Monthly Archives: June 2013

Stick your Muhren and Thijssen. We’ve got two Israeli internationals!

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In the early 1980s, when foreign imports were rare, Tottenham had the duo Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, and Ipswich Town had Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen. Despite Brighton making a play for Peruvian World Cup stars Percy Rojas and Juan Carlos Oblitas in February 1979, nothing happened despite both featuring in a match behind closed doors at Hove Greyhound Stadium.

Eventually, though, we had Moshe Gariani and Jacob Cohen. You can see these two gods of Israeli football together in this image above, with Cohen on the right sporting the larger perm. I hope you’re grateful as, to track it down, it required much buying of Israel international football programmes from the 1980s, on the off-chance of a photo of the pair!

It took until May 1980 for Brighton & Hove Albion to join the growing trend of bringing ‘continentals’ into the First Division. The Seagulls had played a friendly match against the Israeli national team, managed by ex-Albion player Jack Mansell, in February 1980, triumphing 2-1 at the Ashkelon Stadium via goals from Mark Lawrenson and Peter Ward. Suitably impressed by the performance of opposition player Moshe Gariani, Mullery bought the 22 year old’s services for £40,000 three months later.

BBC reporter Alan Green (yes, that one) described Gariani as “one of Israel’s big successes. Looks very like Kevin Keegan and runs like him as well! Plays mostly on the left-hand side but always tries to keep in the thick of the action.”

Thanks to Paul from Cult Zeros, I’ve found this impressive footage of Gariani scoring for Maccabi Nathanya in the side’s 1979/80 championship-winning season:

As part of the transfer, Brighton played Maccabi Nethanya for the world-renowned Jewish Chronicle Cup in July 1980.

In 1980/81, Shoot! Magazine reported:

The club’s line-up is unlikely to bear the name of Mullery’s fourth signing in the early stages of this season. The club’s coaches reckon Moshe Gariani will take at least four months to adapt before he is tried in the First Division, but more than one of the experts is confident Gariani, an aggressive midfield player who runs hard at defenders, will be pushing McNab hard if the former Bolton player fails to produce the goods.

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Much earlier than expected, Gariani was an unused sub in the 2-2 draw at Tottenham in August 1980 before playing seventeen minutes of First Division football at Southampton the following month, after coming on for Gerry Ryan in a 3-1 defeat. Three matches later, the Israeli was again an unused substitute in the 2-1 League Cup home defeat against chocolate shirted Coventry. And that was that. Gariani had no other opportunities to impress in the first team. Although he featured in some pre-season squad photo shoots for the following campaign, he was sold to Tel Aviv in August 1981.

In between Gariani’s one appearance and his departure, Brighton fans were treated to the similarly brief English football career of his Israeli compatriot Jacob Cohen.

Jacob Cohen (or ‘Yaacov Cohen’ as he was often listed in international match programmes) had already been an Israeli international for four years by the time he arrived at Brighton in August 1980 for a trial. Once more, Jack Mansell played a part, recommending Cohen who was watched by Albion chief scout Jimmy Melia. Eventually, £40,000 was enough to buy him in October 1980. jacobcohen

Having made his debut as substitute in a 0-0 stalemate at Stoke City that month, Cohen (filling in for the injured Gary Williams) followed up with three successive starting appearances in the left-back position, against Manchester City, Arsenal and Middlesbrough. Unfortunately, all three matches were lost but still, that’s quite a lot of minutes more than Gariani managed at the Goldstone.

Having been substituted against Middlebrough, Cohen then lost the number three shirt to Gary Stevens and had to be content with two more substitute appearances, at Leeds in November and then a home win against Sunderland in early December, before his Albion career also petered out. He joined Israeli side Bethsheba FC after the 1980/81 season ended. In the Northern Ireland v Israel programme from November 1981, BBC reporter Alan Green says after his short stay at Brighton, Cohen “went back to Israel a very disappointed man.” He describes Cohen as “very much an attacking back in the Sammy Nelson mould but consequently leaves plenty of space for right-wingers.”

The following season, Brighton made do by signing the real Sammy Nelson, joining in a £30,000 deal from Arsenal.

As for the homeward bound Israel internationals, not much is widely known about what happened to their careers after. Never mind, though. Because Cult Zeros, a company that specialises in custom-made football T-shirts of celebrated and not-so-celebrated players, have launched a range of Moshe Gariani and Jacob Cohen t-shirts. And they look fantastic! I went with this design:

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You can buy the Jacob Cohen T-shirt here
http://www.cultzeros.co.uk/product/19918/jacob-cohen-brighton-and-hove-albion/

And the Moshe Gariani tee here
http://www.cultzeros.co.uk/product/19916/moshe-gariani-brighton-and-hove-albion/

I had some thoughts about some slogan ideas. How about these?

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And if you’re worried about space, you can make room in your wardrobe possibly by throwing your ‘Hola Gus’ T-shirt out.

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1986/87 Evening Argus Fixture Card

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On the day the fixtures for the 2013/14 Football League season are announced (9am), I’d like to share with you an elegantly designed fixture card from the Evening Argus from the mid-1980s. You can also view the one for the 1982/83 season.

Fan anger at the sacking of manager Chris Cattlin was assuaged in summer 1986 by the announcement that Alan Mullery, Brighton boss during the glory years, was back at the helm.

As you can see, the 1986/87 campaign began with an exciting prospect of a south coast derby at home to Portsmouth (yes, it ended 0-0). By the season’s end, Alan Ball had led Pompey back to the First Division (probably the only club where the World Cup winner is considered a managerial success).

Brighton, however, headed in the opposite direction. Mullery was harshly sacked in January 1987 for lacking ‘commitment’ despite doing OK with having virtually no money to spend. Waiting in the wings, Barry Lloyd took his place. Of the fixtures in the second half of this card, only three were won.

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Official club team poster 1981/82

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This glorious A2 colour poster from the Seagulls Shop would have been stuck proudly upon the bedroom wall of many Brighton fans. It would have helped familiarise them with the re-shaped team. In this very select team group photo with just eleven outfield players and two goalkeepers, new signings Jimmy Case, Don Shanks and Tony Grealish take pride of place in the front row with new boss Mike Bailey. As you can see, these were the good old days when the coaching staff had their initials printed onto their tracksuits. Very cute!

Just like his new buddy in midfield Tony Grealish, it is widely forgotten that Jimmy Case took some time to settle with the Seagulls. Grealish had a job to win over the fans as he had replaced club captain Brian Horton, who joined Grealish’s former club, Luton Town. After a long, successful career at Liverpool, Case’s form was indifferent in his first season at Brighton. Nevertheless, Case did manage to play 33 League matches. He scored just three goals, all in the early part of the season, the last of which was in November 1981.

Right-back Don Shanks (front row, fourth along) was a free transfer from QPR, and proved an instant hit, working his way up and down the line throughout the season in a way that many Brighton supporters remember fondly. This is illustrated by his great work down the right-wing that helped the Seagulls draw 3-3 against Liverpool in October 1981. His First Division know-how also made for a much meaner defence.

With Andy Ritchie and Michael Robinson banging in the goals, this tightly organised team never fell below 14th place and were able to play a whole season in the First Division without any relegation fears.

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‘I lost my shoes because of Peter Ward’

The pulsating atmosphere of the home match against Blackpool at the end of the 1977/78 season will live long in the memory. High-flying Brighton needed to win at the Goldstone Ground to stand a chance of eclipsing Southampton or Tottenham. Although they won 2-1 it was not enough to give the side promotion to Division One.

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Teenager Dave Jenkins, in an extract from ‘He Shot, He Scored’ by Matthew Horner, page 78:

During the Blackpool game, a few of my 17-year old mates and I were once again worshipping Wardy in the North Stand.

Yet again, in a desperate tense game, Wardy came to the rescue with a piece of typical fleet-footed magic. As the ball sped into the net, the North Stand erupted with even more thunder than had been usual in those fabulous years under Taylor and then Mullers. The surge from the back of the stand lifted us fully 10 steps down that crumbling terrace.

As I was being carried down towards the pitch in a state of delirium, I remember the feeling of my new and very expensive Ravel of Western Road moccasins being ripped from my feet by thousands of equally out-of-control Brightonians.

Needless to say, I never saw those shoes again: I had to walk back to central Brighton barefoot.

Not really feeling up to much, we decided to have a beer of commiseration in Shades (now the Pavilion Tavern). Unlike today, a bloke taking to the pubs and clubs without any shoes was a bit unusual in 1978.

It turned out to be a hugely successful evening with some of the town’s best-looking girls, and even the bouncers in the Queen Anne pub let me in shoeless in Wranglers (very unusual) – all because of my response to the obvious question ‘What happened to your shoes?’ My answer was, ‘I lost my shoes because of Peter Ward.’

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Sponsorship heaven & hell: Oxford v Brighton 1988/89

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The gloriously manly Wang Computers are quite rightly hailed by The Football Attic as the greatest shirt sponsor of all time. Man, I wish Brighton & Hove Albion had the US computer company as our shirt sponsor in the 1980s. Instead, we wound up with the thoroughly embarrassing NOBO. I’m sorry, but boasting you are ‘Top of the First Division For Display and Training Aids’ cuts no ice with me.

When Wang Computer became the sponsor of Oxford United, a Division One club for the first time, in summer 1985, Brighton were still plying their trade in the Second Division. When the U’s, who had triumphed in the League Cup Final against QPR 3-0, won by the same score over Arsenal on the final day of the 1985/86 season, it inconveniently preserved the side’s top flight status. Their home kit, incidentally, looked strikingly similar to Brighton’s away kit for the forthcoming 2013/14 season.

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Hopes of a mirth-making Wang v NOBO football match were dashed by that Arsenal result, and frustrated again the following season when both Oxford and Brighton went down, preserving the league gulf between them.

It took until September 1988 for newly promoted Brighton to play in their NOBO-emblazoned shirts against the team in Wang.

Brighton lost 3-2 to Oxford in a Second Division fixture as part of a depressing start to the 1988/89 campaign where they lost their first eight matches. Oxford manager at the time was ex-Seagulls favourite Mark Lawrenson. His programme notes explode the myth that he has never acknowledged his time at Brighton since leaving the Goldstone. Instead, he wrote warmly:

“Welcome today to Brighton and Hove Albion, the players and officials and everyone connected with the club. Brian Horton and myself spent many happy years at the club and we have a great affinity for the club from the good times we had there. Indeed Brighton’s result is one of the first we look for on a Saturday night. Dean Saunders too, I am sure will wish to have a good game today as he had a successful time at the Goldstone Ground.”

Due to the financial woes at Brighton, Saunders had been signed for a ludicrously low fee of £60,000 in March 1987. Sometimes, it is said by Brighton fans that Lawrenson took advantage of the difficulties at his former club to ‘steal’ Saunders from us, but the Oxford manager at the time was Maurice Evans (bottom row, second from left, in the image below), not Lawrenson.

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Mark Lawrenson didn’t last long as manager, however. He was sacked the following month after making critical comments when Saunders was sold to Derby County against his manager’s will. The future complacent BBC armchair pundit was replaced by Brian Horton.

By the time of the return fixture, in late March 1989, Brighton had hauled themselves off the bottom of the table to 21st place, one place above the relegation trapdoor. They helped their cause even more by coming from behind to beat Oxford 2-1 at the Goldstone Ground.

The Seagulls eventually finished 19th, two places behind Oxford.

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Meet the Girl Behind the Man: Rita Irvine

Northern Ireland centre-forward Willie Irvine was one of Brighton’s star strikers in the 1970s. He joined on loan from Preston in March 1971 and his six goals in fourteen League games helped to rescue the Albion from a Third Division relegation battle that season.

From Goal! Magazine:

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Looking after her husband, Brighton Irish (sic) international Willie, and sons Darren (5) and Stephen (2) keeps Rita Irvine busy. But she still finds time for dressmaking, attending evening classes for flower arrangements and watching Brighton play.

A less rosy, but eventually happy, picture is painted in Willie Irvine’s autobiography, ”Together Again’:

The offer of a three-month loan to Brighton was made and Rita and I looked at each other. Against it was the fact that a move from Preston to Brighton would be 200 miles or thereabouts further than a move from Burnley to Preston. It seemed a huge distance for Burnley girl Rita, who would be leaving the closeness of family and relatives. The four of us – by now we’d had our second son – would be well and truly on our own. There’d be no bus rides home for the day like she could do from Preston to Burnley.

The club had promised to organise a rented property for us, a lovely flat in Shoreham-By-Sea. We kept the house in Preston for when we went back. The problems of being a football wife hit Rita hard. Strange place, strange flat, me away frequently. In the first week one of the boys took very ill while I was away for three days. All Rita could do, young, panic-stricken and frightened, was knock on the flat below and ask for help. She knew no one but the woman she begged for help, a total stranger, turned out to be a real saviour and called her own doctor who came every day for the next week. They became the best of friends and bit by bit we got to know other players and their wives. Only a footballer knows what the wife goes through at times like this. They are a special breed. Some are strong and can handle it. Others don’t. Rita might have had floods of tears on several occasions and suffered from my moods, but she coped, stuck it out and adapted every time we moved.

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Bert Murray discusses the changing roles of wingers and full-backs

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From Brighton v Bristol City, August 1972:

“I was really surprised to be voted Player of the Season. It was a great honour and one I shall always remember. But I thought it could have gone to any of the players as we have such a marvellous season. There was Eddie Spearritt, who was so consistent… Willie Irvine, who always scored vital goals… and Peter O’Sullivan, who started off like a bomb.

“As I have said, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the award had gone to any member of the first team squad. But naturally, I was very thrilled to be voted to the title.

“It will help me to remember last season even more. Once again, as I was at Birmingham, I was switched from my right-wing position to play right full-back. The move didn’t bother me. I don’t have any special preference for either position. I enjoy them equally.

“Nowadays, of course, wingers don’t play like the old-fashioned wingers and neither do the full-backs. I remember when I was at Chelsea and at Birmingham that if you were selected to play on the wing you had to stay out there. It was frowned upon if you wandered to the other side.

“But it’s all changed now. As long as you are aiming at something positive anything goes. A winger is allowed to move inside or drop back to help in defence and it’s commonplace to see full-backs go on runs. That’s what makes today’s game so exciting.”

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Brian Eastick and the imaginary football

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Brilliant anecdote from Gordon Smith’s ‘And Smith Did Score’ autobiography, page 123:

The players look at each other and wonder if they should believe what they have just heard. Standing on the training ground, they look askance at the Brighton youth team coach, Brian Eastick, who is taking the first-team training for he first time.

‘Right lads,’ he has just told us, ‘We’re going to have a game of football, so pick two sides. But what’s different about this game – and if you take this seriously it will be a great help to you – is that we’ll be playing with an imaginary ball.’

‘It’s twenty minutes each way – a practice game with a pretend ball.’

He senses a reluctance from the players and nobody moves. ‘Look,’ says Brian, ‘the boss is watching and it’s either this or he’ll have you running all morning – what’s it to be?’

Since anything’s better than running round a track for a couple of hours, we decide to go along with this rather unconventional training method. We’re about to start the 1982-83 season and this is undoubtedly the weirdest training session I have ever taken part in and that would go for the rest of the Brighton players as well.

We get ourselves into teams and line up to kick off. The former Arsenal star, Charlie George, has joined Brighton on a month’s loan and he’s in my team. I kick off by touching the imaginary ball to Charlie who makes an imaginary pass to our winger, ex-Manchester United player, Mickey Thomas, Mickey then makes a 20-yard run at full pace, slides along the touchline and jumps up to shout, ‘For fuck’s sake, Charlie, play it to my feet, will you?’

The players can hardly stand up for laughing and that’s the end of the game. Brian Eastick is not happy and, since we’re not taking his game with the imaginary football seriously, it’s back to running round the track.

Brian had been on the continent looking at how the European teams train and noting their coaching methods. He must have seen some foreign team trying out this practice match with no football and decided to introduce it to the British game. Brian had persuaded Brighton’s then manager, Mike Bailey, to let him take the first-team training for a morning and try out these new methods. Unfortunately, the British footballers weren’t quite ready for such progress and diversity of coaching methods.

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Random fan photo from the Evening Argus in the 1980s

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I wish I could explain what this photo was all about but sadly it’s become detached from the story in the local newspaper. If anyone knows or would like to guess, feel free to add a comment!

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Michael Robinson, Albion’s sharpshooter, guns for Malcolm Allison

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Over three seasons, Robinson scored 37 First Division goals for the club, more than any other Albion player. He joined Brighton in a £400,000 deal in the summer of 1980. In March 1981, he returned to Maine Road with the Seagulls to play in the First Division fixture against his old side. By that point, it was clear that his move to the South Coast had been a success. Although his new club was facing a relegation battle, Robinson was ever-present and his seventeen League goals so far had rebuilt his confidence and reputation as a centre-forward.

On the eve of the match, he spoke to Peter Gardner of the Manchester Evening News:

Michael Robinson returns to Maine Road today for the first time since his transfer to Brighton last summer with the controversial admission: ‘I had to leave City to get away from Malcolm Allison and save my career.’

Robinson lines up against a City side now without the man whose views forced him to leave the Blues. And the man who had earlier handed Preston a then-club record fee of £750,000 for the striker’s talents. Robinson says: ‘Malcolm Allison and I just didn’t see eye-to-eye – it became inevitable that I would have to leave the club. It was a total conflict of ideas. Malcolm wanted me to do things I didn’t think I was capable of doing. He was asking me to play wide up front, on my own or on the wing… crazy things like that. It just wasn’t me. All I ever wanted to do was to be successful for City as a centre-forward, my best position. But Malcolm somehow got these ideas that I should play everywhere except that one, and I could never agree. Being messed about like that was making me a poorer player. In those circumstances I just had to leave.

Looking back on his move to Brighton, Mike says: ‘Alan Mullery told me from the outset that he wanted me to play just as I always wanted to play, and I shall always be grateful to him for that. I am thoroughly enjoying my football once again. And that is certainly a relief after all the agonies and frustrations I went through in the later part of my stay at City.’

Robinson admits to still being baffled by the Allison strategy: ‘I couldn’t understand it then and I still can’t work it out now,’ he says, adding: ‘The season before Malcolm bought me he had Peter Barnes and Mike Channon drifting wide down the flanks, but no centre-forward to take advantage of the service. Then, when I arrived as an orthodox centre-forward, he sold Barnes and Channon. So where was I expected to get the service form? Since I have left City, I feel I have come on leaps and bounds. My game was deteriorating at Maine Road where Malcolm, in his time, blinded the players by science. Their minds were blank by the time they went out on the field. Here at Brighton I have found a new lease of life.’

The match at Maine Road ended in a 1-1 draw. Although Robinson didn’t score, he headed a long clearance by Digweed to give goalscorer John Gregory, in oceans of space, an excellent chance to make it two points rather than one, but Gregory stubbed his toe and the ball ran wide. Nevertheless, Robinson added two more goals to bring his League total for the season to nineteen. He also received the Albion Rediffusion ‘Player of the Season’ award.

Years later, Robinson was much more receptive to what Allison was conveying to his players as a coach. He said: “”I used to think Malcolm Allison woke up in the morning wondering how to complicate my life. He would speak to me about angles and zones. And I wasn’t the only one. Mick Channon didn’t understand a blind word either. But I archived it somewhere. Later, what Malcolm had been saying fell into place.”

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