Monthly Archives: October 2013

Stevens maps his path to glory

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I’m not sure if its from Match Weekly or Shoot! Magazine. However, Gary Stevens’ determination to reach the top is unmistakeable:

Ambitious Brighton defender Gary Stevens has mapped out his path to the top.

Stevens, who has played more than 150 First Division matches is one of the most promising defenders in the First Division.

Stevens recently made his first appearance for the England Under-21 side, helping the youngsters defeat Hungary 1-0 at Newcastle.

“I am the sort of player who simply isn’t satisfied to jog along without success and ambitions. I’m very ambitious and I want to achieve things in the game,” he says.

“Despite my age I shall be available for the Under-21’s for another couple of years in the European Championship. And after that I want to be pushing for a place in the senior England squad – with caps to follow.”

Stevens, who hails from Ipswich, might be considered over-ambitious by some critics. But he insists: “You must have targets. I need to push myself as much as possible. I see nothing wrong with that.”

Transfer talk has already suggested Stevens could become a prime target if Brighton slip into the Second Division at the end of the season. His smooth, silky performances have been noted by some as displays of a future star.

But Stevens says: “I don’t want to leave the club. It’s a good lifestyle down here and the team has ability even if we have disappointed everyone in the League this season.”

Stevens also wants to improve aspects of his own game, especially his pace. “I am working hard on it and it’s getting better. At the moment I am automatic choice for Brighton’s first team but I want to become an automatic selection for the England Under-21s and then for the full England team.

“I’ve played four seasons in the First Division and have learned something every year. But I’ve benefited from Jimmy Melia’s appointment as our manager because he encourages me to get forward a great deal.

“At times this season everyone at brighton has been guilty of letting themselves and the club down. But one look at our players makes it obvious we are not a Second Division side.”

Stevens grabbed back the central defensive slot when Mike Bailey left the Goldstone Ground. “He didn’t think I was a good enough central defensive player and I had to fill in at full-back. But I prefer playing in the middle although it’s meant Steve Gatting has had to adapt to full-back or midfield.”

Now Gary is hoping that next week’s FA Cup Final is just the first of many games at Wembley.

“Reaching the FA Cup Final is unbelievable,” he says. “Now I may have to take over the main defender’s role in front of millions because of Steve Foster’s suspension.”

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Those Albion men in Farah casual tops

It’s been a while since this blog posted a Farah Slacks-related missive. So here’s another one:

Gary Stevens, Ken Craggs, Mark Lawrenson, John Gregory, Alan Mullery and Brian Horton

Gary Stevens, Ken Craggs, Mark Lawrenson, John Gregory, Alan Mullery and Brian Horton

Don’t they look the business? What do you mean – no? As described in the Brighton v Leicester programme of 1981:

Many supporters will know that our first team squad have been fitted out by Farahs, the Gatwick-based supplier of American manufactured clothing.

Our picture shows a recent group of Albion personalities wearing their off-pitch kit of zip-fronted blouson-type casual tops in Farasuede fabric teamed up with versatile, easy care slacks from Farah’s famous hopsack range.

The total Farah men’s and boyswear range now includes casual and more formal trousers, sports slacks, denim jeans, mens’ leisure tops, blazers and informal jackets.

Anyone up for a Farah Slacks revival? If you know where you can buy them in Brighton & Hove nowadays, please let me know…

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Sergei superstar

sergeigotsmanov2After breaking into the Dinamo Minsk side at the age of 17, the skilful Belorussian midfielder Sergei Anatolovich Gotsmanov played on over 350 occasions for his home city, as well as serving in the army and a short stint at Brest, near where his army base was. He also played 31 times for the USSR, scoring the first goal in England’s 2-0 home defeat at the end of the 1983/84, capitalising on Mike Duxbury’s calamitous attempt at cutting out a through ball.

Apart from this, the clip below is also particularly worth watching for a splendid run by Gotsmanov in the first half, skipping past two hapless England defenders:

A game changer back then, he was even more of a talisman when he arrived in Hove, on trial from Dinamo Minsk in February 1990. As a profile in the Brighton v Bradford matchday programme said a month later:

Already he is a favourite with the Albion fans. Even before he scored in his first two full games Sergei Gotsmanov only had to warm up as a substitute to send ripples of excitement down the Goldstone.

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Gotsmanov’s two substitute appearances were at Sunderland and then at home with Middlesbrough, before his full debut in the 1-1 draw with Oldham at the Goldstone at the start of March. The programme continues:

Sergei the Seagull realises he is causing something of a stir. But being the centre of attention does not suit his modest nature. The team is what matters, he says. His excellent goal against Oldham, his first for the Albion, struck first time from a through pass, was a piece of quality finishing. However, Sergei dismisses the goal and the part he played in gaining a point. Through an interpreter he prefers to talk about the team: ‘Winning games is what counts,’ he says. ‘Yes, it was a good goal but at the end of a good move. And scoring is not enough if the team loses.’

Here is the goal against the in-form Latics in the 54th minute:

Not only did he open the scoring, Gotsmanov’s star performance had supporters singing his praises. ‘We’ve got a Russian international!’ they proudly chanted.

Oh his full debut against Oldham, where he scored in the 54th minute

Oh his full debut against Oldham…

His skill and vision helped to play in his team mates at times, when they were as quick-thinking as him

His skill and vision helped to play in his team mates at times… that’s when they were as quick-thinking as him!

A midfielder by trade, Gotsmanov was used by Barry Lloyd mainly in attack following an injury to Garry Nelson. With his outstanding control, accurate passing and vision, he looked several classes above the mere mortals of the Barclays Second Division that he was playing with. However, besides artistry, he also showed gutsiness. In the next match, against Plymouth Argyle, Gotsmanov was on the scoresheet again, using his quick reactions and determination to nick this winner:

However, it was undoubtedly the Hull City match at the start of April where he firmly placed his name deep into Albion folklore with an audacious piece of magic. After rounding the keeper with consummate ease, Gotsmanov impudently celebrated before putting the ball in the back of the net:

As Barry Lloyd said:

Call it cheek or a piece of pure theatre: what everyone surely recognised about Sergei Gotsmanov’s goal in last week’s home game against Hull was that it bore the hallmark of supreme confidence.

Much has been said about Sergei since he arrived at the Goldstone. Certainly, he is a player with whom we have been delighted and he is a superb example to other players here, both in skill, technique and dedication.

But the goal was something else! Skipping round tackles and holding your arms aloft BEFORE slotting the ball into the net is the stuff of which dreams are made.

Could we possibly hold on to a star like this? Sadly, the answer was no. Everything was tried, including giving him the keys to a new Lada Samara, from Market Cars of Hove!

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In the end, Albion were unable to match the terms that Southampton offered, and a £150,000 fee to Dinamo led to his unsuccessful spell at the Dell. In his brief Albion career, Gotsmanov signed off his goalscoring with this drive against Leeds in April, showing the technique and ability to find space that marked him as a class apart:

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Pat Saward: ‘I am in a fog’

In 1971/72, a confident, enterprising Brighton side slaughtered Halifax 5-0 at The Shay in the Third Division on their way to runners-up spot. Such was their attacking might, they mustered 43 League goals away from home in a glorious march up the table.

However, the heart of the Albion side was broken apart the following season, with the likes of Kit Napier, John Napier and Willie Irvine departing, and Brian Bromley losing the captaincy, as the club lasted a single campaign in Division Two. With the frequency of the hammerings they suffered, a return to the lower reaches of the Football League seemed almost a merciful act.

Time to regroup and refresh in the less choppy waters of Division Three. And go for promotion once more, with this motley crew:

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At least that was the plan. Yet by October 1973, hopes of a revival by Pat Saward’s men were dismantled by another atrocious start, with just two wins in eleven matches. Indeed, the Goldstone Ground proved a victory-free zone on the eve of the clash with Halifax Town on Saturday 13th. Again, disaster befell the side, as the Argus’ John Vinicombe reported:

With the halifax goalkeeper on the ground, Beamish loses the ball to Pickering.

With the halifax goalkeeper on the ground, Beamish loses the ball to Pickering.

The Goldstone nightmare continues: 540 minutes of sheer agony and six defeats in a row with just three goals scored and ten against. And defeat by a makeshift Halifax side was watched by the lowest crowd of the season – 6,228.

Towards the end many of the rain-or-shine fans had had enough. Their patience was so exhausted that they didn’t bother to barrack. By turning backs en masse on the match the faithful hundreds slipped away, too fed up to fling a last parting shot.

Surprise, surprise! An Albion attack by Beamish and Hilton is thwarted by the Halfiax defence.

Surprise, surprise! An Albion attack by Beamish and Hilton is thwarted by the Halfiax defence.

Albion were dreadful. There is no point in searching for stronger adjectives. At home there is no semblance of confidence.

It is difficult to see what course now lies open to the club. The board, with Mike Bamber at the head, following Len Stringer’s resignation, back the manager. So do the players.

The worst start in living memory is grievously damaging to morale, and Mr Saward himself confessed that he was left speechless by this latest debacle. ‘I am in a fog. I just don’t know why they played as they did,’ he said afterwards.

He is brutally honest. Here we have a situation where the man who should be supplying the answers and remedies has actually admitted to being stumped.

In the 1-0 defeat, the Halifax winner was scored by striker David Gwyther six minutes before half-time, making sure after Wilkie had steered the ball past Powney, when there was an absence of an Albion challenge for the ball from Shanahan’s cross. Afterwards, Vinicombe contended that new players were needed at the Goldstone, but permanent ones rather than loans:

‘Too much reliance has been placed on temporary transfers and Albion have a bad name in the game as a result.’

He also drew parallels with 1962/63 when the club, having dropped out of Division Two, fell straight through to the Fourth Division. Flashing the cheque book did not save Albion then, and with an overdraft of over £150,000 in 1973/74, and falling attendances, the club could not afford to be too wild now.

In the end, a desperate Pat Saward did register a first home win a week later, with goals from Ron Howell and Ken Beamish securing a 2-0 Brighton victory over fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town. Not that the manager saw it. Extraordinary as it seems now, he missed the game as he was on a scouting mission. However, the win was not enough to save Saward. He was sacked two days later, with three years of his contract remaining.

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Number jacked

Nothing particularly unusual about this photo of Brighton’s match with Cambridge on New Year’s Day 1994, you may think:

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However, it was at this match that Brighton became the first League club to abandon a squad numbering system and revert to the original 1-11 shirts. Squad numbers were optional under Football League regulations, with ten clubs utilising the system in the 1993/94 season.

As Ron Pavey, Albion secretary, said to Matchday magazine in March 1994:

‘It was one of the first things that Liam Brady suggested when he came to the Goldstone that we should revert to the traditional system. The squad numbering system was beginning to look very messy, with players’ numbers ranging up to 25, and it also caused chaos in our programme.’

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That was the last we saw of squad numbering at the Goldstone. It was only a temporary reprieve for traditionalists, though, as by 1999-2000, it was back for the first season at Withdean.

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Howard’s way stifles Chamberlain

Howard Wilkinson is the only ex-Brighton & Hove Albion player to manage the England national football team, which he fulfilled on a caretaker basis in two spells, in 1999 and 2000.

In his playing career, he was an ex-England youth international who joined Sheffield Wednesday in June 1962, making his First Division debut in the 1964/65 season. After 22 League games and three goals, he arrived at the Goldstone Ground in July 1966.

Posing with Bob Fuller, an Albion reserve

Posing with Bob Fuller, an Albion reserve

At Brighton, he is remembered as a smart and direct outside-right who could skin a full-back for pace and put in a good cross. Even so, in his book ‘Managing to Succceed’ in 1992, Howard Wilkinson described how he was ‘gaining no sense of fulfilment from being a Third Division footballer with Brighton.’ Perhaps this was because after an injury in December 1966, he never fully re-established himself and was often substitute.

He went on to say that:

‘When I was a player at Brighton, under manager Archie Macaulay’s guidance, we had some remarkable preparations for important matches and cup-ties. There were liberal doses of sherry and raw eggs, calves foot jelly, fillet steak, and plenty of walks on the seafront where we were taken to fill our lungs with the ozone.’

After featuring sporadically in 1969/70, Wilkinson found first-team chances limited by the emergence and form of Peter O’Sullivan. As a result, he was given a free transfer in May 1971.

With his propensity for hugging the line, Wilkinson was rarely a goal threat himself in his time at Brighton, getting on the scoresheet just twice in his final two seasons. When he entered management, Wilkinson’s idea of the role of a wide man did not bring out the best of a future Albion player:

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The highly skilful Mark Chamberlain was an England international winger. Graham Barnett, his coach at Port Vale, described him as ‘like a bloody gazelle… a black jewel… he’s got the bloody lot… he’s class… so much better than John Barnes.’

This explosive goal for Stoke City against Brighton in 1982/83 is an example of what he was capable of:

Although he had slipped down the England order by then, a disastrous move to Wilkinson’s Sheffield Wednesday in 1986 for £700,000 put paid to any hopes of further caps. As Chamberlain told 90 Minutes magazine (24 July 1993):

It was a nightmare. I just didn’t fit in with his scheme of things. Like all of his teams, Wednesday played to a very strict pattern and anybody who slipped out of that pattern was seen as a liability. In the end I couldn’t really get away quick enough.

He joined Portsmouth in 1988 but endured injury problems and loss of form. When Jim Smith arrived as Pompey boss, it led to a renaissance in his career:

‘He told me that I wasn’t just a winger who should sit out wide and wait for things to happen, that I should get myself involved throughout the game. Last season, things really clicked. I felt a lot happier with my consistency and I think I played the best football of my career since I left Stoke.’

After a hernia operation in summer 1994, Chamberlain arrived at the Goldstone for a trial. He scored on his debut against Plymouth in August with this splendid drive:

Thereafter, though, he struggled for form having lost a lot of his pace, and 24 years after Wilkinson received the same fate from Brighton, Chamberlain was released at the end of 1994/95. Perhaps Archie Macaulay’s methodology, described above, involving sherry and raw eggs, calves foot jelly, fillet steak, and plenty of walks on the seafront, might have done wonders for Chamberlain’s twilight years. As it was, when he joined Exeter, he took a more conventional step for an ageing winger seeking to extend his career, by shifting to right-back position.

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Please play Peter Ward

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With the current striker injury crisis, how Brighton & Hove Albion could do with a young Peter Ward in their side. However, in October 1979, he began to experience a dip in form that led to Mullery dispensing with his services for the clash with Sheffield United at the start of the following month. As John Vinicombe wrote in ‘Up, Up and Away’:

What Albion badly needed was an away win, and it came at Bramall Lane. After the West Ham defeat, Mullery was faced with a fairly basic problem among managers. Quite simply, his star player, Peter Ward, had ceased to glitter. But the easy get-out of dropping him was not the complete answer. For instance, Mullery was concerned with not just improving the side, but re-motivating a young man with the ability to swing a match on his own.

In and out of the Albion side, Peter Ward did not hit a single League goal for the Albion from October to January. Nevertheless, he had staunch support from some Seagulls fans as letters to the Evening Argus illustrate. Take this one by Vincent Neal, of Erroll Road, Hove:

I have been an Albion supporter for 24 years and have rarely missed a game. One thing seems patently obvious to me.

Albion are foolishly wasting the enormous potential of one of their greatest assets – Peter Ward.

He reads the game like a master, moves into open spaces intelligently, has good close control and pace, but rarely receives the service that only a Liam Brady or Trevor Brooking could provide.

On countless occasions I have noted his frustration and desparing gestures towards his team mates when failure to play the early ball or to read his quicksilver mind has resulted in wasted opportunities.

Ward is a gifted player and in my opinion his talents can only properly be complemented by players of equal status.

Currently he is on the fringe of the first team and appears to be trying too hard to prove himself every time he makes a short appearance.

I feel, also, that he needs to be less individualistic and self-centred and concentrate on combining with his colleagues.

My suggestion is for him to play deeper – concentrating on making runs from behind and/or providing accurate passes for Malcolm Poskett, Maybank and Peter Saver to capitalise on.

I guarantee that our recent drop in gate attendances would receive the necessary boost if Ward were an ever present, as even I have been tempted to forego some matches when he has not even been on the substitutes bench.

J Pearce, of Portland Place, Brighton, was equally unequivocal about what he wanted:

When is Ward going to get a fair crack of the whip? Alan Mullery states that it is no use playing him when the grounds are too hard or too soft. That means he is reduced to part-time level. Brighton should either play him regularly or sell him. He’s too good a player to be messed about.

Peter Ward on the bench as an unused substitute at Orient in April 1979

Peter Ward on the bench as an unused substitute at Orient in April 1979

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Brighton 7-0 Charlton

In the match programme for Brighton v Charlton Athletic in October 1983, Jimmy Melia wrote:

We aim to provide more entertainment and hopefully this will produce the goals we want. We need a bit of adventure, we need to allow players to show their skills and inventiveness, and that is the only way we will bring people back through the turnstiles to watch our matches.

A crowd of 11,517 was rewarded (well, the Albion fans anyway!) with a goal frenzy that lived up to Melia’s emphasis on attacking play and enjoyment. In Match Magazine (22 October 1983), a short article called ‘Case cracker’ waxed lyrical about the Albion, and Case’s, performance:

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Brighton hot-shot Jimmy Case set the Goldstone Ground buzzing with his hat-trick goal in the demolition of Charlton.

His third goal was a spectacular effort straight out of the Case text book and one which has become his trademark over the years. A thundering shot from the edge of the box and the ball was in the back of the net before the ‘keeper had time to move.

Says Jimmy: “They are the sort of goals the fans love to see and players love to score – it certainly gave me a lot of pleasure. I’ve always been aware that long-range efforts like that excite the crowd and that’s probably why I’m prepared to have a go from any distance. Sometimes they don’t come off, but I have always said that if you don’t shoot then you don’t score. And I think more players are adopting that attitude this season, which has got to be a good thing.”

Jimmy’s moment of magic wasn’t the only thing that Brighton fans had to cheer against Charlton as the Seagulls romped away to an emphatic 7-0 win.

He says: “The supporters deserved to see a good performance because we hadn’t played too well at home until that game. All the players were keyed up before the match and determined to turn in a good display… and once we got the first two goals there was no stopping us. Everyone was full of confidence and every time we went forward we looked like scoring, it wasn’t much fun for Charlton, but our fans went home happy.”

Brighton’s seven-goal display was in stark contrast to their performances at the start of the season when they lost their first three games.

Says Jimmy: “We were forced to use three different goalkeepers in as many games, which didn’t help, and we gave away some silly goals. But, since Joe Corrigan arrived, we have had more stability at the back and confidence has spread throughout the team. The turning point was probably the 1-0 win against Derby, which set us back on the right road. We still weren’t 100 per cent happy when we went into the Charlton game, however, and we decided to change our style a little bit. We played with a more attacking formation and it paid off.

“We always try to play entertaining football, especially at home, and that is obviously going to help bring the fans back through the turnstiles. In fact I think that more and more clubs are realising their responsibility to provide the public with open, attacking football and, of course, plenty of goals.”

The performance was all the more impressive as Charlton arrived at the Goldstone far from being lambs to the slaughter. The Addicks were previously undefeated and had only conceded three goals in seven matches. However, the Seagulls made mincemeat of the Athletic defence, with diagonal balls proving especially troublesome. Terry Connor’s speed down the wing caused havoc, with Gerry Ryan taking advantage with the first two goals, before Gordon Smith tucked in another Connor cross to make it 3-0.

Then, Case smashed the fourth in from the edge of the area after efforts by Connor and Kieran O’Regan had been well saved by the busy Charlton keeper Nicky Johns before Connor notched up a well-earned goal through a header before half-time.

In the second half, it was the Jimmy Case show. As Pat Needham in the Sunday Mirror wrote:

Case flicked home Smith’s cross before completing his first League hat-trick with the goal of the match. O’Regan and Ryan broke from deep inside their half and Case nearly burst the net from 20 yards.

After the match, Case was presented with the match ball:

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It was the first Albion hat-trick since Gordon Smith’s at Coventry almost exactly three years before.

And if you wish to celebrate the Charlton match with a Jimmy Case T-shirt, please head here to the ‘Cult Zeros’ site. There is even a design for the unfortunate Charlton keeper on the day, Nicky Johns.

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The class of Lawrenson shuts out Dalglish and Francis

Below, Mark Lawrenson vies for the ball with Arsenal’s Alan Sunderland:

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In 1979/80, Mark Lawrenson gets interviewed by Keir Radnedge in Football Weekly News (April 9–15, 1980). As the season draws to a close, he reflects on his growing reputation. The ex-Preston star also discusses his surprising switch to midfield that played a significant role in Brighton’s revival in their debut campaign in Division One:

I bet Ron Greenwood and his coterie of England aides regret Mark Lawrenson’s decision to play for the Republic of Ireland. When you hear Brighton manager Alan Mullery describing his player as world class among sweepers – not once, but several times over on repeated visits to the south coast – you start to wonder what rare talent England have missed out on.

Lawrenson is a player of obvious class, shows the sort of accuracy and control whether he plays in defence or midfield which will light up the First Division for a long time to come. And yet he chose to play for the Republic because of his parents’ birth qualifications, even though he was born in good old Preston. But Lawrenson has no such second thoughts on the subject.

“Already I’ve been all over Europe,” he says, “and won 10 caps. I’ve really enjoyed my international football. I don’t sit at home and think: ‘I wish I’d waited. To be quite honest, I never thought I’d be good enough to play for England. When the chance came along to play for Ireland I was glad to take it.

“I know people say that with England I’d have a far better chance of one day playing in the World Cup Finals. But I’m not so sure I’d be all that better off with England – apart from whether I’d get in the team.

“I think we have a pretty good chance in our group. And it didn’t do us any harm the other week to start with a win in Cyprus.”

Yet, it’s to an England World Cup hero of 1966 that Lawrenson looks first when he traces back the steps of his career, and considers the varied influences which have made him the popular player he is. Preston was always going to be his club. Not just because of his birthplace but because of family connections past and present, and it was Bobby Charlton who signed him professional. However, it’s not Charlton whom Lawrenson recalls with gratitude for guidance, but Nobby Stiles.

“He’s been the biggest influence on my career,” says Lawrenson. “Bigger even than Alan Mullery – at least so far. I was a winger when I joined Preston, while he was coach, and he was the one who converted me to my present position – in the middle of the back four, that is. Nobby was very good with the youngsters. He was almost like a father-figure. He commanded respect not only because of what he’d achieved himself but because of the way he’d help iron out your faults.”

There could hardly appear a greater contrast in playing manners, but those who remember Stiles as a mere terrier in the tackle might now care to consider him in a new light, if they haven’t done so already for his work in charge at Deepdale.

The one thing he couldn’t do was keep Lawrenson. Preston needed the money and the player had ambitions. So for little more than £100,000 – the figure seems ludicrous now – he travelled to the south coast to join Brighton, little dreaming that in two years he’d be in the First Division.

“I didn’t think about it when I moved. People said to me that Brighton were a good club, a club who were going places. That they had a forward-thinking attitude with a good crowd and used their money to buy players to keep strengthening the team. But I didn’t join because I thought this was the quickest way into the First Division.”

Lawrenson’s career was, in fact, to progress by leaps and bounds. He’d won his first cap at 19. Then, in his first season on the south coast, Brighton missed promotion on goal difference. The next year … up they went. Lawrenson hasn’t found a great deal of difference between divisions. “The only thing is that in the Second Division, where most teams have six or seven very good players, in the First Division it’s at least nine,” he feels.

More’s the pity then that Brighton had, as Lawrenson described it “a nightmare start to the season. “We were wondering when we’d ever pick up a point. If we’d made a reasonable start, got a few points, then we could have played a bit of football, relaxed a bit and it would have been much easier. Still, I like to think the worst is behind us now. Next season we’ll be that much better adjusted. And, hopefully the pitch will have been sorted out. The groundsman has put in more hours this season than almost anyone at the club,” said Lawrenson. “He’s just had to keep sanding it. But during the summer something will be done and that’ll make it so much easier for us next season.”

As for his own career, he adds: “I haven’t had much in the way of setbacks. It’s all gone so fast, everything that happened has helped me progress.”

Lawrenson’s favourite position is in the centre of defence, as sweeper. But he doesn’t complain about the recent switch to midfield to help out manager Mullery. “It was a bit awkward going into midfield, but I enjoyed it. I still think though that the middle of defence is my best position. That’s where I see myself playing the rest of my career.

“At Brighton? Yes, why not? It’s a good club. Good management. Alan Mullery’s been great. I pay him pretty well for those nice things he’s said about me! Seriously, he’s given me a lot of encouragement.”

When you consider he’s still in his early 20s, then the man who’s been called “Brighton’s Beckenbauer” clearly has a long way to go. It’s reasonable to assume that as he progresses so will Brighton. Already they’ve surprised a lot of people by holding on in the First Division, their determination and will to survive exemplified by the seasonal double over European champions Nottingham Forest.

The home game was the one in which Lawrenson snuffed out the threat of Trevor Francis. The previous week he’d dealt similarly with Kenny Dalglish – whom Lawrenson freely acknowledges as the best forward in English football.

The way Mark Lawrenson is going, a lot more fine forwards will find themselves shuffled up the back alleys of play in seasons to come.

Lawrenson went on to play one more season at Brighton, and was briefly made captain, before his big transfer to Liverpool in August 1981, for £900,000.

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My 77-97 home

At the end of the 1996/97 season, Brighton wasn’t the only Football League club to lose their home. Bolton left Burnden Road, Derby County vacated the Baseball Ground, and Oxford, Stoke and Sunderland saw the last of their respective stadiums.

A fan and the terracing Bill Archer sold from under him.

A fan and the terracing Bill Archer sold from under him.

The big difference was that all those other clubs had a spanking new stadium to move into. The Albion had nowhere.

Here’s Total Football (July 1997)’s fact file on Brighton’s state of flux:

Old ground: Goldstone Ground
Final capacity: 11,500
Record gate: 36,747
Last game: Doncaster, April 26, 1997
New stadium: TBA
New capacity: TBA
Location: Who knows?

Background to move: The sale of the Goldstone to pay off debts of £6m sparked two years of protests. A month or so of groundsharing can’t be ruled out while a temporary location, either at the nearby Corals greyhound stadium, or perhaps Crawley Town’s new gaff, 20 miles north but still in Sussex, is organised. The consortium who wrested power from the old board include a representative of McAlpine’s, so when plans for The Seagulls’ new nest are revealed, expect something worth the wait.

We certainly got a great stadium in the end, but what a wait it turned out to be…

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