It was often said by football folk that it’s a good year for Tottenham Hotspur when the year ends in ‘1.’ They’ve won the FA Cup in 1901, 1921, 1961, 1981 and 1991 and the League Championship in 1951 and 1961. For Brighton & Hove Albion, I’m not aware of any particularly ‘lucky’ years. However, it’s true that the club has a truly appalling League record when the year ends in ‘3’. Let’s have a flick through post-war history…
It was not so bad in 1952/53, with Brighton finishing 7th in Division Three (South). Fast forward ten years later to 1962/63 and the club suffered relegation from Division Three, finishing 22nd out of 24 clubs. The manager was George Curtis (not the same one who managed Coventry in the 1980s) who had a disastrous spell in charge at the Goldstone, having seen the club relegated from the Second Division the previous campaign.
Here’s the team photo for the inglorious season:
The season was memorable for the heavy snow in the New Year. Here’s some shots from the Halifax match in January 1963. The pitch looks like an ice rink:
And from the Crystal Palace match in the same month:
The younger players were dubbed ‘Curtis’ Cubs’ as he put his faith in youth. New signings included teenagers John Dillon (Sunderland), Bobby Walker (Gateshead), and David James and Ken Franks (Blantyre Victoria). A day before his twentieth birthday, defender Norman Gall, made his debut at Watford in September 1962, replacing popular captain Roy Jennings, before being dropped after a mere three matches, all lost. This was in the middle of a twelve match run without a win. Not surprisingly, Curtis left the club by mutual consent in February 1963, with Archie Macaulay being appointed in April after a caretaker managerial spell by Joe Wilson.
Ten years later, in 1972/73, goalkeeper Brian Powney and defender Norman Gall were the only survivors in the Brighton side that finished bottom of the Second Division under Pat Saward. Another long winless run put the kybosh on the season. This one ran for sixteen matches with the last thirteen all ending in defeat! A decade on, Brighton & Hove Albion again finished bottom, in Division One, but at least they had an FA Cup Final to look forward to. In 1992/93, Brighton finished ninth in the third tier (Division Two) before another relegation in 2002/03 (Division One – second tier), when twelve successive League matches were lost from mid-August 2002.
With Brighton & Hove Albion in the Championship play-offs in 2013, this League season is probably the best one ending in ’3′ in the club’s history. Time to lay the ghosts of 1963, 1973, 1983 and 2003 to rest.