Brighton on the top deck


Years before the Argus followed, West Sussex Gazette had the foresight to use colour in its coverage of the Albion in the 1970s and 1980s. Here is its coverage of Brighton’s promotion parade in May 1979:

Brighton have made it. They gained promotion to Division 1 for the first time in their history with a 3-1 win at Newcastle on Saturday and after an emotional week-end manager Alan Mullery sounded out a warning to the big-guns Albion will be facing next season, writes Alan Thatcher.

“We are not going into Division 1 just to survive,” he said. “We want to make an impact and I know we have the players to do it.”

Above is the picture that sums up the players’ triumph – an open-topped bus journey through the streets of Brighton and Hove on Sunday morning. More than 100,000 delighted fans packed the roadside to cheer their heroes.

In just three years, Mullery has taken Brighton from Division III to a place amongst the country’s soccer elite – and now he is looking forward to meeting clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal next season. “Some of our players have never played in Division I before – but I know that men like Brian Horton and Mark Lawrenson will do well. Our Division I is the best in the world and that’s where players like these belong.”

Saturday’s champagne party in the North-East was followed by a delirious welcome home by crowds of Albion followers on Sunday. After the open-topped bus journey it was on to Hove Town Hall, where the Sussex stars waved from the balcony to thousands of supporters before a special reception from the mayors of the two boroughs.

Albion’s promotion was a just reward after missing out so narrowly last year, when they were pipped by Tottenham – Mullery’s old club – on goal difference. This season, Albion made an indifferent start – but a tremendous revival got under way in December to send them rocketing into the promotion stakes. The position at the top of Division II was so tense, with five clubs fighting tooth and nail for the three promotion places, that Brighton’s destiny was not resolved until their last match – at St James’s Park.

“We had to be positive,” said Mullery. “Before the game I told the players to outplay Newcastle, to attack and score goals. And that’s exactly what they did.”

Brighton chairman Mike Bamber was full of praise for Mullery and his almost magical touch. “I believe he is the best manager in the game,” he said. “Alan has the greatest thing in football – the will to win. Alan came to us three years ago without experience, but he has done a tremendous job.”

Looking ahead to next season, Mr. Bamber is hoping for massive support at the Goldstone – despite the club’s plans to look for a new ground on the outskirts of town. “I am sure we will get big gates. The towns of Brighton and Hove are waiting for it, just as the whole of Sussex is waiting for it. With big crowds and our fund-raising schemes due to bring in half a million pounds in the next year I am sure we can survive.”

But Mr. Bamber added: “I know we have got the worst ground in Division II, and it’s worse than many in Division III. But our talks with the local councils are at an advanced stage and before long we hope to move to a new home.
This will take care of all our problems and I hope it will cut down on vandalism as well.”

Goalscorers in the historic display at Newcastle were Brian Horton, Peter Ward and Gerry Ryan – all in the first half. Newcastle scored in the second half, but there was no stopping Albion’s march towards the big time.


Robert Covington’s photo from his flat in Sackville Road:


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