Monthly Archives: July 2013

EastEnders’ Anita Dobson meets Albion gals


From the Brighton v Peterborough programme in March 1986:

Our feature photo shows some very attractive young ladies on the Supporters’ Stand at the Brighton Ideal Home Exhibition three weeks ago. Gill Lacey, Claire Williams and Kieron Dorey are wearing the Albion shirts but the ‘gal with a smile’ in plain clothes is Angie from EastEnders, screen wife of ‘Dirty Den’, otherwise (known as) actress Anita Dobson.

Maybe the fans could have interested her in securing a deal for Phoenix Brewery at the Queen Vic!


Avoiding Jimmy Savile, here’s Jason’s big day with his Albion heroes

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Evening Argus newspaper was living in the dark ages compared with the lesser known West Sussex Gazette, which sometimes offered glorious technicolor coverage of Brighton & Hove Albion. I have a wonderful edition that shows the 1979 promotion parade in colour, but I’ll save that for another time.

Rolling on four years, Brighton were still in the First Division, but struggling to maintain its place in such lofty heights. Nevertheless, they were still hero-worshipped by Seagulls fans lucky enough to be growing up in the town at the time. On Thursday 27 January 1983, the West Sussex Gazette reported on a young mascot’s big day, one where he was made highly welcome by towering Albion skipper Steve Foster:


A dream came true for ten-year-old Jason Byrne on Saturday. He changed into football kit and led out the Brighton & Hove Albion team before their match against Luton.

Jason, who lives in Coombes Road, Steyning, regularly watches all the team’s home matches and has longed to meet his hero, player Peter Ward.

His grandfather, Mr Ernest Lidbetter, of Storrington, tried to arrange a meeting with the team by writing to Jimmy Savile. But when that failed he wrote direct to Brighton and Hove Albion themselves.

Yes, you read that right. Just as well!

So, Jason became mascot for the day to the team he avidly supports – and it was a double celebration for his family. His debut before the crowd was on his mother’s birthday.

“It could not have been a better birthday present. When I watched him lead the team out I was overwhelmed and it brought tears to my eyes, says Mrs Sandra Byrne after the match.

Jason’s father, Mr Michael Byrne, was also there to watch his son have a kick around with the Brighton team before the match. He had bought tickets for all of Jason’s grandparents so they could watch.

Jason is a very keen footballer and players for the under-11 team for Steyning Strikers. He is a pupil at Steyning Junior School.

He had his autograph taken with his team, and Peter Ward, and with the referee and now has a referee’s whistle from the match to remind him of his big day.

He kissed the coin for good luck before it was spun to start the game – but the two goals it brought Brighton was not enough: they lost 2-4.


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Mark Fleet – from soccer scrapheap to Skipton success

In Lawrie McMenemy’s ‘Book of Soccer’ from 1981, it gave an insight into the world of the football apprentice back then:

Life as an apprentice footballer is a hard slog – have no doubt about that. The basic hours are nine to five from Monday to Friday, with a game on Saturday morning. The social life is very limited. You still want to be an apprentice? Well read on, because if you love football, then – at the risk of repeating myself – it’s a wonderful life. Whatever you earn, you are being paid for doing what you enjoy. You have free lodgings and meals. You ‘play games’ for most of the time. And, if you’re with a big club, you mix with, and learn from, the stars.

The chapter went on to state that in the Football League, clubs were permitted a maximum of fifteen apprentices at any one time. At 16, the wages of an apprentice at the time were about £16 a week, rising to £20 at 17, the maximum the Football League would permit in those days. At 18, an apprentice would find out whether he will be retained or not. According to the book, these young hopefuls had a full programme of training in the morning and afternoon, with chores fitted in before or after training. Famously, the biggest chore was cleaning boots, which apprentices nowadays no longer do. However, as the old-school voice of McMenemy argued:

The chores that apprentices do are all connected with the cultivation of pride in the club. They are not provided just for the sake of finding them something to do. All are necessary jobs and someone has to do them. An apprentice is not a groundstaff boy, as youngsters used to be, although there are jobs connected with maintenance that he might occasionally help with.

At the Goldstone Ground, Mark Fleet was one of several Brighton & Hove Albion apprentice footballers in the early 1980s. Here he was proudly wearing the club colours:


Hailing from Southport, he came to the club as an apprentice in September 1980, featuring regularly for the Albion in the youth side that won both the Hampshire Youth League and Youth Cup in 1980/81, before playing for Albion reserves in the Midweek Football League. A left-back by trade, he had a strong robust physique for one so young. He was picked for the Irish youth trials in Dublin in November 1980. At the age of 16, he eventually became an Eire Youth International when he played in the number 3 shirt in a 2-2 draw against Wales in Swansea in February 1981 as part of the European Youth Championship. Despite international recognition, he suffered with his knees, and it soon blighted his progress.

Goalkeeper Simon Steele (below left), who was to play for Brighton against Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly in 1983, joined a little later than Fleet, around 1982 and he and Fleet were originally quite close friends and they both received support with their progress from Jimmy Melia, then working as chief scout and as part of the coaching staff.


Out of an intake of about nine second-year apprentices in 1982, Mike Bailey signed Fleet and Danny Deans (central photo above) on a year’s professional contract and Matt Wiltshire (right) on a two year pro deal. Although a matchday programme from March 1983 mentioned that Fleet had been “improving steadily among the defenders”, he had to have a knee operation that summer and then suffered a recurrence of knee trouble following a very crude tackle on him in a reserve game with Arsenal in the September that followed. It was his last ever game for the club. Fleet and Deans didn’t gain a further contract, and Wiltshire left too after his two year deal expired.

The matchday programme vs Portsmouth in December 1984 announced Fleet’s retirement along with Giles Stille’s. Regarding Fleet:

During the summer he had another operation, but unfortunately the specialists have decided he can no longer play full-time football. We hope each of these lads find a successful career outside the game.

Nowadays, Mark Fleet has certainly made a name for himself outside the game. Unlike midfielder Giles Stille who now works as a coach and manager in Swedish football, it’s in the world of financial services where Fleet has proved himself. He is currently Distribution Director at Skipton Building Society, having previously held been managing director at AWD Moneyextra and Skipton Financial Services.

Having done a Google search, I found that there are quite a few interviews and quotes of his on various financial news sites. As you can imagine, it’s mostly almost unrecognisable from the lingo you usually hear from professional footballers.

I did try to contact Mark Fleet at Skipton by calling his office to see if I could grab an interview and ask about his memories of his playing days as well as charting the dramatic change and upturn in his career. Sadly, I didn’t get a reply!

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Autographs – Brighton & Hove Albion 1970s

Very occasionally on The Goldstone Wrap, I will reblog articles from other blogs that help to celebrate the history of the club. In Jackie Dinnis’ lovely nostalgic blog, she recalls collecting autographs of Brighton players in the Pat Saward era. A very wonderful colour photo of the 1971/72 promotion side is here too. Please click the link above.

Meeting my family

After collecting signatures from my friends at school in the late 1960s I progressed to the next level – famous sporting stars.  I managed to get some when we were on our family holidays, as visiting sports stars made appearances once a week.  Then I began collecting some from my local football team – Brighton & Hove Albion.  I first went along there in 1972, and I think these autographs came from around that time.  I have very little recollection of obtaining these signatures, it was during the time the players would be ‘warming up’ before the game, when they could be persuaded to come over to the side of the pitch and scribble their name on a programme or in a book.  I managed to get several signatures, but I’m sure this was mainly due to Dad pushing my book in front of the players for me.  I also had a team photograph…

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Evening Argus Pre-Season Pull-Out: ‘Go For It Seagulls!’

This blast from the past is a spectacular illustration of how high hopes from pre-season can prove wildly off the mark.

Look at these two daft-looking chaps with Argus banner rolled around their heads. They’re clearly imbued with the kind of elevated expectations that hadn’t yet been ground down by decades of disappointment as a Brighton supporter!


In the pre-season to 1991/92, manager Barry Lloyd, although hatless, was also very optimistic about the season ahead. As John Vinicombe wrote:

Albion embark on their fourth successive season in the Second Division after going so close to promotion only two months ago.

This campaign, the Seagulls aim to recover the championship place they lost in 1983 by gaining an entry place outright instead of an ordeal by play-off.

“It is more important now than ever before to get into the First Division,” says manager Barry Lloyd.

“I believe that, in the not to distant future, some clubs will not be able to keep going, and will drop out of the Football League through shortage of money. Very few clubs these days have got any cash to spare, and even some of the big ones are having to count their pennies and make cuts. The First Division is the only real place for us and our supporters, and we will be giving it our best shot.”

Brighton certainly didn’t need the Play-Offs this time around – they were relegated! In 1990/91, the final home league match against Ipswich secured Brighton’s Play-Off position. A year later, the final away match against Ipswich secured Brighton’s relegation, and to rub Albion fans’ noses in it, it was also celebration time for Ipswich Town who had achieved the dream that continues to elude the Seagulls – promotion to the Premier League.

How is that a club that had previously reached the Play-offs, now found themselves relegated? On the outset, many supporters point to what a fluke the 1990/91 season really was as Albion conceded more goals than they scored in the League and yet were almost promoted. Even so, a side that gave Liverpool such a run for their money over two FA Cup games must have had something going for it. Yet once star strikers Mike Small (to West Ham) and John Byrne (to Sunderland) departed the Goldstone in 1991, there seemed to be only one direction for Brighton to head, and that was downwards. The less-than-stellar performances of their replacements Mark Farrington and Raphael Meade did little to halt the slide.

Nevertheless, Barry Lloyd still proved himself capable of unearthing a gem of a signing on occasion, such as with Mark Gall, a £45,000 bargain from Maidstone United, who rewarded his manager with his skill and strength, not to mention fourteen goals. However, when Lloyd was appointed to the Board as managing director in December with the task of the day-to-day running of the club, it most certainly took his eye off what was happening on the pitch. It also led to Martin Hinshelwood’s influence on first-team matters increasing. A recipe for disaster?

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Brian Clough lays down the law


Taken from the Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters Club Handbook 1974/75, Clough’s swaggering words leap off the page:

If I’ve turned Brighton upside-down and inside-out since my arrival from Derby County I don’t apologise.

This club needed a clean sweep and I’ve never been one for wasting valuable time. The work has always been hard, often frustrating but I can, at last, see the light.

I returned from Majorca with the team recently and began to wonder if the full realisation of what I have done here has reached the supporters.

We played one game on that beautiful island and won 8-2.

The score didn’t matter one iota. BUT WE HAD 10 NEW PLAYERS REPRESENTING BRIGHTON ON THAT PITCH. Two had never met their team mates before!

If there’s ever been a new start made in the history of football, then we have made it here at Brighton!

Certain players were not happy to be shown the door at the Goldstone Ground, but Peter Taylor and myself wanted, nay, demanded, new talent and new determination for our big push towards the Second Division.

We think we have reorganised well and are fully aware of the fact that we’ve left ourselves with 16 players.

Don’t be afraid of the drastic measures we have taken. We know what we are doing and we have a fair record at the bottom and top levels in this game of football.

Peter has already told you that we are men of action. Accordingly, we place ourselves at the mercy of the public because we are completely open to everybody’s judgement. We hide no secrets, we make no excuses – we believe our way is the healthy way.

It was Liverpool manager Bill Shankly who said at his team’s FA Cup banquet in London that too many clubs set out for survival rather than victory. I hope he doesn’t list Brighton among the survivors.

I promise that we will have a big, big, go to bring you entertainment and results in the same, successful package deal.

It wouldn’t be fair to ignore the fact I made trips abroad, during the season just passed and came under heavy fire from certain quarters.

I would ask you to bear this in mind… first of all my chairman, Mr Michael Bamber, was aware of all my movements, and secondly, I needed those breaks.

Leaving Derby County, a team we had built so well and so carefully, obviously led to personal difficulties.

I found much-needed comfort and Brighton benefited, too, from my travels. I’m sure my employers understood the turmoils I was facing at the time.

Now, we are looking forward to a great start from a new team. Exciting days, we are convinced, are coming to Brighton.

We will, I promise, give you plenty to shout about and we do look forward to your support.

Reading this, it’s the first and only time I’ve heard Clough justify his mid-season excursions, such as missing the away game at Cambridge in January 1974 to fly to New York to watch the Muhammad Ali boxing match with Joe Frazier. During his nine month spell as Brighton manager, he had also returned to Derby to campaign for Phillip Whitehead, the Labour candidate for Derby North. To cap it all, while Brighton were in the middle of a relegation battle, Brian Clough also travelled to Iran as a guest of the Shah with a view to taking over as manager the national side.

It was hard to escape the impression that Clough lacked commitment to his position at Brighton. Such an unsatisfying perception rang true when the Leeds United vacancy became available. Here is Brian Clough arriving at Heathrow Airport after cutting short his stay in Majorca to open talks with Leeds chairman Manny Cousins:


By the time the Supporters’ Club Handbook had left the printers, and Brighton fans got to read Brian Clough’s rhetoric about ‘looking forward to a great start from a new team’, the manager was already gone.

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Ancient Albion season tickets – from the 1920s and 1930s!

Eighty year or so years ago, if you had bought a season ticket at the Goldstone Ground, you’d have received a card that would have looked something like these. And what exquisite items they are! They’d have fitted easily into your wallet, purse or even your cigarette case… and probably quite easy to lose as well.

Presented with some classy gold lettering, this is the burgundy and green season ticket for the South Stand and Enclosure from 1928/29.


With a single horizontal fold, they opened up to list the terms and conditions in blue ink, not to mention the signature of Charlie Webb, Brighton boss from 1919 to 1947.


By 1930/31, the colour of the card had changed to a suspiciously Crystal Palace-like red-and-white combination. Having said that, although in the same division, Palace were yet to become arch rivals and, anyway, they played in claret and light blue at the time, so it’s the first card that most matched their colours, not this one.



As you can see, the price for a season ticket for Ladies was £1 7s 6d (I wonder if this was the same price for men) which, using the thoroughly useful Measuring Worth website, suggests it would be the equivalent to somewhere between £71.33 (using the purchasing power calculator) to £449.20 (the economic power value). Interestingly, the latter value is roughly what my current season ticket at the Amex Stadium costs today.

And what joyous football entertainment was Miss Repington able to enjoy in those two seasons in the Football League Division Three (South)? In 1928/29, Brighton dropped eleven places to fall to 15th position but at least she would have enjoyed some formidable performances in the home matches as the Albion won fourteen of their 21 League matches at the Goldstone. By 1930/31, the team had arrested their decline despite losing then record scorer Hugh Vallance in October (for ‘serious misdemenour’) and surged back up to fourth position. Again, the Albion had turned the Goldstone Ground into a fortress, with thirteen victories being recorded there.

Due to the fact you had to be Champions to get promoted, chances of going up were severely limited. It took another twenty-seven years for this to be achieved by Brighton. I hope Miss Repington got to see it!

(Many thanks to southasp for supplying me with the season ticket cards).


Rare video: Summer of ’81- team photo shoot at the Goldstone


A wonderful glimpse of life at the Goldstone in the summer of 1981, with a shot of Moshe Gariani and co getting it together for the pre-season photo shoot, plus interviews with new Albion men Mike Bailey and Tony Grealish.

And, blimey, Michael Robinson signs a ten year contract! Whatever he was doing in pre-season in 1991, it was certainly not at the Goldstone Ground.

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Alan Mullery – Brighton’s best manager?


On the Football League 125 website, it says:

As part of the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of The Football League, this week we’re giving you the chance to vote for your club’s greatest ever manager.

As far as Brighton & Hove Albion bosses go, the choices are Billy Lane, Alan Mullery, Micky Adams, Mike Bailey and Gus Poyet. You can vote for who you think is the greatest here. However, while young fans will probably plump for Gus Poyet, one of the frontrunners in this vote, surely there is a much stronger case for Alan Mullery?

Poyet led the Seagulls to one glorious promotion and, of course, came very close to a second. But this is eclipsed by Mullery’s achievements. The former England international midfielder guided Brighton to promotion twice to usher the club into the top flight for the first time ever. Once there, he successfully kept Albion there for two seasons before leaving his job.

He resigned after a disagreement with chairman Mike Bamber in June 1981 over cuts to the coaching staff and the Mark Lawrenson transfer. Yet, in the middle of the glory years, Bamber was bold enough to praise Mullery as the ‘best manager in the country’ in an issue of Football Weekly News:

“People still try to tell me that this Brighton side is Taylor’s team – but they could not be more wrong,” says Bamber.

“He and Clough put Brighton on the football map when they came here. But it was Alan Mullery who has brought us success. He has had two fantastic years and there’s plenty more to come from the man I rate the best manager in the country.”

Mullery, a natural leader and born winner, won’t rest until he has steered Brighton to the top. And with the experience – and financial resources he has at his disposal – only a fool would bet against him doing it.

“This is a fantastic club to work for and I’m loving every minute of it here,” he says.

“I was out of work for three months after finishing my playing career with Fulham and had begun to give up hope of getting a job. Mike Bamber did me a favour by offering me the manager’s job here. I’m going to repay him by really helping this club to take off. And it’s a dead cert they will. They are going up in a big way – higher than the roof of the stand.”

Mullery certainly had a way with words and he kept his promise. His second stint at the Goldstone was creditable, but it is the meteoric rise of the club in his first spell that will live long in the memory.

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Book of Football: Part 69 (Brighton)

As covered in a previous post about the life and times of Norman Gall, the Book of Football was a weekly partwork from the early 1970s, building up to an authoritative encyclopaedia of the game over the course of 75 weeks. I bet, if you around then and had collected every issue over a year and half, you’d quite rightly have been very satisfied with yourself. And wouldn’t think anything of it as you proceeded to bring all six volumes down the pub and proceeded to bore your friends with your newly acquired knowledge on football tactics, club histories and goalscoring feats…!

Nearing the end of the completion of Marshall Cavendish’s series, came Part 69 which featured Peter O’Sullivan, Willie Irvine (face partially concealed) and Kit Napier, three happy men in their running shorts, celebrating an astonishing team-goal in March 1972.


As the inside cover says:

One of the highlights of the 1971-72 season for Brighton. Kit Napier congratulates Willie Irvine after his goal which gave Brighton the lead in the vital promotion match against Aston Villa. Brighton won 2-1 and Irvine’s fine goal was featured on Match of the Day.

And what a diamond of a goal it was!

Inside we are treated to another colour photo (of Kit Napier, number 8, and Ken Beamish, on the floor) plus a potted history of Brighton & Hove Albion. Written very concisely, it charts a local Brighton college’s acceptance of the Rules of Association Football in 1872 (yes, the dark ages before Brighton & Hove Albion were formed), through to the creation of the club, the Southern League days, Brighton winning the Charity Shield (also against Villa), through to victory in Division Three (South) in 1958, to Pat Saward’s then current struggles as his charges flopped in the early months of Second Division football in 1972/73.


There are also some excellent illustrations of the coat of arms the club used in the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as some mostly accurate drawings of the home and away kit (persnickety alert: the only omissions were the red lettering on the home shirt and some white hoops from the away socks). Together with Brighton’s season-by-season record in the League and FA Cup, it all makes for a splendid portrayal of what the Albion was like back then and its relative stature to other club within the football world. And if you want more, there’s all the other 74 parts you can read too!


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