Monthly Archives: April 2014

The amazing Mullery – Bailey job swop saga

Shoot! magazine ran a fine article in the summer of 1981 over the comings and goings at the Goldstone Ground, where Alan Mullery sensationally quit, to be replaced by Charlton boss Mike Bailey:

alanmullery1980

In his eventful five-year spell as manager of Brighton, Alan Mullery managed to steer what had always been regarded as a typical •Third Division club which did not always realise its true potential into the First Division for the first time in the club’s history.

Having inherited a side from Peter Taylor, who rejoined Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest after just failing to take Brighton into the Second Division, Mullery went one better in the first attempt.

And that was only the foretaste of what was to come as in the next season Brighton just missed out on promotion to the top flight.

They achieved this by beating Newcastle 3-1 at St James’ Park in the final League match of the 1978-79 season. But despite Mullery’s confident prediction that Brighton would come through their tremendous test, the last two seasons have been a constant struggle for survival.

Last season, speculation about Mullery’s future at the Goldstone started when he was closely linked with vacant managerial positiom at Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

His resignation last month stunned everybody connected with the club, but chairman Mike Bamber wasted no time in naming Bailey as his successor.

Within a week of Bailey’s appointment Mullery accepted an offer to take over at The Valley and so complete a remarkable managerial swap which took piece as follows.

May 2: Speculation about Mullery’s future as Brighton’s manager continues despite their 2-0 victory over Leeds which assured them of another season in the First Division. “I wouldn’t want to give all this up easily – I like being a First Division manager too much. I’ve got my plans for next season and if the players show the same commitment that they have shown in the last four matches we’ll be a very good side next season,” Mullery commented.

May 5: Mike Bsmber summons Mullery in for talks following – rumours of Mullery being linked •with the vacant managerial job at Stamford Bridge. Mullery himself scotches this possibility and adds that if he felt he couldn’t do any more for Brighton he would walk out immediately.

May 6: After discussing details of Muilery’s new three-year contract (which Mullery had accepted) Bamber refuses to confirm a report that in cash terms it is worth £35,000 a year. “I make a firm point of never discussing wages and salaries. The important thing is that Alan has now agreed to stay which means that we can continue our partnership,” Bsmber commented.

For the next six weeks Mullery’s contract was in the hands of his solicitors, and it was not until the second week of June that there was any indication of the remarkable events which were to follow.

June 8: Four days before leaving for a family holiday in Malta, Mullery had further talks with Bamber and appears to be nearer to signing his contract. But with Brighton £500,000 in the red the talks also centre round a broad policy for next season.

June 12: On the day that Brighton’s fixtures are announced for next season, Alan Mullery ends his connection with the club in dramatic style. At a meeting attended by him, Bamber and two directors, Dudley Sizen and Tom Appleby, Mullery refuses to agree to cuts on his staff. After hi•s departure Muilery stresses that the parting had been amicable.

“We •hook hands-and there’s• no going back on the decision although it’s a sad day for me and for Brighton. Some people will think i’m crazy, but on •matter of principle it was something that had to be done. i’m not interested in slinging any mud about and nobody’s going to get me to say anything against the Brighton
chairman or directors.

It’s been a great chapter in my life and I’ve got some very happy memories. I shell never forget that it w•as Mike Bamber who gave me my first chance in management.

But what happened at the meeting this morning forced me to leave the club.

“I haven’t quit over •a contract or over buying or selling players. The directors and I were together for two and a half hours and made it clear that i was putting myself under pressure by adopting my stance.
But I wouldn’t budge from certain proposals regarding members of the staff. I’m not worried about getting another job nor am I worried about not getting any compensation. All I want now is to get away and enjoy my holiday.” Before leaving for his holiday Mullery applied for the vacant manager’s job at West Bromwich Albion.

July 1st: Mullery finally loses patience with West Bromwlch Albion and accepts an offer from Charlton chairman Mike Gliksten which he describes as “one I would have found hard to refuse in normal circumstances. Now I can’t wait to get started at The Valley,” he added.

With a vacancy at Valley Parade, who better to fill it than the jobless Mullery? Meanwhile, Mike Bailey was settling into the job at hand at the Goldstone:

mikebailey1981

Although Brighton manager Mike Bailey has only seen his new club in action on the television end at reserve teem level, he needed no prompting to apply for the vacancy caused by Alan Mullery’s sudden departure from the Goldstone.

His track record – both as player end manager – also impressed Mike Bambor who made no secret that Bailey was the front runner from the 100 applications he received for the job.

“Mike may be relatively inexperienced as manager, but to my mind he proved himself by taking Chadton beck to the Second Division at first attempt last season.

“That and our policy of giving young managers a chance here is why he was first choice from the ten names from which we made the final choice,” Bamber explained.

Even before meeting his players for the first time, Bailey spoke enthusiastically about becoming Brighton’s 12th post-War manager.

‘Obviously coming to •a First Division club was a big attraction, but I’ve felt for some time that Brighton is one of those clubs which has a bit of sparkle which made it all the more pleasing to know that they wanted me.

“You’ve only got to set foot in the club to see that it’s alive, and there’s so much potential here with players like Lawrenson, Robinson and Foster,” he said.

Bailey is also convinced that having survived two seasons in the top flight, Brighton will take a big step forward in helping achieve Bamber’s next aim of bringing European football to Sussex.

But he refuses to commit himself on whether he will employ the same tactics which saw Chariton win ten of their away games last season.

“I think Brighton have done tremendously well in the last five years. For any club to stay in the First Division after being promoted for the first time shows they must be learning what life is all about among the elite.

“It’s difficult to say what tactics I’ll use until I’ve seen the team play”, Bailey, continued, “at the moment I don’t know what their strengths and weaknesses are.

‘I was certainly an attacking player and enjoy that sort of game, which is why we’ll adopt that sort of policy if possible.”

In the end, Bailey can’t have thought much of Albion’s chances as an open, attacking team, and a tight defensive unit proved his way forward as Brighton bored their way up the table under his leadership! Still, it seemed to work for a time on the pitch during the 1981/82 as the Seagulls mounted a bid for a UEFA Cup place. However, poor form eventually cost Bailey his job in December 1982.

As for Mullery, he lasted a season at Charlton where an unlikely period in the upper echelons of the table also had supporters giddy. Indeed, Athletic stood in fifth place as late as 30th January 1982. An incredible achievement for a cash-strapped club. However, just as with Bailey at Brighton, the unexpected run of form also fizzled out and Mullery left for Crystal Palace.

Tagged ,

Player badges from the late-1970s

A trip to the home of Nick from Fishergate led me to scanning these rather lovely 65mm x 65mm badges from the late 1970s:

Top row: Gary Winstanley, Mark Lawrenson, Paul Clark Middle row: Andy Rollings, Peter Ward, Chris Cattlin Bottom row: Brian Horton, Gary Williams, Peter O'Sullivan

Top row: Graham Winstanley, Mark Lawrenson, Paul Clark
Middle row: Andy Rollings, Peter Ward, Chris Cattlin
Bottom row: Brian Horton, Gary Williams, Peter O’Sullivan

Apparently, according to Nick, there were shops along Sackville Road, Hove, that used to sell badges such as these on Saturdays, to make a bit of money as supporters made their way to the Goldstone Ground on Old Shoreham Road.

I was actually given a set of these when I was about five or six in the mid-1980s, as I decided that making badges was a very fine hobby. So, yes, I took off the head and shoulder images of the various Brighton players and replaced them with my own designs. Silly me.

Suffice to say that I won’t be doing that with these!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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

wardengland

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.

Tagged

Weller Weller Weller… oops!

leicester1978

Former England wing wizard Keith Weller, who died in 2004, is considered one of Leicester City’s greatest ever players. In September 1978, he tore the Albion team apart with a scintillating display. The 4-1 victory was the Foxes’ first of the season. It was also Albion’s heaviest defeat since they returned to the Second Division. From the Daily Express:

If Albion were still suffering from the flu germ that forced the postponement of the previous week’s match against Stoke, it was Weller who sent Leicester fans’ temperatures soaring with a vintage display.

He played the key role in Leicester’s first three goals, then capped a first-class display with a goal of his own.

keithweller

Weller gave warning of what was to come when, after four minutes, he cut past three men and struck a shot over the bar.

Leicester then had to survive a purple patch by Albion, before going ahead after 20 minutes. Steve Kember, who controlled midfield for most of the match, found Weller on the right – and Trevor Christie tucked Keith’s low cross inside the far post.

Eight minutes later, Leicester were two up. Weller won the corner and took it himself. And with the bewildered Albion defence massed at the post, Billy Hughes placed his header just inside the near post.

But Brighton did enough before half-time to suggest that Leicester still had a fight on their hands. Peter O’Sullivan missed a first half sitter, and Teddy Maybank’s strong running caused moments of blind panic in the Leicester defence.

Leicester indeed looked to lose their rhythm until a 57th minute penalty by Hughes put the result beyond doubt.

Again, it was Weller’s good work that created the opening. He seemed certain to score until Mark Lawrenson brought him down.

The usually immaculate Lawrenson had his name take for dissent and Leicester centre-half Steve Sims was also booked for a stiff challenge.

williamslawro

But by then, Leicester were beyond caring. For although full-back Gary Williams pulled one back for Albion with a superb volley 15 minutes from the end, it was then too late to mean much.

And a minute later Weller got the goal he so richly deserved when he pushed a short ball from Christie past the helpless Eric Steele.

Leicester: Wallington, Whitworth, Rofe, May, Sims, Kelly, Weller, Kember, Christie, Duffy, Hughes. Sub: Welsh.

Brighton: Steele, Tiler, Williams, Horton, Rollings, Lawrenson, Towner, Ward, Maybank, Clark, O’Sullivan. Sub: Sayer.

Having won their previous three League games, the Seagulls dropped to tenth following the trouncing. In the Brighton v Leicester City programme earlier on this current season, Alan Mullery provided an interesting postscript to this defeat:

It was a mystery to me why we had performed so badly. On the Tuesday following the defeat, I received a letter saying all the lads had been spotted out in a nightclub in Worthing on the Thursday night. Maybe there was a reason for our poor performance after all and there was going to be hell to pay if it was true. I confronted the lads in a group the next day in training and gave them the opportunity to see me in my office if they were involved.

In the end, Teddy Maybank and Peter Sayer both knocked on the door and admitted they had been at the club, but hadn’t been drinking any alcohol. Both were fined two week’s wages which went to a guide dogs’ charity.

Two very naughty boys

Two very naughty boys

Tagged , , , ,

That’s entertainment!

spurs1980-2

With the 1980/81 season still full of promise, Brighton travelled to White Hart Lane and secured a televised 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. Here’s how Football Weekly News reported the match on 23rd August 1980, with Albion’s Scottish signing Gordon Smith in fine form:

But for the intervention of Brighton – and their £400,000 cheque – Gordon Smith might well have been parading his considerable talents at Parkhead in the thick of Saturday’s €Celtic-Rangers confrontation.

Instead he was making a virtually unheralded first league appearance in London. And while his old mates in Glasgow were performing quite well without him, there was a sizeable proportion of the 40,000 crowd at White Hart Lane who must have wished him at least as far as Scotland! “Cheap at half the price,” was Alan Mullery’s overworked, and paradoxial, evaluation of his summer signing. Certainly the slim and elegant Scot’s arrival on the south coast has caused little morn than a ripple of interest beyond Brighton’s seafront.

Perhaps £400,000 is something like £1 million short of headline news in these zany days. And Brighton, too, are yet to be considered seriously as First Division competitors – an opinion to which Mullery makes it clear he does not subscribe.

He has never been short of cockney confidence – but after Saturday’s creditable and merited draw at Tottenham it positively oozed from his now more rounded frame.

It was the form of Smith, more than anything, that had given him so much pleasure. “We could have won it in the end,” he beamed. “Gordon scored twice, hit a post and could easily have had a couple more. At the start of the season I said I was expecting 12 goals from him this season. He’s got three in three games now so I think I’ll increase that target to 15.”

spurs1980-1

Certainly on a day, ! suspect, when most had come to eye the Spurs donble-act of Garth Crooks and Steve Archibald it was Smith who rather stole their thunder – despite another goal from Crooks.

spurs1980-3

And though Spurs ended the second Saturday of the season on top of the First Division they were very nearly upstaged by a Brighton side who will be nobody’s pushover this season.

Tottenham admittedly made it hard for themselves by not capitalising on a splendid first-half display in which Brighton appeared to be only making up the number.

“‘We were dreadful in the first-half, Played like a load of fairies,” was the rather acid interpretation of Mullery.

spurs1980-5

Keith Burkinshaw, offering the Spurs view, was almost as emphatic but in praise: “In the first-half we played as well as in any of the three matches so far.”

But he accurately qualified that statement by adding: “We had a lot of pressure but didn’t get in enough shots.”

And that was the trouble and eventually the intricate and often unneccesary patterns carved out were sucked into the defensive trap laid by the magnificent Mark Lawrenson and his able cohorts.

Burkinshaw overstated the severity of a point dropped or perhaps it was a hint to his true frustration, when he said: “It’s always disappointing to lose to a side like that who come to contain.”

Not an assessment which would have found too much favour with Mullery who had already opined: “I told my players at half-time that if you go at their back four you will score goals. We’ve got to believe in ourselves.”

There was no denying that Brighton did push players forward to a greater extent in the second-half and probably the gift of Smith’s goal on the stroke of half-time when Ardiles played him onside was the tonic they needed. They also had the character to recover from a disastrous second goal when Graham Moseley saw Glenn Hoddle’s shot slide through his hands. “My nipper could have saved it,” was Mullery’s verdict.

Tottenham’s commitment to attack will win them many friends this season and indeed with so many artists in their side attack has to be their policy. But manager Birkinshaw, though not wishing to stifle such entertainment, hopes that it might be tempered with just a little more caution.

“Their second equaliser started because we wanted to get forward too quickly. Then a pass from Ardiles to Archibald was intercepted and we were left open,” he said. Open, that is to a final thrust from Smith who scored superbly.

Spurs first three games have produced 13 goals (eight for, five against), which is to say the least well above the national average. At the end of the day, unfortunately, such attacking enthusiasm is seldom rewarded.

As Burkinshaw says: “We get into positions where we tear teams apart, get a goal or two ahead and then get over confident or something. It happened today and it happened at Crystal Palace, where we just held on. We have got to keep it going for 90 minutes.”

For football’s sake let us hope that Tottenham continue to rely on their attacking philosophies and improve on them in the manner prescribed by Burkinshaw… that’s entertainment.

spurs1980-4

ITV cameras were there to record Smith at the top of his game, with the unheralded Ray McHale getting an assist:

Tagged , ,

The Second Division proves too much for Saward’s side

1972-73v3

In a two-part article by Goal! magazine’s Nick Harling in March 1973, Brighton manager Pat Saward surveyed the wreckage from a disastrous season in the Second Division. Having led the Albion out of the Third Division in 1972, he found his team torn apart. The Sussex side stood 18th on 4th November 1972 as they stretched an unbeaten run to five matches. However, then came that astonishing thirteen match losing streak that stretched to the end of January:

Imagine a runaway lorry careering down a hill without brakes.

Then you’ve put yourself in the position of Brighton manager Pat Saward, whose team are propping up the rest of the Second Division after a catastrophic run of reverses that makes an immediate return to the Third Division almost as big a certainty as the fact that the lorry will eventually crash.

Comparing his team’s current plight to that of a unstoppable truck, Saward, who won an F.A. Cup medal with Aston Villa 16 years ago, says: “It’s a freak thing.

Even the worst sides get a point here and there. A run like this is unnatural. In 20 years’ football I’ve never known anything like it. We have just been praying it will stop.”

Few managers can have experienced such a swift change from glory to utter despair as Saward has over the past few months. It was all so rosy on the night of May 3 last year when, with a capacity 34,766 crowd crammed into the Goldstone Ground and thousands more locked outside, Brighton drew 1-1 with Rochdale to clinch promotion behind Aston Villa.

Refusing two offers to go elsewhere in the summer, Saward stayed at Brighton, saying: “I was very very confident for the future. This club has so much to offer. I could see my ambitions coming to fruition. I was super optimistic.” He was super optimistic because with 82 goals, Brighton were the third highest scorers in the Football League. With forwards such as the tricky ever-present Peter O’Sullivan, Northern Ireland internationals Willie Irvine and Bertie Lutton and the much sought-after Ken Beamish on their staff, Brighton’s attack had shown itself so devastating that there seemed no reason why it need be anything but only slightly less effective in the Second Division. And with the early season purchase of £30,000 Barry Bridges from Millwall there seemed strength in depth in that department at least.

What then has gone wrong? Why has the supply of goals, which came so readily in the Third Division, suddenly dried up? Why did the goalscoring ability of Irvine and Kit Napier diminish to such an extent that Saward found it necessary to transfer both players back to the Third Division Irvine to Halifax, Napier to Blackburn.

Why is the attack, which functioned so powerfully last season, scoring very nearly two goals a game, compared to one a match so far this term, doing so badly? And several questions must be asked about the defence as well. Last season it allowed opposing teams a meagre 47 goals.

Norman Gall, ever present last season has been dropped and John Napier, also a regular, has been allowed to move to Fourth Division Bradford City, because they were incapable of plugging so many gaps. In the places of these two, Saward has given Ian Goodwin a 21-year old 14-stone centre half, whom he has recently appointed captain, and young Steve Piper the opportunities to halt a slide that has astounded soccer.

As two useful defenders, George Ley and Graham Howell, were also added to Brighton’s staff early in the season, Brighton’s slump is one that has confounded their manager. But Saward is nevertheless honest enough to say: “I didn’t forsee the snags and the type of league the Second Division was. But now I know. It’s the hardest division of the four. Everyone is fighting either to stay in or get out.

“It’s a hell of a hard division. It’s a mixture of the First and Third. It’s good and very hard football. They don’t give you an awful lot of time to play. It’s a division governed by fear because to drop out of it is not good, while to get out at the top is fantastic. I didn’t believe the gap would be so different. Teams are so well organised and supplement their lack of ability with tremendous defensive play. It’s very hard to get results.”

He can say that again, although when Brighton drew nine of their first 18 games, and won two of the others, they at least hinted at hopes of consolidation, which have not been fulfilled.

Recalling that start, Saward says: “I’m not suggesting we were going to set the League alight but at least we seemed to be getting somewhere.”

As defeat has followed defeat for Brighton, manager Pat Saward has seen the effect such a run can have on players.

He says: “It starts when you’re missing goals. I’m not making excuses saying it’s all been had luck, but speaking as an explayer I know that when you lose by a freak goal, it can be sickening. When you come to the next match and have the bulk of it but still lose the players start sowing seeds of doubt in their own minds.

“They start to anticipate mistakes before they happen. The longer the sequence goes the worse it becomes. The players’ minds are shackled. They run hard, chase and harrass but have nothing to show for it. Then when they’ve nothing to show for weeks they start to tie up.

A lucky break might stop it or a new player might stop it. Otherwise you carry on with what you’ve got. You take a hell of a mental bashing. It’s very hard to regenerate week after week but you have to hang on to something. It’s no good just thinking hack to last year and promotion.

“To me the most important thing is the attitude of mind. Players should have an arrogant attitude, an attitude that they’re going to do well even when the chips are down. But some types are destroyed. These are the ones who succumb and want to rely on other people.

Here we’ve got some great boys, but I wish to God some of them had more determination.”

It was with that desire in mind that Saward gave part of the huge responsibility of captaining his sinking ship to 21 year-old Ian Goodwin, because: “He’s a hell of a competitor. He’s a bloody bad loser and wants to go places. He reflects the new mood around here.” That “new mood” is mainly being provided by new joint chairmen Mike Bamber and Len Stringer, whose board have just ploughed £70,000 into renovating the place, changing it from what Stringer described as “a real slum,” installing new dressing rooms, players’ facilities and offices.

One of these offices will shortly be used by enthusiastic 41-year-old Bamber, who with his business partner Norman Hyams, also a Brighton director, is forming a property development company which will be based within the football club.

“We will have 51 per cent of the shares, the club 49 per cent,” explains Bamber.

“It’s a unique idea. It must be a good thing for Brighton. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time now.

If Pat Saward wants a player we’ll find the money. He has 100 per cent backing from the board.

“Our new policy is to go in with young players. It’s never been the policy at Brighton before to bring on our own youngsters, but now we’ve got some around like Steve Piper, who is a fabulous player.”

It has been to these youngsters’ considerable misfortune that with their first real taste of League football, they have been saddled with trying to transform such a struggling outfit, but this does not detract from Bamber’s intense optimism for what they can do for Brighton in the future.

Asking “Where else would a team get cheered off the field by their own supporters after losing their tenth game in a row?”, Bamber adds without a sign of tongue in cheek: “There’s no doubting it – First Division here we come.” Although Brighton may well have to climb back again via the Third to give that forecast any chance of materialising, both Bamber and Saward realise that the crowd potential of the area is so vast that the town can support a top club.

And Saward certainly will not be content until such a prospect, unlikely though it seems at the moment, becomes reality.

He took over nearly three years ago and promised then: “Give me ten years and I’ll have Brighton in the First Division.” Now Saward says: “I haven’t lost any enthusiasm. I’ve had my hopes dampened slightly, but one overcomes that.” Unlike many of his contemporaries, who might conceal their deepest fears with idle boasts, Saward says: “We’ve one hell of a hard job to stay up. We are going to need an awful lot of luck, but we deserve some breaks. If we get the breaks then we could just do it.

“Okay we’ve got to face facts. If we go down, thinking that the Third Division is the end of the world, that’s the end of Brighton. This club has got to be built for the future. I want to put Brighton on the map.”

If the miracle that everyone connected with the popular coastal club so desperately wants, does arrive and Brighton do win all their remaining games to stay up, Saward will have more chance of achieving his long-term aim. And he says: “Nothing is lost until we run out of points.”

Having halted the run of defeats with a 2-0 victory over Luton in early February 1973, Albion lost their following two fixtures. However, out of the wreckage, Brighton then began to show some form, winning four and drawing two of the next six League games. But there was to be miracle, and a 3-0 defeat at Easter in April at eventual champions Burnley sealed Albion’s fate.

Ken Beamish - top scorer with nine League goals

Ken Beamish – top scorer with nine League goals

Tagged , , ,

Ryan lords it over Fulham

A photo of star-striker Peter Ward against Fulham in 1978/79 was featured in Roy of the Rovers magazine:

wardfulham3-0

However, it was Gerry Ryan that stole the headlines in October 1978 as the Seagulls won 3-0 at the Goldstone. Here is the match report by Tony Roche of the Sunday Mirror:

Brighton’s new winger Gerry Ryan hit two goals and lorded it over Fulham.

Before the destruction, manager Alan Mullery made his Albion men sit through a film of their hammering last week at Crystal Palace.

Fulham, with 12 points from their previous seven games, paraded their new signing £80,000 John Beck from Coventry. But it wasn’t their day.

Mullery said: “I made the lads watch the whole 90 minutes of last week’s match. And they saw their own shortcomings. Fulham suffered as a result and for me and Teddy Maybank, it is always nice to beat your old team.”

The first half riddled with frustrating back-passes, narrowly went to Brighton.

In front of a shirt-sleeved crowd, Brighton weathered Fulham’s early assaults and slowly got a grip in midfield where man-of-the-match Brian Horton dominated.

Fulham seem capable of absorbing the pressure until an 18th minute moment of indecision by Peyton.

Horton’s right-wing throw bounced in the box and as Peyton hesitated, Ryan hooked the ball into the empty net.

Evans (dissent) and Beck (foul) were booked in the space of six minutes, shortly after the goal.

Fulham rallied in the second half and Graham Moseley did well to hold a powerful Gale header at full stretch.

But once again lose concentration cost Fulham dear. Evans fouled Ward and as Rollings curled in the free-kick, Horton burst between Gale and Money to bullet header wide of Peyton.

Fulham had their chances – both falling to Davies. He did well to create space only to shoot wide.

Horton reserved the best for last, whipping through a glorious ball in the 90th minute to release Ryan on the right.

The Irishman sprinted into the area, seemed to take too long as he sidestepped defenders then coolly found Peyton’s bottom right-hand corner.

The day’s big duel was between Rollings and Guthrie. Rollings came out on top to help Brighton reach fourth spot in the Second Division.

Ryan’s goals seemed to give Albion a more immediate return for their £80,000 spending than Fulham had for gaining John Beck for the same figure. The Seagulls signing had scored in the previous month in the 5-1 slaughtering of Preston North End. By the end of the season, the Irish winger and midfielder had amassed 35 League appearances for his new side, scoring nine goals including the final one in the famous fixture at Newcastle.

gerryryan78

From this point on, Gerry Ryan developed a habit of getting notable goals in encounters with the best sides, such as the only goal in the famous victory against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in November 1979, the winner against Arsenal in September 1983, not to mention those FA Cup goals against Liverpool in February 1983 and January 1984.

Tagged ,

Albion relegation shirt almost tops £900 on eBay

Some headlines were made this week by the news that England ‘match shirts’, identical to the ones the players will wear at the World Cup, will go on sale at the eye-watering price of £90. However, on eBay yesterday, a Brighton & Hove Albion shirt was sold for almost ten times that figure!

Here is the 1986/87 Seagulls shirt in all its long-sleeved glory:

1986-86shirt1

The seller, johnnyaxcell from Scarborough, described the item as:

Very rare Brighton shirt. Number 3 on back. Long sleeves. 1986. From very good source that shirt is match worn. Can’t prove it tho. Although replica shirts in 80s didn’t have numbers on back so no reason to think not match worn. Large size. Shirt in good condition for age. Great memorabilia piece.

He also later added:

Adidas logos are embroided on shirt. I have been told this is a good sign they are match worn originals.

On the back was number 3:

1986-87shirt2

This was the shirt number of Ian Chapman when he made his debut at Birmingham in February 1987. However, it was Chris Hutchings’ shirt number mostly, as he made 36 appearances for the Seagulls in the Second Division that inglorious campaign.

On sale for seven days, the item attracted 38 bids, eventually going for an astonishing £896.99 yesterday at tea-time.

Now, I’ve dabbled in buying retro Albion shirts on eBay from time to time. By far the most I ever spent was £226 on a super-rare Adidas 1983 Brighton FA Cup Final shirt. The NOBO jersey was well beyond me financially. That said, it would have been a good investment as retro football shirts are increasing in value significantly each year.

However, I was interested in finding out whether the 1986/87 shirt was the highest fee for a Brighton shirt. And if not, which one holds that accolade? Phil Shelley of the Old Football Shirts website said this:

“I think the yellow adidas 1984/85 away shirt on my site went for more. If not the yellow one then one of the blue ones. There were two or three that were listed at the same time a couple of years ago. Top one went for more than £900, if I remember correctly.

“Also, Peter Ward’s Bukta shirt, as worn in the Blackpool match in April 1978, went for over £1,000 at an auction at Withdean stadium.

“That said, it was a mighty impressive figure the NOBO one went for.”

Yes. Not a bad price for a relegation season shirt with a dubious sponsor!

Tagged , ,

Jimmy Case forgets he’s a Brighton player!

case1981

Yesterday, Brighton faced Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Surprisingly, for a low-scoring Seagulls side, they played out a 3-3 draw, showing enormous reliance to come back from behind. In 1981/82, the club under Mike Bailey had another side built around a tight defence rather than an all-out attacking game. And yet, in October that season, they also sprang a shock by fighting back to draw 3-3 with mighty Liverpool.

Over the summer of 1981, Mark Lawrenson had left Brighton for Anfield. In the opposite direction came Jimmy Case. The match in the pouring rain at the Goldstone attracted a lot of interest, not least as it was the first encounter for each player against their former sides, with Case starting while Lawrenson sat on the Liverpool bench.

And yet it was almost as if the transfer hadn’t happened for Jimmy Case. Receiving the ball from Tony Grealish as the match gets underway, force of habit meant that he played the ball, under very little pressure, to the feet of Kenny Dalglish!

You can watch it all here in the first half highlights:

Later on, Case even plays a short ball straight to Ray Kennedy. Was he still reminiscing about his Liverpool days? However, he must have remembered he was a Seagull by the time he headed the ball goalwards and tried to claim it was over the line!

In a classic encounter, though, things came good in the end. He found his range in the second half, with a bullet header past Bruce Grobbelaar as the Seagulls sent fans home happy with two late goals:

Liverpool finished League champions that season, while Albion, aiming for a UEFA Cup place for much of the campaign, achieved the unthinkable by winning the return game at Anfield 1-0 in March 1982.

Tagged

Brighton Player of the Season 1978/79 is… Mark Lawrenson!

He broke his arm and missing the finale of the momentous 1978/79 season. However, nothing could take away Mark Lawrenson’s winning of the ‘Player of the Season’ ahead. As Brighton headed into the First Division for the first time, the world was certainly his oyster.

Here is fitting tribute in Marshall Cavendish’s superb Football Handbook (Issue 53) publication:

Mark sheds blood for his country in last season's European Championship clash between Eire and neighbours Northern Ireland.

Mark sheds blood for his country in last season’s European Championship clash between Eire and neighbours Northern Ireland.

‘When I came to Brighton I’d only played once for the Republic and the boss said he was going to find out ifI was still eligible for England. It wasn’t on, but I wouldn’t have changed anyway… It was a bit strange in front of the Dublin crowd at first, but now I can’t wait to get that Eire shirt over my head.’

Brighton’s place in the First Division was on the cards for most of last season. And in the cards too, according to Mark Lawrenson.

‘We were destined to go up. Hard work is vital but your name’s got to be on that Cup or League title as well,’ declares the Brighton defender.

‘I said all season that if we went up it would be fate, being the right place at the right time.’

Fate certainly seems to have had a say in Lawrenson’s own short career.

He was 19 and settling in comfortably with Third Division Preston when he suddenly found himself on the move.
‘I never really wanted to leave. The only reason I went was because Preston needed the £2oo,ooo transfer fee.
‘I was on holiday in Spain. They rang me up and said, Look, Brighton have been in for you. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to… but, we’re a bit short of money.

Football or ‘A’ levels
‘Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I came to Brighton, but if Preston hadn’t been hard up they would never have sold me and I wouldn’t have been pressuring them to leave.

‘They’d offered me a great contract for two seasons and I was quite happy to stay there.’ Affection for the club is in the family.

‘My stepfather’s a director at Preston, my mum’s been a fan for years and I’ve been watching them since I was a nipper.

‘Also, my dad used to play for them, Tommy Lawrenson. I was too young to judge for myself, but people tell me he was a decent player. Trouble was, he was a winger and that was a bit unfortunate because the first choice for that position was Tom Finney.’

Although Mark caught the Preston bug, he was in no hurry to rush into the game… so fate gave him a shove.

‘When I was 17 I was told to choose football or carry on with my ‘A’ levels. I thought: ‘Sod it, I’ll go and play.

‘I could have gone to West Ham or Blackpool, but it had to be Preston. Bobby Charlton had been my hero as a kid and, funnily enough, he signed me for the club.

But the man who had the biggest influence on me turned out to be Nobby Stiles.

‘He was a hard man in training. There were so many Scots at Preston that we used to have an eight-a-side England v Scotland game and all the Scots would hate you for 20 minutes.

‘They used to kick lumps out of Nobby so he’d roll his sleeves up and get stuck back into them. I’m sure in his mind he was back at Wembley or Hampden.

‘He also had a lot of skill. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for that, but you look at the way his Preston team plays now.

‘When I signed pro he was just a player at Preston and then he became coach to the reserves and the youth team.

‘He used to have us back in the afternoons to work on certain things. He was great because he let you get on with it in your own way but was always in the background to offer advice.’

A little jink and Lawrenson evades a tackle.

A little jink and Lawrenson evades a tackle.

Mark followed in his father’s footsteps on Preston’s left wing.

‘I played on the wing in the reserves, then Nobby tried me out at the back and I worked my way across from left-back to the centre of the defence.’

Goldstone idol
His days as a winger probably accounts for his willingness to carry the ball, rather than just always using it long.

He also has the mobility to contain the liveliest strikers.

‘I’d rather mark nippy players. It’s more of a challenge. Against big men it’s all crash, bang, wallop. I prefer to mark a Peter Ward than, say, a Dixie McNeil.’

If anything, Mark replaced Ward as the idol of the Brighton crowd.

Is he aware of it? ‘I suppose I am really.

Sometimes when I get the ball there’s a bit of a roar.’

Crowd response is another thing he’s looking forward to next season. If you ask him what it is about the Second Division he’ll be most glad to leave behind he says simply, ‘Oldham, and grounds like that on a wet February night… hell.

‘Hopefully that’s all in the past now. I’ve played at places like Anfield and Old Trafford, but in the reserves for Preston in front of a couple of hundred. It’ll be a different experience to go back as a First Division player and be surrounded by people instead of empty terracing.

‘In fact, it’s our place down in Brighton which might look a bit grim to some of the visiting sides. It’s not really a First Division ground at the moment, but they’re looking for somewhere else to build a new stadium altogether.’

Mark’s been an international player for the past three years, and surely fate decreed that he’d play for a country he’d never even visited.

Dublin debut Mark explains: ‘Preston’s coach was Alan Kelly, who was also assistant coach of the Eire team.’
Mark’s mother is Irish and the combination of Kelly’s influence and Mrs Lawrenson’s ancestry saw him making his debut for Eire against Poland in Dublin when he was I9.

‘When I came to Brighton I’d only played once for the Republic and the boss said he was going to find out if I was still eligible for England. It wasn’t on, but I wouldn’t have changed over anyway.

‘It was a bit strange in front of the Dublin crowd for the first time, but now it’s like a fever. I can’t wait to get that shirt over my head.’

After narrowly missing out in ’77-78, Brighton made a shaky start last season.

But Mark says: ‘People began to write us off, then we came back with a hell of a run.

‘It’s got to be fate. Even after I broke my arm against Bristol Rovers I only missed the last three games even though it took eight weeks to mend.’

Boss Alan Mullery is in no doubt what life without Lawrenson would have been like.

He says: ‘If he hadn’t been playing for us we would have been at the bottom.’ An exaggeration, perhaps, but an indication of Mullery’s estimation of Mark’s part in a momentous season for the Seagulls.

The fans agreed, making Mark their player of the year.

It was all in the cards, of course!

Lawrenson's skill on the ground, aligned to his power in the air, made him one of the best centre-backs in Division 2 last season. Now he's ready to take on the top First Division strikers.

Lawrenson’s skill on the ground, aligned to his power in the air, made him one of the best centre-backs in Division 2 last season. Now he’s ready to take on the top First Division strikers.

Tagged