Monthly Archives: December 2013

Ward’s a wonder at Wolves

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After a bore draw with Stoke City at the Goldstone on Saturday 15th December 1979, Brighton travelled to Molineux the following Friday 21st, one place from bottom position in the First Division. They came back to Sussex after a golden performance against Wolves that kickstarted a sublime run of five convincing victories in six matches. Grabbing the headlines was Peter Ward. Here’s John Vinicombe’s glowing report in the Evening Argus:

Delighted Peter Ward welcomes his first hat trick in two seasons.

And a stirring display from his team mates on a snow-covered Molineux pitch last night gave Albion a deserved 3-1 pre-Christmas success over Wolves.

Albion adapted better to the freezing conditions to pull off a shock victory – their first ever against Wolves – and the only surprise was that Ward didn’t score four.

Wolves, without key strikers Andy Gray, Britain’s most expensive player, and John Richards, were unable to cope with Ward’s speed and balance.

This was the Ward who dazzled when he broke Albion’s scoring record and gained England under-21 recognition. The ability to take on defenders in tight situations, and finish with deadly accuracy means that Ward has at last proved himself a First Division player.

The way he destroyed Wolves, however, was due in no small part to a harworking and inventive midfield.

It was in this department that Wolves failed to match Albion in the first League meeting of the teams. More than one wearer of the famous gold shirts dropped his head as Albion went in at half-time 2-0 ahead.

Victory is made up of many ingredients, and kit man Glen Wilson played an important part by having the foresight to a set of special snow boots for each man. All but John Gregory chose the dimple-soled footwear and were able to keep their feet much better than Wolves.

Maintaining a foothold became more difficult in the second half as the • temperature dropped even lower, but by that time Albion held Wolves in a firm grip.

When Ward completed his hat-trick 20 minutes from time, Wolves knew they had met their match. The lone reply came seven minutes from the end.

It goes without saying that this unexpected win must greatly improve chances of defeating Crystal Palace on Boxing Day and Manchester City the following Saturday.
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Fortunately, the results of other strugglers went in Albion’s favour last night, with Bolton, Stoke and Bristol City all losing.

It only needs Albion to retain this mood, and they will emerge from the bottom three, for I cannot believe this was a flash in the pan. There was too much dedication tot the entire 90 minutes to regard it as a time when Albion got lucky.

Every time they went forward, Wolves’ square defence wilted under pressure. Wisely, manager Alan Mullerv did not include Steve Foster, whose strained hamstring would have put him at a serious disadvantage.

So Gary Stevens partnered Peter Suddaby, and Suddaby, in his last outing before a three-match suspension, had an absolute stormer.

Early Wolves’ pressure was soaked up, but Albion had to thank striker Ray Clarke for heading off the line at 19 minutes. A corner by Kenny Hibbitt curled straight to the head of Wayne Clarke, only for his namesake to deny Wolves a vital opener.

Then, five minutes later came an extraordinary miss by Ward. A lovely through by Sully opened Wolves’ defence, and Ward skated through. When Paul Bradshaw came out and got a hand to it, he left a yawning open goal. Ward hit the ball towards it, but with not enough pace to carry, and he continued in pursuit with Bradshaw stranded. As he was about to apply the finishing touch, Derek Parkin, hurtled in, and Ward stabbed wide.

Ward could not believe it and Wolves started to put Graham Moseley under pressure, He got down smartly to a 30-yarder from Geoff Palmer and then held on to the frozen ball at Clarke’s flailing feet.

But soon Albion were menacing again, and at 36 minutes a short ball from Sully found Brian’ Horton. Sensibly, he did not run with it.

Instead, a long pass down the right was brilliantly anticipated by Ward, who sprinted away.

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The original pass was so accurate that it left Ward with nobody to beat except Bradshaw. He had no option but to leave his line, and when he did Ward rifled home.

That made up for the earlier mistake, and a minute from the break he put a stranglehold on Wolves with the sort of goal that is hardly his speciality.

Ward’s strength is control and pace, and the number of goals he has scored with his head are few and far between.

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This one arrived after John Gregory’s long ball to the far post was scrambled for a corner. A short ball from Gerry Ryan found Gregory, and in went the far-post cross. Ray Clarke headed on for Ward, and his nod from point blank gave George Berry no chance, for when he made contact the ball had already crossed the line.

Coming at such a time, this goal was a powerful boost, and Ward clearly was in the mood for more. Another precise little chip from Sully early into the restart found Bradshw and Berry in some confusion to clear from Ward on the edge of the box.

Nearly… but not quite. You could see the damage Ward had created in Wolves’ minds.

They just could not get hold of the smallest man on the pitch because he had the pace and balance to outsmart them all. For a short while, Wolves asserted pressure, Moseley saved from Willie Carr, and Gregory completing the clearance.

When Ward hit the third, the goal carried the hallmark of class. Again Sully was involved. When the ball was played forward, Ward was onside which is all that mattered.

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By the time he received it, just over the half-way line, Wolves thought he was offside. The hesitation was fatal as he aced away to plant it firmly past the advancing Bradshaw.

Wolves: Bradshaw; Palmer, Parkin, MeAlie, Hughes, Berry, Hibbitt, Carr, Clarke, Eves, Thomas. Sub: Brazier for McAIle (withdrawn, 58 minutes).
Albion: Moseley; Gregory, Williams Horton, Stevens, Suddaby, Ryan, Ward, Clarke. Lawrenson. O’Sullivan, Sub: Stille,
Referee: M. Lowe (Sheffield).
Attendance: 15,807.

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Trading places: Gary Williams and Neil Smillie

Before the 1982/83 season, Brighton completed a swop with arch rivals Crystal Palace. With Sammy Nelson and newcomer Graham Pearce competing for the number three shirt, Gary Williams, Albion’s popular left-back for the previous five years, departed for Selhurst Park, having been out in the cold since November 1981:

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In came the speedy, tricky wide man with the curly locks, Neil Smillie:

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Despite being a recent buy, Smillie then found himself dropped by Mike Bailey on two occasions. However, he established himself as a first-choice player once Jimmy Melia took over in December 1982. By the time of the FA Cup Final later on in the season, such was the cutting edge he provided, he could be sure of a starting place:

The buzz went up from the Notts County fans as Brighton’s pacy winger exploded down theJine, beating two defenders en route and whipped over a precise cross that turned the penalty-area into a zone of undisguised panic.

Nell Smillie appreciated the generous applause from the home fans as he pounded back to take up a workmanlike position, letting it seep into his body to fuel his growing confidence as a First Division player of considerable note, and one just a dream away from the FA Cup Final.

Last summer he was packing his bags after a football lifetime with Crystal Palace that fizzled and spluttered, threatening to catch alight only to be extinguished repeatedly by managerial changes.
After a spell in the United States, Smillie discovered that his expired contract at Selhurst Park left him with an offer worth not one penny more than he got before. It was all beginning to depress the 24-year-old Barnsley-born winger… until Brighton stepped in.

“The deal was an exchange between me and Gary Williams, one which went through after talks. That was last July and I was glad because I’d begun to feel in a rut at Palace.

“I played in the first two games: of this season, but we lost the second, 5-0 to West Bromwich Albion, and Mike Bailey dropped me. Then it was the bench followed by the reserves until October 26, the Milk Cup replay against Spurs.

“We lost 1-0 and out I went again until November 20 at Watford where we took a 4-1 drubbing. Bailey went soon after that and I found myself back on the outside looking in when Jimmy Melia took over.

“I was sub when we played Newcastle at home in the Third Round of the F.A. Cup and came on at St James’ Park in the replay, on January 12. I’ve kept myself in the side since then and my confidence has grown with every game,” Smiilie probably needed nothing more than that boost to his confidence; and despite Albion’s tough relegation battles, he has continued to provide Melia with just the type of player his style of football requires, a player capable of playing wide.

“Yes, I give the side width. They know I’m out there and when things get too tight in the middle I can take the ball and take men on. I have the confidence to take on any full-back in the League. I give them their due respect, but that’s all.

“In our situation you have to work hard defensively as well. I agree with Steve Coppell who said that a winger is a barometer of his team. When things are going well the winger will get forward, attack the line, get the ball across and make things happen. But when you are up against it the winger is often working back in his own half, covering, tackling and grafting.

“What excites me is that Jimmy Melia has made it clear to us that there will be no change in his attitude for the Final. We will go out to attack with three men up front, going for the win… and United’s throat.

“I anticipate a tremendous battle with Arthur Aibiston, against whom I’ve played twice before. He does a lot on the ball as well as good work defensively, but he holds no fears for me.

“i’m the winger he has to stop, and if he fails then Mike Robinson and the lads will see as much of that ball as I get supply.”

As for Gary Williams, although delighted to rejoin Alan Mullery, he didn’t enjoy his time at Crystal Palace. When I met him in the pub about a year ago, Gary described his playing career there as ‘just a job’, never developing any great feeling for the club. By contrast, he remembers the camaraderie and team spirit of his Albion days with far greater fondness.

His Palace career did not last long either, as injury meant he retired from the professional game with just ten League appearances for the Eagles in 1982/83. Because of his transfer from the Goldstone Ground, he missed the FA Cup Final of 1983, of course. However, he can be proud of the fact he was never in an Albion relegation season.

He played some games with Saltdean in the summer of 1983 before spending the following season with Whitehawk in the Sussex County League. At that time, he also began to explore business opportunities outside the game, as this snippet from a matchday programme from 1983/84 indicates:

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Last Wednesday several first team players made a special visit to a TV and video shop in George Street in •Brighten, just off St James’ Street.

The lads had a special reason for going along there, as a partner in the firm is former Albion favourite Gary Williams, now playing for Whitehawk. The shop specialises in sales service and rentals of sets, but as Gary points out, they are not a video film library.

Gary is pretty fully occupied these days, because he’s playing regularly for Whitehawk who are involved in Cup games and League matches at the moment at a rate of at least two a week. Our picture shows Steve Foster toasting success to Gary and his partner Pete Renvoize.

In other words, Gary Williams was busy selling TVs enabling football fans to watch Neil Smillie tear Liverpool apart in January 1984.

Nowadays, Gary works for Blakes Wholesale and Catering Butchers. As for Neil Smillie, he left Brighton for Watford in 1985 and later had managerial spells with Gillingham and Wycombe. An article in the Daily Mail in January 2010 suggested that Smillie ‘lives in Reading. Works with Nike on their sponsorship of youngsters.’

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Last hurrah for yellow away kit

Worn by the likes of Steve Foster below, this all-yellow Adidas number was Brighton’s away kit in the First Division from 1980/81 to 1982/83:

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Its most famous appearance came in the 1983 FA Cup Semi-Final when Brighton beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1.

What is forgotten is that it was worn several times for the following season, 1983/84.

By then, though, with Albion in the Second Division, pinstripes and V-necks were all the rage. Here’s young winger Steve Penney showing his trickery while donning Albion’s sublime new white away kit with blue and red pinstripes:

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You can also see this adidas shirt in more detail at Phil Shelley’s Old Football Shirts website.

However, there was a sartorially tricky League fixture in the 1983/84 campaign at Blackburn Rovers, and a cup tie at Bristol Rovers (Milk Cup) that meant both the blue home shirt and the white away top could not be used as change kit.

Instead, Albion were forced to reuse the previous season’s yellow shirts, minus reference to the lapsed sponsorship deal with British Caledonian Airways, of course. Despite the flakey picture quality, you can just about make out those flappy blue collars here in the Bristol Rovers second leg in October 1983, where Albion prevailed 5-4 on aggregate:

For a closer look, here’s, ahem, ‘Jerry Connors’ smashing in the vital away goal:

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In the next round of the Milk Cup, in November 1983, Brighton travelled to Upton Park, Again they revived their old yellow kit, this time going down 1-0. Here’s Alan Young on the ball:

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By the following season, 1984/85, adidas launched a new yellow change shirt for the Seagulls. It was worn in this 2-0 defeat at Blackburn Rovers:

Fast forward three more seasons, to 1987/88, Spall took over the supply of Albion’s playing and replica kit, introducing a snazzy yellow shirt with shadow stripes. It was the first yellow away shirt worn in a promotion season since the Bukta design under Alan Mullery all those years ago.

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What Danny Wilson said

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Danny Wilson is back today as manager of Championship bottom club Barnsley. Of course, it’s not the first time he’s been in that position in the league, having played for the imploding Second Division Brighton side in 1986/87.

A year before, he was far more optimistic of the Seagulls’ fortunes. In January 1986, with Shoot! Magazine, the talk was on promotion under Chris Cattlin:

Don’t ignore Brighton! That’s the warning from Albion skipper Danny Wilson.

“Everyone is talking about Portsmouth. Brighton don’t seem to attract much publicity these days, yet we are capable of joining our South Coast rivals in the First Division next season,” Danny declares.

“The side is packed with pace and class. We made a strong run last season and just missed. This time, all of Brighton are determined to reclaim the First Division status lost after the 1983 F.A.
Cup Final.”

If they and Pompey go up together they will join Southampton in a three-way South Coast combat in Division One next season.

“I’ve not seen a better equipped Second Division side than us,” says Wilson. “What is more, we believe that we will be im proving steadily right through the season.”

For this battling midfielder, it is a personal challenge.

“When I left Nottingham Forest, it hurt. I had not fulfilled the ambitions I set myself in the First Division,” he reveals.

“Brian Clough insisted on using me as a wide player, virtually a winger, which I am not. I didn’t play welt consistently enough and was low on confidence. When I left Forest for Brighton, I felt as if I had failed. Going back to the First Division with Brighton – this time as a central midfield player – would compensate for all my disappointments first time around.” Danny, who has skippered both Bury and Chesterfield, slotted into the leadership role at Brighton when Jimmy Case left for Southampton.

Manager Chris Cattlin has put together a new strike partnership: Mick Ferguson, who had never been out of the First Division until joining Brighton, and ‘unknown’ free tran sfer signing Dean Saunders.

“Everyone knows what Mick can do from his appearances for Coventry, Everton and Birmingham but Dean has come out of the blue. Frankly, I knew nothing about him until he arrived from Swansea City.”

The son of 1950s Liverpool wing-half Roy Saunders promised briefly with sharply taken goals for The Swans, but became a victim of the South Wales soccer slump. Chris Cattlin moved in swiftly when The Swans needed him off their wages bill.

Now the 20-year-old has a booming new career, playing wide to the experienced Ferguson and prompted by the midfield guile of Danny plus former Villa ace Dennis Mortimer.

“But Dean’s progress is matched by Steve Jacobs who has virtually taken over Jimmy Case’s role in midfield,” says Danny.

“Steve is a real ball-winner and typifies the new spirit down here at the Goldstone ground.”

Despite losing the FA Cup Quarter-Final at the Goldstone to Southampton in March, Brighton rallied to win their next three League matches, against Stoke, Blackburn and Millwall. Wilson hit two goals in those matches as his side, in fifth position, looked a good bet for promotion. However, Albion faltered thereafter and ended the season in a very disappointing 11th position.

Hampered by injury the next season, Wilson still managed 35 League matches although he was not in the best of form. He could not prevent the Seagulls’ slide towards Division Three and joined Luton Town in July 1987 in a £150,000 deal. There, he finally proved himself as industrious and inspiring First Division midfielder.

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Brighton & Hove Albion jigsaw puzzle of 1977/78

Congratulations to historian Tim Carder on the successful launch of the Brighton & Hove Albion museum at the Amex last night.

The museum is situated through Dick’s Bar on the North Stand and captures the history of the club in a very vivid way.

On North Stand Chat, one user Henfield One summed it perfectly when he said:

The Museum is quite simply brilliant – and huge thanks and gratitude goes to Tim for all his hard work and belief to bring it to reality. It is exactly how a museum should be – interactive, fresh, bright, nostalgic but tracing the history of the Club in a lively (non-cobwebby way).

A real supporter’s museum – a museum for all.

Well done Tim, thank you.

There were many interesting items, such as the shirts of Norman Gall, Chris Cattlin, Peter Ward, Tony Grealish and Steve Penney, models of the Goldstone and Withdean, an Albion fan’s bedroom full of memorabilia, as well as video and audio features. Many, many collectors’ items I hadn’t seen before.

Tantalisingly, you may have seen 32 pieces of this Albion jigsaw:

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And if you want to see more, well, a few months ago, Brighton supporter Karl Wood was kind enough to send me these photos of the 1977/78 jigsaw puzzle that came in a tube:

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With colour team group on one side, and a monochrome image of Alan Mullery on the other, it would have high on my Christmas list had I been around in 1977!

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I wonder if anyone was tempted to ask Mullers at the launch last night: was Teddy Maybank really the missing piece?

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A jolly good Mellor

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As a rising star in the media, the ever so smooth Des Lynam was getting lots of gigs. Not only did he commentate for the BBC on the Brighton v West Bromwich Albion match in August 1980, the ubiquitous Albion fan and Grandstand presenter also penned an article for the match day programme as a guest writer. In it, he recalled striker Ian Mellor, whose interplay with Peter Ward played such a pivotal part of the 1976/77 promotion season:

One of the most pleasant aspects of working with the ‘Match of the Day’ team, is the chance it gives one, to meet old friends.

A fortnight ago, while reporting the Second Division match between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United, I bumped into a very old friend of Brighton & Hove Albion, a man who I feel had a remarkable bearing on the club’s current unprecedented successful run, Ian Mellor – ‘Spider’ to his mates, now playing for Wednesday.

Except for the very newest Brighton supporters among you, I am sure that nearly all will have a great regard for Ian. it was in Brighton’s promotion season from Division Three that Peter Ward broke the club’s scoring record, very much aided and abetted by Mellor who also found the time and skill to notch 12 League goals for himself.

It was the beginning of the best spell in the club’s history and Mellor’s part in ‘assisting’ Peter, who, after all, was playing in his first full season, should never be underestimated.

Ian Mellor turned professional in December 1969, when he was 19, with Manchester City. Malcolm Allison had not so long before, taken City to the League title – and Mellor joined one of the most elite groups of players in the country. Lee, Summerbee, Bell, Marsh and Young were just some of the star names there at the time. In fact Ian feels it was the success of the elegant Young, scorer of the winning goal in the 1969 Cup Final against Leicester, that influenced him joining City. Ian, like Nell, is over six feet tall, but slight and wiry, not the archetype football build at all. City, however were prepared to give Ian a chance, when other clubs were thinking that he didn’t quite look the part. As Ian put it, ‘One tall skinny lad had done the trick for them, and they felt I could do the same.’

Here is Mellor scoring for Manchester City against Arsenal in 1971/72:

Lynam continues:

Ian had a good run in the City first team, but subsequently joined Norwich City. There, after Ron Saunders departed however, things didn’t work out so well and he was delighted when Brian Clough and Peter Taylor brought him to Brighton, then of course in Division Three, and not so very far away, at one stage, from Division Four.

He remembers his first match for the club avidly. Old rivals Crystal Palace, whose success in recent years has matched Albion’s, were the opponents at the Goldstone, 25,000 fans were there, and as Ian relates it: ‘Palace were running all over us. It was remarkable that they weren’t about three goals up. Then in the second-half I got the ball some 35 yards out, went on a run, beat a couple of players and scored probably the most memorable goal of my life.’

Albion won 1-0, and if justice wasn’t exactly served by the scoreline, Mellor himself could not have had a better introduction to the south coast fans.

Well, the promotion season from Division Three was a ‘heady’ one and Ian recalls that he has never known a team spirit like it anywhere, although he feels that Sheffield Wednesday are getting close to it. ‘The Goldstone fans were so good to us,’ he remembers, ‘and that year was the happiest in my playing career.’

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Subsequently came the disappointment of being left out of Brighton’s Division Two team, following the signing of Teddy Maybank. “I honestly felt that Teddy was not a better player than me and I was hurt’. But magnaminously, Ian also admits that the manager lives or dies by his decisions and team selection and he bears absolutely no grudge at all against either Alan Mullery (‘His record is second to none’), or Mike Bamber (‘You won’t find a more direct, honest, or knowledgeable club chairman in the game’).

In fact Ian could have stayed at Brighton and who knows, may well have worked his way back into the first team.

However, he decided to take up the offer of first team football with Chester. ‘The other reason I went back North was because I felt that if there were only a couple of playing years left, then both myself and my wife Sue would like to spend them near to our families and it would also give our parents a chance to get to know our children, Simon (now five and born at the Sussex County Hospital) and Louise (now three and born at Southlands).’

It seems to me to be no coincidence at all, that while Mellor played at Chester, a young forward called Ian Edwards, now with Wrexham and a full Welsh International began to light fires in Division Three. And nowadays, he’s at it again. Last season, Terry Curran knocked home 25 goals for Sheffield Wednesday with Ian playing alongside him as they won promotion to Division Two, and Ian also found time to slot in 11 for himself.

While Ian Mellor may not be one of the outstanding stars of League football, he’ll perhaps be recalled by the fans of those clubs with whom he’s played as more of a star-maker.

I know the Goldstone fans will remember with affection – The Spider touch.

Mellor subsequently joined Bradford City on a free transfer in May 1982, before winding down his career with Tsun Wan (Hong Kong), Worksop, Matlock Town and Gainsborough.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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Miracles can still happen

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It was one of the shocks of the season in 1979/80. Nottingham Forest, European Cup holders, had been unbeaten at the City Ground in the League since returning to Division One. Brighton, newcomers to the top flight, had endured a difficult start, without a win in their last nine League matches, and at the bottom of the table.

Well, you know the rest. It proved the turning point as the reshaped Seagulls, Suddaby in defence, with Lawrenson in midfield and Clarke up front, embarked on a run that took them clear of the relegation positions by Boxing Day. However, it all began with this result at the City Ground, as reported by John Vinicombe in the Evening Argus:

The astounding result at Nottingham was certainly no fluke and may hopefully hoist morale to cope with the critical situation facing the club. If Albion can go from their worst performance to upset the European champions in such sensational fashion, there is, surely, reason to hope for better things.

After a week of intense activity at the Goldstone. including abortive transfer deals concerning Peter Ward, the signing of Peter Suddaby and suspension of Teddy Maybank, it looks as though Albion are getting down to the essential task of putting their own house in order.

And not before time. Alan Mullery made four changes for the Forest game, having satisfied himself that Mark Lawrenson was fit and Suddaby was the man to step into the breach.

In almost no time at all, the team has changed dramatically, and the new spirit brought about by the shake-up was much in evidence at the City Ground.

The return of Lawrenson, to play for the first time in midfield made for greater fluency, but Mullery still has not got the side quite right. A training injury prevented John Gregory from turning out.

Almost without exception Albion were unrecognisable from the outfit that conceded 11 goals in the previous three matches.

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They thrived on Gerry Ryan’s 12th minute goal, and, while Forest dominated territorially, we were treated to the spectacle of every man jack battling to keep Forest out instead of abject surrender.

At 31, Suddaby has brought a much needed wise old head to the defence. On the evidence of this one game, he did well to contain Garry Birtles.

Alongside, Steve Foster needed no second bidding to give his all. For a 21 year old, Foster reads a game well, and he encourages by example. He is one to watch for the future, and I don’t just mean Albion.

Good enough to be selected for England Under-21’s last season, he is better placed in First Division to display his improving talents to advantage.

The way Ward has been play!ng lately has given him and his admirers less satisfaction than usual. But at Forest he teased and tormented the club whose manager, Brian Clough, pulled out of last week’s deal.

The way in which Ward turned the defence, took players on and lasted the pace in heavy going suggested that he wanted to prove Clough wrong again and again and again.

Why Ward did not go to Forest is not at all clear after a week of bitter recriminations. There was indignation from chairman Mike Bamber, and a remark by Clough on ITV that he had tried to contact Muliery: “I could never get through to him.” •

Afterwards, Bamber proferred his hand to Clough and thanked him for not signing Ward. “‘You have done us a great favour.”

Yet. only a week previously Ward’s morale was low after a swap with Gerry Daly had fallen through, and the chairman dropped the broadest of hints that there was no place at the club for disenchanted players.

Now, after the Forest victory, the mood has changed, which is nothing surprising in the kaleidoscope world of football.

All managers don’t lie and cheat in the manner suggested by Tommy Docherty, but some peculiar strokes are pulled. I hope now that we have heard the last of the will he – won’t – he – go stories surrounding Ward.

He has a vital role to play in Albion’s battle for survival, and I don’t think it wilt take much now for Mullery to get a settled side.

For a start, the goalkeeper question is resolved, and Graham Moseley is undisputed No. 1. It was Moseley’s penalty save a minute from the break that changed the course of the entire match. Had he not taken a hint from Lawrenson, who thought John Robertson’s kick would go to his left, then we might have seen a different result.

Albion never gave Forest an inch, but the stimulus of an equaliser might well have buried them at the bottom. Now they have handed that unenviable place to Bolton.

Only one step up, maybe, but vital progression. At last, there is a ray of light, although Ipswich and Derby, second and third from bottom, are three points clear.

The selection of Lawrenson for right midfield poses the question of where Gregory will slot in. It is unthinkable that a fully fit Gregory could not command a place, and the arrival of new faces and emergence of the tremendously promising Gary Stevens means there is fierce competition.

This is a vital ingredient, and now the squad, numerically speaking at least, is more in keeping with a First Division roster.

So, the age of miracles is not past. It was Forest’s first home licking in 52 League matches since April 1977, in the Second Division when Cardiff did the trick.

A so-necessary first away League win for Albion was their first since they clinched promotion in the final match at Newcastle. The rapture then was matched by the sheer incredulity at Forest.

The sight of Ryan wrong footing Peter Shilton and just giving the ball enough pace to carry over the line left Forest numb.

The decision of referee Alan Seville in awarding Forest a penalty rendered Albion speechless; well. almost. It appeared to me, both at the time and watching Match of the Day, that Foster made a legitimate challenge and did not push Larry Lloyd down.

Judging by Lloyd’s size, it would need a steam shovel to knock him off balance.

Martin O’Neill sandwiched between them, and when Seville blew and pointed to the spot Lloyd walked away pondering the unpredictability of football.

It was a moment when all that Albion had striven for could have been erased with one grotesquely harsh decision.

Fortunate!y, Moseley heeded Lawrenson’s advice, and Albion went in ten-get tall. He had earlier saved one-handed from David Needham, who hit a post shortly after Ryan goal.

At half-time, Clough withdrew Tony Woodcock whose last appearance it was before joining Cologne in a £650,000 transfer.

The arrival of Ian Bowyer. the sub, improved Forest’s urgency, and two-thirds of the way through they slung everything at Albion.

It was then that Stevens cleared virtually off the line from Birtles, and as the climax boiled Foster’s head was everywhere.

When Albion went off, they were greeted on the touchline by Bamber, while Mullery roared his appreciation from the stand, where he must remain by FA decree until the end of the year.

Perhaps when he comes down, Albion will go up.

Ryan’s gem
Twelve minutes: The fleet-footed Ward pierced Forest, and the move was carried on by Lawrenson and Horton. From the chip, Clarke headed down to Ryan, who withstood a heavy challenge from Lloyd. Having wriggled through, Ryan placed his clincher to perfection. The gentleness of the touch only increased Forest’s agony. 0-1.

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Dave Hollins – ‘I’m glad my father didn’t see me let in 9 goals’

On August 23rd 1958, Albion captain Glen Wilson led the side out at Ayresome Park as Brighton made their Second Division debut:

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Unfortunately, the newly promoted side were pulverised 9-0 with future Albion manager Brian helping himself to five goals on the day. Here he is celebrating after netting his fifth:

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At the receiving end of these nine goals was Brighton keeper Dave Hollins, the older brother to John who eventually became a renowned midfield player with Chelsea, Arsenal, QPR and England. After being an understudy to the long-serving Eric Gill, the Bangor-born Dave Hollins was making his fifth appearance for the Albion. In Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, he told his story:

Soccer has been getting a lot of knocks from critics in the past few years, but I know there is a lot of sentiment in the game, and plenty of sportsmen ready to give a youngster a helping hand.

When I joined Brighton from Merrow, a little club near Guildford, the first-team goalkeeping job was held by Eric Gill. He carried on to play a record number of 247 consecutive matches.

He always had a word of encouragement for me. And, when his long run was ended because of injury and I went into the League side. Eric was always ready with friendly advice or congratulation.

Why, he even invited me to stay at the Brighton hotel he had taken over. There, I had every comfort and our friendship grew even closer when I eventually took over his job in the Brighton goal.

He never resented it.

Eric Gill is just one of the many fine sportsmen I have met in professional football.

When Brighton played their first match in the Second Division I was in goal, The result is one no Brighton follower will forget. We were trounced 9–0 by Middlesbrough! I felt like hiding …. would have welcomed an underground tunnel to escape from Ayresome Park. And, when I got back to Sussex, 1 was half inclined to wear dark glasses! But Gill steadied me. “You have a long way to go in this game, Dave,” he said. “This sort of thing can happen to anyone, Fight back!”

Near the end of that Middlesbrough match I had heard a shout which didn’t amuse me at the time, but which seems funny now. A chap with powerful lungs yelled: “‘Don’t worry, Brighton. If Boro get ten they’ll declare!” At Brighton I was also lucky to have the backing of our manager, Mr. Billy Lane. He had faith in me, and that means a lot to a youngster i was only 17 when I joined the club.

I think my good run of luck in football started on the day 1 was born, My father. Bill Hollins, was a Wolves goalkeeper, and he always helped me with my game.

My early memories are of him showing me the way to keep goal. and then standing behind my net, offering advice and criticism.

Dad always emphasised my bad points and was a little sparing with his praise. Looking back, I can see just how right he was to be like that.

“Concentrate always concentrate.” he would say. “Keep your eye on the ball. always keep your eye on the ball.” I was glad dad wasn’t at that Middlesbrough match!

One of dad’s clubs was Bangor City and when he was with them I was born a Welshman.

A few months later the family moved on and I admit here that for many years it meant nothing to me to have been born in Wales.

I didn’t even appreciate that I was a Welshman until the day – the most exciting day of my life when I was picked to play for the Welsh Under-23 team against Scotland at Wrexham.

I don’t speak a word of Welsh and I was scared that my team-mates might start shouting instructions in that language.

But all was well, and I will never forget the way in which Jimmy Murphy, our team manager, inspired as in the dressing room in English! “You are playing for Wales now,” he said and his pre-match talk was terrific.

Now I understand why little Wales has so many great performances to her credit. And I learned something more of the Welsh fervour when we lined up in the pouring rain while the crowd sang “Land of my Fathers.” If I had not felt like a Welshman before then I do now and am proud of it.

Perhaps I am too young to give advice. but I feel that boys must be really keen on the game to succeed. And they require plenty of determination to fight against the bad times when they come.

Luck can play a big part, too. I have had my share even to catching a manager’s eye when I was only 12.
Mr. Lane was signing my big brother, Roy, for Brighton when I said: ‘What about me?'”

He replied: “Play hard and maybe I’ll be back for you as well.” The day came when he sent for me.

Yes, there’s plenty to be said in favour of the game. Take it from me – Soccer’s all right!

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New horizons for Peter Ward

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With the 1979/80 season approaching, Peter Ward was on the transfer list. However, as he told Tony Norman, he withdrew his request and signed a two-year contract:

“I’d been unsettled and I hadn’t been seeing eye-to-eye with the manager,” he explained, “so I wanted to move. I couldn’t tell you whether anyone came in for me or not.

“But as our first game in Division One got closer, I realised just how much I wanted to play. I was training hard and playing well. I wanted to be there. I like Brighton. There’s a good atmosphere between the players, and the club’s ambitious. So, I decided to stay and prove myself in the First Division with them.” Alan Mullery was happy to welcome Peter back into his tong-term planning.

“They seem to let you play more at this level, until you get into the final third of the field. Then it’s very tight. You can’t dawdle on the ball, or it’ll be whipped away from you. The game’s much quicker. You’ve got to sharpen up mentally, as well as physically.There’s a lot more to think about.

“But, at the same time, I think it’s important to carry on playing your natural game. I’ve got the freedom to do that at Brighton. I know I’m a bit greedy sometimes. The lads will have a moan and I’ll give them a little smile. There are times when I could lay off an easy ball, but I’ll try to go on my own, or have a shot.” But surely his willingness to try the unexpected has been rewarded with some spectacular goals?

“Yes,” he grinned, “it’s alright when it comes off. But there are plenty of other times ~when you’re left looking a bit silly!” Ward’s early season form was patchy. But it was clear he relished the challenge of playing in the First Division.

“It’s a thrill going to play at big stadiums like Anfield and Old Trafford. When I was a kid, I used to travel up to watch United, from Derby. That was in the days of Law, Best and Charlton. It’s got a nice ring to it, hasn’t it? They were my heroes. When they played, the atmosphere was tremendous.

“Now, I love playing in front of big crowds. It gees you up. I remember playing a night match at Oldham last year. There were about 4,000 there. We won, but it was depressing playing to empty terraces. I love the big match atmosphere. Driving through the crowds, then running out onto the pitch before the game. That’s a great feeling.”

Like the street kids around the Goldstone Ground, Ward scored a thousand Cup Final goals in his childhood fantasies. But there were times when playing in the First Division seemed as likely as a relaxing stroll on the Moon.

“I was always one of the smallest kids at school. When the selectors for Derby schoolboys used to come along, they’d pick about six lads for the trials. We had a good side and I was always one of the top scorers, but I never got picked.”

How did he feel about that? “It didn’t bother me.”

But surely it hurt his pride?

“Yes, I suppose it did really. I’d see the other lads going off for their trials and I’d think, ‘bloody hell…’ It made me play better. In those days, you had to be big and strong to get in the Derby side.”

Ward’s size, or rather the lack of it, weighed heavily in the minds of those around him.

“I remember going to see the headmaster, just before I left school. He asked me what I wanted to be. I Said a professional footballer.

He told me not to be so stupid. I was too small.”

Suitably filled with confidence, Ward left school at the age of 15, and joined Rolls Royce on a four-year engineering apprenticeship.

“I gave up my dreams of making it as a player. I thought that was it. I was playing for Burton Albion in the Southern League and working different shifts at the factory. Clocking in and clocking out. Sometimes I’d be up at six in the morning to get to work on time. I was stuck in the factory all day, doing a monotonous job. I never want to do that again. It drove me crackers.”

Those were dark, uninspiring days, but in May, 1975, Peter Taylor heard of Ward’s potential and decided to give the youngster his chance at Brighton. The results were spectacular. Ward scored 32 League goals in his first full season, as Brighton won promotion. He was again leading goalscorer in the two Second Division campaigns.

“I got off to a good start, scoring in 50 seconds on my debut at Hereford. The cameras were there and we stopped off at a hotel in London to see the game, on the way home. It’s a peculiar feeling seeing yourself on TV for the first time. I was sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t look like that, do I?’ ” With his stylish play and good looks, Ward soon found himself cradled lovingly in the arm of the publicity machine. He was a star, eagerly making up for lost time.

In September 1977, he made his international debut for England Under-21’s, against Norway.

“That’s one of my happiest memories. The match was played at Brighton and that might have swayed my selection, but I scored a hat-trick and really enjoyed the game. There were some good players in the side. Up front, we had Barnes and Cunningham on the wings, with John Deehan and myself in the middle.

“A month later, I was looking forward to playing for the Under-21’s again, when I was called up for the full squad. I went to Luxembourg with them. It was a great experience, but I wasn’t picked to play. And that was it. I haven’t got a look-in since.” Another disappointment, but Ward remains typically philosophical about his international future.

“I’ve just got to do it for Brighton in the First Division. If I’m playing well and doing my job, which is scoring a few goals, I might get the chance of a call up.

“I’m sure the side can hold its own this year. The club’s destined to go places. They’ve got the money and the resources to do well. From my own point of view, I’m enjoying playing up front with Teddy Maybank now. He’s taken a lot of weight off me. He’s a skilful player, much better than a lot of people think.” This season is providing Ward with his greatest test to date, but there’s nothing new about his main motivating force.

“I want to score goals. That’s still the biggest thrill for me. When I don’t score, I feel a bit flat, even when we’ve won the game. I want to score every week. I’m sure Ted’s the same. You couldn’t be a striker if you didn’t think that way. But when it comes right down to it, I.’m lucky. I still go out and enjoy playing. We’re in a short-lived profession. I want to make the most of it.”

With half an eye on the future, Ward has enrolled for a small business management course especially designed to help players shape fresh careers when their playing days over. Not for him the factory. Not again.

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