Tag Archives: andy ritchie

Not exactly pulling up any trees

Here’s Garry Birtles in action for Nottingham Forest in his second spell at the club. I don’t know who that Brighton player is!


The bearded striker first came to the attention of Forest assistant manager Peter Taylor in September 1976, according to the book ‘With Clough By Taylor’:

A friend rang from Burton, saying. ‘There’s a lad from Long Eaton who is going to Manchester United.’ I was thunderstruck: I expect that sort of information from my staff. I phoned my scout for the area who said: ‘Oh, Birtles. Used to be at Clifton as a amateur. Can’t play.’ I fumed, ‘Whether he can play or not, if he goes to Old Trafford and signs, you’ll get the sack.’ Then I phoned back to my contact in Burton and asked him to watch Birtles, who was there that afternoon with Long Eaton. He rang in the evening. The United business is a bum steer. No-one’s in for him but I think the boy has got something; he’s no mug.’

After a month’s trial, Birtles eventually signed for Forest from Gerry Fell’s old club Long Eaton in a £2,000 deal. After a slow start, he eventually forced his way into the first team following Peter Withe’s departure. Memorably, the striker scored the first and created the second in a famous 2-0 victory over holders Liverpool in the European Cup in 1978.

Three months later, Garry tucked home Forest’s third goal against Brighton in a 3-1 victory in the League Cup, after Graham Moseley failed to hold onto Frank Clark’s shot.
Such was Birtles’ progress that forced his way into the England team, making his debut against Australia on 13th May 1980 against Australia – Peter Ward making his international debut against the same opposition later that month.

Such was Birtles’ progress that forced his way into the England team, making his debut against Australia on 13th May 1980 against Australia, just two weeks before Peter Ward’s only full England appearance.

On 22nd October 1980, Clough sold Birtles in a £1.25 million deal to ex-Brighton player Dave Sexton, then boss of Manchester United. It was a fee considerably higher than if he had signed from Long Eaton all those years before. The deal was part of a famous ‘triangular’ transfer that saw Peter Ward join Forest from Brighton for £450,000, and Andy Ritchie arrive at the Goldstone from Manchester United in a £500,000 deal.

All three attackers struggled at their new clubs. Ritchie battled to win over Seagulls’ fans’ disappointment at the departure of Peter Ward. However, Ritchie’s rich vein of form in 1981/82 was such that he was voted Rediffusion’s Albion Player of the Year. Birtles went through a barren spell when he just could not score. It took until the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay against Brighton at the Goldstone Ground in January 1981 for him to register his first goal for the Red Devils:

Brighton also proved lucky for him the following 1981/82 season, and Birtles shook off his Old Trafford despondency to score for Manchester United in a 2-0 victory over the Seagulls in November, with future Albion centre-forward Frank Stapleton the other scorer:




However, Birtles never truly established himself as a Manchester United player, despite being given a fair chance by new boss Ron Atkinson

In 1982/83, the Nottingham-born striker found his way back to the City Ground at a fraction of the original fee. Another misfit, Peter Ward, also returned to Brighton on loan. As for Ritchie, he finished the season back up north, at Leeds United in a straight swop for Terry Connor. He eventually returned to Old Trafford, in a way, when his newly promoted Oldham Athletic side played Manchester United in August 1991.

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Going great guns …but for how long?

The Arsenal v Leeds programme of April 1981 did not hesitate to rub it in:

Our win at Brighton is discussed on the Terry Neill page elsewhere in this programme, but it surely must be something of a football record. In two seasons we have met them no less than seven times, four League, one FA Cup and two League Cup (one replay) and Brighton have yet to score a goal against us, while in the same time we have scored sixteen. Brighton will still be hoping, despite this, that we meet again next season as they try to avoid relegation.

In Brighton’s first encounter with Arsenal in the 1980/81 season, Alan Mullery’s men lost 2-0 at Highbury in November. Here’s Graham Rix slotting in the opening goal 17 minutes from time:


Three minutes later, after a bad pass from Lawrenson to Jacob Cohen, Brian McDermott capitalised to go around Graham Moseley to score the second:


As the Brighton matchday programme noted:

In the eyes of most spectators, and certainly most of the journalists present, the Albion were a shade unfortunate not to get a point.

In the return fixture, in April 1981, at the Goldstone, Brighton lost again, this time to John Hollins’ header:


There was almost a second for the Gunners when the ball hit the crossbar:


So another Arsenal game, another defeat. Yet the Seagulls turned things around the following season under Mike Bailey. After a scoreless draw at Highbury, Andy Ritchie scored Brighton’s first ever goal against the Gunners in a very welcome 2-1 triumph in April 1982.

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Brighton hit City for four… again!

The Mike Bailey era was known for its tight, defensive football. However, when the Southern TV cameras arrived for their last ever two broadcasts from the Goldstone Ground, before TVS took over broadcasting in the region, they were treated to two goal-fests in the shape of Brighton’s matches with Manchester City and Liverpool in October 1981.

Here’s Michael Robinson in action against his former team mates from Manchester:


Brighton had beaten Manchester City, Robinson et al, 4-1 over Christmas in 1979/80. They repeated the scoreline on 3rd October 1981, with the help of the former Preston centre-forward.

After a drab, scoreless first half, Michael Robinson opened the scoring, before Andy Ritchie (2) and Gary Williams put the game out of reach of City:

A fortnight later, the Goldstone crowd was treated to another classic in the rain, this time a 3-3 draw with Liverpool, with another Seagull – Jimmy Case – scoring against his former side.

Note: Just a quick reminder – this blog is finishing in two days time as a daily blog…

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Andy Ritchie and Terry Connor are… men with a mission!

Shoot! magazine lifted the lid on the transfer swop between Brighton and Leeds United in March 1983:


Andy Ritchie believes he has gone up in the world, despite stepping down into the Second Division to join Leeds United from Brighton.

That’s why he had no hesitation leaving the South Coast club, despite the fact that Brighton had reached the F.A. Cup Semi-Final.

“Sure there was a chance of a Wembley appearance but nothing is certain in football,” he said after succumbing to Leeds manager Eddie Gray’s persuasive tongue.

“Missing out on Wembley is a bit of a blow. but as I see it it’s only a matter of time before I’m back in the First Division – with Leeds.” The former England Under-21 striker explains: “Let’s face it – Eddie is a player I’ve always admired. He’s proving a first-class manager and I’m certain he will lead United to promotion next season.

“Ive only played a handful of games with them but I’ve seen enough to realise that there are some highly-promising youngsters in the side – midfielders John Sheridan and recent Scottish signing John Donnelly, for instance.” Gray, who says Ritchie has the potential to become a top-class striker, commented: “I have a high regard for the boy’s ability. I have played against him several times so I know what he is capable of.

“I remember him scoring a hat-trick against us when he was only 18 when he was with Manchester United. He was brilliant that day.

“I only hope he can reproduce that sort of form for us!”

Twenty-two-year-old Ritchie, who was soon among the goals at Elland Road, cost Brighton £500,000 when they signed him from Manchester United and was their top scorer with 14 goals last season.

But this campaign hasn’t seen him at his best, perhaps because he was in and out of the side and managerial upsets did not help.

So he was delighted when Leeds moved for him just before Easter. And the man who played a key role in persuading the Manchester-born striker to move back North was Brighton team-mate Nell McNab, who spent a month on loan with Leeds in mid-season.
“Nell was very impressed and happy during his stay at Elland Road and I think he would have been happy to stay there, had the financial aspect been sorted out satisfactorily,” says Ritchie.

“After I’d flown up to see Eddie Gray I could see why. He has a marvellous knack of getting on •with people and he communicates with players. That’s half the battle of being a successful manager.'” So Ritchie has committed himself to Leeds United’s promotion cause!


But the man involved in the no cash exchange deal, coloured striker Terry Connor, was immediately plunged into a desperate relegation battle with Brighton.

After making his debut at 17, when his early burst of goals helped to keep Leeds in the First Division, Connor went on to make 107 first team appearances, scoring 22 goals.

Always a favourite with the fans, who love a local lad, Connor’s ambition was to.help the club back into the First Division.

“‘I’d never imagined myself playing for anyone else but Leeds,” he said. “I was born and bred in the city. My parents and friends live there, and really Elland Road was a second home to me.

“So it was a bit of a shock when I was told to fly to Brighton to discuss terms with their manager, Jimmy Melia.

“But once the fact had sunk in that Leeds were willing to sell me I decided to throw in my lot with the Seasiders.

“1 knew I wouldn’t be able to play in the F.A. Cup because I am Cup-tied, but I was encouraged by their faith in me and their belief that I could act as a foil for big Mick Robinson.

“Together we ought to be able to get quite a few goals.”

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Great Albion Kits: 1980/81 to 1983/84 Away

Strangely, when Adidas took over the contract to supply the Brighton kit from the 1980/81 season onwards, they did not sell replicas of the yellow away kit.

It took until the 21st century for the club to issue a remake of this polyester wonder for the club shop, but understandably it came without the trefoil on the breast and the classic adidas stripes down the sleeves. However, this was addressed in a Thailand factory somewhere as this effort did the rounds on eBay a few years ago:


Although the collar was not as flared as the original, it was a pretty faithful rendition. The most glaring error is that it was ‘British Caledonian Airways’ for the change shirt, not just ‘British Caledonian’. If you want to be extra picky, the type of the sponsors’ logo was also not in bold, which is how it was in the Thai version. A good effort, nevertheless.

The kit was usually combined with yellow shorts and yellow socks, and very smart it looked too, especially on a sunny day. Sometimes, though, blue shorts and socks were worn instead:


At the time of the launch of the kit, Football League clubs were not allowed to wear shirt sponsors on televised matches apart from local news. This led an incident where ITV could not show highlights of Aston Villa’s match with Brighton in October 1980, as the Seagulls sought to protect their sponsorship interests. As the Brighton v Middlesbrough programme said:

There was controversy before the match when ATV, the Midlands ITV company, wanted to film the game, to show highlights the following evening in a two-minute news sequence. The Albion were however clad in the yellow ‘British Caledonian’ shirts and after a ‘phone call between Alan Mullery and Gary Newbon, the TV presenter, it was clear that the game could to be shown. Albion were well within their rights to refuse to change, other than for a featured game and ATV felt that the regulations would not allow the showing.

Minus a shirt sponsor, the all-yellow kit combination made the cover of Rothmans Football League Players Records 1946-1981:


However, it got its best exposure at the FA Cup Semi-Final between Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday. It even outlasted the home version, as it was worn for a few matches in the 1983/84 when the new white away kit did not provide enough contrast at the likes of Bristol Rovers and Blackburn.

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Stick in the mud

On this day in 1982, Mike Bailey led Brighton to an astonishing 1-0 triumph over Liverpool at Anfield. As Peter Welbourn of the Sunday Express wrote:

The defensive discipline which has been the cornerstone of success on Brighton’s travels emerged triumphant again at Anfield. An untidy goal snatched five minutes before half-time was enough to cost Liverpool vital championship points. Alan Hansen could only watch in despair as Andy Ritchie’s shot struck his knee to skid over the line.

There was further luck for the Seagulls late on when mud played its part. Bob Greaves believed that Liverpool:

…were well beaten by a combination of an own goal and a wicked pitch. Take that moment 13 minutes from time when Grealish committed a horrific back pass to give Rush an equaliser on a plate. The Liverpool man hit the ball towards an empty net from some 12 yards, it suddenly stopped in the mud and was cleared.

Here’s some photos from that pivotal moment:


Keeper Digweed looks helpless here but Foster was able to make the clearance:


No wonder Perry Digweed quipped about the mud after the match: “I think I’ll take a bucketful of this stuff and spread it in the Brighton goalmouth.”


Even so, the good fortune would have counted for little if it wasn’t for the gritty determination that kept the Seagulls in the game despite the second half onslaught by Liverpool. The Evening Argus’ John Vinicombe was moved to write:

For a display of character and defensive ability, Albion’s performance could not be faulted. The spectacle, while being almost entirely one way, was full of excitement and passion as Albion gradually came to terms with the demands imposed Liverpool on visiting sides•. But that is not to say that Albion didn’t stretch Liverpool’s defences and there were times when the European champions were forced to sweat it out. Everybody performed beyond the line of duty in this action packed drama and Digweed, brought in on the big occasion, had an excellent game. To come to Anfieid and play like this was the highlight of Albion’s season so far, and reinforced the view that their best games have all been away from the Goldstone.

Both Steve Gatting and Steve Foster had immaculate matches at the back. Despite almost gifting the home side an equaliser with his rush of blood moment, Tony Grealish’s industry and excellent play also caught the eye in helping to take Brighton to 8th in Division One. Following the game, manager Mike Bailey was understandably delighted:

“The result at Liverpool was one of the most satisfying it is possible for a manager to get. Although we were all very happy after the game and it was a good journey home, I don’t think the players realised quite what they had achieved. Not many teams go to Anfield and come away as winers, and I certainly never did it as a player. It just shows how far this club has come in the last few years. Five years it would have been unthinkable for Brighton to have gone to Anfield for a League game and come away as winners.

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Panini Football 82 – a reshaped Brighton


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.

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Shoot Cover: Michael Robinson (31 January 1981)

Here’s Michael Robinson out-jumping Southampton’s Dave Watson at The Dell in September 1980:


Despite Alan Mullery’s Brighton drawing 1-1 at Southampton on the opening day of the Division Two campaign in 1977/78, by the time both clubs were in the top flight, The Dell provided a much more challenging hunting ground. The Seagulls capitulated 5-1 in 1979/80 owing to some shocking defending. A season later, new signings Michael Robinson (above) and Gordon Smith (below) could not prevent their side going down 3-1:


Fast forward to 1981/82 and Alan Mullery was gone. The open, attacking approach favoured by his sides was also gone, to be replaced by the tighter, more defensive approach of ex-Charlton boss Mike Bailey. The clash at the Dell on 8th December 1981 proved a triumph for the methodology of Bailey’s tactics against the flairniacs across the South Coast. The Seagulls won 2-0. Here’s how Steve Curry reported it in the Daily Express:

Brighton breezed into Southampton last night like a gang of gate crashers. But for a team hoping to stage an exclusive party, the Saints left the door invitingly open for intruders.

The victory that would have put Saints proudly on top of the First Division for the first time in their history never seemed a remote possibility, the occasion proving more inhibiting than inspirational.

The style and the skill that brought them victory over Manchester United last Saturday seemed like a dim and distant dream on this disappointing night.

Brighton, of course, were a different proposition to United, first frustrating Saints with the depth and meanness of their defensive football and then breaking out to steal the vital goals in the second half.

Even so, one did not expect players with the experience of Chris Nicholl, Alan Ball, Mike Channon and Kevin Keegan to buckle under the significance of the night.

Manager Lawrie McMenemy said: “If it had been the FA Cup Final, I would have blamed the occasion. But it was just a disappointing night at the club for everyone.”

But Brighton manager Mike Bailey pointed out: “People tend to underrate us a bit. I think the fact it was a local derby motivated us and I thought we played very well.”

A hardening pitch on a sub-zero night and the inconsistencies of Oxford referee Dennis Hodges are hardly adequate excuses for Southampton’s failure.

A side chasing the championship should have shown more imagination and inventiveness when it was so obvious that the long high ball into the middle was courting frustration.

For centre-half Steve Foster, increasingly an international candidate, picking off the centres like a kid raiding apples from an orchard.

Perhaps Brighton are sometimes excessive in their handling of opposition forward lines but an away record this season of only two defeats underlines the effectiveness of their policy.

Last night they had three players cautioned – Foster, Gordon Smith and Sammy Nelson – and if Foster is to make the grade at the highest level he must not prod referees in the chest with an outstretched finger when the book comes out.

In a goalie’s first half both sides had a scoring chance. Southampton’s Steve Moran and Brighton’s Gerry Ryan both being denied by good saves.

But in the 63rd minute Brighton took the lead from Andy Ritchie, only in the side because of injury to Michael Robinson.


Three minutes later Brighton put the game beyond Southampton’s grasp. Mike Thomas crossed from the left and when Foster’s header rebounded of a defender Steve Gatting prodded the ball home.

In denying Saints their moment in history, Brighton made history themselves by moving up to sixth place in the First Division – the highest they have achieved.

The result actually put Albion in their second highest ever League position, having occupied fifth spot in Division One in August that season, when an Andy Ritchie goal put Wolves to the sword. While one place off, sixth was a welcome place to be and gave rise to the hope of securing a UEFA Cup spot.

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Shoot Cover: Andy Ritchie (29 January 1983)


When Andy Ritchie moved from Manchester United to Brighton in 1980, it broke the the Seagulls’ record transfer fee. Undoubtedly, the Sussex club got the best deal in a bizarre triangular deal that saw Peter Ward move from Brighton to Nottingham Forest and Garry Birtles from Forest to Manchester United. Mike Anderson reports on Ritchie’s prospects:

If Andy Ritchie, one of the most promising young centre-forwards in the country, realises his full potential then Manchester United manager Dave Sexton may regret selling him to Brighton for a “give-away” £500,000.

Brighton manager Alan Mullery sees Ritchie as the perfect striking partner for Mike Robinson, a £400,000 buy from Manchester City.

And although it’s uncertain whether Ritchie can help unfashionable Brighton to become a major force in the First Division, it seems inevitable that he will one day play for England.

Why Sexton would not give him an extended run in the United side this season is a mystery.

Perhaps when United were finding it hard to regain their scoring touch in the early games, Sexton felt he needed someone more experienced than Ritchie.

Yet the 20-year-old striker’s scoring feats made him a firm favourite with the Old Trafford fans.

He blasted two hat-tricks in his occasional first team outings during the last two seasons, to take his goals tally for United to 13 in only 23 full League games before the present campaign got under way.

Admittedly, he could not find the net for United when he was brought into an injury-hit side early this season, but then neither could the rest of the team.

However, it was Ritchie who was dropped.

He said at the time: “lf l can’t get a regular first team place this season and I feel I don’t figure in Dave Sexton’s plans, then I must reconsider my future. To play in the reserves would prevent me making progress so it is a make or break time for me.”

After his transfer, Ritchie commented: “I feel that at Brighton I now have a better chance of establishing myself as a First Division player.'” Other managers apart from Mullery had not been slow to recognise Ritchie’s talent.

Tommy Docherty, who had first signed him for United, had wanted to take him to Queen’s Park Rangers and it was following the comments Docherty made when Chelsea were trying to sign Ritchie that the ‘Doc’ was sacked as Rangers’ manager.

The first manager to make a bid for Ritchie was Aston Villa’s’ Ron Saunders. Last season Saunders offered United £350,000 for him and Sexton would have let the youngster go, but Ritchie turned down the move.

Ritchie recalled: “I decided against joining Villa for several reasons. United were my home town team and I loved it at Old Trafford. It had been my aim since joining the United staff to be a success in their first team. I would have got a large amount of money had I gone to Villa, but I put self-satisfaction before money. I had received a lot of encouragement from the training staff at Old Trafford and I wanted to justify their faith in me by doing well at United. I knew that a transfer would mean adjusting to a side playing a different style of football. I felt that I might just as well spend that time proving I was worthy of a place at United where I was part of possibly the best club in the country. Unfortunately, I found myself playing reserve team football again until Brighton came in for me.”

Ironically, Ritchie, whose big ambition is to play for England, looks a better long-term prospect than United’s most regular striking pair, Joe Jordan and Jimmy Greenhoff.

The 5ft 9in well-built youngster may not be as powerful as Jordan, yet since making his debut for United against Everton three seasons ago he has proved himself to be a more consistent marksman than the Scottish international.

By the end of the 1978-9 season Ritchie had scored 10 goals in only 20 full League appearances, compared with Jordan’s nine goals in 44 games. And when last season finished he had hit 13 goals in 23 full games (plus six substitute appearances), whereas Jordan had taken his tally to only 22 goals in 76 games.

Sexton tended to play Ritchie only as second choice to Jordan, and this pair partnered each other very rarely.

Two seasons ago Ritchie came into the United side against Leeds and scored a hat-trick in a memorable League game, but he was dropped for the next match so that Jordan could return in the F.A. Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

That ended in a draw, with United winning the replay.

The unfortunate Ritchie was substitute for both semi-final encounters, coming on in the second game, but was then left out of the final.

He recalled: “Brian Greenhoff took over as substitute for the final against Arsenal. It was a big disappointment to be omitted and I was upset at the time, but I soon got over it as I realised I had my whole career ahead of me. Watching the final seemed a little strange as I kept thinking I could so easily have been out there playing, but uppermost in my mind was cheering the team on.”

Last season, when Jordan was injured, Sexton played Steve Coppell and Lou Macari as twin strikers in preference to Ritchie, who didn’t come into the side until late in the season against Spurs.

He then scored another hattrick in a 4-1 win – a remarkable feat in his first full League game of the season.

Ritchie is now learning to fit into a new-look Brighton team which Mullery has reshaped by paying £400,000 to Glasgow Rangers for Gordon Smith, and £100,000 plus Andy Rollings to Swindon for Ray McHale. Then there was the £400,000 for Mike Robinson, and another £100,000 enabled Mullery to pick up Israeli internationals Jacob Cohen and Moshe Gariani.

Ritchie could prove to be the best buy of them all. He is not only very talented, but also extremely loyal and he knows his own limitations.

Asked to describe his style of play, he said: “Most of my work is done in the penalty area where I can turn quickly to get in first time shots. I have needed to work on the rest of my play and I feel it is improving.”

The young striker, who used to support Manchester City as a lad and had trials with them before joining United, has already represented England at two levels.

He scored six goals in nine games for England schoolboys and was then picked for the~ England Youth team.

He recalled: “When I was 17, I went to Poland for the Mini World Cup but I suffered a hip injury in the second game and missed the rest of the competition.

“The following year I was selected for England Youth again for the Mini World Cup in Austria. Unfortunately, I went over on my ankle in training and could not make the trip. Now I’m hoping to get into the full England team. Nobody has been able to really establish themselves in the No. 9 shirt due to the fact England are at an experimental stage and it’s up to me to prove I can do the job.”

Meanwhile, Ritchie is hoping he can earn honours with Brighton. But as his new career gets under way, he still remembers the man who gave him his first big break. He commented: “I was signed for United by Tommy Docherty and although I didn’t have any dealings with him because he left the club two months later, I’ll always be grateful to him for helping me get into League football.”


It is fair to say that Ritchie did not show his best form in 1980/81. After hitting five goals in ten games in all competitions from late November to mid-January, he went on a long and barren spell without scoring. While he did a good job in providing Michael Robinson, his own lack of goal touch meant that Alan Mullery gave young Giles Stille a run in the side in February and March.

Even so, who was it who got the decisive second goal against Leeds on the final day of the 1980/81 season? Why, Andy Ritchie, of course, scoring with a confident volley, to guarantee First Division survival. It was the last goal under Alan Mullery’s glorious first spell at Brighton. Ritchie’s England hopes had faded as the season went on, but his chances of playing himself into the national side were back up during the following campaign after enjoying his first pre-season at the Goldstone in the summer of 1981.

Weighed down by expectation and that heavy left collar

Weighed down by expectation and that heavy left collar


The forgotten FA Cup match of 1983


Brighton famously embarked on a glorious FA Cup run in 1983, but it began inauspiciously. Who can remember much of the January afternoon at the Goldstone when the Seagulls were held by Second Division Newcastle, Keegan et al?

Here’s John Vinicombe’s thoughts in the Evening Argus in the aftermath:

A series of mixed blessings attach to Albion’s FA Cup replay at Newcastle on Wednesday.

For a start, they are still in the competition, albeit with a slimmer chance of reaching the fourth round.

At St James’ Park, where there must surely be a crowd of around 30,000, Albion stand to pick up around £20,000 as their share of the gate.

And although skipper Steve Foster’s two match suspension is now advanced by the course of events, he will be eligible for the important First Division match at home to Luton Town on January 22.

There is little doubt to my mind as to which is the most important engagement from the long-term point of view. Retaining championship status is all-important, while the cup has so often proved a flight of fancy for Albion.

Can anyone seriously imagine them winning it, or even reaching the final?

No, no one at the time could have imagined Brighton doing that. How wrong we were all proved to be!

Far from benefiting the side drawn at home, the Goldstone pitch was certainly problematic for Melia’s Brighton side trying to play a more flowing game with three strikers:

Conditions reduced Saturday’s affair to a lottery, although the 1-1 draw was right on balance, and the ground was the same for both sides. But what has happened to that stretch of grass that was once known as Frankie Howard’s pride?

After 15 minutes or so, divots were carved out everywhere, and it was putting an impossible premium on skill asking players to run with the ball, or pass with any certain degree of accuracy.

Newcastle had the better of the play early on with Steve Foster slipping:

An untimely loss of balance let Keegan in and Graham Moseley deflected for a corner when Albion could so easily have gone a goal down. Again Moseley rescued Albion with a flying, one-handed save from Keegan. This was at 23 minutes when Newcastle were much the better side.

But suddenly they were put under pressure when Andy Ritchie’s shot was cleared off the line by John Anderson.

Varadi looked sharp, and so did Chris Waddle who continually pushed up on the left, and had a fascinating duel with Chris Ramsey.

Only 21, Ramsey has the youth to triumph over stamina tests, and Giles Stille also gave Melia what he wanted with non-stop running.

Brighton took the lead on 56 minutes:

When Stille’s cross came over after snapping up a poor clearance, the ball took a slight deflection off Clarke. This found Ritchie on the left in plenty of space. For what seemed an eternity he fidgeted to find a spot, and then appeared to mis-hit the shot. The ball, however, rolled gently past Carr’s right hand.

1-0 to the Seagulls, who were then on top, even gaining their first corner on 65 minutes. Even so, Newcastle battled on and had a penalty claim for a supposed push on Keegan by Gary Stevens but the referee did not award it. As Vinicombe noted:

Plenty of referees would have given a penalty but Tony Glasson hasn’t been on the list for 24 seasons for nothing.

However, Newcastle did hit back a minute later:

In terms of experience, Newcastle have the edge. Apart from Keegan, there is a wily and abrasive Terry McDermott whose 77th minute equaliser capped a shrewd piece of kidology.

When Moseley turned the ball round for a corner, McDonald’s flag kick came to Keegan, and he dummied for McDermott to drive home a beauty.

While appearing to turn it on and off in patches, McDermott was always threatening, a similar sort of role to Case, except Case didn’t score.

Graham Moseley pulled off a great save from Newcastle’s Mick Martin late on, while Stille just failed to connect with a Jimmy Case cross.

When the final whistle blew, it was all-square. A replay was hastily arranged for St James’ Park, where Peter Ward proved keeper Kevin Carr’s master once more, just like in 1979.

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