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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Brighton VS Palace The A23 Derby

The seeds of this seemingly unlikely rivalry were sown in a pub at
West Street
, Brighton, on Christmas Eve, 1975. In response to Palace fans shouting ‘Eagles’ Albion supporter Lee Phillips started a chant of ‘Seagulls’.
It caught on when the teams met two months later, prompting
to change their nickname from the Dolphins.

The rivalry exploded in the 76/77 season, when the clubs met 5 times. Alan Mullery, then
’s manager became public enemy number one with Eagles fans.
Four of those matches attracted crowds of 27000 and 30,000 – the exception being an FA Cup first round, second replay at neutral Stamford Bridge, which has gone down in Albion-Palace folklore for a referee branded ‘Challis of the Palace’ by both sets of fans.
Referee Ron Challis disallowed a
Brighton goal for an alleged handball by Peter Ward, although Palace defender Jim Cannon later admitted he had pushed the striker and the goal should have stood. Then Chris Cattlin was fouled in the box by Barry Silkman and Challis awarded Brighton
a penalty.
Brian Horton took it and scored, but the referee made him take it again because some of their players had encroached into the box. Alan Mullery said, ‘I’ve never seen that since – a penalty scored but re-taken because of encroachments by the defending team – and I still don’t understand it. He took it again, but the keeper (Paul Hammond) saved it. I was diabolical with rage. The penalty was the culmination of a lot of things and it was just one of those nights when the referee gave us nothing’
Palace held on to win 1-0 and, at the final whistle, a furious Mullery stormed onto the pitch to confront Challis.
‘He wouldn’t talk to me about it at the time and I never spoke to him about it,’ Mullery adds. ‘As I walked off, Palace fans were spitting and throwing tea at me so I reacted the same as any manager would have. I stuck my fingers up at them. It was instantaneous, spur of the moment.’
Although he cannot remember his exact words, it was reported Mullery yelled, ‘You’re not worth that, Palace!’ as he threw a handful of notes and coins into a puddle.
Mullery was led away by police and later fined £75 by the FA.

The rivalry became even fiercer as Eagles boss Terry Venables continued to pit his wits against Mullery, his former Tottenham team-mate.
Palace replaced
Portsmouth as Brighton’s biggest derby match during the late 70’s and the rivalry became enormous. Mullery explains,’ We were doing the same thing that Palace were doing – getting promotion with a manager in the limelight and big crowds. There were 33,000 at Brighton
every home match.’
Both clubs went up from div 3 in that season of cup controversy – the Seagulls as runners up and Palace in 3rd place.

gained promotion from Div 3 as runners up & Palace in 3rd place.

Albion missed promotion on goal difference the following season as Spurs went up amid suggestions of a final day carve-up in a 0-0 draw with Southampton, who were also promoted. Palace finished 9th but scuppered Albion
’s chances by drawing both derbies.

Brighton eventually gained promotion to the old First division winning 3-1 at Newcastle on the final day of the 1978-79 season but even then there was a Palace related twist. The Eagles pipped Mullery’s men to the title by a point as a record crowd of 51,482 watched Venables’ side confirm their own promotion beating Burnley
tore Palace apart in front of 28,000 at the Goldstone on Boxing Day 79, as Ward gave Cannon the run around & Horton exorcised the penalty demon by scoring to make it 3-0.
In 80/81
did the double over Palace and enabled them to stay up, whereas Palace were left adrift at the bottom of the division by 13 points.

June 81 Mullery resigned after a boardroom row and a year later Ron Noades appointed him Palace manager. Many Eagles fans boycotted the club in protest.

Following the Seagulls 1983 FA Cup final appearance and relegation from the top flight, battle resumed in Div 2 with Brighton winning the next 3 matches but it was a 1-1 draw at Selhurst in April 1985 that added most to the ill feeling between the two sides, when Palace’s Henry Hughton’s leg breaking tackle ended Gerry Ryan’s career.

Brighton’s relegation in 1987 put a brief stop to the fun and games but back in div 2 88/89 Albion
won a 3-1 dingdong on Boxing Day at the Goldstone. Palace got revenge at Easter with a 2-1 win but they missed a golden opportunity to humiliate their rivals. They were awarded 4 penalties but they missed 3.

Kerry Mayo says even at youth and reserve level there is no love lost between the clubs. A youth match in 96 resulted in 3 Palace players, 2
Brighton players, the Palace coach and a spectator were all sent off in a match that Brighton
won 2-0.

Many of the meetings in the 70’s & 80’s had serious crowd trouble. Ref Ron Challis threatened to abandon a League game in Feb 76 if the Palace fans continued to throw smoke bombs.

The next meeting waited 13 years until Oct 2002.
Brighton had escaped from the brink of the Conference to win consecutive Championships back to division 1. Steve Coppell had taken over as Brighton manager after Brighton
fans had been serenading him since 1984 with his own song as a Palace manager
Agent Coppell said the Palace fans. The Seagulls did wonder as they watched their team give an inept, spineless performance which extended their losing streak to 12 league games. The score was 5-0 to Palace but the
fans were still singing 6-5 we’re gonna win 6-5.

It took the dreadful events of 9/11 to extend the olive branch between the clubs. Robert Eaton a Seagull supporter was killed in the attack on the World Trade centre.
Brighton fans set up a memorial fund in aid of a youth soccer team in a deprived area of New York
. Around £40,000 was raised by matches between the clubs supporters, the first of which inevitably went to penalties. The website for this is www.remf.net

The story so far:-

Crystal Palace wins 29
Draws 20
Brighton wins 33

FA Cup
Crystal Palace win 1
Draws 2
Brighton wins 2

First match Brighton 0-2 Palace Dec25th 1920 Div3
Latest match Brighton 0-0 Palace Mar 25th Div 1
Biggest Palace win 6-0 Feb 11th 1950 Div 3 south
Biggest Brighton win 5-0 Jan 14th 1956 Div 3 south

This has been reproduced from an article in 442 magazine.