home to fellow promotion chasers Wigan; the first loss in Falmer since the beginning of December. Hull fared a lot better, victorious at struggling Cardiff by four goals to nil. Having lost Liam Bridcutt and Ashley Barnes in the January transfer window and with several injuries affecting the wider squad, Brighton were fighting against the odds as the games came thick and fast.

HULR Hull HULR Brighton

The Teams: Brighton struggled to replace the big names lost in the January transfer window. David Rodriguez came in to today’s starting eleven up front on a free from Celta Vigo. He had spent his entire career in the Spanish leagues at the likes of Almeria and Salamanca before enjoying success at Vigo. Another striker came in on loan; Jonathan Obika. He spent his youth at Tottenham but first-team appearances for them were virtually non-existent. Instead he’s had several loan spells with lower League sides, including four separate spells at Yeovil, whilst we are the latest club for him to try his luck away from Spurs at. He scored against Port Vale in the Fourth Round of this competition. The most well-known perhaps of the window signings was central midfielder Dale Stephens, a regular in the highly rated Charlton side champions of League One in 2012. He came through the ranks at Bury before moving to Oldham early in his career. Having played for Charlton during their FA Cup campaign he would be unavailable for tonight’s match. Brighton made five changes from the weekend as regular first choice members Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, Orlandi and Stephens made way. Coming in to the defence were Lewis Dunk and Inigo Calderon. Cup goalkeeper Peter Brezovan continued to deputise, whilst Jake Forster-Caskey and Keith Andrews were the options in midfield. LuaLua and Solly March were subs if required. Steve Bruce’s Hull City made even more changes to their line-up from Saturday, bringing in six new faces. This included goalkeeper Steve Harper, who played a handful of matches on-loan to the Albion early on in the first season at The Amex. Elsewhere Matty Fryatt returned to the side, as did Sone Aluko and Yannick Sagbo, who scored the equalising goal a week ago in Sussex to take this tie to tonight’s replay. Liam Rosenior and Tom Huddlestone warmed the bench. Refereeing was the Premier League’s Andre Marriner.

HULR Smith HULR Strachan HULR Brown HULR Studio

Presentation Team: ITV’s second choice host Matt Smith presented tonight’s Live Replay, continuing his long association with them stretching back to 2001 and the ITV Sport Channel. During his time with the commercial broadcaster he has hosted Live matches in the Champions League, FA Cup, international matches, Europa League, friendlies, World Cups and European Championships. He was the regular host of Football League highlights programme The Championship on Sunday mornings from its inception in 2004 to its demise in 2009 when rights moved to the BBC. Since 2008 he has been heavily involved in the FA Cup coverage, hosting Live games and doing the regular evening round ups and would be doing a lot for the upcoming 2014 World Cup. Alongside him in the studio were Gordon Strachan and Phil Brown. Strachan had formed a very good double act with Matt Smith from their coverage of the competition over the past couple of years and was a regular on the channel. The week after he last pundited on an Albion game, versus Newcastle in January 2013, Strachan secured the Scotland National Team managers job. They failed to secure qualification for the Brazil World Cup, but the Scotsman would be going with ITV instead. Being an international manager affords quite a lot of time spare during the season so he and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill often spent time in the studio, much to our enjoyment. Also on duty tonight was the former Hull gaffer Phil Brown. He gained notoriety as Sam Allardyce’s assistant during their successful Bolton Wanderers spell in the early noughties before becoming a number one in his own right at Derby. He joined the Tigers as Phil Parkinson’s coach before graduating to first team duties after Parkinson’s sacking. Brown kept Hull in the Championship in his first season and the following year won the Play Off Final at Wembley to rocket them into the Premier League for the first time. Life in the top Division began so well and avoided relegation on the final day of the season in 2009. The feat couldn’t be repeated the following campaign and he was placed on gardening leave before being sacked in the summer. A bad spell at Preston ended prematurely and he spent some time in the media on BBC Radio Five Live, Talksport and various magazine programmes on television to keep his profile up. He now was boss of League Two Southend enjoying happier times.

HULR Coming Next HULR Comms

In the commentary box were Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle, a relatively new pairing for ITV but due to circumstances were sat second in the pecking order going into the summer’s international tournament. Previous understudies to ITV number one Clive Tyldesley were Peter Drury and Jon Champion, were both offered better positions for international broadcasters for the World Cup and, understandably, prioritised that over picking up the scraps for the UK. Drury would be leading the world feed commentaries for the Host Broadcaster whilst Champion was snapped up with ESPN for America’s coverage behind Ian Darke. This lead to the rushed promotion of Sam Matterface this season having not had much television commentary experience. Prior to this point he was perhaps better known as a Sky Sports News presenter, which he did between 2007 and 2010 where he then moved to Talksport to voice their newly acquired Live radio commentary rights of the Premier League. From the 2011/12 season he started to pick up the odd commentary for ITV highlights on FA Cup and European matches. His regular partner of late was former Blackpool and Watford defender Clarke Carlisle. His playing career was mostly spent in the Football League where he achieved promotion with Queens Park Rangers and Burnley. However it was his work outside of the game which propelled him more into the public’s conscience, for good and bad reasons. The good reasons centred around his articulate speaking and media appearances. He famously won ITV’s Britain’s Brainiest Footballer and appeared as a contestant on three episodes of Countdown on Channel 4 and even BBC’s Question Time, all whilst still a player. Towards the end of his career he appeared more frequently as a pundit across various media outlets such as BBC’s Match of the Day 2 and Radio 5 Live, Sky Sports coverage of the Football League and on co-commentary for ITV. He also investigated racism in football for a BBC Three documentary and explored the taboo subject of men’s mental health, having suffered from depression himself and sadly attempted suicide. In 2010 he was announced as the new chairman of the Professional Footballers Association. After retirement in 2013 his appearances with ITV increased further. Completing the line-up was reporter Ned Boulting. He was ITV’s all-rounder, increasingly covering darts and cycling as well as the various football competitions. In addition he reported on the 2012 London Paralympics for Channel 4 and released cycling books based on his times at Le Tour de France.

HULR Garcia HULR Coming Up

The Coverage: Things had changed at ITV since our last appearance in January 2013. Firstly the logo had a major rebrand the week after that match to this joined-up curvy lettering across their family of channels. The ITV Sport logo became green and was added onto the scorebar for Live matches. The graphics hadn’t changed their look but there was no an additional entrance and exit sound which was akin to a loud paper tear, unfortunately. Enough to frighten the dog. The theme tune remained as Jim Copperthwaite’s ‘FA Cup’ track, especially composed for ITV. The big change was to come at the end of the season though as this would be the broadcaster’s last season of FA Cup coverage. The BBC would be taking over as terrestrial partner following this season’s climax. On top of this, the Champions League and Europa League would be moving to BT Sport on an exclusive basis from 2015, meaning that ITV would be left with no regular Live club football. They would still have European highlights and Live England international friendlies and qualifiers but these were sparse and irregular. With the contract coming towards its end, it was unsurprising that their obligation to cover a Live replay from this competition featuring two smaller sides would be shunted over to ITV4 rather than broadcast on the main channel. Hull versus Brighton was the only replay at this stage, meaning it automatically went to ITV as first choice. When the match would be played took some negotiating, with both sides in League action the previous Saturday and the midweek being a Champions League one, they were left with little option but to cram this one in on Monday night. This gave both sides only around fifty hours between matches. Matt Smith hosted from the in-stadium studio box at Hull’s Kingston Communications Stadium, with the coverage beginning fifteen minutes prior to kick-off. His pundits Gordon Strachan and Phil Brown were sat behind a high desk which slotted together so all three were in tandem, with a plasma screen covering their legs. With much talk being about both teams playing twice in three days, Gordon Strachan didn’t understand the complaints. “Top players get used to playing game after game after game. If you want to be a top player, you have to play a lot of games. If you want a lot of rest, play for a rubbish team, you’ll be fine, you’ll get loads of holidays.” Spoken with the trademark wit that has made him such an entertainer in press conferences and television studios over the years.

HULR Offside HULR Highlights

ITV crammed two short advert breaks into their fifteen minute build up, as they did with the Champions League coverage, meaning features and VTs were missing here and the pre-match was mostly chat. Reporter Ned Boulting interviewed both managers in the tunnel to hear their plans. Oscar Garcia told the style wouldn’t change despite playing away from home and to higher opposition; “We will try to play as we play every game. We want to keep the possession, to create chances and hopefully – we must – we have to be more clinical in front of goal.” With the teams starting to line-up in the tunnel, Smith got the final thoughts of his pundits before the second ad break, after which he handed to the commentary team of Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle with the referee set to kick things off. At half-time the focus was on the two Hull goals and how avoidable they were from Brighton’s perspective. Much of the blame for the pundits laid at Brezovan’s door for the first, whilst the second was shown to be offside using lines drawn on the pitch. At half-time and full-time, as well as score updates during the ninety minutes, we were kept abreast of the other FA Cup tie being played tonight; Sheffield Wednesday against Charlton which was postponed due to the weather on the original Fifth Round weekend. Just shy of fifteen minutes remained to get reaction and analysis from this replay. Ned Boulting spoke with the two Hull goalscorers in the tunnel; Curtis Davies and Robert Koren. Pundit Phil Brown bemoaned Brighton’s lack of urgency even when just one goal behind, not doing enough to threaten for an equaliser. The goals were all dissected, with a hint of offside on Brighton’s goal dismissed as it was Calderon rather than the scorer who was off. A further advert break came during the post match show, after which highlights of tonight’s other match – Sheffield Wednesday versus Charlton – were shown. Commentary on that edit was provided by Derek Rae, formerly of ESPN now of BT Sport and occasional ITV highlights commentaries. During that game a header was extremely close to crossing the line but was ruled not to. ITV applied their best graphics wizardry to clear it up in the style of the Hawkeye Goal Line Technology feature which was introduced in the Premier League at the beginning of the season, but not available to Football League teams. And we were done, as Matt Smith signed off from the KC Stadium around 10pm.

HULR Sub HULR Goal

Story of the Match: With the salmon ball on the centre spot, Brighton got the game underway kicking from left to right. Hull dominated the early stages and caused panic in the Albion defence on a few occasions within the opening quarter of an hour. Peter Brezovan in-goal seemed hesitant, his nerves spreading to the back four protecting him. The Tigers took the lead in the fourteenth minute. Captain Robert Koren floated in a corner from the near side and was headed back towards goal by Curtis Davies. His header looped up as Brezovan was scrambling to get across his line. Jake Forster-Caskey, under pressure from David Meyler, couldn’t leap high enough to help his goalkeeper out and the ball fell into the net via the post. Davies’ celebration summed it up, almost unsure if it was his and how that had gone in. It was his. After the goal Brighton grew into the match more without really looking too dangerous. Hull looked more likely to double their lead, particularly from set pieces. They did exactly that ten minutes before half-time when Koren’s free kick somehow found its way in. His shot from the edge of the D was low and looked to be heading straight into the arms of the goalkeeper before it got a little deflection right in front, four yards out. Brezovan had already committed himself down to his left, meaning the touch from Fryatt ricocheted off the Slovakian’s fist and bounced up over his line. Fryatt was actually in an offside position when the free kick was taken so the goal shouldn’t really have stood, but nonetheless it was another poor goal to concede. The wall didn’t do a particularly good job, the tracking for the second ball was slow and the spectacle as the ball crept in didn’t appear too clever. This was now a long way back for Brighton, both in terms of the match and geographically. Clarke Carlisle on co-commentary suggested pace was needed from the away team if they were to get back into this Cup tie. It was severely lacking. Kazenga LuaLua was brought on at half time to try to inject some pace and trickery into the Brighton side. Inside the first five minutes of the restart the away side hit the crossbar. Lewis Dunk was still forward following a cleared corner. Stephen Ward crossed from the left touchline to an area containing three blue and white stripes leaping for the same ball. It fell to the feet of Dunk to thunder a shot from ten yards with his left but the woodwork prevented the comeback. A quarter of an hour passed before Hull had a chance to really wrap things up through Sone Aluko. A poor touch from Calderon invited the Tigers to come forward in numbers, Hull played the ball nicely diagonally across the field where it eventually found Aluko on the near side in the penalty box. As he was preparing to shoot, Ward through his body full length to block for the corner. With a little over twenty minutes remaining, Brighton got their breakthrough. LuaLua was brought down by Meyler for a free kick on the near touchline. David Lopez whipped in a terrific ball, full of pace and curl. It only needed a glance on its way in from the head of Ulloa six yards out to take it past Harper in goal and bring Albion within one of an equaliser. It was the Argentinian striker’s fifth goal in as many games. Disappointingly though, a second never came. It never really looked like coming and the final twenty minutes weren’t too difficult for Hull to see out the tie. It would be the Premier League team who progressed by two goals to one. They would go all the way to the Final, where Arsenal needed Extra Time to overcome them. Brighton’s focus was now all about the League and up into a Play Off place.

HULR Full Time

HULL 2 BRIGHTON 1
Davies, Koren Ulloa

HULR Replay

PREVIOUS; #50 BRIGHTON 1-1 HULL 17/02/2014

NEXT; #52 BRIGHTON 2-0 YEOVIL 25/04/2014

#43: Brighton 2-0 Newcastle 05/01/2013

#43 BRIGHTON 2-0 NEWCASTLE FA Cup Round Three
Saturday 5th January 2013 ITV1 logo 2010

ITV Titles

PRESENTER Matt Smith GUESTS Gordon Smith & Gordon Strachan
COMMENTATORS Peter Drury & Jim Beglin REPORTER Ned Boulting
12.30pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     12-3pm FA Cup Live on ITV1

ITV Ident ITV Sponsor ITV Intro

Context of the Match: After reaching Round Five of the FA Cup in each of the past two seasons, Brighton went into the competition this year hoping to build on that. FA Cup days have brought some of the best memories for Albion fans, stemming from our first televised match – the 1983 Final against Manchester United. Trips to Premier League Aston Villa, Stoke and Liverpool more recently might not have brought about success, but it did give the Albion license to ply their trade against the country’s elite teams in what we hoped to be practise for joining them in the not too distant future. In the Fourth Round a year ago, Brighton defeated Newcastle United by a goal to nil. In the Third Round this campaign, the same opponents were returning to The Amex looking to avoid another upset. You’d have to go all the way back to 1930 for the last time the Toon beat Brighton in the Cup. Since then, four meetings have resulted in three Albion victories and a draw. When the two teams faced off last season, Newcastle were going well in the Premier League and challenging for a European spot. Fast forward twelve months and they were struggling in fifteenth and leaking goals. They hadn’t won an away game in any competition at all this season. Brighton had enjoyed another decent first half of the season in the Championship, sat in the top half ahead of this match. Both clubs were knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the first attempt earlier in the season; Brighton losing heavily at Swindon in Round One whilst Newcastle were knocked out by Manchester United in Round Three. They had made it out of the group stages of the Europa League though, with a trip to Kiev to come the following month. ITV chose today’s fixture for broadcast; our first Live game on terrestrial television since the League defeat at Bournemouth in 1995, and our first national terrestrial outing since the 1984 FA Cup win over Liverpool. The country awaited this early Saturday afternoon clash. Owing to the form of the two clubs, some bookmakers even made the Albion favourites.

ITV Line Ups ITV Newcastle ITV Brighton

The Teams: Compare and contrast from the two starting line-ups this year with last season’s fixture and you’ll find only five Albion players and four Newcastle men started both. At the back skipper Gordon Greer and Adam El-Abd survived, as did the key to the midfield Liam Bridcutt. Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith going forward were the other two to feature in both. Brighton’s tradition of using a Cup specific goalkeeper continued, with Casper Ankergren relegated to this role since Tomasz Kuszczak arrived. Ankergren was in the Leeds side that famously won at Old Trafford in this competition three seasons ago, beating Manchester United side that included Kuszczak. Man of the Match last January Will Buckley was not fit enough today. New arrivals this campaign were Wayne Bridge at left back, David Lopez filled in at right back for the injured Bruno when he was more used to starting in midfield, and further forward was fellow Spaniard Andrea Orlandi. Dean Hammond started centrally; he previously worked under Alan Pardew for his parent club Southampton. On the bench, Kazenga LuaLua joined the Seagulls from Newcastle. The Magpies that featured both today and in the previous encounter were restricted to James Perch and Davide Santon at the back, captain Shola Ameobi up top, and Mike Williamson whose deflection separated the sides. Newcastle wasted no time in engaging in some early transfer business during the January window, as star striker Demba Ba was sold yesterday to Chelsea and defender Mathieu Debuchy coming in from Lille. Sammy Ameobi linked up with his brother to become the first Newcastle Cup brothers to start for sixty years. The referee, as he was for the meeting last year, was Lee Probert.

ITV Matt Smith ITV Strachan ITV Gordon Smith ITV Studio

Presentation Team: Matt Smith was in the hotseat for today’s Live broadcast at The Amex. He joined ITV in 2001 to launch the new ITV Sport Channel, hosting the majority of their Live Football League games. The channel unfortunately ceased broadcasting at the end of that season, with Smith hosting the final programme – the Division Two Play Off Final between Stoke and Brentford. That summer he chaired the daily World Cup highlights for ITV before taking over The Premiership on Monday the following season for the final two years of ITV’s top flight round-up shows. He has hosted hundreds of Live games since, from World Cups and European Championships with the channel and has been the regular FA Cup highlights presenter since rights transferred in 2008. He also had the opportunity to front the FA Cup and Champions League Finals Live for ITV in 2010 when they were in-between changing their number one presenter from Steve Rider to Adrian Chiles and it all got a little bit complicated. Matt Smith is the consummate professional and an excellent broadcaster. His regular pundit this season has been Gordon Strachan, usually the highlights programme pairing. Strachan has never been short of work since retiring from playing in 1997, following spells at Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds amongst others. Since taking charge of Coventry in 1996 he’s also successfully managed Southampton, where he got them into Europe, and won the lot domestically at Celtic. When not managing, he’s called upon to analyse for television as a pundit. He was the resident guest on Match of the Day 2 when that begun with Adrian Chiles in 2004, and since leaving Glasgow has taken up a regular spell on ITV’s Cup and Champions League coverage as well as going to Euro 2012 with them. Joining Smith and Strachan in Brighton was our former striker Gordon Smith. Even if you knew next to nothing about the history of the Albion, Smith’s name would be immortalised because of that Cup Final in 1983. “And Smith must score” were the words uttered by BBC Radio commentator Peter Jones, one of the most incredibly respected voices of football, when Smith had a golden chance to win the Cup for Brighton in the last-minute of Extra Time with the scores at two-two. Gary Bailey saved and Manchester United won the Replay, that much everybody knows. Gordon Smith’s autobiography was titled “And Smith did score” in retaliation at the famous commentary, referencing the oft-overlooked goal he did get during the ninety minutes of that original match. He spent three years on the South Coast in the 80s playing over one hundred games, having moved down from Rangers for a record transfer fee of £440,000. After retirement he spent time as an agent before heading up the Scottish Football Association as Chief Executive for three years. He was also no stranger to the studio, having appeared frequently on BBC Scotland before.

ITV Comms ITV Coming Up

In the commentary box were Peter Drury and Jim Beglin. This was a familiar partnership on ITV, covering numerous World Cup and European Championships together over the past decade as second choice behind Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend. Drury joined from BBC Radio 5 Live for the 1998 World Cup where he immediately made a mark with his poetic style and excellent use of language. He remained as ITV’s second choice since that summer, calling Europa League Finals Live as well as League Cup and Play Off Final highlights. When England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, Drury was given the chance to call the Final of that tournament when ITV opted not to show the culmination Live. Jim Beglin’s playing career was cut short at the age of 27 due to an horrific leg injury and subsequent sustained knee damages. He was most remembered for his time as Liverpool but also featured for Leeds and the Republic of Ireland. Since then he forged an excellent career in the media, both with RTE and ITV. He began covering Manchester United and Liverpool matches regionally for Granada as pundit, co-commentator and even occasionally voicing round-ups. His wider break came during the ITV Sport Channel season when he was featured heavily on the Football League coverage nationally and remained a big part of ITV’s European and domestic coverage since. Reporting on the touchline was Ned Boulting. He was another ITV Sport Channel graduate, joining that from Sky’s Soccer Saturday. During the 2001/2002 season he hosted lower League highlight programmes Football 2nd and Football 3rd as well as reporting on the touchline during Live games. He was kept on at ITV after that, going to the major tournaments as a reporter, following the Republic of Ireland during Euro 2012 as well as occasionally fronting highlights programming. Away from football he’s the reporter on all ITV’s darts events and has been there every step of the way for ITV4 on Le Tour de France each summer.

ITV 1983 ITV Pier ITV Poyet ITV Magnifier

The Coverage: ITV regained Live terrestrial rights to the FA Cup in 2008 after seven seasons away. They get the first pick of every round, with ESPN their current satellite partners. Between them they broadcast up to 40 FA Cup matches each year. 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. The graphics were silver and black predominantly, with a smooth sliding animation to enter and exit. Replays were transitioned by several blocks forming the trophy sliding across the screen. Today was the first of two Live Third Round matches on ITV that day, with West Ham versus Manchester United playing at 5.15pm with Adrian Chiles. Both matches were presented on site so separate teams were required. In the North Stand glass box was our host Matt Smith, next to pundits Gordon Strachan and Gordon Smith. They made good use of the studio, decorating it out with their Cup backgrounds used in their regular base on the South Bank. By contrast it looked cramped and small when Sky had been in there in the past couple of Live games. Build-up began thirty minutes before the 12.30pm kick-off, starting with an intro recalling some of the classic Third Round underdog stories of yesteryear. The nostalgia continued, quite rightly with Gordon Smith present, with a quick look at the 1983 FA Cup Final; showing both his goal and his, erm, other chance. Thirty years on, it’s still something that Smith has to live with. “I made a mistake, I take full responsibility for it, I should’ve scored. I actually should’ve lifted the ball a little bit, if I’d lifted the ball, he’d already committed himself.” He also credited the Brighton supporters who had been “fantastic” to him over the years since. Fast-forward to the present and the team line-ups were laid out in formation for the studio team to talk through. The spotlight was turned on Gus Poyet with Ned Boulting’s pre-recorded feature taking the Uruguayan back through his career in England, gaining the ‘radio’ nickname for his non-stop chatter and how he took notes on his former manager Gianluca Vialli. It was clear several in that Chelsea dressing room would go onto manage, and Poyet discussed his successful time at the Albion so far before finishing on his FA Cup exploits, winning the competition in 2000. Reporter Boulting spoke with Newcastle boss Alan Pardew on the day before the teams emerged from the tunnel and Matt Smith threw to the break. Only a brief run through the line ups occurred immediately before kick-off from commentator Peter Drury before the match got underway.

ITV Sub ITV MOTM

Going in and out of the advert breaks this season, ITV used a couple of great instrumentals as backing tracks; including The Heavy’s “What makes a good man” and Katy Perry’s “Hot ‘n’ Cold”. At half time we had around five minutes or so to review the first period. Gordon Smith surmised that Brighton deserved the lead, having created the better chance. Newcastle didn’t have enough going forward to assist Shola Ameobi up front. Gordon Strachan’s analysis of the goal praised the attacking side for the nice move and “back-hand volley” style finish but criticised the lack of urgency or press from Newcastle; namely Williamson at the back and Obertan’s failure to track back Bridge. Co-commentator Jim Beglin named his Man of the Match as Albion’s Liam Bridcutt for his tenacious tackling and efficiency on the ball. After the break, reporter Ned Boulting spoke to the two goalscorers; Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins. Then around twenty minutes were afforded to the studio team to wrap things up. When analysing the second goal, credit was given to Hoskins for the timing of his run. There was concern about the performance from the away side, not just the result but how it came about and how little they threatened Brighton. They both thought the red card for Shola Ameobi wasn’t deserved, both challenges for the yellow cards had minimal contact. Gordon Smith believed they actually played better with ten men. Newcastle boss Alan Pardew agreed with the pundits regarding the sending off during his post match chat, saying he was disappointed with David Lopez’s reaction. Gus Poyet told Ned Boulting “Technically they are ten times better than you, and today maybe it was a bit more equal in general play. Which that gave us maybe a little advantage.” The last five minutes of the programme was devoted to the rest of the Third Round, including ITV’s second Live match of the day coming up from 4.30pm; West Ham v Manchester United. Reporter Gabriel Clarke was at Upton Park to provide a preview and chat with Hammers boss Sam Allardyce. Matt Smith and Gordon Strachan would be back at 11pm, joined by Andy Townsend, for the day’s highlights so bid farewell, for now, just before the 3pm matches kicked off.

ITV Orlandi ITV Red Card ITV Hoskins ITV Block 

Story of the Match: The home side began the brightest, enjoying possession and bringing the game to their Premier League opponents. A David Lopez cross found its way through to the far side of the six yard box to be met by the head of Gary Dicker. James Perch had to get back to clear just in front of the goalline. As was often the case, Brighton saw a lot of the ball without really creating many clear-cut chances. It took until the twentieth minute for Newcastle to have a shot on target, comfortably parried away by Ankergren. The deadlock finally broke in the 33rd minute through Andrea Orlandi. A long cross-field ball from Greer at the back went searching for Wayne Bridge charging down the left-wing. He somehow managed to keep the ball in and deliver a ball in the box to Orlandi. His first touch sent the ball up in the air and with his second he flicked it into the back of the net with a smart finish on the volley. Williamson in the defence stood off Orlandi to allow him to recover from a slightly loose initial touch to give Albion a deserved lead. At the start of the second half, commentator Peter Drury pointed out that Newcastle in the League had not won a single game having fallen behind whilst Brighton hadn’t lost after taking the lead. Shola Ameobi picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Dicker just minutes into the half. After an hour, Kazenga LuaLua came on to replace goalscorer Orlandi, giving the former Newcastle winger a chance to get one over his old team. He had said apparently if he were to score he would not do his trademark backflip celebration. It went from bad to worse for the away side when their captain was sent off for a second yellow card. Both bookings were for minor, late fouls and the combination was a little harsh to result in red. For the second, he clipped Lopez just after the ball had gone. LuaLua’s introduction gave Brighton an extra dimension going forward, he took on players and got behind the defence to provide crossing opportunities. Additionally his pace and trickery put opponents on the back foot straight away. Poyet changed it up again with twenty left on the clock, as Will Hoskins replaced a relatively quiet Craig Mackail-Smith in a straight change up front. Despite being a man down and a goal down, Newcastle still posed a threat. A header on from Williamson following a long punt forward caused an aerial battle. The resulting ball dropped to Marveaux to shoot, Liam Bridcutt threw his body on the line to block for a corner. They didn’t show much in the second half but the top teams usually have that one moment of quality which separates them from the lower Divisions. The longer the game went on, the longer the ball was kicked forward in persuit of the equaliser. Casper Ankergren didn’t have many touches but had to be alert when a Sammy Ameobi cross was deflected towards his own goal by Greer, the Dane managed to claw it away. Back at the other end LuaLua continued to impress, going close with a long-range strike into the side-netting. The game was put beyond any doubt with three minutes left of the ninety when Ashley Barnes and David Lopez linked up well on the right touchline. Lopez found space to provide a killer pass through for Will Hoskins who shook off his marker. One-on-one with the goalkeeper Hoskins did not disappoint to slot the ball through the legs and double the lead. “Done and dusted! Barely past lunchtime on Third Round Saturday and we have the first Third Round upset”, cried commentator Peter Drury. The run was timed well, the ball played to perfection and that wrapped it all up. The final action of the match summed up the Albion’s commitment to the cause, when three bodies were all in the way trying to charge down a late Newcastle shot in the box. That was blocked, they were blocked and the Seagulls marched on to Round Four once more. The reward in the draw was a home tie against Premier League Arsenal. Bring it on!

ITV Full Time

BRIGHTON 2 NEWCASTLE 0
Orlandi, Hoskins

ITV Replay1 ITV Replay2

PREVIOUS; #42 BRIGHTON 1-3 WATFORD 29/12/2012

NEXT; #44 BRIGHTON 1-0 HULL 09/02/2013

FA Cup Final : ITV Coverage 2014

“We’d like to throw him up but not catch him” [Roy Keane, ITV pundit, on Sir Alex Ferguson, 2014]

Remembering the past is part of the human DNA. It enables moments to become great memories, creates the foundations for lasting friendship and sows the seeds for important life lessons. Some Northern comedians even make a living out of remembering things; “Bullseye eh, what was all that about?!”

The FA Cup has a long and proud tradition as the oldest cup competition in the world. It’s a cup which, let’s face it, has sunk to the level of ‘just another match’ in recent seasons yet once was the biggest single game of domestic soccer in the country. Before satellite dishes, before the Premier League, even before the great day of my birth the FA Cup final was the only live televised club match in England. The build ups were lavish, the fans all gave a toss and it was the hottest ticket in town. TV companies went potty for it. So you can understand why nowadays the broadcasters love looking back at the ‘good old days’ when coverage started at 11am and celebrities clambered to be a part of the previews.

FA Cup Final

Cup Final replay graphic

A nice feature of ITV’s two hour pre match programming for the 2014 Cup final involved reporter Ned Boulting trawl through the Big Match archives to dig out clips of terrible haircuts, a topless Andy Gray reading a newspaper and a who’s who of Operation Yewtree’s ‘Starr’ names. The opening of the whole broadcast began with soundbites of all the big name hosts from ITV Cup finals past introducing the Big Match from Wembley; there was Dickie Davies and Brian Moore through Bob Wilson and Des Lynam right up to Steve Rider and the present day of Adrian Chiles. Nostalgia was prevalent from start to finish.

Back to Ned’s feature though and one thing seemed clear about final shows of yesteryear – there was quite a bit of flesh on show. Amongst the ‘thigh lights’, if you’ll forgive the dreadful and inaccurate pun, were Glenn Hoddle receiving a massage and Jim Rosenthal treated to what can only be described as a naked foam bath. In a very macho world it’s all a bit homo-erotic. We saw glimpses of all the famous faces or, more accurately, voices that would become synonymous with football on the telly; Martin Tyler, Brian Clough, Saint and Greavsie. The players weren’t afraid of embarrassing themselves, as the great Bobby Moore showed when dressed fully as a pearly king. Innovations which seem old hat now were wonders of their time; the helicopter shots, relaxed player interviews, teammates talking about teammates, cameras on the coaches; they did it all. But mostly it seemed it was done with fun and excitement.

Which brings me on to our ITV host Adrian Chiles. Adrian’s style of hosting isn’t everyone’s FA cup of tea but he is a genuine fan in an industry full of chancers. You know he really is impressed by the condition of the pitch and the grand occasion. With longer build ups like this he’s given more time to shine and talk at length, which he excelled at during his MOTD2 and international tournament stints. He showed his disdain for bland, clichéd answers from his guests too by, on more than one occasion, coaxing fuller answers out. His reaction to pundit Lee Dixon’s comment that Wenger’s final pre match words would be to go and win to take the pressure off was rightly met with “I could’ve told em that!” And above all he tries to have a laugh with us. Comedy and football go all the way back and it’s easy to take it too seriously now. Growing up football was all about the enjoyment of being able to run around, chasing a size 5 plastic or sponge sphere with your mates. It was about recreating those brilliant moments you’d seen at the weekend or on the TV. It wasn’t about the winning or the money. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded of that in the modern era.

Tim Vine

Tim Vine at Wembley

Comedian Tim Vine, king of the one-liners, cropped up every now and then with his usual job lot of puns and tomfoolery. He reminded us of some of the stories of this season’s competition, which on reflection seemed quite low on headlines. He also got a chance to chat with Chiles and co-commentator and walking, talking cliché Andy Townsend on the pitch. This gave him the opportunity to have fun with the typical questions asked of pundits over shots of the team bus arriving at the ground; “He can’t be playing, he’s about 60”. Vine’s been somewhat of a regular in recent seasons on Cup final day. He reminded us of the time he was a steward at the ’88 final at the Liverpool end when massive underdogs Wimbledon upset them to win 1-0. He was having to hide his joy at supporting the underdog that day and thought he may have to do the same this one as he was wanting Hull to win but sat amongst Gooners. The sort of omen TV folk love on these days.

After fleeting chats with Vine and then golfer Ian Poulter, reporter Gabriel Clarke did his trademark eerie, arty football insert – this time on Arsene Wenger. We were promised ‘fresh material’ by Chiles. What we saw was a man clinging on to past glories with a hint of insanity. “The trees laugh as I go by” said Wenger on his daily commute across the capital. Set in his ways. Refusing to let go and delegate. “The Nutty Professor?” questioned Clarke, amidst clips of disgruntled fans. They weren’t so unhappy at the end of extra time. Neither was Wenger, who was tossed in the air by his team, oblivious to the fact he’s approaching pensionable age and is so slender he could hide behind the goalpost. The highlight of the broadcast followed when Roy Keane made the comment quoted at the top of this article.

Arsene Wenger

Wenger about to be thrown into the sunny sky

With a nod to the ‘lols’ witnessed during the Ned Boulting piece earlier, Hull captain Curtis Davies and midfielder Jake Livermore took part in a ‘Meet the Team’ style interview. Basically a chance for them to show off their best banter. I get the feeling the players enjoy these more than the viewers. I don’t really feel like I know anything more about Matty Fryatt now than I did before Livermore described him as ‘sawdust’. Good with hamsters?

Other bits before the 5pm kick off included Matt Smith, who reunited Dixon and Seaman in the Wembley changing rooms for a reminisce and a moan about the club they love. It’s a shame Smith has only ever hosted one FA Cup final in his time as he’s an excellent host but always overlooked. He’s probably the most consistent all-round sports broadcaster we have currently and can apply himself well to most, shown by his work on darts, snooker and cricket as well as the footy.

ITV studio

The ITV Final line up

With 45 minutes to kick off Chiles and Dixon moved up to the familiar glass box alongside Keane and freshly-sacked from Spurs Tim Sherwood for the rest of the show. A lengthy report on Hull ‘s recent rise was next featuring, who else, but Dean Windass talking about his play off goal six years ago. Followed by the inevitable mention of the failed bid to change the name to Hull City tigers. Grrrr. Let’s hope it’s never mentioned again from this day forth. Windass and Ian Ashbee were also on the pitch during the  first parts of the programme with Adrian. The rest of the build up was the bog-standard studio stuff really before Leona Lewis took over with the singing back where she started; live on ITV on a Saturday night.

Clive Tyldesley partnered Townsend in the commentary box for his ninth FA Cup final on ITV and their last for a while at least. Next season the terrestrial rights transfer across to the BBC. It’s a shame the last six seasons of Cup coverage will be marred by bad decisions – with the ITV Tic Tac goal, nudity and swearing, two broadcast partners losing their rights (sort of, as ESPN’s transferred to BT and of course Setanta are in the big broken telly in the clouds) and the end of the 3pm kick off – as some of the coverage really has been top notch. What I’d love now is for this occasion to regain its status as, truly, the Match of the Day under the Beeb’s guidance next season.

Watch the ITV FA Cup final promo
Read the blog on BT Sport’s Cup final 2014 coverage

World Cup 2014 : #1 TV Preview

“Our aim is for this to be the first truly 24/7 World Cup” [Barbara Slater, BBC Sport director, 2014] 

Every four years thirty-two countries compete in sixty-four matches to prove once and for all who is the best footballing nation on the planet. It’s a time when all fans put aside club bias and come together as one to cheer on the Three Lions of England in a bid to blur the desperate close-season blues. Football in June is a God send to us fans so enthralled by the sport that we get up at silly o’clock every weekend, boarding coaches and trains, spending thousands of pounds, consuming pint after stomach-stretching pint, watching ordinary people do extraordinary things. In order to keep that buzz over the summer, contests between Ecuador and Honduras on a Thursday afternoon for two hours suddenly feel like the only thing that matters. Yes the World Cup is nearly upon us!

This week the squads were announced and as usual there were a couple of surprises, some familiar faces and some downright odd choices. I’m not talking about Roy Hodgson’s England squad – I’ll mention that in a separate blog post – but the on-air teams assembled by our broadcasters BBC and ITV. The full press releases can be found here;

http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/worldcup2014

http://www.itv.com/presscentre/press-packs/2014-fifa-world-cup#.U3QBj9q9KSM 

As with every major international tournament the race is on to add to the broadcaster’s own line up of existing pundits and commentators with top names from the international game. BBC announced the signing of Thierry Henry a number of months ago and he should be an interesting one. His only experience of UK TV punditry is with Sky Sports on their Champions League coverage earlier this season and he did a good job, if somewhat casual. Clarence Seedorf will be another cool character but is untested on our screens, likewise Brazilian Ex-Middlesbrough star Juninho. Rio Ferdinand adds the English flavour and has already done a couple of stints for BT Sport this season. Predictably he’s drawn criticism for this but from what I’ve seen of him on camera he’s got the basics of being a natural broadcaster and can add some much needed insight into an England camp which undoubtedly will dominate the discussions in the build up.

ITV’s international line up is very interesting. They too have gone for the tried and untested. Former Brighton boss Gus Poyet, so ubiquitous last summer and the early stages of the season on our screens, has been signed presumably to give the Uruguayan angle when England face them in their second group game. He also happens to be opinionated, intelligent and loves the limelight. He’ll be a great pundit and has bags of experience of it. Fabio Cannavaro has not. He’s a huge name to be able to bring in. I’m not sure how good his English is but I suspect he’s there more to attract attention rather than freshen up the analysis.

ITV World Cup 2014 ITV’s World Cup core

Alongside the new faces there are many more familiar ones that will dominate the schedules over the course of June and July. ITV have called upon several ex-BBC World Cup men in the form of Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, Gordon Strachan and Martin O’Neill to fit in next to Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira. The English viewpoint is provided by current international Andros Townsend and ’98 World Cup coach Glenn Hoddle. In addition to this summer, Hoddle will continue with ITV for the Euro qualifiers over the next few years. He’s someone highly regarded as amongst the best Sky use after Neville, Carragher and Souness; all of whom have been used in the past by ITV for international tournaments.

The Beeb regulars Alan Shearer, Danny Murphy and Robbie Savage will work with Alan Hansen for the final time as he retires at the end of the summer. He will be missed, if not only for nostalgic reasons, but in recent tournaments his disdain for some of the lesser countries has been all too prevalent and probably is the right time to call it a day. There’s no doubting he’s a very knowledgeable pundit and does offer the viewer something not immediately obvious. The criticism that recently he’s been phoning in his analysis is a valid one though. Many of the BBC pundits will be combining studio roles with co-commentary so the likes of Lawrenson, Keown and Kilbane will be very busy. The positive is there’s no Mark Bright this time, ditched after a bafflingly-long time as number two (in every sense).  The BBC look to be stronger in the commentary box than their rivals for the first time in a long time.

BBC World Cup 2014 BBC’s World Cup band

Guy Mowbray will continue to cover the England games and the final in his role as number one. The rest of the matches will be shared out as equally as possible with Steve Wilson, Jonathan Pearce, Simon Brotherton and Steve Bower certainly clocking up the miles across the vast areas of Brazil. The latter trio have all benefitted from regular live games on BT Sport this past season and go into the tournament much sharper than two years ago, where their main regular gig was restricted to solo highlights only. Phil Neville is a new addition to the gantry and will work with Mowbray for England games, of which we hope there’ll be more than just the three. He’s done a couple of unbroadcast practice pilots with him and I’m interested to see if he’s anything like his brother Gary. If he’s half as good we’re in for a treat.

ITV look bare in comparison. Only the regular number one pairing of Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend (not to be confused with the aforementioned Andros, who sounds as if he’s the Greek equivalent) survive from the Euros two years ago. So stalwarts Peter Drury, Jon Champion and Jim Beglin are all elsewhere this time. As is Craig Burley, who unexpectedly found himself doing the final in South Africa when Beglin was struck down by illness. Champion was initially supposed to go with ITV but opted for a more lucrative ESPN America gig so Sam Matterface and Clarke Carlisle are promoted to second choice pairing. Completing the regular commentary line up will be Joe Speight, for his first international tournament, and, combining studio role with co-comms, Lee Dixon. He’s been a regular for American network NBC all season and will be interesting to hear. There will also be others but as yet they haven’t been named.

Anchoring the coverage will be the ones we all expected; Gary Lineker for the fourth consecutive World Cup on the BBC, and Adrian Chiles for his second on ITV. In doing so Chiles becomes the first ITV host to lead consecutive World Cups since Brian Moore in the seventies! A quite remarkable statistic which even the great Des Lynam couldn’t break. Support provided by the excellent Matt Smith for his fourth and Mark Chapman for his first TV World Cup. Gabby Logan, Dan Walker, Jason Mohammed and Gabriel Clarke will all be on the plane as well as others who’ll no doubt crop up here and there.

The promos are beginning to air, the countdown is gaining interest and the soap fans are starting to fret about their beloved Coronation Street being shunted all over the schedules like it’s a Ben Elton sitcom. The focus is gearing up now the regular seasons are pretty much done and dusted. I don’t know where I’ll be watching the games yet, but one thing’s for sure; I cannot wait for it to all get going. I don’t wanna miss a thing.

See the first BBC World Cup promo here
watch the itv World Cup ’emotions’ promo