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When Albion and Derby County lock horns tomorrow, there’s also a sibling rivalry being played out behind the scenes.
Hoping the Seagulls make it to Wembley is the club’s general kit manager Clive Thompson, while cheering on the Rams is his brother-in-law John Davidson – ironically the Derby County kitman!
“John is married to my sister, who also works at Derby!” Clive told seagulls.co.uk. “He’s been the kitman there for about 16 years and he used to play for the club as a youngster. When he stopped playing he helped out in the kitroom, and was given the job by Gordon Goffrey, who was the physio at the time.
“I was also John’s apprentice at one time and Derby are my home-town club, having supported them man and boy for 45 years, so it’s quite ironic that I’m now here at Brighton we draw them in the play-offs.
“It would have been even nicer to meet them in the final at Wembley! People often ask me if I have divided loyalties, but Brighton is my club now. No question!”
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Clive worked for the Rams during the Nigel Clough era at the club; he started in the laundry rooms before progressing to assistant kit manager under his brother in law. It was a role he undertook for four years before being bowled over by the Albion.
“I came down to Brighton for a night game and remember thinking what a beautiful stadium it was,” he adds. “Then, low and behold, about four or five months later on the website, a kit manager’s job came up. I immediately put my CV in. David Burke interviewed me… it must have gone well because he gave me the job!
“It was a brilliant opportunity to come down here and become number one kit manager rather than an assistant. With the infrastructure at Brighton I was really keen to become a part of it.
“My role is a bit different as I am also running the laundry staff, part-time staff and look after the Academy kit. I organise all the kit requirements for games and training, and oversee things for the Academy through to the first team.
“I’m also in charge of a budget, ordering and planning future requirements. There is so much that’s involved; it’s not just about washing the kit for the first team!”
Whatever happens to Albion in the play-offs, it’s set to be a busy summer for Clive, with a change in kit supplier from Errea to Nike, plus the training ground move to Lancing.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the new Nike kit,” he adds. “Obviously the change of kit will create quite a bit of extra work over the summer and I know the lads are very much looking forward to the unveiling. It is a world renowned brand! Even though it will create some work, it will also give me a chance to have a bit of a clear out, empty the shelves in the stock cupboard and start again.
“I’m also really excited about the move to the new training complex. With the current set-up, every day is almost like dealing with an away game. It involves loading the kit van from the stadium, unloading at the training ground, and constant trips back and forth.
“Having everything in-house at Lancing will have such a positive impact on our team. It will make us so much more efficient. We operated out of a proper training ground while I was at Derby, so I’ve got plenty of experience of the benefits. I keep saying to all the lads here, ‘just wait until we get there’!”
Clive was speaking to Albion's club photographer Paul Hazlewood