Monthly Archives: September 2013

It Was Magic!

I found this fascinating book in a second-hand shop years ago for just 99p. Published in 1997, and written by Jim Drewett and Alex Leith:

itwasmagic

It’s a compilation of the best ever 100 football matches. As the back cover says:

“Hundreds of football stars from Sir Stanley Matthews, Gordon Banks and Glenn Hoddle to Steve Ogrozovic, Bob Wilson and Sepp Blatter voted for their favourite games of all time.”

It’s a stirring synopsis of some quite marvellous matches from football history. From England’s 3-6 humbling by Hungary in 1953, Brazil 4-1 Italy in 1970, to Charlton beating Huddersfield 7-6 in 1957. Others include Second Division Watford responding to a 4-0 defeat in the first leg of a League Cup tie against Southampton by thrashing the First Division side 7-1 in the return leg in 1980. Oh, and Crystal Palace 4-3 Liverpool in 1990.

Besides these highly appealing inclusions (even the Palace one), for Seagulls fans, there was added interest as in his introduction, Jim Drewett stated:

The inevitable British bias meant Brighton and Hove Albion looked like making an astonishing three appearances in the top one hundred (which has more to do with Alan Mullery’s choices than my co-author’s loyalties, honest!)

Brighton’s 3-2 victory over Sheffield Wednesday at the Goldstone Ground in 1976/77 made it in at number 67 in the book’s list. It was a result which guaranteed promotion from Division Three. Drewett’s co-author Alex Leith wrote:

peterward76

Peter Ward was the darling of the Brighton fans in the 1976/7, and a quick burst of acceleration and a lethal shot made him the most feared striker in the division. Every time he got the ball he looked like scoring, which he did thirty-six times that season. But he nearly blew it for Brighton in this vital end-of-season match.

Ward was backed by a gutsy team, with Ian ‘Spider’ Mellor alongside him up front, Brian ‘Nobby’ Horton running midfield, and Irish international Peter O’Sullivan on the flank. But Jack Charlton’s Wednesday, in seventh position, did their best to spoil the party on the night, scoring in the first minute, and holding out to go into the interval 1-0 up. Just after the restart the nervous crowd could afford to relax slightly when Brighton were awarded a penalty, and Ward stepped up to take it. Everyone was confident. He was deadly in the box… until he missed. But Ward made amends with a fifty-seventh minute equaliser, and on seventy-one minutes he won another penalty for Brighton. A season’s toil rested on one kick.

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Skipper Brian Horton took it this time, and made no mistake.

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Local boy Steve Piper slammed home a third goal four minutes from time which meant that Wednesday’s second goal, scored in the last minutes, served only to add to the tension.

1977

The referee’s final whistle signalled a celebratory crowd invasion, and Brighton were on a roll that eventually took them to the First Division and the FA Cup Final.

A cracking piece, and it’s followed by the 1983 FA Cup Final coming in at number 92 and the Newcastle v Brighton match in 1979 featuring at number 97. That last game must have been of particular interest to Alex Leith as in the author notes in this book he is described as:

Born in Newcastle and brought up just outside Brighton, which means his heart is split in two between United and Albion. He became a sports journalist after the lure of the lira saw him spend four seasons in Italy.

Purely by fluke, I was in contact with Alex on Twitter and realised he was one of the authors of this book I had read. I asked him his thoughts on putting together ‘It Was Magic’, sixteen years on:

Difficult book to write! We did a survey of 100s of people in the game. It was before the internet was a useful research tool, so we relied on books and word of mouth and programmes and suchlike. Labour of love. An Albion bias because of the people we asked. Mullers etc. Got interviewed on Radio 5 by John Inverdale but it got cut short because it was the day Dolly the Sheep was announced!

Alex is now editor of Viva Brighton which has done some superb interviews with some Albion greats from yesteryear such as Brian Powney, Peter Ward, Alan Mullery and Brian Horton.

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Handball!

handball

Brighton forward John Goodchild (striped shirt) may be floored, but he succeeded in beating Darlington goalkeeper Keith Hird only for left-back Brian Henderson to save in expert fashion. At the time, he would not have faced a red card for this offence. For a team nicknamed the Quakers, Henderson’s actions were hardly in keeping with the ethos of this religious movement!

This photo was taken in 1963/64 when Brighton did the League double over Darlington in Division Four. If, as was likely, a penalty was awarded to the Albion, it certainly wasn’t scored. No matter, Goodchild got the winner in the 2-1 away win in April 1964.

Goodchild eventually played 176 games for the Albion after signing from Sunderland in May 1961, scoring 46 goals. After a magnificent season as a left-winger for Brighton in the Fourth Division Championship side of 1964/65, he left the Goldstone to join York City in June 1966. By that point, he must have forgiven Darlington as he joined their side a year later before hanging up his boots.

johngoodchilda

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Boycott Focus DIY, urges 90 Minutes magazine

It may have been founded by a Crystal Palace fan, Dan Goldstein, yet 90 Minutes magazine was not averse to giving coverage to Brighton throughout the seven years of the publication’s existence. Indeed, the diversity of the paper suggested that the concerns of fans of lower league clubs were every bit as important as those of the big clubs.

By 1996/97, the turmoil surrounding the Albion was reaching epic proportions. In 19 October 1996 (Issue 330), Barbara Everitt of Hassocks won the Letter of the Week award (£10) with this finely penned call to football fans:

letteroftheweek

iestyngeorge The excellent, sensitive response is by Iestyn George (Twitter @iestyngeorge), the senior staff writer at the time. He now lives in Brighton, and is a Lecturer at Solent University in Southampton.

As we all know, Brighton & Hove Albion did survive despite the traumatic events at the club. Less fortunate was 90 Minutes magazine, which folded with its 17th May edition, a fortnight after the Hereford match.

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QPR’s Shanks risked the dole queue to join Brighton

With Brighton visiting Queens Park Rangers tomorrow night, it’s time to revisit the career of footballer who played for both clubs:

shanks

There was an average of two and a half million people unemployed in the UK in 1981. Don Shanks, a very experienced and stylish right-back, was one of them. He had played his part in the celebrated QPR side that finished runners-up in Division One in 1975/76, but now had fallen on harder times. Instead of signing for the DHSS, he arrived at the Goldstone Ground in 1981/82, proving a worthy successor to John Gregory who had joined the Loftus Road club. Shoot! magazine reports:

Don Shanks risked four months without pay and the threat of the dole to regain First Division football. At 28, the former Q.P.R. defender gambled for high stakes by cancelling his contract by mutual consent, and getting, in exchange, a free transfer from the West London club. When he quit, Shanks still had two years to run on his present contract.

Shanks’ risky move came about because Rangers rejected his claims for a loyalty bonus and better contract. I had been there over seven years and believed I should have been rewarded,” said Shanks. “They wouldn’t agree but they offered me a free transfer. I had to take the chance as well, by agreeing to have my contract cancelled.”

What followed was a hair-raising time for the player. “Going four months without any wages isn’t easy, as far as I’m concerned,” said Shanks. “I wondered whether I was as useful a player as I’d thought, when no one came in for me. Suddenly, you begin to doubt your own ability.”

But then came one offer, from Brighton. Yet Shanks’ problems were by no means at an end. He went on pre-season tour with the club to Holland, yet things didn’t work out well even though Shanks played fairly well.

“Then Millwall invited me to play a couple of games for them and offered me a contract. But, in the meantime, Brighton sold Lawrenson so on the day I was going to sign for Millwall and Third Division football, Brighton came in end offered me a one-year contract. It was disappointing for Millwall, but for me it was a shot in the arm.

“Getting First Division football again was tremendous and made all those agonising summer months worthwhile.

“When I was without a club and had no job, I suppose I was being proved wrong by what I did at Rangers. But now, I believe my decision was the correct one.”

Now, Shanks has this season to impress Brighton and particularly manager Mike Bailey sufficiently to earn a !onger contract, by next June. It’s up to me and I believe I can persuade them I’m good enough,” he says. “We didn’t make a great start to the season but we have a good side here, and I think we will improve.”

shanks2Shanks says he hasn’t found it that difficult to switch from the Second Division to the First. “The main difference is that you have to be positive here. If you decide to go for a ball, you have to commit yourself totally so that you make sure you get it,” he says. “I know one thing – the atmosphere helps. It’s marvellous to be back in Division One because it is another world. You have to be on top of your game all the time.

“My future is very much in my hands. If I play well and impress the management and the club does reasonably well, I hope I can win a longer contract. It is a trial period for me and I would have like to have signed a longer contract.

“But I gambled coming here. But I have confidence in my own ability and that is the most important factor.”

Brighton manager Mike Bailey is delighted with his new partnership of Shanks and Jimmy Case down the right hand side.

“I can’t see us being taken apart down the right,” he says. “Jim is a strong tackler as well as a good passer, a player who never knows he’s beaten.

“He has something to prove and I think he’ll do it.”

Brighton have made a reasonably solid, if unspectacular start to the season, but Bailey is happy.

“The new lads have settled in well and I can feel a nice atmosphere building up at the club.” The First Division must seem • long way from the dole queue for Don Shanks.

Shanks won over the Seagulls’ fans with some excellent displays in 1981/82, as he made 42 appearances in all competitions. Not only did he strengthen the defence, he is fondly remembered for his two late forays down the right-flank which precipitated a grandstand finish against Liverpool in October 1981, with Brighton drawing level after being 3-1 down at the Goldstone Ground.

He did win an extension to his contract, playing twelve matches at the start of the 1982/83. However, the former Luton and QPR man lost his place in favour of the far less experienced Chris Ramsey when boss Mike Bailey was replaced in December 1982. Shanks then had spells with Eastern club in Hong Kong and Wimbledon.

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Now O’Sullivan is chasing glory

Here’s Peter O’Sullivan, brimming with confidence ahead of the 1972/73 season:

osullivan1973

Note his professional ambition was to ‘win a full Welsh cap and play in Division One.’ The latter happened much later in his career but getting full international honours was to come his way much earlier, in March 1973, despite the Albion making a pig’s ear of competing in the Second Division.

Shoot! magazine revisited Sully the following season, 1973/74, after Brighton had landed back with a bump in the Third Division. By the time of the interview, Pat Saward had made his exit, Brian Clough had arrived, and the Welsh winger and midfielder was buzzing with optimism about the new appointment:

Towards the end of last season, Peter O’Sullivan was on the verge of asking Brighton for a move. In three seasons with the club he had tasted the headed heights of success.

There was promotion from the Third Division, five Welsh Under-23 caps plus a full international against Scotland. But just as quickly, a dream of further success faded as Brighton surrendered their Second Division status after just one season.

“I was bitterly disappointed at that,” said 22-year-old O’Sullivan.

“It seemed at last I was getting over the depression of being in the Manchester United reserves for four years when life began to turn sour again.”

O’Sullivan, who hails from Colwyn Bay in North Wales, thought hard about his future, and after Brighton’s dismal start to the current campaign, wanted away. In these days when forward talent is so precious there would have been no lack of bidders for the young winger’s talents.

Then Brian Clough arrived.

“Suddenly the whole atmosphere down at Goldstone Road changed,” explained Peter. “And I am sure that under Mr Clough and Peter Taylor, Brighton can really do well again.

“I’ve been impressed with their ideas, and they have completely overhauled the set up down here.

Now I am more than happy to stay – that is if Mr. Clough still wants me and help Brighton back into the big time.

“The potential down here is enormous and I am sure we will realise it under Mr. Clough.”

Peter can have few worries about whether Brian Clough will keep him.

Peter also points to the huge crowds Brighton can draw when they are getting results as a sign that the club have all the ingredients of a top flight side.

“Some of our home games have been watched by 30,000 fans.

That is a marvellous total for the Third Division. It just shows what we can do if we are successful.

“Once that confidence comes flowing back we will give them something to cheer about. I can’t promise goals, but I can promise 100 per cent effort to get them.”

O’Sullivan was ever-present in 1973/74, hitting four goals, including Albion’s first goal in the infamous 8-2 home defeat to Bristol Rovers. His excellent dribble and drive brought the score back to 2-1 to the visitors. Not for the first or last time, Sully’s creativity with giving hope to the Albion.

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Graham Moseley’s yawn

A rarely seen Albion team photo for 1979/80, but look who’s over yonder, there a-yawning?

moseleysyawn

Why it’s first choice keeper Graham Moseley!

This photo was sent by Kevin (thanks Kevin!) who said:

It was given to me by a family member who didn’t appreciate it, as he is a Chelsea fan. I took it to a far better place and now hopefully will be hung somewhere at home. This family member trained with albion at some point but never went on to play pro.

As Jimbo26 put it on North Stand Chat:

Looks like Moseley had been at the Hove Park Tavern the night before. Good lad!!

Thankfully, Mose perked up enough for this other snap to be taken:

79-80v8

Back row: Giles Stille, Teddy Maybank, Malcolm Poskett, Gary Williams, Mike Kerslake, Gerry Ryan.

Middle row: Steve Foster, Andy Rollings, Graham Moseley, Eric Steele, Martin Chivers, Mark Lawrenson, John Gregory.

Front row: Paul Clark, Peter Sayer, Brian Horton, Peter O’Sullivan, Peter Ward.

It was this version that made it in the quite spectacular Evening Argus wallchart that was given away to readers before the 1979/80 season:

79-80

Despite Moseley’s sleepiness here, it certainly wasn’t a boring season as Brighton proved themselves worthy competitors in their debut campaign in the First Division. By mid-September, many fans would have given up on filling in the results, especially with the Seagulls regularly getting beaten by this point. Credit to the original owner of the wallchart for taking the time to complete the stats to the season’s close!

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Man City players chase Miss Brighton

womanrunner2a

Not sure whether this article furthers or puts back the cause of women’s lib. Still, a cracking photo, nevertheless!

Wearing the colours of her home town soccer club, Brighton and Hove Albion, Nicky Bradley, 20-year-old Miss Brighton, sets the pace for Manchester City players Alan Oakes, Cliff Sear and Dave Connor as she trains with the City team at their Maine Road ground.

Nicky, who holds her beauty queen title for the second successive year, was the Brighton area 100 yards sprint champion when she was at school and also won many other running events.

Doubtless her admirers have difficulty keeping pace.

She believes that regular exercises have given her “‘that little extra over other girls” and furthered her career as a model and beauty queen.

In the words of Spencer Davies: “Keep on running!”

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Thank you, Steve!

stevegritt

Despite the Seagulls having to play their home matches in Kent, there was not much chance of relegation in 1997/98, due to Doncaster Rovers’ abject performance. However, with the Albion only seven points clear, Steve Gritt was relieved of his duties in February. Nevertheless, it led to an outpouring of heartfelt appreciation for the manager who performed heroically in the club’s darkest days during the previous campaign. It is unquestionable that without the former Charlton man’s efforts, the club would have slid out of the Football League.

Seagulls fans undoubtedly wished to pay tribute to Gritt. Online, you can still find a 1990s guestbook of thanks to the great man.

Like many supporters, Stephen Cowdry was eager to write a letter of gratitude to the ex-Albion boss after hearing of the sad news. Here is the reply he received:

gritt

In his letter, Steve Gritt mentions joining Millwall as reserve team coach. He also had a short spell as caretaker manager at The Den before becoming Mark McGhee’s assistant up to 2003. However, while his spell with us was much shorter, he will always live long in the affections of Brighton fans. The home form after Christmas in 1996/97, and the Doncaster and Hereford matches see to that.

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Thunderboots Robinson is a blast from the past

From Shoot! magazine:

Michael Robinson – he doesn’t like Mike and Mick, he says, “sounds like a dog food” won’t complain if you describe him as an old-fashioned centre-forward.

But surely he’d mind being called Mick ‘Robertson’!

michaelrobinson

The article continues:

He doesn’t go in for centre partings nor steel toe caps. Nor does he have a penchant for barging goalkeepers Into the back of their own nets. But as centre-forwards go, he’s definitely more a Thunderboots Bobby Smith than a Budgie Byrne.

Raw strength and courage are the attributes he takes on to a football field. Plus a powerful shot that he’s not afraid to exercise liberally.

As any schoolboy economist can tell you, supply and demand dictate price. And it’s because centre-forwards of Robinson’s type are in such limited supply and heavy demand that he cost Manchester City £750,000 in the summer of 1979.

Even so, it did seem a bit extravagant even for Malcolm Allison. He was shelling out what, at the time, was the third highest fee of all time for a player who’d had one full season in the Second Division.

In a season and a bit at Preston, Robinson scored a modest 15 goals in 43 League games. But he’d already shown enough to attract other clubs besides Manchester City.

As it turned out, last season was a bit of a disaster for Robinson, Allison and the rest of the City team. But down on Brighton’s South Coast this season, Robinson is proving that he can do the business in Division One.

He scored only eight goals in 29 appearances for Manchester City, but he blames that as much on his ever-changing role in an ever-changing team as anything else.

He says: “At times, I might as well have stood on the touchline or sat in the stands. City played me all over the place and I couldn’t understand why Malcolm Allison had paid all that money for me if he didn’t want me as an out and out striker.

“it was difficult playing in the City team, anyway. It always seemed to be an experimental side, rather than a settled formation.

“We attracted a lot of attention, too, because of all the money Malcolm spent and we’d find that some teams treated a game against us like the Cup Final.

“They’d get a big gate to see the game and it would lift them to play really well. At times, you’d stand around watching the other team buzz about thinking, ‘what on earth is going on here?’

“But the experience was good for all of us. I feel much more able to cope now and I’m sure the young lads I left behind at City feel the same way.”

He had other problems at Maine Road. The price tag itself was one of them. When you cost three-quarters of a million pounds, people feel free to be more critical than if you were a kid from the reserves and Robinson admits: “The fee did bother me.”

He was also cajoled into playing on occasions when he really wasn’t fit and that, too, brought more pressure on him. “I went out once when I had a temperature of over 100. I thought I was doing the manager a favour.

“But it’s silly because you are bound to play below par and then you’re open to criticism from the fans again. I would never do that again.”

For all his problems, Robinson didn’t exactly jump at the chance when City agreed to sell him to Bdghton for something less than half their original investmenL His friends and family mostly live in the North West and he also owns property there.

“It was a wrench to leave City as well because I enjoyed my time there, despite the problems. But Brighton manager Alan Mullery is a very persuasive man. He reminds me of Nobby Stiles, my former manager at Preston.”

Mullery’s tongue was one influentual factor. The other was the prospect of playing alongside Peter Ward. Robinson got his best view of Ward when playing for City at the Goldstone Ground last season.

“We got hammered 4-1 and Peter was brilliant. So the thought of playing alongside him was naturally tempting.” Robinson also likes having Mark Lawrenson and Gary Williams behind him in the Brighton defence. He describes them as “two of the best defenders in the country.”

The individual components may be impressive but as a whole, the Brighton side leaves something to be desired. After last season’s early struggles, they were hoping for a good start this time. But so far, they haven’t suggested that they’ll be anything other than an average First Division team, if that.

Taking the 'Mick' again

Taking the ‘Mick’ again

Robinson is already finding the goals a lot easier to come by than last season, and if he continues at the same rate, he could top 20 this season.

He feels confident enough to predict that “City will regret selling me. I intend to show them this season that they made a mistake letting me go.”

Even so, he has mixed feelings about Maine Road. Through all his troubles, the crowd gave him full support, and the exposure helped to attract Brighton to him.

And as Robinson says himself, It was a great education for him in Manchester. “I shall always think of my spell at City as the time when I grew up – both as a man and a player.”

City’s loss…

It certainly was. Robinson rebuilt his confidence and career by scoring 19 goals for Brighton in the First Division during that 1980/81 season. These including one at the Goldstone Ground against his former club City in October. Unfortunately for him, Albion went down 2-1.

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Moshe a winner!

In Soccer Monthly magazine, Albion fan Alan Hanking from Lewes puts enormous faith in the abilities of Israeli international Moshe Gariani. Maybe he ought to invest in one of these t-shirts?

mosheawinner

Perhaps a footballer being ‘blinkered like a racehorse’ may give a reason as to why Moshe did not make it in First Division under Mullery or Bailey!

No matter, Moshe has cult hero status for Albion fans of the 1980s, not to mention this blog. One substitute appearance against Southampton, and that was it for Mr Enigma.

In a ceaseless search for the Israeli midfielder, one online interview for Gariani has been found. Apologies for the broken English:

1981-1982 season and he’s 23 years old, The little playmaker of Maccabi Netanya is taking a plane and lands in Brighton. It’s true, He didn’t see much pitch but 22 years ago it was something great for the Israeli football.

Q: Moshe, You are in cold and buttoned England?
A: You see what it’s like, Yes, me. In England, either you win or you loose – You finish the match day in the Pub, drinking and laughing. The score doesn’t matter. You went off of the pitch and that’s it! After a loose – You will not find a face of Av the 9th (a face of sadness cause Av the 9th is the day the Temple was ruined) like in Israel. In England they make a separation. You could see players, 45 minutes before the game, calling from the club to a gambling agent and put money on Horse Gambling. I also put money once and won 20 pounds.

Q: Hey, Listen. You actually have it.
A: Yes, eh? We were always together. Going to eat, playing Tennis,Golf, Squash, Horse racing and Billiard.

John Gregory was there, who became the manager of Aston Villa and Derby County after. You can be sure that it wasn’t boring, although in the end of the day everyone got back to their families and I was stuck alone, climbing on the walls.

Q: How is the English audience?
A: The audiance was alright. Not to much fanatical. Not once the fans met me on the street and told me that they don’t understand why the coach don’t let me play and that I deserve to play. In the newspaper there – I wasn’t to take an interest in so much cause they had only half a page of Sports and anyway, I didn’t know how to read the language so it didn’t interested me. But the Guys there were wonderfull.

There were couple of tricksters there, like the full back – Steve Foster. He had a very weak forehead. Every game he was getting on the pitch with a bandage on his head. He was also tricked in the runnings of the Cross Country and hiding behind the tree, till everybody came back. Those things remind me the things we used to do in Israel but the poor guy got fine on those things.

There was a great thing in Christmass. There is some kind of night there that everyone is getting masquerade. I was flow with that thing and put a costume of an American Indian and we got to couple of walks in Pubs and Discotheques, the guys went wild, ever place we left – we left chaos but we were forgive cause we were football players.

Q: In the end, You didn’t make it to the second season.
A: It could have been that if I was established I could have stayed but being alone drive me crazy. I was making pre season trainings in the second season and was in the reserves team. I remember we scored 9 goals to Dallas Texas, I scored 6 goals and the Americans offered me a contract of 150,000$ per season. Big money, but I was thinking at that time to go back home so I told them that I thank them for the money but I’m prefering to come back home.

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