Wisdom in the dressing room

Actor, comedian and singer-songwriter Norman Wisdom was a Brighton & Hove Albion director from 1964 to 1970. With ball in hand, here he is posing with the players in the dressing room, via a photo from Roger Collins:

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In a newsletter from BHACHS, John Wells says:

The blue-and-white kit is that worn from 1964/65 to 1967/68 and again in 1969/70, the shirts adorned by a badge featuring the arms of the then twin towns that give the club its name. The players are, from top left: John Templeman, Paul Flood (looking down), Norman Gall and Barrie Wright. Middle row: John Napier, Bobby Smith, Norman Wisdom, Dave Armstrong, (sitting) Brian Tawse and Kit Napier. Squatting from left are Geoff Sidebottom and Eddie Spearritt. The track-suited figure on the right, just out of picture, is probably physio Mike Yaxley.

But when was the photo taken? What was the game? This line-up – leaving aside Norman Wisdom – was never fielded in a regular Albion match.

Meanwhile, a magazine at the time picked up on the fact that while Wisdom was an Albion director, he also had a soft spot for Manchester United:

Interviewed in his dressing room at the new £100,000 Golden Garter showbar restaurant at Wythenshawe, Manchester, Norman said: “I’ve played three times at the Manchester Palace theatre and once at the Opera House and I’ve got to know the United players over the years. In fact, I saw their opening game this season at Everton and I go to watch them whenever I can.”

Norman was actually appearing in the pantomime “Robinson Crusoe” at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, that fateful February day in 1958 when half the United team perished in the• Munich air disaster. “Everyone was really choked for them,” he said.

“I’ll never forget it.”

En route for their tour of Australia 18 months ago, United players once again caught up with Norman in San Francisco.

The star of 17 films and a host of West End and Broadway successes, Norman – remember his fancy footwork in the football “shot” in the film “Up In The World”? — is also an enthusiastic boxing fan.

“After all, I was known to pack a few punches• in the fly and bantam weight divisions during my Army service in India with the 10th Hussars in 1944,” he recalled.

Today, 24 years later, Norman at 9 st. 4lb. is still less than a stone heavier than in his fisticuff days. “And I’m still 5ft. 4¾in,” he cracked.

London-horn but now domiciled at Pulborough, near Brighton, Norman may well be off to South Africa early in the New Year when his latest film ;What’s Good For The Goose’ (shot in Southport) is also due for release.

“By then, Brighton may be on top of the league,” added an optimistic director.

Norman’s No. 1 player, incidentallyl is John Napier, the club’s Irish international centre half. But there’s still no getting away from the’ Manchester United influence. Brighton’s newly-•appointed team manager is Freddie Goodwin… the former United wing half!

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