Once a match away from non-league, Brighton have now reached the Premier League for the first time in their history
BRIGHTON have been promoted to the Premier League following a 2-1 win over Wigan.
Goals from Glenn Murray and Solly March completed the Seagulls’ Easter resurrection.
The club have had it tough over the past 34 years, exiled not only from the top flight, but briefly from their own city.
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From 1997 to 1999 they were forced to play in Gillingham after their Goldstone Ground was demolished.
That move came just weeks after they avoided relegation from the entire Football League with a final day victory over Hereford.
The Seagulls’ return to their home city was anything but a triumphant one, as they were forced to rent The Withdean Stadium – an athletics stadium that made the views at West Ham’s new home look enviable.
But they did manage to get promoted through the divisions, beginning life at the impressive Amex Stadium in the Championship in 2011.
Since their arrival at the 30,750 capacity arena, the club have been on an upward trajectory, with a Premier League return seemingly only a matter of time.
But even at the Amex it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
Fan’s View – By Scott McCarthy of WeAreBrighton.com
WELL we are nearly there.
It doesn’t look like the Brighton and Hove Albion are going to choke this time. So the dreaded ‘p’ word none of us dared to issue is nearly done. What next?
At the start of the season, most Seagulls fans would have ranked winning the league as a priority on a par with whether every property in St James Street should be forced to have a blue door by law.
After last year’s heartbreak, the name of the game was just promotion.
But lifting the trophy ahead of Champions League winner Rafa Benitez and one of the most talented and highly valued squad in the divisions history? Now that would be something special.
Then comes next season.
Off the pitch, everything is nailed. On it, there is no doubt the squad will need strengthening.
David Stockdale is out of contract and any bottom-half top flight side with any sort of nous should be looking at the Championship goalkeeper of the year on a free.
Striker wise, we only have three permanent signings and of those, Glenn Murray is the only one who could be considered to have had any sort of success in the Premier League.
The general feeling must be that Anthony Knockaert would stay for top flight football, but in this day and age where money talks, nobody could say for certain if he will be in the stripes next season.
So evolution rather than revolution is what’s needed. And who would you rather trust than Chris Hughton to do it?
If you turned up at his house brandishing a bottle of water you’d end up leaving with a nice vintage Claret given his Messiah like abilities.
If we don’t stay up it isn’t the end of the world.
Seeing the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin Du Bruyne, Hugo Lloris, Ross Barkley and Philipe Coutinho and all those other international stars playing against little old Brighton is a dream many of us never thought possible.
20 years after being 15 minutes from relegation to the Conference, 20 years after being made homeless, Brighton are back. And we’re gonna enjoy it.
In their six seasons at their current home, they have made the playoffs three times but gone out of the semi-finals on each occasion.
A 2-0 playoff defeat at home to fierce rivals Crystal Palace in 2013 was particularly hard to stomach for Seagulls supporters.
And the disastrous appointment of Sami Hyypia saw them in a relegation battle two years ago, before current boss Chris Hughton steadied the ship.
Last season the club were involved in a three-horse race for the Premier League and went to Middlesbrough on the final day in a straight shootout for the final promotion spot.
What happened last time Brighton were in the top flight?
Brighton have suffered a long, long spell without top-flight football.
The last time the Seagulls played in England’s highest division was way back in 1983 – 34 years ago.
That relegation ended a four-year stay in the First Division, the only four years the club have been in the top flight.
That season, under manager Jimmy Melia, the Seagulls also endured extra heartache when they reached the FA Cup Final.
The only time they’ve been close to winning a major honour in their history, Brighton forced Manchester United to a replay after drawing 2-2 in the final.
But a week later United cruised to a 4-0 win.
Since then the club have yo-yoed between the second and third tiers.
The club have endured an excellent spell in recent seasons, making the play-offs in three of the last four – although they have not been able to make the big game at Wembley.
Needing a win at the Riverside to go up, the match ended in a 1-1 draw with Mike Dean handing out a controversial, and costly, red card to Dale Stephens.
And there have been nervous moments along the way this season as well.
Mo Diame helped second placed Newcastle to a 2-1 victory at the Amex with a bizarre deflected strike that looked like it belonged more on a pinball machine than a football pitch.
On Easter Monday however, they are set to vanquish the demons of previous promotion pushes forever.
If the Seagulls do make it to the Premier League, they will have flamboyant winger Anthony Knockaert to thank for his outstanding 15-goal contribution this season.
The Frenchman netted both goals in Friday’s 2-0 win over Wolves and is on the verge of repeating his achievements at Leicester.
In 2013, he suffered the worst kind of playoff heartbreak when he missed a stoppage time penalty at Watford to take the Foxes to Wembley, before seeing Troy Deeney net down the other end 30 seconds later.
But the following season he was outstanding, and helped Leicester to win the league at a canter.
And this year he is motivated by personal tragedy after watching his father die in his arms in November.
Will Anthony Knockaert cut it in the Premier League? – By Tom Barclay
THE Championship’s Player of the Year has been a real revelation this term.
But the big question is: Can Anthony Knockaert do it in the Premier League?
The Frenchman, 25, struggled to make an impact in the top flight three years ago at Leicester.
Kevin Phillips coached Knockaert at the King Power and has an insight into why it did not happen for him.
The ex-Sunderland striker said: “We didn’t really give him an opportunity.
“He played the first game against Everton and we all agreed he did very well.
“But for some reason Nigel Pearson decided not to play him. I think he felt that perhaps he didn’t have the pace for the Premier League at that time.
“We should have given Anthony more of an opportunity because what he lacks in out-and-out pace he makes up in energy on the ball, creating, causing a problem, drifting inside and scoring goals.”
That perceived lack of pace, coupled with struggling Leicester’s need to shore things up at the back, saw Pearson use wing-backs rather than wingers.
Ironically, he would surely have shone in the 4-4-2 Claudio Ranieri used to win the title the next season.
Phillips added: “The manager had already made the decision. It was a shame.
“In hindsight, it was probably the best thing for Anthony — even though I doubt he saw it that way at the time.
“Now he’s a much more mature player with qualities he didn’t have three or four years ago.
“When he left he came round and thanked everyone. He was in tears.
“You don’t often see that from players.
“He could have quite easily left with a bitter taste in his mouth but he didn’t. He shook everyone’s hand.
“Anthony will know this is a wonderful opportunity.
“He’ll see what one of his best mates Riyad Mahrez has done and want to emulate it. He’ll want to perform at the highest level.”
It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest the Seagulls could repeat the Foxes’ success in the Premier League, but their supporters can’t wait to see them try.