Monthly Archives: February 2014

Clough’s wheeling and dealing

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After achieving their first Brighton win, a tight 1-0 victory over Walsall in November 1973, Brian Clough and Peter Taylor had to endure two grim 0-0 draws before an atrocious run of five successive defeats including the infamous capitulations against Walton & Hersham (0-4) and Bristol Rovers (2-8). They then watched further defeats to Tranmere (1-4), Watford (0-1) and Aldershot (0-1).

With Albion morale at an all-time low in November and December, Clough and Taylor set about bolstering the squad. After the annihilation by Bristol Rovers, Clough told Brian Moore on The Big Match:

‘No one’s going to panic Peter Taylor and I into doing something we don’t want to do. If we have to sit through 8-2 defeats for the next six weeks before the type of player we requires comes on the market we’ll do just that.’

In the end, they did make signings. The only problem was that the pedigree of their captures was not the kind to set pulses racing. Still, most of them did a sound job as Albion sought to escape the relegation zone.

York keeper Ron Hillyard had already joined the Albion on loan to cover Brian Powney. This was before the accomplished Peter Grummitt, another loanee, arrived to become first choice as keeper after the Rovers debacle, quickly making his debut in a 4-1 pasting at Tranmere.

goodeveThen reserve central defender Ken Gooveve, aged 23 (left), was signed for £20,000 from Luton Town. Not completely unsurprisingly, for player who had only played fifteen times for the Hatters in three years, Goodeve’s form was patchy to say the least. As John Vinicombe commented in the Evening Argus:

The chief disappoint so far has been the failure of Ken Goodeve to recapture his Luton form. Goodeve, who started in the back four with Albion at Tranmere, has subsequently appeared in midfield and so far not made his mark.

With a lack of proven quality on the market, especially for the money that Brighton could afford, Clough and Taylor had little choice but persist with a policy of signing other teams’ reserves. Before the narrow home defeat to Aldershot on Boxing Day, they also made a double swoop for midfielder Ronnie Welch, 21 (below left), and left back Harry Wilson (below, right), 20, from Burnley, for £70,000:

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Early signs of both ex-Burnley lads were promising. Wilson acquitted himself well in his debut against Aldershot. After a subdued first-half Welch had a storming second half against the Shots, impressing with his energy.

On 29th December 1973, this reshaped Albion side finally arrested their decline with an encouraging 1-0 victory over Plymouth with Ken Beamish’s second half effort deciding the match. It was a result that kept Brighton in 20th position in Division Three, one place above the drop. Argyle’s side featured a young Paul Mariner. As well as seeing one Mariner effort hit the bar, Peter Grummitt showed his quickfire reflexes in turning another effort away from point blank range. In his report, Wilson and Welch also drew enormous praise from Argus writer John Vinicombe for their play:

After two matches Harry Wilson, the 20 year old left-back from Burnley, is looking something of a fire-eater. He has a rare zest for the game and relishes the close, physical contact that is synonymous with his position.

He knows how to destroy and create, and does both in a manner befitting a five year background at the academy of fine footballing arts. His colleague from Turf Moore, Ronnie Welch, is not so completely extrovert, but is no less involved in midfield, and has a fine turn of speed. He made one mistake through trying to play the ball instead of hoofing it away, but this can only be described as a ‘good’ fault.

Wilson was to make the number three shirt his own for the rest of the season. As for Welch, he continued to impress, so much so that when Norman Gall was absent in February and April later on in the season, the captaincy was passed on to the youngster. Unfortunately, the burden of being skipper at such a young age affected his form for the side. For Goodeve, his fortunes did not recover. Dropped to the bench against Plymouth, he was to play just two more matches for the Albion, two defeats at the end of March 1974, before joining Watford in June.

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Love the Tiger feat

Here’s Chris Cattlin’s formidable Albion squad ahead of the 1984/85 season. Having beaten Liverpool the season before, the Seagulls had cup pedigree and feared no-one in a knockout competition.

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When Brighton drew Hull City in the FA Cup in both 1984/85 and 1985/86, they achieved satisfying victories in both encounters. However, it could not paper over the fact that the Tigers, led by player-boss Brian Horton, were set to surpass the Albion in the League.

As Chris Cattlin wrote in his programme notes before the third round clash of 1984/85:

“I would like to welcome Brian Horton and his team. He and I have many happy memories of our days together with the Albion both on and off the field. I know he will be particularly keen to do well against his old club, but he will certainly remember his happy days at the Goldstone.

I am sure he shares my memories and will want his team to win but I hope I don’t see anything of that bristling beard until around 5 o’clock… then I am sure we’ll have a drink together and the years will go rolling back.”

In the match, played in front of 11,681 in the January frost, ex-Albion striker Michael Ring was also re-united with the Goldstone, playing up front for Hull City:

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However, it was the Seagulls’ Chris Hutchings who scored the only goal in a second half counter-attack:

By the end of the season, while Albion narrowly missed out on returning to the top flight, Hull City had succeeded in clinching promotion from the Third Division.

When the sides met in the Second Division in 1985/86, goals from Connor, Wilson and Fashanu firmly put the new boys in their place, as Hull crashed 3-1 at the Goldstone in November 1985.

In the FA Cup, in January, in the Fourth Round at Boothferry Park, Albion prevailed again. A Cup Indian sign, perhaps? Or maybe a home jinx, seeing as Hull have not beaten Albion away to this day since 1965. On 25th January 1986, Dean Saunders and Terry Connor (2) scored the goals to take Albion through in a 3-2 victory. The rapidly improving Hull City did get revenge in the League, however, beating Albion on the last day of the season, and pushing up to sixth position, five places above the fading Seagulls, now managed on a temporary basis by assistant George Petchey (below), after Cattlin had been given the sack days before.

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Peter Ward – one of Forest’s tiny terrors

For those heartbroken at his departure, look away now.

When Peter Ward made the cover of Shoot! magazine on 6th December 1980, it was as a Nottingham Forest striker rather than a Brighton one:

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Inside, was a fascinating feature talking up the Peter Ward – Ian Wallace duo as part of a new trend in smaller, mobile strike partnerships:

At a time when £1 million can just about fetch a player capable of those mystical qualities, ball control and vision, Nottingham Forest threaten to unleash a veritable basement bargain on the unsuspecting First Division.

The sale of Peter Ward from Brighton to Forest for a reported £400,000 came as no surprise to those who became ultimately bored with the on-off transfer saga.

But what will take away a few breaths is the opinion of assistant-manager Peter Taylor who believes that Ward is only one step away from becoming one of the best strikers in the game.

It was Taylor who signed Ward from Burton Albion during his reign as Brighton manager. For a while it seemed that he had unearthed a pot of gold as Ward revealed definite qualities of natural goalscoring instinct.

This season, however, the boy who became the idol of the Sussex Coast fired too many blanks for the liking of Albion manager Alan Mullery, who seemed almost relieved to complete the deal.

Forest unveiled their tiny-tot strike force of Scottish international lan Wallace and the unpredictable Ward against Leeds at the City Ground on October 22, and after goals by Wallace and Ken Burns sealed a 2-1 win, Taylor said: “Ward tore Leeds apart. His speed, skill and eye for openings proved too much for them.

“People ask me why we play with two strikers, neither of whom tops 5′ 8” tall. But if you were to spend your time looking for a really tall striker to complete the target-man and partner combination you could be looking for ever.

“There is a lot of nonsense talked about how tall strikers should be. The important question for any managerial team is… can this lad play? In the case of Peter Ward the answer is definitely “yes’.

“In fact I am convinced that when he moves from Brighton back to his native Midlands and settles down, he will make a lot of people sit up and marvel at his ability.

“We are more interested in the basic ability of our two strikers. And there can be no question that they pose nightmares for big defenders. Players with the qualities of Wallace and Ward will always get goals and always worry defences.

“I don’t think people know just how good a player Ward is. It is just a matter of time before he settles into the Forest way of things, and then we will see him at his best.

“The fact that neither of these players happens to be a giant is neither here nor there. Ability is the key, not stature. And these players have the ability.” Ward scored his first goal for Forest against Southampton on November 1 and looks more at home with every game. But what problems do the Forest mini-duo pose for the First Division’s top defenders?

Arsenal’s giant Scottish centre-half Willie Young believes that the Forest duo are a sign of the times.

Young said: “I probably speak for all central defenders when I say that we generally prefer to play against the bigger strikers, the likes of John Toshack, Derek Dougan and Joe Jordan. But times are changing and so is football.

“If you look around the League you will find less of the big target players than, say, five years ago.

The modern striker has to be sharp, mobile and capable of pulling a defence out of position.
The days of the big man standing in the box waiting for a high ball to knock down are fast fading.

“Down the road at Tottenham they use Garth Crooks and Steve Archibald.

“Andy Gray and John Richards at Wolves are very sharp and mobile, Kenny Dalglish and Dave Johnson at Liverpool move all over the place. These sides don’t use a battering ram player down the middle.

“Ward and Wallace will make it difficult for big defenders because they are quick and skilful and can turn you if you lose concentration. But teams will still knock in the high balls and put you under pressure. I would play against them the same way I would play against any forwards. Perhaps light-weight players like them find it difficult to break down a tight defence, but give them room and they will create problems.”

Winter pitches and tight marking may combine to upset Forest’s plans now that the running power and height of Garry Birtles no longer provides alternatives. But knowing Clough and Taylor it is more likely that Ward and Wallace will buzz and sting more often than they are swatted.

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In his first season at the City Ground, Peter Ward came off the bench for the last eight minutes of Forest’s 4-1 victory over Brighton in March 1981. However, his impact on the match was minimal. It was the clash the following season, at the Goldstone on 20th February 1982, when he truly showed his class against his former team mates. In and out of the Midlands side at the time, Ward capped a fine performance by scoring Nottingham Forest’s winner in a 1-0 away win. As John Vinicombe wrote:

Before any side can beat Forest, they have to get past Shilton, and this proved beyond Albion’s capabilities. Not that Shilton alone stood between them and victory; on the contrary. But he was always there when required and in the meantime it was Ward, often quite scintillating, who plotted the downfall of his old club. Once he had settled down he led them a merry dance and impudently settled the issue with a header, which has never been his strong department.

Ward’s goal followed a Bryn Gunn cross after John Robertson’s corner. That he scored it with his head rubbed salt into the wounds for Steve Foster, often so dominant in the air. Foster did show he could match Ward’s pace in the second half, recovering well after Ward had stole the ball from him. However, in front of England manager Ron Greenwood, Ward’s artistry and aggression appeared to damage Foster’s World Cup chances.

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Panini Football 81 – a Brighton watershed

Brighton fans may have initially balked at getting a sticker album with Crystal Palace’s Gerry Francis on the cover, but I’m sure they got over it!

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Besides, Palace’s season was a disaster. They even had four different managers during the course of the 1980/81 season, none that could arrest their slump. Even Ray Wilkins’ side, Manchester United, sacked theirs, ex-Albion player Dave Sexton, at the end of their own disappointing campaign.

And Brighton? It was a watershed season for us too. Potentially Albion’s strongest squad had flattered to deceive. Peter Suddaby had played a major role in 1979/80 but injury meant he never did play in the new all-blue Adidas kit. Mullery resigned at the end of the 1980/81 season, and the reliable John Gregory was another departure, to QPR. While he stayed, Graham Moseley was deeply unsettled, rocked by a loss of form, the signing of Perry Digweed as well, as Mullery’s stinging criticism of the erstwhile number one keeper at the Goldstone:

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Interesting to see Mark Lawrenson listed here as a midfielder. He had performed that role admirably in the second half of 1979/80. Would Albion fortunes have been different had he stayed there in 1980/81? He, alongside Ward and Horton, also departed the Goldstone not long after the publication of this album. We are also treated to a rare shot of Peter Sayer in our new fangled Adidas kit. Sayer was an unused sub on the opening day match against Wolves before leaving for Preston North End.

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Notable absences here are Perry Digweed, Gary Stevens and Andy Ritchie, all of whom made a significant number of appearances during the course of the season.

This album is notable for the first appearance of team groups being made up of two stickers rather than one. Looking through the album, there are some alignment issues with some team groups, but happily, the Brighton one looks fine.

Second Division clubs were also given the half and half treatment, and it’s possible to clearly see Ray Clarke at his new club, Newcastle United. Even Third Division clubs were covered by Panini at the time, albeit with a single sticker team photo. 15mm tall in Charlton’s team sticker was Mike Bailey. Little did Albion fans know it in 1980/81, he would be man to bring forth a new era to the Goldstone, and a whole lot of new player stickers to collect!

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Love comes in Berts

From Goal Magazine:

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A happy foursome. That’s the Murray family, whose healthy looks are obviously due to the Sussex sea air, the 25-year-old wife of Brighton utility player Bert, thoroughly enjoying the outdoor life. When she’s not looking after her young family, two-year-old Sue and four-year-old Bert junior, she spends her time gardening, swimming or knitting. Eileen also likes watching football – there’s no need to say which team!

Domestic bliss, indeed. However, it was love of the Albion on St Valentine’s Day 1971 that helped to bring Bert Murray to Brighton in the first place. More than 3,000 school children and other supporters from all over Sussex took part in a sponsored walk along Madeira Drive to raise money for Pat Saward’s Buy-a-Player Fund:

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According to the book Seagulls! by Tim Carder and Roger Harris, the two top fundraising schools even contested the Pat Saward Cup at the Goldstone at Easter.

And now, from Football League Review in April 1971, some background on manager Pat Saward’s grand visions. Incredible to hear a professional football manager talking about autograph collecting competitions, fishing contests and international bowling competitions!

When Bert Murray moved from Birmingham City to Brighton last month, he became football’s number one fans’ player •- the first signing to be completed with the help of a unique scheme introduced by the Third Division club, a buy-a-player fund.

It has given Brighton’s supporters a special interest in the new player at the Goldstone Ground. He’s their player and to prove it they wear ‘I bought Bert’ badges.

But the buy-a-player appeal is only part of an ambitious scheme launched by the club five months ago to raise money and involve the Brighton public in the affairs of their League club.

Manager Pat Saward who, with the seven-man appeal fund committee, is the driving force behind the scheme says: “The fund involves the public with the club. We have no specific target. If we can raise a million pounds we will.”

Saward has little sympathy for clubs who continually moan about their financial plight and do little about it. “Too many people spend too much time shouting about how hard up their club is, and too little time fighting to improve the situation”, he says.

“You never get success if you sit around. You must have courage, even audacity and work hard for survival”.

Already Brighton’s appeal fund has raised £1,000 from a sponsored walk and held numerous big-prize draws. Future projects include an international bowling competition, a fishing contest and a variety night when the Pat Saward appeal fund take over the first night of the summer show on Brighton’s Palace Pier.

“It is like a motor car”, says Mr. Saward.

“It will quicken up as it goes along. Each project will be bigger and more ambitious”.

At monthly meetings, those who have donated to the appeal fund are invited to talk to the Brighton manager, discuss club policy and meet officials and players.

“The whole business is aimed at involving the supporters with the club, building up a club-supporter relationship”, says the manager.

“But I must stress the support we have had from the club’s directors who have sanctioned everything the appeal fund have asked for.

“Subject to their approval, we hope that when the appeal fund reaches £15,000, a member of the committee will join the club board”.

The appeal fund’s committee meet weekly to discuss future projects and money-making ideas, “They are eminent people in the town with enthusiasm and concern for the club”, says the Brighton boss.

Pat Saward bubbles with enthusiasm when he talks about the overall project. “When we stage the variety night, we hope to produce a brochure which will certain a competition to find the top autograph hunter in the area.

“The brochure will include 12 pictures of some of the game’s leading players with room for their autographs. The first person to submit the sheet filled in with the pleyers’ signatures will earn that top collector title and to ensure there are no forgeries, I will have the authentic signatures to check with”.

Manager Saward believes that other clubs could and should follow Brighton’s example to boost interest in their club and raise funds. “We are perhaps fortunate in our location”, he admits, “it would not be so easy if we were situated in an area near to a First Division club. Here there is tremendous potential, but you must have the backing of a progressive board to succeed”.

Those I bought Bert badges are only the start of a ‘back Brighton’ campaign.

“Once you have got the initial impetus, who knows how far you can go…” says the manager whose ambition matches his enthusiasm.

Club officials and players lead the sponsored walk: Kit Napier, Terry Williams, Mr Tom Whiting (Chairman), Peter Dinsdale, Pat Saward (Manager), Norman Gall, Alex Sheridan, Mr Len Stringer (Director).

Club officials and players lead the sponsored walk: Kit napier, Terry Williams, Mr Tom Whiting (Chairman), Peter Dinsdale, Pat Saward (Manager), Norman Gall, Alex Sheridan, Mr Len Stringer (Director).

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Mullery in V-sign storm

Image as featured in the excellent Not Worth That blog at https://notworththat.wordpress.com

Image as featured in the excellent Not Worth That blog at https://notworththat.wordpress.com

In a ‘friendly’ match in August 1973, Albion beat Crystal Palace 2-1, with goals from Ken Beamish and John Templeman. Regrettably, there was crowd trouble at the Goldstone. Even so, cooling the potential for antagonism, the two clubs didn’t get to play each other in the League that season and, in any case, the respective managers Brian Clough (once Pat Saward got the boot) and Malcolm Allison were good friends.

By the time the 1974/75 season kicked off, though, Crystal Palace were slumming it in Division Three with Brighton. In an encounter on the opening day, there was an intensity to the game that hadn’t been seen before in a clash between the two clubs. Again, there was crowd trouble. Argus reports in 1975/76 certainly talked of a rivalry between the two sides. Reporting on Palace’s 1-0 home defeat to Brighton from Sept 1975, John Vinicombe explained that:

‘The exchanges were conducted in a cup-tie atmosphere, and the cut-and-thrust carried through with the zest of deadly rivals.’

However, it was the infamous FA Cup 1st Round second replay at Stamford Bridge on 6th December 1976 that turned the flickers of ill-feeling into a fire. Here is how it was reported in the Daily Express:

Brighton crashed out of the FA Cup last night… and manager Alan Mullery made it an undignified exit.

Mullery had to be restrained by police after striding on to the Stamford Bridge pitch for a face-to-face confrontation with referee Ron Challis, who had disallowed two second-half Brighton goals.

And as Palace fans jeered from their seats near the tunnel, Mullery waved two extravagant double-handed V-signs at them.

According to Palace Echo, ‘He flung down about a fiver’s worth of notes change into a puddle and screamed “You’re not worth that, Palace” whilst flicking the viccies.’

The Express continues:

Mullery was unrepentant afterwards. He explained: “I asked him [Challis] why he had disallowed the penalty which Brian Horton had scored for us.

“He said to me, ‘I can’t talk to you on the pitch.’ I said that I was only asking him a question. I wanted to know how he could turn an advantage he had awarded to us for the foul on Chris Cattlin and then make it a disadvantage because a Palace player had stepped into the penalty area.

“The referee waved me away. He said: ‘I’ve told you you can’t talk to me on the pitch. Get off.”

Challis, who needed a police escort to get him safely past a group of angry Brighton supporters, did not caution Mullery for his protest. And he refused to comment on the incident. But it seems certain Mullery will now face disciplinary action.

He raged: “How can you get beaten like that? There was only one team in it. We were in a different class and if it was a fight it would have been stopped in the second round.

The controversy began in the 73rd minute when Ian Mellor’s header from a corner went past Palace goalkeeper Paul Hammond – but Brighton’s celebrations came to an abrupt halt when referee Challis awarded Palace a free-kick for handball against Peter Ward.

Mullery said: “The ref was the only one out of 14,000 people who saw Ward handle. I’ve got better eyes than him – and I wear glasses.”

But the real drama unfolded 13 minutes from the end when Mr Challis pointed to the penalty spot after Cattlin had been fouled by Barry Silkman.

Brighton captain Brian Horton pushed the penalty out of Hammond’s reach and into the left hand corner of the net. But the referee ordered him to retake it after he had spotted players encroaching illegally inside the area.

The penalty that started the row... the ball's in the net but the ref says 'no goal'

The penalty that started the row… the ball’s in the net but the ref says ‘no goal’

The retaken penalty... this time Hammond blocks Brian Horton's spot-kick

The retaken penalty… this time Hammond blocks Brian Horton’s spot-kick

Horton elected to try for the opposite corner. Hammond guessed that he would and dived to his left to palm the ball to safety.

Brighton’s experienced defender Graham Cross complained: “The referee made Brian take it again because Palace’s Ian Evans had pushed me inside the box as he took the first penalty. It was a disgraceful decision.”

Hammond explained the secret of his successful guess when he said, “I almost reached the first penlty, and I thought he would try to hit the second one the other way. I ‘sussed’ him out, although the second shot was not the best penalty the lad’s taken.”

The one goal which did stand came from Palace’s diminutive midfield player Phil Holder in the 19th minute.

Holder, given a free transfer by Palace in the summer, showed great composure as he drove David Swindlehurst’s centre into the net to wipe out the memory of Palace’s FA Cup semi-final defeat against Southampton on this ground eight months ago.

Palace now have prospects of another healthy Cup run, beginning with a second round tie at home to Enfield on Saturday.

For his troubles, Alan Mullery was ordered by the Football Association to answer charges of bringing the game into disrepute:

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He was fined £75 in 1977.

Referee Ron Challis was dubbed ‘Challis of the Palace’ by Brighton fans, becoming something of a hate figure. Was it really just a season before when Brighton’s matchday programme devoted a whole page to his photo?! Suffice to say, his image was now dartboard material:

Centre-spread of the Brighton v Palace programme from February 1976.

Centre-spread of the Brighton v Palace programme from February 1976.

As for Brighton, who were without a win in seven matches following the FA Cup exit, the team responded with eight wins in the next twelve matches to regain momentum, as well as leadership in the Third Division.

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To Elland back with Michael Robinson

A season before, in 1980/81, Brighton bested mid-table Leeds to secure their Division One status. The following season, the positions were reversed as the sides faced each other in the penultimate fixture.

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Injury had hampered Michael Robinson in the campaign. However, he was fit enough to give Brighton the lead at relegation-threatened Leeds in the fixture on 15th May 1982. It was his 30th goal for the Seagulls in the top flight:

Bravely, the Albion striker even had the cheek to give Leeds supporters the thumbs up. However, bolstered by Terry Connor up front, the home side did hit back in the final few minutes to come away with victory:

As El Presidente said on North Stand Chat:

The Leeds match in 81/2 was one of the most terrifying experiences of all time. When Robbo scored and gave the thumbs down sign to Leeds, if the score had remained the same they would have been relegated, as it was their last home game of the season.

Their fans went mental, and the nutters in the opposite end to their kop spent the next 20 minutes giving the 80 or so of us Albion fans in the away end cut throat signs. The police were genuinely worried about protecting us at the end of the match.

Fortunately Leeds scored twice in injury time, their relegation fight was still on, and all was forgotten in terms of kicking shit out of us.

Four days later they went to West Brom, lost, were relegated, and burned down part of one of the stands at The Hawthorns in a fit of wild and indiscriminate hooliganism.

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Happy birthday to The Goldstone Wrap

Twelve months ago, I began The Goldstone Wrap blog to share with you lots of articles and photos I have gathered of Brighton & Hove Albion down the years. My ambitious goal was to post one article a day and see how much interest there was in a retro blog about the club’s history up to 1997.

I have been delighted that this blog has reached post number 366 today. Over that time, the number of readers has increased significantly. There have also been lots of positive feedback, particularly on Twitter and North Stand Chat. I’ve also met some remarkably generous people who have leant me bits and pieces to share with you, not to mention extensive video and photo collections.

So it seems apt to celebrate this blog being one. If money was no object I’d have a cake with marzipan like this one from 1983:

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Over the next few weeks, you can expect posts on Mike Bamber the jazz musician, Peter O’Sullivan’s views on a children’s book about him, a spectacular Terry Connor own goal, plus lots of Albion memorabilia.

As far as being daily, I am also planning to bring this blog to an end in June, when it reaches 500 posts. The archives will live on, and I will still post to it, but it won’t be once a day any more. It just seems like a good place for me to stop. My love for all things Albion retro remains undiminished, and I will continue to be open to sharing it with you, I promise!

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United colours of football

This amazing photograph appeared in Total Football magazine in May 1997, showing fans all over the country uniting behind Brighton supporters on Fans United Day, from 8th February that year:

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Click the image for a close up.

The match the fans watched turned into a 5-0 triumph over Hartlepool. As The Argus reported, the players were not slow to show their appreciation to the supporters:

Hat-trick hero Craig Maskell had a ball against Hartlepool, then showed the Albion fans just how much their support meant.

He grabbed hold of the match ball, kissed it and threw it into a packed North Stand after Saturday’s 5-0 victory at the Goldstone.

“I just wanted to give something back to the fans,” he said. “I’ve not had a brilliant time since coming here and it was nice to give them something to cheer about.”

Seagulls boss Steve Gritt declared: “It was a nice gesture by Craig. Perhaps he’s got so many match balls at home that he doesn’t want anymore!”

Maskell made it a perfect day for Albion. The Fans United show of strength organised by supporters produced a bumper gate of 8,412, the biggest of the season, and the players rewarded them with their biggest League win for 12 years.

Maskell gets his first

Maskell gets his first

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A day out with Dale Jasper

Croydon-born Dale Jasper was a Chelsea supporter who did not have a successful time as a first team player at Stamford Bridge. Nevertheless, he was once rated as an outstanding prospect in both defence and midfield. Kelvin Barker on the Sporting Heroes site notes:

Dale had a composed, elegant playing style which was pleasing to the eye and he was given an immediate opportunity to exhibit his skills at the highest level when the new season [1984/85] began.

Sadly, he turned Chelsea fans against him when he conceded two penalties after coming on as a substitute in the Milk Cup Semi-Final First Leg at Sunderland in 1985:

His Chelsea career never recovered. Seeking a fresh start, he joined Brighton on a free transfer in May 1986, before the end of the 1985/86 campaign.

Tony Norman wrote a splendid piece about Jasper for an Albion matchday programme in 1986/87. Could this ex-First Division player be the man to get the Seagulls back into the top flight?

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When 23-year-old Dale Jasper signed for Albion a year ago. he couldn’t believe his luck.

Within three days, he was walking up the steps of a British Caledonian let and heading off for the trip of a lifetime to Hong Kong.

“That was quite a start to my days at the Goldstone,” said Dale as we sat in the sunshine in the deserted stadium. “I had been determined to get away from Chelsea, because I wanted regular first team football Quite a few clubs showed an interest in me, including Reading and Charlton, but when Brighton came in for me, that was it. I knew right away this was the club I wanted to play for.

“I signed on the Monday and three days later I flew out to Hong Kong with the team, so it wasn’t a bad week, was it? We played an exhibition match over there. I was a bit disappointed when a goal I scored was disallowed, but I was smiling by the end of the game, because we won 3-1.

“We were away for about a week and it was a very good way for me to meet the rest of the p!ayers and get to know them. It all seemed a bit unreal, because it had all come out of the blue, but it was very enjoyable.”

Dale had been linked with Chelsea Football Club from the tender age of eleven and when he decided to move on, he expected it to be a big wrench.

“I thought it would be a bit difficult to settle, but it was no problem at all,” he explained. “This is such a happy, family club. I love it here. I’ve never missed Chelsea. I still keep in touch with some of the players at Stamford Bridge, but I’ve never regretted leaving.”

Dale has his own home near East Croydon railway station which is just 40 minutes up the line from Brighton But he pops in to see his mum and dad every day.

“We’ve always been very close. They ve travelled all over the coumry to watch me play, and I don’t think I would be playing professional football today if it wasn’t for them. When I was younger, I had a wild streak in me, like a lot of kids do. But my parents kept me on the ‘right track’. They’ve always set a good example and I respect them for that.

Dale has a sister and two brothers•. “Football’s always been a big thing in our family. My brother Tony plays in New Zealand and our younger brother Wayne has had offers to train with Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur and various other clubs, so things are looking promising for him too,”

Dale likes to keep himself fit during the summer break with a few games of squash and he is planning to do some decorating in his Croydon home too. But there will be time to relax.

“I’m planning to have a couple of weeks in Corfu with some friends of I mine. I’ve been to Spain and those busy resorts are nothing but I aggravation. So, I fancy going somewhere reasonably quiet and taking it easy.”

Dale will be taking some famous musical friends with him too.

“Sitting back in the sun listening to tapes of my favourite bands like Simple Minds, UB40 and U2, that’s my idea of a great day out on holiday.” Then Dale will be fit and ready to play his part in a new season that will, we believe, see the Seagulls smiling again!

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He played 32 League appearances plus two as substitute in the disastrous relegation season of 1986/87, scoring twice, including a 30 harder in the 4-1 defeat at Derby in October 1986. Clocking up his game time, he then amassed a further 12 League starts, plus two as sub, the following season as Barry Lloyd’s side unexpectedly achieved promotion from Division Three. One of his four goals that season was this equaliser at Bristol Rovers in October 1987:

Memories of his contribution to the Albion’s play are mostly negative, however. As Zeitgeist on North Stand Chat remarked in 2004:

Dale Jasper was generally pants. Coming from Chelsea you’d expect him to have a bit of pedigree about him. Afraid not, Charlie. The Chelsea of that era were a piss poor apology of the moneybags superstars of today. They didn’t have a pot to piss in and were on the verge of dropping into the second division. Dale Jasper’s five minutes of fame was punching the ball into the net whilst lying on the ground for a late equaliser against Chesterfield. Fortunately, Stevie Wonder was the ref and we got away with it.

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Interesting that as a joke, he lists winning the Sussex Senior Cup as the extent of his ambitions:

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In May 1988, he featured in the reserve side that lifted the Sussex Senior Cup for the first time. A few weeks after this triumph, he was released, eventually playing for Crewe, Crawley and Kingstonian.

According a piece in the Football League Paper in early 2012, Jasper was ‘last known to be living above a pub in South London and working on the building industry.’

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