Small Screen Seagulls; 2011/12 Season part 2

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

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


Brighton 2-0 Portsmouth Highlights

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

POR Titles POR Comm

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

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

POR Brighton POR Portsmouth

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

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

POR Vicente sub POR Vicente 1st goal

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

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

POR Poyet money gesture POR Vicente 2nd goal

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

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

POR Full Time POR Studio


2

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

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

FLW Titles FLW Everton

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

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

FLW Vokes FLW Mackail-Smith

FLW Golf challenge FLW Laptop

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

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

FLW Vokes shot FLW Vokes distance

FLW Mackail-Smith shot FLW Mackail-Smith distance

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

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

FLW Leaderboard FLW Top ten

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

FLW Studio FLW Remaining Fixtures

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

FLW CMS vs Pro FLW Trophy presentation

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

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


3

Interview with Vicente and Inigo Calderon

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

LKO2 Titles LKO2 Walker

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

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

LKO2 Studio LKO2 Bright

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

LKO2 Vicente and Calderon.JPG

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

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

LKO2 Vicente quote LKO2 Vicente shirt

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


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West Ham 6-0 Brighton Highlights

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

WHAM Titles WHAM Fisher

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

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

WHAM West Ham WHAM Brighton

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

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

WHAM Vaz Te opener WHAM Nolan three nil

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

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

WHAM Vaz Te spectacular WHAM Own goal

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

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

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

WHAM Full Time WHAM Studio

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

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


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Report on The Amex bucking the trend of dwindling attendances

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

LKO3 Titles LKO3 Gupta

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

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

LKO3 Dix LKO3 Ambler

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

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

LKO3 Fans LKO3 Hebberd

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

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


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

Small Screen Seagulls; 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.

#36: Brighton 0-1 West Ham 24/10/2011

#36 BRIGHTON 0-1 WEST HAM Championship
Monday 24th October 2011 Image result for

WHAM Titles

PRESENTER Simon Thomas GUESTS Peter Beagrie & Alan Curbishley
COMMENTATORS Daniel Mann & Don Goodman REPORTER Patrick Davison
7.45pm Kick Off; Amex Stadium     7.30-10.15pm Football League Live on Sky Sports 1

Promo WHAM Sponsor WHAM Intro

Context of the Match: After a fairytale start to life at The Amex, with that late, late comeback against Doncaster on the opening day, Brighton’s form in the Championship had really slipped lately. Having had the opportunity to go top of the table with a win in the last televised match at home to Leeds, the draw that night was followed by no wins in four including losing to rivals Crystal Palace in a terrible night in Sussex. Bristol City away was the last victory back at the start of September. The Albion fell from third in the table down to twelfth ahead of another televised match; at home to Sam Allardyce’s much-fancied West Ham this Monday evening. The Hammers were relegated from the Premier League last season finishing bottom of the table. They sacked manager Avram Grant immediately after and had started this campaign well under their new boss, currently sat fourth and would climb to second with a win. Southampton, who went up behind Brighton last time, led the way top of the table and had beaten West Ham last week. Despite the eight League places between tonight’s sides, there were only two points separating them. When Brighton last met the East Londoners it was the FA Cup tie at Upton Park four years ago, with the home side easing through three-nil. Tonight, the Amex under the lights continued to impress, we hoped the players could do so too Live in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

WHAM Brighton WHAM West Ham WHAM Subs

The Teams: Albion’s line-up included two new faces to the team making their debuts. Experienced goalkeeper Steve Harper was signed on a one-month loan deal earlier today and went straight into the starting eleven. He’d been at Premier League Newcastle since 1993 but mainly as reserve ‘keeper to the likes of Shaka Hislop, Pavel Srnicek and Shay Given so had various loan spells over the years before finally getting a regular first-team opportunity at St James’ Park two years ago but injury and then being dropped had kept him out of the side more recently. He took Casper Ankergren’s place in the team tonight. The other new signing was also a loanee, Gonzalo Jara Reyes, a right-back from West Brom. He joined initially until January and brought with him international experience having played in the 2010 World Cup and Copa Americas for Chile. He joined the regular defensive unit this season of Gordon Greer, Lewis Dunk and Marcos Painter. The midfield trio of Dicker, Bridcutt and Sparrow helped bring the League One title to Withdean and showed no signs of decline making the step up. Both Ashley Barnes and Craig Mackail-Smith had been linked with moves to West Ham previously but were very much Albion strikers tonight. On the bench for the Seagulls were recent captures Will Hoskins and Ryan Harley, who scored a great free-kick on his League debut in the win against Peterborough in August. Hoskins had also been on the score sheet for us on his debut in the fantastic three-one away win in Cardiff. The Hammers made three changes to their side from the defeat at League leaders Southampton last time out. Joey O’Brien came in for his 100th game for the club, midfield general Mark Noble returned as did Jack Collison up front. Future Albion striker Sam Baldock dropped down to the bench. Big John Carew spearheaded the attack, he scored for Stoke in Brighton’s FA Cup defeat there back in February. Taking charge of the match was Kevin Friend.

WHAM Thomas WHAM Curbishley WHAM Beagrie WHAM Studio

Presentation Team: Simon Thomas was growing into his role as main Football League host. He had absolutely tons of Live experience, in fact most of his career had been in Live television. At Sky he hosted Cricket AM, a Live Saturday morning entertainment show similar in style to Soccer AM running during the summer, alongside first Anita Rani then Sarah-Jane Mee for several seasons. For Sky Sports News he was at the 2010 South Africa World Cup hosting the daily reports as well as swathes of minor football and international cricket. In the studio with him tonight were Peter Beagrie and Alan Curbishley. Beagrie continued to appear on the majority of Football League broadcasts and could always be counted on to be well researched and good for reading the game. Alan Curbishley had links to both clubs, playing for the two as well as managing West Ham between 2006 and 2008 rescuing them from Premier League relegation. He’d been out of the game since then but regularly appeared on punditry duties across a variety of broadcasters at home and abroad. When playing for Brighton between 1987 and 1990 he won promotion in his first season up from the third tier under Barry Lloyd’s stewardship. Curbishley is probably most revered now by Charlton fans after managing them for fifteen years, finishing as high as 7th in the top Division and being linked to the Liverpool and England jobs, the latter going to Steve McClaren. In the commentary box were Daniel Mann and Don Goodman. Mann was mostly heard by Sky 3D viewers of late, covering the vast majority of the three-dimensional broadcasts as they required separate commentary. He’d actually covered Albion’s last two Live matches for the 3D channel, alongside Tony Gale. With tonight’s being a traditional 2D affair, he was called upon so everyone could hear him. Don Goodman covered the Leeds match a month ago and was now familiar with the stadium, the style and the Brighton personnel so could give an informed commentary. He’s Sky’s number one and even did a couple of Premier League commentaries for them, but he’s mainly found in the Football League. On the touchline was number one League reporter Patrick Davison, again he also did the Leeds match and has covered us a few times over the past couple of years including the gutting penalty shoot-out defeat at Luton where we were spot-kicks away from a first Wembley appearance since the 1991 Play Off Final.

WHAM Kick Off WHAM Comms

The Coverage: Sky Sports broadcast regular matches from the Championship this season with typically two from the following slots; Friday night, Sunday lunchtime before the 4pm Premier League fixture, Saturday evening to go head-to-head with the top-flight ESPN clash or Monday night. The West Ham fixture was the latter, giving fifteen minutes pre-match build up but longer post-match. As with their previous two visits Sky presented from the glass box in the South Stand, giving a view of the West Stand over the pundits shoulders and the North Stand behind our host, Simon Thomas. He was joined by Peter Beagrie and Alan Curbishley, with the studio decked out in Sky’s Football League colours; red desk with the white crowd background used as a wallpaper like they have in their Isleworth base for the magazine programme. They began by discussing the big news from the Division that Leicester had sacked former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson today after just over a year in charge due to their disappointing start to the season. Incredibly he was already the fifth manager in this League to have departed and we were only an unlucky thirteen games in. The final straw was a three-nil home defeat to Millwall. A glance at the table saw Leicester in thirteenth position, level on points with the Albion a place above. Guest Alan Curbishley’s name was quoted as being in the running for the vacant job at the King Power Stadium, with odds of 12/1. Although he had been linked to pretty much any and every job going in recent years. The focus then switched to tonight’s clash, where Curbishley had been impressed with Brighton this term and pondered why they couldn’t think about emulating what Norwich achieved the year before; successive promotions up to the top-level. Reporter Patrick Davison spoke with both managers ahead of kick-off, asking them about Eriksson’s departure firstly. Poyet couldn’t understand why he’d been sacked when the club were only in the position they were. If things were going “bad, bad, bad we need to accept it” but it didn’t seem that was the case at Leicester. He added that his two new signings would add “experience, knowledge of the game, they understand the way we need to defend”. Allardyce thought his team would be in for a tough evening, having been at the opening match here he saw how well Brighton played. Back in the studio, Alan Curbishley was the latest in a long list of people to be impressed by the new stadium. He’d seen it all through the years playing at the Goldstone then watching at Withdean, making his first trip to Falmer for this match. Commentator Daniel Mann brought us the team news on those shiny graphics with the players mugshots before it was time for kick off.

WHAM Line Up WHAM Fatboy Slim
WHAM Corners WHAM Poyet

The half-time analysis focussed on the solitary goal and was briefer than usual, barely three minutes between ad breaks. Just before the second half began Norman Cook, standing pitchside, had a link-up with the studio to chat about the team and stadium as well as the news he’d be playing a gig here the following summer. The crowd had flags promoting Fatboy Slim given out before the game. Straight after the large amount of stoppage time added at the end of the match, Patrick Davison spoke to Craig Noone and Kevin Nolan for immediate reaction. Nolan gave credit to Brighton and said they’d cause a lot of teams problems like they caused his side tonight. Noone was awarded the Man of the Match champagne bottle and said there’s no reason why they can’t turn this current mini-slump around for the rest of the season. The table confirmed West Ham’s move up to second whilst the Albion remained in the middle. After the break around twenty minutes were given over to wrapping up the match. With chances not that forthcoming, the goal was reviewed once again from many angles, each one highlighting just how avoidable it was from a defensive perspective. Sam Allardyce, in his post match interview, gave credit to the Albion fans for their noise and said that despite the dominating possession Brighton had, there was only really one clear-cut chance which Almunia had to deal with; the Mackail-Smith volley in the first half. Poyet’s interview was more positive than in recent ones; “I’m proud. We are back. Brighton is back to his best. Brighton is back to playing against a Premiership club and don’t let them touch the ball for I don’t know how long. Which is good, good for football.” The pundits believed the penalty claims for Brighton were all correct not to given, praising the referee’s performance and decision-making. They were critical of the passing play not being quick enough, with West Ham putting on that typical ‘professional’ performance that gets you results in this League. And after more Sven Goran Eriksson chat the programme was over as Simon Thomas signed off from The Amex.

WHAM Action Areas WHAM Zamora

Story of the Match: Once again the atmosphere was excellent from the home supporters, really getting behind the team on a rainy October evening. Debutant Gonzalo Jara Reyes could perhaps (harshly) be summed up by his first play in an Albion shirt; he nutmegged his opponent with one touch then, as the ball got away from him, arrived late to roll his studs on the ankle of Papa Bouba Diop seconds later. The intent wasn’t there, no card was given but it was a little wild to say the least. He did the same to Mark Noble after thirteen minutes, this time he did earn himself a caution. West Ham liked to press high up the pitch so Brighton had to be spot on with their passing, particularly at the back. A warning came in the first couple of minutes when a loose Lewis Dunk ball was immediately intercepted in front of goal, the move coming to nothing. The warning wasn’t heeded though as Liam Bridcutt was caught dwelling on the ball by Kevin Nolan around thirty-five yards out. Nolan burst forward with a large gap in the Brighton defence now exposed and hit it from twenty yards. Steve Harper was hugely out of position in-goal, caught out by the quick dispossession, with Nolan given a big target to shoot at. Harper got hands to it but was standing virtually in line with his post, losing his bearings totally. It was a defensively poor goal to concede and from nothing West Ham had an eighteenth minute lead. As you’d expect from a team managed by Big Sam, they were physical, tactically aware and didn’t let Brighton enjoy too much all evening as the rain lashed down heavily. The game was scrappy and niggly. Chances were at a premium for both sides, with the first corner not even coming until seven minutes before the break, though Albio then had several in quick succession. Liam Bridcutt had a long-range effort which was headed wide by Carew on its way through, and Craig Mackail-Smith had appeals for handball and a penalty only to be ignored by the referee. The final action of the first period saw an outstretched Barnes leg flick it up for Mackail-Smith to volley, calling Almunia in-goal into a decent save. The Seagulls ended the half on the front foot but still went in one-nil down.

WHAM Injury WHAM Noone

Brighton continued to put the pressure on at the start of the second period but it wasn’t bringing the goal. A change was made before the hour was up, with Will Hoskins replacing Barnes. Graphics popped up showing the home side were dominating corners and possession but it’s goals that win football matches and they were elusive. The second half fightbacks that we’d seen against Liverpool and Leeds in the previous Live matches were similar but they provided four goals. A lovely ball in the danger zone between ‘keeper and last defender was searching for Mackail-Smith from Gary Dicker, the striker couldn’t quite reach as he slid in, ending up clattering into Almunia. A further throw of the dice saw Buckley replace Sparrow with twenty minutes to rescue something. The closest we came to a goal was the memories brought to mind seeing former Seagull and West Ham striker Bobby Zamora when he was shown in the crowd. After a challenge in midfield, there was real concern for midfielder Gary Dicker when he had to be stretchered off. It turned out that he’d fractured his leg and would be out for several months. In a rare second half burst forward West Ham could have doubled their advantage after another interception near goal saw Julien Faubert through. He sliced his shot wide but Greer was in its path anyway for the first Hammers corner in the 88th minute. A heap of added-on time came due to the unfortunate injury, eight minutes of it. The frustrations were clear from the Seagulls, not managing to get that vital equaliser and losing the match by Kevin Nolan’s goal to nil. Defeat to West Ham was by no means a disaster, they would be near the top of the table all season. Brighton needed to remain focussed and get back to how they like to play under the Gus Poyet era and things would start going their way again soon.

WHAM Table

BRIGHTON 0 WEST HAM 1
Nolan

WHAM Replay

PREVIOUS; #35 BRIGHTON 3-3 LEEDS 23/09/2011 

NEXT; #37 WREXHAM 1-1 BRIGHTON 18/01/2012

The Pre-Season Training Camp 2015

The end credits of a television programme in 2015 will whizz by without most people taking any bit of notice. Continuity announcers will talk all over them. Promos will pop up telling you what to watch next before you’ve even finished this programme. There is barely time to breathe before being force-fed your next bite of the telly pie. You are constantly ‘consuming’, whether consensual or not. This is not exclusive to the small screen, this is now our way of modern life. We are always looking at what is next.

There was a time when football was reserved for August until May and that was that. Every four summers there would be a wonderful feast called the World Cup in between seasons. Then along came a treat of a European-only competition. The gap between one campaign and the next has steadily been closing. This summer it possibly has reached its nadir. My last game of the old campaign was on Sunday 7th June. My first game of this campaign began just 26 days later. That’s only if you take into account games I’ve attended, as during those lean days there was still a whole host of live football broadcast including the UEFA Under-21 tournament which England crashed out in the group stages, the Under-20 tournament in Toulon, and the Women’s World Cup in Canada. I enjoy the women’s game, I make no qualms about that. I went to the Cup final in 2011 in Coventry and regularly tune into the WSL on BT Sport. England achieved the unthinkable; performing well at a major tournament. Mark Sampson and his Lionessses went all the way to the semi final, losing agonizingly in the last minute through Laura Bassett’s unfortunate own goal. They went on to beat Germany in the Third Place Play-Off And secure a fantastic bronze medal and become overnight stars. It somewhat captured the nations attention, mainly through hard work, teamwork and a terrific ethic. It was a joy to watch.

#1 West Ham v FC Lusitans

My 2015/2016 season began in East London on Thursday 2nd July with a Europa League 1st round 1st leg qualifier. West Ham beat FC Lusitans 3-0. The Hammers qualified for this through the Fair Play league so understandably have the hardest path through to the proper competition. They would ultimately crash out in the third qualifying round before the league season had even started. When I was there there was pretty much a full house. It showed a great appetite for European football, indeed summer football. I had a seat at the very back with a great view of the Bobby Moore stand to my right and a lovely skyline to my left. This is the final season at Upton Park before moving to the Olympic Stadium so I wanted to revisit this old ground one more time.

#2 Arsenal v Liverpool Ladies

Ten days later I was back with further live football. With the Women’s World Cup done and dusted a few days earlier, and the heroics of England still fresh in people’s minds, I went along to Borehamwood to see Arsenal v Liverpool. Some of the national stars were in action, including Alex Scott and Fara Williams. The crowd was more than double the average attendance, and this was replicated across the country. The ground is easy enough to get to, having been in the area before for TV recordings of Room 101 and A League of Their Own. The ground is a short 10 minute walk from the station and easily accessible on a warm Sunday summer evening. The match itself was nothing to write home about, with Liverpool winning 2-1 to go top of the table. It was surprising that it had taken me this long to attend a women’s league match but I was glad I had and have pencilled in another here for next month.

The BrewDog pub

Despite the off-season becoming increasingly shorter, games are still not quite thick and fast so my final match in July came two weeks later on Sunday 26th July in Scotland. Aberdeen, to be precise, as Brighton played in a testimonial match for the home side goalkeeper Jamie Langfield. I’d never heard of him either but a new ground and an exciting trip was too good to turn down. Myself, Ciaran, Dean and Mark Raven (all now regulars on the England away trips) got a taxi in the early hours of the morning up to Gatwick to board the easyJet flight to Aberdeen and arrive nice and safe for just after 9am. We were inside the Wetherspoon for breakfast for half nine but were met with gasps when we were told they didn’t serve any alcohol until 11am! After a quick food break we, alongside several members of the famous GDC who arrived at similar times, were off on a pub crawl round many fine local pubs including the famous BrewDog.

#3 Aberdeen v Brighton

The game was a drab, dull one-nil defeat with nothing to write home about despite me doing that very thing now. It was an extremely cold and windy day and being on the coast amplified this. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a colder ground than that, with the wind swirling in off the North Sea through the big gaps between the stands. Of course on reflection it was a fantastic one to tick off but at the time the game was getting in the way of a very nice day round the city. The trip was made all the more adventurous when we arrived at the airport as our 9.05pm flight home was delayed by a couple of hours. They kept the airport bar open to serve us dinner and further drinks and we also managed to grab a quick word with Albion boss Chris Hughton, as the squad were also flying home that night. Sensibly they were on a different flight to us so we waved them goodbye without controversy. Although assistant manager Nathan Jones did have to suffer the embarrassment of a full bag search.

Albion boss Chris Hughton

After landing around half-past midnight we then had a long wait to get a bus across form one side of the airport to the other, before heading onto the train home. Ciaran and the others headed down south, I went back up to London. I made it home to Ealing via a night bus just after 4am. It was a long, tiring, drunk day but a fantastic experience to really whet the appetite ahead of the rapidly-approaching new season.

Waiting for our delayed plane

Summer wouldn’t be summer without a quick glance round some other sports. I’ve tried several times to replicate what I go through during football with something else but ultimately nothing can replace it. Darts is probably my second favourite sport, closely followed by athletics, cricket and rugby. Honorary mentions for snooker, pool, boxing and the occasional tennis match too. Next summer there is the Olympics, of which I adore. Ahead of that I went to the British Championship Athletics in Birmingham for my first trip to the Alexander Stadium. It’s a fine venue and very easy to get to via a bus from the New Street train station. The days was beautiful, the crowd was enthusiastic and the overall experience was a very good one for my first UK Athletics meet.

Birmingham’s Alexander athletics Stadium

I then attended the Anniversary Games and Diamond League meeting at the Olympic Stadium for my first visit back there since my Gamesmaker stint during London 2012. I do love that place. Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis Hill and Mo Farah were all in action despite a horrible downpour for much of the afternoon and early part of the night. The two men both won their races and showed why they are so loved in a London. It’s still a bit of a nightmare to get away from the stadium but it will forever hold such incredible memories that I’ll overlook that aspect.

Back at the centre of the London 2012 Olympics

With The Ashes currently moving towards its climax, and with England going great guns, I decided to go back to live cricket. I made my first venture to The Oval where Surrey destroyed Northants in a One Day Cup match. I made the mistake of not bringing much cash so I had to forego the expensive beer and food for just a solitary burger all day. I also booked a trip to Edgbaston for the fourth day of the third test. However, England had such an incredible time the match finished on day three so I was left with just a refund rather than a great day out! I don’t think anybody could’ve predicted that.

A small crowd at The Oval, Surrey

My summer break from football incorporated going to cricket and athletics, as well as being glued to an excellent Tour De France (and outstanding coverage on itv4 from Gary Imlach and Ned Boulting) on TV, but the focus was always on football. Signings, transfers, fixtures, new shirts; it ultimately never really stops. The new season is nearly upon us and we’re opening the show live on Sky on the Friday night against Forest. It’s high time we started booking these trips and planning these weekends. I barely had time to read through the name credits of the editor and production assistant before the executive producer and Roman numeric year info appeared. The next programme is just days away now.