Steve Bailey: Don't let title disappointment overshadow a great season
Missing out on the Championship title won't overshadow what has been a great season for Brighton & Hove Albion.
Seven points clear of second-placed Newcastle with three games to go, the title appeared to be in the bag but it didn’t happen. The Seagulls collected just one more point and Newcastle won all three of their games to claim the title by a point.
I’ve heard Brighton fans say the ending to the season has been ‘a damp squib’, and ‘an anti-climax’ but flash your mind back to last season – which was probably the worst-ever ending to a Albion season.
To miss out on promotion on goal difference was galling and you wondered if that was the big chance to reach the Premier League. Last summer, how many Albion fans honestly believed the Seagulls would bounce back to be promoted this year – and without the lottery of the play-offs?
To have sealed promotion with three games to spare was an incredible achievement. Who thought that would be the case when Huddersfield were winning week after week and closed the gap on the Seagulls to just four points in February?
Albion’s season becomes even more outstanding when you look at some of the clubs who haven’t made it into the top six this season – Norwich, Derby, Aston Villa and Leeds. Nottingham Forest only avoided relegation on the final day and Blackburn, Premier League champions in 1994/95, have gone down to League One.
The Championship is only going to be tougher next season as well, with Sunderland coming down and Sheffield United and Bolton going up.
Be disappointed the Seagulls aren’t champions but, more importantly, be proud of the season overall. In years to come, it will be one everyone looks back on with a great deal of fondness.
For now, Albion fans can sit down, relax and enjoy the Championship play-offs for once, before the excitement builds ahead of the club’s return to the top flight for the first time in 34 years.
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