I don’t think anyone who was there will forget the day. And there were a lot of us there. For those of us who remember the parade in 1979 from Hove Town Hall or others since, I think we had an idea of what to expect, but what we got was in a different league entirely. Premier League.
It was a real privilege, along with the Mayor, to host a civic reception at The Dome ahead of the seafront parade for the players and their families. They say ‘never meet your heroes’ but it was a pleasure meeting Bruno, Steve Sidwell, Glenn Murray and the rest of the team. I say a pleasure, I was pretty much taken back to the same feeling I had meeting Mark Lawrenson and Peter Ward when I was ten years old.
I never expected to feature in an Albion line-up photo, but that’s what we did next, outside the Royal Pavilion, before boarding buses to Madeira Drive to begin the near two hour drive along the seafront to Hove Lawns. The photos in this issue of the Brighton & Hove Independent give an idea of what it was like, the view from the buses was incredible. It was great to see the city come out to celebrate, people of all ages and all backgrounds joining in the celebration in glorious sunshine. Whether a football fan or not, this was an excuse for one huge party.
Martin Perry, the Albion and their events team laid on a spectacular show, and the players did their part too, from Anthony Knockaert revealing the new strip to Sam Baldock’s crowd surfing adventure. Thanks to them for a fantastic parade, to Cityclean for a remarkable cleanup afterwards, to the Dome for hosting our reception and everyone at the council who helped organise the events.
Yesterday we rounded off the celebrations by awarding the Freedom of Brighton and Hove to Chairman Tony Bloom and Manager Chris Houghton for the enormous roles they played in getting the team to this point, and in recognition of all the players, coaches and staff. And no-one should forget the role played by the fans in the past 20 years too.
Now it is three months of summer signings, fixture announcements and anticipation before the curtain rises on the Albion’s first season in the Premier League. We’re on our way.
Warren Morgan is the Labour leader of Brighton & Hove City Council.