Brighton vs Man United – A history of contrariety

As Brighton fans in the 1990s were forced to watch on during their club’s much documented struggles, Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United were enjoying one of the most successful periods of any club in English football history. As a result if you’d been on mine or any other school playground in Sussex at the time you’d be sure to find plenty who proclaimed to be huge United fans with grandparents from Manchester and struggle to find anyone who’d admit to follow Brighton for fear of fierce ridicule.

After the years of relative mediocrity for United that followed the end of the Matt Busby era at Old Trafford, the nineties saw a return to national superiority for the club. It was a decade which saw them win five of the ten topflight league championships on offer as well as four domestic cups and two European cups. One of those being the famous Champions League Trophy that saw them become the first English clubs to win the treble of the League title, the FA Cup and the European Cup in the same season (1998/99). All this during a time of great growth in world football led to Manchester United becoming the richest club in the world and a dominant figure for many years to come.

In contrast after starting the decade in the second tier of English football and losing the 1991 playoff final to Neil Warnock’s Notts County to miss out a place in the topflight, the nineties was a decade which saw a dramatic demise for the Albion. The following season the club were relegated to the third tier and by 1996 they were relegated again to the bottom tier of the football league before going a game away from falling out of the football league and probable oblivion a year later. All whilst the owners of the club did their best to run the club into the ground. Quite simply there can’t have been two more contrasting clubs during that period.

The first victory

So when on that Friday night in early May 2018 that same Brighton team who were still in fear of a potential relegation in their first topflight season in 34 years hosted a Man United team second in the Premier league, many could be forgiven for pinching themselves to check they weren’t dreaming. And whilst this was a United team with no chance of catching league leaders and cross-city rivals Manchester City, they were still an intimidating opponent.

But it was a night where league positions and history were forgotten as the home crowd at the AMEX roared Brighton to a victory that took the club to mathematical safety and the holy grail that is the 40-point mark against an admittedly below par Man United.

In the club’s last home game of season they secured survival for only their second Premier League season via a Pascal Gross headed goal on the end of a Jose Izquierdo cross, but only after it had been adjudged to cross the line by just 2.8cm by goal line technology.

There was a moment things looked to be heading the other way though, after Man United had a goal disallowed early in the first half with the game still tied at 0-0. Marouane Fellaini was correctly adjudged to be offside when turning home a Marcus Rashford free kick, but this was as close as United came to scoring in a performance epitomised by the England international Rashford’s inefficacy in leading the line. Rashford was maybe suffering under the pressure of the situation, with Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez injured this was his chance to show manager Jose Mourinho he could lead the line in the upcoming FA Cup final against Chelsea. Despite his inefficacy he did start that game, alongside Sanchez, a game United again lost 1-0.

In contrast Albion were supreme that night, with wingers Izquierdo and Knockaert both causing the opposition plenty of problems out wide, whilst Gross and Murray again linked up well to cause the opposition problems through the middle of the pitch. Gross scoring was not an unusual sight for the Amex crowd. In his maiden Premier League season, he scored 7 and assisted a further 8 of Albion’s 34 goals, going on to win the club’s player of the season award.

And Hughton’s resilient side held on fairly comfortably to secure a crucial and impressive win. This was possibly the most impressive performance of the whole season, and the timing of it was of huge relief. With the Seagulls final two fixtures being away games at Champions Man City and then finally away to fellow giants Liverpool, there were plenty of Albion fans getting a little worried about the threat of relegation.

Instead it was a night to celebrate, and with the game being on a Friday night plenty of Albion fans did. Once the team had carried out their traditional end of season lap of honour/appreciation, the fans flooded into the bars and pubs around the stadium and the city centre to celebrate achieving another season in the topflight.

The second victory

Later that year in August as the 2018/19 football season got underway Brighton opened their second Premier League season at home with the same home fixture that ended the last, and it was to be the same outcome as before too, with another victory for Albion over Man Utd.

However, it wasn’t all good for the Albion that day, after captain for the day Lewis Dunk was forced to come off injured early in the first half. But fortunately, he was replaced by the new signing and Nigerian international Leon Balogun who was instantly up to the pace and the standard of the Premier League and played well alongside centre back partner Duffy.

With Balogun a more than capable deputy, the Albion were able to press United with gusto, putting them under plenty of pressure. And it wasn’t long before this pressure told, and the Albion got off the mark with a sublime chip from Glenn Murray. This is a goal that has to go down as one of his best for the Albion, whilst it was from close range, the skill and technique to flick the ball up and chip the ball over United ‘keeper David De Gea was a great sight to behold.

With the Albion faithful still in a state of shock to be ahead, a second Albion goal from Shane Duffy sent the AMEX into a state of pandemonium. United allowed Shane Duffy an absurd amount of time in the box to take the ball down and he rifled it home to give the team a two-goal lead.

After Lukaku had pulled one back for the visitors, last season’s match-winner Pascal Gross once again converted, this time from the penalty spot to regain the team’s two goal advantage going into half time.

And as the first half ended it was hard to take stock of what had been a whirlwind of a first half. One where the Albion had played with a level of pace and intensity unrecognisable from the 3-0 defeat to Watford on the opening day of the season just the week before, and to be frank most of the season previous too.

Despite an improved display from United in the second half, they once again on visiting the AMEX rarely troubled the Albion defence. Meaning the late penalty clumsily given away by Duffy and scored for United by Paul Pogba was a meaningless consolation for the visitors leaving Albion 3-2 victors.

To the future, via the past

As well as being a second home win in a year this was in fact the third straight home League win for Brighton against Man United. The first of that run coming 36 years previous when a solitary Peter Ward goal gave Albion a 1-0 win back in the last season of Brighton’s only other topflight spell from 1979 to 1983. In fact despite their contrasting histories Brighton and Man Utd have each won three of the eight occasions when the sides have met in Sussex, with the remaining two ending in draws.

Just a matter of months later after the league season ended with Brighton relegated from the topflight, the clubs met again in the 1983 FA Cup final. After the original tie ended with a memorably entertaining 2-2 draw, United won the replay comprehensively 4-0.

And aside from meeting each other in both the League Cup and FA Cup during the 1992/93 season, they would have to wait 34 seasons to meet again in the league. In fact prior to Albion’s promotion in 1979 the clubs had only met once beforehand in the 1909 FA Cup, when Man United ran out 1-0 winners.

After all those many years apart, this weekend was due to be the third consecutive season that the clubs were due to meet at the AMEX, with Brighton going for a fourth straight home league win in the fixture. But with the global circumstances that we will all be too well aware of meaning that like many of the worlds sporting events the Premier League has seemingly been indefinitely postponed, who knows when these clubs will eventually again meet in Sussex. At least we can be glad that it is likely that we won’t have to wait another 34 years for the occasion.

Seagulls Reading List

With Brighton now entering a two week winter break, here’s a collection of recent Albion related articles for you to read to fill those hours during that period whilst you’re longing for the next Albion game.

Anyone who regularly followed Zonal Marking will know Michael Cox knows his football. So when he writes about the Albion it’s always worth reading. His latest piece written with Roashane Thomas involving our fair clubs is from the recent draw with West Ham and is an error by error account of how West Ham threw away their lead against Brighton.

And his synopsis of the match against Watford is also very much worth reading.

Subsequent to that draw Paul Doyle from the Guardian wrote a very positive piece about the work Graham Potter is doing at the club, including the wonderful quote: “They [Brighton] are four points below Hodgson’s Palace but, all things considered, in a much better place.”

Also subsequent to the draw at West Ham was this piece by Sam Dean in The Telegraph focusing on how Glenn Murray is seemingly back in favour at Brighton. After his equaliser against West Ham. Glenn is the man of the moment, with in the same week Graham Potter admitting that he may have underused Murray so far this season.

Back to the Athletic there was an interesting wide ranging interview by Andy Naylor with Brighton’s Technical director Dan Ashworth. In which he takes us through his thoughts on England, B teams, homegrown quotas and making Brighton a top-10 Premier League club.

And there’s also a slightly older interview, this time with Albion’s Assistant manager Billy Reid in the Daily Record that’s worth a read. An interview which includes news of a film cameo in a film featuring at Cannes film festival.

Also, if you missed it there has been plenty of new content from Tweeting Seagull Towers recently to keep you busy, including my pieces defending football supporters ignorance and asking whether Brighton are paying the price for too much long term thinking?

In defence of our ignorance – a message from a football fan

Football rarely offers its followers emotions of the middle ground. You are either a winner or a loser, even in the event of a draw there is often one team happier than the other. Take last Saturday’s trip to the Olympic Park where Brighton faced West Ham as an example. A game of such contrasting emotions, where at one point we all thought Graham Potter was an idiot for a seemingly absurd double substitution at 3-1 down. A substitution that in fact turned the game in Brighton’s favour to finish with a seemingly unlikely 3-3 draw. Euphoric joy for Albion supporters contrasting with the crushing disappointment for West Ham supporters.

One of those substitutes who to the surprise of many made all the difference was Ezequiel Schelotto, a player who since his arrival in 2017 has at times delighted, at times not, but mostly been incredibly unfortunate with injuries. But as Michael Cox described in his latest article for the athletic his introduction was a great exploitation of a West Ham’s weakness down their left hand side.

I can understand the surprise at Schelotto’s entrance, he was cast aside by Hughton after just one season and seemed on his way out of the club. And even after being given a reprieve by Potter has only been used sparingly this season. Now with another player who is primarily also a right back joining in January in the shape of Tariq Lamptey, it was easy to assume he had been pushed further down the pecking order and was never to be seen again. But life often has a habit of catching you out when you make lazy assumptions based on half the information, a habit us football fans are famous for.

After the game Schelotto tweeted a self-congratulating and confrontational jibe at his critics when he said: “They judge you before seeing you in action, it is called ignorance. They flatter you when you win, it’s called mediocrity. Less social networks and more support!!!!

It is a tweet which contained a certain level of hubris, of which you come to expect from a professional sportsman. Nonetheless it was a message that from looking at the replies from Brighton fans has gone down well with supporters a plenty.

He subsequently then had to defend himself against unfounded personal accusations from one Twitter user, giving an example of exactly why many professional footballers don’t put themselves out there on social media platforms. And showing why in most cases ignorance isn’t a virtue.

But, despite there always being the odd clown, in general I’m always inclined to side with the fans who are being criticised by people from within the game. People like the fan site We Are Brighton, who tweeted their shock and rage when Schelotto was brought on instead of top scorer Maupay. Or reporters like Ian Abrahams who tweeted his surprise at the same moment. Only for both to later be proven markedly incorrect.

And this is where my defence of the humble football fan comes in. Because part of the joy of being a fan is not being an expert, not seeing what’s coming and revelling in moments like this when your team unexpectedly comes back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to draw 3-3. Or even revelling in the gallows humour of being on the wrong side of such a turnaround.

Supporters like those who run the We Are Brighton fan-page are doing exactly what fans do, expressing the emotions of the moment and revelling in it. Whilst reporters like Ian Abrahams are our narrators who relay the story of the events and emotions of the day to those who are following it from elsewhere.

So to Schelotto and others who accuse supporters of ignorance I say this: Yes, football fans are often a largely ignorant, unduly judgemental and overly emotional bunch, but that is the very culture that our nations football grounds were built on. And what in part drives the hope that keeps us going back every week despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Football was initially brought to the attention of the masses in the UK as a game played and watched at the end of a hard working week. Something to take your mind off the hard and often brutal conditions of 19th century factories and workhouses. And whilst it has evolved into something very different in 21st century Britain, at its heart the football fan culture is still very much the same.

But unfortunately with social media saving and displaying users’ thoughts for all eternity, our ignorance is there for all to see, maybe this is why experts like Michael Cox have become as prominent as they have? To educate us to become a more informed crowd and save our blushes.

But then again, there are expert in hindsight, and then there are the true experts. Those like Graham Potter that see the opportunities and make the difference in the moment rather than after the event. And anyway, if you want an informed crowd go to Wimbledon Centre Court or Lords Cricket Ground. Football has never been the thinking man’s game, it’s brilliance is in its simplicity.

In this same week, Brighton announced their season ticket renewals process through a glossy leaflet and email that was sent to all current season ticket holders. And whilst it was great in its intention and production, I took exception to a part of it. Not because of its glossiness, but the spirit of the quotes used from Graham Potter and Tony Bloom. Quotes of “we need you every step of the way” and “your support will always be valued” respectively.

Whilst well intentioned, what this type of output from the club ignores is the fact that we don’t dedicate ourselves to the club because we are valued but because we value it. We value the community that our clubs are a part of, the history and heritage of our clubs, and everything good that they stand for.

Anyone who has read David Goldblatt’s book “The Ball is Round” that chronicles the history of football will truly understand the history behind our nations complex and confusing relationship with our national game. A relationship probably best summed up by a quote from the late Pope John Paul II: “Amongst all unimportant subjects, football is by far the most important.”.

I fully accept that in the cold light of day football fandom is in many ways absurd and illogical. But the wonderful escapism that can be achieved through it is why so many keep coming back. The genuine passion and emotion we feel for our teams and hatred we have for our rivals is real, if based on admittedly flimsy and flawed logic.

Within the microcosm that is the world of football I can’t think of anything worse than those within the game who try to suppress that culture or even worse monetise it. And let’s be honest Brighton are just as bad culprits of this as any other club is.

Along with the consistent rising cost of going to a match, the club have recently called for an improvement in the atmosphere at home games and fans are continually asked by management and players for their devoted support. Fine, you might think? But just as much as us football supporters are constantly reminded by our ignorance that we should leave the football management to the experts, those within the game should leave the football supporting to the experts too.

Are Brighton paying the price of too much long-term thinking?

This Saturday sees the first of two important matches in Brighton’s third Premier League season, as they travel to fellow strugglers West Ham this Saturday before hosting a rejuvenated but nonetheless relegation threatened Watford the next.

Brighton’s recent “crisis” is put into context when you consider the goings on at their next venue the London Stadium. Since moving from their previous long-term home Upton Park in 2017 with promises of Champions League football and exciting new signings, West Ham have instead experienced three seasons of struggle on the field and strife off it. It makes you glad that at very least we have an owner who cares about more than profit margins and a chief executive that we can trust.

Our following weekends opponents Watford were in all sorts of trouble earlier in the season, when it looked like the continuous upheaval in their playing and coaching staff was finally catching up with them. (Ironically after the first summer break when they stuck with their manager since 2013, two years prior to their promotion to the topflight). But the clubs third ‘permanent’ manager of the season Nigel Pearson has instead improved the club’s fortunes with 15 points in his first 8 games in charge. A total which equates to 2/3rds of the points the club have accumulated all season.

In contrast Brighton’s focus in recent years has been about stability and long-term planning, but the club has come under increasing criticism of late, primarily for its record in the transfer market. Whilst this type of criticism is part and parcel of a bad run of form, Brighton’s current predicament does raise important questions that need to be answered.

Primarily: Can the club be accused of looking too far into the long term and neglecting its focus from short term success?

The initial signs from this season were good. After dispensing with first team manager Chris Hughton for a younger, more exciting and attack-minded coach in Graham Potter, performances looked to be improving. And whilst results at first were somewhat hard to come by, three wins at home to Spurs, Everton and then Norwich won most sceptics over.

Along with that, a MoM performance in front of the Sky Sports cameras by U23 graduate Steven Alzate away at Newcastle, followed by a brace from fellow U23 graduate and last season’s Premier League 2 player of the season Aaron Connolly, added further evidence of Potter’s good work and appeared to justify the trust he has placed in the younger members of the squad to fill the gaps. 

And there is plenty of evidence of his good work, no more so than the team’s change in tactical style. A change in which Potter has innovated and evolved the team from a deep lying defensively-minded team to a more front-foot attack-minded side. 

But change has come with growing pains. Pains not eased by the at times poor execution of Potter’s management. Be that through constantly altering team selections, a growing tendency for panicked substitutions of varying success when his changes in personnel don’t work, or simply asking too much of certain players. All in all, Graham Potter’s inexperience in management has been on show for all to see just as much as his innovative and exciting tactical ideas.

Possibly the biggest anomaly so far is that despite how much tactical innovation and adaptability he’s shown, and despite how much ability he’s shown to develop players, this ability is seemingly not enough to get the best out of arguably the club’s two best players from the previous two Premier League seasons in both Glenn Murray and Shane Duffy.

Whilst Murray’s age can excuse Potter over some of the criticism of his absence from the top scorers list, this coupled with Connolly failing to add to his two goals against Tottenham in early October has meant much of Albion’s goal threat has been placed on the shoulders of the inexperienced if talented Neal Maupay, who has proved at times deadly but at times unreliable in front of goal.

After the club were arguably swept away in the early season optimism, Potter was given what was then an unexpected and what now looks like an unnecessary two-year extension to his already long-term four-year contract. On announcing the news the club said: “In the summer we unveiled a new long-term vision for us to become an established top-ten Premier League club, and we feel even more strongly that Graham as a bright, energetic and innovative head coach, is the right man to lead us there.” Comments that add further suspicion to the fact that the club’s long-term goals might be overshadowing its short-term objectives.

But it hasn’t just been the Brighton Board of directors who’ve been praising Potter’s work potentially too soon. Many jumped to praise him after the 3-0 win away to Watford on the opening day, a win that looks far less impressive in hindsight given how Watford’s season then played out. Others have added high praise following the wins over Everton, Spurs and Arsenal, wins that look more like anomalies than signs of improvement considering the more recent disappointing results and performances.

But Potter’s work and the club’s senior management have certainly still got plenty to be proud of. It pays to think about the long-term, but a key element to success is finding a balance between a focus on long-term goals with an equally important focus on short- and medium-term objectives.

Short-termism has become an unattractive characteristic amongst much of English football in the Premier League era, but long-termism can be just as dangerous. As Ken Favaro said in the Harvard Business Review “You cannot sacrifice the short-term for the long-term and expect to have a future any more than the other way around. In other words, long-termism is just as bad as short-termism.”

For Brighton, having the long-term goal of becoming a top-half topflight club certainly adds value to the club’s operations. But without achieving the short-term objective of another season of Premier League survival, that goal becomes much harder to achieve and moreover becomes an implausible prospect to have faith in.

Whether the club has and will continue to find that balance and avoid the harm to its long-term goals that would come with relegation to the Championship will become much clearer over the next two matches.

1984 Newcastle vs Brighton – Kevin Keegan’s final game

Is there a footballer more synonymous with the malaise that was English football in the 1970s and early 80s than Kevin Keegan?

Keegan was possibly English football’s first global superstar, but unfortunately it was during a time when English football was possibly at its lowest ebb. Keegan received multiple individual awards along with winning various trophies at club level, but never quite managed to replicate his club success at international level. But nonetheless even in the dying days of his professional playing career Keegan had fans fly over from as far flung places as Japan just to see him train, such was his global profile.

Keegan was so highly thought of around the world that he was even included in the FIFA 100 that celebrated the top players of first 100 years of the organisation back in 2004.

And yet remarkably he only played in one game at a FIFA World Cup. When, after England failed to qualify for both 1974 and 1978, he arrived at the 82 tournament injured. Whilst he missed most of it, he did drag himself onto the pitch for the final 26 minutes of England’s final second round group game. A scoreless draw with hosts Spain, a game that England needed to win to progress.

His career was in many ways exceptional and in others far less illustrious. So maybe fittingly his career that had reached such heights at Liverpool and Hamburg ended with a less notable two year spell with Newcastle United in the English Second division. A move Chris Waddle recently said would be akin to Mo Salah signing for a struggling Championship team.

But despite being born and growing up in Doncaster, Keegan always had an affection for Newcastle and its football club due to his ancestral routes to the city that his dad had passed down to him through tales of Hughie Gallacher and Jackie Milburn. When he signed for the club in 1982 following England’s exit from the World Cup, he said his father would have loved seeing him play for the club and that signing for the club was like coming home. And it wasn’t long before the Geordie faithful equally took him to their hearts.

After finishing just three points and two places shy of the promotion places to the top flight in the 1982-83 season, a Keegan inspired Newcastle were to finally return to the topflight after six years away in his last season as a professional footballer.

And in his last game he was to face our very own Brighton and Hove Albion. Making only our third trip to St James’s Park for a league match.

The first was a resounding 5-0 defeat back in 1961, during a season where the Seagulls finished rock bottom of the second tier. A season that ended their first spell at that level of the Football league, and a level they wouldn’t return to for over a decade.

And as a result their second trip to St James’s Park wasn’t for nearly two decades. But it was worth the wait, as a historic 3-1 victory clinched promotion to the topflight for the first time for the Seagulls in 1979.

Brighton spent the interim years up until this subsequent trip to the North East in the topflight themselves, which up to promotion to the Premier League in 2017 was the club’s only period at that level. But after relegation in 1983 was coupled with that famous FA Cup final defeat, Brighton’s team was slowly ripped apart and a demise followed that took them within a defeat of relegation out of the football league a mere 14 years later. As a result the Seagulls went into this match just a year after losing the cup final with a team featuring only 5 of their starting 11 from that day at Wembley.

Whilst Newcastle went into the match already promoted and certain of a third place finish, Brighton would have to settle for a mid-table finish, ultimately falling 20 points short of Keegan’s Newcastle.

Brighton manager Chris Cattlin (who had only been promoted to manager from first team coach earlier that season), fielded an attacking line up saying that the team “want to play their part in making Keegan’s farewell a memorable one.” And even more fittingly it was an old teammate from Keegan’s days at Liverpool Jimmy Case that would captain Brighton that day on this celebratory occasion.

Jimmy Case was a key member of Albion’s midfield for the first half of the eighties after joining the club from Liverpool as part of a deal in which saw Mark Lawrenson go the other way for £900k. In his first season the Seagulls finished a still club high league finish of 13th in the first division and he famously scored in every round of the FA Cup except for one in the club’s run to the 1983 FA Cup final.

The Newcastle team that day were more than a match for Catlin’s men. Alongside Keegan was his future assistant when he later managed the club Terry McDermott as well as future England stars Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle and another future Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder.

The match was being played in front of thirty-odd thousand spectators at the pre-renovation St James’s Park. This wasn’t the lopsided cathedral of North East football we know today though. This was of course four years prior to the Hillsborough tragedy and the subsequent Taylor report that, along with most other British sporting stadia, led it to become an all-seater stadium.

But football stadiums of the early eighties were tired, ramshackle, old beasts and even a club the size of Newcastle had let their home become worse for wear. The Leazes end had already been demolished in 1977, and with plans to replace it scuppered by relegation it was just replaced with an open end. Whilst the main West Stand was still in place that day it was in a general state of disrepair and would be demolished a few years later following it being deemed to not meet new fire regulations that were put in place in light of the 1985 Bradford stadium fire disaster.

Nonetheless, the events of the day created a true spectacle. And with a return train ticket costing £14 and return coach ticket costing £13.50 (the equivalent of about £45 today) plenty made the trip up for Albion’s final game of the season.

But the day wasn’t about Brighton and it was as if the script had been perfectly written for Keegan’s big day after he opened scoring to give Newcastle a 1-0 lead. Man of the day Keegan turned in the rebound after a Chris Waddle shot was saved by Albion ‘keeper Joe Corrigan.

This was Corrigan only season playing for the Albion and he retired after a couple of short loans spells the following season. He had spent the majority of his career with Man City and was in fact a former England teammate of Keegan’s, including being a fellow benchwarmer during the 1982 World Cup. Unlike Keegan’s hefty total of 63 caps, Corrigan only collected 9, no doubt limited by the competition at the time of the likes of England goalkeeping greats Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence.

This was Kevin Keegan’s 28th and last goal of the season and the 203rd of his club career, a magnificent total by anyone’s standards. But Brighton weren’t there to make up the numbers at Keegan’s leaving ceremony and upset the hosts by equalising through Gerry Ryan. Ryan took advantage of a slip by the aforementioned Roeder and turned the ball home to level the scores up at half time.

Gerry Ryan was one of a group of international footballers to play for the club at the time, but unlike Keegan, as Ireland didn’t qualify he didn’t play at the 1982 World Cup. The following year Case’s career was cut short after breaking his leg during a typically ferocious derby match with Crystal Palace in a tackle with Henry Hughton, the brother of future Brighton manager Chris Hughton. A tackle so horrific it left Ryan in plaster for 15 months.

The game wouldn’t stay tied for long, and it was almost as if one former England great passed on the mantle to a future England great, when Chris Waddle scored after being set up by Keegan. A young Waddle had played a crucial part in Newcastle’s promotion that season scoring 18 goals and this goal helped cap off a great season. After scoring another 16 the following season as a first division player with Newcastle, the following season he moved to Tottenham where he earned his reputation as one of England’s best attacking talents of that time, before moving to France to play for Marseille.

Then another young future England star Peter Beardsley scored the best goal of the day to wrap the win up for the magpies. His magnificent chipped goal made it 3-1, with Keegan again being involved in the build-up.

As the final whistle blew the St James’s Park crowd rose for one last ovation for Kevin Keegan and their promotion heroes. After the game, despite his lack of international success Keegan said his only regret was that his kids were too young to have seen him play at his peak. Such is his nature, he appreciated the great things he had achieved, rather than focusing on things that he hadn’t.

Keegan would make on last outing in a testimonial against former club Liverpool before hanging up his boots. A game that saw him exit the ground in a helicopter after finishing his lap of honour.

Without Keegan and without manager Arthur Cox who resigned the following summer due to a lack of funds from the board, this promising Newcastle team underwhelmed in the top flight achieving only two top half finishes in five years. At the end of which they were relegated back to the second division

However, they returned four years later under the management of Keegan himself, who led the club to 3rd, 6th and 2nd place finishes respectively in their first three years back in the top flight. The later in 1996, was the club’s highest league finish since 1927.

Nonetheless, Keegan’s managerial career is known most prominently for that Newcastle team’s dramatic fall from clear leaders of the Premier League at Christmas of 1995 to eventual runners up come the following May. A demise in the second half of the season that culminated in Keegan’s infamous emotional outburst live on Sky Sports.

After sensationally resigning in the January of the following season, and after a mixed subsequent managerial career that included another difficult spell with the England national team (only this time as manager), Keegan returned to St James’s Park to manage the club again for a short period in 2008. He can now be seen working intermittently as a pundit on English football for overseas broadcasters.

In contrast, after that day Brighton continued their demise down the football league. The club was relegated to the third tier in 1987 and despite an instant return to the second tier and a brief flurry with the playoffs during a promotion push back to the top flight in the 1990/91 season, the club continued their demise up to 1997 where it was a game from going out of the Football League.

A demise that Brighton’s captain of that day back in 1984 Jimmy Case, was at the centre of. After becoming manager of the club part way through the 1995/96 season, he oversaw the club’s relegation to the bottom tier of the Football League before being fired in November 1996 when they were bottom of the Football League. Not every great former player makes a successful manager.

In Case’s defence, he had admittedly inherited an almighty mess. A mess so great that the previous manager Liam Brady was forced to resign as manager in protest at the poor running of the club. Brady did so with a heavy heart and had such affection for the club that he later played an important part in Dick Knight’s consortium to purchase the club in 1997. And was involved in the running of the club for many years afterwards.

The rest of this is a special story in the history of Brighton & Hove Albion, but in football there will always be two teams and sometimes the story isn’t focused on yours. But for our club to play a supporting role in a special day for one of England’s greatest footballers is something we can take pleasure in.

Seagulls Reading list

It’s been a while since I did one of these but with the cold January night’s drawing in here’s more additions to my Seagulls Reading List:

Goldstone Wrap – A fellow Albion blogger, the Goldstone Wrap has pieces on many memorable moments from Albion’s Goldstone years. Well worth a read to reminisce or brush up in your Albion history.

The Seagulls Love Review – a former Albion fanzine turned blog and twitter account. Writing opinions on all things Albion.

Brighton but only at home – Another Albion blogger, this one focuses on home match reports and has been going since the AMEX opened its doors. Always worth a read.

In parallel lines – Not another one?!?! Yes, another Albion blog authored by professional writer Nick Turrell who focuses on former Albion players connected to our upcoming opponents.

Seagulls Programmes – an invaluable archive of Albion Matchday programmes and other treasures through the decades, collated by Albion’s Matchday programme aficionado Ian Hine. This website is always a point of call for me when researching a new topic and is a great source of club material down the years.

Any one still interested in further Albion reading can refer back to previous pieces linked below where I detail some other places that are good starting points:

Seagulls Reading list

Seagulls Reading List 2

Get your kit off the Queens Road club shop, Wonderbras and Valentines cards

As an avid Brighton fan my interest was piqued by the discussion on a recent episode of the Quickly Kevin 90’s football podcast of a Brighton kit marketing campaign from 1997, so here’s a piece which gives some background on how the infamous campaign came about.

This was a kit advertising campaign far away in style from the recent ones from the club which have included members of its various men’s, women’s and disability specific teams. Instead this campaign included notable celebs with links to the local area wearing the new kit with a slogan slavered with innuendo.

The campaign itself was an idea that came as part of the new club chairman Dick Knight’s plan to increase the club’s commercial output after taking over the club.

Dick had just bought the club from the disgraced former owner Bill Archer. Not long after the club’s short-term future was secured and relegation out of the Football League was narrowly avoided. But the club had to spend the first two full seasons of his ownership playing over in Gillingham before finding a suitable (not so) temporary home back in Brighton at Withdean Stadium, with the club not finding a permanent home until 2011 at Falmer Stadium.

Back in 1997 Dick took over the club having just come out of a successful advertising career including being behind advertising campaigns such as Wonderbra’s famous “Hello Boys” advert from a few years earlier. So slightly edgy marketing campaigns featuring attractive women that may just seem crass in the modern day were all too familiar to him.

The Wonderbra adverts were of course controversial, but Dick has defended it saying: “As soon as the campaign launched, we had protests from Women’s groups who claimed that women were being exploited. It was the opposite. The ads were sexy not sexist. The woman, Eva [Herzigova], was making statements. She made you laugh at the same time.”

Whereas Feminist activist Julie Bindel, co-founder of legal reform group Justice for Women said: “Wonderbra’s ‘Hello Boys’ advert, the scourge of the feminist movement throughout the mid-1990s, was so sexist it was almost a parody.” But in many ways that hits the nail on the head of what may be one of the key elements to Dick’s success in advertising, his almost parody like wit.

Either way, in 2011 it was voted as the favourite ‘iconic’ advertising image in a poll by the Outdoor Media Centre. So before Dick arrived at the club in 1997 it was this that his career was best known for, but he was soon to become much better known as the saviour of Brighton and Hove Albion football club.

As soon as he took over, he then had a huge job on his hands turning the fortunes and the image of the club around. An image so tarnished 17 of the 71 other Football League clubs voted that year to expel Brighton from the League whilst a further 8 abstained from the vote with the rest voting for the club to keep its status.

A big part of the turnaround required at the club involved increasing the club’s commercial revenue. When he took over the club Dick said he was “astonished to discover the club had virtually no revenue from merchandising or commercial activities at all.” A fact particularly true as a result of losing the Goldstone ground that year and having to play home games at Gillingham (a trip that included three separate motorways). So giving the club some form of presence in Brighton was crucial.

They did this by opening a shop in central Brighton on Queens Road in the autumn of 1997 (the grand opening of which was carried out by then Brighton manager Steve Gritt), with the kit marketing campaign released later that year also linked to gain more awareness of the new club shop.

It’s not often a football fan is first pulled in by their club through its club shop, but this was my personal experience. I was just about old enough to be aware of the club’s plight at the end of the Goldstone years, but with my parents not being football fans they were never likely to take me to the Goldstone, especially when various forms of protests became a regular occurrence.

But I do have them to thank for the regular trips to Brighton. And when on our walk down from the train station towards the centre of town I would always insist on a look in the club shop. Not long after I was hooked, so much so that when the club came back to Brighton in 1999 it wasn’t long before I was sporting the new ‘Skint’ Brighton shirt and making regular trips to the theatre of trees at Withdean with thousands of other Albion fans.

But two years before the club’s reputation was in the gutter and it had a fight on its hands to just convince the local council to give it permission for a suitable site to make its home.

Dick’s attention grabbing if at times crass marketing was a key part of gaining public favour for that. From the Bring Home the Albion campaign (which primarily needed to convince local Withdean residents the club’s fans weren’t a bunch of hooligans about to spoil their local area), the Falmer for All campaign (which included all sorts of attention grabbing schemes including a giant Valentines Day card that was sent to then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott), and even the club’s marketing of its commercial output, Dick’s advertising career continued well after he left the advertising industry.

Which of course brings us to one of his first, the “get your kit off the club shop” campaign. The fan site We Are Brighton have recently written a piece on the campaign, which might provide some more info for those whose interest was also piqued by its recent mention. And the adverts can be seen in Seagulls Programmes electronic copies of the programmes from the 1997/98 season.

But how did it all come about? It’s simpler than you may think as all the three people in the campaign were chosen due to their links to Brighton. Jordan and Louise were both from the area whilst Lenny Henry at the time had recently worn a Brighton kit for a sketch in his BBC TV show “Lenny Goes to Town” for an episode which was based in Brighton.

Louise’s advert was the first to appear and included a poster of the picture being available to buy in the club shop, whilst the others followed later. Lenny Henry’s even happened to coincide with the club’s end of season sale.

Whilst this campaign may raise a few eyebrows now, it was all part of Dick’s constant effort to raise the club’s profile and boost its commercial opportunities, which would then in turn increase the much-needed investment into the club. And lest we forget it is his advertising wit and charm that was behind and inspired many of the Falmer for All campaigns ideas that got our clubs the right to build the fantastic stadium we now call home.

Ideas like the previously mentioned Valentine’s Day card that is apparently was when John Prescott first became aware of the huge public support for the stadium.

So whilst we may wince at the idea of some of his campaigns, we must recognise that without Dick Knight’s advertising career know-how the club would likely not have progressed to the state in which it is in today.