It’s arguably the most famous goal in Brighton & Hove Albion’s history and Stuart Storer has spoken to Seagulls fans about it all around the world.
The 67th-minute winner in the final game at the Goldstone Ground on April 26, 1997, a 1-0 victory against Doncaster Rovers, saw Storer become an instant hero to Albion fans. In an emotional tight and cagey game, Storer volleyed home the only goal after Mark Morris’s header came back off the bar.
The commentary at the time: “Storeeeerrrrrr, Stuart Storer has got the goal that could lift Brighton off the bottom of the table and keep their Football League hopes alive” summed everything up.
It had been a turbulent season. Albion were 11 points from safety when Steve Gritt took over as manager in December and the win took them off the bottom of the table for the first time since October. The Seagulls went on to stay in the Football League when they drew at Hereford the following week.
Storer’s goal is the last shown on the pre-match montage at the Amex and he admits it is humbling how revered he is by Albion fans for that one moment.
He said: “I’m often asked ‘do you realise how much it meant to people on the day?’
“People all around the world have spoken to me about it. I was over in Berlin and a Brighton fan came and hugged me and bought me drinks all night.
“I was in Florida at Animal Kingdom and Brighton fans came up and talked to me, which was lovely.
“Even at Cheltenham recently, fans came up and talked to me and were reminiscing. It’s lovely and the montage and the mural on the wall is just mind blowing.
“It’s so humbling. They’ve had some great times in the past at Brighton and they’re going to have some great times in the future. I’m proud that people hold me in so much esteem and I’m very fortunate to be part of the club’s history.
“Younger people that I teach watch the video and take the Mickey but they’ll never kill my pride. I’m very proud of that moment.
“When I see people, they won’t let me forget that goal. It’s constantly there, which is nice but a little bit embarrassing at times.”
Storer, who also played for Mansfield, Birmingham, Everton, Wigan, Bolton and Exeter, was with Brighton from 1995 until 1999, playing 152 games and scoring 14 goals.
The winger played for Albion in their darkest days but only remembers the club with affection. He featured in the two years of playing home games at Gillingham, before moving back up to the Midlands on the day the Seagulls played their first friendly at Withdean on July 24, 1999.
He said: “I remember packing my bags into a van and it was the day when Brighton played their first pre-season friendly at Withdean.
“I remember quite poignantly getting in the pick-up van and going back up to the Midlands and thinking ‘well, Brighton are home now’.”
Storer continued to play until he was 42 and has then managed Hinckley and Bedworth United, where he is still in charge and also runs academies for boys and girls and A Level courses. He said: “I played until I was 42 at Hinckley in the Conference and then my legs gave way and I had to do something else in football.
“I took up the management role at Hinckley for a while and they had a similar experience to Brighton but they actually did fold and had to reform a new club, AFC Hinckley.
“I’m manager of Bedworth United now and have set up some football academies here for boys and girls and run A Level courses in and around football and also manage the team.
“We got promoted in the second year of me being here and have stabilised things now and will look to kick on again. It’s been quite rewarding but there’s the pressure of not being able to kick someone or kick the ball, it does get quite frustrating at times.
“Even the pressure at this level, I want to win every game. I wouldn’t have liked to been in Steve Gritt or Jeff Wood’s shoes in those last couple of games at the Goldstone. Fair play to them, they held us together as a group of players.”
Looking to the future, Storer would be delighted to see Albion in the Premier League: “It would put the cherry on the cake. From managing to stay in the Football League, the club has rebuilt through Dick Knight and now Tony Bloom, who has invested a lot of money into the club.
“They’ve got the community back involved, they’ve got great crowds and very positive fans. It’s fantastic to see.
“Those two games (Doncaster and Hereford) could have gone either way. They could be non existent now, a distant memory, so for Brighton to make the next step up to the Premier League will be fantastic.”
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