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05/06: Preview: Brighton and Hove Albion
Opposition opinion
by Brighton fan Mark Raven

What happened last season?
2004-5 was another roller coaster season down on the Sussex coast. We beat Millwall 1-0 (last minute goal) to move 10 points clear of relegation on the 26th February and our first mid-table, unexciting finish looked odds on. McGhee decided this wasn't on, so we went to Stoke and lost 0-2 (both penalties), then lost at Plymouth 1-5 (one penalty conceded), lost at home to Wigan 2-4, then home to Reading 0-1, away to Coventry 1-2 (another penalty conceded) and away to Preston 0-3 (yet another penalty conceded!). We finally stopped the rot against Leicester at home by drawing 1-1 and then drawing the next two away at Burnley and home to West Ham.

The crunch match arrived early, away to Rotherham. We needed a win to give ourselves a fighting chance in our final game of the season to automatic promotion hopefuls Ipswich. The game was tense but Rotherham kindly scored the only goal of the game, luckily an own goal, and the 3,500 travelling fans went home happy. So (as predicted last year!) we went into the final game knowing a point would keep us up. Crewe and Gillingham could catch us if they both won and we lost. We went 0-1 down early on to a Kuqi goal but within a few minutes centre back turned centre forward Adam Virgo (whose crucial goal in the play of second leg last season kept is in the play off hunt) drew us level. Wigan were soon 3-0 up so Ipswich couldn't go straight up, but they still gave everything against us.

Due to a bad injury we were about 7 minutes behind Crewe and Gillingham. Crewe's result filtered through, they had won so were safe. Gillingham were also winning, so a goal conceded meant relegation, then suddenly Forest equalised against Gillingham, so at 1-1 we were safe. The whistle went at Forest and it was 2-2. We hung on and on and on and on and on and at last the whistle went and we had retained our Championship status! Gillingham (the place we were made to suffer for 2 seasons) dropped into League Division 2, what a shame. The next great day was seeing the old enemy Crystal Palace fold in the last few minutes against Charlton and join us in the Championship. I was luckily at the Valley to witness the fine result. La la la lar lar, la la la lar lar WE SENT THE PALACE DOWN (to the tune of show me the way to Amarillo) was noisily sung by 25,000 Charlton fans plus 2 very happy Brighton fans!

What's going to happen next season?
As usual cash is the problem for Brighton & Hove Albion, not helped by temporary facilities at Withdean (WE WANT FALMER - decision by John Prescott by the 31st October so the wait will soon be over). Then amazingly we won the Coca-Cola 250k buy a player competition. So we waited with baited breath and eventually signed Colin Kazam-Richards from Bury. He looks an exciting prospect, he scored 3 goals in the final 6 games, but they rate him very highly, it's a gamble but could be shrewd business if he is as good as they say he is.

Jason Dodd has arrived (injured) from Southampton but that's it so far on new faces. We are awaiting the results of the tribunal system to determine how much Leeds must pay us for our left back and England U21 Dan Harding, then McGhee can bring in more new blood including hopefully a creative midfielder. In the close season we released Paul Watson and Nathan Jones so all in all a pretty quiet close season. We open up against Derby (a tough test) and the return of the old enemy Crystal Palace is the big one (away Tuesday 18th October and home Sunday 20th November - on Sky), but a trip to Southampton will be eagerly anticipated as well. Points will be hard to come by but I predict we will be safe after the penultimate home game against Sheffield Wednesday. My tip for promotion is Wolves as they finished very strongly! The other good news is that we have just received planning permission for 2,000 extra seats, so from January the capacity will be up to 9,000!

Soundbites(from assorted census correspondents)

"The gravy would be just right because we have Guy Butters in charge of making it."

"What is the fucking captial of ecuador?"

"Brighton will surprise more 'big' teams this season and John Prescott will say 'YES' "

"Kevin Blackwell should be strung by his balls from the nearest floodlight the next time he mentions how difficult his job is surviving on such "meagre" resources."

"You can buy beer, fags, dinner and porn mags from vending machines in Tokyo. But not after midnight."