Category Archives: Stickers & Cards

Happy birthday… from Kevin Bremner

Thank you to Stephen Cowdry for scanning this card for us:

birthdaycard

He writes:

Clearing out my son’s room for re-decoration, I came across this birthday card sent to him, as a member of the Junior Seagulls, signed by Kevin Bremner. Must have been 1988 or 1989 – and Rich is now 27!

It’s a lovely design and note that it’s not just the players but the directors wishing young supporters a happy birthday.

Do you have any signed Albion artefacts like this, that you have lovingly preserved since childhood? If so, please get in touch via seagulls@ and then me.com or via the comments section.

bremner1

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Coast to Coaster

These magnificent coaster-sized cards were leant to me by Nick from Fishersgate. I trust no-one was wasteful as to actually used them as beer mats, although that would make existing ones even rarer, pushing up their value, which might be good news for those who own some.

From the text printed on the back of four of these, it appears that they were issued by J. Baines in Bradford, at 82 Oak Lane or 15 North Parade. So proud of his status as ‘Sole Inventor and Originator of the Famous Packet of Cricket and Football Cards’, that his invention was registered at the Patent Office, with ‘Trade mark No. 197161.’ Yes, because obviously football and cricket cards did not exist before his!

In fairness, although the idea of collector cards was not due to his ‘Eureka’ moment, J Baines’ ones were cut in such extravagant shapes of which I have never seen of football cards before. Take this natty blue and beige number:

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This full colour one here, my favourite, is an absolute beauty, and suggests our Argentina-style kit of the 2000s was not a wholly new idea:

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Its reverse has the rather peculiar words:

Once more I wish to remind Boys who go in for my Competitions that all Prizes are given at once. Prizes for Cricket and Football are given all year round. J BAINES’ decision to be final.

Quite what the nature of these competitions were is not clear.

The next two have the abridged name ‘Bright’n&Hove’, with a goalkeeper in a chequered shirt. I wonder if an Albion keeper has really ever worn such a design:

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badges4

Again, there is a special notice on the back of each:

‘If shopkeepers find any difficulty in getting our Packets, kindly write direct to Bradford, when they will get prompt attention. ESTIMATES GIVEN FOR ANY QUANTITY.’

‘Jerseys and Shirts will be sent in all cases if the instructions on Show Bills are strictly followed, as there are several competitions. Please examine your Cards before sending to prevent any disappointment.’

Despite the urgent nature of the messages, I’m still none the wiser as to what J Baines was in the business of. Where they a sports collector card company? A sportswear company? We might not ever know.

Still, the series continued with these two, finally giving the ‘Albion’ part of our club’s name a mention in the gold, vase-shaped design:

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I’m not sure what decade these came out. If anyone would like to make an educated guess, please do.

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Topps Footballer Card Collector’s Album, 1981/82

Just like FKS by the early 1980s, Topps was on the decline. The chewing gum firm’s garish bubblegum cards were a big part of many childhood memories from the 1970s, but its position was now under increasing threat. It was certainly slow get in on the sticker market that Panini was sewing up. In addition, perhaps Topps had also over-stretched itself trying to cover the whole of the Football League rather than focus on the more lucrative First Division. For instance, in 1978/79, it had rather delightfully issued eight playing card-sized ones for Brighton & Hove Albion, who were still a Second Division side. Although, for that, I will always retain a soft spot for Topps!

Fast-forward three seasons, and perhaps to counter the threat from Panini, Topps issued an actual album that you could glue on your cards. Here is the eye-catching cover:

topps1981

As you can see, all cards were now shrunk to cigarette card size. If you were a supporter of Arsenal, champions Aston Villa, Ipswich, Liverpool or Manchester United, you were given a full page of eleven player cards of your favourite side to stick in.

Disappointingly, as Brighton who were one of the smaller fish in the top flight, the Seagulls were only allocated three cards, and had to share their page with the ‘other Albion’, West Brom:

topps1981p3

But spare a thought for Norwich City, who were only issued with one card, of Justin Fashanu! (Actually, they were issued with another, on a 1980/81 top scorers page of all the top flight clubs. And yes, that was also Justin Fashanu!)

As for the actual cards, themselves, the cardboard quality was quite poor (think cereal box card) and the borders often uneven. Here are the Brighton ones. Gregory and Lawrenson both left the Albion before the season, but here they are along with Michael Robinson’s from the aforementioned 1980-81 top scorer page:

topps81-gregory

topps81-lawrenson

topps81-ritchie

topps81-robinson

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FKS’ last hurrah: Soccer 83-84 stickers

Poor FKS. They once dominated the ’70s football sticker scene with fabulously grandiose album titles such as ‘The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars Gala Collection.’ Which suitably sideburned and flared young kid wouldn’t want to be in on that? By 1983/84, probably due to the intense competition from Panini, FKS had reached the end of the line with the rather dubious ‘Soccer 83-84’ series. Following on from their ‘Soccer 82′, it appears that they were trying to cover two seasons’ worth of top flight soccer with this inept collection. Here are the Brighton players:

Graham Moseley

Graham Moseley

Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

Graham Pearce

Graham Pearce

A stray ball seems to be trying its darnedest to try to muscle in on the limelight behind Moseley’s shoulder. But is this really true? As you can see, the grass behind Moseley and Ramsey looks suspiciously unnatural in its greenness, especially as the unaltered green on the side of Ramsey’s arm rather gives the game away. The mixture of the head and shoulders shots of these players and the zoom-in on Graham Pearce’s head bestow an untidy look for this collection. No wonder Chris Ramsey looks uncomfortable.

Steve Gatting

Steve Gatting

Tony Grealish

Tony Grealish

Steve Foster

Steve Foster

Similar gripes with Messrs Gatting, Grealish and Foster here. Given where FKS had appeared to have swiped their photo shot of Tony Grealish from, you can understand why they had to put on a faux-grass background.

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens

Jimmy Case

Jimmy Case

Gary Howlett

Gary Howlett

A nice, genuine photo of Jimmy Case, fresh from the barbers, follows another manipulated one of Gary Stevens. And whoa! An intensely dim shot of a young and rather frail-looking Gary Howlett. Suffice to say, if you met him in a dark alleyway, I don’t think you’d be that scared.

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

Gerry Ryan

Gerry Ryan

Some more bog-standard and doctored head and shoulders shots of some of Albion’s attackers follow. It’s like FKS were trying very hard to emulate Panini here, whereas some of the action shots that the company had previously used would probably have been more interesting to the young collector.

Neil Smillie

Neil Smillie

And then the final insult! Sticking in a shot of a player in a Crystal Palace kit on a Brighton page. Yeah, thanks, FKS! A bit like putting a sticker of Mo Johnston in a Celtic shirt within a Rangers sticker double-spread, I don’t think that would have gone down too well on the south coast at the time.

No need to be too resentful to FKS, though, after a stay that had lasted since the late 1960s. The company had introduced new ideas such as actual albums for affixing your stickers, something we take for granted today. Now, though, the game was up.

soccer83-84

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Albion top trumps

On Wikipedia, Top Trumps is described as this:

Top Trumps is a card game. Each card contains a list of numerical data, and the aim of the game is to compare these values in order to try to trump and win an opponent’s card. For example, in a pack based on cars, each card shows a different model of car, and the stats and data may include its engine size, its weight, its length, and its top speed. The cards may deliver camouflaged learning, or learning through play, as reading about the facts on the cards, and enhancing memory and maths skills through the use of comparing the data, adds an educational benefit.

So, was this the gateway drug to statto-esque nerdism or an exciting, social way to develop knowledge of the world?

Oh, definitely the latter!

If you were playing Top Trumps in the late 1970s, you’d have had a chance to play with not just one, but two Peter Ward. The first features the young rapscallion showing off his dribbling skills in the yellow Bukta away kit, and also looking pleased as Punch in his towelly blue hooded top in the inset…

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Then, curiously, although Ward added another sixteen League goals in 1979/80, not to mention his one international appearance in the close season, his total only went up by fifteen goals here…

toptrumps-ward2

Perhaps, the card came out in mid-April 1980, then.

But just to show that the Albion team wasn’t just the Peter Ward show, Teddy Maybank is also featured on a card…

toptrumps-maybank

In his biography, Ward said:

Teddy was a good player and Mullery loved him. I was struggling to score when Teddy came into the side but I was playing OK. We were only scoring a goal a game, whereas we had been used to getting two, three or four goals every time we played at the Goldstone. The defenders were better and we weren’t getting as many chances, but I didn’t doubt that I would start scoring again.

Finally, boo!

toptrumps-thomas

Here’s a Top Trump card of Mickey Thomas, in his Wales garb, and it’s not surprising considering his short stay at the Goldstone. If points were given for turning out to be poor value for money for us, at £350,000 from Everton, then the undoubted talented but troubled midfielder would have been hard to have trumped. As long as his card didn’t go AWOL…

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Ancient Albion season tickets – from the 1920s and 1930s!

Eighty year or so years ago, if you had bought a season ticket at the Goldstone Ground, you’d have received a card that would have looked something like these. And what exquisite items they are! They’d have fitted easily into your wallet, purse or even your cigarette case… and probably quite easy to lose as well.

Presented with some classy gold lettering, this is the burgundy and green season ticket for the South Stand and Enclosure from 1928/29.

seasonticket1928-29

With a single horizontal fold, they opened up to list the terms and conditions in blue ink, not to mention the signature of Charlie Webb, Brighton boss from 1919 to 1947.

seasonticket1928-29p2

By 1930/31, the colour of the card had changed to a suspiciously Crystal Palace-like red-and-white combination. Having said that, although in the same division, Palace were yet to become arch rivals and, anyway, they played in claret and light blue at the time, so it’s the first card that most matched their colours, not this one.

seasonticket1930-31

seasonticket1930-31p2

As you can see, the price for a season ticket for Ladies was £1 7s 6d (I wonder if this was the same price for men) which, using the thoroughly useful Measuring Worth website, suggests it would be the equivalent to somewhere between £71.33 (using the purchasing power calculator) to £449.20 (the economic power value). Interestingly, the latter value is roughly what my current season ticket at the Amex Stadium costs today.

And what joyous football entertainment was Miss Repington able to enjoy in those two seasons in the Football League Division Three (South)? In 1928/29, Brighton dropped eleven places to fall to 15th position but at least she would have enjoyed some formidable performances in the home matches as the Albion won fourteen of their 21 League matches at the Goldstone. By 1930/31, the team had arrested their decline despite losing then record scorer Hugh Vallance in October (for ‘serious misdemenour’) and surged back up to fourth position. Again, the Albion had turned the Goldstone Ground into a fortress, with thirteen victories being recorded there.

Due to the fact you had to be Champions to get promoted, chances of going up were severely limited. It took another twenty-seven years for this to be achieved by Brighton. I hope Miss Repington got to see it!

(Many thanks to southasp for supplying me with the season ticket cards).

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First Day Cover – 1st Game in Division One, 1979

Paul from Cult Zeros has kindly sent me some scans of a first day cover to commemorate Brighton’s debut match in the top flight, against Arsenal in August 1979. According to British First Day Covers:

First day covers are specially designed envelopes with attractive postage stamps which have been postmarked on the day the stamps were issued by the Post Office.

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How satisfying to see that Eurostile font combined with the round badge and team photo! The crest lends itself rather nicely to being adapted to form the postmark.

The envelope contained an insert that gave a brief history of Brighton & Hove Albion.

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The record attendance still holds and Brighton still haven’t made it beyond the Quarter-Final of the League Cup. However, so much more is now part of our club history.

If anyone else has any Albion first day covers, and able to scan or take a photo, please get in contact.

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Rare chewing gum wrapper featuring Brighton

angloamericanchewinggum

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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Ray Clarke, the striker who turned Peter Ward’s fortunes around

It’s strange that Ray Clarke seems almost a forgotten striker in Brighton’s history. Fans waxing lyrical about the late 1970s speak in high regard for the Peter Ward-Ian Mellor striking partnership that terrorised Third Division defences in 1976/77. They also talk glowingly of Michael Robinson’s swashbuckling centre-forward style and, of course, Gordon Smith’s famous chance in 1983.

But where is the praise for Ray Clarke, the striker that helped turn Peter Ward from a struggling top flight striker into a force in Division One?

Clarke’s 28 goals for Mansfield fired the Stags to the Fourth Division Championship in 1974/75 and his 24 goals the following campaign contributed immensely to keeping the side in the Third Division. This led to a remarkable £80,000 transfer to Sparta Rotterdam in Holland in July 1976, where he was top scorer (with 16 and 24 goals) in each of his two seasons there.

In Marshall Cavendish’s Football Handbook Part 59, there’s a fascinating piece about Ajax in the late 1970s under coach Cor Brom, as the new generation struggled to gain recognition while living in the shadow of the ‘Total Football’ side of Cruyff et al, plus this magnificent photo of Ray Clarke, looking for all the world like a ’70s fashion king in his Ajax get-up.

rayclarkeajax

Londoner Ray Clarke, the player Brom had brought with him from Sparta of Rotterdam, was also the target of criticism inside the club. Clarke, once rejected by Spurs, is a strong and unselfish striker with an excellent scoring record. Last season he finished as Ajax’s top scorer with 38 goals – 26 in the league, six in the cup, six in the UEFA Cup – but during the summer they sold him to Bruges for £200,000.

Clarke spent only one season with Ajax… and early on he had problems adjusting. ‘One problem was that the quality here is so much higher than anything I’ve been used to before,’ he said. ‘Ajax have some fabulous players – Rudi Krol, for example… I don’t think it’s possible to appreciate just how good he is until you’ve played with him. It was only in the last three or four months that I started to play the way I know I can.’ Clarke’s 26 league goals put him second only to European Golden Boot winner Kees Kist of Alkmaar in the Dutch League.

rayclarkebrugesClarke’s spell in Belgium at Bruges was very brief as Alan Mullery snapped him up for Brighton in October 1979 for £175,000. As John Vinicombe wrote in ‘Super Seagulls’:

He spent only five months with Bruges and admitted that it had been a mistake not to go straight back to England. ‘It was quite an upset then for me to leave Ajax. I had heard a whisper they wanted to buy some new players and that they intended to raise the money by selling me. So I thought that if that was their attitude, I might as well accept the offer Bruges had made me.’

Before Clarke’s arrival at the Goldstone, Brighton & Hove Albion were finding life tough in the top flight, bottom after twelve matches, having recently shipped four goals at home to Norwich City. However, as Vinicombe continues:

The arrival of Clarke was a vital injection and his cheerfulness did much to cast off the blues. He was a fresh mind looking at Albion’s situation, and reminded despairing fans: ‘It is ridiculous for people to write Brighton off at this stage. I remember in my second season at Mansfield the team was bottom after 26 games with only 16 points, but in our last 20 games we won 15 and drew five and finished sixth (sic: 11th) from top.’ That was the sort of fighting talk people wanted to hear on the eve of a second meeting with Arsenal.

clarkeforest

Ray Clarke made his Brighton debut in a 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, but scored a consolation goal against League Champions Liverpool in the next match at the Goldstone in November 1979. Then came the match that was the turning point of the season. Albion travelled to City Ground to European Champions Nottingham Forest more in hope than expectation, and pulled off a sensational result, winning 1-0. See the picture on the right for Clarke having a shot under the watchful eye of Viv Anderson and Martin O’Neill. It was Forest’s first home defeat in Division One since they were promoted to the top flight in April 1977.

ward-bassettcardClarke’s strength and selfless play had a profound effect on Peter Ward. Before partnering up with Clarke, Ward was finding it hard against First Division defences. He had only scored twice in twelve Division One matches. Supported by Clarke’s hold up play and service, Albion’s star player transformed into a striker that hit around one goal every two games in Division One, quite a useful asset to have to get Albion climbing up the table. By the end of the season, in the games playing alongside Clarke, Peter Ward scored fourteen times in only thirty First Division matches, an exceptional tally in a team in the lower half of the table. Clarke himself weighed in with eight League goals as Brighton finished in sixteenth position, comfortably safe from relegation. He even managed to score against his old club Mansfield in the FA Cup, something that he finds bittersweet.

clarke-bassettcardIn Matthew Horner’s ‘He Shot, He Scored, the biography of Peter Ward,’ Ward says:

‘Ray was a good player – not at all flash , just a sound, straightforward target man. I liked playing with him and after he joined and Teddy (Maybank) left, we played every game together. I hadn’t had a regular partner since Ian Mellor in the Third Division and it helped to have some consistency. When I played alongside Ray I probably played the best football of my Brighton career – it was a shame that he left so soon.’

Here’s an example of a chance Ray Clarke fashioned for Ward:

rayclarkenewcastleClarke was sold to Newcastle United in July 1980, perhaps as an outcome of seeing a specialist. As an interview with Spencer Vignes in the Brighton v Preston programme from 2004/5 says: ‘The specialist told him it was his hips which, to cut a long story short, were disintegrating. He might have four years left, or just 12 months. It was hard to tell’ and to make things worse Clarke was uninsured so Brighton would not receive a penny if he broke down while with the club. Maybe that is why he was sold so quickly. Perhaps Mullery was determined to buy Michael Robinson anyway. What is clear, however, is that without Clarke as a striking partner, Peter Ward went back to a low scoring rate in the First Division. Partnered with Robinson, Ward got one goal in eleven League matches at the start of 1980/81 before being sold to Nottingham Forest where, again, he was far from prolific. Neither did he hit a rich scoring vein on his loan spell back at Brighton in 1982/83 when he scored just two goals in 16 Division One matches. As for Clarke, his spell at Newcastle was over when he broke down with injury after only fourteen matches in 1980/81. He was just 28 when his playing career ended.

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Pro Set Cards 1990/91

Anyone remember collecting these cards in the early 1990s?

Pro set was a Dallas company founded by Ludwell Denny. It began with a set of cards covering American football from 1989 onwards. Indeed, ‘pro set’ is the name of a formation commonly used in this sport. (After a look at wikipedia, it’s roughly a 2-1-8 formation, I think!). By the early 1990s, ice hockey and golf enjoyed the fledgling company’s card-making ways, as it made great use of the deals it had signed to gain access to extensive photo libraries. It even put together a patriotic ‘Desert Storm’ series based on the Gulf War!

Skipping over the Atlantic ocean, in 1990/91, Pro set also launched a set of 328 cards based on the English Football League, designed to be housed in plastic wallets within an oversized binder. Division One clubs enjoyed thirteen or fourteen player cards each while little Brighton & Hove Albion, together with the other Second Division sides, were allocated two to four player cards.

Here’s the set of three Brighton cards in this series:

proset-91-digweed1

proset-91-digweed

With me having been schooled in the ways of Panini, it certainly was unmistakeable that Pro set cards had a different sensibility, with the head and shoulders shot of the player relegated to the back of the card. The front of the card featured a high quality borderless action shot of the player in the home or keeper’s kit (not in a tracksuit nor away shirt, unlike some other collections I could mention!) within the drama of a match. Drawing from a rich stock of images, you can also be sure that this really was Perry Digweed that you were looking at, with absolutely no photo jiggery-pokery of superimposed heads on other players’ bodies!

proset-91-byrne1

proset-91-byrne

For me, as a school child, having only really known Panini stickers and not having yet clapped my eyes on the Topps’ cards of the 1970s, it was so novel to see that players plying their trade below the top flight were getting their own individual card or sticker. John Byrne had previously had his own individual sticker in Panini Football 86, 87 and 88, although that was, of course, with a Division One club at the time, Queen’s Park Rangers.

proset-91-chivers1

proset-91-chivers

John Byrne is joined by Gary Chivers, his former team-mate at QPR, who played 42 League games during the 1990/91 season. It was a fine time for Brighton devotees to collect these cards, as our team had a great season, reaching the Play-Off Final. Had we beaten Notts County, we’d have had even more incentive to collect during the following season. As it was, I can only remember my brother and I still showing interest in them by 1991/92!

proset

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