Taken from a Christmas card issued by the club in 1986/87.
Taken from a Christmas card issued by the club in 1986/87.
When the fixtures were published for 1980/81, this vivid and confident fixture card design must have seemed apt:
Entering their second season in the First Division, Brighton had spent big on Rangers’ scheming attacker Gordon Smith and Manchester City’s hard-working Michael Robinson, both £400,000 purchases. The expectation was that a top half finish really was on the cards, with a rise in attendances to follow helping to pay for Mike Bamber’s spending bonanza.
Little did the club know, but the novelty of the top flight fixtures had worn off after one season. Made worse by the recession, fears of hooliganism and high ticket prices, this caused a financial meltdown of sorts, as Goldstone gate receipts in 1980/81 fell dramatically:
The season started as it would end, with victory at the Goldstone, but 1980/81 was to prove a traumatic struggle for the Seagulls, as form dipped and another relegation battle ensued.
In 1984, Match Magazine issued its first ever album featuring ’70 super colour picture cards’ focussing on great goals and goalscorers. On the cover of this 28-page publication was Jimmy Case’s blockbuster past Bob Bolder in the 1983 FA Cup Semi-Final at Highbury:
If you look at the crowd closely enough, you may even see some familiar faces. It’s a cracking image and one that doesn’t appear to be given much of an airing these days.
Talking of aspects of that match with Sheffield Wednesday that seem to be rarely seen, I wonder how many supporters remember the old-style film recording of the game:
Makes a change from the Big Match Revisited footage that is frequently shown on the ITV 4!
Former England wing wizard Keith Weller, who died in 2004, is considered one of Leicester City’s greatest ever players. In September 1978, he tore the Albion team apart with a scintillating display. The 4-1 victory was the Foxes’ first of the season. It was also Albion’s heaviest defeat since they returned to the Second Division. From the Daily Express:
If Albion were still suffering from the flu germ that forced the postponement of the previous week’s match against Stoke, it was Weller who sent Leicester fans’ temperatures soaring with a vintage display.
He played the key role in Leicester’s first three goals, then capped a first-class display with a goal of his own.
Weller gave warning of what was to come when, after four minutes, he cut past three men and struck a shot over the bar.
Leicester then had to survive a purple patch by Albion, before going ahead after 20 minutes. Steve Kember, who controlled midfield for most of the match, found Weller on the right – and Trevor Christie tucked Keith’s low cross inside the far post.
Eight minutes later, Leicester were two up. Weller won the corner and took it himself. And with the bewildered Albion defence massed at the post, Billy Hughes placed his header just inside the near post.
But Brighton did enough before half-time to suggest that Leicester still had a fight on their hands. Peter O’Sullivan missed a first half sitter, and Teddy Maybank’s strong running caused moments of blind panic in the Leicester defence.
Leicester indeed looked to lose their rhythm until a 57th minute penalty by Hughes put the result beyond doubt.
Again, it was Weller’s good work that created the opening. He seemed certain to score until Mark Lawrenson brought him down.
The usually immaculate Lawrenson had his name take for dissent and Leicester centre-half Steve Sims was also booked for a stiff challenge.
But by then, Leicester were beyond caring. For although full-back Gary Williams pulled one back for Albion with a superb volley 15 minutes from the end, it was then too late to mean much.
And a minute later Weller got the goal he so richly deserved when he pushed a short ball from Christie past the helpless Eric Steele.
Leicester: Wallington, Whitworth, Rofe, May, Sims, Kelly, Weller, Kember, Christie, Duffy, Hughes. Sub: Welsh.
Brighton: Steele, Tiler, Williams, Horton, Rollings, Lawrenson, Towner, Ward, Maybank, Clark, O’Sullivan. Sub: Sayer.
Having won their previous three League games, the Seagulls dropped to tenth following the trouncing. In the Brighton v Leicester City programme earlier on this current season, Alan Mullery provided an interesting postscript to this defeat:
It was a mystery to me why we had performed so badly. On the Tuesday following the defeat, I received a letter saying all the lads had been spotted out in a nightclub in Worthing on the Thursday night. Maybe there was a reason for our poor performance after all and there was going to be hell to pay if it was true. I confronted the lads in a group the next day in training and gave them the opportunity to see me in my office if they were involved.
In the end, Teddy Maybank and Peter Sayer both knocked on the door and admitted they had been at the club, but hadn’t been drinking any alcohol. Both were fined two week’s wages which went to a guide dogs’ charity.
As Nigel’s WebSpace puts it:
Following on from the undoubted success of the Swap cards the Sun followed up in 1971/72 with the ambitious Soccerstamps collection. The Soccerstamps were stamps, rather than cards, and came in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colours. The tokens for Soccerstamps appeared in the Sun each day. The Sun only accepted tokens in lots of six, plus 5p, to get your 12 Soccerstamps by return post.
The stamps were to be mounted in the spaces for them in the 164-page Football Encyclopaedia and Soccerstamp Album (available from newsagents for 10p). The album suggests that you stick them in with stamp hinges. Collectors of these stamps therefore distinguish between those which were (a) never stuck into an album, (b) stuck in with stamp hinges or (c) stuck in as stamps.
With 504 stamps in the collection, Third Division clubs such as Brighton & Hove Albion were afforded three stamps. Here is the team photo stamp:
Captain John Napier and the old style coat of arms also appeared on two smaller stamps:
Despite getting promoted in 1971/72, I’m pretty sure Brighton don’t feature in the 3D star cards that The Sun ran with the following season.
The wind of change blew in 1981/82, and not just for Brighton & Hove Albion. Panini introduced new stickers with a tweaked layout. While the head and shoulder shots remained, the photos now sported rather spatially uneconomical oval frames instead of the standard rectangle. Elsewhere, the one year experiment with two stickers for a First Division club squad photo was abandoned, with team groups reverting back to one sticker.
The Brighton squad was also significantly revamped, under new boss Mike Bailey. Right-back Don Shanks was drafted in while, surprisingly, this was the first Panini collection to feature Gary Stevens in the Brighton double-spread:
New midfielders Jimmy Case and Tony Grealish are featured here, while youngster Giles Stille also appear for the first time for the Albion. Filling the void left by Horton and Lawrenson, all three players enhanced the quantity of facial hair found within the Brighton squad. Up front, Robinson, Smith and Ritchie powered on with a clean-cut Albion strike force:
Of the other teams, Steve Gatting still appears on the Arsenal pages even though Brighton signed him quite early on in the season, in September 1981. Panini clearly didn’t get round to updating their stickers. The Welsh rapscallion Mickey Thomas is also on the Everton spread, despite his ill-starred spell at Goodison Park. His time with Brighton in the same 1981/82 season proved just as disastrous. And, surprise surprise, Peter Ward makes no appearance in the Nottingham Forest pages.
Perhaps that’s fitting. As a sticker collection, Football ’82 was a bit like Brighton & Hove Albion that season: solid, no thrills and not very much flair. All that would change the following season when Panini added a healthy dose of innovation back to its flagship football sticker collection.
You may remember that Football 78 was Panini’s first sticker album covering all the First Division clubs. Strangely, in the coverage of Division Two, Brighton’s team sticker featured the Third Division squad for 1976/77:
In a piece for Shoot! magazine, Alan Mullery gave some insight into how he re-shaped the Albion in his first season at the Goldstone:
I wasn’t in charge at Brighton when they just missed going up last season. But I could still tell everyone was mighty disappointed from the long faces when I took over.
With eight games left – and I was watching Brighton closely last year without, of course, dreaming I’d be their manager within months – Brighton were second and looked certainties to go up. But then they suddenly lost their form at the vital time and won just one of their last eight games. That decided it and they finished fourth, missing promotion by just three points.
The main thing I wanted to know when I took over was how a side could be so good at home and so terrible away. Three of the teams relegated from Division Three last season had better away records so something was wrong somewhere. Brighton’s home record was the best in the Division so we obviously needed some character instilled into the side.
I suppose I changed six positions.
Peter Ward had only played six games last season but he was a regular right from the start this season.
Ian Mellor only played nine League games while Tony Towner was moved farther forward: Steve Piper moved to midfield from the back and I brought in Graham Cross and Chris Cattlin, two highly experienced professionals, to give us some know-how at the back [both were Taylor signings].
I think it has worked well. We are now averaging about a point a game away which is very acceptable. I’m still looking to make the side a better one – just because we’ve been in the top three all season doesn’t mean we’re world-beaters.
We’re not sitting back and saying everything is fine. And there’s no doubt the best time to bring in new players is when you’re at the top of the table, not struggling at the bottom. I want to improve us all-around as a side but I think we’re well on the way to overcoming some of the problems which cost the club promotion last year.
Players like Cattlin, Cross and Brian Horton have the character and fighting instinct to keep working when things are going against them away from home. That’s what I wanted to get into the side and we have benefited from that. Whether we go up is up to us – no one else. One thing is sure – I feel we have more character and a better set up in those crucial away matches this season. And it’s invariably your away results that decide whether you taste success or disappointment.
Brighton had picked up a meagre 14 points away from home in 1975/76 (W4 D6 L13), but turned things around slightly the following campaign with 20 points (W6 D8 L9). It was still not much to shout about. However, allied to the Albion’s astonishing home record where they attained 41 points (W19 D3 L1), and it was enough to seal promotion. No wonder Mullery (below) was so happy:
Brighton fans may have initially balked at getting a sticker album with Crystal Palace’s Gerry Francis on the cover, but I’m sure they got over it!
Besides, Palace’s season was a disaster. They even had four different managers during the course of the 1980/81 season, none that could arrest their slump. Even Ray Wilkins’ side, Manchester United, sacked theirs, ex-Albion player Dave Sexton, at the end of their own disappointing campaign.
And Brighton? It was a watershed season for us too. Potentially Albion’s strongest squad had flattered to deceive. Peter Suddaby had played a major role in 1979/80 but injury meant he never did play in the new all-blue Adidas kit. Mullery resigned at the end of the 1980/81 season, and the reliable John Gregory was another departure, to QPR. While he stayed, Graham Moseley was deeply unsettled, rocked by a loss of form, the signing of Perry Digweed as well, as Mullery’s stinging criticism of the erstwhile number one keeper at the Goldstone:
Interesting to see Mark Lawrenson listed here as a midfielder. He had performed that role admirably in the second half of 1979/80. Would Albion fortunes have been different had he stayed there in 1980/81? He, alongside Ward and Horton, also departed the Goldstone not long after the publication of this album. We are also treated to a rare shot of Peter Sayer in our new fangled Adidas kit. Sayer was an unused sub on the opening day match against Wolves before leaving for Preston North End.
Notable absences here are Perry Digweed, Gary Stevens and Andy Ritchie, all of whom made a significant number of appearances during the course of the season.
This album is notable for the first appearance of team groups being made up of two stickers rather than one. Looking through the album, there are some alignment issues with some team groups, but happily, the Brighton one looks fine.
Second Division clubs were also given the half and half treatment, and it’s possible to clearly see Ray Clarke at his new club, Newcastle United. Even Third Division clubs were covered by Panini at the time, albeit with a single sticker team photo. 15mm tall in Charlton’s team sticker was Mike Bailey. Little did Albion fans know it in 1980/81, he would be man to bring forth a new era to the Goldstone, and a whole lot of new player stickers to collect!
I originally bought this second hand at the Sunday market outside Brighton train station in the early 1990s. I thanked my lucky stars that all the Albion stickers were there. This was years before eBay, so finding someone with a spare Peter Sayer sticker lying around would have been tricky, whereas now it would only take a few seconds…
Looking at the Arsenal pages now, it’s striking that out of the 14 Gunners on display, five would eventually join Brighton (Steve Gatting, Willie Young, Sammy Nelson, Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton). Neil McNab lined up as a Bolton player sticker for the last time, while future Seagull favourite Michael Robinson smiled for his Manchester City photo shoot with a joviality that was not reflected in his unhappy year at Maine Road.
However, it’s the Albion double-spread that really catches the eye!
In these head and shoulder shots, we get to see the bubble perms of Sayer and Ward, but even these are outnumbered by the popularity of moustaches within the Brighton first team, through Lawrenson, Horton, Clark, O’Sullivan, Poskett and Ryan. Curiously, our players here are wearing flared collars with a triangular panel at the bottom, whereas during the season (I’m addressing fellow shirt anoraks, here!) it was open flared collars that were on display, at least for the home kit.
As the season unfolded, keeper Eric Steele gave way to Graham Moseley. Gary Stevens and Steve Foster also played much stronger roles in defence than either Chris Cattlin or Andy Rollings. Sayer, Maybank and Clark would be further casualties as Mullery moved his Panini stickers around his imaginary album to try to find a winning formula. Then, from nowhere (OK, Blackpool in the Third Division) Peter Suddaby took Lawrenson’s spot in defence while the Republic of Ireland international was pushed further forward. He would have taken one of the midfielder stickers, while Neil McNab and Ray Clarke would have been the new arrivals bringing high quality passing and forward play to the Goldstone. Good swopping, Mullers!
With the issuing of Doctor Who ‘first day covers’ earlier this year, the BBC website gave a nice explanation of what this potentially puzzling format is about:
To the uninitiated it may appear a strange obsession. It is the collection of special stamps on the day of their issue displayed on a special envelope, known as a “cover”.
First day cover fans must make sure they buy them on the day. They stick them onto a special envelope and write the address they want it posted to. It can be just one stamp or the entire series.
Crucially, the envelope needs to bear a special postmark that is only available on the day. For the Doctor Who launch, Royal Mail is offering special postmarks in the hometowns of the 11 actors who have played the Doctor.
Once the handstamp has been applied, the letter can be posted to the person. Arriving in the post at the collector’s house guarantees authenticity.
Understood? Yes, Doctor.
The Goldstone Wrap has previously featured a first day cover commemorating Brighton’s debut in the First Division in 1979 against Arsenal.
Thanks to Albion fan and collector Nick Spiller, we are back with five more specially designed Brighton-related envelopes covering significant games.
Having said that, this one from August 1974, in a 2-0 defeat at Peterborough, could hardly be deemed a memorable occasion from a Brighton perspective. Although it was the first league away trip as go-it-alone boss for Peter Taylor, the match itself match hardly figures in the memory bank:
The loss began an appalling run of eight consecutive away defeats for Brighton in Division Three in 1974/75. Away form continued to be poor for the rest of Taylor’s reign, and it took Alan Mullery’s fire and managerial ability to turn this around. Five years on, with this achieved in the Third and Second Division, Albion were now a force in the Football League, gaining promotion twice in three years. This second cover was devised to herald the dawn of First Division football to the Goldstone in August 1979:
Stylistically, though, with its hand-drawn players, it wasn’t far removed from the Peterborough first day cover. By May 1983, however, the curtain had come down on Brighton’s spell as a top flight club. Even so, the club garnered enormous exposure through its appearance at the season’s FA Cup Final, and this included three (count ’em!) first day covers issued.
The first of these is a splendid design promoting club sponsors British Caledonian Airways and marking the famous transportation of the Brighton team to Wembley. It is extremely rare although you will be able to see it on display at the Albion museum at the Amex from next week:
Finally, some thirteen years later, another design was issued to mark goalkeeping legend Peter Shilton, then of Leyton Orient, playing his 1,000th League match, against Brighton:
Again we lost, just like against Peterborough, Arsenal and Manchester United (eventually) before. If superstitious, it may make you ponder if some kind of crazy first day cover jinx affected Brighton in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. It is certainly questionable how much fondness there can be in posting and receiving an artefact that reminds you of results not going your way. With Gordon Smith’s fluffed shot in the first game and then the FA Cup Final Replay in 1983, there is no doubt we already had tears for souvenirs.