Category Archives: Around The Goldstone

United colours of football

This amazing photograph appeared in Total Football magazine in May 1997, showing fans all over the country uniting behind Brighton supporters on Fans United Day, from 8th February that year:

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Click the image for a close up.

The match the fans watched turned into a 5-0 triumph over Hartlepool. As The Argus reported, the players were not slow to show their appreciation to the supporters:

Hat-trick hero Craig Maskell had a ball against Hartlepool, then showed the Albion fans just how much their support meant.

He grabbed hold of the match ball, kissed it and threw it into a packed North Stand after Saturday’s 5-0 victory at the Goldstone.

“I just wanted to give something back to the fans,” he said. “I’ve not had a brilliant time since coming here and it was nice to give them something to cheer about.”

Seagulls boss Steve Gritt declared: “It was a nice gesture by Craig. Perhaps he’s got so many match balls at home that he doesn’t want anymore!”

Maskell made it a perfect day for Albion. The Fans United show of strength organised by supporters produced a bumper gate of 8,412, the biggest of the season, and the players rewarded them with their biggest League win for 12 years.

Maskell gets his first

Maskell gets his first

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Matthew Wiltshire – back to the future

I was delighted to hear from Matthew Wiltshire. He’s the father of one Cameron Wiltshire, a young, promising midfielder currently progressing through the ranks at Brighton to play in the under-18s team and development squad. As bn1&bn3 Albion commented on North Stand Chat in August 2012, Cameron:

Came on as a substitute in today’s Development Squad game. Only 16, had a good touch and well composed considering he was playing against people twice his size. Could be a great player for the future.

It’s helpful that his family are no strangers to Brighton & Hove Albion. Matthew Wiltshire came through the newly formed youth system in the late 1970s. He was an apprentice for two years and then a young pro for another couple of years. Mat went to Germany, Holland and the USA before returning to play with many clubs in senior Sussex football. Here’s a photo of the him in his Albion days:

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When Matt emailed me a few months ago, he said: ‘I have recently become an avid reader of The Goldstone Wrap and your other stuff – great work’. Marvellous! Not only that, he was kind enough to answer some questions I had:

For the people who never got to see you play, could you describe what kind of player you were? What were the strengths to your game were?

mattwilshirepaniniThats a little tough to say, I was a midfielder and probably seen as technically competent 🙂 I do have a dodgy photo from a Dutch Panini Sticker book that say’s that I was a ‘two footed midfielder, a real playmaker’, but in Germany the English had a reputation for toughness, so they looked at me as more combative.

How did you get to join the Albion? How close to a first team appearance did you get?

My older brother Greg was scouted by the brand new youth system introduced by Mullery and ran by John Shepherd. I was soon mentioned and started at about 12 years old through to being released at 20 years. There was a time when Mike Bailey was manager that it looked more likely that I might be involved and was lucky enough to travel as part of the squad against Coventry away. When I signed pro I was hopeful, but I was signed as an apprentice by Mullery, a pro by Bailey, then Jimmy Melia/George Aitken were there for the FA Cup Final and Chris Cattlin gave me a free transfer. Near the end I didnt really have an ally on the coaching side, something young players need.

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Which players do you most enjoy playing with? Who most looked like they would break into the first team?

It was a time of real top players and characters, Mark Lawrenson, Peter Ward, Steve Foster, Jimmy Case, Andy Ritchie, Gordon Smith, Graham Moseley, Tony Grealish, Michael Robinson, Brian Horton. For a local youngster to train and watch them close up each day was fantastic, but perhaps surprisingly the one stand out player for me was Neil McNab. No doubt he would have been appreciated in Brighton’s current team much more. He was the one for me that when I trained with him he impressed me with his tricks and technique, I liked his style of play.

When you are young, each player has their own attributes and you generally don’t immediately pinpoint those that will make it. However, you are only too aware of those who are being progressed from within the club. Gary Stevens, although a couple of years older, was progressing well and his mentality and professionalism (in today’s terms) was obvious.

After you left Brighton in 1984, who did you play for? Are there any memories that particularly stand out?

Playing against Borrussia Dortmund, Mat is the number 4 with the high-footed tackle to challenge Romanian international  Raducanu whilst Hurst Hrubesch, the German International, looks on

Playing against Borrussia Dortmund, Mat is the number 4 with the high-footed tackle to challenge Romanian international Raducanu whilst Hurst Hrubesch, the German International, looks on

In the striped shirt second front left in the background, Mat watches his side take the lead against Dortmund

In the striped shirt second front left in the background, Mat watches his side take the lead against Dortmund

Germany: 1984 – 1986: TuS Paderborn-Neuhaus (now SC Paderborn 07). Bundesliga 2: Ex-Polish captain Jan Liberda was my coach. In 1986 we played Borrussia Dortmund in the last 16 of their FA Cup (I’ve got an old dodgy video somewhere!) winning 2-0 at half time, lost 2-4. My midfield partner Michael Henke went on to become one of the top German coaches, notably being assistant to Ottmar Hitzfield at Borrussia Dortmund and more recently was Aston Villa’s European Scout. A nice man.

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dutchHolland: 1986 – 1987: VV Emmen Dutch 1st Division. Disappointing time, most notable exception was meeting up again with my old playing buddy Dean Wilkins. We have remained best friends ever since. Best man at wedding, Wendy and I godparents to his daughter blah blah blah and sat in the directors box this Saturday to see Reading lose to Brighton this month! 🙂

Sting-wiltshireUSA: 1987 – 1988: Chicago Sting: Major Indoor Soccer League. Brilliant experience, flying to games, razzmatazz, good indoor crowds. I think out of the roster of 22 professionals there was 19 nationalities! And bumping into old BHA team mates (in the loose sense of the word), Peter Ward (Cleveland Force/Witchita Wings) and Mickey Thomas (Wichita Wings) I think. Both were great blokes, but Mickey was slightly mad but very generous, would always give me stuff when we met!

USA 1988: Albany Capitals: MSL.

Then played for Lewes, Worthing, Bognor, Newhaven, Eastbourne Borough, Peacehaven, Eastbourne Town.

Has the life of an apprentice changed much since you were one?

Yes, to a degree. It’s quite funny when Cameron comes home and his humour towards his fellow scholars is very similar to what we were doing 35 years ago! The biggest aspect is the education and the conundrum is that the failure rate amongst young players remains very high so the governing bodies have implemented an in-depth college course, which seems to make sense, but perhaps impinges on the scholars’ football training, rest and study of the game, so it unwittingly exacerbates the failure stats. That then prompts more focus on education and so it continues.

We used to have to clean changing rooms, boots and sometime pitch maintenance at the Goldstone, and more excitingly be in the old ‘boot room’ opposite the home dressing room on match days and see these stars of football walk by. Some would stop and talk. Even had Clough chase his star player John Robertson before a game for smoking in our bootroom!

Cameron has to clean his changing rooms and then college.

cameronwilshireHow do you think it’s helped Cameron to have a dad who has been with a professional football club?

If you accept that coaching and advice is important to any young player then it should follow that having advice and a mentor 24/7 might help.

When did the club discover him and what progress has he made?

He was asked to train at 8 years and signed when he was 9 years old, I think he has done very well. He is a really good kid (takes after his Mum) and approaches the game in the right way. How things will progress at Brighton & Hove Albion is not yet decided, but I am sure he will be fine wherever he goes.

What’s you line of work nowadays?

I have run soccer schools for some time now including going into a few schools here in Peacehaven and in Worthing on a daily basis.

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Sully’s testimonial

Here is Peter O’Sullivan in a rare Bukta-branded shirt from the end of the 1976/77 season. This blog featured this shirt in a previous post a few months ago.

Sporting a Rivelino-moustache, he truly looked the part on the cover of his testimonial programme at the end of the 1979/80 season:

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Inside, an advert for the Seagull Line wished him well:

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The editorial was by Tony Millard who paid tribute to Sully:

These days very few footballers spend ten years at one club and when Peter O’Sullivan recently completed 400 League games in Albion colours it was certainly quite an achievement.

When, on April 20, 1970 the youngster with the ‘Beatle’ style haircut came to the Goldstone from Manchester United not many would have thought that 10 years hence he would still be turning out and still wearing the number ’11’ shirt.

In fact, when Peter made that 400th appearance he had never been chosen as substitute but since then he has worn ’12’, for the first time, at Derby 10 days ago.

When he first came to the Goldstone the little Welshman with the Lancashire accent was an orthodox winger. As the game has changed and patterns of play have altered he has become a midfield player and he has been chosen once for Wales as a full cap, that against Scotland in May 1976 while he has also twice come on as a substitute in a full international, against Scotland in 1973 and against Malta just under a year ago.

Peter has played for the Albion in Three Divisions of the Football League. When he came to the club the side was in the Third Division and Peter was in the promoted side in 1972. Unfortunately, after just one season it was down again to Division Three and there they remained until the current ‘Alan Mullery era’.

Promotion from Three to Two in May 1977 was followed by disappointment a year later when the team just failed to gain promotion to One on goal difference. Ironically it was the failure of tonight’s opponents Southampton to beat Tottenham Hotspur at the Dell that meant that ‘Sully” and his colleagues were destined to have another season in the Second Division.

However Peter’s ambitions, and those of many more were finally fulfilled just under twelve months ago on that marvellous day at Newcastle. Ambitions that seemed to have been ended with his release from Manchester United were, nearly 10 years on, finally to be realised.

On October 9 last year Peter ran out at Old Trafford in front of 52,000 fans and he knew that he’d finally made it. Although, at that time, Albion were struggling in the League; Peter has now played quite a part, hopefully in ensuring the Club’s future.

As the programme continued:

During the year a number of benefit functions have been organised for Peter and the Committee of ‘Friends of Sussex Football’, the benefit organisers, have worked hard to make it a successful year.

One of the functions held recently was a businessman’s lunch at the ‘Sussex Pad’ in Lancing where landlord, Wally Pack and friends provided a marvellous spread. Our picture shows Sully helping Wally and his staff with the carving.

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sullydinner At the Grand Charity dinner in March 1980, with guest speakers Dickie Davies, Peter Brackley and Alan Mullery, the dinner guests enjoyed the delights of asparagus mousse with smoked turkey as a starter.

This was followed by grilled trout with almonds, and then roast contra fillet of beef, sauce madeira, garden peas with bacon and parmentine potatoes.

Desert was pineapple cheesecake with fruit salad, and then petit fours and coffee.

As for the benefit match itself, a month later, Lawrie McMenemy’s Southampton won 3-1. Albion fans had the curious experience of seeing manager Alan Mullery score the Seagulls’ consolation from the penalty spot:

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Dave Busby – Albion’s first black footballer

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“My best asset was speed,” says Dave Busby. “I had a lot of natural pace. I had some good skills but my speed gave me time.”

Aged 17 at the time, the Paddington-born striker made history on 20th October 1973, becoming the first black player to appear for the first team of Brighton & Hove Albion.

In the dying days of the Pat Saward era, struggling Brighton beat Shrewsbury 2-0 thanks to goals from Ron Howell and Ken Beamish, to move up to 19th in Division Three. Busby came on as a substitute for loanee John Boyle on 78 minutes: “It was so good to come on and hearing the crowd cheering my name.”

His manager Saward missed it, though. He was in Crewe watching a transfer target, goalkeeper Bryan Parker.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Busby got his chance with trainer Glen Wilson deputising. As Dave says: “Pat Saward was a good manager. As far as I was concerned, though, he just was not brave enough to put the youngsters in when we were hot. The first team should have been made up of both the young and the experienced and we would have been great.”

Having gone to school in Heathfield, Sussex, where Frank Bruno was a fellow pupil, Busby joined the Goldstone staff as an apprentice in 1973, having played as a junior for Heathfield United. When Brian Clough arrived at Brighton, Busby was one of the few to have encountered him before: “Not a lot of people know this. I played under Brian Clough at Derby County for three weeks as a trialist before I came to Brighton. He said to me then that I would stand a good chance in a lower league.”

Even so, following his debut, Dave did not see first team action under Clough, with Pat Hilton, Ken Beamish, Lammie Robertson and Barry Bridges higher up in the pecking order up front. This setback did not put him off from continuing to score regularly for the reserves. As a result, Busby eventually signed a contract as a professional in August 1974.

In the 1974/75 season, with Peter Taylor now a boss going solo, Busby was an unused substitute in the August matches against Reading (League Cup 1st Round Replay) and Chesterfield, before making his second appearance from the bench in the 3rd replay against Reading, with his side losing 3-2 at the Goldstone:

Busby gathers a pass near Reading's goal as team mate Ernie Machin rushes to support

Busby gathers a pass near Reading’s goal as team mate Ernie Machin rushes to support

Dave ventures that Peter Taylor “was quite the opposite of Mr Clough. He did not shout as much. He was not as aggressive. He would talk to you a little more.”

In the match that followed the Reading cup marathon, on 7th September 1974, Dave got his big chance in making the starting line-up, against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. He almost scored as well. Ronnie Welch found Busby with a peach of a first time ball from defence, but the attacker was denied by a foul from the Rovers keeper Roger Jones.

Dave then came on as a substitute at home to Port Vale later in the month, but that was his final Albion first team appearance. He was given a free transfer in May 1975. He then worked at a greengrocer’s, became a car mechanic, before spells with Worthing, Blackpool, Barrow, Gravesend & Northfleet, Tooting & Mitcham United and Littlehampton.

Having hung up his boots, he is justifiably proud of his accolade as a trailblazer: “Being Brighton first black player is just great. I just wish they had given me more of a chance and I would have been fine.”

Dave Busby, in the front row of the 1974/75 team photo

Dave Busby, in the front row of the 1974/75 team photo

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Brighton face FA penalty after new pitch invasion

Here’s The Guardian’s Peter Nichols report on the events of Tuesday 1st October 1996:

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Brighton face the threat of playing behind closed doors and having three points deducted, after supporters invaded the pitch during last night’s Third Division game against Lincoln at the Goldstone Ground. Play was halted for 12 minutes in the first half when Lincoln took the lead.

Shortly after play resumed Brighton equalised but two further goals for Lincoln consigned them to last but one in the league. The second goal prompted another invasion but this time the spectators did not reach the centre circle and they were booed off. Even the faithful had had enough.

The damage, though, may well have been done. Brighton have a Football Association sentence hanging over them after fans rioted and caused the abandonment of a Second Division relegation game against York City at the end of last season. That sentence could now come into effect after the referee Steve Bennett was forced to take the players off the pitch.

Trouble had been anticipated. Fans were angry at the breakdown of talks on Monday between the club chairman Bill Archer and the consortium headed by the advertising millionaire Dick Knight wanting to take over the club. But appeals to stay calm went unheeded. There was already a volatile atmosphere, with cries of “Archer out”. before matters spilled over in the 25th minute.

About 50 supporters from the North Stand invaded the pitch, and the referee immediately took the teams to the safety of the dressing-rooms.

Another 100 or so supporters from other sections of the ground then spilled on to the pitch, and the entire group congregated in the centre circle before leaving en bloc to return to the North Stand. The police adopted a “softly, softly” approach and, as invasions go, by Goldstone standards it was brief and bloodless. There were five public order arrests.

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Archer, the object of the supporters’ disaffection, was not there to witness the protest. He had bought into Brighton and Hove Albion for £56.25 and, through dealings that might be described as Byzantine, sold the ground to Chartwell, a company connected to the Kingfisher Group and with which he is also involved. Chartwell paid £7.4 million, most of which went to pay off the club’s mounting debts.

The club now rent the ground back on a single-year lease which costs £480,000. At the end of the season, after 94 years at the Goldstone Ground, Brighton will be homeless. The ground will be dug up in June for a retail development.

Supporters might have been less alienated if Archer had employed a little PR during his tortuous dealings.

Talking to the supporters would have been a start. Nobody in this seaside town has the faintest idea of his plans.

Archer has attended only a handful of games and yesterday’s was not one of them. David Bellotti, the former Liberal MP, has been the front-man and, though he did visit the ground yesterday, he made his excuses and left before the game.

This particular crisis was precipitated by Monday’s meeting at the Park Court Hotel in London, where the FA attempted to arbitrate between Archer’s group and the Knight consortium.

Liz Costa, vice-chairman of the Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters’ Club, was one of many who predicted the worst for last night’s match.

“It will make York City look a like a Christmas party,” she forecast. “There’s going to be bedlam.” In that match almost 3,000 spectators spilled on to the pitch to demostrate against the board.

If those fears were unfounded, there was no disguising the despondency of the manager Jimmy Case. “Since I’ve been here there’s not been one ounce of good news, written or implemented,” he said. “When Liam Brady was here he said he couldn’t work in an unharmonious atmosphere, and it’s got worse.

“All we want as a manager and a football team, and especially the supporters, is a ground to play in. This situation affects everyone, down to the tea-ladies. I’ve never brought it up before but there comes a time. Any good news would be a breath of fresh air for me, the players and the tea-ladies.”

From ‘Build A Bonfire’:

Bill Swallow: I have to say, and maybe this puts me in a minority of one, I wasn’t terribly happy wit the Lincoln protest. I didn’t think it was wise. If they’d opened fire on David Bellotti I wouldn’t have had a problem with that, no difficulty at all. I thought the strategy went off the rails.

Tim Carder: Everyone supported it – I mean there were about two cries of ‘get off the pitch’ because we were under suspended sentence at that point. We knew that anyone going on the pitch and holding the game up was going to cost us points, but we were in such a desperate state at the time that the vast majority of the crowd applauded them. I clapped them. It was all very orderly and the crowd was in full support. We had to show that, even with the threat of losing points – and we were very near the bottom at this stage.

Significantly, after the Lincoln match, there was a marked change in emphasis in the protests that followed. Out went the kind that were liable to cost the club league points and made it easy to brand the loyal supporters as hooligans, and in came the imaginative kind such as the charm offensive at the village of Mellor, Bill Archer’s home in Lancashire.

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All is forgiven, by Rollo and Ramsey

A scratched photo of King Rollo

A scratched photo of King Rollo

You may be interested in reading an interview of Andy Rollings by me in the current Viva Brighton magazine (January / February 2014).

When I spoke to ‘Rollo’ last month, I was eager to ask him about his notorious clash with Justin Fashanu in October 1979 in Andy’s penultimate match for the Seagulls. You can see the no holds barred battle below:

In his match report at the time, John Vinicombe drew attention to something underhand that may have contributed to the injuries sustained:

Nobody in authority seemed to have a clear view. Suddenly, Rollings was lying on the ground and then taken off holding his nose. A clue was spotted by Albion’s club doctor, Herzl Sless. He later asked (referee) Daniels if he had spotted a large signet ring Fashanu was wearing.

In Sless’s opinion, the ring should have been taken off before the start or covered by a protective tape. Daniels said it had gone unnoticed and thanked Sless for his observation. The piece worn by Fashanu was likened to a knuckleduster and could easily have accounted for the injury to Rollings’ nose.

However, when I met Andy, he wasn’t able to confirm it either way:

“I couldnt tell you to this day. I always used wear a ring but always had it taped up. With Justin Fashanu it wasn’t a big nugget. It could have been an elbow. I didn’t have too many issues. Football then was that type of game, about winning your battle. Sometimes people will overstep the mark. That was their choice. It was a bit sad for that to be my last Goldstone game, but what a way to go!”

Rollings left for Swindon at the end of the 1979/80 season before turning out for Portsmouth, Torquay, Brentford and Maidstone.

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Unexpectedly, Andy rejoined Brighton as a non-contract player under Alan Mullery in 1986/87. I wonder if he encountered Justin Fashanu again, who was in the process of retiring through injury from the game in July 1986. Awkward moments in the dressing room? Stand-offs in the canteen? Andy says no:

“The only time I did encounter him was when I was with Portsmouth. We won the Third Division Championship. and they took us all to Marbella with girlfriends and wives. Funnily enough, he was over there. We shook hands. We didn’t hold any grudges and both accepted that what happened was all part of the game.”

Very magnanimous.

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Likewise with Chris Ramsey, currently U21s coach at Tottenham Hotspur who helped in a caretaker team once Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. As you’ll recall, Whiteside’s awful foul on Ramsey in the 1983 FA Cup Final caused Brighton’s right-back to be substituted. Some say that it resulted in Manchester United’s equaliser. I certainly feel that Ramsey would not have been outmuscled by the waif-like Arnold Muhren, the way that Gerry Ryan was, before the Dutchman’s diagonal ball for Ray Wilkins’s goal to put united ahead. In Brighton’s matchday programme v Oldham on 24th October 2009, Ramsey said:

I saw Norman Whiteside about 12 years after (the Final) at a PFA do and we had a good laugh about it (Whiteside’s foul). We exchanged autographs and he wrote on my card ‘You went in high but I went in higher!’ To be fair he says in his book that he never intentionally went out to hurt anyone in his career, and that the only person he actually ended up hurting was me.

At the end of the day neither of us were angels, were we? I had my moments- I had a lot of moments come to think of it (Chris was sent off five times during his Albion career)! They were different times and the game was a lot more physical then, so those things used to happen unfortunately.

I suppose it’s not that surprising Ramsey was so relaxed about it. Off the field, he certainly knew how to chill out. Here he is listening to reggae music on his Sony Walkman!

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Of Swans and Seagulls

Over recent seasons, many Brighton fans have admired Swansea City’s exciting brand of football as an enhanced, more incisive version of their own team’s possession game. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, skilful play apart, the key parallel was that both relatively small, modest clubs were enjoying their halcyon years. With the illustrious John Toshack and Alan Mullery as the respective managers, both the Swans and Seagulls had enjoyed meteoric rises to get to the top flight. By 1981/82, both clubs finished in their highest ever placing in the Football League. The sky was the limit, or so it seemed.

On Tuesday 9th May 1979, Brighton played Swansea in Mick Conway’s testimonial match with the Albion players still on cloud nine. It was three days after the Seagulls had completed the two-year journey from Division Three to Division One. Ex-Albion winger Conway was known for his dangerous crosses and speedy runs. Aged just 17 years and 45 days, he had made his Brighton league debut against Nottingham Forest in May 1973 just as Albion were sliding back to Division Three after one inauspicious season. In the number seven shirt, he marked the occasion with the equalising goal as Brighton came back from 0-2 down.

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Despite this, this promising wide player only made one substitute appearance for the Albion first-team thereafter and joined Swansea for £3,000 in December 1975. He helped the Welsh side to win promotion from Division Four in 1977/78 under manager Harry Griffiths before injuries suffered in a car crash in April 1978, and subsequently against Barnsley in an attempted comeback, eventually forced Conway to retire.

Even without Conway’s services, Swansea were promoted from Division Three at the first time of asking in 1978/79 under new player-boss John Toshack. With players of the quality of Jeremy Charles, Robbie James and Leighton James, the Swans played attacking football that won over many neutrals. Just as Albion had secured a place to the top flight with that famous 3-1 victory at Newcastle in 1979, it was a televised win with the same scoreline at Preston in 1981 that took the Welsh club to the top flight for the very first time.

When 1981/82 kicked off, Albion were supposedly the more senior club, beginning their third season in Division One. However, aided and abetted by new signings such as the very experienced Alan Curtis and Bob Latchford, the Welsh newcomers picked their pockets on 1st September 1981, coming away from the Goldstone with a 2-1 victory:

As Steve Curry in the Daily Express reported:

Swansea lifted Welsh hearts and broke a few in Brighton as their First Division charge gathered momentum last night.

John Toshack’s heroes came from the valleys to the seaside on a tide of determination.

And if their victory at the Goldstone Ground did not have the carnival atmosphere of Saturday’s five-goal romp against Leeds, it was in its own way, just as distinguished.

They provided an early and impressive encore to Saturday’s show-stopping performance with two goals in the first 15 minutes. And when Brighton ruffled the Swans’ feathers they hit back heaving and hissing to survive second-half pressure.

Andy Ritchie scored in the 34th minute, after Steve Foster had headed down Gerry Ryan’s free-kick, but an equaliser proved beyond the home side.

And so the Swans’ honeymoon period continued. When the return fixture was played at Vetch Field in November, Mike Bailey’s ultra-defensive Seagulls had tightened up at the back, securing a 0-0 draw. The high-flying Welsh side were in third place, although they held first position on six different occasions during this famous 1981/82 season. Playing rather more cautious football than Swansea, Brighton were also getting giddy, standing in 10th place and pushing for a UEFA Cup position.

By the end of the season, Swansea City landed in 6th position and Brighton 13th place in Division One, both clubs’ highest ever finish.

After that, it was downhill from there. Swansea were beset by an injury crisis the following season. They were also hampered by a transfer ban imposed by the Football League for defaulting on their payment instalments to Everton in the signing of Bob Latchford and Garry Stanley for £275,000. Perhaps this was not surprising. Both clubs suffered tremendously from the general fall in football attendances while trying to pay First Division wages. Partly as a result, the form of both Swansea and Brighton fell away in 1982/83. They played out a 1-1 stalemate at the Goldstone in October 1982. As you can see, Robinson apart, there was a distinct lack of the kind of penetrating attacking play and flair that had propelled both sides into the top flight:

When Jimmy Melia’s Brighton turned the tables on the Swans with a 2-1 win at Vetch Field in March 1983, with Robinson and Case scoring, it was the Sussex side’s first League victory since December, and their only away win in Division One that season. On a downward spiral, the Albion stood in 20th place and the Welsh side were only one place above, going through a similar run of dismal form. Unsurprisingly, both clubs were relegated at the end of the season, with the Seagulls bottom.

The following season in Division Two, while Brighton stopped the rot under new boss Chris Cattlin, Swansea crashed and burned. Toshack gave a Swans debut to 23 year-old ex-Chelsea defender Gary Chivers (who would later play with distinction for the Albion) in the 3-1 home defeat by Brighton in September 1983. Alan Young and Terry Connor (2) got the Seagulls’ goals. A month later, Toshack resigned. The two clubs met again in the FA Cup, at the Goldstone in January 1984, with Terry Connor scoring a stupendous volley:

Relegated from Division Two, the Swans were in free fall. Despite bringing in ex-Brighton misfit Ray McHale to strengthen the side in 1984/85 with his experience, new boss John Bond could not stop the decline. Interestingly, he released Dean Saunders at the end of the season, something that would prove great news for Albion boss Chris Cattlin, who snapped him up.

When 1986/87 kicked off, Swansea, victims of three relegations in four seasons, had fallen down to the Fourth Division, back to where it all began. A season later, Brighton were back down to Division Three. By 1996/97, both Brighton and Swansea were in the basement league, fighting to survive near the bottom. Should the Seagulls get promotion to the top flight this season, their renaissance will be complete, just as it has been for the Swans in recent years. I’m sure Mick Conway, a popular player with both sides, would drink to that.

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Ken helps Albion out of doldrums

What a stylish pose!

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While hardly remembered as a star player during Albion’s glory years, right-back Ken Tiler certainly played his part as Albion escaped the mediocrity of fighting to survive in Division Three in the mid-1970s.

At a time when the Goldstone was short of class, he was signed from Chesterfield by Peter Taylor in November 1974 and valued at £45,000 in a deal that took Billy McEwan and Ronnie Welch in the opposite direction.

Tiler settled quickly, showing the kind of form and know-how that steered Brighton away from the drop zone in the New Year. With the side being rapidly rebuilt by Taylor, things were on the up. Together with Harry Wilson on the other flank, the two full-backs are best remembered for their roles in the promotion near-miss of 1975/76 and then, a year later, when Brighton finished as runners-up. With Joe Kinnear out of favour under Alan Mullery, Tiler played 38 League matches in that glorious 1976/77 season.

In the Second Division, Tiler started the first 16 League matches before suddenly being dropped in favour of Chris Cattlin. In January 1978, he asked for a transfer but was restored for the final seven matches of the season. Here he is in action against Bob Hatton of Blackpool on the last day:

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Despite beginning as first choice in the 1978/79 campaign, Tiler was not able to shake off the competition from Chris Cattlin forever. Brighton had a mediocre start, falling as low as 12th at the end of November. When the ‘Cat’ was restored to the right-back slot at the start of December 1978, it solidified the defence immeasurably and this spelt the end for Tiler’s time at Brighton. He didn’t play another match for the Seagulls and left for Rotherham in a £15,000 deal in July 1979.

In his 151 appearances, he never got on the scoresheet for the Albion, but attacking intent did exist in his family. Here he is with his family, including eight-year-old son Carl Tiler, who later made it as a centre-back with Barnsley, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United:

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At the time, Carl played as an orthodox left-winger. Ken said of his son:

“He already has the skill to beat me all ends up”

Perhaps it was this frank admission that confirmed Alan Mullery was right to go with Cattlin for the rest of the season!

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Kieran shows Wednesday his disco feet

Bit of a hustler on dance floor was that shy, introverted right-back Kieran O’Regan, who looked barely 15 when he broke into the Brighton first team on the last day of the 1982/83 league season. Here he is surrounded by lots of cassettes, proclaiming to love music but being bit of a wallflower when it came to boogieing on down:

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When it comes to relaxing, Kieran O’Regan’s got it taped! He’s a great music lover, but one song you’ll never hear when he’s around is the Sound of Silence! ‘I play music all day long, when I’m relaxing,’ he explains. ‘I don’t listen to the radio very much. There’s too much of a mixture. You get good records, then they’ll play something you don’t like. So, I’d rather play cassettes by my favourite groups.

I like a lot of different groups, but most of the tapes I buy are by well-known singers like Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Genesis and Fleetwood Mac. I like watching rock shows on TV too, like Top of The Pops and the Tube.’ With his obvious love of pop music, is Kieran keen on dancing? Is he, perhaps, the secret John Travolta of the Albion side?

‘No, definitely not,’ he laughs. ‘I’m not a great one for dancing. I’m happier to sit back and listen to the music. I’ve never wanted to join a group or be up there on the stage singing. I didn’t even join the school choir. I’m happy just to be in the audience.’

Yeah, right. Late on at Hillsborough in February 1984, however, Kieran strutted his funky stuff, showing the kind of fleet-footed magic that could only be learned by dancing in his bedroom in time to his favourite music:

The article, from the Brighton v Swansea programme in February 1984, continues:

Kieran has made tremendous progress during the 18 months he has spent at the Albion. The highlight of his career to date was his International debut for the Republic of Ireland last November. ‘That was just a few days after my 20th birthday, so it was a very nice present.

My debut got a lot of publicity back home in Cork. My mum and dad, and three sisters live there, and I think they were proud of me.’

Kieran comes from a very close family and he admits he was very homesick when he first came to the South Coast. ‘It wasn’t easy at first. I missed my family and friends back in Ireland. But my landlady, Mrs McLeod, did everything she could to help me settle down. I’ve been living at her house since joining Brighton. I feel like one of the family now.’

It always takes time to settle in a new town, but Kieran has plenty of friends in Brighton now. His best mate is another of Albion’s talented young Irish players, Gary Howlett.

‘The other players call us Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, because we’re always together. When the weather’s fine, we beth enjoy a round of golf, but in the winter, we’re more likely to play a game of squash. We both like going to see other teams play too.

‘Gary Stevens is helping me with his promotions company and Gary Howlett and I go up and see him playing for Spurs when we can. We both like their attractive style of play.’

Away from soccer, Kieran is easy-going and a little shy. But he comes to life when he runs out onto the field for a game. ‘I realise how lucky I am,’ he says.

‘Football is my hobby, but I get paid for playing and I’m starting to see the world now too. Life is all about enjoying what you do and there’s nothing I’d rather do than play football.’

At the age of 20 and with an exciting career stretching out in front of him, Kieran’s view of life can be summed up in two words.., sweet music!

Over the next few seasons, O’Regan showed he could also do a good job in midfield. However, he failed to fully establish himself in the Brighton side. When the club was relegated at the end of 1986/87, O’Regan left for Swindon Town, still only 23.

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Santa sleighs Crystal Palace

Getting into the festive spirit, these Albion folks featured on the cover to the Brighton v Newcastle matchday programme in December 1983:

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Can you work out who they are?

Inside, the identities were revealed… well, two of the trio, anyway:

Our cover photograph on today’s programme was the idea of supporter Stove Blunt, “but very few supporters will know exactly who the Father Christmas is alongside the two clowns. The identity of these are no secret as both Neil Smillie and Steve Foster have been the butt of their colleague’s humour this week.

Steve claims that his diet is responsible for the ill fitting trousers while Nell, who has missed training in recent weeks due to his ankle injury, shows that he has still been keeping fit . . . but what about Father Christmas, who is it?

I don’t know… surely it’s not Chris Cattlin, is it?

The early appearance for our photo of the lads in fancy dress gave no secrets away for the players’ own fancy dress party next Thursday. This party has become an Albion Christmas tradition and some marvellous characters have emerged in recent seasons.

Gary Williams’ depiction of Wurzel Gummidge two years ago was one of the best, but one or two of the players have some ‘secret’ plans lined up for next Thursday and local costume shops have been the ‘odd’ target for some.

One of the biggest, ACE Fancy Dress Hire, in Eastbourne, provided the material for our photo and several of the lads were over there this week lining up their own for the party. Everyone is playing a part but they all claim secrecy is part of the enjoyment.

Two rumours circulating the ground suggest that one player will be dressed as a well known cricketer and another is threatening to go as ‘Boy George’

Despite the seasonal cheer, manager Chris Cattlin was keen to maintain a discipline squad, as he revealed in the Brighton v Fulham programme on 27th December 1983:

“We were due to train on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and every player will be expected to step on the scales each day so that their weight can be checked… too much Foster turkey, Corrigan Christmas pudding or Case cream cakes will show up and the lads know it.”

It seemed to do the trick as Brighton won 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, with goals from Danny Wilson and Neil Smillie.

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