If you thought Brighton’s defeat to Newport County last night was bad enough, you’d be right. Still, at least the capitulation wasn’t against non-League opposition. Yesterday, Brighton failed to silence Justin Edinburgh who had been mouthing off about the Albion in the media before the match. Thirty eight and a half years ago, it was Leatherhead’s Chris Kelly who was adding spice to a cup competition by making some brash statements in the media.
Below is John Vinicombe’s report from the Evening Argus in January 1975, reporting on Albion’s humiliating 1-0 defeat to Leatherhead at the Goldstone Ground in the FA Cup:
Albion, perhaps more than most clubs, are now all too painfully aware of the narrowing gap between those in and outside the Football League.
Last season it was Walton and Hersham who cut them down to size in that traditional leveller the FA Cup. While the Walton defeat numbed everyone at the Goldstone, it was put down to several reasons that had little or nothing to do with how the team actually played.
The new managers had only just arrived and there was an air of upheaval scarcely conducive to getting minds right, as the saying goes. There was a degree of truth in this, and so Walton was written off as “one of those days.”
Well, Leatherhead have knocked the bottom out of that argument. They deservedly ended Albion’s hopes of a fouth round place and now face Leicester City – either at Crystal Palace or at Filbert Street.
When a manager says afterwards that he is both disgusted and ashamed of his team on the day, it leaves very little for me to say.
I think the best course of action is to quote Peter Taylor verbatim, and then add my own two cents worth on an extraordinary day that saw all five non-League clubs survive the round, with Leatherhead and Wimbledon, the real shock performers at Burnley, going through.
This is what Taylor said after the 1-0 defeat that dazed most of a 20,491 crowd who paid £11,035.15.
“We were outfought and outplayed. I am disgusted with the Brighton side and full of admiration for the opposition. We didn’t play five minutes’ football. Leatherhead played it honestly, and showed plenty of heart and fight.
“We have no excuses whatsoever. The onus was on us to win it by heart, and then show our skills. But we didn’t put two balls together. Leatherhead fought cleanly and fairly.
“Beforehand, I thought the mood was right. Leatherhead played exactly as we anticipated. But when it came to matching them by heart and taking them by skill, it didn’t work. I don’t mind getting beaten, but I don’t like being outfought. Cup football is a different game. I am ashamed of them.”
Mr Taylor went on to pinpoint character deficiencies, and how honest Leatherhead were in their approach. He then made this important point:
“What advantage Leatherhead had was that they appreciated what hard work means. All their players have a job in the week. It would be good for my players to clock in at eight and leave at five in the evening… which some of them might be doing shortly. Having a job makes players outside the League realise what it is to work for a living.
“I thought we had seen the last of the Walton days at Brighton. Evidently, we have not, but it is not the end of the world.”
Brighton starting line-up for that day was Peter Grummitt, Ken Tiler, Harry Wilson, Tommy Mason, Steve Piper, Graham Winstanley, Tony Towner, Peter O’Sullivan, Fred Binney, Ian Mellor and Jim Walker. Substitute was Marlowe who came on for Mason in the 70th minute.
On North Stand Chat, one user going by the name ‘Freddie Goodwin’ said:
Having suffered to Walton the previous year there was no way this would happen again as the team, under Peter Taylor, was taking shape. Over 20,000 turned up to see us thrash this motley crew from Surrey but, as mentioned above, it just didn’t happen. We were poor but everything we tried failed to come off and there was that air of inevitability that they would score. It was a really depressing game and I was of the opinion that those players should never play for Albion again…except that team had the likes of Sully, Rollings, Piper and more who went on to be part of the glory years.