In November 1897 the first professional football club in Brighton and Hove, Brighton United, was formed. It competed in the Southern League at the County Cricket Ground in Hove from 1898, but the gates were poor and the club folded in 1900 before the end of its second season. Some enthusiasts then formed Brighton & Hove Rangers, an amateur club who played to the north of Brighton at Withdean. Rangers managed some excellent results against good opposition and secured a place in the Southern League for 1901-02, but then they too were forced to disband.
The indomitable John Jackson, the former manager of United, organised a meeting on 24 June 1901 at the Seven Stars Hotel, now O’Neills, in Ship Street at which a new, third club was formed. Brighton & Hove United took up the now-defunct Rangers’ place in the Southern League. Because of complaints by Hove F.C., serious local competition, the name was soon changed to Brighton & Hove Albion before a ball was kicked.
Playing in ‘fisherman’s-blue’ shirts and white ‘knickers’ at the Hove County Ground, the team challenged for promotion from the Second Division but fell away to finish third in their first season. A number of games were also played at Hove F.C.’s Goldstone Ground, and from 1902 the two clubs shared the arena. In 1904 the shirt changed to blue and white stripes, blue and white being traditional colours as befits a city which built its reputation on its seaside location.