The M23 Derby: the Origins, a History & That Play-Off Battle

The M23 Derby

Since being promoted to the Premier League in the 2016/17 season, Brighton & Hove Albion have reignited their rivalry with Crystal Palace. The clubs have faced each other seven times in the Premier League, with an even record of two wins apiece and three draws.

With Brighton unbeaten in their last six and Palace struggling off the back of a 3-0 home defeat to Burnley at the weekend, the two sides meet once again on Monday night football. 

Ahead of the clash, we look at the origins of the rivalry and that famous play-off semi-final tie.

Brighton v Palace Prediction

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BRIGHTON TO WIN 1-0, 2-0 OR 2-1 @ 13/8

Origins of the M23 derby

Despite being roughly 46 miles apart, the two clubs have had a rivalry spanning back to the 1970s. The origins of the hatred between two fan bases connected by the M23 Motorway are unknown to many outside of the two clubs. Here is where it all started.

As mentioned, the club's rivalry sparked into life back in the 70s, way down in the third division. Unlike most rivalries, the dislike for one another was not initiated from the stands but the dugout. Then managers Alan Mullery (Brighton) and future England boss Terry Venables (Crystal Palace) met for the first time on the touchline in an FA Cup first-round tie in 1976, a game in which Palace won. 

This game ultimately ignited the rivalry, with Mullery saying in his press conference, "I wouldn't give you that for them," after throwing a £5 note on the floor. The managers were fierce rivals from their playing days, with Mullery describing the two as "enemies" when he played for Tottenham Hotspur. The rivalry in the dugout conveyed to the stands after Mullery made a gesture towards the Crystal Palace fans, with both sets of supporters clashing after the match.

The M23 Rivalry

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The battle of the 70s

The rivalry continued to flourish in the late 70s, as the two clubs climbed the divisions together, with a climax coming to a head at the end of the 1978/79 season. Both clubs were battling it out for the second division title. Brighton managed to beat Newcastle in their last game of the season to secure promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history.

But Palace had a game in hand against Burnley, a game which saw a whopping 51,000 spectators inside Selhurst Park. A powerful 14th-minute header from Ian Walsh set the Eagles on their way, but the bumper crowd had to wait until the 88th minute to clinch the second division title from Brighton with a goal from their topscorer Dave Swindlehurst. Brighton manager Alan Mullery later admitted his annoyance at being pipped to the title by rival Terry Venables, stating after "I didn't want to be second - I wanted to be first."

M23 Derby Tips

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The Play-Off Battle of 2012 was like no other

Although the rivalry was born in the 70s, the most memorable meeting of the 21st century between the two clubs was the 2012/13 playoff semi-final clash. Gus Poyet's Seagulls and Ian Holloway's Eagles faced off in a tie to eventually face Watford in football's most expensive game at Wembley and it remains to this day one of the most fierce battles between the two.

Crystal Palace scraped into the playoffs with just 1 win in their last 10 league games. In stark contrast, Brighton were 9 games unbeaten in the Championship and went into the tie as heavy favourites. A somewhat subdued stalemate at Selhurst Park finished 0-0, with both sides failing to take an advantage to the Amex stadium. A red-hot atmosphere awaited the teams at Brighton's home, with both sets of supporter’s keen to get one over their rivals.

It was academy lad and now club hero Wilfried Zaha, who stole the headlines though with a brilliant second-half brace. The first saw the Ivorian connect with a Yannick Bolasie cross and head past the helpless Tomasz Kuszczak in the Brighton goal on the 69th minute. The winger later wrapped up the tie in the 88th minute with an excellent turn and finish into the roof of the net to rub their rivals' noses in it. 

Palace would go to compound misery on Brighton as they went on to be promoted as a result, with a play-off final victory secured by an extra time Kevin Phillips penalty.

By Harry Charlwood

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