Category Archives: Around The Goldstone

The apprentices 1979

apprentices1979Back row: Frank Mclear, Dave Linstrum, Gary Stevens,Tony Vessey, Glyn Rees.

Front row: Peter Skouras, Howard Denton, Andy Young. Paul Gent


Peter Sayer interview


Twisting and turning like an eel, Peter Sayer cut through the backtracking Blackburn rearguard as a knife would slice through butter. Then, he floated a inviting ball for Teddy Maybank to head past a smokebomb to put the Seagulls 1-0 up.

This memorable goal from April 1979 is frequently shown on ITV4’s The Big Match Revisited and gives an inkling of how Sayer became a Goldstone favourite. The bubblepermed Welshman relied wholly on his blistering pace at first: “In the early days with Cardiff, I didn’t have a good footballing brain. The more I trained, the better my passing and crossing became.”

Aged 18, Peter became a pro with his home club in July 1973 and soon put the Bluebirds back on the football map. Playing as an emergency centre-forward, his long-range strike knocked Tottenham out of the FA Cup in January 1977. The newspapers’ comparisons with Kevin Keegan were numerous. Two months later, Sayer made his debut for Wales who defeated European champions Czechoslovakia 3-0.

He put in a sparkling display for Cardiff in their 4-0 thumping by Brighton in October 1977. In that match, the Bluebirds’ maverick Robin Friday was sent off for kicking Mark Lawrenson in the face. Legend has it that Friday then threw all the Cardiff players’ clothes in the team bath. Peter says: “I don’t remember it, but he was very much like that! Robin was such a gifted player, so unpredictable. It made him the player he was but as a character he was a potential timebomb.”

Another story that has done the rounds is that Friday also went into the Brighton dressing room and defecated in Mark Lawrenson’s sports bag. However, Peter sheds no light on what is probably a mere urban myth.

In February 1978, the midfield man returned to the Goldstone, this time as the Seagulls’ new £100,000 signing. It took until 1978/79 for Peter to really establish himself at Brighton, with 32 League appearances as Albion finished runners-up in Division Two. As Albion’s club ambassador, Mullery is fond of recalling a story of how in September 1978, Teddy Maybank and Peter were fined two weeks’ wages for being seen in a Worthing nightclub two days before an unexpected 4-1 defeat at Leicester. Does Peter recall this indiscretion? “I don’t remember it at all! Nevertheless, I have regrets about some of our behaviour, usually involving alcohol.  While many players liked their booze, it was still taboo to go out and have a drink on certain nights of the week.”

Reaching Division One was the pinnacle of Peter’s time at the Albion. The Welsh international played the first 18 matches in the next campaign, before losing his place in Brighton’s top flight side. He was sold to Preston in August 1980, before spells with Cardiff (loan), Chorley, Morecambe and Northwich Victoria.  Nowadays, Peter works as a bar manager at a golf club in Preston. Before leaving the Goldstone, Sayer ensured a bit of silverware came the Seagulls’ way: he hit the second goal as Brighton beat Israeli side Maccabi Nathanya 2-0 to lift the ever so prestigious Jewish Chronicle Cup in July 1980. Not many players can say they’ve helped the Albion win an international club competition!


Farah fashion 1983


The Brighton Cup Final squad of 1983, a good thirteen years before Liverpool arrived for Wembley in cream suits.


Brighton v Spurs photos

Trev Smith has kindly allowed me to publish his images from the Brighton v Tottenham match of April 1978:


Peter Wardbrighton-v-spurs-3-wardbrighton-v-spurs-6brighton-v-spurs-7-imagebrighton-v-spurs-8

Tony Townerbrighton-v-spurs-5-towner

Colin Leebrighton-v-spurs-10-colin-lee

Ken Tilerbrighton-v-spurs-2-tiler

Andy Rollingsbrighton-v-spurs-1-rollings

The images have been added to the match report here

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Digweed’s infamous injury

in September 1988, Perry Digweed was involved in one of the most horrific injuries ever sustained at the Goldstone Ground. Steve Gatting’s weak backpass allowed West Bromwich Albion’s John Paskin to fire at goal. The Baggies striker’s shot hit the post but his boot collided with a very vulnerable part of Digweed body, right between the legs.

Kevin Bremner took over in goal but let in a nightmare goal when Robert Isaac deflected a shot tamely into the near post in the 1-0 defeat. Memorably, Bremner redeemed himself with a heroic save at the feet of Robert Hopkins later on.

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The Graduate!


In a season of disaster for Brighton & Hove Albion, Ian Chapman provided one of the few positive stories in the national media From Match Weekly magazine on March 14th 1987:

Ian Chapman has achieved a unique footballing double first … at the tender age of sixteen.

Three months short of his 17th birthday, Ian became the youngest ever player to appear in a Brighton shirt when he filled the ‘Seagulls’ left-back slot in a Second Division encounter with Birmingham.

But perhaps even more significantly, Ian also became the first graduate Of the Lilleshall based GM National Football School to make his senior League debut.

Founded as a nursery for potential England internationals of the future, the school’s first intake of 16 boys completed their two-year education last summer and were subsequently dispatched to the various League clubs who had snapped them up before they embarked on the Lilleshall course.

But while clearly proud to have been the first to make his mark on the big time, Ian could have wished for a kinder baptism – the Goldstone Ground outfit leaving St. Andrews on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline.

“Of course I was very happy to be named in the first team so soon, but the result rather took the edge off things,” explains the former England Schoolboy international. Afterwards, instead of thinking how exciting it was to have actually made my debut, I was feeling down aboutthe score.”

Despite the adverse result, Ian’s Black Country outing was the source of considerable pride to his family, former Lilleshall colleagues and tutors alike.

But the level-headed teenager isn’t anticipating too many more rides on the first team bus this term…
“I played only because Chris Hutchings was Injured and I don’t expect to play for the first team much more, if at all this season,” he says.

“I’m quite happy to continue learning the game in the reserves.”

And the fact that Ian’s name is now regularly pencilled in on the ‘Seagulls’ Football Combination side teamsheet is a tribute in itself.

Ian has clocked up around 18 reserve appearances to date.

Frankie’s fire

Here’s Arsenal’s Frank Stapleton at the Goldstone Ground with its prominent white Townsend Thoresen advertising in the background:

The photo was taken just before Brighton’s first ever match in the top flight, in August 1979. Frank, one of Europe’s most feared strikers at the time, holds the distinction of scoring the first ever goal in the Seagulls’ four year stay in Division One. He beat Eric Steele with a thunderous shot from 20 yards in the Gunners’ 4-0 victory.

Two season later, in October 1981, and by then a Manchester United player, Frank partnered Michael Robinson up front in the Republic of Ireland’s famous 3-2 victory over France at Lansdowne Road. Here is Robbo giving a clenched fist just before kick-off:


The Eire team also featured Lawrenson and Liam Brady in midfield as well as current Brighton boss Chris Hughton at left-back.

Suffice to say, had Robinson and Stapleton played together up front for Brighton at the time, the team would have finished considerably higher than 13th in that 1981/82 season. As it was, both strikers were on fire that day and scored in a magnificent performance:

The following 1982/83 campaign, Stapleton’s eye for goal proved a considerable thorn in the Seagulls’ side at Wembley, bundling in Manchester United’s equaliser in the first match.

Frank’s career subsequently took him to Ajax, Anderlecht, Derby, Le Havre, Blackburn, Aldershot, Huddersfield and Bradford. After being sacked as player-manager of Bradford City, he joined Brighton to help out his ex-Gunners team mate Liam Brady in 1994/95.

Considerably past his best, the Irish marksman made his Seagulls debut as a substitute at the Goldstone against Bournemouth in a 0-0 draw in November 1994, before starting up front against Cardiff in a 3-0 defeat. Here he is in a Brighton shirt:

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You can see match highlights from his last ever match as a professional player here:

While at Brighton, Frank applied for the vacant managerial post at Oldham. He then became QPR’s reserve team coach under Ray Wilkins before resigning in February 1995. After that, Stapleton was appointed head coach of New England Revolution, in the new American Major Soccer League, but resigned that summer. Frank currently works as assistant manager of the Jordan national side, as number two to Ray Wilkins.

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Not exactly pulling up any trees

Here’s Garry Birtles in action for Nottingham Forest in his second spell at the club. I don’t know who that Brighton player is!


The bearded striker first came to the attention of Forest assistant manager Peter Taylor in September 1976, according to the book ‘With Clough By Taylor’:

A friend rang from Burton, saying. ‘There’s a lad from Long Eaton who is going to Manchester United.’ I was thunderstruck: I expect that sort of information from my staff. I phoned my scout for the area who said: ‘Oh, Birtles. Used to be at Clifton as a amateur. Can’t play.’ I fumed, ‘Whether he can play or not, if he goes to Old Trafford and signs, you’ll get the sack.’ Then I phoned back to my contact in Burton and asked him to watch Birtles, who was there that afternoon with Long Eaton. He rang in the evening. The United business is a bum steer. No-one’s in for him but I think the boy has got something; he’s no mug.’

After a month’s trial, Birtles eventually signed for Forest from Gerry Fell’s old club Long Eaton in a £2,000 deal. After a slow start, he eventually forced his way into the first team following Peter Withe’s departure. Memorably, the striker scored the first and created the second in a famous 2-0 victory over holders Liverpool in the European Cup in 1978.

Three months later, Garry tucked home Forest’s third goal against Brighton in a 3-1 victory in the League Cup, after Graham Moseley failed to hold onto Frank Clark’s shot.
Such was Birtles’ progress that forced his way into the England team, making his debut against Australia on 13th May 1980 against Australia – Peter Ward making his international debut against the same opposition later that month.

Such was Birtles’ progress that forced his way into the England team, making his debut against Australia on 13th May 1980 against Australia, just two weeks before Peter Ward’s only full England appearance.

On 22nd October 1980, Clough sold Birtles in a £1.25 million deal to ex-Brighton player Dave Sexton, then boss of Manchester United. It was a fee considerably higher than if he had signed from Long Eaton all those years before. The deal was part of a famous ‘triangular’ transfer that saw Peter Ward join Forest from Brighton for £450,000, and Andy Ritchie arrive at the Goldstone from Manchester United in a £500,000 deal.

All three attackers struggled at their new clubs. Ritchie battled to win over Seagulls’ fans’ disappointment at the departure of Peter Ward. However, Ritchie’s rich vein of form in 1981/82 was such that he was voted Rediffusion’s Albion Player of the Year. Birtles went through a barren spell when he just could not score. It took until the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay against Brighton at the Goldstone Ground in January 1981 for him to register his first goal for the Red Devils:

Brighton also proved lucky for him the following 1981/82 season, and Birtles shook off his Old Trafford despondency to score for Manchester United in a 2-0 victory over the Seagulls in November, with future Albion centre-forward Frank Stapleton the other scorer:




However, Birtles never truly established himself as a Manchester United player, despite being given a fair chance by new boss Ron Atkinson

In 1982/83, the Nottingham-born striker found his way back to the City Ground at a fraction of the original fee. Another misfit, Peter Ward, also returned to Brighton on loan. As for Ritchie, he finished the season back up north, at Leeds United in a straight swop for Terry Connor. He eventually returned to Old Trafford, in a way, when his newly promoted Oldham Athletic side played Manchester United in August 1991.

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Going great guns …but for how long?

The Arsenal v Leeds programme of April 1981 did not hesitate to rub it in:

Our win at Brighton is discussed on the Terry Neill page elsewhere in this programme, but it surely must be something of a football record. In two seasons we have met them no less than seven times, four League, one FA Cup and two League Cup (one replay) and Brighton have yet to score a goal against us, while in the same time we have scored sixteen. Brighton will still be hoping, despite this, that we meet again next season as they try to avoid relegation.

In Brighton’s first encounter with Arsenal in the 1980/81 season, Alan Mullery’s men lost 2-0 at Highbury in November. Here’s Graham Rix slotting in the opening goal 17 minutes from time:


Three minutes later, after a bad pass from Lawrenson to Jacob Cohen, Brian McDermott capitalised to go around Graham Moseley to score the second:


As the Brighton matchday programme noted:

In the eyes of most spectators, and certainly most of the journalists present, the Albion were a shade unfortunate not to get a point.

In the return fixture, in April 1981, at the Goldstone, Brighton lost again, this time to John Hollins’ header:


There was almost a second for the Gunners when the ball hit the crossbar:


So another Arsenal game, another defeat. Yet the Seagulls turned things around the following season under Mike Bailey. After a scoreless draw at Highbury, Andy Ritchie scored Brighton’s first ever goal against the Gunners in a very welcome 2-1 triumph in April 1982.

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The Boys in the Old Brighton Blue

Here are the the 12″ and 7″ versions of Brighton’s 1983 FA Cup Final song, with ‘The Goldstone Rap’ as the B-Side, released on Energy Records:


With superb attention to detail, the front and back covers had lavish designs that helped to soften the blow to club sponsors British Caledonian Airways, whose name would not feature on the players’ shirts on Cup Final day, due to TV regulations at the time:



Back row: Michael Robinson, Steve Gatting, Gordon Smith, Graham Moseley, Perry Digweed, Gary Stevens, Steve Foster, Jimmy Case;

Middle row: Sammy Nelson, Giles Stille, Neil Smillie, Tony Grealish, Graham Pearce, Gary Howlett, Gerry Ryan;

Front row: Terry Connor, Chris Ramsey.

I originally bought the 12″ from one of the second hand record shops on Trafalgar Road, Brighton. Not sure how much it cost me, but it was considerably less than the £50 forked out by one of The Seagulls Love Review fanzine lads, Stefan, at a BHACHS auction at Withdean about five years ago!

You can see a dance performance to this song here:

The song can be heard in its entirety below:

In case you want to have a sing-a-long, the rather corny lyrics are:

come on you seagulls, we’ll follow you
come on you seagulls, we’ll see you through
come on you seagulls, we’ll follow you
the boys in the old Brighton blue

verse 1
we are the boys in the white and the blue
football’s our game, Brighton’s our name
we are the team who’ll be out there for you
the boys in the old brighton blue

verse 2
here we are on the road to wembley way
fighting hard for our place on that day
for the pride of our town down by the sea
we’ll do our best to bring them victory

verse 3
cause we are the boys in the white and the blue
football’s our game, Brighton’s our name
follow the flag we’ll be flying for you
the boys in the old Brighton blue

reprise chorus

verse 4
as we go on our way to meet the best
once again we’ll be put to the test
but we’ll play like we always try to do
we won’t give up until the game is through

verse 5
we are the boys in the white and the blue
football’s our game, Brighton’s our name
follow the flag we’ll be flying for you
the boys in the old brighton blue

verse 6
follow the boys in the white and the blue
football’s our game, Brighton’s our name
follow the flag we’ll be flying for you
the boys in the old Brighton blue (twice)

reprise chorus with last line sang twice

I have been told that the lyrics of Albion’s FA Cup final song were reproduced on an A4 sheet which was distributed over the counter at the Seagulls Shop.

In the end, the song reached number 65 in the UK singles chart. Not a bad achievement considering the song wasn’t all that good!

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