Eagles vs Seagulls: The Rivalry Between Crystal Palace & Brighton and it's Recent History
Crystal Palace vs Brighton and Hove Albion. The M23 Derby. The Eagles vs the Seagulls. These are just a few variations of what is one of the most perplexing, avian-related derbies in English football - for the neutral supporter anyway.
Incidentally, the fierce rivalry stems back to the 1970's, in which Terry Venables and Alan Mullery - already existing rivals themselves - took charge of Palace and Brighton respectively within a month of each other.
The two former England managers continued their feud through their respective clubs, with one incident even resulting in Mullery coated in scolding hot coffee by a Palace supporter following a controversial FA Cup first round victory for the Eagles.
Quite literally, such is the history of this derby, we could dwell over the past all day long, but the modern day era of this vicious dispute deserves to be brought into the spotlight...
Back in 2011, in arguably one of the most ultimately satisfying transfer deals in Palace's history, Brighton striker Glenn Murray ingrained himself into Eagles hearts before he'd even kicked a ball when he rejected the Seagulls' final contract offer and left for Selhurst Park on a free, following Brighton's promotion to the Championship.
Brighton fans thought nothing of it, seeing as they'd just signed the only man to better Murray's League 1 tally of 22 goals, Craig Mackail-Smith, but little did they know just how much that deal would come back to haunt them.
Palace's new number 17 did little to convince his new supporters of his quality in his first season, despite putting the icing on the cake in the 3-1 win over Brighton, their first ever defeat at the Amex.
The hitman scored six goals in 37 appearances that season, but it was what he did the following season that cemented him in Palace folklore forever.
Following a dismal pre-season, in which key players such as Nathaniel Clyne, Darren Ambrose and Sean Scannell were moved on, the Eagles lost their first three games in the Championship as another relegation battling season loomed.
However, a team made up of written-off, committed journeymen - including Murray, scorer of 30 Championship goals - pulled together and embarked on a 14 game unbeaten run, including 11 wins, as Palace finished the season in the play-offs against all odds, where they would face their arch-rivals in the semi-finals. The first leg was uneventful, except for the fatal incident which saw Murray tear his anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out for nine months and the season finale which his goals had earned Palace a place in.
A second leg at the Amex followed, finely poised following a 0-0 draw in the first leg. Brighton fans already acted as if the trip to Wembley for the final was divinely theirs, even issuing a warning to their fans not to run on the pitch after the final whistle.
Also, almost unspeakably, the Palace squad arrived to their away dressing room to find it smeared in faecal matter, an incident which spurred the rivalry further and prompted Ian Holloway to give 'the easiest team talk he has ever given.' Needless to say, we all know how it ended.
Crystal Palace earned promotion to the Premier League and remain there to this day, largely thanks to the striker that their arch rivals let go and replaced with a flop who cost more than the Eagles' play-off winning squad alone.
This fierce avian rivalry is set to resume this season, four years on from that Wilfried Zaha inspired night at the Amex, and both sets of fans can hardly wait to get back at each other after a period of separation.