History of the Supporters' Club
The Supporters' Club has had several incarnations over the years. It was one of the founding members of the National Federation of Football Supporters' Clubs back in the late 1920's, and the foundations for the club's existence have always been to try to meet the needs of the Brighton supporter AND to help the football club where appropriate.
Life Member, Bernie Dawes gives his recollections of the Supporters Club's activities when he first became involved:
"I joined in 1948 after requests were made for young blood to bring new ideas as those coming back from the war needed help.
In the 1950's we had our meetings in St Georges Place in Brighton, We ran Whist Drives and Beetle Drives in Robertson Hall in Ship Street. Dances and social events were held in The Old Savoy and Ralli Hall in Hove to which we also invited the visiting clubs. Major Campbell made sure that the players attended anything we organised.
The Supporters' Club Committee contained quite a few gentlemen who went on to be come directors of the Football Club including Len Stringer-Courtney King and T Russmussen. We had a good relationship with The Club and they never once ignored our functions.
In the Fifties we used to sell the programmes and 'Penny on the Ball' - type of raffle drawn at half-time. The owner of the winning ticket would receive the matchday ball as his/her prize.
The Supporters' Club took over the production of the Club's Official Handbook when the latter decided that the fans could do a better job than the Club. (There was no commercial department until the early 1970's). Surplus funds were given to the Albion at the end of each season, on average around £1,500. No small figure back in the 1950's.
The Supporters' Club also handled all benefits to the players when they became due and this continued until the 1970's. At that time some members tried to tell the new chairman, Mike Bamber, how he should run the club so he shut down the Supporters' Club!"
The latest incarnation!
The current "version" of the Supporters' Club was reformed in the early 1980's. We enjoyed a period of good relations with the Football Club, using their facilities, firstly the old church on the corner of Newtown Road and Goldstone Lane behind the South Stand at The Goldstone Ground and then later we were allowed to use the function rooms in the ground itself.
We started holding programme fairs, quizzes, discos and other social events either at the ground or in local hotels and pubs. The surplus funds were, with our members' approval, donated to the Albion following our summer AGM each season. If we asked for players to attend our functions then we could guarantee that at least two players, if not more, would attend. Our End of Season functions were always well attended. Surplus funds were donated for gym equipment, facilities for disabled supporters, ground maintenance equipment etc.
Then things started to change.
In July 1995, our then chairman received a call from members of the team behind the fanzine Gulls Eye. They had learnt that the Goldstone had been sold and that we had no home from the end of that coming season.
We came together for a press conference in a Worthing pub in that hot summer and announced to the (local) press what had been learned and that the fans were not going to take this lying down.
In the November, Liam Brady came to a fans forum and told committee members attending that the Albion had refused to pay the insurance premium for a minibus which had been donated to the Youth Team. The Supporters' Club agreed to meet the £700 that was needed.
From that point, we shared the lobbying of the media, doing radio and TV interviews. At the end of the season, we were asked to hand out flyers to fans with information from Hove Council. Our Vice Chairman, Liz Costa, was doing this OUTSIDE the ground in Newton Road, when she was all but dragged in for an attendance with the CEO, David Bellotti. After a heated discussion, Liz was told that her season ticket (that she had earned from selling Seagull Lottery tickets to raise funds for the Club) was revoked.
By now, because the club had failed to pay its bills to the local coach company, we were operating coach travel for supporters wanting to go to the away matches.
The 1996/97 season was the most emotional, dramatic, heart wrenching time for us. Things were changing almost daily. The Supporters' Club already had good relations with Sussex Police that had been established for several years, so we would use these contacts to let them know what supporters were planning and taking advice on best to achieve our goals. In the November we had the mass boycott of the Mansfield game with fans blocking The Old Shoreham Road. In December, the Hull game saw the whistle demonstration
- there were over a 1,000 whistles being blown throughout the game. That same game, at kick off a thousand helium-filled balloons were released, three quarters of them were blue and white, the remaining were gold and black so that the Hull fans would feel include (they were having their own problems with their owner of that time then).
On 8th February 1997 the first Fans United Day was held. It was a small idea suggested by a Plymouth fan and it really took off amongst all football fans.
As the Supporters' Club was on the only structured fans group of that time, we were asked to help co-ordinate producing the day. The Hove Park changing rooms facility was used as a match day H.Q. There were messages of support printed off and placed around the park and the football ground, merchandise was sold to help raise funds for the campaign and the fans came from all over. Coaches came from Norwich and Charlton, the colours of the multitude of football shirts and scarves - an incredible day.
Being part of the campaign group supporters' club had got involved with the threat of legal action against The Football Association for failing to spot the change in the Albion's Articles of Association, which meant that the owners could take money out of the football club, where previously they hadn't been able to. As a result of this the FA paid for mediation between the then owners, the prospective new owners and the supporters.
We continued to be heavily involved for the rest of the season and when it came to the final game at the Goldstone, we produce our own "match programme" which was free of the, by now, outgoing owners.
The Gillingham years of 1997/99 were hectic. The Supporters' Club was running at least one coach, usually two, to the home matches at Gillingham FC in addition to the coach travel to the away games.
On top of that we had joined forces with key figures amongst the supporters, like John Baine and Paul Samrah and were working with the new directors to get the club firstly back to Brighton under the Bring Home the Albion banner which progressed into the Falmer For All campaign.
Also in our first year at Gillingham, with funds low, the Supporters' Club decided to start a fund to Buy A Player. It was the money that we raised that enabled us to buy Rod Thomas from Chester City in the autumn of 1998.
During these four years, it was officers from the Supporters' Club who collected donations and organised the bank accounts for the supporters fund raising, primarily because we had the structure in place already - one of our strengths.
Having returned to Withdean, members of the SC committee continued to play a part on the Falmer For All campaign team and then the Albion's Centenary Committee. We worked with the Club Chairman, Dick Knight, the CEO, Martin Perry and other club staff to organise events to celebrate 100 years of Brighton & Hove Albion FC aimed at all levels and ages of Brighton fans.
When the Falmer For All team wanted man power for petitions, letter writing, demonstrations, leafleting for the Public Referendum in 1999, it came to the S.C. for help.
As a result of our experiences, we re-wrote our constitution permitting us to be democratic and free of influence from the Football Club as in 1995/97 we had in fact broken our own rules - with the members' backing.
As a result of our experiences, we continue to work closely with the Football Club whilst keeping our independence and monitoring what goes on. We had hoped Football had learned from what happened to us. It hasn't, but we have.
Firle by-election count - 2006
|John saw his first Albion match in 1957, although according to his mum he did watch them as a babe in arms much earlier. He has been lucky enough to have seen all the promotion seasons in the club's history. Hove born, then brought up in Cornwall, he excelled at sport at school being county champion at triple jump and hurdles and representing the county at football, also being on Plymouth Argyle's books as a school boy. His playing days were cut short in the early 70's when he suffered a recurring dislocated shoulder. Unable to play he took up coaching at various levels, including a very successful period coaching the Albion disability team to F.A. cup and league double, and was part of the England Disability Coaching team. He joined the Supporters Club committee in 2001 and became Chairman in 2008.
Part of the Falmer for All campaign team, he has played his part in the fight for the new Stadium. He has a reputation for getting the job done without question: if it needs doing he will do it. In his spare time his has been known to turn his hand to writing stories, enjoys relaxing watching any kind of sport, walking in the country. If there is an Albion game at any level its quite likely you will find John there watching and is always keen to encourage the youngsters.
As Chairman his aim is to increase the profile of the supporters club and encourage more fans to become members of the family of Albion Supporters.
|I have been Vice Chairman to at least 6 Chairmen - no desire to be boss. Member of SC since 1984, been running coaches on behalf of SC since David Bellotti cancelled the coaches to Fulham without advising the passengers who had already paid! First official SC Coaches went to Sudbury for the FA Cup match and we have not missed a first team away game since.
Had "privileged" upbringing going to private boarding school followed by 2 years living in Rome. Later discovered this was a front to hide the fact that the woman who had "brought me up" was actually my step-mother
! Found real Mum when I was 36 and had 15 glorious years getting to know her before she died in Lanzarote 15 years ago.
My first football match saw the late, great, John Charles play his debut match for Roma in 1962 - and I was hooked! First England game at Wembley saw an Albion favourite, Sergei Gotsmanov playing for Russia - English fans on the terrace burned programmes, scarves and hats in disgust at the English performance! [Nothing changes there, does it!]
I understand a distant relative was the infamous Thomas Paine who lived for a while in Lewes before going to America
- most famously known for his book The Rights of Man that played a big part in the American Revolution! [See, always been rebels in my family!].
Have two children [Katy and Graeme] and two magnificent grandchildren [Joe and Daisy]
. Oh, and I have been married twice - the first divorce
should have been great fun. My ex wanted to sue the Albion for Alienation of Affection, jointly and severally!
Have been living happily with John Lees [BBC Sussex sport commentator]
Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) Rep
|I'm in my second spell of serving on the Supporters' Club committee; this time since the early 1990's. In that time I have also served in several posts on the National Federation of Football Supporters' Clubs (which has since become the FSF).
My current spell on the committee has co-incided with the most traumatic but interesting time in the Albion's history and I have been involved in the campaigns to save the club and secure Falmer/The Amex Community Stadium. I was also involved with organising the Albion's centenary celebrations.
My interests include reading, watching films, bird watching, baking and taking my now grown nephews to matches. I have a full time job in office to fit in somewhere too!
|I was born in Shoreham and grew up in Brighton and Portslade. I went to Hove County Grammar school for Girls (right opposite the Greyhound stadium - now Hove Park) and could see the floodlights of the Goldstone ground outside the window.
My parents separated when I was quite young, my Dad got custody of me. As I was an only child and he always wanted a son, I was treated like a boy: I was taken to football matches and the county cricket ground whenever he was home from the Navy. So I started watching the Albion from the early 1960s. My favourite game from that era was 1967 when we drew with Chelsea in the FA cup although the return match was a disaster because as the Seagull Special arrived, Tommy Docherty (Chelsea manager) closed the gates of Stamford Bridge with masses of Brighton fans not allowed in. We lost that game 4-0.
My favourite player of the 60s was Kit Napier. Good looking and talented. I joined the WRNS, married a Yorkshireman and moved away from Sussex. I never lost my love of the Albion and looked out for their results every time. I did go to Leeds matches (my ex was a Leeds fan) so I saw the great Don Revie's Leeds team first hand. I managed to get to occasional games at the Goldstone ground when visiting my Dad. We took my son on Boxing Day 1978 beating Cardiff 5-0 (Teddy Maybank got a hattrick) but he still became a Bradford City supporter. Better than a Leeds supporter, I suppose.
I watched the Albion when they played locally whenever finances allowed. 1983 was a special time for me because all of the locals and colleagues were taking the mickey out of me as we progressed through the rounds to the FA Cup final but when it came to the day, all of them wanted Brighton to beat Manchester Utd. I put my scarf across the front window of my house and had blue and white streamers around it. I refused to do any housework that day (I told my ex he had to buy fish & chips for the kids) so that I could watch the build up to the game, complete with the helicopter ride etc.
I worked for Yorkshire Electricity for 25 years and so got made redundant in 2002. The payout meant that I had the opportunity to return back to Sussex and settle in Newhaven. My maternal grandmother was born here so I had connections but it was also affordable considering the divide in house prices. We were able to get season tickets and witness the great times of the back to back championships and the play off final in 2004.
Since I moved back to Sussex, I have been making up for a lot of lost time, doing all I could for the Falmer campaign etc. My husband stood for council in Newhaven on behalf of the Seagulls Party and although he didn't get elected, he did give the Lib Dems a bit of a shock with well over 500 votes and taking 23% of the vote.
We joined the Supporter's Club and try to travel to away games when it is possible. For the last two years I have been on the committee helping out.
|Retired Chartered Quantity Surveyor; born in Ayrshire but has knocked about the World a bit over the years; moved to Sussex in 1988, working at Gatwick.
At heart an Ayr United supporter but got into BHA in 1990/91 Season including going to Play-off Final at Wembley v Notts County; Season Ticket holder since 1992/93 including Gillingham years; highs including back-to-back promotions and Cardiff Play-off Final success; lows including various relegations, leaving Goldstone and almost being relegated from Football League; was at Hereford for draw that saved our bacon.
Joined Supporters Club in 1993; on Committee from 1994; Membership Secretary since 1999 taking over from Tony Ford.
Taken over as Treasurer for the rest of the season following the resignation of Sarah Turner.
|A committee member for 15 years and past chairman for 2 years (last season at the Goldstone and first season at Gillingham). A supporter for 40 years with my first game on my ninth birthday 7 March 1970 when we beat Barnsley 2-0 at the Goldstone (Spearritt (pen) and Turner scored) and there were 15,622 there to witness it. I was hooked and soon returned on the 27 March 1970 for our victory over Reading 2-1 (Duffy netted both goals). I have been going ever since including 50% of away games. A season ticket holder for over 15 years and a fanzine writer with many a synonym. I have made many friends through football and look forward like so many others to watching my team at Falmer.
When not being a Supporters Club committee member, I earn a crust as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor.
|I've supported Brighton & Hove Albion for a long time - ever since I was a child. I lived in Hove at the time and my father and my best friend's father used to walk to the Goldstone Ground. We could hear the cheering from our house. It sounded exciting and we asked to go with them the next time there was a home match. I loved it and have been a fan ever since. Not for me the Premiership (or 1st Division as it was at the time.) As soon as they were old enough my children followed me in supporting the Albion and were members of the Junior Seagulls.
I'm glad to say neither of them succumbed to peer pressure to support the more fashionable Premiership teams. There have been great times, like getting to the Cup Final in 1983, and winning the play-offs. Sadly there were also the turbulent years when we lost my beloved Goldstone Ground and the club nearly died.
I'm so excited that, after a long fight, we are now close to moving to our new stadium at Falmer.
It's literally a dream come true! I think we're en route to going places!