The origins of Brighton & Hove Albion’s women’s football team can be traced back to 1967 when several workers in the local post office’s telephone exchange formed Brighton GPO. Two years later, the team joined the newly formed Sussex Martlet League as founder members originally playing on park pitches.
Following ten years of competing in that league, Brighton GPO signed a sponsorship deal with local sports retailers, Clapshaw & Cleave, and subsequently became known as C&C Sports. The following season saw the team win the Sussex Martlet League and league cup, which saw them rise up into the Home Counties League Division 2.
A swift promotion followed in 1983 as a second-place finish was enough to see the club reach Division 1, and further success followed with a Jubilee Cup win in 1985.
In 1990 C&C Sports became affiliated to Brighton & Hove Albion FC following the initiation of Albion’s Football in the Community scheme. The change saw the team renamed as Brighton & Hove Albion Women & Girls’ FC, playing their matches at the Withdean Stadium. This also coincided with a change to the league structure, with the club joining the Premier Division of new South East Counties Women’s League formed from Sussex Martlet League and Kent/Surrey clubs.
Several divisional changes took place during the mid-nineties and in 1994 Albion were competing in the newly rebranded FA Premier League Southern Division, the second tier of women’s football. Albion also played three matches at the Goldstone Ground, including match-ups against Milton Keynes and Horsham, as well as against Whitehawk in the Sussex Women’s Cup semi-final.
1995 saw the club win the inaugural Sussex Women’s Cup, a competition that they would have considerable success in with a total of 17 triumphs.
A short-lived stint in the top flight at the turn of the century saw Albion competing with the biggest teams week in, week out. Following this, Albion were back playing in the second and third tiers.
Women’s football changed to play their league season over the summer following the introduction of the Women’s Super League (WSL) in 2011, and in 2014 a second division was added. Despite applying for a licence to play in the newly formed season tier, Albion were ultimately unsuccessful in their bid. However, this didn’t hold the club back, firstly setting a record 3,256 attendance for a Women’s Premier League match in 2015, and just one season later Albion won the Premier League Southern Division. Just one game stood in their way to promotion to WSL 2. A 4-2 play-off victory over Sporting Club Albion (now West Bromwich Albion) secured the team’s WSL status for the first time.
Changes back to playing a winter league meant that Albion had to wait over 15 months for their league bow, playing the Spring Series, without any promotion or relegation, during this time. During the Spring Series, former Albion midfielder George Parris took interim charge of the side. Former England national team manager Hope Powell was then appointed as manager in September 2017.
Albion finally kicked-off their WSL 2 campaign during that month with a 1-0 win away at Aston Villa and had a successful season, finishing as runners-up to eventual title winners Doncaster Rovers Belles.
Due to further changes announced by the FA, Albion’s second-place finish didn’t result in promotion and instead each WSL club had to reapply for a licence to play in one of the two divisions. Albion applied for a licence to play in the top tier of women’s football and it was announced in December 2017 that the club were successful in their application. As part of the licence, a fully professional Albion will play their matches at the Broadfield Stadium, home of Crawley Town FC.