Tag Archives: alan biley

Topsy-turvy clash with the Terriers


Just when everything looked like it was coming together, along came the storm clouds to obliterate supporters’ optimism…

Fifth in Division Two in mid-October 1985, promotion hopefuls Brighton endured a miserable spell in the four weeks that followed. After crashing 5-3 at the Goldstone to Charlton Athletic, Chris Cattlin’s injury-hit side were hammered 4-0 at Oldham and then by the same score at Liverpool in the Milk Cup. Suddenly, the season was falling apart. Although hard-won point at the Goldstone against a spritely Norwich kept the Seagulls in eighth position, a sign of poor form was confirmed when second-from-bottom Shrewsbury defeated Brighton 2-1 at Gay Meadow.

Suddenly, the home fixture against Huddersfield Town took on a great level of importance. Town were managed by Mick Buxton, who had guided the side from the Fourth to Second Division following his appointment in October 1978. While Albion’s displays had been dire prior to the match, so it was with the Terriers who had also lost four of their previous five matches and stood in 16th position. Here’s how the Argus described Albion’s 4-3 victory, watched by a gate of 7,952:

According to Cattlin, they [Albion] would not have been flattered if nine had been converted. That’s an understandable exaggeration made after the tumult of a seven-goal thriller, two sendings-off and five bookings, but he has a point.

When Albion had the ball they pushed up constantly, and got more numbers in the opposing box than ever before this term. It was a different story when Huddersfield gained possession, then Albion gave it away rather too easily.

The result was sometimes pandemonium, especially in the closing minutes as Huddersfield strove for a point.

It must have been exciting for the crowd, but managers do not like being put in fear of a cardiac arrest.

Not until the final whistle could you bank on the result, and from Albion’s point of view it was a good one.

Dale Tempest had got the Terriers’ goal in Albion’s 2-1 victory the previous season at Leeds Road. Within three minutes of the kick-off, he was on the scoresheet again, latching onto a long ball to steal between Eric Young and Steve Jacobs. With keeper Moseley coming out, the former Fulham striker finished to put the Yorkshire side ahead.

Goal No.1: Mick Ferguson

Goal No.1: Mick Ferguson

However, the Seagulls stormed back. The maligned Mick Ferguson smashed in Terry Connor’s cross on 20 minutes, before Dean Saunders was fouled in the box by Hudderfield’s Malcolm Brown fourteen minutes later.

Alan Biley

Goal No.2: Alan Biley

Alan Biley confidently stuck home the penalty and so it was Brighton who held the lead at half-time.

When the second-half kicked-off, once more it was the Terriers who were quickest out of the block and striker David Cowling watched his 52nd minute shot take a deflection off Chris Hutchings to give Graham Moseley an unwanted 32nd birthday present.

Eric Young

Goal No.3: Eric Young

Ten minutes later, Eric restored the Albion lead with an impressive header from Steve Penney’s corner. As John Vinicombe in the Evening Argus commented:

It was his first of the season, and must have felt as sweet as a nut coming off that black headband.

The popular accolade was indeed music to the ears of a man whom Cattlin says – indeed we are all of one accord – is going through a bad patch.

Nobody likes to see a player struggle, and it is a tribute to the sporting nature of the Goldstone crowd that they have not honed their barbs towards Young.

Then the match took another interesting turn when the Seagulls’ Mick Ferguson and the Terriers’ Paul Jones were both sent off for a minor dust-up on 67 minutes.

Dean Saunders

Goal No.4: Dean Saunders

With Brighton 3-2 up, star striker Dean Saunders seemed to seal the three points for the Albion on 73 minutes. He capitalised after the otherwise outstanding keeper Brian Cox found Dennis Mortimer’s shot too hot to handle. However, four minutes later, the game was thrown wide open again, as Huddersfield’s David Cowling got his second deflected goal of the day, as his free-kick clipped off the Brighton defensive wall past a stranded Graham Moseley.

After the match, Chris Cattlin wanted Saunders back on afternoons after training for some shooting practice, as he felt the Welsh striker should have got four in this heart-stopping match. Perhaps, he should have looked at the defence as a matter of urgency first!

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Shattered dreams


Having been sold to south coast rivals Southampton a year before, Jimmy Case came back to haunt the Seagulls in the FA Cup Quarter-Final at the Goldstone on 8th March 1986.

In the first half, the Saints seemed to be first to every loose ball, and quickly gained a foothold against a rejigged Brighton side. Chris Cattlin dropped Chris Hutching at right-back, shifted Steve Jacobs from midfield to fill his place, and gave Mick Ferguson his first home start since November 1985. Suffice to say, it didn’t work:

Brighton did make more of a fight of it in the second-half but the two goals in the first half had given First Division Southampton an unassailable lead. A pity that Ferguson and Biley couldn’t have stuck those chances away here:

Chris Cattlin’s programme notes the following week reflected on the emphatic defeat:

“I would like to start this afternoon by saying what a great disappointment it was to us all that we failed to do ourselves justice last Saturday, against Southampton. That disappointment is, I know, shared by all our supporters and I appreciate how you feel. We had done so well to get so far in the competition, with battling displays in all the other rounds, but to be honest, the way we played last Saturday did not justify our presence in the Quarter-Finals. We did not play anything like we can on the day.”

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Alan Biley – a Law unto himself


From the Brighton v Leeds programme from April 1985:

It won’t take Alan Biley long to make friends in the Goldstone terraces and stands. There is always a sense of excitement and anticipation when the player in question is a man of proven ability who loves to entertain the fans.

Ask Alan Biley about his own heroes and he’ll talk enthusiastically about two men in particular: Denis Law and rock star Rod Stewart. Both men won fame as excellent showmen. Biley’s mind sees Law score a spectacular goal and wheeling away, arm aloft, to salute the Stretford End. Or Stewart, strutting the stage with style and confidence, oozing that indefinable quality, charisma.

‘I take enjoyment very seriously,’ he says. ‘By that I mean that I know how lucky I am to earn my money playing the game I love. When I was 10, my only ambition was to become a professional footballer and that has never changed. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I know there are millions of kids who dream of making the grade. I’m one of the lucky ones. Now I’m there, I love to make the most of every day.’

Biley was a small, very mobile striker who made great runs and had a deadly finish. His modelling himself on his idols was not just apparent from his attention-grabbing blonde feather cut hair, but also his Law-like habit of grasping onto the cuffs of his long-sleeved football shirt. A good example is this photo from this Leeds match, as he celebrates triumphantly after scoring in the 1-1 draw (wonderful expression on Terry Connor’s face too!).


After a prolific spell with Cambridge, Biley had first come to the attention of many Brighton fans when his two goals for relegation-bound Derby County had stuffed the Seagulls 3-0 in the First Division five years previously in April 1980. He had a largely unsuccessful spell with Everton after a big £350,000 move in July 1981. After being loaned to Stoke City, the Leighton Buzzard-born striker rediscovered his goal-scoring touch when he arrived at Portsmouth in August 1982. On the South Coast, he hit 51 goals in 105 League games for Pompey.

When he joined Brighton in March 1985 for £50,000, the hope was that his goals would turbo-charge the Seagulls’ return to Division One. Sadly, it was not to be. Four goals in thirteen appearances in 1984/85 was not enough. Here you can see him back at Fratton Park in action for his new club against Portsmouth, losing his footing before a classy lay-off to set up Chris Hutchings’ chance:

Although not on the scoresheet there, Biley did get the equaliser against Grimsby when Brighton stormed back from 2-0 down late on to win 4-2 in the penultimate match of the campaign. In the end, Brighton missed out on promotion by three measly points.

As the next campaign dawned, Biley proved his goal-scoring credentials with a first half header against Nottingham Forest in a famous 5-1 pre-season win, as part of Warm Up ’85:


Despite hitting another quite opportunist goal against Grimsby in the League opener in 1985/86, Biley was in and out of the side as Cattlin had Dean Saunders, Mick Ferguson, Terry Connor and Justin Fashanu also competing to play upfront. Biley endured some very rough tackling at times, such as in the Barnsley away defeat in August. In the end, the extrovert with the larger-than-life persona had a goal ratio with the Seagulls that was anything other than larger-than-life. Perhaps he would have scored more with the protection that referees offer attacking players nowadays. Here he is getting chopped down by England defender Mark Wright after coming on as substitute against Southampton in the FA Cup Quarter Final home defeat in March 1986:

Biley amassed just four League goals in 26 League appearances in his second season with the Seagulls, which effectively spelt the end of his Brighton career, and he was loaned to New York Express and Cambridge before going on to play for Twente Enschede (Holland), Brest (France) and Panionios (Greece).

While some spells (such as his first at Cambridge with whom he was recently voted in their Team of the Century) were much more successful than others, Biley is still fondly remembered at most of his clubs, including ours. If you wish to declare your enduring footballing love for the blonde bombshell, you can get an Alan Biley T-shirt from Cult Zeros.