Next up in our look at former homes of football clubs, it’s the Withdean Stadium of Brighton & Hove Albion.
The athletics stadium was the ‘temporary’ ground for the Seagulls between 1999 and 2011 whilst the Amex Stadium was planned and built.
Brighton & Hove Albion 1-0 Stockport County
Saturday 2nd May 2009
The Withdean Stadium, Brighton
The club previously played at the Goldstone Ground but it was sold by the board for redevelopment in 1997. This resulted in Brighton playing their home matches for two seasons at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium, over 70 miles away, before moving to Withdean Stadium. The only other option had been to play at Sussex CCC’s County Cricket Ground in Hove.
Withdean Stadium was voted the fourth worst stadium in the UK by The Observer in 2004, of course it is not predominantly a football ground, having been used for athletics throughout most of its history, and previously as a zoo.
In 2004, the club had a deficit of £9.5 million, this was due to the cost of the public enquiry into planning permission for the Amex, rent on the stadium, fees paid to use Priestfield, and a general running deficit due to the low ticket sales inherent with a small ground. The directors paid £7 million with the other £2.5m needed to be raised. A fund-raising appeal was started, some of that was done with nude Christmas Cards featuring the players as well as a CD single being released. In January 2005, the single called ‘Tom Hark’ went in at number 17 in the charts, getting airplay on BBC Radio 1.
Many residents opposed to the club being allowed to use the stadium who eventually move into Withdean in 1999. Amplified music was banned (except for “Sussex by the Sea”) and matchday parking restrictions were placed within one mile of the ground. After a year, the music ban was eased, but the parking limitations remained.
The Withdean Stadium was temporarily renamed ‘Palookaville’ for Brighton’s match against Sheffield United in October 2004 when it hosted the launch party for Fatboy Slim’s album which was released on Skint Records, who were the club’s shirt sponsor, and for that match the team wore shirts bearing the name Palookaville.
Withdean Stadium, Brighton & Hove Albion FC. 2000s.
The ground saw additional seating added at the East and West Ends in November 2005.
Brighton & Hove Albion played their last game at the Withdean on Saturday 30 April 2011 against Huddersfield Town. The Seagulls lost 3-2…
#BHAFC played their final game at The Withdean Stadium OTD 2011, as they conceded a late goal to lose 2-3 vs. Huddersfield. Brighton did still end the day celebrating as they were presented to the crowd of 8,416 as the champions of League One. #keepingup pic.twitter.com/h159JyJsfo
— Seagulls Stats (@BHAFC_StatMan) April 30, 2018
Some of the temporary seating used at Withdean is now being used by nearby club Whitehawk.
Withdean Stadium is now being used by AFC Vardeanians, who play their football in the Southern Combination Division One.
— BHA Ziggy (@BHAZiggy) January 1, 2018
Match 51 – Southern Combination Division 1: AFC Vardeanians vs St Francis Rangers @ Withdean Stadium. pic.twitter.com/9oYF8LnrZ4
— Travelling Fan (@TravellingFan) April 2, 2018
Did you ever visit this ground?
Let us know in the comments below…
You can get your nostalgic football fix by visiting the Fan Banter Store, there is a wide variety of vintage shirts and matchday programmes.