Brighton first day covers from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s

With the issuing of Doctor Who ‘first day covers’ earlier this year, the BBC website gave a nice explanation of what this potentially puzzling format is about:

To the uninitiated it may appear a strange obsession. It is the collection of special stamps on the day of their issue displayed on a special envelope, known as a “cover”.

First day cover fans must make sure they buy them on the day. They stick them onto a special envelope and write the address they want it posted to. It can be just one stamp or the entire series.

Crucially, the envelope needs to bear a special postmark that is only available on the day. For the Doctor Who launch, Royal Mail is offering special postmarks in the hometowns of the 11 actors who have played the Doctor.

Once the handstamp has been applied, the letter can be posted to the person. Arriving in the post at the collector’s house guarantees authenticity.

Understood? Yes, Doctor.

The Goldstone Wrap has previously featured a first day cover commemorating Brighton’s debut in the First Division in 1979 against Arsenal.

Thanks to Albion fan and collector Nick Spiller, we are back with five more specially designed Brighton-related envelopes covering significant games.

Having said that, this one from August 1974, in a 2-0 defeat at Peterborough, could hardly be deemed a memorable occasion from a Brighton perspective. Although it was the first league away trip as go-it-alone boss for Peter Taylor, the match itself match hardly figures in the memory bank:


The loss began an appalling run of eight consecutive away defeats for Brighton in Division Three in 1974/75. Away form continued to be poor for the rest of Taylor’s reign, and it took Alan Mullery’s fire and managerial ability to turn this around. Five years on, with this achieved in the Third and Second Division, Albion were now a force in the Football League, gaining promotion twice in three years. This second cover was devised to herald the dawn of First Division football to the Goldstone in August 1979:


Stylistically, though, with its hand-drawn players, it wasn’t far removed from the Peterborough first day cover. By May 1983, however, the curtain had come down on Brighton’s spell as a top flight club. Even so, the club garnered enormous exposure through its appearance at the season’s FA Cup Final, and this included three (count ’em!) first day covers issued.

The first of these is a splendid design promoting club sponsors British Caledonian Airways and marking the famous transportation of the Brighton team to Wembley. It is extremely rare although you will be able to see it on display at the Albion museum at the Amex from next week:




Finally, some thirteen years later, another design was issued to mark goalkeeping legend Peter Shilton, then of Leyton Orient, playing his 1,000th League match, against Brighton:


Again we lost, just like against Peterborough, Arsenal and Manchester United (eventually) before. If superstitious, it may make you ponder if some kind of crazy first day cover jinx affected Brighton in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It is certainly questionable how much fondness there can be in posting and receiving an artefact that reminds you of results not going your way. With Gordon Smith’s fluffed shot in the first game and then the FA Cup Final Replay in 1983, there is no doubt we already had tears for souvenirs.


5 thoughts on “Brighton first day covers from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s

  1. Stephen Cowdry says:

    Fascinating stuff – as well researched as ever!

  2. Hello folks, Karl here from It’s great to see these wonderful covers up on your blog but allow me, if you please, to make a small correction to the info in the blog. These covers, awesome as they are, are not first day covers. The stamp used on each cover wasn’t issued on the postmarked date. For example the top PUFC cover is postmarked 24/08/74 yet the stamp was first issued on 10/07/74.

    These covers are philatelic or commemorative covers – pieces designed and made up with the collector in mind. They won’t have ever seen the inside of a postman’s bag never mind been sorted and stamped alongside regular mail. The 1st, 2nd, 4th & 6th covers shown were all produced by Dawn Covers – a company that specialises in commemorative football postal covers. They’ve issued hundreds over the years covering all sorts of different football events.

    Each cover features a cachet, that’s the design on the right, a few words commemorating the event and a matching specially designed postmark. The postmark is not an official one as it’s not applied by Royal Mail for the cover is not carried through the postal system. Indeed if one of these covers was posted it would be surcharged because the stamp is invalid for postage as it’s been cancelled.

    You could call these covers contrived in one respect as their design suggests they’re a genuine postally used item however the creation of these commemorative covers is an industry in itself and they are collectors items in their own right.

    Hope you’ve not found all that a bit too nerdy. Catch up with me on twitter @footysphere if you’d like anymore info. Cheers 🙂

  3. Karl, thank you so much for writing and sharing your knowledge. It’s wonderful to hear from you, and get clarification and correction on what I have written. From your website, I just realised that there must be a whole world of collecting covers such as these and stamps that I’m not really aware of. If you stumble across any Brighton related items, please feel free to drop me a line! 🙂

  4. […] Brighton first day covers from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s | The Goldstone Wrap […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: