From the lows of Mansfield Town to the highs of Ajax - it's a rollercoaster ride with Brighton and Hove Albion

Ansu Fati celebrates with teammates after scoring Brighton's first goal at Ajax. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The irony is not lost on the fact that the date of the 9th November 2023 represents perhaps the highest point in the clubs history, with the Europa League humbling of the mighty Ajax in the Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam, but back in 1996, perhaps one of the lowest points.
The visit of Mansfield Town to the Goldstone represented another pivotal moment in the Albion fans almost guerrilla war to save the club.
With a heavy heart our supporters movement had decided that a boycott was the next weapon in the battle for the very existence of the club.
Whilst it was a necessary tactic it did represent some of the most distasteful moments in the ‘War’.
Some Brighton fans disagreed with the very concept of not attending so there were naturally a number of flashpoints at various turnstiles around the ground with some supporters effectively ‘crossing’ the picket line.
The 1933 official attendance was as genuine as February 30th, the Archer regime counted every season ticket holder, whether they turned up or not, along with the few hundred who’d crossed the divide.
It was only when the 1,000 or so fans outside broke back into the ground half way through the first half, initially one lone supporter climbed in and then opened the exit gates on the East Terrace.
The radio commentary of the ‘break in’ by Capital Gold’s Jim Proudfoot remains as spine tingling today as it did 27 years ago.
At half time we initially invaded the pitch, before taking the West Stand shortly before the start of the second half, forcing the late David Bellotti to cower in the Directors lounge, like the scalded cat that he was.
That day a tawdry 1-1 draw saw the Albion sink to 92nd place in the Football League for the first time in their history, but I also believe it gave the army of fans the extra resolve to continue the fight.
In the grandiose environment of the Cruyff Arena last Thursday, and to reiterate perhaps THE greatest night, to date, in our 122 year history, I did think about that cold, dreary Saturday afternoon in 1996.
Without those fans and their boycott, and subsequent ‘break in’, without Dick Knight or Tony Bloom, Thursday night simply wouldn’t have happened.
But this is the Albion, so Rudyard Kipling’s line about treating triumph and disaster the same wasn’t that far away by Sunday lunchtime for the visit of EPL bottom club, Sheffield United.
An apparently ‘leggy’ Albion, albeit blighted by injuries, laboured to a 1-1 draw, not as bad as the Mansfield game in 1996, but still very much 2 points dropped.
Like the Fulham game a fortnight before the Albion should have been home and hosed by half time.
But do you know what, for all heartache, frustration and disappointment over the years, we’ll take it, because we all know with Tony at the helm, and RDZ in the dugout the good days will now always far outweigh the bad.