The loner who dared to speak his mind

Pat Saward in relaxed mood at the Goldstone with sons Leonard and Sean

Pat Saward in relaxed mood at the Goldstone with sons Leonard and Sean

In the Evening Argus souvenir pull-out from May 6th 1972, John Vinicombe put together this portrayal of manager Pat Saward in his hour of triumph, with his low-budget Brighton side having clinched promotion to Division Two:

Pat Saward has been Albion’s manager for a year and ten months. In what seems, an astonishingly short time, he has not only achieved promotion, but created an entirely new image for the club.

He has torn down the old, and shown a refreshing boldness in tackling the many problems that existed at the Goldstone on his arrival in June, 1970.

He succeeded Freddie Goodwin, a deep-thinking and widely respected manager who went on to make his mark with Birmingham City. At the time Albion’s board were utterly deflated.

They could not see another filling Goodwin’s shoes so capably and, indeed, the outlook was grim. When eventually the short list was whittled down to two, the final choice lay between Seward and Tony Waiters, the former Blackpool and England goalkeeper.

The board were deeply impressed With Saward’s tremendous enthusiasm, although he had not had previous managerial experience, Nor had Waiters.

They decided to give Saward the job.

He turned out a complete contrast to his predecessor. Goodwin’s phlegmatic approach was one thiing; the flamboyance of the new man quite another. In short. Saward took some getting used to… there were those who thought him brash, and far too outspoken. Every day, it seemed, he stuck his neck out. Albion had always been used to managers with the velvet glove touch, and suddenly they had a man whose ideas and statements seemed outrageous.

But Saward was noticed, and gradually people listened. And, most valuable of all, he proved a fast learner, and a good listener. He realised straight away that he had to make people think. As he said at the time: “I speak my mind, always. Too many people fear ridicule, and making a wrong decision.”

Saward was then 39, but looking young enough to be mistaken for one of his own players. He was still thinking in terms of the Division One setup he had left at Coventry. It took time to get the Goldstone in his sights, but once he did, the show got on the road.

The firs€t season saw the team skirt dangerously close to relegation only to pull clear with a brave late burst. Saward, with practically no money, made loan coups in the shape of Bert Murray and Wiliie Irvine.

He went to the public for money, cap in hand. They were cautious at first, and then warmed to the man who told them: “This is your club as much as mine. Help make it great.”

Saward’s fundamental five points upon which he bases his philosophy is: projection, appeal, experience, dedication, and an elemem of the unconventional. He certainly has the personality to win friends and influence people. There was no doubt about his experience; having captained Astan Villa and Eire, and played for Millwall and Huddersfield. He was a skilful wing half, as they called them in those days. There is no brogue in his speech; elocution lessons long ago saw to that.

As for public appearances, a stint as a male fashion model taught him how to make an entrance. His chief task was to win over the players, and this he did by making them feel important. Nothing was too much for them.

Soon they had their own car park, and a room where they could meet and relax. He spoke earnestly to them about pride of profession. All the time it was lift, lift, lift – players were encouraged to believe more and more in themselves, and discard the Third Division tag.

Above all, Saward wanted his team acting like real professionals. He listened attentively to their ideas on appearance and pre-match build-up. Everything was geared to getting thor minds right.

Since Saward took over, he has written a weekly article in the Evening Argus. At first we received letters from supporters who violently disagreed With his views. Then the criticisms tailed off, and now the column is widely acclaimed. It is one way the manager can reach the public, and of course now, in his hour of triumph, there is no more popular figure in Brighton and Hove.

Throughout, Saward has stressed the need for his players to display strength of charaoter. But he never talks about the stress and strain that his job imposes.

While this activity or that interest might be good for motivating players Saward will not let on about the driving force that keeps him cool, calm and collected in the hot seat.

He loves fresh air, particularly the ozone that gushes into his bungalow window every morning on Shoreham Beach. Fitness means so much to him.

He plays squash and golf, but is seldom so happy as being on or close to the Sea.

Like most men who must make vital decisions, Saward is a loner… and he wouldn’t have it any other way.


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