Mullery aims for a bigger boom

Alan Mullery (centre) has led the club through three years of success.

Alan Mullery (centre) has led the club through three years of success.

Improvements to the Goldstone Ground were on the agenda in 1979, as Brighton & Hove Albion sought to create a stadium that was more befitting the outstanding progress the team was making on the pitch. Shoot Magazine carried this interesting article outlining the growing ambitions:

Brighton will push on in the summer with improvements to their Goldstone Ground that will almost double the seating capacity.

They plan an extension of their main stand that will make it a double decker and extend it the complete length of the pitch. The South stand will have increased seating and the one open side of the ground will have a roof put over it, providing added comfort for the terrace patrons.

Some might claim these moves are long overdue – for Brighton have not exactly had the best facilities in the country. But the booming South Coast club make no apologies for not doing the work until now. Their priorities have lay in other directions – like putting a good team together.

“We feel we have put the horse before the cart – not the other way round,” claims Brighton boss Alan Mullery – who has led the club through three years of success. We did not see the point of having a magnificent stadium if you did not have a team worth watching. So all the efforts down here over the past few years – including the year or so before I arrived have been geared to signing good players and putting a real team together. Our results and performances prove we have done that. Now we can get on with the business of improving facilities for spectators. Once the work is done we’ll have around 9,000 seats – and they are badly needed here. For at the moment we have only 4,700. These are all taken by season-ticket holders and there is not a seat for sale on match days. Revenue from those seats is around £150,000. When we get the rest in that will shoot up to some £300,000 – and that’s a nice little nest egg to get in before a season starts.

“Things have gone well here in the past three or four years. They are getting better all the time and we intend to make sure things continue that way. No one is sitting back and congratulating themselves on a job well done. As far as everyone connected with the club is concerned the job is only just beginning. To sit back and be satisfied with the set-up is to invite trouble. We are constantly striving to make the club better and better.

“The Board – led by chairman Mike Bamber – are all progressive men and they won’t allow the club to stand still. Mike showed his intentions when he became chairman by getting Brian Clough and Peter Taylor down here to manage the club. Capturing names like these was a sensational coup for a club like Brighton – who, at the time, had never been associated with men of this calibre. The arrival of Clough and Taylor put Brighton firmly on the map. It aroused tremendous interest throughout the game and I always looked for their results from then on. It’s a far cry from the days when a previous manager, Pat Saward, had to practically beg for money to provide the funds to buy players. He was more or less reduced to carrying a bucket along the seafront and sweated blood to raise relatively modest sums to get fresh faces in. That could not happen now.

“I’ve spent half-a-million quid on reshaping the side to meet the challenge presented by a higher grade of football. And there will be more available if I need to spend again. At the moment I’m very happy with the squad I’ve got – and I’m offering new contracts to prove it. In fact two players – Peter Ward and Mark Lawrenson – have been offered contracts for TEN years and that will make them secure for the rest of their lives. But if I need to act to strengthen – to go for someone who can improve the staff even further – I will not hesitate to do it.

“I learned a long time ago that you cannot afford to stand still and Tottenham boss Bill Nicholson was my mentor. During my days as a player at White Hart Lane Spurs won trophies galore. But that never stopped Bill Nick from going out and buying big in his constant search for perfection.

“And Clough and Taylor emphasised the importance of that a few weeks ago, when they spent a staggering million pounds to add Trevor Francis to a squad who had already won the League Championship and seemed strong enough to dominate British football for along time to come. That’s the way you have got to think if you are to make an impression in the game.

“A lot of hard work has gone into making Brighton a club to be respected. We don’t intend to waste it all by sitting back complacently now.”

Mullery was always a winner in a distinguished playing career with Tottenham, Fulham and England.

He readily admits to being the world’s worst loser. Failure is not a thing he has ever been associated with… nor ever intends to be. And that can only be great news for Brighton fans – who seem set to enjoy an even bigger boom in the future.

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