Monthly Archives: August 2013

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.

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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.

spain

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:

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

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

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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:

sunbathing-at-brighton

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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Small wonders keep the seagulls flying

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By Gerry Cox for 90 Minutes Magazine (Issue 40) on 7 February 1991:

Mike Small has returned from a Greek tragedy to spearhead brighton’s rally for promotion.

The much travelled striker scored his 18th goal of the season last Saturday as Brighton beat Charlton 2-1 to keep them in sixth place in the Second Division.

With four teams to be promoted at the end of the season, the Seagulls hopes are soaring high. But Small is being realistic about Brighton’s chances should they reach the top flight.

Brighton took Liverpool to extra time in the replay of their FA Cup Fourth Round tie at the beginning of the month, but Small said: “We have to improve if we are to go up.

“It is a different game in the Second Division – much quicker and more direct. Against opposition such as Liverpool, we played cultured football.

“But those games left us very tired, and we just did what we had to do against Charlton.” Small limped away from Selhurst Park with a bruised thigh and a headache and was suffering from double vision throughout the second half.

But he is happier in England than he was in Greece, with he played for PAOK Salonika.

Birmingham-born Small started his career with Luton Town in 1982, but then left Britain to play for Standard Liège in Belgium. He moved on to Holland, where he played for Go-Ahead Amsterdam and Twente Enschede before going to Greece. There he was subjected to a torrid time from the fans, and was only too happy to sign for Brighton just a week before the new season got under way.

Now his £50,000 fee looks like one of the bargains of the season, as his powerful approach has brought 18 goals and the prospect of many more to follow.

Small ended the season with 21 goals, leading to a big £400,000 move to West Ham United. At Upton Park, despite hitting an impressive 18 goals for the Hammers in his first season, his new side were relegated. A back injury, not to mention competition from Trevor Morley and Clive Allen, hindered the striker’s progress. He eventually had loan spells with Wolves and Charlton in 1993/94 before moving back abroad with Swedish side BK Hacken. Short spells with Sligo Rovers (Ireland), Littlehampton, Stevenage Borough and Baldock Town followed as his life as a footballing nomad resumed.

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Mountain pressure on Bill Archer!

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From the Evening Argus, 20th February 1997:

Albion fans must be beginning to think getting rid of chairman Bill Archer is a bit like climbing Mount Everest.

Well now the anti-Archer campaign has even reached the Sherpas of Nepal, thanks to long-serving Seagulls supporter Mel Hempleman.

The mother-of-two from Henfield, a fan since 1968, sent us this picture taken by a friend.

The mountain in the background is actually Annapurna 1, but the message is still the same.

Mel said: “I am a passionate Albion fan and a very good friend of mine was climbing the Himilayas, so I gave him a banner to take.

He had a bit of a hard time making the Sherpa understand what it was all about, but he got there in the end!”

(Thanks to Jim who supplied me with newspapers that featured this and other articles from the mid-1990s).

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Selling Peter Ward? Mullery gets death threat

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On the eve of Brighton’s debut in the top flight in 1979 came this unsettling story. Alex Montgomery reports:

Alan Mullery reluctantly put brilliant striker Peter Ward up for sale last night and then prepared to man the Brighton barricades.

The South Coast club, newly promoted to the First Division, expect a storm of abuse from their fans who adore Ward – rated in the £750,000 class.

Mullery admitted that he has already had one death threat warning him against ever selling Ward.
But it seems certain now that the former Young England star will be leaving the Goldstone and the odds are that he will join Kevin Keegan, Dave Watson and Laurie Cunningham on the big money trail into European football.

Watson’s new club Werner Bremen have already contacted Brighton and Cologne are another West German side who have been asking questions about Ward.

But first, top English clubs like European champions Nottingham Forest will get the chance to put their money where only their mouths have been so far.

Mullery made no secret at his deep disappointment and said: “I don’t take the death threat seriously of course. But it highlights the depth of feeling there is surrounding Peter down here.

“I can understand it. he is a top class player and I don’t want to lose him. But I have no alternative but to transfer-list him because he wants to leave and it is not my policy to hold onto a player in these circumstances.”

Ward himself would only say: “I’ve thought about it over carefully and have decided my future lies away from Brighton.”

Happily, Ward settled his differences and hit an impressive sixteen First Division goals in 1979/80, capping his enhanced reputation by appearing for the full England side in the close season friendly against Australia.

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Colour photos: Birmingham v Brighton 1980/81

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.

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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.”

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The Brighton goalkeeper shirt of the late 1970s

Once I found a green Bukta jersey with black logo on eBay, there was no stopping me! I won the auction for a tenner in late July and then hatched plans to get the classic round Seagulls badge added – and hey presto! – I now have a replica of the goalkeeper top worn during the late 1970s. And yes, I appreciate the number of people for whom this has any sartorial interest is probably rather limited.

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As far as minor variations, the tight-fitting top was worn by goalkeeping rivals Graham Moseley and Eric Steele from the 1977/78 to 1979/80, sometimes with the Bukta lettering, and sometimes with the Buk symbol…

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Sometimes, it featured both the Buk and logotype, as Graham Moseley ably demonstrates…

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There was even a red version, for the times when Brighton played a team with green on their kit, such as Norwich City. The Old Football Shirts website includes the red goalkeeper’s top here.

Green or red, it would be a stretch to describe the goalkeeper’s shirt as a design classic. However, it’s undoubtedly associated with the good times at the Goldstone, so much so that there was even an Eric Steele poster in the centrefold in the Derby v Brighton programme of October 1986, with him proudly wearing his Albion clobber seven years on together while showing off John Vinicombe’s ‘Up, Up and Away’ book celebrating Brighton’s rise to Division One in 1979. You read it right – a Brighton poster in a Derby County programme!

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(Although those shorts look rather like the blue Bukta ones, they’re actually Derby’s of 1986/87).

Talking to Harry Brown, Steele is optimistic about Derby’s chances that season:

“Things are on the move here,” Eric says confidently. “It reminds me of my very happy stay at Brighton. I was part of the Seagulls set up from February 1976 till October 1979, when I moved on to Watford. In that time we moved from the Third to the First Division in three seasons, and I have very happy memories of the Goldstone and its fans. We packed them in up to 25,000 in fact, and I can see it all stirring again just like that here at the Baseball Ground.

Eric believes, as most of his team mates do, that Derby County can equal Brighton’s feat, and maybe even improve on it, by going from Third to First in two seasons. “I want to taste yet another Third to First Divsion success, and I believe it is ‘on.’ That’s why I stayed here to battle it out with Mark (Wallington).

Last May’s promotion here was the fifth in which Eric has been involved during his career – the two with Brighton; from the Fourth to the Third with Peterborough; and from the Second to the First with Watford. He reckons he will contribute to the sixth right here at the Baseball Ground.

He sees the same sort of individual flair emerging here as it did at the Goldstone when he was a Brighton player. “Then we had Mark Lawrenson, who has gone on to great things at Liverpool, Derby-born Peter Ward who was getting us goals galore, Welsh international Peter O’Sullivan, and Brian Horton, now the player-manager at Hull.”

Steele made it promotion number six when with Derby County who won the Second Division championship in 1986/87. He left for Southend at the end of that campaign. When he was loaned to Mansfield in March 1988, he made one last appearance at the Goldstone.

As for the Seagulls’ Bukta goalkeeper shirt, it officially gave way when Brighton switched to Adidas from the start of 1980/81. However, in the pre-season photo shoot for that campaign, the green Adidas shirt was clearly not yet ready and so an extra Albion badge had to be sewn on to conceal the Bukta logo, to create a rather bizarre look. That’s one retro Albion goalkeeper’s top I won’t be emulating!

Tony Knight, Graham Moseley and John Phillips

Tony Knight, Graham Moseley and John Phillips with a seagull on each nipple

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FKS’ last hurrah: Soccer 83-84 stickers

Poor FKS. They once dominated the ’70s football sticker scene with fabulously grandiose album titles such as ‘The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars Gala Collection.’ Which suitably sideburned and flared young kid wouldn’t want to be in on that? By 1983/84, probably due to the intense competition from Panini, FKS had reached the end of the line with the rather dubious ‘Soccer 83-84’ series. Following on from their ‘Soccer 82′, it appears that they were trying to cover two seasons’ worth of top flight soccer with this inept collection. Here are the Brighton players:

Graham Moseley

Graham Moseley

Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

Graham Pearce

Graham Pearce

A stray ball seems to be trying its darnedest to try to muscle in on the limelight behind Moseley’s shoulder. But is this really true? As you can see, the grass behind Moseley and Ramsey looks suspiciously unnatural in its greenness, especially as the unaltered green on the side of Ramsey’s arm rather gives the game away. The mixture of the head and shoulders shots of these players and the zoom-in on Graham Pearce’s head bestow an untidy look for this collection. No wonder Chris Ramsey looks uncomfortable.

Steve Gatting

Steve Gatting

Tony Grealish

Tony Grealish

Steve Foster

Steve Foster

Similar gripes with Messrs Gatting, Grealish and Foster here. Given where FKS had appeared to have swiped their photo shot of Tony Grealish from, you can understand why they had to put on a faux-grass background.

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens

Jimmy Case

Jimmy Case

Gary Howlett

Gary Howlett

A nice, genuine photo of Jimmy Case, fresh from the barbers, follows another manipulated one of Gary Stevens. And whoa! An intensely dim shot of a young and rather frail-looking Gary Howlett. Suffice to say, if you met him in a dark alleyway, I don’t think you’d be that scared.

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

Gerry Ryan

Gerry Ryan

Some more bog-standard and doctored head and shoulders shots of some of Albion’s attackers follow. It’s like FKS were trying very hard to emulate Panini here, whereas some of the action shots that the company had previously used would probably have been more interesting to the young collector.

Neil Smillie

Neil Smillie

And then the final insult! Sticking in a shot of a player in a Crystal Palace kit on a Brighton page. Yeah, thanks, FKS! A bit like putting a sticker of Mo Johnston in a Celtic shirt within a Rangers sticker double-spread, I don’t think that would have gone down too well on the south coast at the time.

No need to be too resentful to FKS, though, after a stay that had lasted since the late 1960s. The company had introduced new ideas such as actual albums for affixing your stickers, something we take for granted today. Now, though, the game was up.

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Penney drop – Steve hands in transfer request

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With the exact poor man-management approach that Garry Nelson would later document, Barry Lloyd dropped Northern Ireland’s World Cup winger Steve Penney 45 minutes before the Albion’s home match with Bournemouth in September 1988. It led to Penney handing in a transfer request. As John Vinicombe reported:

A day of confusion and disappointment at the Goldstone ended on an acrimonious note with Steve Penney saying he would never play for Barry Lloyd again.

Penney, who had been relegated to the subs’ bench together with Paul Wood, then left to join Billy Bingham’s squad for Wednesday’s World Cup game against Eire in Belfast.

Penney repeated his request for a transfer. He had asked to leave in May 1987 when Albion went into the Third Division. This time, he put his point of view to chairman Dudley Sizen, and later publicly slated the club.

“The way things are going here at the moment is absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

He maintained he was being unfairly treated by Lloyd and that his dropping coincided with playing a target man in Gerry Armstrong.

That switch, according to Penney, didn’t make sense as he is the principal provider of crosses.

“There are other things involved, including financial details. I was told only three-quarters of an hour before playing that I was not playing, and it seems I’ve been made the scapegoat with Paul Wood.

“The way I’m being treated at the moment is ridiculous. The manager had to put me on; we were two-nil down and it could have been a couple more.”

If Lloyd gets a reasonable offer for Penney, he will have no hesitation in selling, and that has been the situation for some time now.

The story also made the back pages of the News of the World, with Penney saying:

The manager told me I was dropped when I came in. It was completely out of the blue. I felt on Wednesday against Southend in the Littlewoods Cup that I played my best game of the season. I got in enough crosses to win but we just don’t have a target man.”

The Bournemouth game was also memorable for the fact that Perry Digweed failed to turn up from his home in Chelsea. As a result, John Keeley, who had injured a finger in training on the Friday, had to answer a late SOS and even had to send a friend to his home to retrieve his contact lenses.

With all the drama, it was hardly surprising that Bournemouth opened up a two-goal lead at the Goldstone through Mark Newson and Shaun Brooks. After Penney came on, Gary Chivers halved the deficit after 66 minutes.

The game against the Cherries was the fifth in a dismal run where Brighton lost all of their opening eight matches of the 1988/89 season. Despite his vow that “I’ve definitely played my last game for manager Barry Lloyd,” Penney regained his place in mid-November in a surprise 3-2 victory at Ipswich, before scoring in the next match in the 3-0 drubbing of Sunderland at home.

His deteriorating relationship with Barry Lloyd is documented well in Spencer Vignes’ superb ‘A Few Good Men’ book, where he recounts another occasion when Barry Lloyd attempted to damage Penney’s likelihood of being selected for his country, by substituting the winger and complaining of his lack of effort to Billy Bingham, the Northern Ireland boss. Bingham replied to Lloyd:

Steve will be playing on Wednesday night because he’s played 15 games for me and that’s not his character.

In the end, knee injuries took their toll on Penney, and his appearance for the Albion in the return fixture with Bournemouth on 2nd January 1989 proved his last for the club. He was given a free transfer towards the end of the 1990/91 season. Nevertheless, the tricky winger who so mesmerised the Liverpool defence on national TV in the FA Cup in 1984, is still remembered with great affection by Seagulls fans.

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‘I expect the bullet’ – Cattlin’s confession

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In this revealing interview from 1983, Chris Cattlin shows a mixture of realism and determination as he replaces Jimmy Melia as Brighton boss:

Chris Cattlin has no illusions about the struggle he faces in trying to steer 1983 Cup Finalists Brighton back to the First Division.

“I shall do my best until the bullet comes,” he says bluntly.

Cattlin, the former Huddersfield, Coventry and Brighton defender who has spent recent years building up a thriving rock selling business (see image below) in the Sussex seaside town, has move into his new job as successor to Jimmy Melia with such caution that a casual observer could be forgiven for believing that the Goldstone Ground has been relayed with mines left over from the Falklands war.

rockshop

Chris Cattlin is arguably the most unpopular manager to be appointed in the history of the game. And none of it is his fault.

Appointed last summer as chief coach, he was given Melia’s job when the Brighton manager walked out last month.

“I didn’t ask to do the job. I was given the job, and having got used to it, I’ll do it to the best of my ability,” explains Cattlin.

“I want to let the dust settle, and then try to get the club straightened out.”

His priority is to win promotion to the First Division and get the club into Europe. But he confesses that the current side, unless stiffened up by two or three new players, is not good enough to gain promotion this season.

“They said Watford didn’t have potential to do anything. Look what happened. Look what Bobby Robson did for Ipswich Town in his time there. One of the best things that happened to Brighton was to get to the Cup Final. It has given us tradition, and Jimmy Melia and the team must be congratulated for that.”

He is looking for new players of “substance” and will not confine his scouting to Brighton. His priority is to find a defender and midfield player.

In the meantime, he confesses to being happy with the quality of many of the Brighton team.

Cattlin’s coach-like appraisal of his squad is fascinating:-

Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan – “Marvellous professional.”

Full-back Kieran O’Regan – “infectious enthusiasm with a will to win.”

Steve Gatting – “A First Division player who needs a kick occasionally. Educated left foot.”

Eric Young – “Lots of potential. He has played against Frank Stapleton and Mark Falco and learns with every game.”

Graham Pearce – “A steady player. Won’t let you down.”

Tony Grealish and Jimmy Case – “Two great professionals. Dedicated.”

Neil Smillie – “Pacey Winger. Doesn’t always produce what he is capable of.”

Gerry Ryan – “Scores goals. He’s lost half a yard of pace. At 28, he has stopped working at his game. I want to get more out of him – and I will.”

Terry Connor – “A shy lad, he has done well, but can improve. Great potential.”

Gordon Smith – “Cost £400,000. Needs to play with more passion. Can score goals.”

Alan Young – “Aggressive striker.”

“I want to pour some concrete into the club to give it the solid foundations it needs. I want to do that before I get the sack, as I inevitably will. Most managers do.

“I have no fear of the sack. I was invited back to the club by the chairman and now i have got the bit between the teeth.”

Chris Cattlin, one of the few managers to be appointed without a fanfare of trumpets, deserves to be given a chance.

But with the smell of cordite fresh around the Goldstone, the most sceptical Brighton supporter would not give much for his long term future.

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Cattlin certainly steadied the ship in 1983/84. A side that had fallen to 16th position in the Second Division in October 1983, Melia’s last as manager, recovered to 9th by the end of the campaign. The new manager, with assistant Sammy Nelson, had instilled a new discipline into the running of the team, something that bore fruit in a famous, handsome 2-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup in January. All was set for a promotion push the following season.

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Mike Tiddy, Brighton’s manic feet preacher, says: ‘Play the game hard but play it straight’

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“Tiddy’s late! Tiddy, Tiddy, where can he be?”
“Sorry I’m late, I was preaching in Patcham”

When he wasn’t dashing down the flank as an outside-right for Brighton in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the grey-haired (at least in the middle!) Mike Tiddy was a Methodist lay-preacher. He had spells at Torquay, Cardiff and Arsenal before joining Brighton in October 1958. Because of his role as a preacher, he did not figure in Christmas and Easter fixtures.

In this article, from Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, he discusses the manner in which his work for the Church colours his personal attitude towards football, how he is treated by other players and what he thinks of spectators:

tiddyI work for the Church when I am not playing football, and many people cannot understand how I can combine the two. They ask me why I take part in professional football when there is so much talk of matches being fixed and of players taking bribes.

Well, there is good and bad in everything, in sport no less than in other aspects of life. As a Christian I try to live up to my beliefs in a practical way, and I feel should be interested in trying to do some good in whatever activities I follow.

One of the great lessons to be learned in life is to play the game the straight way. Play it hard if you like, take knocks and give some back – but always in a fair manner and without vicious retaliation.

miketiddy2

There was a time – not so very long ago – when I didn’t play Soccer hard enough. Maybe I was trying to be too much of a gentleman. But some of the fans began to think I was afraid of getting “stuck in”.

Now I play the game hard. Football, after all, is a man’s game, the finest in the world when played in the right spirit of keen competition. These days I go into the tackle with more zest and bite, and I am enjoying my game even more.

Call it muscular Christianity if you like…

I can’t help feeling that I have a first-class opportunity of trying, in my small way, to get over a message – through example – to thousands of people. I don’t have to say a word. If I can play the game hard and fairly then I have achieved something.

Sometimes I hear a spectator shout something and perhaps refer to me as a ‘parson’. That makes me feel good, and gives me something to live up to.

I remember playing against a back who hit me right, left and centre. Eventually, we both sprawled on the turf, and he grunted: “You amaze me, Tiddy. I keep kicking you, but you don’t do anything about it.”

At the end of the game he came over for a handshake and we have been pals since then.

Mark you, I am often tempted to lose my temper but I am certain that my Church upbringing helps me to keep it in check.

The great majority of professional footballers are fine fellows. They are healthy sportsmen with good morals. Ignore the tales you hear of drinking and immorality among players.

Take it from me that most of the lads live for their football, and keep themselves fit in the mind as well as body.

How do they react to my views? I receive respect from them, int he dressing room and on the field.

Some people might think of chaps like me as being prudes or cissies. Well, I can only say that I have always felt I have been one of the boys with all the clubs I have played for.

I like to join in the fun and leg-pulling. I like to play in the card ‘schools’ on long away trips.

I get a lot out of football, but the biggest thing is learning to take defeat as as well as success. We haven;t started to conquer life until we can do this in the right spirit.

And here I think I ought to pass on this same advice to certain spectators! They take defeat with far less grace than most players.

I don’t think television will take most of the fans from the terraces, for there is nothing quite like the real thing… the electric Soccer atmosphere and letting off steam.

That’s a good old British safety valve!

My advice to young players is: Play football the best way by doing the easy thing slickly and accurately. But I must warn you that the easy things in football can be the most difficult.

Interesting to read Tiddy’s dismissal of the impact of television on football. He must have been thinking of the rather ropey TV coverage of the FA Cup game between Brighton (in the dark shirts) with Bath (stripes) which managed to – scandalously! – miss his winning goal:

The record attendance at Twerton Park, 18,020, also ably demonstrated that there is no substitute for seeing a game in person.

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