Bradley Stratton: Enjoy the Premier League ride

After Brighton's triumphant return to the Championship in time for the first season at the Amex six years ago, there was already the feeling that we could grace the Premier League in the near future.

Albion players celebrate promotion last season.
Albion players celebrate promotion last season.

My own prediction was that we would be there by 2015, so I was only off by two years!

We’re all aware of how the top flight of English football has changed since we were last there 34 years ago.

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The popularity of the division across the world means that our club will receive greater exposure and have more eyes on it than ever before. Seeing our team and players take to the field as equals against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will be something many fans could only have dreamed of – and for me is one of many things I will be looking forward to seeing next season.

I think we will have a fight on our hands to avoid relegation, and it will be a tough transition from winning so much in the Championship for many.

If it does get bad, I hope supporters don’t start calling for Chris Hughton to go. Without him steadying the ship post-Hyypia and going on to mastermind our promotion, who knows where we’d be right now.

He’s earned the right to at least a full season in charge, and Burnley’s loyalty to Sean Dyche is the prime example of how sticking with him, even if we do go down, could pay off in the long run.

One of the sights I won’t forget from April 18 was in Dick’s Bar, as the final whistle went in the Derby-Huddersfield game to confirm our promotion and seeing Attila’s reaction as the dream became a reality.

It made me think about how the likes of him, Paul Samrah, Roy Chuter and Sarah Watts, among countless others, fought through those dark years in the ‘90s so that the next generation of fans like myself would still have a club to support.

They fought once again to ensure the club could get its beautiful, world-class stadium and I will always be grateful for what them, Dick Knight, Martin Perry, Tony Bloom and so many more have done to ensure Brighton and Hove Albion are where they are today.

Overall, I hope everyone can take some enjoyment from what’s to come in the next ten months.

It will be the first time Albion have been in the top flight in my lifetime and no matter how many more seasons we spend there, this will probably be the most memorable.

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