Peter Ward’s England Under-21s hat-trick

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On 31 August 1977, new England boss (and Hove resident) Ron Greenwood chose 22 year-old Albion striker Peter Ward as one of two over-age players for the England Under-21 squad to face Norway in a European Championship qualifier. As Alan Mullery explained in the ‘He Shot. He Scored. It Must Be Peter Ward’ biography by Matthew Horner:

He spoke about putting on an England Under-21 game at the Goldstone and asked what sort of crowd I thought he’d get. I told him an Under-21 game would probably get a crowd of between 8,000 and 10,000 but if Peter Ward played you’d probably get nearer to 20,000. He said ‘Are you sure?’ and I told him how much everybody loved Peter in Brighton.

Ron did pick him and played him, and it was a sell-out. Ron was delighted – the night was a great success.

In Horner’s book, the author mentions how matchday staff were falsely under the impression that the stadium had swelled to its 33,500 capacity, and turned many fans away. This led to the rather more modest, but still impressive, 18,500 actual attendance. The club also invested £40,000 in new floodlights that enabled television coverage of evening matches. However, after the main fuses were blown when they were switched on, an ad-hoc solution was found by Seeboard. Because of the success of this, you can enjoy Wardy’s goals here:

In the euphoria following this match, there was immediate media clamour for Ward to make his full England debut. Hardly surprising as the national team needed to score a hatful against Luxembourg in an ill-fated attempt to qualify for the World Cup in Argentina.

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