As Alan Mullery said to Neil Harman, of the Evening Mail, in 1980/81:
“We may be desperate for points, but we are not a desperate side. We won’t go down. I have always felt, despite our setbacks that we are not far behind the best teams around. Now we’ve got to prove it. Either we have been unlucky or we are not good enough. I think we’ve been unlucky.”
His words appeared in the matchday programme for the clash at St Andrews, on 7th February 1981, only the second ever League game between the sides. The first ended in a 2-2 draw at the Goldstone earlier in the season. Albion scorers were Neil McNab and Mark Lawrenson.
By the time of this return match in Division One, Brighton stood in 19th position, one place above the relegation zone. Birmingham were one place above the Seagulls but crucially had a four point cushion.
Just like in the 2013/14 season, Albion had a new yellow away kit and sponsor to show off. Here’s Peter O’Sullivan trying to stop a Blues attack.
Albion went down 2-1, with goals from Tony Evans and future Seagull Alan Curbishley ensuring a fifth straight defeat for the south coast side. Converting a low cross from the overlapping John Gregory, Michael Robinson got a consolation goal for Brighton 19 minutes from time. It was a frustrating afternoon at St Andrews for the Albion, who found the opposing goalkeeper Jeff Wealands in inspired form.
By the end of the season, the Blues had cemented their First Division status, pushing up to 13th position, although this was overshadowed by their neighbours Aston Villa carrying off with the First Division title.
Given the number of times Wealands had thwarted the Seagulls during the February match, it certainly gave credence to Mullery’s assertion that Brighton were unlucky that season. However, the Albion boss’ contention that his side would not get relegated also proved true. Four wins out of four at the end of the season made sure of this. As Neil Harman said of Mullery at the end of his piece in the programme:
“He isn’t wrong all that often.”