Ian Hart: Wrong to call Crystal Palace v Brighton 'not a proper derby'

Action from Brighton's derby with Crystal Palace at the Amex earlier in the season. Picture: Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)
Action from Brighton's derby with Crystal Palace at the Amex earlier in the season. Picture: Phil Westlake (PW Sporting Photography)

Whilst derided as ‘not a proper derby’ in certain quarters, anyone whose attended any of the previous encounters between Brighton and Crystal Palace will testify they certainly don’t lack intensity or passion.

The latest instalment sees the Albion travel to Selhurst Park for a Saturday lunchtime live TV game, looking for their first league double over bitter rivals Eagles since 1983-84.

The first Premier League win of 2019 against Huddersfield on Saturday was not only well deserved, but opened up a five-point gap between Brighton and Cardiff, who occupy the last relegation spot.

And that has made the weekend trip up to Croydon even more significant. There are not only the bragging rights up for grabs, especially with a first ‘double’ in 35 years on offer for the Seagulls, but another three valuable points will see the Albion edge closer to that all important Premier League safety.

Arguably the next two games for Brighton - Palace this week and then an FA Cup quarter-final at Millwall later on St Patrick’s Day - are the two most important back-to-back games in the club’s history since the 2013 Championship play-off semi-finals against Palace.

Six years ago the two legged affair ended in a crushing home defeat at the Amex after a stalemate three days before at Selhurst Park.

On April 23 this year I will have been actively supporting the club for 46 years, having first gone to the Goldstone as a wide-eyed eight year old on Easter Monday in 1973 for the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth.

Over nearly half a century, like the rest of the Albion faithful, I’ve experienced extreme highs and lows - a number of those times involve Palace.

I have to say the play-off defeat, courtesy of a Wilfred Zaha brace, is one of the lowest points of my time, at least on the pitch, watching the Albion.

Given the optimism and expectation after the first leg, that night surpasses even the 5-0 drubbing we got at Selhurst in 2002.

Can the Albion secure their first league double of the season - in the cauldron like atmosphere of the M23 derby?

It’s clearly not going to be easy, but all week I’ve just had that feeling so far as Palace are concerned that this is year of the Seagull.

The TV broadcasters have chosen well, it certainly won’t disappoint, and I think the Albion will win a tight, hard-fought contest and come back with all three points come Saturday afternoon.

Whilst the powers that be have more pressing matters of state to attend to, at some point, prompted by the sad passing of Gordon Banks, I hope the honours department at Downing Street finally rectify one of the great wrongs in English football.

It’s nothing short of a travesty that Bobby Moore wasn’t knighted before he succumbed to cancer in the mid 1990s.

Since then Alan Ball, Ray Wilson and now Banks have joined him in the great dressing room in the sky. Let’s not waste anymore time and, at the Queen’s birthday honours in June, George Cohen, Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Roger Hunt and Martin Peters all get the knighthoods they should have all received years ago for their part in that glorious July afternoon in 1966.

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