A rush to watch Brian Clough’s first match

Unsurprisingly, there was a massive media whirlwind around the sensational news that Brian Clough had taken over as the manager of Third Division Brighton. As a result, the story dominated the front page as well as the back page of the Evening Argus over the next few days. From Friday 2nd November 1973:

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Albion fans will be at the Goldstone in their thousands tomorrow to give new manager Brian Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor a rousing welcome.

The gate could well be around the 20,000 mark to greet Brighton’s greatest-ever capture. Nothing is being left to chance by a club whose crowds have bordered on an all-time low of 5,000.

The Goldstone office will remain open until 8pm today to deal with late season ticket applications. The first were made less than 20 minutes after the news broke yesterday afternoon that Messrs Clough and Taylor had agreed to join Albion on resigning from Derby County.

It was a coup that astonished the soccer world and a clearcut triumph for the Albion board led by chief negotiator, chairman Mike Bamber. After six days of talks it was the ebullient Clough who admitted: “It was a difficult decision to come. But I had an offer I couldn’t turn down. They were very persuasive, and I decided it was the best thing to do.”

As Clough returned to Derby by train, the rush started – by 4.30pm, 12 season tickets at £17.60 had been sold, and a brace of new members for the Vice-President’s Club at £50 a time applied to join.

Applications for season tickets and match tickets jammed the Goldstone lines today. There were so many calls that vice-chairman Harry Bloom gave the over-worked staff a hand dealing with inquiries.

But hardly surprising when an internationally famous manager and TV personality like Clough takes over.

Later today Mr Clough was due back at the Goldstone to introduce himself to the players. They will be taken to a hotel and remain overnight in preparation for the match against York City.

This is Mr Clough’s first rule, and it will be the form in the future.

Said Eddie Spearritt, the club captain: “I welcome his appointment. It is a tremendous thing for the club. I am only disappointed that I shall not be playing tomorrow, but I hope to be fit in a week.”

Tomorrow’s team has been selected by trainer Glen Wilson. There is every indication that his position will remain unchanged at the club.

Yesterday, he and Mr Clough had a preliminary talk about the playing strength. Mr Clough believes that between 16 and 17 players is too small. He said that directors had told him that money is available to buy players.

He hoped he would be able to motivate the present staff: “I have got to get it out of them. We are now in the bottom six of the Third Division. It will take a lot of hard work to get into the Second. Before anyone starts talking about the First, let’s get into the Second. I think I would settle for staying in the Third for a few months…”

Come Saturday, 16,017 packed into the Goldstone to watch the curious affair of Clough’s debut match as Brighton boss, almost 10,000 more than the previous gate against Southport. From Vinicombe’s report, it seems as if Albion had the lion’s share of the possession:

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[Lammie] Robertson celebrated his recall to the side after being suspended by previous manager Pat Saward with a vigorous performance and on two occasions was unlucky not to score. At the back George Ley turned in an immaculate performance. York, now unbeaten for 14 matches, were contained for so long that they did not manage a corner until the 54th minute by which time Albion had no fewer than nine.

The constant bombardment on City’s goal continued until the pulsating finish. Albion have found their heart again. Support for Albion was tremendous. Every time a player in blue and white touched the ball the crowd went wild.

The 0-0 draw left Brighton in 19th position, barely above water in the fight against relegation. Clearly, there was a lot of work to do by the new men in charge with players who Taylor later described as ‘a bunch of amateurs and layabouts.’

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3 thoughts on “A rush to watch Brian Clough’s first match

  1. […] Brian Clough’s first match in charge of Brighton, against York City in a 0-0 draw at the Goldstone, on 3rd November 1973, has already been well documented on this blog. […]

  2. scherben909 says:

    A bit more patience from Clough & Taylor and you’d have been European Champions…

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