Ahead of today’s [May 8] open-top bus parade through the streets of Brighton, Joe Kasper looks back on Brighton and Hove Albion’s title winning season.
2011-12 will be the season that Albion move into the American
Express Community Stadium at Falmer, but 2010-11 was also a season that no Albion fan will ever forget.
Matt Sparrow kicked off the campaign with a double in a 2-1 win against last year’s play-off finalists, Swindon Town.
But their start to 2010-11 couldn’t have been more inconsistent – with a win, loss and a draw in their first three games against Swindon, Northampton Town and Rochdale respectively.
Only two wins out of the first five games looked like a mediocre position in the league was in store for the Seagulls, in their first full season under Gus Poyet.
The Uruguayan manager soon pulled them out of their inconsistent run by going unbeaten in the league in September, winning all but one of their five games and they went top after beating Oldham 2-1 at the Withdean.
Francisco Sandaza came off the bench to score a 90th minute winner and Brighton would not relinquish top spot for the rest of the season.
October proved to be almost as successful as the previous month with another unbeaten five games, including three wins.
The month included an impressive 4-0 thrashing of Charlton, their biggest away win since February 2000 and part of their best start to a season in 84 years.
The 12 game unbeaten run came to an end in November at Hartlepool as they went down 3-1 and saw Liam Bridcutt sent off for a lunging tackle.
A poor November for Brighton saw only one win out of four, two draws and the one loss, but a statement by Southampton boss, Nigel Adkins, inadvertently boosted their cause.
After the 0-0 draw at St. Mary’s left the gap between the clubs at eight points, Adkins was asked whether it would be Saints and Brighton fighting it out for the title at the end of the season.
“If they can keep with us,” was his reply and the comment went on to provide great motivation for Albion’s players to still be ahead when the sides met again in April.
The bad winter weather saw only two league games go ahead in December with an even worse record than the month before.
Just one point gained out of the two, losing 2-1 to Huddersfield and given the previous meeting, surprisingly drawing 1-1 at home to Charlton.
The new year, however, saw a change in fortunes with Albion winning four out of the five games and re-establishing their lead at the top.
Brighton bettered their previous best score on the first day of 2011 beating Leyton Orient 5-0, with Glenn Murray getting a hat trick.
Despite the one loss and draw in February, there were three league wins where the Seagulls scored four goals.
Fans were certainly not starved of entertainment as they beat Bristol Rovers, Hartlepool and Plymouth 4-2, 4-1 and 4-0 respectively.
March saw their best month of the year winning all eight league games to start a record-breaking run: Yeovil Town 1-0, Carlisle 4-3, Brentford 1-0, Tranmere 2-0, Oldham 1-0, Notts County 1-0, Swindon Town 2-1 and Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0.
Brighton were crowned Champions of League One in April when they beat Walsall 3-1 away. Goals from right-back Inigo Calderon, Glenn Murray and Elliott Bennett confirmed the win at the Bescot Stadium.
The previous game against Dagenham and Redbridge saw them confirm automatic promotion winning 4-3 in an action-packed game.
Inigo Calderon, Glenn Murray and Liam Bridcutt all scored but it was Ashley Barnes who was the hero, scoring the winner in the 63rd minute.
They did, however, draw against Rochdale at the start of the month, and since being crowned champions have lost to Southampton and Huddersfield and drawn to Colchester.
The Seagulls also played their last game at the Withdean Stadium against Huddersfield on the 30 April. Although they lost 3-2, the champions got to lift their league trophy in front of their home crowd.
This Sunday’s [May 8] open-top bus parade will take place along Brighton Seafront, setting off from the council offices in Grand Avenue at around 5.30pm. The Seagulls players and managers will make their way along the seafront to Madeira Drive, where the champions will be presented to the fans from the mezzanine level.
Then the first match at the AMEX Community Stadium will be the Sussex Senior Cup final taking place on Saturday, 16 July.