History

Bridge to Brighton

Chelsea and Brighton & Hove Albion have met only 14 times in competitive matches, but that hasn’t stopped there being plenty of shared history between two clubs who have rarely been in the same division.

We travel to the Amex Stadium for the second time in a little over a fortnight, having also played our final pre-season fixture there – and this time the stakes are a lot higher, as we open our Premier League season against the Seagulls.

Our run of nine wins out of nine against Brighton, which came to an end in the last meeting between the sides on New Year’s Day, was a Football League record for most league games played by a side against a single opponent while winning every single one.

More than that record, though, the two sides have shared plenty of players over the years, many of whom have had a big part to play at the Bridge. Even going back to our first title-winning season, in 1954/55, two members of that squad, Johnny McNichol and Stan Willemse, both joined us from Brighton. Wayne Bridge (pictured above), a Premier League winner 50 years later with the Blues, also had a spell as a Seagull.

The Eighties was perhaps the most prolific period for links between the two, particularly when it came to defenders. Gary Chivers is better known in more recent times as a matchday hospitality host at the Bridge over 30 years since he called the stadium home after coming up through the ranks with the Blues. He also appeared in over 200 games for the Seagulls.

Three left-backs across the 1980s made the same move. Chris Hutchings, who many will remember as a Premier League manager with both Bradford and Wigan Athletic, played in our first-ever league meeting with Brighton, at the start of 1983/84, before making the move to the Goldstone Ground and representing the Seagulls in the reverse fixture. Doug Rougvie and Keith Dublin both left Chelsea to make the same move later in the decade.

Colin Pates captained that trio during his long Chelsea career and he enjoyed the honour of lifting silverware for the Blues when we were crowned Division Two champions in 1984 and then two years later in the Full Members Cup, when we beat Manchester City 5-4 in one of the most thrilling Wembley cup finals of all-time. He later spent time with Brighton, with a spell at Arsenal in between.

However, the success enjoyed by Pates and Co would perhaps not have been possible had it not been for Clive Walker, who famously scored against Bolton in 1983 to help prevent us slipping into Division Three for the first time in our history. The lightning-quick winger, who also starred in a stunning FA Cup win over then European champions Liverpool, scored 65 goals in all for the Blues and also spent time as a Brighton player during his long career.

The presence of another Eighties favourite, Mickey Thomas, on this list should come as little surprise. After all, he played for no less than nine different English clubs during the 1980s, and his short time at the Bridge secured cult-hero status as he helped us to promotion in 1984.

Also during this era, Dale Jasper, who sadly passed away earlier this year, was seen of a player of some promise at Chelsea in the mid-1980s and after a successful stint in our junior and reserve sides, he made his debut in a remarkable 3-3 draw with Cardiff City when the Blues came back from 3-0 down in the closing stages. However, opportunities proved hard to come by and he went on to appear in more than 50 games for Brighton.

A few goalkeepers have represented both clubs, too. John Phillips, long-term understudy to Peter Bonetti during the Eighties, also made an appearance for the Seagulls, while Dave Beasant, who helped Chelsea to promotion in 1989, played the final games of his long career in the professional game while at Brighton in 2003 at the ripe old age of 44.

Harry Medhurst joined Brighton after a spell as Blues goalkeeper following the Second World War, although most will remember him for his long spell as our physio during the famous Kings of the King’s Road era in the 1970s.

The links even stretch to the dugout, too. Gustavo Poyet was Brighton manager having won silverware for Chelsea; Dave Sexton played for the South Coast club before winning trophies during his time managing the Blues. Those are two pretty significant figures in the history of both clubs.

The silverware which connects them is the FA Cup, for which the two men will retain their own special place in Blues folklore. Sexton, of course, was our manager when we won the competition for the first time in 1970, outwitting his Leeds United counterpart in one of the most famous finals of all time.

Then, three decades later, Poyet was our leading scorer in the FA Cup as we triumphed in the last final to be held at the old Wembley Stadium. His tally included a brace in the semi-final win over Newcastle United, as well as a hat-trick in the third-round victory at Hull.

Plenty of youth graduates have gone down to the South Coast from Chelsea. Barry Bridges and Bert Murray, two members of Tommy Docherty’s famous Diamonds, later turned out for Brighton.

In more recent times, Liam Bridcutt won Brighton’s Player of the Year award, having been unable to force his way into the Chelsea first team, and Fikayo Tomori’s development was enhanced by a spell at the Amex.

We’ve saved the best story of them all for last, though. Striker Teddy Maybank played as a striker for both clubs – but he is probably best remembered for his appearance as a contestant on Blind Date and the Weakest Link! You can read more about that here

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