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04th Dec 2018

Why the Brighton vs Crystal Palace rivalry exists

It's one of the more bizarre, lesser known rivalries in English football, but it is just as fierce and hate-filled as many other derbies

Reuben Pinder

“Zaha, OH YES!”

Those were the words uttered by Bill Leslie as Crystal Palace’s talisman buried his second goal against arch rivals Brighton in the 2013 Championship play-off semi-final to send Crystal Palace to Wembley. After a long wait, Brighton finally joined Palace in the Premier League in 2017, and the sides meet again at the Amex tonight in what has become known as the M23 derby.

And Wilfried Zaha is well up for it. When asked how much he hates Brighton on a scale of 0-10 at a signing event in Boxpark Croydon last year, the forward answered “11” without hesitation. Later speaking to Palace TV, he recalled: “Everyone thought we were probably going to lose [that game in 2013]. Winning that game is probably the highlight of my Crystal Palace career.”


While there is no real geographical reason for this rivalry to exist, with other 40 miles between the stadiums, the feud was sparked by a series of FA Cup first round replays in the 1976/77 season when Terry Venables and Alan Mullery were managing Palace and Brighton respectively. The pair were teammates during their playing days at Tottenham, but never friends.

Two cup replays were postponed due to bad weather but when the match eventually took place, Brighton were made to retake a penalty in the last minute which they’d scored after the referee spotted encroachment. The subsequent penalty was missed and needless to say, Alan Mullery was not happy.

What ensued would spark an intense rivalry which lives on to this day. Mullery flicked Vs at the referee as well as the visiting Palace fans, and allegedly emptied the change in his pocket on to the floor, exclaiming: “that’s all you’re worth, Crystal Palace!”

Since then, Palace and Brighton have tended to move up and down the leagues in tandem, although before Brighton were promoted in 2017, they lagged behind in the Championship during the past four years.

Glenn Murray, whose goals first fired Brighton into the Championship and then Palace to the Premier League, is now back in blue and white for his second spell at Brighton. The 35-year-old has earned his hero status back after becoming the Seagulls’ all time top goalscorer – quite the turnaround after away fans at Selhurst park jeered Murray’s ACL injury that he suffered in the 2013 Championship play-offs.