Albion’s third European away trip is up and running.

Some fans were on their way out of Gatwick first thing yesterday morning bound for Athens and a date with AEK.

Plenty more are on their way today.

A win over the Super League champions, who are going well again his season, would secure qualification for the next stage of the Europa League.


But Seagulls supporters will be aware that will be no easy task given their team’s various absentees and AEK’s own qualities.

This is comfortably Albion’s longest trip of the group stage.

It appears to be the most expensive to get to but the cheapest once you are there.

All that, plus the lure of some sunshine as November gives way to December, makes it the ideal choice for the extended stay.

That said, the weather was cloudy yesterday - albeit still mild to warm and quite muggy.

A group of fans The Argus met will add an extra game to their itinerary.

They are going to watch Olympiacos in the UEFA Youth League on Wednesday as a chance to tick off the Piraeus club’s stadium.

Even with London calling on Sunday, some may well decide they don’t want to go to Chelsea and opt for a Greek weekend instead.

Albion players and staff will arrive this afternoon and train at the stadium.

Anticipation for the big game will grow through Thursday ahead of a 7.45pm kick-off, local time.

Fans have been given a pick-up point in central Athens from which they must collect match tickets.

That operation has worked smoothly on previous trips.


The approach regarding away supporters has varied from restrictive in Marseille to free and easy in Amsterdam.

This is all decided in close consultation with local police.

Early indications were that Athens will be somewhere between those two extremes.

Buses to and from the game have been laid on, departing from near the original Olympic stadium (Panathenaic Stadium, also known as Kallimarmaro).

The only advice from Greek police as of yesterday was that the fans need to be at the meeting point for the buses.

Sussex Police football liaison PC Darren Balkham and colleagues arrived in Athens last night.

Supporters will have been reminded of the important part they can play in maintaining and reinforcing Albion’s good reputation in Europe.

Estimates of how many Seagulls fans went to Amsterdam vary between 6,000 and 8,000 but it was a sizeable turnout.

While there was a very small number of ejections during the game, resulting in stadium bans, the overwhelming majority enjoyed a trouble-free, never-to-be-forgotten trip to Holland.

That included those who stayed in the city to watch the game on TV and some who secured tickets in home areas.

One issue which arose in Amsterdam was that of beer being thrown in the stands amid celebrations when Albion scored.

It was unclear this week whether beer would be permitted by AEK on Thursday.

Reaction gleaned by The Argus appears to be the beer-throwing was, at best, just about tolerated by other supporters and, at worst, both an annoyance and at the source of at least one ban.

It was viewed with disapproval by local police and, one would suspect, UEFA.

It is also understood some beer was sent over a barrier into home fans - again, something Albion would want to avoid.

A media contact in Athens close to AEK told us: “Generally alcohol drinking is not allowed inside AEK Arena but for this game versus Brighton I was told that maybe we could have an exception and Brighton fans could drink beers.”

Albion fans have so far experienced a relentless, thunderous atmosphere at Marseille and spectacular match build-up at Ajax.

Thursday’s game promises to be a combination of the two for what is essentially another Europa League six-pointer.

Those early travellers yesterday were whisked into Athens a little quicker than expected thanks to a helpful tailwind.

They might hope that is a good omen for Thursday night as the Seagulls look to soar into the knockout stages - and more trips in 2024.