Monthly Archives: June 2013

Fans warned by Bamber to turn up early

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From Shoot! magazine in 1979:

Brighton fans get a warning from chairman Mike Bamber as they prepare to welcome the First Division big boys to the Goldstone Ground.

The Seagulls start life in the top flight with a glamorous home game against FA Cup winners Arsenal – and Bamber makes it clear the fans must get there early. “I’m afraid they are going to have to change the habit of a lifetime and turn up at the ground with plenty of time to spare now we are in the First Division,” he says.

“The days when they could turn up ten minutes before kick-off and stroll through the turnstiles are over. If they do that now there’s a fair chance they won’t get within a mile of the ground. Our promotion to the First Division has created tremendous interest down here and everyone is excited about seeing some of the great names and some of the great teams of football at Brighton.

“We have all got to make adjustments to meet the new challenge and I beg the fans to get here in plenty of time in future. We’v had problems in the past on big-match days trying to pack in everyone who turned up late and many have complained it’s taken them ages to get through the turnstiles.

“It will do. It you get lots of people arriving together – and late. They will have no chance at all this season if they leave it late. So my message to fans is – please be early.”

In the end, Bamber was both right and wrong. A huge crowd of 28,604 came to see Brighton trounced 0-4 by Arsenal in a First Division baptism of fire in August 1979. All but one home league game hit the 20,000 mark, which was understandably the Stoke match shortly before Christmas. (If fans had to miss one, they chose wisely as it was a 0-0 stalemate). At the same time, the attendance at the Arsenal match was still five-thousand short of the capacity at the time. There was not one 30,000 attendance at the Goldstone Ground by the end of 1979/80.

By the following season, the novelty of top flight football had waned, with Brighton mostly struggling to keep their head above water. With the onset of recession and much higher ticket prices than in the old days of the 1970s, home attendances began to dip.

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Brighton players training at Hove Park, 1983

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Minus a proper training ground, Brighton players used to practise their skills at the nearby park in Hove. Still, they seem in pretty good spirits here. Neil McNab, Gerry Ryan, Jimmy Case, Gary Stevens, Gary Howlett, Chris Ramsey and Terry Connor all smile for the camera in their classic adidas apparel.

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Des Tennant – the original ‘Tank’

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Several Brighton players down the years have been known as ‘The Tank’ for the power of their play, but I think Des Tennant was the original.

He signed from Barry Town in the summer of 1948, as a 22 year old, and made a whopping 424 appearances for the club.

His lion-hearted forays down the touchline made him a favourite at the Goldstone. He initially lined up as a right-winger, also playing as inside-right before become a ferocious tackling right-back with a lot of attacking intent. No wonder that Des Lynam, in his autobiography, referred to the other Des as ‘a favourite player of mine.’

In the ten years when he was a fixture in the side, Tennant was also captain for three seasons, including in 1953/54 when Brighton were runners-up in Division Three (South). Unfortunately, in those days, only the champions were promoted. He also scored 47 goals, 23 of which were penalties.

One particular goal is remembered fondly on North Stand Chat by the user nobody’s dupe. He recalls the days when clubs would play home and away fixtures against the same opposition over Christmas. Brighton gave Newport an unhappy present on Christmas Day 1952, thrashing the Welsh side 3-0 on their own ground. Two days later, in the return fixture at the Goldstone, Albion were 1-0 up at half-time but then surprisingly found themselves trailing 2-1. It took a long-range effort from Des to save the day.

Des enjoyed a benefit match against Brentford in May 1954. He retired in 1959 to join the coaching staff.

Sadly, he died in January 2009. His niece, Gillian Marsh, of Derwent Drive, Cwmbach, said: “My uncle was a wonderful character who loved life and valued his family and friends above all else.”

The image above, from a magazine, in a football shirt that buttons all the way down the front, is used to form the crest of the Brighton & Hove Albion Collectors and Historians Society.

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Neil McNab is sure Brighton will stay up

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From Match Weekly in February 1980:

A 5-1 defeat at Southampton doesn’t make for the best of debuts for your new club, but ex-Bolton midfield man Neil McNab is delighted with his £200,000 move to Brighton.

“Yes, it was a big disappointment, but the lads never gave up and I was delighted with the spirit in the team,” McNab said after the game. “Southampton played extremely well on the day.”

Speaking of Alan Mullery, McNab said:

“As soon as I met the manager, I decided to make the move,” says Neil. “He was a great player and now he can relate to players. He understands them. His record, since taking over at Brighton, has been unbelievable. So I was very happy when he came in for me.”

After playing for Spurs in the infamous promotion game with Southampton in April 1978 (which Brighton fans deem a ‘fix’), McNab had found himself frozen out of the side by the signings of Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa. He joined Bolton Wanderers in November 1978, Second Division Champions in 1977/78, but by 1980, they looked certain for the drop from the First Division.

McNab’s personal life had been clouded by the death of his father at the age of 43. Mike Bamber, Brighton chairman, promised to be a ‘second father.’

On the pitch, McNab brought some much needed class to the Goldstone. His busy, methodical play, with an excellent range of passing, did much to help the club secure top flight status comfortably.

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Great Albion kits: 1985/86 Home

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A much loved home shirt design from the mid-1980s. It was mostly worn with white shorts and blue socks, but even in some home matches, such as the FA Cup 5th Round Replay with Peterborough in 1986, Albion wore this with white shorts and socks. Looked great either way! This shirt design lasted two seasons at Brighton, one with the Phoenix Brewery sponsor and then with the NOBO lettering.

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The thin blue and red stripes on the V-neck collar and shirt cuff were retained from the previous design, as were the classic three white stripes down the sleeves. With those magnificent three bold vertical stripes on the sides of the collar, though, this showed adidas still had striking new ideas to play around with. Perhaps with such a range of elements, it might have looked a mess. Here, though, it is neatly executed and makes for a winning, pleasing combination.

On the pitch, with this home kit, Brighton, under Chris Cattlin, also seemed to have found a winning formula. With Terry Connor and Dean Saunders firing all cylinders up front (even though Justin Fashanu wasn’t), they were pushing for a return to Division One before a slump from late March 1986 onwards sent them to a chastening mid-table finish. The fall cost Cattlin his job.

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Still, the team looked pretty stylish, even as they waved their promotion dreams goodbye! If you look closely, you can see that the badge and the sponsor logo were embossed. Another nice touch! Much more than this, the balance and positioning between adidas logo, club crest and shirt sponsor show a degree of thought and taste that is often missing from many replica shirts nowadays.

Also, I rather love the horizontal pinstripes at the bottom of the shirt – a contrast to the vertical, thinner ones of the previous jersey. The horizontal stripes reprise those of the shirt that France wore during the European Football Championship in 1984 on their home turf. While Steve Penney, Danny Wilson and Dennis Mortimer (below, righteously winning the ball against an opposition player who dared to go for the now outmoded vertical pinstripes!) made immense contributions to that 1985/86 season, there’s no doubt about it: we could have done with Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana in our side!

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Internationals On The Spot: with Mark Lawrenson

Taken from the pages of Shoot! Annual 1980:

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What do you remember most about your international debut?
The fear down my spine when I walked out with the international side for the first time against Poland, at Dublin in 1977. My family couldn’t get there and I felt totally alone.

Cripes!

His first cap was while with Preston North End. Hopefully, Brighton would have looked after him better. Although Mark was born in Preston, his mother was from Eire. The defender (and sometime midfielder) went on to make 39 appearances for the Republic of Ireland, scoring five goals from 1977 to 1987.

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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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Psycho’s brother bother

Here’s the back of the programme for the first leg of the Brighton’s cup tie against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in the Littlewoods Cup in 1986.

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Take a glance at the name of the linesman with the red and yellow flag, R.D. Pearce. Surely just a coincidence that he has the same surname as Forest’s left back? Or is it?!

Writing in ‘Psycho,’ his autobiography, Stuart Pearce explains how his brother Ray took up football officiating, eventually finding his way to running the line at the Goldstone Ground:

He progressed through non-league into the Football League and ran the line in top matches. The big age difference between us meant that when he was asked the usual questions about whether he had any relatives in the game he answered quite truthfully that he had not.

I’m not sure that makes complete sense, unless Ray Pearce was only ever asked the question only once, before Stuart became a pro…

Anyway, the punk-lovin’, tough tacklin’ Pearce continues:

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A trivia question that would flummox even the most knowledgeable football fan is when did two brothers take part in the same game with one playing and one officiating? It happened to us when he ran the line in a Nottingham Forest League Cup tie at Brighton. He disallowed a goal for Brighton! I had no fears, however, about his honesty. He would err on the side of Brighton rather than favour me.

No one knew, apart from the Forest team. It was funny running up the wing and having my brother alongside me on the touchline. He could have booked me because I kept taking the mickey out of him – ‘Oi, you ginger dickhead,’ is one thing I remember calling him. Perhaps it is a good thing that he never became a League referee because it would have come out eventually that he was my brother.

Is it too late to demand a replay?

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Colin Pates in Chewits wrapper circa 1991

colinpatesOne of the worst kit designs in Albion history. Its unveiling at the 1991 Play-Off Final at Wembley to Notts County ensured the Brighton team waved goodbye to their chances of top division football.

On the day, despite hitting the woodwork through Clive Walker, the Brighton side flattered to deceive. Perhaps it was because they were snookered by the five-man midfield that County boss Neil Warnock employed. Or maybe Notts County simply had a psychological edge from facing an embarrassed Albion team dressed up as sweet wrappers. Say what you like about the intricate patterns and unusual hues – it was hardly going to strike fear into the opposition to be dressed like that!

Central-defender Colin Pates had joined Brighton on loan from Arsenal. After finding it hard to crack into the Arsenal side with competition from the likes of Tony Adams, David O’Leary and Steve Bould, he arrived at the Goldstone Ground and was ever-present from his debut in March 1991 to the Wembley final. However, even with Pates’ first division experience and the knowhow of Stefan Iovan, European Cup winning captain of Steaua Bucharest in 1986, they couldn’t stop the Seagulls from tasting defeat.

The trend that continued into the following season with Albion turning into relegation candidates. This shirt – with TSB replacing NOBO as sponsors – was worn on Brighton’s travels during wins at Millwall, Newcastle and Grimsby. However, it wasn’t enough. The Seagulls went down to the Third Division where they at least managed this win at Wigan, courtesy of a cock-up by the Latics keeper.

Nigel Adkins, look away now…

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100 Years of the Albion

A pleasant illustrated history of the Albion, from the Brighton v Bournemouth programme from September 2001:

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Click image to expand it.

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