Preview of Crystal Palace v Brighton & Hove Albion: Seagulls or Eagles?

Liverpool v Everton?   Man Utd v Man City?  Barcelona v Real Madrid?  Arsenal v Spurs?  Sunderland v Newcastle  All massive games in the football calendar, all with age old rivalries that can be easily tracked down through the ages but  for fans of  the Seagulls (Brighton & Hove Albion to you or me)   and the Eagles (Crystal Palace )  their  meeting at Selhurst Park is all that  matters especially the final score  when referee Mick Russell blows for full time around five to five on Saturday. 

Click  here – Manchester United are a whopping 2/1 to beat Reading with as other bookmakers are 4/9
What one wondered led to their intense rivalry seeing that they are not near neighbours as  from Selhurst Park to Brighton’s Amex Stadium  is almost  75 kms down the A23 and M23 ?

Paul Mincer of “Team Spirit Football” writing  for  the ever  popular Palace Supporters website “Holmesdale Net” saw  it thus:

“To really understand the hatred between Palace and the “Seaweed”  you need to turn back the clock; to the days of Mullery v Venables, Cannon v Ward, Harkouk, Horton and, most famously of all, Kelvin Morton…

To my mind it all really started around 1976, when Terry Venables  fresh out of coaching school under Big Mal (Allison) , was the new manager at Palace and Alan Mullery was the brash boss at Brighton. Both clubs were the biggest in the old Division 3 and doing quite well.

Then it started.

The two were drawn together in one of the early rounds of the FA Cup in late 1976. The first game at the Goldstone Ground signalled the arrival onto the Palace scene of one Rachid Harkouk..

“Rash the Smash”, as he was dubbed because of his penchant for long range shooting, came to the club from non-league Feltham and went on to end that season and the next as top scorer – his first ever goal for the club took this game to a replay after a 2-2 draw.

A 1-1 draw at Selhurst took the tie to a second replay at Stamford Bridge, scene of Palace’s win at Chelsea the season before, where the Eagles emerged triumphant 1-0 with a Phil Holder goal and after a hotly disputed Brian Horton penalty miss.

Palace fans loved it but Brighton and Mullery in particular went ape, criticising all and sundry for the Palace encroachment at Horton’s penalty that led to its being retaken (even though Horton had scored first time) and probably in frustration that his old mate Venners had outwitted him on the night.

A rivalry had been born.”

who ironically later became a hugely unpopular Manager of Palace, recalled that evening many years on as he explained to “The Guardian” newspaper  about the intense rivalry between the Eagles and Seagulls.  Referee was  Ron Challis, whose actions that night earned him the nickname “Challis of the Palace”. “I was angry but it wasn’t because we’d lost,” Mullery says. “It was because of the referee’s decision to force Brian Horton to retake the penalty. After the game I approached him and asked him why he had made that decision. He said it was because of encroachment, but it was Crystal Palace players who were encroaching, not Brighton players. It was a terrible decision.!”

“As I was walking up the tunnel,” he added, “a load of boiling hot coffee was thrown over me by a Crystal Palace supporter. So I pulled a handful of change out of my pocket, threw it on the floor and shouted, ‘That’s all you’re worth, Crystal Palace!’ And I’d shout it at anybody who did that.”  Mullery accompanied this gesture with some others involving his fingers, described in The Guardian as “none too polite signs”. Finally, he was led away by police. Mullery was fined £100 for bringing the game into disrepute and warned as to his future conduct, the newspaper concluded..

“I don’t think it was just the Cup run that started it off,” says Mullery, “I think it was the rivalry between their manager and me. That’s where the rivalry came about. Because we were in the same league, doing the same thing — trying to get into the first division at the same time. I used to find it very difficult to understand what their problem was. Portsmouth and Brighton are 20 miles apart, Arsenal and Tottenham are about three miles apart. When you’ve got clubs 45 miles apart it does sound a bit silly.”

Kelvin Morton? Well he was the referee who awarded five penalties in one such encounter.   Paul Mincer in “Holmesdale Net” again : “Everyone who was at Selhurst on that Easter Monday in 1989 will remember the day that referee Kelvin Morton gave no fewer than FIVE penalties!  Incredibly, Palace missed 3 out of their 4 but still won through 2-1, but Brighton fans still complain today that Morton gave them a raw deal that day”.

So on Saturday that rivalry continues though not quite with the same intensity as then. Nonetheless there will be a strong Police presence before and after the game and visiting  fans can expect to spend an extra 20 minutes or so at Selhurst Park until the home supporters are well on their way home or to local hostelries.

Irish players have always played a big part in such ‘derbies’ and so it will be this time round. Though club captain Paddy McCarthy is out of the Palace side again due to a long term groin strain, Palace will include former Irish U23 captain, Owen Garvan and  Cork-born Damien Delaney (enjoying a new lease of life at Selhurst), whilst their rivals are likely to include former UCD star, Gary Dicker and Marcos Painter, who has represented the Republic at Under 19, 20 and 21 level.

Palace, are  in second position in the Championship, one point behind leaders Cardiff City, prior to Saturday’s game. Brighton are seventh just outside the “play off” places and some six behind the Eagles.

Brighton Manager Gus Poyet “I always approach these games with one view in mind and that is that there is only one good result for us. That’s winning. It’s very simple.

“Any other result depends on the game, depends on decisions and depends whether the game is 11 versus 11, or the referee makes a big decision.
“No matter where you play, you have got to go into a derby game focusing on the win. That is our mentality and I expect that Crystal Palace are the same. There are two teams trying to win a big game for their fans.

“We want the fans to go and support Brighton. Support us and we will try our best to give you a very good afternoon. It’s a sport and that’s enough to enjoy, there should be nothing more. Enjoy the game please.”

For Palace, long serving Argentinian goalkeeper Julian Speroni, who played in several Dundee derby games before joining the Eagles told the “Croydon Guardian” that the fans backing would play a  vital role on Saturday:

“Once we get to the ground on Saturday, we’ll pick up on the atmosphere and the fans’ excitement but we need to be professional.

“It is all about the fans, they are the ones talking about bragging rights and beating rivals, and they can help us help them by creating a special atmosphere.

“That’s what they have done recently, and it has made a huge difference to us.”

He added: “Derbies are funny things, anyone outside of Palace and Brighton probably doesn’t get the significance, in the same way as anyone outside of Dundee doesn’t get the significance of their derby games.

“But we know it is important to the fans and we will be going all out to win it.”
Latest Team News:

Crystal Palace: Andre Moritz is rated 50/50 to feature after missing the trip to Hull in midweek. Glenn Murray returns from suspension and Darcy Blake should be in contention after recovering from illness. Jonny Williams hasn’t yet recovered from a hamstring injury and  Paddy McCarthy is out with a (long term)  groin problem.
Brighton and Hove Albion : Wayne Bridge is set to return to the Seagulls side having missed their previous three games with a calf injury, and his deputy Marcos Painter came off in the midweek game against Bristol City with cramp but should be fit. Right-back Bruno is also expected to play despite a rib injury and Adam El-Abd could return to the side after recovering from a troublesome hamstring. Brighton winger Vicente remains unavailable after  with a thigh tendon injury.And finally ………   a video from a Palace fan which sums up the rivalry rather well ….


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.