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Seagulls take flight! Brighton secure promotion to the Premier League

Date Posted,April 16, 2017

After 34 years, Brighton were not prepared to wait any longer.

And just a couple of hours later came confirmation – they are back in the big time.

Their scarf and flag waving fans came to celebrate Brighton’s return to the top-flight for the first time since 1983 and nothing was going to stop them.

Glenn Murray and Solly March’s goals against Wigan fired Brighton to the brink of the Premier League.

It was actually Derby’s late equaliser against Huddersfield a couple of hours later that secured promotion, sparking more wild scenes at the Amex from the few thousand fans who had stuck around.

(Photo: Getty Images Europe)
March celebrates his second (Photo: PA)

But the promotion party was already well underway by then after Brighton’s victory against Wigan all but clinched promotion and left Huddersfield needing a miracle.

Despite the best efforts of the PA announcer urging fans ‘not to invade the pitch’ thousands poured down from the stands at full time, mobbing Brighton’s heroes and stripping defender Lewis Dunk down to his pants.

Delighted chairman Tony Bloom, who has pumped £250m into the club over the last 10 years, joined in the celebrations, whipping up the crowd by frantically twirling a blue and white scarf over his head.

Then Brighton’s soon-to-be Premier League stars piled into the press box above the tunnel and took it in turns to grab the microphone and serenade the crowd. And nobody could begrudge Brighton their celebrations on an unforgettable afternoon.

Fans flooded the pitch following the game (Photo: Rex Features)

Twenty years ago they needed a last-day draw against Hereford to avoid dropping into non-league before having to sell their old Goldstone Ground to stay afloat, play at Gillingham for two years and then the Withdean Athletics stadium for 12 seasons.

More recently they have suffered cruel play-off heartbreak in three of the last four seasons.

Last season it poured salt in their woulds after they also lost out on automatic promotion on the final day of the season on goal difference.

Boss Chris Hughton has brilliantly masterminded their recovery this season and proved just as good at swerving pitch invasions as he turned on his heels and headed down the tunnel sharpish at full-time.

“I saw about 5,000 people running towards me, that’s why! I anticipated that,” he joked.

“All those memos that went out to stop the supporters going to the pitch didn’t work too well!

It’s been 34 years since the Seagulls have been in the top flight (Photo: Getty Images Europe)

“But I can understand the emotions those fans and this club have gone through. There are supporters who have been through all the difficult periods, supporting this club for 20 to 30 years.”

Fittingly, two of the main reasons Brighton are Premier League-bound were heavily involved in the win all but sealed their top-flight return.

They were uncorking the champagne after top scorer Murray smashed in his 22nd of the season just before half-time.

And player of the season Anthony Knockaert produced more brilliant wing wizadry to set up March’s goal midway through the second half.

Nick Powell pulled a goal back for Wigan to set up a nervy finale but this was always going to be Brighton’s day.

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