Some angry and sceptical letters from E.F. Russell and L. Revell in the Argus in April 1976, as Brighton’s promotion push in Division Three peters out with one win in their last eight matches, despite rookie striker Peter Ward hitting six goals in that period.
L. Revell (no relation to Alex?) wrote:
“Albion have been pipped for promotion once again. I would suggest that next season will be a bit of an anti-climax and that the efforts at home will not be as good as this year. So an enormous improvement would have to come about in away performances to have any sort of chance of going up. This being so, I doubt very much whether next season will bring promotion either. I have said repeatedly for years that I will never see Brighton in the First Division whatever age I reach.”
The understandable sense of frustration from season ticket holders such as him was probably not helped by the Argus reporting a few weeks before on the eve of the busy Easter schedule:
There is no specific promotion target for Albion manager Peter Taylor. With just four matches remaining, he is content to play each game as it comes. With the big game at Millwall coming up on Friday, Taylor said he was confident of a result. “But I am not thinking about a target. We shall continue to play our best.”
In the end, Albion were tonked 3-1 at the Den.
Happily, Revell’s pessimism was misplaced. In fact, 1976/77 went down as one of the most golden, most celebrated seasons in Albion history, signalling the start of the glory years. As formidable a home record as Brighton had in 1975/76 (W18 D3 L2), they improved their Goldstone record the following campaign (W19 D3 L1). In 1976/77, they also significantly enhanced that wretched away record, from W4 D6 L13 to W6 D8 L9.
However, it was to take all the motivational drive of Alan Mullery, and the deposing of top scorer Fred Binney (who got a mere five away League goals in 1975/76), to bring this to fruition. Peter Taylor had long departed, but he did also achieve promotion in 1976/77, with Brian Clough, of course, as Nottingham Forest sneaked back into Division One. Glory was just around the corner for them too.