Anyone who doesn’t believe in the romance of the FA Cup has never been to a third round match with the chance of an upset.
Obviously, some Brighton & Hove Albion supporters may be fearful of a heavy defeat when drawn against the big boys. However, whether the opponents are at full strength or not, the buzz around the stadium in anticipation of a possible giant-killing can add so much to the atmosphere.
Take the cup fever that took place in January 1935 when Brighton drew league champions Arsenal at the Goldstone Ground. Amazingly, the two teams trained together in the week leading up to the third round encounter. Sadly, no upset occurred as Albion lost to a goal in each half to George Allison’s side.
A more ignominious third round defeat came against Barnsley at Oakwell in January 1953. Albion raced to a 3-0 half-time lead courtesy of goals from Les Owens, Frankie Howard and Billy Reed. However, Billy Lane’s Brighton side conceded four goals in the second half to exit the FA Cup.
Two years later, Brighton’s team did the town proud with a well-deserved 2-2 draw against First Division Aston Villa. In January 1955, Albert Mundy got the vital equaliser with five minutes to go. Here is the matchday programme.
Lane’s side lost 4-2 at Villa Park four days later but it was another great performance.
Five years later it was Brighton playing the role of Goliath. They drew non-league Bath City in the third round in January 1960 and a Mike Tiddy goal was enough to see Albion through.
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One of Brighton’s darkest FA Cup days came three years later. Chris Kelly, known as ‘The Leatherhead Lip’ jinked his way past the Albion defence to send the Surrey side into the fourth round.
Having reached that nadir, who could have predicted that the Seagulls would be running up a two-goal lead at Old Trafford at the third round stage just six years later?
Brighton lost the rematch 2-0 at the Goldstone.
A year later, Mike Bailey’s First Division Albion team drew non-league Barnet in a tricky third round tie at Underhill. The Match of the Day cameras saw a tight match on the sloping pitch. Watch out for Barnet’s Graham Pearce who signed for the Seagulls shortly afterwards.
In January 1983, the Seagulls drew 1-1 against Newcastle United in the FA Cup third round. Here’s John Vinicombe’s match report of this largely forgotten match.
Helped by two disallowed ‘goals’, Peter Ward’s clinical finish at St James’ Park put paid to Newcastle’s chances and set Albion on the road to their most glorious FA Cup run.