Here’s a nice action shot from Goal Magazine in the summer of 1970, in the edition just after England have been knocked out of the World Cup, judging from the letters page on the other side of the sheet. Never mind all that, because Eddie Spearritt has Fulham’s Stan Brown for company in this match during Albion’s 4-1 defeat at Craven Cottage in March that year. (And yes, I can see them almost holding hands). Little did they know that they would one day be team mates.
Spearritt was a versatile, cultured wing-back who could score goals and had a great eye for a pass. He had six months with Arsenal before becoming an Ipswich apprentice in February 1965. Mainly as a winger, he scored thirteen goals in 72 League appearances for the Suffolk club before he joined Albion in January 1969. At the Goldstone, boss Freddie Goodwin used Spearritt on the left-side of midfield. He also had another important job in the side, as he discussed in December 1972:
“I used to be the club’s penalty taker. But after I missed an important one at Mansfield in 1970 I lost the job. Penalty taking is all about confidence. After I missed that one which cost us a point the players lost confidence in me and the job went to John Napier and was then taken over by Bert Murray.”
All of this was probably old news for Stan Brown. This equally adaptable utility player made 397 League and cup appearances for the Craven Cottage side in a fifteen year spell. Despite his diminutive size, Brown was commanding in the air as well as showing fine ability with his passing and tackling.
As a youngster Brown had played for East Sussex schoolboys and captained Sussex Schools. When he joined Albion on loan in October 1972, with the side struggling in Division Two, he said in the Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday programme:
“It was as if I had been playing for Albion all my life. You see, I live at Lewes, the training ground is only four miles from my house and I have known Bert Murray and Barry Bridges for a long time. As for the rest of the lads I felt I knew them too from reading about them in the Evening Argus every night. So when it actually came to turn out for Albion at Huddersfield I knew all the players by their first names.”
Slotting in effortlessly in midfield, he enjoyed helping the Albion to a 2-0 win at the Terriers, but did not experience another victory in his other eight games with his loan side before returning to Craven Cottage. Brown’s last five games saw Brighton lose all five without scoring a single goal.
The goal-shy spell ended in the very next match, when Eddie Spearritt returned to penalty-taking duties. He said:
“Bert Murray would have taken the penalty at Carlisle. He has already scored two penalties this season. But he had gone into goal after Brian Powney had been carried off with a broken nose. And it was decided that it was too risky to fetch Bert out of goal to take the penalty. Nobody else seemed to want to take it so I just picked the ball up and put it on the spot. We were 5-0 down by then. But I thought just from a morale point of view that it was extremely important that I scored. You can understand my relief when I saw the ball hit the back of the net.”