Dick Knight made a freeman of Brighton and Hove for saving Albion

Posted On 12 Dec 2013 at 4:14 pm

Brighton and Hove Albion life president Dick Knight has been made a freeman of the city.

The honour was conferred at a special meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council at Brighton Town Hall.

Council leader Jason Kitcat said that Mr Knight was a local lad, educated at Hove Grammar School, now Blatchington Mill.

He worked in advertising and Councillor Kitcat said: “If you need any reminder of his success in that field, may I just say, ‘Hello boys!’”

Councillor Kitcat said that he set his sights on a bigger goal, using his media savvy and grit to save Albion not just from relegation out of the league and homelessness but also total extinction.

Dick represented the fans, he said, adding: “By the time he stood down as chairman, construction had begun on the Amex stadium.”

He praised Mr Knight for the resurrection of our beloved football club as well as for his “integrity, determination and sheer bloody-mindedness”.

Dick Knight

Dick Knight

Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “I know Dick pretty well. We were neighbours for some time. I was at the Goldstone Ground on that fateful day when the last match was played.”

It came as a shock to many people when we were confronted with a chairman, Bill Archer, who did not look after the club.

He called Archer and Bellotti “absolutely disgraceful”.

Councillor Theobald said: “We were very lucky that Dick stepped in. He took over when we were right at the bottom.

“Dick stepped in and he literally did save the club.”

He also praised the “fantastic work that Dick has done establishing Albion in the Community”.

Councillor Warren Morgan said: “Somewhere at home I’ve got a picture of my grandfather standing on the east terrace in a sea of flat caps shortly after the end of the First World War.”

He spoke about seeing his first Albion game against Port Vale in 1972 and the long journey to promotion at Newcastle in 1979 as well as the two visits to Wembley in 1983.

He described the Amex Stadium as “a sight that still takes my breath away”.

Councillor Morgan, quoting the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankley, said: “Some people believe that football is a matter of life and death. I fully agree that it is much more important than that.

“Thank you on behalf of the people of Brighton and Hove.”

Councillor Jayne Bennett praised our “Knight in shining armour”.

She also praised his “great determination, integrity and passion in his dealings” and called him an “eloquent leader”.

She said: “I’ve been reliably informed that Mr Knight would like to drive a herd of sheep through the centre of Brighton.”

She advised him to keep to the 20mph speed limit and added: “I’m quite sure that if he asked supporters to follow him they would come out in the thousands.”

Dick Knight's autobiography Mad Man

Dick Knight’s autobiography Mad Man

Leo Littman said: “As a lifelong Albion fan I felt it was important to say thank you to Dick Knight.”

Bill Randall highlighted the economic impact of the club and the new stadium.

Bob Carden said that Dick came originally from Portslade and added: “I chaired the Planning Committee that got Brighton and Hove Albion to Falmer and it’s one of the proudest days of my life.”

Ian Davey, who was at Hereford, said they say that grown men don’t cry. “That’s not true. I’ve never seen so many grown men cry.”

Mr Knight said: “Thank you so much. What a year it’s been. In the summer I received an honorary degree from the University of Brighton.”

He put that in context by remembering the 18 months that he spent negotiating with them to take a little part of their campus.

He said: “This is a really significant building for me. This is where we had the second public inquiry which was to produce the outstanding result of giving us the green light for the stadium.

“I’m absolutely delighted and humbled and thrilled to receive this honour which is really on behalf of the football club.

“This is a great honour for someone to receive this accolade particularly for someone who was born and bred in this city. Well, Portslade, actually, as Bob (Carden) said.

“I went to school in Hove so I already had the big city in my sights.

“I’m not sure which came first, the blue and white stripes of the deckchairs or the Albion, but we both put bums on seats.

“We built Albion in the Community because … I wanted to give something back to the community that had saved the club.”

It was about understanding the amazing potential of sport to go beyond winning and losing and to change people’s lives.

The club is at the heart of the city and it will also make the heart of our city beat faster for years to come.

Referring to a desire to herd a flock of sheep through the centre of Brighton, Mr Knight said that he’d led his flock along the seafront to party conferences during the campaign to win planning permission for the stadium at Falmer.

He praised the fans’ perseverance and the support of the council

And he repeated the fans long-time cry: “Up the Albion!”

  1. Peter Watson Reply

    Bellotti is dead, despite his worst efforts the Albion are still alive.

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