Category Archives: Club Colours

The Brighton goalkeeper shirt of the late 1970s

Once I found a green Bukta jersey with black logo on eBay, there was no stopping me! I won the auction for a tenner in late July and then hatched plans to get the classic round Seagulls badge added – and hey presto! – I now have a replica of the goalkeeper top worn during the late 1970s. And yes, I appreciate the number of people for whom this has any sartorial interest is probably rather limited.

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As far as minor variations, the tight-fitting top was worn by goalkeeping rivals Graham Moseley and Eric Steele from the 1977/78 to 1979/80, sometimes with the Bukta lettering, and sometimes with the Buk symbol…

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Sometimes, it featured both the Buk and logotype, as Graham Moseley ably demonstrates…

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There was even a red version, for the times when Brighton played a team with green on their kit, such as Norwich City. The Old Football Shirts website includes the red goalkeeper’s top here.

Green or red, it would be a stretch to describe the goalkeeper’s shirt as a design classic. However, it’s undoubtedly associated with the good times at the Goldstone, so much so that there was even an Eric Steele poster in the centrefold in the Derby v Brighton programme of October 1986, with him proudly wearing his Albion clobber seven years on together while showing off John Vinicombe’s ‘Up, Up and Away’ book celebrating Brighton’s rise to Division One in 1979. You read it right – a Brighton poster in a Derby County programme!

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(Although those shorts look rather like the blue Bukta ones, they’re actually Derby’s of 1986/87).

Talking to Harry Brown, Steele is optimistic about Derby’s chances that season:

“Things are on the move here,” Eric says confidently. “It reminds me of my very happy stay at Brighton. I was part of the Seagulls set up from February 1976 till October 1979, when I moved on to Watford. In that time we moved from the Third to the First Division in three seasons, and I have very happy memories of the Goldstone and its fans. We packed them in up to 25,000 in fact, and I can see it all stirring again just like that here at the Baseball Ground.

Eric believes, as most of his team mates do, that Derby County can equal Brighton’s feat, and maybe even improve on it, by going from Third to First in two seasons. “I want to taste yet another Third to First Divsion success, and I believe it is ‘on.’ That’s why I stayed here to battle it out with Mark (Wallington).

Last May’s promotion here was the fifth in which Eric has been involved during his career – the two with Brighton; from the Fourth to the Third with Peterborough; and from the Second to the First with Watford. He reckons he will contribute to the sixth right here at the Baseball Ground.

He sees the same sort of individual flair emerging here as it did at the Goldstone when he was a Brighton player. “Then we had Mark Lawrenson, who has gone on to great things at Liverpool, Derby-born Peter Ward who was getting us goals galore, Welsh international Peter O’Sullivan, and Brian Horton, now the player-manager at Hull.”

Steele made it promotion number six when with Derby County who won the Second Division championship in 1986/87. He left for Southend at the end of that campaign. When he was loaned to Mansfield in March 1988, he made one last appearance at the Goldstone.

As for the Seagulls’ Bukta goalkeeper shirt, it officially gave way when Brighton switched to Adidas from the start of 1980/81. However, in the pre-season photo shoot for that campaign, the green Adidas shirt was clearly not yet ready and so an extra Albion badge had to be sewn on to conceal the Bukta logo, to create a rather bizarre look. That’s one retro Albion goalkeeper’s top I won’t be emulating!

Tony Knight, Graham Moseley and John Phillips

Tony Knight, Graham Moseley and John Phillips with a seagull on each nipple

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Book of Football: Part 69 (Brighton)

As covered in a previous post about the life and times of Norman Gall, the Book of Football was a weekly partwork from the early 1970s, building up to an authoritative encyclopaedia of the game over the course of 75 weeks. I bet, if you around then and had collected every issue over a year and half, you’d quite rightly have been very satisfied with yourself. And wouldn’t think anything of it as you proceeded to bring all six volumes down the pub and proceeded to bore your friends with your newly acquired knowledge on football tactics, club histories and goalscoring feats…!

Nearing the end of the completion of Marshall Cavendish’s series, came Part 69 which featured Peter O’Sullivan, Willie Irvine (face partially concealed) and Kit Napier, three happy men in their running shorts, celebrating an astonishing team-goal in March 1972.

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As the inside cover says:

One of the highlights of the 1971-72 season for Brighton. Kit Napier congratulates Willie Irvine after his goal which gave Brighton the lead in the vital promotion match against Aston Villa. Brighton won 2-1 and Irvine’s fine goal was featured on Match of the Day.

And what a diamond of a goal it was!

Inside we are treated to another colour photo (of Kit Napier, number 8, and Ken Beamish, on the floor) plus a potted history of Brighton & Hove Albion. Written very concisely, it charts a local Brighton college’s acceptance of the Rules of Association Football in 1872 (yes, the dark ages before Brighton & Hove Albion were formed), through to the creation of the club, the Southern League days, Brighton winning the Charity Shield (also against Villa), through to victory in Division Three (South) in 1958, to Pat Saward’s then current struggles as his charges flopped in the early months of Second Division football in 1972/73.

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There are also some excellent illustrations of the coat of arms the club used in the 1960s and early 1970s, as well as some mostly accurate drawings of the home and away kit (persnickety alert: the only omissions were the red lettering on the home shirt and some white hoops from the away socks). Together with Brighton’s season-by-season record in the League and FA Cup, it all makes for a splendid portrayal of what the Albion was like back then and its relative stature to other club within the football world. And if you want more, there’s all the other 74 parts you can read too!

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Obscure Albion Kits: 1974/75 Home

No, this is not a Leeds United shirt!

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This is a pimped-out version of the very ‘plain Jane’ Brighton home shirt from Peter Taylor’s first season in sole charge at the Goldstone in 1974/75. As you can see, not only did Albion fans have to put up with their manager Brian Clough defecting to Leeds, but our traditional and beloved blue and white stripes were ditched in favour of a design by Admiral that echoed the kit worn by the Elland Road side.

To add a bit of flourish, the shirts were originally worn with white shorts that had two blue stripes running down the side and with white socks featuring two blue rings.

While controversial, the move to all-white had a precedent at the Goldstone earlier in the decade. Before Brighton boss Freddie Goodwin had left for Birmingham City in the summer of 1970, he had instigated a change to the team’s colours to this aesthetic, perhaps in admiration of Leeds or maybe he thought it would help us play like Real Madrid. Or could it be that he just liked how milky-white kits shone under floodlights during night-time matches? Whatever the reason, that radical change lasted for a single season, however, in the first campaign of the Pat Saward era.

Just as under Pat Saward in 1970/71, Brighton’s season in 1974/75 was one of struggle in Division Three, with the threat of relegation being averted by the end. Under the watch of Peter Taylor, the all-white affair was worn by the likes of Ian Mellor when he scored on his League debut for Brighton in an opening day win against Crystal Palace in August 1974 and by fellow striker Dave Busby who became the first black player to play for the Albion when he came on as a substitute against Reading in the League Cup in September. Humiliatingly, the shirt was also worn with blue shorts for the 1-0 home defeat in the FA Cup by non-league side Leatherhead in January 1975, with Chris Kelly, ‘The Leatherhead Lip,’ here giving the Albion defenders the runaround:

At least the white shirt from the earlier season had the letters ‘B&HAFC.’ This one of 1974/75, with the identical blue round neck and shirt cuffs, had nothing that identified it as belonging to Brighton & Hove Albion. Stingily, it also offered none of the design innovations that Admiral became synonymous with during the decade, such as tramlines down the shirts and shorts …or even sock tags which featured mainly at Elland Road in kits manufactured by Admiral (If you’re going to copy Leeds, at least copy sock tags!) And yet, as if to rub your nose in it, Admiral did manage to get their own logo on.

Strangely, given the plentiful supply before, there’s a paucity of colour photography of Brighton & Hove Albion players during 1974/75, apart from this photo by Crystal Palace fan Paul Wright which understandably is from quite far out, so you can’t see the detail on the shirt. So, from black and white photos, I was unable to ascertain the colour of the Admiral logo until Phil Shelley from Old Football Shirts was helpfully able to confirm it as yellow with a blue outline, having chatted to a few ex-Brighton players at the Alan Mullery special celebration dinner event last year.

1974-75shirt2Powered with this knowledge, I ordered a blue round-necked white shirt from Toffs. Then I proceeded to get a yellow Admiral logo unstitched from another shirt and sewn on to it although, judging from photos, I think the originals had the logo as an ironed on transfer. I even got the Admiral neck label added on to make it look more authentic when it is anything but!

Although it could be easily mistaken for a white polo necked t-shirt with a badge ironed on, I do wonder how much an original Brighton home shirt from 1974/75 is worth. Not that there’s much chance of an original surviving the lifespan of being used in competitive matches, then in reserve matches, then as training kit, then probably discarded due to wear and tear. When I contacted Dave Busby, who made three appearances during that season, he said: “We were never allowed to keep kit. It all had to be accounted for.”

Unless any found their way out, what you are looking at could be the only 1974/75 Brighton home shirt in existence, albeit as a reproduction.

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Back row: Brian Daykin (assistant manager), Andy Rollings, Ian Mellor, Peter Grummitt, Graham Winstanley, Jim Walker, Ken Gutteridge (coach)

Front row: Harry Wilson, Ernie Machin, Fred Binney, Peter Taylor (manager), Tommy Mason, Tony Towner, Peter O’Sullivan

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The pencil-illustrated history of Brighton home shirts

The Football Attic‘s entertaining podcast on football books last week stirred my interest in a book called ‘Club Colours,’ by Bob Bickerton, all about football kits.

As the price was listed as just a penny on Amazon, I decided it was worth a buy. Inside, every club in the Premier League or Football League is given a double-page spread where the history of its kits is covered with a concise article next to a player in action, illustrated with what looks like… yes… coloured pencils! It makes for a rather eye-catching effect, beautiful in some ways, although as the podcast mentioned, it is perhaps not the most accurate way of capturing the finer detail of a design. Nevertheless, here is the first of the pages on Brighton & Hove Albion, and you can see that the 1983 FA Cup shirt is pretty much spot-on, except for the absence of the adidas logo and ‘FA Cup Finalist 1983’ writing underneath the club crest.

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On the page that follows, you can see eight of the respective club’s designs down the years are drawn with fine-liner, pencil and crayons within the boundaries of a cigarette card template. Even so, it’s rather questionable whether Brighton did have red, blue and white stripes or wear red socks as part of a home kit. I can find no evidence of this some years ago, having done some research on this for the creators of the Historical Kits website, a website profoundly inspired by Bickerton’s book.

And if I want to be picky, the accuracy of some of the modern kits looks a bit out without the shirt sponsor or manufacturer’s logo. Perhaps this may have been the result of barriers involved in getting commercial clearance. Even so, this doesn’t explain why the blue shirt with white sleeves kit from the 1960s has a V-neck rather than a round collar. The date is somewhat off too, and similarly it’s the case with the 1970-1976 kit which seems to feature a mishmash of shirts, shorts and socks of different seasons in that period. If you have a look at Historical Kits, you will see what I mean!

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On other pages, covering some trends and new ideas in football shirts, Brighton’s famous deckchair shorts are given a viewing in double-spread entitled ‘Innovators and Innovations’:

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The club also features in a section called ‘Hated Away Strips’. Bickerton comments:

The ultimate in this category is the famous red and white wiggly lines version, a pattern which traversed both shirts and shorts of Brighton outfits in 1992. Certainly, such was the strength of the irregular pattern that it was difficult to focus on the shape of the player in action.

The illustration of this kit most pointedly reveals the limitations of drawing modern kits with coloured pencils as it doesn’t quite capture the detail of the pattern. As a result, it’s clear that the vector-based software illustrated kits of the Historical Kits website, and John Devlin’s magnificent ‘True Colours’ books and site, have somewhat eclipsed what ‘Club Colours’ set out to do. Even so, this is a splendid book that is undoubtedly written with a lot of love and fascination for its subject matter, and it provided a valuable place of reference at a time when there weren’t that many books or websites on football shirt design. Definitely worth a penny of anyone’s money!

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Worst Albion Kits: 1993/94 Home

In the Brighton v Stockport programme from October 1993, marketing manager Terry Gill writes:

The new Albion replica strips are proving very popular and we will be delighted to see any supporters in the shop to sort out your own size.

That’s funny, because I distinctly remember that the 1993/94 home kit as being one of the most unpopular ones that Brighton have had down the years!

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Retaining Ribero as the shirt manufacturer, the club entered the new season with a different shirt sponsorship deal. Out went TSB, in came Sandtex (or mispronounced as ‘Semtex’ by various jokers at the Goldstone. OK, that’s probably my teenage friends and me at the time!). Proving fluent in marketing-speak, Gill claimed: ‘The name brands what is arguably the top masonry paint available in this country and we are delighted that AKZO have backed us this season through the Sandtex brand.’

Leaving aside the questionable business wisdom of trying to increase the sale of masonry paint by entering into a commercial partnership with a struggling Football League club, the red Sandtex logo gives the shirt an unwanted ‘Tesco Value’ connotation when matched with the unfamilar pinstripes emblazoned vertically down the body and sleeve cuffs. By contrast, the royal blue sleeves, shorts and socks echoed the all-blue affair of 1980-83. It was certainly a very original design and was neither one thing nor another. But it remained largely unloved by the Goldstone faithful.

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Despite the best efforts of the likes of Kurt Nogan (above), Jimmy Case, Steve Foster and on-loan Paul Dickov, memories of the kit were hardly helped by being associated with success. This is even though Brighton eased from a relegation battle in Division Two in the dying days under Barry Lloyd to mid-table mediocrity with Liam Brady at the helm in the New Year.

1993-94homeThe main reason for the cold reception was that it just didn’t look much like a Brighton & Hove Albion shirt. This was especially the case when watching the players from afar as the pinstripes combined to look more like a pale blue. And perhaps lack of success did play a part, in so far as not providing a buffer for the discontent with the design. Although there were some murmurings, fans were able to accept the transition from traditional stripes to all-blue in the 1980s when Albion were a minor force in English football. But with the going getting increasingly tough, such as when Brighton were second from bottom in early December, there was a general sense that supporters wanted a team in traditional Albion colours that they could unite behind.

After one season, this outlandish number was ditched in favour of the kind of kit that was quintessentially Brighton & Hove Albion.

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Bukta yellow away shirt now in club shop

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I had a lovely surprise while walking past the Seagulls Store on Queen’s Road, Brighton, yesterday when I spied this glorious short-sleeved wonder gleaming in the shop window.

Was it an original 1978-80 Brighton away shirt and therefore a display item (i.e. not for sale)? Although it would have been lovely to see an original in person, thankfully, no. Manufactured by Toffs, it turned out that this beauty was a new reproduction that could be mine (or yours) to wear for £39.99. They definitely kept that quiet! It’s neither currently for sale on the Brighton & Hove Albion Seagulls Direct store website nor on the Toffs site. And, in case you’re wondering, and from a 1970s timewarp, not from David Rose Sports either.

Instinctively (and not suspiciously at all, I promise!), I gave the garment the once-over to compare it to the original (well, what I recall of an original, having seen a photo of one on Phil Shelley’s excellent Old Football Shirts site). Sure, it isn’t made of that nasty scratchy material that Bukta shirts of the late 1970s were made out of. And the badge and manufacturer’s logo could have been closer to the collar. But other than that, it’s a very faithful rendition of the shirt Brighton wore back in the day.

And hallelujah! Toffs have finally sorted out my decades-long complaint with the Brighton badge on their Albion shirts having a superflous white and blue ring around the badge. Above, as you can see, there is no annoying blue stroke around another unnecessary white border around the badge. If you wish to be pedantic, you could point out that it’s not quite the shirt that Brighton wore when they clinched promotion to the First Division with a win at Newcastle in 1978/79. During that season, the Brighton yellow shirt had the Bukta lettering but not the buk graphic above:

But you’d have to be super-picky not to want to pretend to be Brian Horton powering a bullet of a near-post header or Gerry Ryan slamming the ball into the Newcastle goal while wearing this shirt in the park. You may even wish to pretend to be Andy Rollings, who in Match Magazine, chooses as the magic moment of his career: ‘Final whistle at Newcastle, when we won promotion to Division One’:

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It’d be getting into dangerous levels of football shirt-spottery to know that it was in 1979/80, the club’s first in the top flight, when the buk appeared above the logotype, just like on the Toffs reproduction. Games when this yellow shirt was worn include the match at Manchester United, when an altercation took place between Seagulls team-mates Eric Steele and Gary Williams. Not really an incident to re-enact in a ‘Phoenix From The Flames’-style, I don’t think. More happily, the shirt was also worn during this 2-0 win at Bolton in January 1980:

As a shirt design, this Toffs / Bukta garment has many things going for it. Just like on the original, the flared collar also added a touch of ’70s panache. The buks down the sleeves always looked great, not least because they resemble a line of seagulls from a distance. In fact, the production quality now is even better than the original sewn-on band where the yellow contrast on the blue buks down the sleeves always seemed too lemony to match the rest of the shirt. Perhaps the overall design would have looked more coherent with a yellow and blue badge, instead of white and blue, although that seemingly slapdash approach (or deliberate retro styling) is now being emulated in the new yellow Brighton shirt for 2013/14.

And, question on supporters’ lips: will the 2014 team emulate the side of the late Seventies and early 1980s? I’m unsure, but if Brighton make it up this time, they may need to exercise caution at times, but not cowardice. And, on the road, they will need to exhibit other positive characteristics associated with the colour yellow, such as hope, optimism and energy, traits the Albion side of 1978-80 had in abundance.

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Random fan photo from the Evening Argus in the 1980s

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I wish I could explain what this photo was all about but sadly it’s become detached from the story in the local newspaper. If anyone knows or would like to guess, feel free to add a comment!

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Great Albion kits: 1985/86 Home

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A much loved home shirt design from the mid-1980s. It was mostly worn with white shorts and blue socks, but even in some home matches, such as the FA Cup 5th Round Replay with Peterborough in 1986, Albion wore this with white shorts and socks. Looked great either way! This shirt design lasted two seasons at Brighton, one with the Phoenix Brewery sponsor and then with the NOBO lettering.

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The thin blue and red stripes on the V-neck collar and shirt cuff were retained from the previous design, as were the classic three white stripes down the sleeves. With those magnificent three bold vertical stripes on the sides of the collar, though, this showed adidas still had striking new ideas to play around with. Perhaps with such a range of elements, it might have looked a mess. Here, though, it is neatly executed and makes for a winning, pleasing combination.

On the pitch, with this home kit, Brighton, under Chris Cattlin, also seemed to have found a winning formula. With Terry Connor and Dean Saunders firing all cylinders up front (even though Justin Fashanu wasn’t), they were pushing for a return to Division One before a slump from late March 1986 onwards sent them to a chastening mid-table finish. The fall cost Cattlin his job.

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Still, the team looked pretty stylish, even as they waved their promotion dreams goodbye! If you look closely, you can see that the badge and the sponsor logo were embossed. Another nice touch! Much more than this, the balance and positioning between adidas logo, club crest and shirt sponsor show a degree of thought and taste that is often missing from many replica shirts nowadays.

Also, I rather love the horizontal pinstripes at the bottom of the shirt – a contrast to the vertical, thinner ones of the previous jersey. The horizontal stripes reprise those of the shirt that France wore during the European Football Championship in 1984 on their home turf. While Steve Penney, Danny Wilson and Dennis Mortimer (below, righteously winning the ball against an opposition player who dared to go for the now outmoded vertical pinstripes!) made immense contributions to that 1985/86 season, there’s no doubt about it: we could have done with Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana in our side!

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Colin Pates in Chewits wrapper circa 1991

colinpatesOne of the worst kit designs in Albion history. Its unveiling at the 1991 Play-Off Final at Wembley to Notts County ensured the Brighton team waved goodbye to their chances of top division football.

On the day, despite hitting the woodwork through Clive Walker, the Brighton side flattered to deceive. Perhaps it was because they were snookered by the five-man midfield that County boss Neil Warnock employed. Or maybe Notts County simply had a psychological edge from facing an embarrassed Albion team dressed up as sweet wrappers. Say what you like about the intricate patterns and unusual hues – it was hardly going to strike fear into the opposition to be dressed like that!

Central-defender Colin Pates had joined Brighton on loan from Arsenal. After finding it hard to crack into the Arsenal side with competition from the likes of Tony Adams, David O’Leary and Steve Bould, he arrived at the Goldstone Ground and was ever-present from his debut in March 1991 to the Wembley final. However, even with Pates’ first division experience and the knowhow of Stefan Iovan, European Cup winning captain of Steaua Bucharest in 1986, they couldn’t stop the Seagulls from tasting defeat.

The trend that continued into the following season with Albion turning into relegation candidates. This shirt – with TSB replacing NOBO as sponsors – was worn on Brighton’s travels during wins at Millwall, Newcastle and Grimsby. However, it wasn’t enough. The Seagulls went down to the Third Division where they at least managed this win at Wigan, courtesy of a cock-up by the Latics keeper.

Nigel Adkins, look away now…

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Rare chewing gum wrapper featuring Brighton

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Would it be churlish to point out how a lot of the ‘facts’ of this chewing gum wrapper are wrong? I’m not sure when this item produced by The Anglo-American Chewing Gum Ltd came out. We didn’t have a combination of shirt, shorts and socks that exactly looked like that. However, I guess it’s the late 1950s or early 1960s judging from the rough approximation of our kit design.

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