Vice-chairman of the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund (REMF) and Brighton manager, Brett Mendoza admits he was unsure the big match would take place - let alone with fans.

The annual REMF game between Seagulls and Crystal Palace supporters returns tonight, with a good crowd expected at The Crucial Environment Stadium, in Worthing, after last year’s match was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Mendoza, who will take charge of Albion and be hoping to make it back-to-back wins, is glad to see the match taking place with fans in attendance.

He told The Argus: “It is amazing, we didn’t know if it would happen. Obviously, there is still restrictions with it being the last weekend before restrictions are lifted.

“So, we weren’t even sure if we could have fans, but we have been given the go ahead.

“It will be a brand new pitch we will be playing on at Worthing, I believe we are only the third match that has been played on it, which will be really nice.”

Albion usually have a couple of regular ex-players on their team in Robert Eaton’s favourite player Ricky Marlowe, coming down from Scotland and former striker Peter Ward, flying in from America to play in the match.

However, with Covid travel restrictions in the USA stopping Ward from being able to take part, Mendoza has organised another ex-Seagulls player to take his place in John Westcott.

The 42-year-old former winger, who was born in Eastbourne, made 42 appearances for Albion between 1996 and 2000.

He then went on to play non-league football in Sussex making over 440 appearances for Eastbourne Borough, Horsham, Horsham YMCA, Redhill, Ringmer and most recently East Grinstead Town.

Westcott has been playing in the SSFL Sussex Sunday Football League for Sands United Brighton and Hove, where he won man of the match in April in their 3-2 win over Sussex Dynamos after scoring a 40-yard screamer.

Although Mendoza was disappointed Ward could not travel over for the game, he was glad to have Westcott on board.

He said: “Unfortunately, they (the USA) are on the red list where they are not allowed to come into the country, but Peter is fit and healthy, but just cannot make it.”

Crystal Palace also sometimes field ex-pros as part of their side, but they will not have any ex-players involved tonight.

As of last night, the Albion side have raised over £3,500 of their £5,000 target and if you would like to donate to the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund, you can visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/Remf19

For those who would like to go down to watch the game, kick off is at 7.45pm and tickets can only be purchased using cash at a cost of £5 adults and £2 for under-16s, unless accompanied by an adult, in which case it is free.

Outdoor bars and kiosks will be available for alcohol and food and will accept card payments.