One Year On: Albion March Into The Premier League
Monday 17th April 2017 will go down as one of the most special days in Brighton & Hove Albion’s history - and exactly one year on, the celebrations of reaching the Premier League remain a prominent memory for the Seagulls and their supporters. Albion’s 34-year wait to seal their return to England’s top flight was on the cards when Wigan Athletic visited the Amex Stadium, and Chris Hughton’s team knew victory would all but guarantee their promotion out of the Sky Bet Championship. The Seagulls found themselves 12 points clear of Huddersfield Town, who travelled to Derby County in the late kick-off - and three points for Hughton’s men would move them 15 points clear, with the Terriers left to play five matches. A superior goal difference of +36 left Albion miles ahead of the Yorkshire club, who went into their match at the iPro Stadium on +5 - which meant nothing short of a miracle would have to occur to prevent Albion from reaching the top flight. Just short of 30,000 supporters were in attendance to watch the Seagulls battle for promotion, and the nerves inside the Amex were eased when Glenn Murray opened the scoring after 37 minute to put one foot in the Premier League. Hughton’s side came out after the break and looked to put the game out of Wigan’s reach, and Solly March’s close-range strike sent the Amex crowd into raptures, as the Seagulls looked destined for promotion. Nick Powell set up a tense finish as he pulled a goal back for the Latics with just five minutes remaining, but the Seagulls held on and the club’s jubilant supporters flooded onto the Amex surface to celebrate in their thousands. After three play-off semi-final defeats in the space of four years, Albion’s determination to come back stronger finally found its reward - and Hughton’s team reappeared in the West Stand after the match to join in with the celebrations. The players took turns on the microphone to start chants and Albion’s ecstatic supporters bounced back with appreciation, as the football club came together to enjoy the moment Premier League football was all but secured on the south coast. Of course, despite the wild celebrations, Albion's promotion wasn't mathematically guaranteed. But things got even sweeter when Derby struck a late equaliser against Huddersfield to make it 1-1, and with thousands of Albion supporters watching the game inside the stadium - promotion to the Premier League was confirmed and the celebrations were taken to the next level. Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool - the list goes on. The Seagulls found themselves in amongst the biggest clubs in English football and what a 34-year journey it proved to be.