Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brighton enjoying taste of big time

Just 14 years ago, Brighton went into the final game of the season need a result to stay in the entire football league. For the following two years they were homeless, playing their ‘home’ games 70 miles north at Gillingham.

Even upon a return to their own city they were forced to play at a soulless athletics track, never designed with football in mind. For those who bet on relegation, Albion – a team seemingly going nowhere – were the side to back.

After 13 years at the Withdean Stadium (stadium is a term used loosely) and enduring several planning applications, petitions and miles upon miles of red tape, a new stadium was approved and constructed in time for the 2011/12 season – the AMEX Stadium was born.

That the new home coincided with promotion back to the Championship merely symbolises a club that has finally awoken its heart after appearing to be close to death just a few years ago. The fans have revived it though and a flying start to the season has raised hopes of a dream return to a top flight they haven’t occupied in 28 years. For those who bet on the Championship they are proving a handy outside tip.

The midweek arrival of Liverpool in the Carling Cup is also a sign of their progress. The tie will be a tricky one for the Premier League side to overcome, and the 22,000 sell-out will give the home fans a glimpse of what life could be like should they maintain their spritely early season form.

Premier League side Sunderland have already been dumped out of the competition by Albion, who also sit third in the Championsip.

And while manager Gus Poyet will see the league as his priority, the benefits – both financial and psychological – of springing a surprise against one the of the game's leading lights will ensure his side will give it all on the south coast on Wednesday.

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