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Know Your Enemies: Brighton and Hove Albion

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The Seagulls are back in England’s top flight for the first time since 1983, and just their fifth season overall.

Liverpool v Brighton & Hove Albion - FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Of the three newly promoted sides, Huddersfield Town might have been the most surprising of the bunch, but Brighton and Hove Albion is not exactly a side that is familiar with the pressure boiler that is Premier League football. Indeed, since its founding in 1901, Albion have only spent four seasons in England’s top flight—in consecutive campaigns, from 1979-1983—and never before in the Premier League.

That said, in recent years the Seagulls have been a team on the up, ever since it’s League One title win in 2010-11. In their five seasons in the Championship from 2012-2016, they qualified for the promotion playoffs 3 times (2013, 2014, 2016). I’m sorry to report that their worst year in this spell was the one with Sami Hyypia at the helm in 2014-15, in which he earned a quick dismissal in November and the Seagulls limped to a disappointing 20th place finish. Last year, the Seagulls very nearly qualified for automatic promotion, accumulating 89 points with a +30 goal differential, equal on points but just two goals shy of Middlesbrough. Last year, as with their two previous attempts at promotion via playoffs, saw the Seagulls bounced unceremoniously in the first round.

This season, they left nothing to chance, pushing Newcastle to the last day for the league title. They came up short, but the effort was still good enough for automatic promotion to the Premiership.

Their recent run of success can be partially attributed to a change at the very top. The team was saved from the brink of liquidation in the late 90’s after a boardroom shake up, and in 2009 new chairman Tony Bloom secured £93 million for their beautiful new 30,000 seat stadium, the Amex, which opened in 2011. For most teams, having their own stadium comes with the territory of being a professional football club, but the Seagulls were having to rent or share stadiums with other teams along the way. For several years they ended up playing their home games at Withdean Stadium, which had been used for a variety of non-football things, including being at one point a zoo.

As can be expected for a club that has spent most of its time in the third tier of English football, Albion don’t have many shiny objects in the cabinets. They’ve won the fourth tier twice (most recently in 2000-01) and the third tier three times (most recently 2010-11). Add in a 1910 FA Charity Shield and a 1983 FA Cup runner up, and you have the full scope of the heights reached as a football club.

Brighton and Hove Albion traditionally play in blue and white stripes (because we need another Premiership team with Albion in their name playing in blue and white stripes), although they briefly flirted with all white kits in the 1970’s and all blue in the 1980’s. The blue kits corresponded with their only other time in the top flight, so it’s a bit of a surprise they didn’t keep it up for good luck. If nothing else, sports fans are notoriously and universally superstitious. And their crest—changed back to a more simplified version from decades past when they moved into the new stadium—is a simple circle with “Brighton and Hove Albion” around the outside, and a seagull in flight at the center.

Liverpool travel to Brighton and Hove Albion on December 2nd, and then host the Seagulls for the last game of the season, May 13th.