Monthly Archives: March 2014

Brighton rock ‘n’ roll

Here are Neil Smillie and Gordon Smith at the start of the 1983/84 season:


Before his Albion days, Smillie (known as ‘Specky’ to his team mates as he wore spectacles) spent eight seasons with Crystal Palace. He also had a loan period with Brentford as well as enjoying a spell in the United States. As he says in the Brighton v Manchester City programme in January 1983:

‘I played over in Memphis and we had a great time there. We lived just around the corner from Elvis Presley’s house, Gracelands. They call that road Elvis Presley Boulevard and across the street from the house you can see camper trucks and trailers from all over the States and Canada.’

Speaking of his partner Penny and himself he adds:

‘It’s strange to think that if Elvis had still been alive, we would probably have met him. He was always keen on sport and supported all the local teams. We’re not really Elvis fans, but you couldn’t help wishing you’d met him. Elvis is one of the biggest stars that ever lived.’

That’s not to say that Smillie didn’t enjoy listening to music. However, it was Dire Straits, Elton John, Christopher Cross and ‘some American West Coast bands’ that were more his bag.

As for Gordon Smith, he is described in the Brighton v Carlisle programme in September 1983 as ‘the music man!’:

“I’ve loved pop music since I was a little lad, back home in Scotland. I can remember hearing ‘Please please me’ by The Beatles on the radio and liking it a lot. When I got my first record player, I bought ‘She loves You’ and played it so many times I nearly wore the grooves.”

Apart from his cup final infamy, Smith also found fame through a friendship with Paul McCartney who he met at a Wings concert in Glasgow. Through this link, the Brighton player got a chance to play acoustic guitar to ‘Blackbird’ while at McCartney’s house near Rye.

With such music credentials, perhaps it is unsurprising that Gordon Smith had rock tastes that were respected by his peers. In his autobiography ‘And Smith Did Score,’ he recounts the time when his Albion days were reaching their end in November 1983:

I had made up my mind. Manchester City was a team I wanted to play for at that stage and I wanted them on my CV. The manager said, if that was the way I felt about it, I’d better go home.

For the bus journey to Derby [sic] for the game the previous Saturday I had brought a cassette tape I had recorded of different songs and the boys had asked me to play it over the bus sound system. As I was going out the door of Chris Cattlin’s office, he said a strange thing to me. ‘See that compilation tape you played on the bus on Saturday? It was good. Any chance you would make one up for me?’ I told him I would give him the tape I had with me on the bus and he said, ‘That would be great.’ Later on that day I got a call at home to go back in to the club.

In Chris Cattlin’s office he told me, ‘The deal’s done. You can go to Manchester City.’

‘What about the £5,000 Brighton owe me in signing-on fees?’ I asked.

‘No, you won’t get that,’ he said.

‘I’m owed that money and I want it before I leave.’ I replied.

He left the room to talk to the chairman about my demand and when he came back he said, ‘We’ll give you £3,000.’ I said, ‘No, I’m owed £5,000 and that’s what I want.’

‘Go away and think about it,’ he said. ‘That’s the most I can offer you.’

As I was going out the door, he asked if I’d brought the compilation cassette tape he had asked me for. I said I had and was about to hand it to him when I pulled it back from his outstretched hand.

‘I’ll give you the tape if I can get the full £5,000 you owe me,’ I said.

‘Alright then,’ he said. ‘You can have your money.’ So I got the other £2,000 they owed me for making up a compilation cassette tape. That must have beenthe dearest piece of music Brighton ever paid for. I suppose you could call it Brighton Rock ‘n’ Roll!

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Keepin’ in the family

Some shots from the Evening Argus, on 3rd September 1970:



It was a busman’s bank holiday for Albion goalkeeper Brian Powney, who played an ‘Aunt Sally’ role in the Seaford Donkeyrama on Monday. His four-year-old nephew, Chris Powney (take one) is about to win a prize by poking one past acrobatically-diving Uncle Brian (take two), in one of the sideshows run by Sussex Sunday League club Seaford, which is managed by the long-serving Albion goalkeeper.


Death threat to soccer star’s family

From the Evening Argus on 30th August 1970:


Police were today guarding the Easthourne home of football star Barry Bridges after he received a threat that his two young sons would be killed unless he paid £5,000. At his detached house in King’s Drive today Bridges, capped four times for England and last season’s leading goalscorer for Queen’s Park Rangers, said the threat had been made in a letter sent to him yesterday morning. “It simply said that unless I paid the money my two sons would be killed. It said I would be getting more details later. So far I haven’t heard any more.

“The letter was typewritten on paper that looks like it was torn out of a notebook. It was very badly typed. I received a telephone call last night but when I answered it the caller did no reply. So I put it down and haven’t heard anything since.

The Bridges have two sons, Mark, aged seven, and Andrew, aged four.

Bridges said that other telephone calls have been made to his house while he and his wife Irena were out. They were received by the children’s many, 16 year-old Sandra Green, who lives in with the family.

He said other calls had been received at the New Wilmington Hotel in Wilmington Terrace, Eastbourne, in which the Bridges have an interest.

“We can’t afford to take any chances. We are keeping the children in for a few days,” he said.

“I think it is the work of young people doing it for kicks. They have read about death threats to Bobby Moore’s wife and Bobby Charlton’s wife: I think they are jumping on the bandwagon. But it’s a bit worrying all the same.

“On the other hand, if it is someone’s idea of a prank then they want their heads tested.”

His Polish wife Irena said if somebody wanted to get hold of the children they would have had plenty of opportunity in recent few days.

She said: “Barry has been busy with football and I have just opened a new boutique so we have not seen much of the children lately. They have been going out a lot while on holiday.”

I’m not sure whether it relates to this story. However, a month later, Bridges moved from QPR to Millwall. I’m unsure whether he moved house. Two years on, in September 1972, Pat Saward signed the ex-England striker for Brighton & Hove Albion, in a club record £29,000 deal. Here he is in action against Aston Villa in a creditable draw during his Brighton debut that month:


Unfortunately, the Albion fans did not see the best of Bridges, although he began to show a great run of form towards the end of 1973/74, before he was released. Subsequently, he had a spell playing in South Africa before returning to Sussex to run New Wilmington Hotel in Eastbourne.


Where are they now? Brighton’s promotion squad of 1987/88

Back row: Mark Leather (physio), Richard Tiltman, Trevor Wood, Gerry Armstrong, Grant Horscroft, Mike Trusson, Garry Nelson, Dale Jasper, John Keeley, Damian Webber, Ted Streeter (youth development officer);  Middle row: Barry Lloyd (manager), Steve Gatting, Chris Hutchings, Robert Isaac, Perry Digweed, David Gipp, Ian Chapman, John Crumplin, Martin Hinshelwood (coach); Front row: Kevan Brown, Darren Hughes, Kevin Bremner, Doug Rougvie, Gary Rowell. Dean Wilkins, Steve Penney.

Back row: Mark Leather (physio), Richard Tiltman, Trevor Wood, Gerry Armstrong, Grant Horscroft, Mike Trusson, Garry Nelson, Dale Jasper, John Keeley, Damian Webber, Ted Streeter (youth development officer);
Middle row: Barry Lloyd (manager), Steve Gatting, Chris Hutchings, Robert Isaac, Perry Digweed, David Gipp, Ian Chapman, John Crumplin, Martin Hinshelwood (coach);
Front row: Kevan Brown, Darren Hughes, Kevin Bremner, Doug Rougvie, Gary Rowell. Dean Wilkins, Steve Penney.

In 2012, The Football League Paper put the spotlight on Brighton’s celebrated 1987/88 squad that unexpectedly won promotion as runners-up in the Third Division. It makes for a fascinating reading although some of the details may have changed:

Back row:
1. Mark Leather (physio) – runs his own practice and is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University.
2. Richard Tiltman – Runs CTW Financial Services Ltd in Worthing.
3. Trevor Wood – the former Northern Ireland international goalkeeper is now believed to be living in the Eastbourne area.
4. Gerry Armstrong – after managing Worthing and two spells as Northern Ireland assistant manager, he is now a television pundit for Sky Sports and ESPN Star Sports.
5. Grant Horscroft – is now living in Uckfield. Has become a data controller for a fastener distributor.
6. Mike Trusson – became youth team coach and then first team coach at Bournemouth. Is now a coach educator, working for various county football associations.
7. Garry Nelson – based in Essex where he has a number of business interests.
8. Dale Jasper – was last known to be living above a pub in South London and working in the building industry.
9. John Keeley – after six seasons at Brighton as goalkeeping coach and pitman, he left to make the switch to Portsmouth.
10. Damian Webster – he now works in the rail industry and is operations director of a trackside systems company.

Middle row:
11. Ted Streeter (youth development officer) – lives in Horsham, where he ran the Ted Streeter Football Academy.
12. Barry Lloyd – after managing Worthing and working for a BMW dealership, he returned to Brighton as chief scout and now scouts for the development squad and youth set-up.
13. Steve Gatting – the brother of England cricketer Mike has been an academy coach at Arsenal since 2007.
14. Chris Hutchings – he has managed Bradford and Wigan in the Premier League as well as being in charge at Walsall. Is now Paul Jewell’s assistant at Ipswich.
15. Rob Isaac – Became a personal assistant for a well-known racing family.
16. Perry Digweed – lives in London and is a property owner who runs an executive chauffeur service for racehorse owners.
17. David Gipp – lives in Barkingside. Earns a living by buying and selling as an East End trader.
18. Ian Chapman – Managed Whitehawk and coached at Brighton. Is now coaching at Lancing College Prep School in Hove.
19. John Crumplin – He has managed various clubs in Sussex and Surrey and is now working in the building industry.

Front row:
20. Martin Hinshelwood (coach) – is currently the Seagulls’ director of football after holding a series of other posts including caretaker-manager twice and a brief stint as manager.
21. Kevan Brown – he is now director of sport at St Francis School, an independent school based in Pewsey, Wiltshire.
22. Darren Hughes – Lives in Warrington and has been a painter and decorator.
23. Kevin Bremner – worked in the academies of Millwall and Gillingham and works as a subcontractor in the building industry.
24. Doug Rougvie – is now living in the Aberdeen area and works in engineering after running his own design company.
25. Gary Rowell – after working as a financial consultant in Burnley, he worked as a summariser for Real Radio and a columnist for the Sunderland Echo.
26. Dean Wilkins – he held various jobs for Brighton after hanging up his boots before moving on to Southamtpon where he has been assistant manager and now first-team coach.
27. Steve Penney – returned to his native Ballymena in Northern Ireland where he became an optician.

The article also focussed on one of Albion’s main strikers that season:

Kevin Bremner proved he was something of a lucky mascot for the Seagulls when it came to winning promotion from the Third Division.

The Scottish striker had already helped former clubs Millwall and Reading climb out of the division before moving to the south coast. And then for the third time in four years he scored eight goals and was part of a promotion winning side as Brighton finished runners-up to Sunderland.

Sunderland ran away with the title, finishing nine points ahead of Brighton, who themselves were two points ahead of third-placed Walsall.

Promotion was secured in the last game of the season when Bristol Rovers were defeated 21 at the Goldstone Ground thanks to goals from Bremner and Garry Nelson, who netted 22 in the campaign.

Bremner recalled: “Nigel Martyn was in goal for Rovers at the time and they were a very good team, but they weren’t good enough to stop us.”

Despite the champagne corks popping in the changing room, Bremner and fellow Scot Rougvie decided against hitting the town.

“We never went out to celebrate, we just stayed in with our families and ended up in the street playing football with our kids!” he added.

Bremner and Nelson - the Y front men!

Bremner and Nelson – the Y front men!

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Peter Ward’s magic debut at Hereford


You have a tough away fixture at the League leaders. What do you do? You drop your top scorer in favour of a slender chap who has not yet kicked a ball in league football. Strangely, it worked.

From the Evening Argus, covering this famous match from 26th March 1976:

Albion improved their promotion hopes with a brave display at Hereford, although the two top scoring sides of Division 3 played nothing like to form.

After three successive away defeats, it was vital that Albion stopped the slide, and they showed enough grit to have warranted both points. Indeed, Dixie McNeill’s 53rd minute equaliser was seen on TV action replay to have been punched in. Had either referee Jim Bent or his linesman been sighted, the goal must have been disallowed.

Nevertheless, the 1-1 draw was a fair result for Albion survived not a few anxious moments after 20-year-old Peter Ward blasted them ahead at 50 secs, and earned himself a place in the record books.

The lightweight striker, who has netted 20 goals for the Reserves, became only the third player to score in the first minute of his League career.

Ward shoots for goal...

Ward shoots for goal…

Ward (out of shot) is off the mark as O'Sullivan (no 8) celebrates

Ward (out of shot) is off the mark as O’Sullivan (no 8) celebrates

A £4,000 close-season signing from Burton Albion, Ward has been substitute three times, joined the ranks of illustrious players like Bill Foulkes of Newcastle United who netted with his first kick when debuting for Wales against England at Cardiff 25 years ago.

Those handful of regulars who watch the Reserves cannot have been surprised at Ward’s impressive debut, or the decision of manager Peter Taylor to drop 25-goal Fred Binney.

While Binney scores like clock-work at the Goldstone, his tally of away goals is low – five in the League and two on the FA Cup trail.

No doubt Taylor will come under fire from Binney’s large band of admirers. But it was a courageous decision to omit the league scorer and risk wholesale censure had the move failed.

Before the match, Taylor asked his players for maximum effort. He knows full well that the principal reason why only 12 points have been taken from 19 away games is lack of application.

“They gave what I asked for. They were magnificent,” he said.

I hope the introduction of Ward, who has a great deal to learn, isn’t going to inspire an ‘unfair to Binney’ campaign. I have no reason to believe there was any reason for his dropping or the standing-down of Ian Mellor, other than purely tactical.

Ward watches a high ball

Ward watches a high ball

Quite apart from his unforgettable goal, Ward made a meaningful contribution to the game. But for a superb fingertip save nine minutes from the end by Kevin Charlton, Ward would have had the winner.

Ward exerts more pressure with his pace and close control

Ward exerts more pressure with his pace and close control

His introduction at this juncture was based on the lack of mobility by Hereford’s central defender, John Galley. Such a nippy player as Ward soon demonstrated his skill and finishing power, attacking chiefly from the left and showing a penchant for knee-high crosses.

It was in this fashion that he scored. But I am sure Ward would be first to admit that Sammy Morgan’s arrival in the six-yard box was a painfully unwelcome distraction for Charlton.

The increased pace was Ward’s abiding impression of it all. He admitted to be tired afterwards and was not the first to complain at the poor state of the pitch, where the uncertain bounce deceived most of the players most of the time.

Match of the Day cameras and commentary did not adequately convey the tension. Neither side overcame nerves, and in consequence much of the game was scrappy.

Once again Brian Horton displayed a wide range of skills and power, while Peter O’Sullivan’s urgency was always in evidence. The return of Andy Rollings after missing three games with a gashed instep, gave much needed height to the defence and he played so strongly as to be outstanding at the back.

Joe Kinnear, however, was far less sure and allowed himself to be distracted on one near-fatal occasion by the tactics of Terry Paine.

The result threw doubt on Hereford’s promotion credentials. The Brighton draw meant the Lilywhites had won just one out of their previous four matches. However, they won five and lost once out of their remaining nine League matches to end the season as Third Division champions. Despite a goal bonanza from new boy Ward towards the end of the season, Brighton secured only one victory out of their remaining fixtures and so promotion proved beyond them.


A day with a footballer

I fondly remember getting this book from Brighton’s Children’s Library on Church Street in the mid-1980s:

A day with a footballer - Peter O'Sullivan

It was an incredible find! A real children’s book with our own local footballer, Peter O’Sullivan, as its subject!


Needless to say, I was fascinated at the time to find out all about the lifestyles of professional footballers. Little did I know that pros gave each other piggy backs to stay fit:


…had to put on ties for when seeing the club physio:


…and had All-Bran for breakfast as part of their carefully chosen diet:


After a visit to St Peter’s School in Cowfold, our hero was interviewed by Radio Brighton. Then, the climax of the book centred around the Brighton v Leicester City match in February 1979, a match which Albion won 3-1. Now, records show that Sully didn’t score that day. However, artistic licence from the authors Allan and Christine Haddrell ensured that Peter is credited for getting the clinching goal directly from a free-kick.


In November last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter O’Sullivan for Viva Brighton magazine (p.57). Towards the end, as well as giving him a spare copy, we got at the truth behind this beautiful book. He said: “Leave me alone! The book’s pretty frightening. I’ve tried to delete it from my memory. If you see here, I never did any warming up and stretching. The authors set me up with that one!


“And look at that – I didn’t score!”

Well, frankly, it doesn’t even look like Sully’s taking a free-kick, does it?.


At the end of the book, the players went on a plane to Jersey for a short holiday, which is well-documented in the Peter Ward biography as a disaster with Graham Moseley putting his hand through a glass window and the Albion players getting royally drunk. Good timing that this children’s book ended as the players got onto the British Caledonian plane!


Peter comments: “That was the worst weekend in history,” before correcting himself: “It was a good week. Sunday lunch – we had ten bottles of red wine, and they were gone in no time at all!”

But how the blazes did he get involved in a children’s book in the first place? Peter reveals all: “The chairman Mike Bamber asked me to do it. He said some guy is doing a children’s book. Will you do it? I said, all right. I don’t mind. He introduces me to this guy. Over a month or two we meet him once a week, sometimes at the ground and he’d take some photos. The players gave me some right stick: ‘Here’s that geezer again!’ It was a tough one! I thought I’d deleted all traces of the book from history, but many people have still got it. Classic! All I can say is the person behind it was a very good story teller, especially as I am still waiting for my money for that book! They truly stitched me up.”

If you wish to read the book in its entirety, you can see it from a desktop computer (with Adobe Flash installed) here, preserved online forever. Sorry, Peter!

Other books in the series include ‘A day with a stable girl’ 😛

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A shock for Villa in the crunch game

Albion's new skipper, Brian Bromley

Albion’s new skipper is the influential midfield man Brian Bromley

Having suffered defeats to Oldham and Bradford in the run up to the clash with Division Three leaders Aston Villa on 25th March 1972, Brighton boss Pat Saward made some brave changes. Out went Stewart Henderson and captain John Napier, and in came Bert Murray and Ian Goodwin. Brian Bromley was installed as the new skipper.

The changes paid dividends, and the promotion push was back up and running thanks to a famous 2-1 victory. Here is how the Sunday Mirror reported it:

Brighton manager Pat Saward bounced to the edge of the pitch at the end of this ding-dong Third Division promotion battle.

And he ordered his Albion troops: “Get back into the middle and take a bow. You deserve it.”

Saward’s tribute to his swashbuckling side was deserved. They fully earned a victory which takes them one step closer to Second Division soccer next season and which dented ambitious Aston Villa’s own title chances.

It was the long, frizzylocks of Kit Napler which nodded bubbling Brighton to victory six minutes from time,

Villa ‘keeper Jim Cumbes should have cut out a left-wing centre from Peter O’Sullivan.

But he missed it, Napier didn’t, and Villa were beaten for only the second time in their last twenty-one League outings.

Villa boss Vic Crowe took defeat with a philosophical shrug of his shoulders. “They plaved out of their skins,” he sald.

“Yet we might well have got a point. Jim Cumbes says the sun got in his eyes when they grabbed that late winner.

“Still, I think we can go top and I don’t care who goes up with us.

“Brighton play Bournemouth next-Saturday, and as far as I’m concerned they can both lose.”

Villa were dodgy at the back. And stodgy up front.

Brighton looked the likelier Championship bet all through.

Said Saward: “Tremendous, tremendous. We tore them apart in the first quarter of an hour of the second-half.”

He was not exaggerating.

In that spell. Villa’s £275,000 centre half Chris Nicholl twice had to scoop what looked like certain scoring-chances off his own goal-line.

The first was from Ken Beamish and that was followed by another from Napier.

But Brighton began tearing Villa apart as early as the sixth minute when Willie Irvine shot them into the lead with as good a goal as anyone will see this Season,

Beamish launched it. John Templeman drove, a magnificent pass with surgical precision diagonally through a floundering Villa defence.

And Irvine finished it off with a searing shot from the edge of the penalty box.

Villa looked like salvaging a point when skipper Bruce Rioch rifled a fifty-fifth minute equaliser which was every bit as good as Brighton’s opener.

Willie Anderson. who looked such a weary Willie until that moment, sent Charlie Aitken sprinting along the left.

The full back’s cross was played back into the middle by Ray Graydon and Rioch met it on the volley to almost burst the Brighton net.

Rioch’s joy was shortlived. He was booked in the the seventy-seventh minute after a clash with rival skipper Brian Bromley.

Referee Norman Burdenshaw had no alternative but to take Rioch’s name.

Others were more fortunate, avoiding a similar fate in this beefy promotion battle.

The Midlands’ moneybags have now taken only one point fronx their last three outings, and the promotion boat is beginning to rock.

But Brighton look if their Second Division intentions are honourable, Seldom has any side have run Villa so ragged.

The Sports Mirror editorial also spotlighted the crucial match:


Hands all those who deserve an ice lolly! Brighton’s team will probably get the freedom of the town’s ice cream parlours after licking Aston Villa 2-1. This happy threesome are Peter O’sullivan, Willie Irvine and Kit Napier after Irvine had fired Br!ghton’s first goal in the sixth minute at sunny Hove. And by the look of him he wouldn’t swap that moment for all the pebbles on the Brighton beach.

Cut open any Aston Villa player this morning and it wiil probably say “Brighton” all the way through.

Villa, with tradition a mile high and just as long on optimism about playing in the Second Division next season, found it was too hot by the seaside yesterday.

Brighton and Hove Albion, to name just one side, have never hit the heights. And apart from one stay in the Second Division, have never reached for them.

Yesterday afternoon Brighton took Villa apart. They won 2-1 with goals by Willie Irvine and Kit Napier, Napier leaving the fans biting their fingers until six minutes from the end when he popped in the winner.

It was a shock to Vllta’s sophisticated system.

Irvine cheekily nosed Brighton in front after six minutes. And it was another fifty minutes before Bruce Rioch put the leaders level.

Villa still head the table but they are now only one point ahead of second-placed Bournemouth who dropped a point at Rochdale.

BournemouttL who have played two more games than Villa or third-placed Brighton, had a lucky escape when Gowan missed a penalty for Rochdale,

Our forecast of next week’s hottest soccer spot must be Bournemouth, Brtght0n are the visitors and they want to cut two more points off that four-point gap between them and Villa.

Eddie Spearritt challenges for the ball with Villa's Ray Graydon

Eddie Spearritt challenges for the ball with Villa’s Ray Graydon

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Albion 100 years ago

Here is the Brighton & Hove Albion team photo for the 1913/14 season, the last campaign to be completed before the outbreak of the First World War:


One player signed was amateur Zillwood March, a winger from Bosham, who lived to the grand old age of 101, eventually passing away in 1994 in Bognor Regis.

The side finished seventh out of 19 clubs in the Southern League Division One and first in the Southern Alliance. Albion also enjoyed an excellent FA Cup run, putting out Oldham Athletic (who finished fourth in the Football League that season) after a replay. They eventually lost 3-0 in the 3rd Round at Sheffield Wednesday, in front of a 38,997 crowd.

Here’s a memento from that Cup run, featuring the team mascot, Rose:



Striker Mike gives Brighton a lift


Yesterday, Brighton disappointingly lost 2-0 at home to a canny Ipswich Town. The story was different in November 1980. Then, Bobby Robson’s Ipswich were one of the best teams in Europe, with players of the calibre of John Wark, Frans Thijssen and Arnold Muhren helping to play some of the most attractive football available in the Football League.

The Blues mounted an ambitious treble bid in that 1980/81 season, and were second in the First Division at the time. However, bottom-placed Albion turned the tables on their more illustrious counterparts with a shock victory in front of 17,055 crowd at the Goldstone. Here’s how the Daily Mirror reported the Tuesday evening match:

Mike Robinson breathed fresh life and hope into Brighton last night with a goal that ended Ipswich’s unbeaten First Division record.

And so rock-bottom Brighton succeeded where 14 other sides have failed, and their victory was greeted by ecstasy by their long-suffering crowd.

It was Albion’s first win in 10 League games, and Ipswich’s second defeat in 38.

The acclaim of the 17,000 crowd must have delighted chairman Mike Bamber.

He had earlier warned that, unless support improved, Albion would finish the season with more than £250,000 in the red.

He also indicated that if Brighton slipped back into the Third Division – from where they stepped five heady seasons ago – neither he nor Alan Mullery would remain at the club.

It was a year this week that Albion rose off the bottom of the table by ending Nottingham Forest’s unbeaten home run that had lasted for two seasons.

Mullery said: “We are not a bottom-of-the-table side when we play like that.

“On the evidence of tonight we are not far off ipswich. But I must admit, towards the end I kicked nearly every ball out there.”

Albion’s best efforts were frustrated by a patched up Ipswich side, shorn of some of their key players who had helped them into second place in the table.

But the goal that came in the 83rd minute was well taken.

Mark Lawrenson found Robinson and the £400,000 striker turned quickly to lose Allan Hunter and drive in a low, right-footed shot.

Earlier, Ipswich had defended heroically as they protected Laurie Sivell, the smallest keeper in the League.

Mick Mills cleared off the line, Sivell was in constant action, and in the 33rd minute Robinson missed a chance that was almost too easy.

Russell Osman slipped on the soaking pitch and Robinson closed in, but as he prepared to shoot, Sivell came racing out to save bravely at his feet.

Andy Ritchie had a goal disallowed and then went close with two other fine efforts before Robinson stepped in to fire the goal that Brighton believed will signal a rapid climb to safety.

The Seagulls had clearly caught Ipswich at a sticky point in the season. Despite being unbeaten, Town had drawn five of their previous six League games. Even so, Albion’s result was a magnificent achievement, given that until the middle of March 1981, Ipswich only lost one other Division One match. As for Brighton, they followed up this against-the-odds victory over Robson’s men with another win, away at Wolves, that took the Sussex side out of the relegation zone for the first time in four weeks. By the middle of March, Brighton were still hovering on the edge of the relegation trapdoor. Just as Ipswich Town fans were to discover, the season was heading for a nail-biting finale.


Williams going home


From Football Weekly News in March 1980:

Brighton defender Gary Williams is entitled to feel a little tension when he steps out to face Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

He was born just outside the great Merseyside city 24 year ago, and this is the first time he has played at the famous stadium.

The nearest he has got to it so far was when Brighton played Everton at Goodison Park in December, and before that he played for Preston North End – 30 miles down the road.

But the real thing is approaching for the Litherland man who appears to be taking it all in his stride.

“It’s certainly going to be something special to be playing there,” he admitted, “but I’ve already played against Everton and they were the team I supported as a lad.

“But Liverpool, on their own pitch, is entirely different and I can tell you the lads are all keyed up for this one.

“It’s just going to be fantastic. I’m really looking forward to it. All my family and friends were at Everton and I suppose I’ll have to find around 30 tickets again from somewhere if I can.

“Liverpool have been so successful that no-one will give us a chance of getting a result and that can work in our favour.

“They have everything to lose while we are the underdogs and that’s how we like it.

“We are all going to enjoy this one, probably more so than at grounds like Norwich where there is more pressure on us to get something.”

Williams’ present Albion partner Mark Lawrenson was also with him at preston, where they used to get gates of 6,000.

“The rest of the fans used to travel to watch Liverpool,” explained Williams who joined Brighton in October 1977 via Preston and, before that, Northern League side Marine.

“I wanted to better myself and get into the First Division but football is such an up and down game that it’s not too wise to look too far ahead.”

Williams’ visit to Anfield coincides with the club’s first match there in Division One.

All of Brighton’s previous four visits to Liverpool were in the Second Division, starting with a 5-0 reverse in the 1959/60 season.

The following term they won a point in a 2-2 draw but in 1960/61 lost 2-0, and in 1961/62 went down 3-1.

Glen Wilson, who captained the first Brighton side to play at Anfield, now looks after the players’ kit at the Goldstone Ground.

Brighton could hold their heads proudly after this match, which was narrowly lost, 1-0. The Seagulls were in 17th position and looked set to keep their top division status. With the home game against European champions Nottingham Forest coming up, Williams’ highlight of the season was still to come.