Brighton and Hove Albion documentary shown in private sceenings: 'This would've been far fetched for a Hollywood movie'

"I really think it is a perfect story – all around the world, people will see this and be drawn to Brighton and Hove Albion.”

Those were the words of Tony Bloom at private screening of the long-awaited documentary ‘Stand or Fall: The Remarkable Rise of Brighton & Hove Albion’.

Independently produced by Matthew Lorenzo Productions and directed by Ross Clarke, the documentary takes viewers on the journey from the nerve-shredding day at Hereford at the end of the 1996/97 season, through the climb up from the English Football League to the Premier League – and finally the Europa League.

Told through the eyes of the fans who fought to save the club from extinction, the special feature film was made to mark 25 years since Albion’s final day survival from relegation out of the Football League.

Around 250 guests – including competition winners – attended the preview event at Duke of York’s Picturehouse in Brighton on Thursday (December 7) – presented by American Express.

Among the attendees was club’s owner and chairman Tony Bloom – who played a huge part in saving the club all those years ago.

He said: “I'm super excited about the documentary. I think our fans are going to love it. It will be there in the history books and DVDs for our future fans to see.

"I really think it is a perfect story [for a documentary]. All around the world, people will see this – even non football fans. For people who don't have an affinity to one club, this might draw them to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club for life.

"Our international fans will exponentially increase over the next two or three years because of this documentary.”

Chief executive and deputy chairman Paul Barber OBE said he was ‘really pleased’ with the documentary.

"It's very difficult to capture 25/26 years in 90 minutes – particularly when a club like ours has a history so turbulent at times,” he said.

"Matt had done an excellent job. It's really captured the spirit of Brighton and what we've been through over the last 25 / 26 years.

"If you are looking for rags to riches, that's in some way what it is. It's still only 20 per cent of the club's history from our 122-year history but arguably the most significant.

“If people were writing this for a Hollywood movie, people would probably say it's a bit far fetched. Actually it's true.

"So many people have played significant parts in bringing this story to life. It is real, with high emotion and human drama.

“It reflects on Shoreham [air show crash] which affected all of us and we lost a colleague in that terrible disaster.”

Albion legend Glenn Murray also attended the preview event.

The former striker, who scored 111 goals in 287 across two spells at the club, said: “I've played a small part in the club's history in recent years.

“I was really pleased to be a part of the documentary. I think it's really good. It portrays the Brighton story really well.

"I suppose it's a rags to riches story that hopefully the masses will fall in love with worldwide. It just felt so apt to do it now, there’s no better time.

"It's about 25 years of the football club and I play a small part of it. As did many other players. It's about the fans who marched for Falmer.

"This story is pretty incredible. We didn't have a ground but now we're playing at the Amex every week in front of a worldwide audience.

"When you take a step back, it's quite an unbelievable story.”

Adrian Newnham headed up the Bring Home the Albion campaign, which worked towards returning the club to the city in 1998/99. He worked on the Falmer for all campaign to secure a permanent stadium.

He met his wife through the campaign and they have three football-mad children aged between 11 and 16. Adrian has been a season ticket holder since 1982 and attended more than 1,300 games since 1977.

"Nobody did this for recognition,” Adrian said. “They did this because they love the football club. We did lose four very important parts of that community. Paul, Sarah, Roy and Ed all sadly passed away in the intervening years.

"This is a love letter from the club and the fans to the city of Brighton and Hove.

"I don't think any of us thought this [rise to Europe] was possible. Our aim was to get to the next game and have a next game and a next season. Then it's about getting a successful team.

"Nobody would have thought four promotions and qualifying for Europe. Two FA Cup semi finals in that time. It's beyond our wildest dreams.

“Every time we hit a glass ceiling, this club smashes through it. Dick Knight and Tony Bloom never took no for an answer. This club has no boundaries.”

Matt Lorenzo – who also produced The United Way with Eric Cantona and Bobby, on the life of England hero Bobby Moore – revealed that the Brighton documentary has been in the works for ‘close to two-and-a-half-years’.

“We only extended it because Brighton kept playing so well,” he said. "When Potter left, I thought that was the end of my film but they went one better.

“Reaching Europe as an end to the film is fantastic. You couldn't really have envisaged that 26 years ago.

“It's an unparalleled story. No one in the world has done quite what they've done.

"What the fans did was remarkable. They didn't just support their team and hope they get promoted. They helped them survive. Beat off some villainous owners and defied the odds on and off the pitch.

“You can say it's well trodden but if you watch it as a non Brighton fan, you'll discover things you didn't know about. If you're a recent Brighton fan, you'll discover stuff.

“I usually look for light and shade but it's been mostly light because it's such a positive story.”

Beverly Sawyers, senior vice president at American Express said: “As the club’s main partner, we have been there since the club played in the third tier, and we couldn’t be more proud to see the Albion’s rise through the leagues to European football.

"We were honoured to host this exclusive ‘Blue Carpet’ private screening here in Brighton, and to give fans – including winners of our competition – the chance to be among the very first people to watch the club’s much awaited documentary.

“The event is a celebration of the fans, for the fans. As such, we’ve created a ‘Hall of Fans’ gallery inside the cinema, a tribute to some of the key people involved in returning the club to the city and securing the Amex Stadium, many of whom appear in the documentary.”