Brighton & Hove Albion supporters' club Seagulls Downunder held their annual Robert Eaton Memorial Fund Charity Match in Sydney recently, as supporters from Albion and Crystal Palace joined forces to continue raising money for the charity.
The Seagulls extended their unbeaten run to six matches and almost secured victory, but for a late Crystal Palace strike that levelled the scores at 3-3 in Australia.
Steve Longly, founder of Seagulls Downunder, was delighted to see another big turnout for the game and spoke about the history of the supporters' club and charity, that raises money in memory of Robert Eaton, who tragically died in the World Trade Centre attacks in 2001.
“The first Brighton-Palace game was almost like jumpers for goalposts, it was hastily put together. They raised some money and gave it to a children’s charity in New York for disadvantaged kids .
“I arrived here in Australia ten years ago, and about seven years ago I had the idea to get a supporters club up, to get about ten guys together to watch the odd game.
“Seven years later there’s 500 of us. It’s just escalated and got bigger and bigger and bigger!”
Former Albion midfielder Paul Reid, who currently plays for Rockdale City Suns and works for Sydney FC, scored twice against the Eagles, and he commented on how he first got in contact with Longly.
“I’ve known Steve for quite a few years, I met him over in England when I was playing for Brighton. He said he was coming over and I stayed in contact with him ever since.”
Jimmy Fletcher, President of the Crystal Palace Supporters' Club Sydney, also took part in the game, and he praised Longly for organising such a brilliant event for a worthy cause.
“Steve has been the real organiser behind this. It’s always the same location, with a great field, and it’s a great place to play football.
“It’s just a shame that it’s always 35 degrees every time we come here!”