It all started back in the United League, both sides First XI's were
competeing in different divisions of the Southern League, so it was their
respective second strings which first did battle on 11th October 1905. I'm
delighted to report that Palace gained a 3-2 away victory in front 1,200
spectators. The reverse fixture saw Brighton gain revenge winning 2-0, but
Palace still finished second to Brighton's seventh in a league of 10 clubs.
In Southern League in 1906/7 season - the first "official" first
XI game between the two sides saw Palace go down 2-1 at Brighton. Charles
Wallace, who at the end of that season signed for Aston Villa, had the
distinction of scoring our first League goal against the
"Rockmakers". During our respective tenures in the Southern Leagues,
the clubs met 20 times, seven games were drawn and of the other 13, Palace
notched one more victory than Brighton.
The first "Boxing Day" fixture occurred in 1910 and resulted in a
2-0 away defeat, but the first home fixture on that day came in our last season
as a Southern League side - the result gave Brighton most to complain about we
won 4-0 and to really dampen Brightons' Christmas spirit as we had already
beaten them away 3-2 the day before . This pattern was repeated in our first
season as a League side, we finished as Champions of Division Three (South)
whilst Brighton came a lowly 18th.
After our four year sojourn in Division Two was halted by relegation on goal
average from Oldham Athletic, we played each other every season up to the war.
Strangely in those fourteen seasons, the clubs' finished higher than the other
an equal number of seven times. Palace, however, notched fifteen wins as
opposed to Brightons' eight -five games were drawn. Three other games were
played in the period, Brighton were responsible for Palace's dismissal from the
FA Cup in their first ever Cup meeting, in the 1932-33 season and in 1938 1939
games were played for the Football League Jubilee Fund, Palace won the first of
those games at Selhurst, 5-0, whilst the away game the following year was drawn
As war broke, we had been due to take Brighton on, in a new Competition
which Palace and Brighton had qualified for by finishing second and third
respectively in the Division the previous season. It took the form of a
knockout semi-final in which the winners would have played either Doncaster or
Bradford City, our counterparts from Division Three (North), on a neutral pitch
with gold Medals for the eventual victors.
The first game at Selhurst following the declaration of War was a friendly
against Brighton which ended 2-2 (that's World War 2, by the way, not the
commencement of hostilities with the Seaweed). Our first meetings in Wartime
competition occurred in early 1940 and really gave Brighton something to moan
about. Our first game in League South 'D' Division was away to Brighton, where
we scored an impressive 4-1 victory, the best was saved for the return leg
though when we scored five goals in each half without reply, to record an
incredible 10-0 scoreline. Brighton even changed Goalkeepers at Half Time to no
avail. Palace took the regional league title, whilst Brighton finished bottom.
The following season, Palace again did the double, this time scoring 10
goals over the season with a 5-2 home and 5-1 away victories. The figure ten
was to haunt Brighton once more the following season, when after managing a 2-2
draw at the Goldstone they went down 10-1 back at Selhurst.
Another 8-1 away thrashing was handed out early the following season, but
Palace blotted their copybook somewhat in the home game going down 4-1. 1943
saw another set of Christmas fixtures and again Palace did the double, 3-1 away
and 6-2 at home, although the games were overshadowed by the death of the Club
Secretary, Frederick Burrell en-route to that first fixture at the Goldstone on
Christmas morning. That season saw further encounters in the first round of
Football League Cup - South -played on a League basis with two other Clubs
-Brentford and Charlton, Brighton won the first game 3-2 at Selhurst, but
Palace overturned them in the away leg 4-2, although the earlier result was
enough to stop Palace qualifying for the Semi-Finals; Charlton went on to win
the Competition that year.
Another season, another double- 5-2 at home and 3-0 away, but then in the
September immediately after the end of the war a shock 3-7 reverse away from
home, corrected swiftly a week later with a 5-1 home victory, later in what
turned out to be fragmented season we met twice more in the opening games of
the League Cup Qualifying Competition, securing a 2-2 draw away and a 6-1
victory at home.
So the War competitions drew to a close and with it the extraordinary
scorelines, the Third Division (South) reforming where it left off seven years
ago. With the cessation of the War came an almost total cessation of the goals
in games between the Clubs. The home side, on each occasion, managing only one
without reply in the resumed League and Brighton finishing just one point and
place above Palace.
Palace and Brighton met continuously for twelve seasons in Division Three
(South), although never in the Cup. Palace only finished above Brighton twice
in that period, in 1947-48 when Brighton finished bottom and had to apply for
re-election and also in 1949-50 season when the Clubs were only separated for
seventh place by goal average, settled by Palace beating Brighton 6-0 at home.
Brighton also dominated the games against Palace, only four wins and seven
draws meant that Brighton won over half of those matches. Palace also suffered
a 5-0 away defeat, our worst ever League performance against them in the
1955-56 season. Also tucked away in the midst of those years was another
Christmas double fixture when Brighton managed only their second League double
over Palace in the 1951-52, the first came in the previous season.
The Clubs became divided when Brighton won the Division in 1957-58 and
Palace finished 14th, thus becoming founder members of the new Fourth Division.
Brighton recorded a double over us that season and Palace only failed to retain
third division status by one point. So began a period of three seasons when the
Clubs were separated by two divisions.
The Clubs did not meet again
until the 1962-63 season following Brighton's relegation from Division Two,
Palace improved upon a 2-2 home draw to win 2-1 at the Goldstone, but not even
those points would have saved Brighton from another relegation. That game,
which proved to Palace's last league win at the Goldstone, has an unusual story
surrounding it. The coldest winter in living memory had locked the Goldstone
under a sheet of ice and snow. In an effort to stage the Palace game there on
12 Jan 1963, the club hired a tar-melting machine off the council (pictured).
It thawed the pitch, but turned into a quagmire!
Although Brighton climbed out of Division Four as Champions two seasons
later, Palace had by this time established themselves as a force in Division
Two. For the rest of the sixties Brighton continued to be, at best, a mid-table
third division outfit, whilst Palace scaled the heights to Division One. A
potential pairing in the third round of the F.A. Cup was narrowly missed in the
first year of Palaces' First divison tenancy. The draw gave us a home tie with
either Brighton or Walsall, but Brighton lost 2-1 in a third replay, played at
Coventry. Brighton gained promotion alongside Aston Villa in 1971-72, but were
relegated the following season as Palace also lost their top flight status.
The start of the 1973/74 season saw the first first team encounter between
the sides when Palace travelled to the Goldstone for a pre-season friendly and
promptly lost 2-1. Warning signs for what would be a disastrous start to life
in Division 2 under Malcolm Allison.
In truth, the rivalry really only got going between Palace and Brighton in
the mid-seventies with the general nationwide upsurge in football hooliganism,
couple with two managers who hated each other's guts and both club images
getting a make-over
Onto Part 2