Johnny Cantor: It will be great to see Tommy – one of the good guys

Tommy Elphick

Tommy Elphick

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So, 1983 was the last time that Brighton & Hove Albion took on Aston Villa in the league; however the last occasion when the two teams met was in the Midlands in the FA Cup in 2010.

It’s a day I remember very well indeed. A chilly afternoon in January but it’s not just about the weather. Ultimately the Seagulls were beaten that day by three goals to two but showed huge courage and were still in the game after Tommy Elphick had pulled a goal back for them.

It looks as if Elphick will not start against Chris Hughton’s team tonight but he is a player and a character that the club can be very proud of.

He made nearly 200 appearances in white and blue (and other colours!) scoring nine goals, but it is Elphick the person that shines through.

The Albion are enjoying success right now but it was not always that way. It was the central defender from Woodingdean who was often wheeled out after defeats to face the media.

Honest, articulate and determined, he has always spoken well and I’m delighted that he has continued his career, after a bad injury, at both Bournemouth and Villa.

He was also thrust in front of the camera lens during the move to Falmer and explained what it meant to local people in this new stadium.

Tommy has dipped his toe in the water when it comes to punditry already and after appearing on TV, I can certainly see him enjoying a fruitful career in the studio if he decides to go down that route after he retires (plenty of time before that, though!).

The defender also has a keen interest in racing and can sometimes be seen at some racecourses across Sussex and the rest of the country during the year.

He has never offered me a winning tip yet but I look forward to shaking his hand on his return to the south coast.

Once again, we have seen a few headlines in the press this week about footballers’ off-the-field antics but Elphick is one of the good guys. A leader and a gentleman.

Tonight should be a cracker but here’s a note for the diary. The last game of the season pits the Seagulls once again against Villa in the midlands. It could be a day to remember for both teams.

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