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Poignant visit to the Amex for Horton
Brian Horton is not the envious type.
He has no regrets about his 44 years years in football - but Albion's clash against Doncaster Rovers at the Amex tomorrow will emphasise a 'might have been'.
Horton never had the chance to manage Albion in Brighton. Fate decreed the legendary former captain's spell in charge was in the late 1990's, when the club was on its knees and groundsharing with Gillingham.
So it will be a poignant occasion for Horton, who turned 65 this week, at the stadium in his capacity as Doncaster's assistant manager.
He has been to the Amex before, to watch a game and for Alan Mullery's tribute night last year, but never to work.
How times have changed. In just under a year at the helm Horton turned Albion from League Two relegation candidates into play-off contenders in the most challenging of circumstances before returning to Port Vale.
Swapping Albion for Port Vale? With due respect to the Seagulls' recent FA Cup victims that would be unthinkable now.
It would never have happened back then either if Horton's reign had coincided with the return home - even to Withdean.
Horton said: "Had the club still been at The Goldstone I could have gone back to Brighton to live for the rest of my life.
"It really was that special to me and it was a sad day when I had to make a decision on Brighton or Port Vale.
"Credit to Dick (former chairman Dick Knight) and what they did to get Brighton back to Withdean. My Sunday team played there, so that wouldn't have been too bad.
"But it started a revival for me I think, getting people like Martin Hinshelwood and Dean Wilkins back in to get the youth policy going and they turned the corner."
Crowds at Gillingham rose during Horton's reign from often less than 3,000 to sometimes more than 4,000.
He said: "It was hard to maintain the spirit. We had players living in Brighton, Southampton, London. I remember a game that we won, which was an early kick-off. They had to leave home at goodness knows what time to get there.
"Special credit to the players and fans for doing what they did. I don't think many teams' supporters would do that, get that many numbers to Gillingham. It was incredible."
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