The Gold­stone, re­mem­bered

BRIGHTON, ENG­LAND

FourFourTwo - - CONTENTS -

Agan­gly David Beck­ham made his Manch­ester United de­but there in a 1992 League Cup tie, but men­tion the Gold­stone Ground on the South Coast and you’ll stir up nas­tier mem­o­ries. And that’s a shame, given Brighton & Hove Albion’s near-cen­tury of his­tory there from 1902 to 1997. Sorry, Becks, no blue plaque.

The pre­vi­ously low-flying Seag­ulls reached Di­vi­sion One in 1979 and the FA Cup fi­nal in 1983, beat­ing Manch­ester City 4-0 in the fourth round – but then they plum­meted. Be­fore that, an in­creas­ingly creaky sta­dium was most fa­mous for one of then-man­ager Brian Clough’s worst de­feats: 8-2 to Bris­tol Rovers in 1973.

“The Gold­stone was a very odd ground,” ad­mits Albion sup­porter David Tay­lor, who says he prac­ti­cally grew up in the place. “Ev­ery­one seemed really close to the pitch but I don’t think it was ever that in­tim­i­dat­ing – bar the last few years, when the at­mos­phere did be­come pretty an­gry.”

That’s be­cause the own­ers sold the site with no re­place­ment hav­ing been sorted. In a dra­matic fi­nal game there, Brighton beat Don­caster 1-0 to help se­cure their league sta­tus, prompt­ing a pitch in­va­sion.

“Ev­ery­one was just smil­ing and hug­ging,” says Tay­lor. “I ended up tak­ing a lump of grass and a wooden seat home with me.”

Albion lodged at Gilling­ham’s Pri­est­field Sta­dium for two sea­sons and then used Withdean ath­let­ics sta­dium for a fur­ther 12 years be­fore mov­ing to the plush Falmer Sta­dium (re­named The Amex) in 2011. The Gold­stone site be­came a re­tail park, which Seag­ulls fans ini­tially boy­cotted. “Plenty of peo­ple shop there now,” ad­mits David. “But I never have and I never will. I won’t even look at it if we ever go past there.”

As grudges go, it’s a pretty thrifty one.

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