If you type ‘Dean Saunders’ and ‘willie’ together in a search engine nowadays, you are most likely to see references to the football manager’s dealings with agent Willie McKay. Had Google been around in summer 1986, you would have got a very different outcome!
I imagine that pre-season photo shoots are probably quite an enjoyable time for everyone involved. Unsullied yet by the taste of defeat, there is usually a buzz around and a sense of optimism in the air about the season ahead. Basking in the sunshine, players excitedly get to try on their new kit, pose with new team mates and have a natter with the local media. In the pre-season of 1986/87, while there was no big spending going on, Brighton did have a new boss as a returning Alan Mullery came to the club, along with Dale Jasper and Gerry Armstrong, two ex-First Division players. While the magnificent adidas kit design remained the same, the club did have a new shirt sponsor… yes, NOBO.
Perhaps getting rather too in the spirit of the new sponsor moniker emblazoned on his chest, star striker Dean Saunders made this a photoshoot to remember by not wearing any pants underneath his shorts and, as a consequence, left part of his genitalia showing for all to see…
Could he have argued that in going commando, he was let down by the short shorts of the 1980s? Or was it a deliberately cheeky act to gain cult hero status?
Whatever the (ahem) ins and outs, Deano’s dangling display made it into the centre-spread of the programme from Gerry Ryan’s testimonial match between Brighton and Spurs in August 1986. It also made it into the double page team group in Shoot! magazine before it was discovered.
I hope the club saw the funny side, although the existence of a censored version of the photo suggests not.