Riding the Wave: The Seagulls have soared to new heights in the past decade

We asked Scott McCarthy from We Are Brighton to give us his highlights from an exciting last 10 years of following his beloved Brighton & Hove Albion.

Scott McCarthy

Player of the Decade

It’s a close-run thing between two candidates – Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray, with Murray just about edging it.

Could we have reached the Premier League and stayed there without Dunk? Probably. Could we have done it without Murray? Probably not.

Brighton have won two promotions in the past 10 years and it was Murray’s goals that powered them. He got 22 when we walked to the League One title in 2010-11, which still wasn’t enough to convince Gus Poyet he was worth a minor payrise. Poyet instead let Murray walk on a free to Crystal Palace and spent £2.5m on Craig Mackail-Smith in a spectacularly misguided bit of business.

After firing Palace to promotion, he returned to the Amex in 2016. It took some Albion fans a bit of time to forgive him for his time at Selhurst, but 23 goals in a campaign in which you win promotion to the Premier League tends to win people round.

The fun didn’t stop there. Murray defied most people’s predictions of him being too old for the top flight by being responsible for 36% of the goals we scored in our first two seasons up there. No other club has ever relied so heavily on one man to score than Brighton on Murray since the Premier League began in 1992.

He became only the second-ever Brighton player to score 100 times for the club and needs 14 more to overtake Tommy Cook as the club’s record scorer. Given how sparingly he’s been used by Graham Potter so far, it seems unlikely he’ll get there.

That’s a real shame as he quite clearly would’ve smashed through Cook’s 123 had Poyet not cast him off for five years with Palace, Reading and Bournemouth.

Game of the Decade

Easy – the first game at the Amex against Doncaster Rovers on August 6th, 2011. It had been 14 long years since the Godstone had been sold from under us, 14 long years since we last had a home of our own.

Turned out it was worth the wait, especially when Will Buckley banged in a 96th-minute winner on his debut. All the protests, the marches, the hours wasted traveling to home games in Gillingham, the coughs and colds picked up through watching games in the depth of winter at an athletics track with no roof. All worth it.

Goal of the Decade

Leonardo Ulloa’s last-minute winner away at Nottingham Forest on the final day of the 2013/14 season to sneak us into the Championship playoffs.

I don’t think I’ve ever gone as mad at a Brighton goal as I did at the City Ground that day. It was made even better when we saw the photos and videos from the Madjeski Stadium of Reading fans invading the pitch thinking they’d made the playoffs, only for news to filter through that we’d snatched it away in the last seconds of the season.

Our squad that season, bar Ulloa, Stephen Ward and Matthew Upson, were mid-table at best and it was a ridiculous achievement from Oscar Garcia to make the top six, as everyone saw when we got smashed by Derby over two legs.

Biggest disappointment of the Decade

Sami Hyypia’s reign of terror was a complete disaster. The club didn’t seem to appreciate the miracle work that Oscar had done and so thought they could challenge for the top six again with an even cheaper squad, largely made up of loans.

In fact, at one point we had so many players on loan we couldn’t name them all in a matchday squad as it broke the rules.

Combine that with a tactically inept manager and you had a situation that looked destined to end in relegation. Hyypia to be fair to him clearly knew this as he offered to resign, which the club rejected.

They eventually saw sense though, got rid and brought in Chris Hughton. Which worked out quite well in the end.

Best memory of the Decade

Winning promotion to the Premier League. When there were less than 2,000 people turning up to watch us finish 91st in the Football League at Gillingham, nobody in their wildest dreams could’ve predicted that 20 years later, we’d be a top-flight club.

That day when we beat Wigan at the Amex and the scenes in town that followed will live with me forever. And probably took about five years off my life expectancy.

Most underrated signing of the Decade

Gordon Greer never got the credit he deserved. He cost just £250,000, was the first real ball-playing centre back many of us had seen in a Brighton shirt and ended up making over 200 appearances.

He’s also, aside from Bruno and Brian Horton, the most successful captain in the club’s history.

Best team of the Decade

The 2016/17 promotion-winning side is the obvious answer here, but I’m going to say the 2010-11 League One winners.

We’ll probably never see a Brighton side dominate a division like that again. Winning 4-0 at Charlton and 3-0 at Peterborough when they were both second in the league at the time was absolutely outrageous.

The football was out of this world for League One at the time and it was just the most enjoyable season to watch.

What are your hopes for the next 10 years and where do you think your club will be in 2030?

Tony Bloom is on record as having said he expects us to be an established Premier League top 10 club. Is that achievable? Maybe.

As for hopes, just for the club to not forget where it’s come from. The supporters saved the Albion and sometimes I think the highly paid suits and ties in the swank offices at the Amex forget that when they’re consistently looking for ways to fleece fans out of more and more money.

Basically, I don’t want Starburst to cost more than the current £3.20 a bag.

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