By Rich Hook
The whole squad joined manager Gustavo Poyet on his “Gus Bus” as they set off at 5:30pm from Grand Avenue, after enjoying a civic reception at Brighton and Hove City Council‘s offices.
Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Geoff Wells, congratulated the team personally for their achievements before joining them on a second bus as they travelled down to Madeira Drive.
Mayor Wells said: “It’s great to see so many people coming out to support the team. They have achieved great things this season and are a sign of how Brighton [and Hove] is booming as a city.”
An estimated 12,000 people lined the route to show their approval of what Albion season-ticket holder Chris Huet described as: “Our best season in living memory.”
Brighton amassed more points than any other side in the Football League and equalled a post-war record of eight consecutive victories to secure promotion to the Championship in their last season at the Withdean.
But according to Albion Chairman, Tony Bloom, it was the manner in which promotion was secured that was most impressive.
After joining the team on the mezzanine level at Madeira Drive, he said: “I have to thank our extremely charismatic manager [Poyet] who has been sensational all season. To win the league playing the kind of football we have is a tribute to him, his staff and all the players.”
The chairman gave an exclusive announcement that Albion’s first game in the stadium will be on Saturday July 30, against this season’s Champion’s League Quarter-Finalists, Tottenham Hotspur.
Poyet lapped up the atmosphere and joined fans in song, before he said: “I would like to thank all supporters on behalf of the team and club for all their tremendous support throughout the season.”
Club legend and first-team coach, Charlie Oatway, acted as MC for the roll call of the players, as each received their own personal ovation from the crowd and the chance to lift the League One trophy.
Special cheers were reserved for top scorer Glenn Murray, the Player’s Player of the Season, Adam El-Abd, and Gary Hart, who played in the first and last fixtures at the Withdean in a 13-year spell with Albion.
Having celebrated a memorable campaign, Brighton can now focus on a new era at the AMEX as well as trying to achieve the Chairman’s stated ambition of reaching the Premier League in the next five years.