Brighton vs Crystal Palace derby and why misunderstood rivalry is stronger than ever

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Most rivalries derive from two clubs being close to one another or constantly challenging for titles, but the rivalry between Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace is like no other.


The hate between the clubs was born in the 1970s after a series of controversial matches caused a minor feud between Brighton manager Alan Mullery and Palace boss Terry Venables.

But as time went by and the sides continued to play one another, what started as a competitive fixture gradually turned into the full-fledged rivalry that we see today.

Controversial moments in the following years, such as a game with five penalties and Mullery then becoming Eagles boss, only added fuel to the fire and the clubs now have nothing but dislike for one another.

The matches between Brighton and Crystal Palace are always very competitive

What started as a competitive fixture gradually turned into the full-fledged rivalry that we see today.

The sides meet on Friday night at 8pm in what is sure to be an entertaining watch for neutral fans, though it could leave some bewildered by how the rivalry came about in the first place.

So, how do the fans feel about this rivalry?

Brighton fan

Charlie Parker-Turner

The Crystal Palace rivalry is all I’ve known, frankly. And I find it hard to believe anyone will truly understand our rivalry with them unless they are actually part of it. Not that that matters.

The chorus of ‘We hate Palace’ is what I’ve grown up to, ever since I got my Seagulls season ticket aged eight. However, I had to wait a while until I ever was able to watch a match between the two sides.

It was 2013 when I finally was able to watch us put Palace to the sword, winning 3-0 with Leonardo Ulloa scoring either side of a peach of a free-kick from David Lopez. That day will stay with me for the rest of my life.

David Lopez scored a stunning free kick against Crystal Palace in 2013

I have great and awful memories of our matches with Palace, largely in equal measure – though it is still hard to eradicate the image of the wild celebrations in the Amex away end in our play-off semi-final though.

The 2-1 victory over Palace in 2019 was a sweet one, with Anthony Knockaert whipping a fierce strike into the top corner to seal the win – with Glenn Murray scoring the first, he always preferred us!

As supporters, we know the rivalry between the two clubs is hard for neutrals to wrap their heads around, it’s beautifully bizarre. But just because it isn’t distance or trophy-related, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a rivalry and simply trying to call it otherwise is arrogant.

The feud between the two clubs has snowballed into what it is today and it will only ever intensify, especially now both sides are fairly secure Premier League outfits – without jinxing it. The rich history of how it has come about would make a great film, or even a series – if Amazon Prime made one on Palace, they can make one on us!

Neal Maupay celebrated his late equaliser earlier this season in front of the Crystal Palace supporters

Although our fans clash on a lot of fronts, one thing that both sets of supporters will forever agree on is that these games mean the most (and that it isn’t called the M23 Derby!).

Zaha and Lewis Dunk have been the face of the meetings between the two clubs for a while now so it’s a shame that neither will feature on the night, but that doesn’t mean that the match will lack fight and fury, especially with Neal Maupay is on the pitch.

Hopefully, the Frenchman will go one better than scoring the equaliser this time around and bag the winner against Patrick Vieira’s side.

Crystal Palace fan

Matt Maltby

The Brighton rivalry; where do I start?

Growing up as a Palace fan, it was always Millwall and Charlton as the two main rivals; I didn't tend to pay too much attention to Brighton, who were struggling at the time and playing at an ageing Withdean Stadium.

But everything changed when Super Andy Johnson bagged a hat-trick in the famous 5-0 win back in 2002, pencilling his name into Palace folklore and earning himself an iconic terrace chant that remains a favourite today.

Back in those days, Palace and Brighton rarely crossed paths. We were always at least one division above them but that didn't mean Palace fans didn't care about the rivalry; when a clash with the Seagulls popped up on the fixture list, it meant everything.

Another memorable day out arrived when Jobi McAnuff snatched a last-gasp winner to seal a 3-2 win on their own turf. To make things even sweeter, Dougie Freedman also bagged his 100th goal for us in that win at the Withdean.

Wilfried Zaha (L) celebrates with Aaron Wilbraham after scoring the first goal for Palace vs Brighton
(Image: Action Images)

Much has been made of the distance between the two clubs (there's 38 miles between Selhurst Park and the Amex), which is apparently a justified argument for belittling this rivalry as irrelevant.

It's laughable to Palace and Brighton fans. This is a rivalry that dates back to the 1970s and in recent years, since the Seagulls' move to the Amex, has become two of the biggest games of the season.

There's been huge highs, one of which has to be pinching their club legend Glenn Murray on a free. He went on to play a huge part in a promotion-winning campaign. Thanks Brighton.

And who can forget Zaha's stunning brace in the play-off semi-final second-leg win? I can't. In front of the away end too, where "he's one of our own" was sung for what felt like hours while we celebrated booking our spot at Wembley.

Glenn Murray swapped Brighton for Palace and became a Selhurst Park favourite
(Image: Action Images)

There have been huge lows too. Being thumped 3-0 at their place that season will also standout as a day I don't want to relive.

The point is, this Brighton rivalry isn't just about the distance between the two clubs. I've always found it an odd argument. Yes, it may not be a local derby compared high profile ones like Liverpool vs Everton.

But it matters, more than ever, actually. Football is about memories – and Brighton is a clash that will always create them; whether it's good or bad.

Here's hoping Friday night is another memorable one…