Albion Nostlagia: When Brighton and Hove Albion took on Crystal Palace in 1934

The front cover of the programme when Albion played  Palace in 1934
The front cover of the programme when Albion played Palace in 1934

The International break gives me the chance to look at some of the more unusual items from www.seagullsprogrammes.co.uk In a couple of weeks, we play Crystal Palace for the 100th time in a competitive fixture.

Our rivalry dates all the way back to 1920, when Southern League clubs joined the Football League. In the years leading up to the outbreak of World War Two, we played each other no less than 31 times and for this week’s column, I’m going to look at the programme from one of those games, the Division Three (South) fixture on 24 March 1934.

At the time, Albion and Palace were locked in a battle for mid-table mediocrity. Both teams had played 32 games, with Albion on 29 points and Palace two points and two places ahead. Promotion was out of the question for both teams and relegation came only if you upset your rivals to such an extent that they didn’t re-elect you!

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The programme editorial came not from legendary Manager Charlie Webb, but from a local journalist writing with the name ‘Wayfarer’. The language of the time was delightfully formal and the previous week’s 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers was described as ‘extremely satisfactory’. The article goes on to talk about what is needed to achieve promotion from the division, with the consistency of Norwich City being noted, despite ‘an anxious time during Eastertide’.

One of the great things about programmes from this period is the number of adverts for local companies and in the 1930s the Albion programme is packed with them. Inside the front cover, Jaeger House in East Street urge you to ‘get yourself a Jaeger overcoat and you can laugh at wind and rain’.

Further in, Portslade-based Fryco advertise their ‘Aerated Waters and Beverages’, Parkin & Hollands in Grenville Place will satisfy all your rubber stamp needs, and the Brighton & Hove Wine Company will sell you a bottle of Wungara for 2/6 (12½p). The cinema and theatre listings also show the diversity of entertainment that was available in 1930s Brighton.

The Regent was showing “Broadway Thru’ a Keyhole”, billed as ‘The Greatest Peep Show on Earth’. If that wasn’t your thing, The Academy Cinema in West Street was putting on “Red Ensign” starring Leslie Banks. This is a low-budget film about ship-building in Glasgow.

The team listings are surrounded by more adverts. One for The Savoy cinema, showing “The Way to Love” starring Maurice Chevalier, and one for Flinns the Dry Cleaners who, at the time, has 14 branches throughout Brighton & Hove. In total, around 75% of the programme was given over to advertising, with just three of the 12 pages carrying information on Albion’s season.

Despite this, looking back from nearly 85 years in the future, gives us a fascinating glimpse into life in Brighton between the wars. On the pitch, we dealt out a thrashing, beating Palace 4-1 with goals from Bobby Farrell, Jim Short (2) and Harry Egan. Let’s hope the 100th fixture between the clubs brings the same result. This and more Albion programmes, fanzines and handbooks can be viewed at www.seagullsprogrammes.co.uk