Why Pat Saward had to go – by Mike Bamber


From the Evening Argus, 23 October 1973, by John Vinicombe:

The dismissal of Albion manager Pat Saward was confirmed today at the Goldstone Ground by chairman Mike Bamber.

Mr Bamber met Mr Saward and after a meeting with the players, he said: “Pat Saward has been sacked. The decision was made after the game with Shrewsbury on Saturday evening. The parting has been on the cards for some weeks but there is no ill-feeling between us,” said Mr Bamber.

“I have seen Pat Saward. He is very upset and very sick. I would also feel very sick. But we have had six home defeats and are down to crowds of 5,000 wonderful people. No club can live on such gates.

“The running of the team is the manager’s responsibility. I feel sorry for managers in a way but if they want to be managers it is up to them.

“Naturally, some of the players are upset at him going. But I have just had a meeting with the players and morale is high.

“We will come to an agreement with Mr Saward over his contract. We have not approached anybody and will be advertising the job and hope to get a really top manager.

“Money will be available for players. It is not easy to get them and we have been after half a dozen this year without success.”

Club captain Eddie Spearritt told me that Mr Saward was backed by the players and they did not want him to leave.

Spearritt himself communicated the same message weeks ago at the same time that joint chairman Len Stringer resigned from the Board.

It was then felt that Mr Saward was in a position of receiving full support from the directors and indeed this was the message conveyed when Mr Bamber took over as head of the club executive.

Mr Saward has three and a half years of his contract to run and today he visited the ground for the last time and told me he wanted to think about his position and whether or not he would comment on his departure.

Confessed Saward: “I still cannot believe it has happened. But I will say nothing to knock the club, nothing at all. Of what happened yesterday, I can remember very little. The reason I have been sacked is that they say I can no longer motivate the players. What I need now is a holiday to get away from it all.”

In the meantime Glen Wilson, the trainer, is responsible for running the playing side of the club, assisted by Ray Crawford, who is now youth coach.

Tomorrow night, Albion are at home to Southport and today the players were training very much down in the dumps.

The atmosphere in the dressing room was solemn, although Spearritt admitted that two players were not unanimous in their support of Mr Saward.

Saward’s departure was on the agenda as Brighton had suffered six successive home defeats at the start of the 1973/74 campaign.

It was a rude re-awakening to Third Division football, after the club had played such pulsating football to finish runners-up in 1971/72. This promotion had led to a calamitous season in Division Two, when the Albion finished bottom of the table. Now back in Division Three, the side’s slump continued. It was relegation, not promotion, that was on the horizon and this ultimately cost Saward his job.

Other bad news was to follow that day when Saward’s club car received a parking ticket outside the Goldstone.


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