Brighton and Hove Albion

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1920, Original members of Division 3 (South) 1921-58; 1958-62 Division 2; 1962-63 Division 3: 1963-65 Division 4; 1965-72 Division 3; 1972-73 Division 2; 1973-77 Division 3; 1977-79 Division 2; 1979-83 Division 1; 1983-87 Division 2; 1987-88 Division 3; 1988-92 Division 2; 1992-96 Division 2 New; 1996-99 Division 3 New.

Before WW2

Before joining the Football League in the inaugural Division 3 in 1920, Albion started in the Southern League Division 2 with current League teams like Fulham and Wycombe Wanderers, and moved into the Southern League Division 1, where they regularly played against teams like Portsmouth, Southampton. Crystal Palace, Millwall, Q.P.R. and West Ham United. Albion won their first Southern League Championship in 1909-10. In the FA Charity Shield they defeated the Football League Champions Aston Villa 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. As long ago as 1909, there were plans to leave the Goldstone Ground.

Brighton remained in Division 3 (South) from 1920 until the outbreak of War, without figuring in the promotion chase (only one team was promoted) until 1936-37 and 1938-39 when they finished third. The tedium was interrupted by FA Cup exploits which resulted in victories over first Division teams: Oldham Athletic (1914 and 1921), Sheffield U (1922), Everton (1924), Grimsby T (1930), Portsmouth (1930), Leicester C (1931), and Chelsea (1933). The largest home gate was for the visit of West Ham U to the Goldstone for a Round 5 match in 1933 when 32,310 spectators saw the Hammers held to a 2-2 draw. The largest pre-War League attendance was 19,183 for the visit of Brentford in 1929. The largest ever crowd to watch Brighton was for an FA Cup tie at Newcastle U in 1930 when 56,469 watched, and this is still the fourth largest crowd ever to watch the Albion.

Post-war to 1959

The years up to 1958 in Division 3 (South)  Brighton were the team with the best record never to win the one promotion spot. (In 1958-59 Divsion 3 [South & North] was divided into Divisions 3 and 4.) They finally made it into Division 2 in the last season crowning the overdue promotion with a 6-0 victory over Watford before a record league crowd of 31,038 (gates closed). The first match in Division 2 was a record 0-9 defeat at Middlesbrough, with Brian Clough scoring five goals.

Brighton only remained in Division 2 from 1959-60 to 1961-62. In 1959-60 the average home league gate was 18,272. In the FA Cup Fourth Round second replay Brighton beat Rotherham United 6-0 before 32,864 fans at Highbury, the biggest crowd to date to watch Albion at a neutral venue, and the fifth largest at a neutral venue in their history. (Rotherham United had knocked Arsenal out of the Cup in the previous round).

In 1959-60, the average attendance for reserve matches was 3,469.

Star players: Dave Sexton (1957-59), Adrian Thorne (1954-61), Bill Curry (1959-60).

The 1960's

At the beginning of the 1960's Tottenham Hotspur became the first club to win the Football League Championship and FA Cup double with England centre-forward Bobby Smith leading the attack. Another top team at the time were Burnley who were Champions in 1959-60, runners-up in 1961-62 and third the following year. Brian Clough was leading scorer for three consecutive seasons in Divsion 2, playing for Middlesbrough between 1957 and 1960.

In 1960, Albion drew 3-3 at home to Burnley in front of 28,672 spectators, before losing at Turf Moor in the replay 0-2.

The following year they were relegated from Division 2, and this began the biggest slide in the club's history. By 1964 they were in the obscurity of Division 4 for the first time.

At the beginning of 1964, the football world was astonished when England international Bobby Smith signed for Brighton for £5,000. The club won the Fourth Division Championship with an average crowd of 17,975.

Brighton struggled to avoid being relegated from Division 3 until the last year of the decade, when under Freddie Goodwin they chased for one of the two promotion spots and finished fourth.. In 1966-67 a leading Division 1 team Chelsea visited the Goldstone for a FA Cup Fourth Round tie. The queue for the reserve match where you had to attend to buy the tickets was four deep for half a mile an hour before the kick-off. A capacity 35,000 crowd saw a thrilling 1-1 draw in the real match. Albion lost the replay 0-4 before the the second biggest crowd of 54,852 to watch Albion at the time, and the fifth biggest in the club's history.

Star players: Howard Wilkinson (1966-71), Bobby A Smith (1964-65), Kit Napier (1966-72), Wally Gould (1964-68). Dave Turner (1963-72), Brian Powney (1960-74).

The Modern Era

he Modern Era