Football: Alumnus Solly Helps Brighton Secure Premier League Promotion
Congratulations to Bede’s alumnus and Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Solomon March, who scored the winning goal at the end of yesterday’s thrilling match against Wigan Athletic that secured the Seagulls promotion to the English Premier League.
The extraordinary moment capped off an incredible story of recovery for Solly, who returned to play for Brighton in November after a serious injury.
The scene was jubilant at the Amex stadium yesterday, with Brighton fans invading the pitch in celebration of the club’s return to top flight football after a 34-year absence.
The victory was particularly sweet for Solly however, who has always aspired to play premiership-level football and who was clear about his ambitions even during his time at Bede’s, where he studied from 2007-2012.
Solly started his professional footballing career at 17, playing for local club Lewes Town FC. He was signed to Brighton for three years after only one first team appearance for the Rooks during his Upper Sixth Year.
He also played for the England U21 squad on several occasions after initial selection by then-England U21s manager Gareth Southgate in 2014.
Solly went on to enjoy a number of early accomplishments with the Seagulls, where he won the Young Player of the Year Award 2013, and for England U21s, but he then injured his back and fractured his leg during a tackle from Nottingham Forest defender Eric Lihaj in February 2015.
At that point, Brighton and Hove were battling to save themselves from relegation from the Championship, and save themselves they did; meanwhile, during the off-season, Solly returned to Bede’s to work with the school’s Strength and Conditioning Coach Tony Morriss on his way to regaining full fitness.
Solly then resumed his position at Brighton in the August of that year and scored three goals for the Seagulls early in the season before injury once again forced him off during a 2-2 draw at Derby in December.
Having suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage, Solly then underwent surgery and worked with Brighton and Hove’s Rehab department throughout 2016.
He was then given a major vote of confidence by manager Chris Hughton, who offered him a new four-year contract last October.
Brighton meanwhile had missed automatic promotion last season after finishing in an agonisingly close third place and failing to get through the playoffs.
Solly then returned to the full Brighton and Hove side at the end of 2016, contributing towards the team’s recent five straight triumphs which culminated in yesterday’s win, care of goals from striker Glenn Murray and the ex-Knights House boy.
Brighton's rise to the top flight of English football was then confirmed after Huddersfield Town were held to a 1-1 draw at Derby County – a result that left Brighton on 92 points, seven ahead of Newcastle United and 13 clear of third-placed Reading with four games remaining.
The Seagulls’ manager Chris Hughton said of the team’s accomplishment, “I’m incredibly proud of the way that they bounced back. I knew we had a group of lads that were capable of doing it, but being capable of doing it and actually doing it are two different things.”
Solly’s ex-1st XI coach at Bede’s David Leggett added, “Everyone at Bede’s is extremely proud that one of our former students will be a premier league footballer next season, and we are all very excited to see how both the Seagulls and Solly take on the challenge.”