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Brentford will be hoping to give us all a late Christmas present in Boxing Day’s lunchtime kick-off against long-time leaders Brighton.

The Seagulls were the last unbeaten team in any of the four divisions before that record finally went on Saturday when they lost 3-0 at home to Middlesbrough.

Despite that achievement however, Brighton had not pulled away at the top of the table because they had drawn 10 of their opening 21 matches – enabling the chasing pack to keep in touch with them.

In fact before last weekend’s loss to Boro, they had drawn six out of their previous nine – five of those in their last five away games.

They have also not beaten anybody by more than one goal and so have been involved in plenty of close matches this season.

The Seagulls have only scored more than two goals in a match twice – in a 3-2 triumph at Ipswich at the end of August and then in a comeback victory at home to Charlton at the start of this month, after they had trailed 2-0 after only five minutes.

Brighton are in their fifth consecutive season in the Championship after winning promotion as League One champions in 2011.

After finishing 10th in their first season, they then reached the play-offs two years in a row, losing in the semi-finals to rivals Crystal Palace and then Derby, before narrowly avoiding relegation 12 months ago.

The Seagulls are bidding to return to the top flight for the first time since 1983 – the same season they also reached the FA Cup final, where they were beaten 4-0 by Manchester United in a replay.

Since then, they have lived a bit of a nomadic existence – leaving the Goldstone Ground to groundshare at Gillingham before returning to play at the Withdean athletics stadium and then finally moving into their Amex Community Stadium four-and-a-half years ago.


After a three-year gap in meetings between the two sides, we locked horns with Brighton three times last season – twice in the League and once in the FA Cup.

The League games both went in our favour – an exciting 3-2 win at Griffin Park followed by a 1-0 triumph in Sussex.

The home match in September was significant as it was our first home win in the Championship at the third attempt.

Moses Odubajo and Andre Gray put us 2-0 up just past the half hour mark but Gordon Greer replied shortly before half-time. Jonathan Douglas restored our two-goal advantage in the 54th minute before Danny Holla’s long-range effort set up a tense final half hour. We held on for our third win in four games to move up to sixth in the table.

In the January return game, Gray was again on target and his 10th league goal of the season, just before the half hour mark, was enough to give us the points against a Seagulls side which finished with 10 men after Lewis Dunk’s dismissal on the hour mark.

That win avenged Brighton’s victory in the FA Cup at Griffin Park two weeks earlier when Chris Hughton got his reign as manager off to a winning start. The joy of being in the third round of the competition for the Bees evaporated late on as Dunk, in the 88th minute, and Chris O’Grady, in the third minute of injury-time, took the Seagulls into the fourth round.

We have also met Brighton on two other Boxing Days in recent years – with the Seagulls coming out on top each time.

They won 3-1 in 1998 in Division Three (now League Two) at the Priestfield Stadium after triumphing 1-0 at Griffin Park exactly three years earlier.


As Boxing Day is a day that the Bees play on almost every year – I thought it may be good to pick out three December 26 clashes from recent years.

2013 (League One) – Bees 3-2 Swindon

Brentford twice hit back from a goal down to earn victory over Swindon – in a game which featured a memorable Sam Saunders free-kick.

On loan Tottenham midfielder Ryan Mason fired Swindon ahead early on before Saunders equalised just before the half-hour mark.

As he ran up to take the free-kick he slipped over – delighting the Swindon fans behind the goal. However they weren’t laughing moments later when Saunders got up to score at the second attempt.

Nicky Ajose restored Swindon’s lead after the break from future Bee Alex Pritchard’s deflected shot but Clayton Donaldson dived to head the equaliser.

Marcello Trotta secured Brentford’s fifth straight league win with a shot from inside the area.

Bees: Button, McCormack, Bidwell, Dean, Craig, Forshaw, Douglas, Saunders, (Reeves 78), Trotta (El Alagui 94), Donaldson, Grigg (Dallas 40). Unused subs: Lee, O’Connor, Logan, Diagouraga.

Att:  8,333.

2008 (League Two) – Bees 2-0 Bournemouth

Marcus Bean headed two goals in the first half to secure a comfortable win for Brentford to leave us second in the table – seven points behind Wycombe with a game in hand.

Bean scored the opener when he headed home a Sam Wood free-kick midway through the first half.

He doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time from a Kevin O’Connor corner.

In-between Bean’s goals, Charlie MacDonald weaved through the Cherries defence but saw his shot turned on to a post by goalkeeper Shwan Jalal.

Bournemouth, deducted 17 points at the start of the season, offered little with Lee Bradbury heading their best chance over the bar and dropped to nine points adrift of safety.

Bees: Hamer, O’Connor, Phillips, Bennett, Dickson, Williams (Scannell 80), Osborne, Bean, Wood, MacDonald, Bowditch. Unused subs: Anderson, Poole, Johnson, Halls.

Att: 6,450.

1996 (League One) – Plymouth 1-4 Bees

Brentford ignored the difficulties of having to travel to Devon on Boxing Day to turn in a brilliant performance to stay top of the table.

Nicky Forster opened the scoring after seven minutes and the Bees held the lead until half-time.

On the hour mark, Argyle equalised through Neil Illman – but Brentford stepped up a gear to seal an impressive victory.

Carl Asaba made it 2-1 before Joe Omigie hit the third.

Forster put the gloss on the scoreline with his second close to time as Brentford maintained their one-point lead over Luton at the top.

Bees: Dearden, Hurdle, Anderson, Ashby, Bates, McGhee, Asaba (Statham), Smith, Forster, Omigie, Bent.

Att: 9,525.


Chris Hughton is about to celebrate the first year of his appointment as Brighton boss.

Hughton finished his playing career with Brentford in 1992. Signed near the end of the 1991/92 season in which we won the Third Division title, he played in the first 29 games of our campaign in Division One (now the Championship) before being injured in our December win at Sunderland and being unable to play again.

The former Tottenham and West Ham left-back also won 53 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

After returning to Spurs as coach and assistant manager for 10 years, he moved to Newcastle – leading them back to the Premier League at the first attempt in 2010.

Although he lost that job midway through the following season, he moved on to Birmingham – taking them into the Championship play-offs and the group stages of the Europa League.

In the summer of 2012 he moved on to Norwich but after nearly two years in charge he left the club in April 2014. with them battling against relegation from the top flight.


Brighton manager Chris Hughton has said that his side’s reaction to their first defeat of the season last Saturday is what counts on Boxing Day.

He told the Seagulls’ official website: “It’s vastly important. We’ve set some good standards this season and it would’ve been incredibly difficult to keep that unbeaten run going.

“There are a number of challenges ahead and after Brentford there will be another tough game and another tough one after that.

“That’s what we’ve experienced all season, but so has every other club and our ambition is to continue our challenge at the top of the table.

“Brentford have got good options there. They’ve done things a bit differently this season after spending the majority of last season in the top six. They’ve had a few changes in personnel off the pitch and I think it’s taken them a while to adjust to that.

“It’s going to be a big test. They’re on the back of scoring four goals at home in the last game. Certainly we’ll have to defend better than we did in the last game.”

Hughton admitted he had fond memories of his time as Bees player in the early 1990s.

He said: “It was a very good period in my playing career. I went into a good team there; we won the championship which was the old Third Division.

“I have very good memories of my time there; it was at the end of my career and was a very good way to go out.”

Midfielder Dale Stephens wants his team-mates to show what they are made of on Saturday after the Middlesbrough defeat.

He told Brighton’s official website: “We’ve come off the back of an especially tough time, playing Derby, QPR and Middlesbrough in the same week. Maybe it took its toll, but I don’t think it changes anything – we’ve lost one game and one game doesn’t make or break a season.

“We’ve got to look at it as a bit of a blessing. We’ve had everything our own way up until this point, but it’s a challenge and one that we’ve all got to look forward to.

“It’s going to be difficult. Brentford are going well and it’s a difficult place to go to, but we’re looking for a reaction off the back of Saturday. Everyone is looking forward to it.”


Defender Lewis Dunk returns for Brighton after missing the Middlesbrough game through suspension after his sending-off at QPR.

Fellow defender Uwe Hunemeier is struggling with a groin strain and is set to miss out while midfielder Kazenga LuaLua and striker Sam Baldock are definitely ruled out because of injury.

Striker Bobby Zamora, back at Brighton after 12 years away, has been mostly used as a substitute this season – coming on 13 times but only starting four matches – but is still second top scorer with five goals.

Summer signing Tomer Hemed, who has only not been involved in one game, leads the way in the scoring stakes with six.

Goalkeeper David Stockdale and defender Bruno are the two Championship ever-presents in the side while midfielders Dale Stephens and Baram Kayal have started 21 of Brighton’s 22 league games.

Talented England Under-21 winger Solly March has had his season cruelly ended by injury – after he was stretchered off in the draw at Derby earlier this month with anterior cruciate ligament damage.



Drinking in Brentford and travel guide

For Seagulls fans coming up, you are probably aware there are plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming. Colours are fine and there is no ‘bouncer culture’ on the doors of our boozers – not yet anyway. All fans are welcome and most fans usually cite Brentford as their favourite away-day which we’re quite proud of.

As is etched in common folklore , there were four pubs around the ground until a few weeks ago – unfortunately one closed down to leave only three now. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option (The Royal Oak was the one that closed down).

Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) the  … The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted fanzine main pub – a very friendly pub indeed. The other boozer is The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd)  – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and 30 seconds walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after the match in both these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave – one-minute walk from the tube) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route on the Northfields pub crawl).

For news on tube and bus travel on Boxing Day, visit the TFL website.

For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. Great views over The Thames. It’s around 15 minutes walk to the ground from here.

There are loads more too. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.

Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Road (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.