We haven’t been short of trips to the seaside over the years – but Brighton & Hove Albion aren’t one of them. Not yet, at least. Yet. We’ve enjoyed* sunny** south coast away days to Torquay, Weymouth, Margate, Portsmouth, Eastbourne and even Bournemouth. But not to the iconic East Sussex resort. For a short time in the late 1990s, it seemed only a matter of time before we’d get our long-awaited day out down there.
In the end, however, it needed a roundabout way to even get a first meeting against the Seagulls. What gives?
Our first real meeting with Brighton & Hove Albion came thanks to the draw for the 2016-7 Football League Trophy group stage. When we say “real”, it’s not that our friendly matches before were make-believe. But that Football League Trophy fixture counted for something – if you count taking on an U23 side as ‘real’. Eager to do our bit to assist the future of our glorious nature (or whatever the reason for the tournament), we did it the next season too.
Brighton & Hove Albion: The Facts
American Express Community Stadium
Village Way, Brighton, BN1 9BL
Just six months after the curtain came down on the Victorian era, it lifted on the Seagulls’ tale. Going straight into the Southern League, it took two seasons to win promotion to the top division – and only another seven to win the competition outright. As the 1909-10 title-winners in 1910, it fell on the Seagulls to play in the Charity Shield against the champions of the Football League – Aston Villa. The south coast side won it.
In 1920, the Seagulls would become a Football League team themselves; joining Division Three South as founder members. There’s not much to report after that until we get to the other side of World War Two. After ending up as runners-up in 1954 and 1956, they finally cracked it by winning the title in 1958. This took them up to Division Two – but it lasted for just for four seasons; relegation in 1962 and 1963 plunging them down into Division Four.
After two seasons in the basement division, the Seagulls romped to Division Four the title in 1965; laying foundations for a successful period in their history. By the early 1980s, the club had made it to the top flight and – for a short time – had Brian Clough as gaffer. Four seasons is how long it lasted; coming to an end when they ended the 1982-3 season in bottom place. It wasn’t a total write-off, though.
The Seagulls made it through to the FA Cup final; taking on Manchester United. The ‘first’ final ended 2-2, before United stepped it up a gear in the replay to win 4-0.
Why do we know Brighton & Hove Albion?
After dropping out of the top flight in 1983, the Seagulls played in the second tier for most of the 1980s. But the club had started on a long path down towards the basement division of the Football League. In 1996, relegation from Division Two landed them in the fourth tier for the first time since 1965. It almost got so much worse for them, however.
At one stage during the 1996-7 campaign, the Seagulls found themselves 13 points adrift at the foot of the table. Off the field, they were about to lose their Goldstone Ground home too. But the club rallied to set up a last day ding-dong with Hereford United, who’d been having their own problems. Even though the Seagulls fell behind on 21 minutes, the Bulls couldn’t find a decisive second goal at Edgar Street.
A second half Robbie Reinelt equaliser secured a point for the Seagulls, which kept them up at the Bulls’ expense on Goals Scored. Back then, Goal Difference wasn’t used in the Football League. It’d have saved the Bulls.
The Seagulls finished second bottom once more at the end of the 1997-8 season. Thanks to one of the worst-ever campaigns in recent memory from Doncaster Rovers, however, it wasn’t as close a shave. Twice the Seagulls flirted with dropping out of the Football League. Twice they survived. So, any plans we had for a first-ever trip to Brighton were put on hold. And the Seagulls soared again..
In the season we were promoted from League Two, they went onto claim the League One title and went up themselves. Of course, they kept on going and were back in the top flight in 2018. But wait! We finally did find a reason to meet for the first time before this; drawing their U23 side in the 2016-7 Football League Trophy. Not the most prestigious, obviously…
How to get to Brighton & Hove Albion – Travel Information – Distance: 102 miles
Unless you want to go through the centre of London, you have to take the M25 for almost half a circuit to get to Brighton. Counter-clockwise is your best bet, so touch wood and cross those fingers that traffic at the M40, M4 and M3 interchanges is on best behaviour. And allow extra time, etc…
When you get to Junction 7, leave the M25 and take the southbound M23. Keep on going when the motorway comes to an end after 14 miles; heading onto the A23 for another 16 miles. At the junction with the A27, follow the road round to the left and join the eastbound carriageway towards Lewes/Newhaven.
It’s just three miles down the road before you’re called into action again at the B2123 exit. Come off the A27 here and take the third exit at the end of the ramp towards Falmer. Go across another roundabout and turn right onto Village Way for the stadium. Of course, do bear in mind the below postcodes and locations for the Park and Ride sites.
Brighton & Hove Albion have three Park and Ride sites in operation:
1 – Mill Road (BN1 8ZF)
2 – “Park and Ride 2” (BN2 4AT) Currently Closed
3 – Brighton Racecourse (BN2 9XZ)
The first of these (Mill Road) has 450 spaces and is at the end of the A23. It’s the most popular too; filling up 90 minutes before kick-off on most occasions. The Racecourse is much larger with 700 spaces, although buses from here take 20 minutes.
All sites are served by at least one wheelchair-accessible bus for disabled supporters.
Services to: BRIGHTON (for LONDON ST PANCRAS)
The nearest station to the ground is Falmer, which is literally outside the stadium. If you’re not liking the look of that additional connection from Brighton, you’re out of luck; Brighton’s main station is five miles away and not walkable unless you have a spare hour-and-a-half.
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