Tag Archives: barry bridges

A point at Villa

Norman Gall, amongst others, helps Brighton defend a corner at Villa Park in September 1972:


The Division Two match was a reunion of the sides that had gained promotion from the Third Division in magnificent style and to huge crowds in the previous campaign; Villa taking the Third Division championship on 70 points and the Albion as runners-up on 65 points.

Having lost 2-0 at Villa Park twelve months previously, Brighton made a better fist of it here as Peter O’Sullivan’s goal helped Pat Saward’s side to a 1-1 draw. It was the first away point of the season. The match also marked the debut of Barry Bridges:


Brighton stood in 19th position after the result, but were to sink in Division Two, finishing bottom by the end of 1972/73, despite gaining goalkeeper Tommy Hughes on loan from Villa in February. As for the Villans, they found the waters of the Second Division were to their liking. Vic Crowe’s side finished 3rd, one place off promotion back to the top flight, although they were nine points adrift of QPR as runners-up.

Still, it was a magnificent achievement for the Midlands club. A sign of the changing fortunes of the two promotion rivals of 1971/72, came in the match at the Goldstone Ground in January 1973. Alun Evans gave Villa a half-time lead before his side went on to secure a 3-1 victory thanks to further goals by Ray Graydon and Jimmy Brown. The win took Villa from 5th to 3rd. A dispirited Brighton, who scored via a John Brown own goal, had to face up to their twelfth successive defeat, and remained in 22nd place.

Sleeping giants Villa eventually rejoined the top flight in 1975 and, in a rapid revival, Brighton followed four years’ later.

The Seagulls’ first away game in Division One? Yes, at Villa Park in August 1979. But despite losing 2-1, Mullery’s men had the know-how and ability to adapt to playing in a higher division.

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Death threat to soccer star’s family

From the Evening Argus on 30th August 1970:


Police were today guarding the Easthourne home of football star Barry Bridges after he received a threat that his two young sons would be killed unless he paid £5,000. At his detached house in King’s Drive today Bridges, capped four times for England and last season’s leading goalscorer for Queen’s Park Rangers, said the threat had been made in a letter sent to him yesterday morning. “It simply said that unless I paid the money my two sons would be killed. It said I would be getting more details later. So far I haven’t heard any more.

“The letter was typewritten on paper that looks like it was torn out of a notebook. It was very badly typed. I received a telephone call last night but when I answered it the caller did no reply. So I put it down and haven’t heard anything since.

The Bridges have two sons, Mark, aged seven, and Andrew, aged four.

Bridges said that other telephone calls have been made to his house while he and his wife Irena were out. They were received by the children’s many, 16 year-old Sandra Green, who lives in with the family.

He said other calls had been received at the New Wilmington Hotel in Wilmington Terrace, Eastbourne, in which the Bridges have an interest.

“We can’t afford to take any chances. We are keeping the children in for a few days,” he said.

“I think it is the work of young people doing it for kicks. They have read about death threats to Bobby Moore’s wife and Bobby Charlton’s wife: I think they are jumping on the bandwagon. But it’s a bit worrying all the same.

“On the other hand, if it is someone’s idea of a prank then they want their heads tested.”

His Polish wife Irena said if somebody wanted to get hold of the children they would have had plenty of opportunity in recent few days.

She said: “Barry has been busy with football and I have just opened a new boutique so we have not seen much of the children lately. They have been going out a lot while on holiday.”

I’m not sure whether it relates to this story. However, a month later, Bridges moved from QPR to Millwall. I’m unsure whether he moved house. Two years on, in September 1972, Pat Saward signed the ex-England striker for Brighton & Hove Albion, in a club record £29,000 deal. Here he is in action against Aston Villa in a creditable draw during his Brighton debut that month:


Unfortunately, the Albion fans did not see the best of Bridges, although he began to show a great run of form towards the end of 1973/74, before he was released. Subsequently, he had a spell playing in South Africa before returning to Sussex to run New Wilmington Hotel in Eastbourne.


The Brighton brawl! Video – Brighton v Chelsea (FAC) 1973


In 1972/73, Pat Saward’s Brighton were having a horrendous time at the foot of the Second Division, losing ten consecutive League matches. However, there was excitement in the air in the shape of a cup tie at the Goldstone with the superstars of Chelsea.

From a magazine in January 1973:

Brighton and Barry Bridges eagerly await their Cup crunch with Chelsea on Saturday, if only because it gives them the opportunity to forget all about their Second Division troubles.

Albion’s desperate struggle for survival – they are firmly rooted at the foot of the table – will be forgotten at the Goldstone Ground on Saturday as the spotlight shifts to the Cup and Chelsea.

As former Chdsea striker Barry Bridges says: “It will be nice to forget about our League position for a change and just go out on the park and concentrate on one result.

“It’s a tremendous draw for the club and a dream draw for Bert Murray and myself who both started our careers at Chelsea.

“Personaily, it will be nice to see most of the Chelsea lads again. I grew up at Stamford Bridge with Peter Bonetti, Ron Harris and Ossie. It will be great to meet them again even though they are on the opposite side.”

Can lowly Brighton really raise their game and shock Dave Sexton’s men on current League form?

“You can forget about League form in the Cup,” claims Bridges. “It’s the way you play on the day that counts. The Cup has a way of lifting everyone and with home advantage I feel we must have every chance.
“Mind you, I’ve got tremendous respect for Chelsea. They are a fabulous side with allround ability. I’ve still got a soft spot for them and try to see them whenever I’m in town.

“I know our League form has been very disappointing but this is the sort of draw that could really gee us up. A good performance against Chelsea could stoke up a lot of confidence after a lean spell.

“Our big problem at the moment is that we have stopped scoring goals. I’ve only scored a couple of times lately and I’m not too happy about that.

“But goals seem to come in spells for me and it would be nice to break the ice against Chelsea. It would be even better if we can beat them because the directors and manager here have worked very hard for success.

“The potential here is tremendous. When the club was going for promotion last season home gates were over the 30,000 mark. The whole set-up here is geared for success. Even though we are struggling in the League you couldn’t find a better atmosphere.

“There are no chins down just because things aren’t going right. As I said, the folks here deserve success. It’s a crying shame that we’re struggling because the facilities here are second to none.

“Obviously, we need to start getting the right results now before it’s too late. A win against Chelsea could be just the boost we need to get out of trouble in the League. So we’ll all be trying really hard.” The obvious sincerity of Bridges, veteran of over 400 League games and a consistent scorer with Chelsea, Birmingham, Queen’s Park Rangers and Millwall, will be a key factor in this intriguing duel.

And Brighton will be banking on his goal-den touch to give them the shot in the arm they need.

Well, what a humdinger of a match it turned out to be, with two sending-off and some horrendous foul play. A quite incredible atmosphere by the end!


Pat Hilton seals Clough’s first win as Brighton boss

Pat Hilton... Clough's first match winner

Pat Hilton… Clough’s first match winner

After Clough and Taylor took over at Brighton in 1973/74, the club received an unprecedented number of column inches for a Third Division side fighting a relegation battle. Here’s an article entitled ‘Clough miracle wanted… but it will take time’:

Brian Clough and Peter Taylor are not expected to work an overnight miracle on Brighton. But the immediate effect they had on the Third Division club was little short of unbelievable.

Not only did three times the normal gate see Brighton’s first match under the new regime but the players admitted the mere arrival of the two had given them a new lease of life.

More than 16,000 saw Brighton draw 0-0 with York and they cheered virtually every good move made by their team. With that kind of support, Brighton must be on the right road to success.

If that was a triumph for Clough, then so was Brighton’s performance. The man himself was fairly satisfied. He said: “The lads played remarkably well considering it wasn’t an easy match for them. We were all a bit tense. I was delighted with their enthusiasm and courage and this performance has certainly given us something to work on.”

The effect that Clough had in the dressing room was described as “incredible” by Barry Bridges. “I did more running about in this game than I had in the previous 10 matches,” admitted Bridges. “I’m 32 now, but with this chap geeing me up I reckon I can go on playing for several more years. We were a bit on edge before the game and the first thing he told us was to relax. Afterwards he told us he was pleased with the effort we showed and we can work from here and go places. •

“Though I was sorry to see Pat Saward go – he was a great coach – I think Brian’s got what it takes to make us a good side. He’s just what the club have been waiting for.”

Brighton chairman Mike Bamber, who talked Clough and Taylor into joining, says Brighton have acquired: “the best football parmership in the world.” And Bamber added: “We’re hoping for the very best, but we are not expecting them to perform miracles overnight.” But it seems •already that small miracles are about to happen in this South coast holiday resort.

Such an assertion was given weight in the next match against Huddersfield, on 10th November 1973, at Leeds Road, when Brighton stormed back from 2-0 down. Minus the skills of Frank Worthington, the Terriers had slid down two divisions in two seasons, been relegated alongside Albion in a mutually cataclysmic 1972/73 campaign. However, against Brighton, Huddersfield seemed to be running away with it, when Terry Dolan scored on 38 minutes and then Phil Summerhill doubled the margin ten minutes after half-time.

However, the lead was not to last, due to some hitherto unseen Albion resilience. Ken Beamish headed Albion back into the game 25 minutes from the end and Bridges earned the point with a searing shot from the right wing following a pass from the impressive George Ley.

Three days later, Brighton travelled to Walsall for a Tuesday evening match, achieving a morale-boosting victory at Fellows Park in the pouring rain. As John Vinicombe reported:

Albion gave manager Brian Clough his first Division III win at Walsall last night when Pat Hilton headed the only goal of a hard-fought match 12 minutes from time. Said Clough: “They fought very hard. I was delighted with them; they showed a bit of heart.”

A deserved victory saw Hilton with most cause to celebrate… it was his first-ever League goal in 12 appearances (three last season). His header from Lammie Robertson’s free-kick was beautifully placed and crowned a lot of hard work. An unobstrusive player, Hilton ran hard on a number of decoy runs to pull out defenders. Albion’s approach was altogether more skilful than Walsall’s but in terms of effort both teams gave everything.

The goal from man-of-the-match Hilton was enough to move Albion two places higher, to seventeenth in Division Three. With another bumper crowd at the Goldstone expected on the Saturday against Chesterfield, and an easy FA Cup draw against the amateurs Walton & Hersham just announced, things were definitely looking up.

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Back with a bump: Barry Bridges and the premature promotion celebrations


From Brighton v Millwall, September 1972:

“I have played in three losing FA Cup semi-finals – two for Chelsea and one for Birmingham – but the most disappointing game of my career was Millwall’s last game of the season against Preston North End on April 29. We were leading 2-0 and with ten minutes to go someone in the crowd heard on the radio that our promotion rivals, Birmingham City, were losing at Sheffield Wednesday.

“The news spread through the crowd and within seconds everyone in the ground, including the players, knew as well. A defeat for Birmingham would have meant promotion to the First Division for Millwall and we naturally thought we were up.

“The side somehow managed to get through the final ten minutes without conceding a goal to Preston. As the final whistle went thousands of spectators streamed onto the pitch chanting ‘We are the champions’.

“We had our shirts stripped off our backs and were chaired around the pitch by excited fans. But then an announcement was made that Birmingham had beaten Sheffield Wednesday. It had all been a dreadful mistake.

“The four supporters, who had been chairing me off on their shoulders, dropped me. Everyone was stunned and we all had to troop off the pitch all bitterly disappointed and choked.

“It’s difficult to describe my feelings at that moment. I desperately wanted to play First Division football again and so did the rest of the lads. We were all sick.

“If Millwall had won promotion I am perfectly convinced that I would not be a Brighton player today. I don’t know how Millwall would have fared in the First Division but I would still have liked to have been part of their team.

“But that’s all in the past. I am now with Brighton and delighted to be so. I have been extremely impressed with their set-up, the marvellous training facilities, the ground and the grand bunch of players.

“Brighton could certainly become a First Division side. But it requires patience and a lot of hard work. The skill factor is a big thing in the Second Division. But the spirit is right within the club and that’s important.”