The Long Road to the TopFor a team that came from extremely humble beginnings, the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club has an excellent resume. The club was founded in 1901 as part of the Southern League, which now composes the seventh and eighth flights of the English football league system.
From there it’s been a long and winding climb to the top, as they first made it to the top flight of English football, then the First Division, in 1979.
The success was short lived, as they spent nearly four decades in the proverbial wilderness following that run, almost collapsing altogether because of financial hardships in the 1990s. These days Brighton is back on the map, and after a sixth-place finish in the Premier League last season under first year manager Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton fans look to enjoy an era of prosperity like never before.
As of October 9, 2023, Brighton sits as the sixth-best team in the Premier League, sporting a 5-1-2 record and 16 points across eight matches. Sportsbooks give them middle of the pack odds of winning it all this season, as Brighton is listed at or around +10000 to win their first ever Premier League title at some of the best betting apps in the UK. Odds and promotions can vary quite a bit from sportsbook to sportsbook, so make sure you shop around first if you think you’ve got a winning bet so that you know you’re locking in the best possible odds of winning big. With that history and those building expectations in mind, here’s a look at some of the biggest moments in the history of Brighton football, including both the good and the bad.
First Taste of SuccessBeyond this current run in the Premier League, which began in 2017, the four years that Brighton spent in the First Division between 1979 and 1983 was the only time they’d ever been in the top flight of English football.
The run of success began with Chairman Mike Bamber, who appointed former national team member Alan Mullery to the role of manager. Under Mullery’s leadership the team finished as runners up in the Second Division in 1979, spurring their promotion to the top flight for the first time in club history.
In a shocking turn of events, Mullery skipped town in 1982 in favor of Crystal Palace, one of Brighton’s fiercest rivals. Brighton entered a tailspin soon thereafter, showing flashes of greatness with wins over Arsenal and Manchester United—along with a run to their only FA Cup Final appearance in team history, where they eventually fell to The Red Devils—but never managed to put things together long enough to avoid a last place finish and relegation.
Years in the WildernessThe club fell into dire financial straits in the mid-1990s, forced to sell off their home field, the Goldstone Ground, in order to pay off mounting debts. The financial troubles, understandably, came hand in hand with miserable play on the field, and Brighton sat towards the bottom of the Third Division late in the 1996-97 season, dangerously close to relegation and falling out of the League entirely.
Longtime fan and businessman Dick Knight took control of the team as chairman in the middle of the season, helping them avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth. Needing to win or draw on the last day of the season in order to maintain their place in the Third Division, Brighton saw a comedy of errors unfold with an own goal by defender Kerry Mayo in the first half.
With the minutes and seconds ticking away towards the end of regulation, with relegation looking increasingly more likely, forward Robbie Reinelt managed to score to tie the match, preserving Brighton’s spot.
The sale of Goldstone Ground went through following the season, with Brighton playing in Gillingham for two years and the 7,000 seat Withdean Stadium for 12 years after that.
Despite the auspicious home turf, Brighton began to claw their way back toward the top, winning Division Three at the conclusion of the 2000-2001 season to make their way back into Division Two, which they won the following year.
Sunnier Days AheadRight now, Brighton is enjoying their longest run in the top flight in the history of the program. It hasn’t all been easy, as they again barely held on to their spot from 2018 to 2021, finishing 17th, 15th and 16th across that span, but with a record sixth-place finish last season and a hot start this year, it feels like anything is possible as the club continues to build on their best run in history: if Leicester City could do it, why can’t Brighton and Hove Albion?
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