Brighton and Crystal

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To many the rivalry is a peculiarity. There is no real geographical proximity to explain the loathing that exists between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion. Even Roy Hodgson, born and bred in Croydon but whose time as a youth-team player at the south London club predates the animosity, needed a history lesson from Jason Puncheon before he truly understood. The same could be said of some of his players.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who hails from up the road in Lewisham, was blissfully unaware of the significance of the fixture until he attended a fans’ event at Boxpark last week and his team-mate Wilfried Zaha took the microphone to address the 1,500 crammed inside the hall. “Wilf was being interviewed and the guy asked him how much he hated Brighton on a scale of one to 10,” said the Chelsea loanee. “Wilf just went: ‘11’, so that tells me everything. I didn’t have a clue before but, when Wilf said that, I realised, OK, they don’t like each other.”
The din inside the Amex on Tuesday night should convince any doubters of the depth of feeling surrounding this fixture. Strangely, given this will be only the 11th meeting in 28 years and the first in the top flight since 1981, the animosity is born of familiarity and stems from the clubs rising in tandem from third tier to elite in the late 1970s under the stewardships of Alan Mullery and Terry Venables, team-mates but never friends during their playing days at Tottenham Hotspur. It festered through tussles near the top of the lower divisions, meetings played out to a backdrop of smoke bombs and trouble Joe Nieuwendyk Womens Jersey on the terraces, and a series of FA Cup first-round replays, two of which were aborted because of bad weather, in 1976.
The fifth attempt to resolve the fixture, on a neutral venue at Stamford Bridge, was won 1-0 by Palace, though Brighton ended up livid with the performance of the referee, Ron Challis (dubbed “Challis of the Palace” thereafter). The official disallowed Peter Ward’s equaliser for a handball – his marker, Jim Cannon, later admitted to having pushed the striker to force the contact – and then made Brian Horton retake a 78th-minute penalty after spying encroachment, mostly by Palace players. Paul Hammond duly saved Horton’s second attempt. Mullery confronted the referee at the final whistle and had coffee thrown over him by a Palace fan as he departed up the tunnel. “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!’” he said. There was also a two-fingered gesture as he was led away by police, and a subsequent £100 fine for bringing the game into disrepute.
Relations have never improved, with collisions forever spiky on and off the pitch. There was a horrific tackle from Palace’s Henry Hughton, brother of the current Brighton manager Chris, which broke Gerry Ryan’s left leg in three places and ended the winger’s career in 1985. Ryan, 29 and a father of two at the time, was in plaster for 15 months. Fast-forward to a second-tier game in 1989 when five penalties were awarded by Kelvin Morton – Palace comically missed three of their four, with John Pemberton’s effort presumably still in orbit – or the mucky intrigue of “poogate” in the play-offs.
Brighton, whose nickname “Seagulls” was apparently taken on to drown out the visitors’ recently adopted “Eagles”, have revelled in a 10-game unbeaten run against their bitter rivals that extended eight years into the mid-1980s, including a 3-0 win at Selhurst Park in April 1981 en route to finishing two points above the relegation zone. Palace went down with 19 points. The London club would rather not recall Mullery’s two-year tenure as their manager under the chairmanship of Ron Noades but can point to claiming the Second Division title at Albion’s expense in 1979, to Andy Johnson’s hat-trick in a 5-0 victory in 2002 or to becoming the first visiting team to win a league game at the Amex Stadium in the autumn of 2011.
Glenn Murray, a veteran of more than 100 games in his first spell with Albion and now leading their line for a second time, scored for Palace that evening. He registered 31 goals in the following Championship campaign but rupture a cruciate ligament in the first leg of the play-off semi-finals between the clubs at Selhurst Park and was heckled by visiting fans as he departed on a stretcher. He celebrated the victory on the south coast a few days later on crutches. Despite playing such a key part in Albion’s promotion last season, some have never forgiven that defection. “It’s difficult to change people’s perception,” said the striker. “I would like to think the goals would do it but there are still people out there who doubt me and just don’t like me for that one reason – that I joined a rival club.”
The Palace chairman, Steve Parish, has since publicly regretted the forward’s sale to Bournemouth in 2015 – he would rejoin Brighton, initially on loan, a year later – and Jeff Zatkoff Womens Jersey the visitors will be wary of the threat he poses on this reunion. “I had four fantastic years at Palace and was supported really well by the fans so I wouldn’t celebrate, no,” said Murray when asked how he would react to scoring.


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