1986 & 2011 Our Two Most Famous Trips To Brighton Relived !
Monday, 25th Mar 2019 14:05
A trip to Good Old Sussex by the sea has always been a good day out for Saints supporters made even better when we win, here we look at two of the most memorable amazingly 25 years apart.
There are several distinct ages of following Saints down to Brighton, the first in the late 70's & early 80's was one of crowd disturbance and we would often take a lets say volatile support down to the Goldstone Ground.
Then there is the modern era since 2006 when we have met them more than in any previous era, thankfully the age of crowd trouble long gone, it is still an enjoyable trip that started at the Goldstone and went through the Withdean and now continues at the Amex.
But first let's go back to 1986 when we met the Seagulls in an FA Cup Quarter Final.
Now people talk about fixture congestion. but back in 1986 not only did we have 42 game league season's back then but FA Cup replays were squeezed in, we had only beaten Millwall in an FA Cup replay on Monday 3rd March and 5 days later we had the trip to Brighton in the next round.
That meant that we had to sell 7,000 tickets in just a few days and also arrange coaches etc, remember that back in those days there wasn't any internet or online booking and not even mobile phones, it was a case of getting down to the Dell and queueing with just two windows, season ticket holders and voucher holders.
Somehow it all worked out and a travelling army set out down the A27 with a 2nd FA Cup semi final in 3 seasons the aim.
Back then the Goldstone held around 25,000 and it was packed, the Saints support was in an extended away section that went from the corner of a big open side to the half way line, I would estimate that the big open side terrace could hold about half the capacity of the ground back then, so we probably had about 6,000 on the terraces and another 1,000 in the stand although from archive footage when we scored there were Saints supporters dotted all around the ground.
To settle the nerves Saints scored early on when Steve Moran headed home in the 14th minute and that put Saints firmly in control after Brighton had started well, it was no surprise when they added a second on 40 minutes.
This was a goal to savour Glenn Cockerill took a pass from Steve Moran dribbled past three Brighton players and then hit a sweet ball from distance into the net, Saints had a foot in the semi.
It wasn't all plain sailing in the second half, Brighton attacked and it took a header of the line from Mark Wright to keep our goals against column blank, although it also has to be said that we had our chances as well and could have scored a third as much as Brighton could have scored at all.
All that was left was for a massive communal celebration by the 7,000 or so Saints supporters in the ground, chase a few Brighton wannabe's across the park as was the tradition then for all visiting supporters to the Goldstone due to the awful segregation where away fans came out into the same road as the Home end and it was one long convoy back to Southampton waving at Pompey as we passed.
That was a game for the older fans and it is amazing to think that this was 33 years ago, no one under 45, even 50 would have too much recollection if they went.
But perhaps the most enjoyable trip and there have been a few given that apart from our 3-0 defeat at the Amex in January 2012 we haven't lost away to them since the days of Kevin Keegan in 1980/81 season an that in itself our first defeat in Sussex since 1956/57, was in League 1 on April 23rd 2011.
We went down to Brighton as the in form team in the division, but we were still playing catch up, Brighton had secured the title in the previous game and we were still lagging behind Huddersfield who were looking to secure the second spot where they had been most of the season.
Huddersfield in second had 80 points from 43 games, whilst we had 77 from 41, they were looking for this to be the day that we blew up in chasing them and the tables turned in their favour.
Brighton though were getting shirty, in the run up to the game they had suggested that we form a guard of honour to see them on the pitch, Nigel Adkins declined to do so saying they should wait till the end of the season before doing that, it did not ingratiate him with the home fans who had several banners slagging him and Saints off and were vocal as we took the pitch without forming up and clapping them on.
Saints had less than a thousand supporters in what was a sell out crowd of 8,169 and we were positioned in a small temporary terrace on the other side of the running track behind the goal probably about 40-5 yards from the pitch.
Things initially did not go well and when Brighton scored on the stroke of half time things did not look good for us.
It did not look any better with 10 minutes left of the game, the score was still 1-0 and the Brighton fans were just starting to warm to the task of taunting us and Nigel Adkins that they were going up and in beating us now we would be staying down.
But then came 7 minutes of the most chaotic madness I have ever seen in watching Saints and some of the most unbridled joy I have ever felt or seen as the game and the Saints fans emotions erupted.
Suddenly out of nowhere Saints were level, David Connolly on as a sub only 7 minutes earlier swept the ball home and we had hope.
But as the minutes ticked away that hope was fading fast and Brighton fans were getting louder, then came one of the most iconic goals I have ever seen following the club.
In injury time a ball was floated into the box to the far post, Jose Fonte met it but his header was looping and looked to be going over the bar but then it dropped and was inexplicably in the net.
Cue chaos Fonte whipped off his shirt and was chased over the advertising hoardings onto the running track, they were joined by a dozen or so Saints supporters who mobbed them.
Order was restored and the celebrating Saints supporters looked around to see a ground fast emptying, by the time we had seen out the final minutes there weren't many more Brighton fans in the ground than Saints supporters.
That always struck me as strange because although they had lost their unbeaten record at home they were still champions and promoted, yes they had lost their unbeaten home record, but what did that matte, certinly it didn't to the celebrating Saints fans at the final whistle.
Sadly they had just hyped themselves up so much to hate Nigel Adkins it perhaps had two negative effects for Brighton, firstly the vitriol in the final minutes spurred us on and secondly it ruined what should have been a good day for them.
This was the day that cracked Huddersfield though, we were now second with a far superior goal difference and a game in hand on 80 points and although they would win two days later on Easter Monday and then again the following week at Brighton so would we and they cracked and could only draw their final two games meaning having won our own two we finished five points above them to complete an epic catch up in the 2nd half of the season and make it look far far easier than it ever was.
But it was on 23rd April 2011 that suddenly things changed in the chase for 2nd spot,if we had lost at the Withdean then surely the momentum would have been with Huddersfield and they would have won those final two matches and left us in the play offs.
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