IT'S the rivalry everyone recognises but no one understands.

Brighton host Crystal Palace at the Amex today in the M23 derby in a fixture that means everything to both sets of fans.

“Palace fans will not need reminding about the importance of the game,” Palace boss Roy Hodgson said ahead of Saturday’s clash.

“As I am sure the Brighton players will not need reminding about the importance of the game for their fans.”

Asked last season to rank his hatred for Brighton on a scale from 1 to 10, Palace favourite Wilfried Zaha replied “11”.

But why does it mean so much?

The feud dates back to the Sixties and Seventies, when Brighton changed their nickname from Dolphins to Seagulls – to rival the Crystal Palace chants of “Eagles”.

During this time the two sides were close in the football pyramid, often battling out for promotion and away from relegation together.

But the rivalry came to a head in 1976 during an FA Cup match between the two sides.

Palace, at the time, were managed by Terry Venables, and Albion by Alan Mullery.

The two had been rivals in their own right and following the game, which Palace controversially won 1-0, Mullery flicked two fingers up to the Crystal Palace fans who had been launching a tirade of abuse to him during the match.

Mullery has since said that it was the competition between the two sides that sparked the flames for the rivalry.

Brighton face Crystal Palace today at 12.30pm.