Think big! Pat Saward wields his baseball bat

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Here’s manager Pat Saward showing off a momento from an American trip that went a long way towards changing his football thinking. As he said in Football League Review in 1972:

“I asked a lot of questions from people in the know. They told me you have to think big to get anywhere. We think big. We may be a Third Division team but we all think in terms of being a First Division outfit. If you don’t think big in football you’ll never win anything.”

Saward was a highly respected player with Millwall, Aston Villa, Huddersfield Town and Coventry City before hanging up his boots at the age of 33 to break into management as assistant to Noel Cantwell at Coventry. There his re-education in the game began. On a close-season tour to the United States, he realised the extent to which English football has to catch up on the public relations side. “I learned a hell of a lot out there. They get into a frenzy about the game in America because they’re so involved. This is how I want everyone at Brighton to be now.”

“My big mistake when I came here was still thinking in terms of the First Division. I had a First Division outlook and did not adapt at first to the differing problems of the Third Division. But it was a natural mistake to make. We’ve had no money to speak of for rebuilding. Everyone is looking for the best, aiming for Mount Everest, but you have to adjust your sights. Even so, not every player will do for me. I want players with character, the Maurice Setters type.

“We loaned Brian Bromley from Portsmouth before eventually signing him permanently and it was the best move I’ve made. You know, I look on players in two ways. There are some I feel uneasy about when they get the ball, others I sit back and watch quite relaxed. Brian is one of the latter. He’s an exceptional player, one who instils and builds confidence in those around him. He can do anything I ask for because he has both ability …and character.”

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“I realise now how teachers feel when they see all their thoughts and ideas, all their long hours of patient work bearing fruit. Management is a vocation. You get wonderful satisfaction out of moulding players to your ideals. When you see young kids coming through and developing you get a fantastic feeling of satisfaction. It’s great.”

Saward’s positive approach spurred Brighton to winning promotion to the Second Division in 1972, after a season of all-out attacking play that yielded 43 away goals in the League.

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