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ADAMS: WITHDEAN WINNERS AND CUP CHAOS

12 February 2019

We caught up with former Brighton & Hove Albion manager Micky Adams recently, and the 57-year-old reflected on his time at the club, which included winning a first league title in 36 years and a famous League Cup victory over Manchester City.

After managerial spells at Fulham, Swansea City, Brentford and Nottingham Forest, Adams joined the Seagulls and spent his opening period giving instructions from a dugout at the Priestfield Stadium, more than 70 miles from Brighton.

The Seagulls pulled clear of the relegation zone and moved to the Withdean Stadium for the 1999/2000 season, and it took Adams a little while to get used to his new surroundings after walking away from the City Ground.

He said, “That first look around the Withdean Stadium was quite a shock for me really, because it didn’t have the main stand, it was an athletics stadium and there were potholes in the pitch from where the shotput was being thrown.

“It didn't look like a football stadium and we always knew it would be very difficult. Although the club had a fantastic history, trying to get players to join the club was difficult.



“The one place we never took them, if we were going to sign them, was the Withdean Stadium. We always took them to the Grand Hotel and tried to smooth them down there.

“What I tried to do as manager was instil a siege mentality - we knew the Withdean Stadium wasn’t the most attractive of places to play football, but just think about how difficult it was for the opposition.

“We beat Mansfield 6-0 in our first match there and we couldn’t have wished for a better start to life at the Withdean.”



Albion finished 11th in their first season at the Withdean, but the following campaign saw the Seagulls finish ten points clear at the top of Division Three, and Adams was full of praise for the players that pulled together to achieve success.

“When the history of the club is written and people look back, they’ll talk fondly about a lot of the players from back then.

“There was Bobby Zamora and his goals, Darren Freeman, Paul Watson, Danny Cullip, Charlie Oatway, Richard Carpenter, Kerry Mayo, Gary Hart, there’s so many — I would hate to miss any of them out. They were all winners.

“People said that I ruled by fear, but the only thing they were ever fearful of was a running session after a bad defeat on a Saturday. A lot of the time, the problems on the pitch that we were experiencing, they used to sort it out themselves.

“Not only were they good professionals, they were intelligent professionals as well. You have to give them so much credit — they were real characters.

“If teams wanted to play us at football, we played them at football and were good at it. If teams wanted a scrap, then there was nobody better than that mob to have a fight!”



Adams departed for Leicester City midway through the following season, but returned in 2008 for a second period in charge on the south coast, and he recalled the memorable evening when Albion pulled off a giant-killing.

“We had a game plan against Manchester City — you always hope against the big teams that you’re still in the game with ten or 15 minutes left.

“We managed to get people behind the ball, I wouldn’t say we played negatively, but we certainly didn’t throw bodies forward.

“We managed to get an equaliser and I always remember putting Cooky [Steve Cook] on at right-back, even though he was a centre-half, and he didn’t really know what he was doing.



“But the one thing that he had was a long throw — the game plan for the last ten minutes was to just throw the ball into their box and see how they coped with it.

“Luckily enough, we managed to find an equaliser, survived 30 minutes of extra-time and then won it on penalties. It was a great occasion, the fans made an awful lot of noise that day.

“I wouldn't say we deserved to win it, but certainly from the effort we put into it, we deserved our chance at penalties. Luckily for us, we won the game and it was a great night for the club.”


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