While he was with Luton Town, Brian Horton took the time to reflect upon the greatest moment in his career, winning promotion to the First Division with Brighton, after a 3-1 victory at Newcastle. This is from Shoot! Magazine:
Brian Horton meticulously gathered together the contents of his kit bag for the most imporrant match of his life. Then, just as carefully, he made sure he had not forgotten the lucky charm that is his constant companion.
A Sphinx, given to him while he was playing for Brighton in the Third Division, has not left his keyring since.
Horton explains: “One of our supporters handed it to me, saying the Sphinx would bring me good luck, That night we played at Lincoln and Steve Piper, who was with me at the time, and myself each scored a goal.” So Horton, now doing the same inspiring captain’s job at Luton as he did with Brighton, was not without the key-ring when his team made the trip from the South Coast to play Newcastle at St. James’ Park on May 5th, 1979.
Brighton needed to win to be certain of gaining promotion to Division One for the first time. There could be few more daunting trips than to the heart of Geordieland.
Horton, a tenacious midfield player, recalls: “We travelled to Newcastle by train on the Wednesday before the match, played golf on the Thursday and trained on Friday. Alan Mullery, our manager, wanted to get us in as relaxed a frame of mind as possible.
“I managed to score an early goal with a near-post header from a corner. When I think about it even now, I can almost feel the ball hitting my head. It is probably the most important goal I’ve ever scored and it gave us the perfect start.
“Peter Ward and Gerry Ryan added further goals to give us a 3-0 lead at half-time.”
“Newcastle pulled one back in the second-half, but we’d done enough in our superb performance before the interval. We came home the same night and the champagne hardly stopped flowing all the way from Newcastle to Brighton. There were hundreds of fans on the train as well, so the atmosphere was marvellous.
“When we arrived back at Brighton in the middle of the night there were thousands of people to greet us and there were memorable celebrations when we went round the town the next day.” Horton was a significant figure in Luton’s promotion last season.
He says the two campaigns were different: “Everybody expected Luton to go up and we were clearly the best team.
“But at Brighton, we’d missed out a couple of times in tight finishes and we realised that it was imperative we made it.” Horton received a Second Division Championship medal with Luton last season, but did not get any medal for leading Brighton to the First Division. Players from clubs finishing second or third do not receive any momento from the League.
“But I do have my lucky Sphinx to remind me of Brighton’s day of glory.”
Horton still sees some members of the Brighton side that never failed to finish in the first four of either Division Three or Two in four successive seasons.
Whenever he wants to recall that memorable day in May at Newcastle, he needs merely to insert the television recording in his video.
“Every now and again I watch it,” he says. “It always makes me feel good.”