Brighton fan account: Sudbury’s FA Cup giant killing

FINED: AFC Sudbury have been fined �300 for their part in the abandoned game with Hendon in January
FINED: AFC Sudbury have been fined �300 for their part in the abandoned game with Hendon in January

Twenty years ago on Saturday, Sudbury Town celebrated one of the most famous days in their history as they knocked Football League side Brighton & Hove Albion out of the FA Cup in the first round.

The first match ended in a 0-0 draw, while the replay on the south cast at the Goldstone Ground finished 1-1, with non-league Sudbury prevailing 4-3 on penalties.

While it remains a momentous day for those of a Sudbury persuasion, it was a tie to forget for Brighton fans, one of whom has shared his recollections with The Free Press.

“The 1996/97 season was about as bad as it got for my club and the FA Cup exit was one of the lowest points of that lowest of times,” said Andy Message.

“Our chairman, Bill Archer, had sold our home, the Goldstone Ground, to developers the year before.

“They let us rent it back off them at a huge rate of almost £500,000 for the season when we played Sudbury, but we all knew time was running out.

“Off the pitch things were chaotic. Sudbury, to their credit, took full advantage.

“The Sudbury game, our last ever FA Cup match at our home for nearly 100 years, was also our lowest crowd ever in the competition.

“It’s remembered by many fans as our worst performance in the worst era for the club. We sacked our manager, Jimmy Case, shortly after.

“The game might not be remembered in wider football circles, but Albion fans old enough certainly remember Sudbury. They fought for and deserved what they got. The same can be said for us too.”