Tag Archives: alan mullery

Seagulls lord it at Selhurst Park in 1981

Alan Mullery and two-goal John Gregory

Alan Mullery and two-goal John Gregory

By Easter 1980/81, Brighton were in serious trouble at the foot of the First Division. A dreadful 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough took the Seagulls to 20th position on 11th April. Albion had won just two of their previous 13 League matches. The remaining fixtures were Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Sunderland and Leeds United. However, even four victories in the last four games did not guaranteed survival.

On the eve of the game at relegated Crystal Palace, Albion boss Alan Mullery blasted his side:

“I know I can get the sack if we are relegated. I have been let down by the players, and if I go I won’t be the only one to leave. A lack of basic commitment is the main reason for our current plight. This situation was totally avoidable. I have done all I can this season, but in the end results depend on players. The players of Brighton have just not produced the goods.”

One of the few positives was that their arch rivals from South London were in an even bigger state of disarray than the Seagulls. Nevertheless, Mullery struck a note of caution:

“Palace will raise their game, because they want to take us down with them. There is a great rivalry between the two clubs, and that situation will never change. A draw will not be enough for us, and if the players don’t battle we have no chance.”

An Albion team meeting before the match had Alan Mullery threatening to run the players over if he saw them in the street if they had the club relegated! That, and sticking John Gregory in midfield seemed to do the trick as the Seagulls lorded it at Selhurst Park in an emphatic 3-0 victory:

In the Daily Express it said:

“Brighton, with Mark Lawrenson, Brian Horton and two-goal John Gregory, made Palace look a Sunday parks team.”

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Life’s a riot as Brighton crush Spurs

Here’s Brighton team photo in August 1977, before a momentous Second Division campaign where Alan Mullery’s attacking side proved themselves serious candidates for a second successive promotion:

Back row: Ken Gutteridge (assistant manager), Ken Tiler, Mark Lawrenson, Ian Mellor, Andy Rollings, Eric Steele, Peter Grummitt, Chris Cattlin, Gary Williams, Sammy Morgan, Graham Winstanley, George Aitken (coach); Front row: Tony Towner, Eric Potts, Peter Ward, Brian Horton, Alan Mullery (manager), Steve Piper, John Ruggiero, Peter O'Sullivan, Glen Wilson (trainer).

Back row: Ken Gutteridge (assistant manager), Ken Tiler, Mark Lawrenson, Ian Mellor, Andy Rollings, Eric Steele, Peter Grummitt, Chris Cattlin, Gary Williams, Sammy Morgan, Graham Winstanley, George Aitken (coach);
Front row: Tony Towner, Eric Potts, Peter Ward, Brian Horton, Alan Mullery (manager), Steve Piper, John Ruggiero, Peter O’Sullivan, Glen Wilson (trainer).

On 15th April 1978, Albion overwhelmed leaders Tottenham Hotspur, but not before Spurs hooligans had tried to bring the game to a premature end. Terry Smith from the Daily Mirror reported on this crucial match:

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Referee Alan Turvey praised Spurs’ skipper, Terry Naylor, for the way he tried to calm his fans after they had rioted twice, the second time to try to save their team from a heavy defeat.

The game was delayed for thirteen minutes after spectators had spilled on to the ground with this crucial Second Division promotion match only twelve minutes old.

Spurs fans who stole sixteen cars and burned one when they got to Brighton, started fights early on and local spectators were forced over the barriers for safety.

Turvey stopped the match and sent the players to the dressing rooms. The game resumed 13 minutes later after he said he would play all night to get the game completed.

League leaders Spurs, on their first visit to Brighton had just gone 1-3 down and had Don McAllister sent-off when their hooligan fans rushed the pitch in the seventy-fourth minute, this time to try to get the game abandoned.

But police stopped the invasion and the game continued after another four-minute delay.

Brighton people who refused to let Millwall play one of their ‘banned’ home games at homely Hove, saw ticket touts selling £2.20 tickets for £50 each and heard a constant wall of ambulance sirens in the town.

There were 91 arrests during the day and 83 people injured.

And ex-Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Marshall, a keen Brighton fan, said: “I’ve never seen such scenes in all my life.

“The time has come to give these thugs custodial sentences in establishments akin to wartime glasshouses, rather than holiday camps.”

Brighton manager Alan Mullery, a former Spurs’ star, accused rioting Spurs supporters of attempting to get this promotion battle abandoned.

He said: “Tottenham are a great club but their fans tried to get the match stopped.” Referee Turvey admitted: “If I was honest I would say I was a bit frightened during the crowd trouble. I thought the police did a good job and I must praise Spurs defender Terry Naylor for the way he tried to calm the fans down.”

A senior police officer said: “The trouble started before the game when Spurs fans got in early and occupied the space behind the goal normally reserved for the home fans.”

Brighton took the lead with a solo goal from midfielder Paul Clark after 16 minutes.

Chris Jones equalised six minutes later after a bad goal kick from Eric Steele.

Brighton defender Graham Winstanley made it 2-1 after 43 minutes.

The third goal which killed off Spurs was surrounded in controversy.

Eric Potts, the Brighton sub, claimed the final touch but Spurs argued bitterly that striker Malcolm Poskett had been offside.

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It was tight at the top. Spurs, Southampton and Bolton were all on 53 points with Brighton four points behind, but (just like Bolton) a game in hand over the top two clubs. With four matches to go for the Seagulls, Mullery’s men were hoping for one of their rivals to slip up in order to capitalise. No doubt about it: Tottenham were beatable. The promotion battle really was going to the wire.

Here are some images that Trev Smith has kindly allowed me to use on this site:

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Albion slogan badges

Measuring 35mm x 35mm, here are some beauties from the late 1970s:

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With their fun, informal typeface, they were perfect to help young Seagulls supporters to declare their love and enthusiasm for their side.

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Bedson blasts ‘stupid’ streamer stunt

It’s not just Manchester United’s David Moyes that has had to deal with messages in the sky undermining his managerial reign. Chris Cattlin faced the same issue in November 1985 during Brighton’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City at the Goldstone when a Cessna flew from Shoreham Airport calling for him to be replaced. Here’s how John Vinicombe from the Evening Argus reported it:

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Albion chairman Bryan Bedson today slammed the West Stand season ticket holders who hired an aircraft to advertise their call for a return of Alan Mullery to the Goldstone.

“It was absolutely stupid – I presume people in our stand are supporters, not knockers.

My directors feel the same way. They all said it was a ludicrous thing to do and a complete waste of money.” The plane, hired from Air South at Shoreham, €circled the ground twice just before the Norwich game trailing a streamer bearing the words: “Come back Mullery all is forgiven.”

It cost £200 to hire and 20 West Stand season ticket holders were responsible and went to extraordinary lengths to keep their identities secret. Staff at Air South said the money was paid by a man who insisted thai no name appear on the invoice,

Manager Chris Cattlin did not see the stunt. The canopy of the stand also prevented many occupants reading the message. Those on the terraces who did, gave it a chilly response.

John Vinicombe was also negative about it:

My first reaction to the couple of circuits of the Goldstone as the players came out was what had Mullery to be forgive for. Anyway, the exhortation fell flat. There were boos from the crowd, an odd handclap here and there, and the kite buzzed off. As a piece of agitation, it was a flop.

I had received a telephone call during the morning saying what was in the air and that the object of the tasteless exercise was to draw attention to the directors that Mullery would be welcome back.

Not for one minute do I think the skywriting coincides with the publication of Mullery’s autobiography. Mullery wouldn’t dream of being party to anything like that. He said as much yesterday and sympathised with Cattlin who was a player in his promotion team.

Cool shades for Mullery

Cool shades for Mullery

“I was going to the game,” he said. “But then we decided to visit friends instead. Then early in the evening, a friend came up from Brighton and told me about this aeroplane. I needed that like a hole in the head. I have been in a similar situation myself the night I got the sack from QPR with people chanting for me to leave, was terrible. It is a difficult time for a manager especially when you are doing your best. I feel very much for Chris in this position.

“Somebody must have money to waste, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I found it hilarious when I read about it in all the papers.”

Having come so close to promotion back to the top flight the previous season, Albion looked out of sorts in 1985/86. At the time of the draw with Norwich, they stood in eighth position, six points off a promotion spot. In their previous three matches, a leaky defence had shipped thirteen goals, losing to Charlton (3-5), Oldham (0-4) and Liverpool in the Milk Cup (0-4).

Although only one above the Seagulls in Division Two, Norwich looked a cut above the Albion in terms of quality. Future Seagulls Ian Culverhouse and Mark Barham were mere youngsters then. Yet they were showing promise in a City packed with outstanding players, such as Chris Woods, Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan and Dave Watson (the one who eventually played with Everton). Supported by the potent strike force of Kevin Drinkell and Wayne Biggins, the Canaries then powered up the table, starting a sparkling ten match winning run later that month. Ken Brown’s side were crowned Second Division champions by the end of 1985/86, with an impressive seven point margin.

As for Brighton, Cattlin’s men did rediscover their form, and looked outside bets for promotion, before tailing off towards the end of the season. Cattlin was sacked after Brighton lost 2-0 in the penultimate match at relegation-bound Carlisle. In the summer of 1986, Bedson sought Alan Mullery as the successor. Through the power of suggestion, perhaps the banner was not as big a flop as Vinicombe had surmised. Nevertheless, anger at the banner and the departure of Cattlin still exists to this day.

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The amazing Mullery – Bailey job swop saga

Shoot! magazine ran a fine article in the summer of 1981 over the comings and goings at the Goldstone Ground, where Alan Mullery sensationally quit, to be replaced by Charlton boss Mike Bailey:

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In his eventful five-year spell as manager of Brighton, Alan Mullery managed to steer what had always been regarded as a typical •Third Division club which did not always realise its true potential into the First Division for the first time in the club’s history.

Having inherited a side from Peter Taylor, who rejoined Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest after just failing to take Brighton into the Second Division, Mullery went one better in the first attempt.

And that was only the foretaste of what was to come as in the next season Brighton just missed out on promotion to the top flight.

They achieved this by beating Newcastle 3-1 at St James’ Park in the final League match of the 1978-79 season. But despite Mullery’s confident prediction that Brighton would come through their tremendous test, the last two seasons have been a constant struggle for survival.

Last season, speculation about Mullery’s future at the Goldstone started when he was closely linked with vacant managerial positiom at Crystal Palace and Chelsea.

His resignation last month stunned everybody connected with the club, but chairman Mike Bamber wasted no time in naming Bailey as his successor.

Within a week of Bailey’s appointment Mullery accepted an offer to take over at The Valley and so complete a remarkable managerial swap which took piece as follows.

May 2: Speculation about Mullery’s future as Brighton’s manager continues despite their 2-0 victory over Leeds which assured them of another season in the First Division. “I wouldn’t want to give all this up easily – I like being a First Division manager too much. I’ve got my plans for next season and if the players show the same commitment that they have shown in the last four matches we’ll be a very good side next season,” Mullery commented.

May 5: Mike Bsmber summons Mullery in for talks following – rumours of Mullery being linked •with the vacant managerial job at Stamford Bridge. Mullery himself scotches this possibility and adds that if he felt he couldn’t do any more for Brighton he would walk out immediately.

May 6: After discussing details of Muilery’s new three-year contract (which Mullery had accepted) Bamber refuses to confirm a report that in cash terms it is worth £35,000 a year. “I make a firm point of never discussing wages and salaries. The important thing is that Alan has now agreed to stay which means that we can continue our partnership,” Bsmber commented.

For the next six weeks Mullery’s contract was in the hands of his solicitors, and it was not until the second week of June that there was any indication of the remarkable events which were to follow.

June 8: Four days before leaving for a family holiday in Malta, Mullery had further talks with Bamber and appears to be nearer to signing his contract. But with Brighton £500,000 in the red the talks also centre round a broad policy for next season.

June 12: On the day that Brighton’s fixtures are announced for next season, Alan Mullery ends his connection with the club in dramatic style. At a meeting attended by him, Bamber and two directors, Dudley Sizen and Tom Appleby, Mullery refuses to agree to cuts on his staff. After hi•s departure Muilery stresses that the parting had been amicable.

“We •hook hands-and there’s• no going back on the decision although it’s a sad day for me and for Brighton. Some people will think i’m crazy, but on •matter of principle it was something that had to be done. i’m not interested in slinging any mud about and nobody’s going to get me to say anything against the Brighton
chairman or directors.

It’s been a great chapter in my life and I’ve got some very happy memories. I shell never forget that it w•as Mike Bamber who gave me my first chance in management.

But what happened at the meeting this morning forced me to leave the club.

“I haven’t quit over •a contract or over buying or selling players. The directors and I were together for two and a half hours and made it clear that i was putting myself under pressure by adopting my stance.
But I wouldn’t budge from certain proposals regarding members of the staff. I’m not worried about getting another job nor am I worried about not getting any compensation. All I want now is to get away and enjoy my holiday.” Before leaving for his holiday Mullery applied for the vacant manager’s job at West Bromwich Albion.

July 1st: Mullery finally loses patience with West Bromwlch Albion and accepts an offer from Charlton chairman Mike Gliksten which he describes as “one I would have found hard to refuse in normal circumstances. Now I can’t wait to get started at The Valley,” he added.

With a vacancy at Valley Parade, who better to fill it than the jobless Mullery? Meanwhile, Mike Bailey was settling into the job at hand at the Goldstone:

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Although Brighton manager Mike Bailey has only seen his new club in action on the television end at reserve teem level, he needed no prompting to apply for the vacancy caused by Alan Mullery’s sudden departure from the Goldstone.

His track record – both as player end manager – also impressed Mike Bambor who made no secret that Bailey was the front runner from the 100 applications he received for the job.

“Mike may be relatively inexperienced as manager, but to my mind he proved himself by taking Chadton beck to the Second Division at first attempt last season.

“That and our policy of giving young managers a chance here is why he was first choice from the ten names from which we made the final choice,” Bamber explained.

Even before meeting his players for the first time, Bailey spoke enthusiastically about becoming Brighton’s 12th post-War manager.

‘Obviously coming to •a First Division club was a big attraction, but I’ve felt for some time that Brighton is one of those clubs which has a bit of sparkle which made it all the more pleasing to know that they wanted me.

“You’ve only got to set foot in the club to see that it’s alive, and there’s so much potential here with players like Lawrenson, Robinson and Foster,” he said.

Bailey is also convinced that having survived two seasons in the top flight, Brighton will take a big step forward in helping achieve Bamber’s next aim of bringing European football to Sussex.

But he refuses to commit himself on whether he will employ the same tactics which saw Chariton win ten of their away games last season.

“I think Brighton have done tremendously well in the last five years. For any club to stay in the First Division after being promoted for the first time shows they must be learning what life is all about among the elite.

“It’s difficult to say what tactics I’ll use until I’ve seen the team play”, Bailey, continued, “at the moment I don’t know what their strengths and weaknesses are.

‘I was certainly an attacking player and enjoy that sort of game, which is why we’ll adopt that sort of policy if possible.”

In the end, Bailey can’t have thought much of Albion’s chances as an open, attacking team, and a tight defensive unit proved his way forward as Brighton bored their way up the table under his leadership! Still, it seemed to work for a time on the pitch during the 1981/82 as the Seagulls mounted a bid for a UEFA Cup place. However, poor form eventually cost Bailey his job in December 1982.

As for Mullery, he lasted a season at Charlton where an unlikely period in the upper echelons of the table also had supporters giddy. Indeed, Athletic stood in fifth place as late as 30th January 1982. An incredible achievement for a cash-strapped club. However, just as with Bailey at Brighton, the unexpected run of form also fizzled out and Mullery left for Crystal Palace.

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Weller Weller Weller… oops!

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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.

keithweller

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.

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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.

Two very naughty boys

Two very naughty boys

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That’s entertainment!

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With the 1980/81 season still full of promise, Brighton travelled to White Hart Lane and secured a televised 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur. Here’s how Football Weekly News reported the match on 23rd August 1980, with Albion’s Scottish signing Gordon Smith in fine form:

But for the intervention of Brighton – and their £400,000 cheque – Gordon Smith might well have been parading his considerable talents at Parkhead in the thick of Saturday’s €Celtic-Rangers confrontation.

Instead he was making a virtually unheralded first league appearance in London. And while his old mates in Glasgow were performing quite well without him, there was a sizeable proportion of the 40,000 crowd at White Hart Lane who must have wished him at least as far as Scotland! “Cheap at half the price,” was Alan Mullery’s overworked, and paradoxial, evaluation of his summer signing. Certainly the slim and elegant Scot’s arrival on the south coast has caused little morn than a ripple of interest beyond Brighton’s seafront.

Perhaps £400,000 is something like £1 million short of headline news in these zany days. And Brighton, too, are yet to be considered seriously as First Division competitors – an opinion to which Mullery makes it clear he does not subscribe.

He has never been short of cockney confidence – but after Saturday’s creditable and merited draw at Tottenham it positively oozed from his now more rounded frame.

It was the form of Smith, more than anything, that had given him so much pleasure. “We could have won it in the end,” he beamed. “Gordon scored twice, hit a post and could easily have had a couple more. At the start of the season I said I was expecting 12 goals from him this season. He’s got three in three games now so I think I’ll increase that target to 15.”

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Certainly on a day, ! suspect, when most had come to eye the Spurs donble-act of Garth Crooks and Steve Archibald it was Smith who rather stole their thunder – despite another goal from Crooks.

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And though Spurs ended the second Saturday of the season on top of the First Division they were very nearly upstaged by a Brighton side who will be nobody’s pushover this season.

Tottenham admittedly made it hard for themselves by not capitalising on a splendid first-half display in which Brighton appeared to be only making up the number.

“‘We were dreadful in the first-half, Played like a load of fairies,” was the rather acid interpretation of Mullery.

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Keith Burkinshaw, offering the Spurs view, was almost as emphatic but in praise: “In the first-half we played as well as in any of the three matches so far.”

But he accurately qualified that statement by adding: “We had a lot of pressure but didn’t get in enough shots.”

And that was the trouble and eventually the intricate and often unneccesary patterns carved out were sucked into the defensive trap laid by the magnificent Mark Lawrenson and his able cohorts.

Burkinshaw overstated the severity of a point dropped or perhaps it was a hint to his true frustration, when he said: “It’s always disappointing to lose to a side like that who come to contain.”

Not an assessment which would have found too much favour with Mullery who had already opined: “I told my players at half-time that if you go at their back four you will score goals. We’ve got to believe in ourselves.”

There was no denying that Brighton did push players forward to a greater extent in the second-half and probably the gift of Smith’s goal on the stroke of half-time when Ardiles played him onside was the tonic they needed. They also had the character to recover from a disastrous second goal when Graham Moseley saw Glenn Hoddle’s shot slide through his hands. “My nipper could have saved it,” was Mullery’s verdict.

Tottenham’s commitment to attack will win them many friends this season and indeed with so many artists in their side attack has to be their policy. But manager Birkinshaw, though not wishing to stifle such entertainment, hopes that it might be tempered with just a little more caution.

“Their second equaliser started because we wanted to get forward too quickly. Then a pass from Ardiles to Archibald was intercepted and we were left open,” he said. Open, that is to a final thrust from Smith who scored superbly.

Spurs first three games have produced 13 goals (eight for, five against), which is to say the least well above the national average. At the end of the day, unfortunately, such attacking enthusiasm is seldom rewarded.

As Burkinshaw says: “We get into positions where we tear teams apart, get a goal or two ahead and then get over confident or something. It happened today and it happened at Crystal Palace, where we just held on. We have got to keep it going for 90 minutes.”

For football’s sake let us hope that Tottenham continue to rely on their attacking philosophies and improve on them in the manner prescribed by Burkinshaw… that’s entertainment.

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ITV cameras were there to record Smith at the top of his game, with the unheralded Ray McHale getting an assist:

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It all adds up to success for maths wizard Peter Suddaby

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From Shoot! magazine in the summer of 1980:

When a player is given a free transfer by a Third Division club, it invariably signals the end of the soccer road. For Peter Suddaby, the ‘free” handed to him by Blackpool last season meant the start of a new career in Division One with Brighton.

Peter’s been around the League scene for quite a while, but mainly in Division Two and Three with the Tangerines. At 30, he had no right to expect he’d be playing at Anfield and Old Trafford, apart from the odd ‘dream” Cup-tie.

Brighton manager Alan Mullery struggles for superlatives when speaking of Suddaby. “‘He may not be a big name,” says the Seagulls boss, “But Peter does it for me week in, week out. I know I can rely on him to turn in a good performance.”

For Suddaby, the First Division is a long way from the days of ten years ago when he wondered whether to make soccer his career or pursue and academic career.

He says: “‘1 hadn’t really thought too much about becoming a professional. Although I was born in England, most of my schooldays were in Wales and I spent three years at Swansea University. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics.

“I’d virtually decided that my future was as a teacher and I attended training college in Oxford for a year. During that spell I played as an amateur for Wycombe Wanderers in the Isthmian League.

“Wycombe are one of the top non-League clubs and scouts from the Football League are always at their games. I played for England as an amateur and I was obviously aware that I was under the spotlight.

“Brian Lee, Wycombe’s manager, kept me informed and told me Blackpool were interested. I signed for them as an amateur in the summer of 1970 and played a few games towards the end of 1970/71 when they were relegated from Division One.

“Looking back, I have no regrets apart, possibly, that I didn’t join a League club a couple of years earlier. On the other hand, I am happy that I finished my education. University life taught me a lot and developed my character.

“I don’t know what I’ll do when I finish playing. At the moment I’m just happy to be back in the First Division.”

Suddaby is just one of an evergrowing number of players who have been snapped up from non-League teams. Even his Brighton team~mate, Peter Ward, was bought from Burton Albion after being spotted by Peter Taylor during his spell at the Goldstone Ground,

The former Blackpool skipper was a major factor in Brighton establishing themselves in the First Division after a shaky start.

“We have enough good players to build on what we did last season,” says Suddaby. “We’ll all be a year more experienced and for many it was their first taste of Division One.

“The club think big and I’m delighted to be part of their success. I didn’t think I’d ever play in the First Division again, but now I’ve been given this chance I mean to make the most of it.”

Unfortunately, a slipped disc in May 1980 halted Suddaby’s progress. He was eventually released a year later, without playing part in the 1980/81 season. After six matches for Wimbledon, the central defender exited the League scene to teach maths at the American School in Uxbridge. He also coached and played for Isthmian League side Hayes.

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Meridian TV: Goodbye Goldstone

Bill Archer gives the show a touch of the surreal

Bill Archer gives the show a touch of the surreal

Yesterday on North Stand Chat, a user called The Great Gatsbt answered a request by posting the infamous hour-long special on Brighton’s plight, on Sunday 9th February 1997:

It makes for remarkable viewing. As Foster’s Headband remarked:

Bellotti and Archer were on telling the usual lies and a few very irate fans. Tony Millard, John Vinnicombe, Atilla, Paul Samarah, Alan Mullery, Mark Lawrenson, Gerry Ryan all had their say and Ivor Caplin who proved that both Archer and Bellotti to be lying about a supposed planning application they had put in, but Caplin informed the programme this had already been refused.

Here is an extract from Stephen North and Paul Hodson’s ‘Build a Bonfire’ (p.166-167) about the show:

WARREN CHRISMAS: We’d all had such a great time at Fans United and everyone was still buzzing on the coach going over to Meridian to record the programme. We weren’t made to feel very welcome and it was a bad programme. It was bad PR for Albion supporters, it just didn’t go right. At the beginning of the programme Geoff Clarke says there will be plenty of opportunity for Albion’s fans to ask questions, and there never was and before we knew it, it was over and it wasn’t until it was over that everybody started to get really angry.

PAUL SAMRAH: Fans United on the Saturday was a brilliant day – the Sunday, the ‘Goodbye Goldstone’ debate on Meridian TV, was a disaster. We went in there rather naively thinking that all the facts surrounding the furore about the club will be explained in a balanced view and it wasn’t. Dick Knight was not going to attend because Bill Archer wouldn’t attend. Well, to our surprise Bill Archer was there, David Bellotti had the cheek to turn up and also arrived with his wife which was even more galling because in our negotiations with Bellotti he’d asked us to refrain from any verbal or other attacks on his wife and we naturally assumed that, really, she would take a back seat.

Regrettably things got out of hand and we didn’t get our case across in a professional way and it ended up being a shouting match and I was glad the programme ended when it did because I think we could have done our cause an awful lot of harm.

Bellotti is brilliant in front of the cameras, he’s a superb guy in an interview – he can answer a subsidiary question and miss the main question.

Archer came across as a nice guy sitting in a studio in Liverpool.

As soon as I came out of the debate I rang Dick Knight and said, ‘Did you know that Archer was appearing?’ and he told CEDR because it was a CEDR agreement that they wouldn’t go. Driving back the 60 miles from Southampton we felt cheated, we felt hijacked and the most annoying thing was that we knew it was down to us. It wasn’t anybody else really that had let us down, it was ourselves that let ourselves down.

LIz COSTA: The ‘Goodbye Goldstone’ programme was a total triumph for Archer and Bellotti. And this having taken place a week after Bellotti had said to us, ‘Please leave my wife alone’, he brought her into that studio. She had nothing whatsoever to do with that programme – she had no input, was not expected to have any input.
Archer was there with a patch over his eye, we were told, because he had corneal problems. The neutrals, the people who didn’t really know what was going on or had chosen not to take any notice, must have thought, ‘What the hell are the supporters on about? Archer and Bellotti are so totally feasible.’ Well, that’s how they bloody wriggled their way in in the first place, by being feasible.

TONY FOSTER: To some extent we were stitched up on that – as far as I’m concerned so was Dick Knight and the consortium. Things were edited, we had to re-do quite a bit and at the end of the programme re-record certain bits that probably didn’t come across on the programme.

PAUL SAMRAH: I am afraid it was the low point of our campaign.

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‘Evil’ Paul Clark plays ketchup

Malcolm Poskett was criticised for not following a poor Birchenall back pass into the net

Malcolm Poskett was criticised for not following a poor Birchenall back pass into the net

It was not just any other spring Saturday morning on 21st April 1979. Brighton were within sight of promotion. Three games, including the day’s match at Luton, separated them for Division One, as reported in Football Handbook in ‘One Stop from Division One’:

At Brighton station there’s a blue and white queue filing on to the ‘Seagull Special’. There are no beer cans, no early morning drunks. These are, they claim, ‘the best behaved supporters in the land’.

Suddenly a murmur of excitement disturbs the quiet. Cat, Whizzo, Sully, Nobby, Tot, Leo… are all walking alongside them on the platform. To anyone outside the close confines of the club, these men are Chris Cattlin, Peter Ward, Peter O’Sullivan, Brian Horton, Graham Winstanley, Peter Sayer and the rest of the Brighton first team.

On board the train, some play cards, some read, some just listen to the radio and look out of the window. They’re keyed up, but confldent. At East Croydon a cluster of fans tdisplays a flurry of derisory gestures. But then this is Crystal Palace country…

At Clapham Junction Alan Mullery and assistant manager Ken Craggs come on board to ironic cheers from the team. ‘Oh no, he’s not still wearing his Marks and Spencer shoes is he?’ It’s a standing joke. Mullery wears the same suit and shoes for every match, home and away.

Outside Luton station the team stands to one side while the police escort the line of Brighton supporters which snakes its way past us. As they disappear down the road a chant of ‘Clark is E-vii’ goes up. Paul Clark is the young Brighton ball winner. When Albion played Luton earlier in the season Paul Fucillo’s leg was broken in a challenge with Clark.

lutonp1

If Clarky is wondering how the Luton fans are going to react to that incident he soon finds out. As the teams are announced over the tannoy at the ground there is mass booing at the mention of his name, and when the Brighton team emerges from the tunnel a Luton fan tips tomato sauce over his head. Just what you need before a vital promotion match.

Brighton’s nerve ends are showing in the first five minutes of the game and Maybank and Sully have a shout at each other. Gary Williams hits a simple pass into touch and his captain, Horton, gives him the palms down, ‘calm down’ sign. Two old sweats, Alan Birchenall and Bob Hatton, organise the Luton side.into some promising moves.

Clark ‘the tank’ is playing in low gear, his usual aggressiveness blunted by the crowd’s reaction to the Fucillo incident. Their hysterical shrieking every time he touches the ball seems to have subdued him. There are none of his usual earth-removing runs through the middle as he looks to play safe, obvious, square passes.

Brian Horton bellows at his team and claps his hands for more effort all round. Clark slips the ball to Maybank, takes the return and almost before the boos are out of the home supporters’ mouths tonks a left-foot drive just wide of the post with the keeper struggling. Donaghy, the Luton number four, panics on finding himself directly up against Ward. He yells ‘Kirk, Kirk’ – and right-back Kirk Stephens scuttles back to help him out.

But the momentum dies. Ricky Hill shrugs off a challenge from Sully and crosses the ball from the right. Alan West shoots tamely but as goalkeeper Eric Steele bends to gather the ball Gary Williams sticks out a toe and deflects it past him for an own goal.

Gary Williams had  disappointing game - an own goal and subbed in the second half.

Gary Williams had disappointing game – an own goal and subbed in the second half.

Brighton are on the rack. At the end of 45 minutes those two promotion points look a long way away.

After three minutes of the second half the ball falls to Ward in the box. He takes his time, tees up and right foots it past the keeper, but Brighton’s first shot on target is booted off the line. Within a minute Luton are clean through at the other end. For a split second it looks all over, but Steele rushes out to get an arm to the shot and the ball loops wide of the goal for a corner. Brighton are still alive – but they’re living dangerously.

On the hour a Luton defender appears to handle in the box. Brighton players swarm round referee Clive Thomas but he ignores their appeals for a penalty. Horton stands, hands on head, unable to believe it.

Striker Poskett was brought on in the second half

Striker Poskett was brought on in the second half

Mullery throws on striker Poskett for full-back Williams. All or nothing now. Birchenall tries to calm the Luton side with a back pass towards his own goal, but it slides under the advancing keeper. Poskett follows the ball but stops running when it looks certain to dribble into the net. The Brighton players’ arms are in the air saluting the ‘goal’ as the ball drifts against the inside of an upright.

‘You’re staying down with us’
Poskett realises to his dismay that it’s not going to go in but Donaghy is fractionally quicker off the mark to beat him to the ball and knock it to safety.

Horton is booked. Nobody knows why. ‘You’re staying down with us…’ The Luton fans revel in Brighton’s despair.

Five minutes to go and the First Division is a million miles away. Brighton get a free-kick. Maybank has a word with Horton and wanders away. Horton’s pass finds him on the left side of the penalty area. He checks, holds, picks his spot and drives it into the right-hand corner of the net.

The crowd sang 'Good Old Sussex by the Sea' when Teddy Maybank equalised.

The crowd sang ‘Good Old Sussex by the Sea’ when Teddy Maybank equalised.

Horton clenches his fists and the veins stand out on his neck as he screams for that last little bit from his team. Gerry Ryan risks the back of his legs by taking the ball to the corner flag for a classic piece of time wasting, but as Luton boot the ball out of the ground for the third time it’s clear that they’ll settle for the draw.

At the final whistle the players scurry down the tunnel. Relief floods through the dressing-room.

‘Well done, Teddy boy. The King.’ Chris Cattlin applauds Maybank’s goal. ‘I told you never to fluster, my son,’ Maybank is nonchalant. Then: ‘I caught it really sweet. I haven’t hit one of them since I was 17.’

Suddenly the hollering dies and a hush descends as the other results come out of the tranny. Mullery stands arms folded and straight-faced. Hoots and jeers greet the results of their promotion rivals, but Sunderland and Stoke have done well. The pressure hasn’t eased.

Now for the post mortems. Poskett’s miss: ‘He should’ve followed that ball in.’ Mullery is critical. The turned-down penalty: ‘Definite penalty. The ref was looking at it.’ Horton is certain.

‘What did he book you for Nob?’ Lawrenson asks him.

‘Facial expression.’

‘No.’

‘Yeah. Facial expression,’ Horton assures him.

‘Was it one of your special looks Nob?’ ‘Yeah, show us.’ The rest of the side request a Horton grimace. He obliges.

‘Good job it wasn’t Tot, he’d have been sent off.’

‘Tot’ Winstanley smiles a toothless smile.

Not a pretty sight…

Silent reflection
As the train draws away from Luton the blinds are pulled down so that if stones are thrown at the windows by rival fans the glass will not spray all over the place. The mood is quiet on the journey back. Not the abject gloom which would have accompanied a defeat but silent reflection on the fact that in a 42-match season the dividing line between success and failure can be almost nonexistent. Last year they missed promotion by goal difference. Will today’s draw be enough at the final reckon up? Surely fate would not be so cruel a second time round.

It wasn’t.

Back on track... manager Mullery and skipper Horton share a joke on the way home.

Back on track… manager Mullery and skipper Horton share a joke on the way home.

With this result, Brighton dropped down to second place, one point behind Stoke City on 53 points. Quite remarkably, the Albion had amassed the same points total, after forty matches in 1977/78. What an amazing level of consistency displayed by Mullery’s men. Their next fixtures were Blackburn at home and then Newcastle away. No one knew it at the time but a win and a draw would see them through…

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