In 1972/73, Pat Saward’s Brighton were having a horrendous time at the foot of the Second Division, losing ten consecutive League matches. However, there was excitement in the air in the shape of a cup tie at the Goldstone with the superstars of Chelsea.
From a magazine in January 1973:
Brighton and Barry Bridges eagerly await their Cup crunch with Chelsea on Saturday, if only because it gives them the opportunity to forget all about their Second Division troubles.
Albion’s desperate struggle for survival – they are firmly rooted at the foot of the table – will be forgotten at the Goldstone Ground on Saturday as the spotlight shifts to the Cup and Chelsea.
As former Chdsea striker Barry Bridges says: “It will be nice to forget about our League position for a change and just go out on the park and concentrate on one result.
“It’s a tremendous draw for the club and a dream draw for Bert Murray and myself who both started our careers at Chelsea.
“Personaily, it will be nice to see most of the Chelsea lads again. I grew up at Stamford Bridge with Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris and Ossie. It will be great to meet them again even though they are on the opposite side.”
Can lowly Brighton really raise their game and shock Dave Sexton’s men on current League form?
“You can forget about League form in the Cup,” claims Bridges. “It’s the way you play on the day that counts. The Cup has a way of lifting everyone and with home advantage I feel we must have every chance.
“Mind you, I’ve got tremendous respect for Chelsea. They are a fabulous side with allround ability. I’ve still got a soft spot for them and try to see them whenever I’m in town.
“I know our League form has been very disappointing but this is the sort of draw that could really gee us up. A good performance against Chelsea could stoke up a lot of confidence after a lean spell.
“Our big problem at the moment is that we have stopped scoring goals. I’ve only scored a couple of times lately and I’m not too happy about that.
“But goals seem to come in spells for me and it would be nice to break the ice against Chelsea. It would be even better if we can beat them because the directors and manager here have worked very hard for success.
“The potential here is tremendous. When the club was going for promotion last season home gates were over the 30,000 mark. The whole set-up here is geared for success. Even though we are struggling in the League you couldn’t find a better atmosphere.
“There are no chins down just because things aren’t going right. As I said, the folks here deserve success. It’s a crying shame that we’re struggling because the facilities here are second to none.
“Obviously, we need to start getting the right results now before it’s too late. A win against Chelsea could be just the boost we need to get out of trouble in the League. So we’ll all be trying really hard.” The obvious sincerity of Bridges, veteran of over 400 League games and a consistent scorer with Chelsea, Birmingham, Queen’s Park Rangers and Millwall, will be a key factor in this intriguing duel.
And Brighton will be banking on his goal-den touch to give them the shot in the arm they need.
Well, what a humdinger of a match it turned out to be, with two sending-off and some horrendous foul play. A quite incredible atmosphere by the end!