From Alan Young’s autobiography: When Brighton played Real Madrid

Three weeks ago, this blog featured an extract from Alan Young’s autobiography, covering the time Jimmy Case went AWOL.


Today we will look at the striker’s £150,000 signing for Brighton from Sheffield United, and the club’s pre-season jaunt to Spain in the summer of 1983, where they even played the mighty Real Madrid:

The following pre-season with Sheffield United we were over at Reg Brearley’s place at Boston Spa. I remember looking around thinking to myself that we were going to have a very good season. I was feeling very happy at the prospect of another season at Sheffield United so I was surprised when Ian Porterfield cornered me at the bar one evening after training and told me that they had received an offer from Brighton for me. He then told me that they were going to accept the offer and asked if I would like to speak to Jimmy Melia.

So I looked Ian in the eye and asked him “Don’t you f*cking want me like?”

And he made all the right noises and assured me that it wasn’t his decision, that it was the chairman. They needed to get some money in and that I was the only player that they could sell right now. So I went down to see Jimmy and his wife Val and met them at Hotel in Brighton where he taught me what the terms were and that my signing on fee would be 20 grand. That was when I got back to Brearley and asked for the extra five grand which of course he honoured. Now Val was quite spiritual individual and when Jimmy and I had finished discussing the terms of the transfer she asked me what star sign I was. When I told her I was Scorpio she clapped her hands together and said, “Jimmy, it’s perfect. We need that tough Scorpio character in the team”. At this point I was thinking, what are you on? But I was far too polite to say anything. I kept it to myself whilst Val was bouncing up and down because she had found a Scorpio.


Anyway, we went to Majorca for the pre-season preparations and had games against Real Madrid, Real Majorca and Ferencvaros; just a little three team tournament at Majorca’s ground.

Quite marvellously, the Seagulls’ players were not without support as some very loyal Albion fans made the journey to enjoy the competition:



(photos kindly supplied by ‘Al Bion’ from North Stand Chat)

Some even got to meet the players as this photo shows:


Alan continues:

When we arrived where is the first place we go? Magaluf. In the bar where the ducks are, Mano’s Bar (it’s a famous bar). So we are all in this bar and I remember there was a song by Malcolm Maclaren going around at the time called Double Dutch and there was a section of the video for the song where there is a skipping routine (Ooh ma ma, ooh ma ma etc, you know the one) in the middle of it and so what are we doing in this bar? The whole team is recreating this video from Double Dutch and the whole place has gone mental and joined in and it was wild – and we had only just arrived!

What I hadn’t realised at the time was that someone was putting vodka in my beer and so I was getting drunk very quickly and at one point I went and sat next to this girl in a polka dot dress and I was thinking that she was right fit but I couldn’t talk, I really couldn’t.

I thought, I’ve got to get out of here before I collapse or something. So I got in to this taxi and I couldn’t remember where the hotel was and I was starting to feel sick and the taxi driver is jabbering away at me in Spanish and I am a right mess.

So I summoned up all of my Spanish and said “Momento. Marina Hotel” and so off we went and the taxi driver found the Marina Hotel and dropped me off so I paid him and got out, thinking that I had finally had a slice of luck. I saw Gordon Smith walking out of the front door of the hotel so I knew I had the right place and I stopped. “Smudge!” and he said, “What are you doing, Big Man?”

I said “Oh Smudge, I just want ma bed” so I went in to the hotel and walked up to reception and told them that I am Mr Young but I can’t remember my room number. But they can’t find me on their records and keep saying “No Meester Young” and I’m going “Yeeesss Mr Young!” and eventually I gave up and ran out after Gordon Smith. I caught him up and said “Smudge, they won’t give me my key” and he looked at me a bit odd and said “I’m not f*ckin’ surprised” and I said “Why?” and he grinned and said “It’s not our f*ckin’ hotel that’s why! Ours is next door.”

Now quite what he was doing in that hotel … I wouldn’t like to say. He later became president of the Scottish Football Association of course. He could also play the piano really well; he would just sit down at a piano, any piano that might be in a hotel foyer or something, and go straight in to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. I used to think, you bastard. I was so jealous of that kind of talent. That is one my regrets in life, never having piano lessons. So anyway, I made it to my bed and I was up for training on time the next morning. We didn’t have a blast like that every night but my word did we ever go for it on that first night. Later on, the bastards admitted to putting vodka in my drinks.

In the City of Palma Tournament, Brighton lost narrowly, 1-0, to Real Madrid on 18th August 1983. That prestigious match is notable not just because of the opposition, but because of the debut of rookie goalkeeper Simon Steele. Here are some more of ‘Al Bion’s photos, from the Real Madrid match:

Brighton v Real Madrid: Pre-Match

Brighton v Real Madrid: Pre-Match

Brighton v Real Madrid: After the match

Brighton v Real Madrid: After the match

Two days later, Brighton beat Hungarian side Vasas Diosgyori 3-2 with goals from Steve Gatting, Tony Grealish and a Terry Connor penalty to finish third in the tournament. And exactly thirty years ago today, Brighton’s final match of the tour ended on a high on the Balearic Islands. SD Ibiza were hammered 5-2 with Gerry Ryan, Martin Lambert (2) and Michael Ring (2) getting the goals.

Then it was back home to Brighton for Alan to enjoy the sunshine and beach:


Looking back at the tour, Alan reminisces:

The most amazing thing that happened on that trip however was that big Joe Corrigan (all six feet seven inches of him) got mugged in Alessandro’s night club and had his watch stolen! I mean, Joe Corrigan! There must have been about a hundred guys in the gang that mugged him.

If you are interested in reading more, you can buy ‘Youngy,’ the Alan Young autobiography here on the accompanying site.

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One thought on “From Alan Young’s autobiography: When Brighton played Real Madrid

  1. Some pleasant and interesting comments about this blog article can be found on North Stand Chat at

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