Tag Archives: barry lloyd

Robert Isaac interview: Have You Ever Had It Blue?


After getting stabbed by rival supporters and leaving the club you support, the last thing you’d want are injuries, relegation and bust-ups with the boss. But that was the way of things for Robert ‘Bob’ Isaac, a promising defender who helped the Seagulls return to the Second Division in 1988.

As a Chelsea apprentice, he appeared on The Sun front page after he was hurt by Millwall hooligans going to a match. However, there was much better news on the pitch. The Hackney-born youngster played for the reserves aged 15 and broke into the first team in March 1985. It was doubly sweet as he supports the Blues:

‘We lived in Chelsea and my great grandfather went to the first ever match at Stamford Bridge. My family have been going to matches home and away since. I went to see Chelsea play Stoke in the League Cup Final aged six. The hairs on my neck stood up just walking up Wembley Way. I went with my granddad and stood on a wooden stool. Shame about the result!’


By contrast, he tasted victory on his Chelsea debut in the First Division some thirteen years later. His speed and aerial ability helped secure a 3-1 victory at Watford: ‘It sounds soppy but I was welling up in the warm up.’

He did fine but all was not well at Stamford Bridge: ‘The management was losing support of the players. I asked for a transfer as I wanted regular first team football. When I joined Brighton in February 1987 they were in freefall. The dressing room was even more at odds with the manager than at Chelsea. Barry Lloyd dropped Dean Saunders, our only hope of surviving the drop. I found Barry rather rude. He’d blank me in the corridor and make me train on my own.’

Robert missed his team’s two victories at the end of the miserable 1986/87 season and was injured for much of the following campaign when Garry Nelson’s goals lifted the side. Indeed, it took fourteen months for Robert to experience his first victory in an Albion shirt, against Notts County in April 1988. Sensationally, captain Doug Rougvie had been dropped in March in favour of Isaac: ‘I don’t think big Dougie took it well but we’ve seen each other since and he holds no grudges.’

Isaac played in the final six matches, with Albion winning five times to win promotion on the last day against Bristol Rovers to euphoric scenes: ‘The run-in was something else. We felt unbeatable. It was such a contrast from the previous season.’

The following 1988/89 campaign, back in Division Two, Albion got a rude awakening, losing their first eight matches.


This was stemmed with a welcome 2-1 victory over Leeds United but then disaster struck: “I got injured at Leicester. I didn’t feel it until the next day and then it really hit me. My knee just blew up. Come Monday morning I couldn’t even walk.’

In August 1990, Robert was forced to call it a day. Since retiring, he has worked as a chauffeur for the Maktoums, the ruling family in Dubai, before becoming self-employed with his own vehicles.

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Strutting Seagulls in unlikely promotion push

Front row: David Coldwell, Paul McCarthy, Perry Digweed, Nicky Bissett, Brian McKenna, Wayne Stemp, Steve Gatting. Middle row: Larry May, John Robinson, Derek McGrath, Chris Lyons, John Crumplin, Adrian Owers, Gary Chivers, Stuart Munay, Lee Cormack, Ted Streeter. Front row: Malcolm Stuart (physio), Garry Nelson, Mark Barham, Dean Wilkins, Barry Lloyd (manager), Robert Codner, Ian Chapman, Steve Penney, Martin Hinshelwood (coach)

Front row: David Coldwell, Paul McCarthy, Perry Digweed, Nicky Bissett, Brian McKenna, Wayne Stemp, Steve Gatting.
Middle row: Larry May, John Robinson, Derek McGrath, Chris Lyons, John Crumplin, Adrian Owers, Gary Chivers, Stuart Munay, Lee Cormack, Ted Streeter.
Front row: Malcolm Stuart (physio), Garry Nelson, Mark Barham, Dean Wilkins, Barry Lloyd (manager), Robert Codner, Ian Chapman, Steve Penney, Martin Hinshelwood (coach)

The South Coast may not be a soccer hotbed but, as Chris Folley from 90 Minutes magazine reported in 1990/91, Brighton were ‘challenging the town’s apathy with a push for promotion to the top flight’:

As football hotbeds go, Brighton must rate as cold to lukewarm.
Tradition still has a firm grip on the cosmopolitan capital of the South Coast, with a mix of affluent and bohemian lifestyles distracting the locals away from any intense sporting passion.

Until that amiable Scouser Jimmy Melia danced his way to stardom in I983, Brighton & Hove Albion had to regularly take a back seat. Brian Clough briefly woke them up in the late ’70s, but it wasn’t until that famous flight to Wembley that anyone took the Seagulls seriously.

Apart from the two promotions and two seasons in Division One under Alan Mullery, of course.

Even on Cup Final day itself, as the players announced their arrival at the old stadium courtesy of a British Caledonian helicopter, the romance seemed to go too far – perhaps they forgot they were still a First Division club (sic).

These days, the legend of Gordon Smith’s extra-time miss still looms large in Brighton folklore – but more as a joke than a sign of despair.

Meliamania did not last long after the 4-0 drubbing handed out by Manchester United in the replay, and the club has since gone back into its shell.

But all that could change this year, as Brighton once more challenge for a place in the First Division. After last season’s modest effort, many tipped them for relegation this year, but the wise heads at the Goldstone Ground had other ideas.

As the Second Division promotion race opens up, with the top three all dropping crucial points, the Seagulls have suddenly found themselves thrust into the heat of the battle. An impressive 3-1 win at Bristol Rovers on Easter Monday shot them into fourth place, and now, even the town’s Saturday shoppers stop in their tracks when they look at Final Score and realise what’s really happening.

Leading the way this time is Barry Lloyd, a low-profile, lower-division man quite unlike the flamboyant, carefree Jimmy Melia who so personified the great Cup adventure.

Lloyd started his playing career at Chelsea in the 1960s, alongside George Graham, John Hollins and Peter Osgood, but after failing to break into the big time he learnt his trade at Fulham and Brentford as a robust defender and midfielder.

His first taste of management was just as humble – on the famous Huish Park slope at Yeovil Town.
Lloyd came to Brighton as a coach under Alan Mullery, his skipper at Fulham in the 1975 Cup Final side.

The majority of the team stayed on when he took over in January 1987, and with Steve Gatting, Gary Chivers and Dean Wilkins still around. Lloyd is not surprised at this season’s lift-off.

“Without meaning to sound blasé,” he says, “I knew we had a much better squad this year and thought we had a chance. We managed 50 points last year, and with a couple of new signings I thought we could add another 15 or 20 points to that tally.”

John Byrne in action. Did we really mount a promotion bid wearing this?

John Byrne in action. Did we really mount a promotion bid wearing this?

Inevitably, Lloyd refers to his new strikeforce of Mike Small and John Byrne. Their partnership has blossomed this season, with both players looking to make up for their respective periods of wilderness in Greece and France.

“You live or die by your performances upfront,” Lloyd says, eager to vindicate the chequebook action he
undertook at the end of last season.

“I was offered a ridiculous price for John Byrne to start with but I kept in touch because I needed someone like him. And at £125,000, he’s been an excellent buy for us.”

Byrne’s renaissance will delight those fans who like their football played with a bit of style. The Irish striker’s career took a nasty deflection after he briefly donned the famous QPR No.10 shirt once worn by Marsh and Bowles, but a fruitless spell at Le Havre has made him hungry for a second chance – and perhaps even a place in Jack Charlton’s international plans.

But it’s been the nomadic Mike Small who has hit the headlines this season with his powerful presence in the penalty area. Eight years on the Continent, drifting from Standard Liege to Twente Enschede to PAOK Salonika, may make him a great advert for EuroRail but his move home has resurrected his career.

Small already has 19 League goals this season, and armchair fans will remember his contribution in the Cup matches with Liverpool. In the first game he scored and then set up Byrne’s spectacular equaliser, while in the replay he had a perfectly good goal disallowed while the one that counted was miles offside.


The Seagulls were ultimately caught out by Liverpool’s late rally that night, but their confidence was clearly boosted by their performance. To Lloyd’s amazement over 5,000 Brighton fans winged their way to Anfield for the first match – a sure sign that the club was on its way back.

But although over 20,000 filled the patched-up Gotdstone Ground for the replay the Brighton public have yet to be stirred into action by playing Liverpool next season in the League.

“To be honest, we’ve been disappointed with the response, particularly after they made such an effort for the Cup,” says Lloyd.

“Hopefully they’ll be back when the crunch comes.” As you might expect, Lloyd firmly believes nothing will be decided until the last kick. With the three-point system and the play-offs making the Second Division even more of a dogfight, he has wisely chosen to enhance his resources. Colin Pates was recently rescued from the Highbury reserves and put straight into central defence alongside his former Chelsea team-mate Gary Chivers. With Steve Gatting slotting in at left-back, Perry Digweed in goal and Clive Walker still speeding down the wing, there is plenty of First Division experience. Indeed, jokes about ‘Dad’s Army’ taking the Division by storm are already flowing thick and fast.

The over-30s also include transfer-listed striker Garry Nelson. who has scored in the last three games in the three games in the absence of the injured Small, For Gatting, the only remaining member of the 1983 Cup Final team still at the Goldstone Ground, the season has been an unexpected bonus. With brother Mike temporarily out of the cricketing (and tabloid) limelight, he hopes the Gatting name can soon return to the back pages.

“Before the Cup Final, we had a good season in the First Division and that was probably the best side I played in,” he recalls. “But this side compares very favourably. The team is a lot steadier now than it has been for the last two seasons, when we’ve played well but not got the results.

“Barry has mixed it together well this season,” he adds. “We’ve got a lot of good ball-plavers but we’re also playing with a lot more discipline. Realistically, it should be the play-offs, but anything could happen.”

As the final stretch approaches, however, the growing optimism on the pitch is being checked by uncertainties off it. Already, plans have been made for a new 25,000 all-seater stadium outside Brighton to comply with the requirements of the Taylor Report but with debts running into millions, the Seagulls are approaching the First Division on rocky ground.

Yet while the commercial wranglings continue, Lloyd knows the best job he can do is on the pitch. His collection of experienced pros are all looking for that chance to haunt their old enemies, and the younger players are having a fling too.

Both Paul McCarthy and Derek McGrath were in the Irish Under-21 squad which tost 3-0 to England at GrifTm Park, while local tad John Robinson has emerged as a new talent in midfield alongside Dean Wilkins.

“We’ve been very fortunate with the youth policy.” aclds Lloyd, “McCarthy has done very well alongside the senior players and having that strength in depth is very important. We’ve got 27 pros here, and at a crucial stage of the season all of them are going to have a say in the future of this club.”

The young Gulls’ time may yet come, but for the moment it’s the old birds who are strutting along the front with a spring in their step. The sea air must be doing them the world of good. •


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Seagull Lloyd chirps again

In 1988/89, Shoot! magazine told the remarkable story of Brighton’s surprising renaissance under manager Barry Lloyd, a man who took over three months to record his first win as Seagulls boss:


Brighton manager Barry Lloyd currently has the chirpy air of someone who has cheated the gallows – and well he might, for a year ago he was on soccer’s Death Row.

Having taken over an already ailing club in January 1987, Lloyd had to wait 15 matches before The Seagulls finally gave him his first victory in charge – a run which left them firmly anchored at the bottom of Division Two.

By the end of the season, crowds had slumped to less than 6,000 and most of those who bothered to turn up did so only to call for Lloyd’s head as The Seagulls took a swallow-dive into the Third Division.

Yet, 12 months later, the condemned man was a local hero, with nearly 20,000 fans filling the Goldstone Ground as Albion won their last game of the season to claim promotion following a late run.

With hindsight, despite calls for Lloyd to be sacked, he probably had one of the safest jobs in the country in 1986/87. After Mullery was sacked, it appears that Barry Lloyd’s task to the end of the season was to decimate the side by replacing its high earners with reserve players and non-league signings, even if it meant relegation to Division Three, which it did. Hence the introduction of untried players such as Kevan Brown (Southampton), Robert Isaac (Chelsea), John Crumplin (Bognor Regis Town), Richard Tiltman (Maidstone) and Ian Chapman. Unsurprisingly, Albion finished bottom but having slashed the wage bill, Lloyd kept his job.

With Lloyd reflecting on Albion’s regaining of its Second Division status, the Shoot! article continues:

The former Fulham player says: “The Second Division is a tough League – but it should be an attractive one, with plenty of sides with recent First Division experience.”

Last term’s revival came after Lloyd had made major changes at Brighton and one of them proved to be an inspiration.

“Sometimes you get a little break, and Garry Nelson was one of them,” says Lloyd•.


Nelson, who cost £70,000 from Plymouth before the season started, scored 32 goals and proved a revelation as a striker after years as a left-sided midfielder.

Former Southend goalkeeper John Keeley, playing his first full season back in the game after dropping out to combine taxi driving with playing for non-League Chelmsford, was another star performer.


And although Brighton are struggling to reproduce last season’s form, Nelson, Keeley and the experience of Alan Curbishley, Kevin Bremner and Steve Getting – who has signed a new contract – could well have The Seagulls crowing again.

Lloyd had much to smile about come May. Seen by many as certs for relegation, Brighton finished a creditable 19th position in the Second Division in 1988/89, even after a dismal start. Next campaign, with expectations still low, the Seagulls finished one place higher, with Sergei Gotsmanov’s brief spell cementing Lloyd’s reputation as a man with an eye for a bargain. Nobody, not even the most optimist fan with blue-tinted specs, could have predicted that Albion would mount a promotion push the season after, in 1990/91, but they did. In the Play-Off Final in the sunshine at Wembley against Notts County in June 1991, the club stood one game away from Division One. It was at this point that the Barry Lloyd success story ended. The game was lost and within twelve months, after an exodus of key players, the Seagulls were back to third tier football.

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Blimey O’Reilly… Gary’s back at Goldstone!


From the Argus ‘Go For It Seagulls!’ pre-season preview of 1991/92:

There is a touch of Blarney about Gary O’Reilly’s return to Albion on a free transfer from arch rivals Crystal Palace. Believe it or not, the 30-year-old defender played for both England and the Republic of Ireland as a schoolboy.

The reason? Gary’s father hails from Dublin, but his mother is English.

Isleworth-born O’Reilly, who joins a strong Eire contingent at the Goldstone, took his first significant step towards stardom in an Essex Boys team.

Arsenal wanted him on associate schoolboy form, but their North London neighbours, Spurs, snapped him up at the age of 13. Among O’Reilly’s youth team-mates at White Hart Lane were Kerry Dixon and Mick Hazard. Nobody’s fool, he had the offer of a sports scholarship at Columbia University before signing for Spurs as a full pro.

O’Reilly made 45 first-team appearances in five seasons at Tottenham, including the Charity Shield at Wembley against Liverpool and a quarter-final victory in the UEFA Cup over German giants Bayern Munich.

But the arrival of Gary Stevens, ironically from Albion, and the now-retired Danny Thomas, led to him requesting a transfer, even though he still had two years of his contract remaining.

A willing listener, O’Reilly’s mentor during his stay at White Hart lane was Osvaldo Ardiles, now manager at Newcastle.

“Fear is a big killer in the game, and I learned a lot about that from playing against Ardiles in practice games and listening to him afterwards,” he said.

Albion’s then manager, Chris Cattlin, bought O’Reilly for £45,000 in August 1984. Cattlin recalls: “I watched him eight times before signing him, and six times with Tottenham Reserves he had stinkers. But I thought then he had great potential.”

He made 79 appearances in three seasons with Albion, scoring three goals. He was virtually an ever-present for the first two seasons, but injuries, including a worrying hamstring condition, restricted him to just eight games in the ill-fated 1986-87 season.

O’Reilly was a popular figure at the Goldstone with a social conscience. He led a campaign to help youngsters fight drug addiction and was president of the Junior Seagulls.

Supporters were upset when he joined Palace for £40,000 on January 3 1987.

Albion were in dire need of cash at the time, and his move came just two days before Alan Mullery was sacked in his second spell as manager.

O’Reilly played 70 times in his first four seasons at Selhurst Park and scored Palace’s opening goal in the 1989-90 FA Cup Final against Manchester United.

But he did not figure in Steve Coppell’s plans once last season and had just one game on loan with Birmingham City.

Now the versatile 5ft 11in. defender, who has been given a two-year contract by Barry Lloyd, is intent on holding down a regular place in Albion’s line-up.

“There’s no substitute for first-team football,” he said. “There is nothing like playing regularly to give a player the right degree of confidence.”

On returning to Brighton, Gary O’Reilly played in the crazy 5-4 friendly victory over mighty Steaua Bucharest in August 1991:

gary o'reilly

The classy defender then made 31 appearances for the club in the highly disappointing relegation season of 1991/92. He scored three times, including the only goal against Plymouth in November 1991, but a series of unsuccessful knee operations led to him retiring from the game in April 1993. Since hanging up his boots, he embarked on a successful broadcasting career for Sky, BBC and Trans World International’s Premier League international feed.

O’Reilly had underlined his credentials as a man of principle by supporting the fans’ campaign against the Albion board in 1996/97. As he said to the Argus in 2001:

“I recall going back (to the Goldstone) as a broadcaster for the Fans United match against Hartlepool in February 1997. I twisted Sky’s arm to be there because I knew it would be a great day. It was. There were 10,000 fans from Europe as well as all over the country to show support for a club going through bad times. The Goldstone was special. When it was full it was vibrant, full of excitement and possibilities until the last game. After they pulled it down I couldn’t bring myself to go to the retail park they built in its place until I had to take a bike back for my daughter Grace, who was born on a Saturday Albion beat Swansea. When the bulldozers went in it was devastating.”

No wonder in 2009, while on Radio 5 Live’s ‘Fighting Talk,’ when asked “Who is the one person whose hand you would refuse to shake?”, he said “Ex-Brighton and Hove Albion Chief Executive, David Bellotti.”

Well said, Gary.

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Evening Argus Pre-Season Pull-Out: ‘Go For It Seagulls!’

This blast from the past is a spectacular illustration of how high hopes from pre-season can prove wildly off the mark.

Look at these two daft-looking chaps with Argus banner rolled around their heads. They’re clearly imbued with the kind of elevated expectations that hadn’t yet been ground down by decades of disappointment as a Brighton supporter!


In the pre-season to 1991/92, manager Barry Lloyd, although hatless, was also very optimistic about the season ahead. As John Vinicombe wrote:

Albion embark on their fourth successive season in the Second Division after going so close to promotion only two months ago.

This campaign, the Seagulls aim to recover the championship place they lost in 1983 by gaining an entry place outright instead of an ordeal by play-off.

“It is more important now than ever before to get into the First Division,” says manager Barry Lloyd.

“I believe that, in the not to distant future, some clubs will not be able to keep going, and will drop out of the Football League through shortage of money. Very few clubs these days have got any cash to spare, and even some of the big ones are having to count their pennies and make cuts. The First Division is the only real place for us and our supporters, and we will be giving it our best shot.”

Brighton certainly didn’t need the Play-Offs this time around – they were relegated! In 1990/91, the final home league match against Ipswich secured Brighton’s Play-Off position. A year later, the final away match against Ipswich secured Brighton’s relegation, and to rub Albion fans’ noses in it, it was also celebration time for Ipswich Town who had achieved the dream that continues to elude the Seagulls – promotion to the Premier League.

How is that a club that had previously reached the Play-offs, now found themselves relegated? On the outset, many supporters point to what a fluke the 1990/91 season really was as Albion conceded more goals than they scored in the League and yet were almost promoted. Even so, a side that gave Liverpool such a run for their money over two FA Cup games must have had something going for it. Yet once star strikers Mike Small (to West Ham) and John Byrne (to Sunderland) departed the Goldstone in 1991, there seemed to be only one direction for Brighton to head, and that was downwards. The less-than-stellar performances of their replacements Mark Farrington and Raphael Meade did little to halt the slide.

Nevertheless, Barry Lloyd still proved himself capable of unearthing a gem of a signing on occasion, such as with Mark Gall, a £45,000 bargain from Maidstone United, who rewarded his manager with his skill and strength, not to mention fourteen goals. However, when Lloyd was appointed to the Board as managing director in December with the task of the day-to-day running of the club, it most certainly took his eye off what was happening on the pitch. It also led to Martin Hinshelwood’s influence on first-team matters increasing. A recipe for disaster?

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1986/87 Evening Argus Fixture Card



On the day the fixtures for the 2013/14 Football League season are announced (9am), I’d like to share with you an elegantly designed fixture card from the Evening Argus from the mid-1980s. You can also view the one for the 1982/83 season.

Fan anger at the sacking of manager Chris Cattlin was assuaged in summer 1986 by the announcement that Alan Mullery, Brighton boss during the glory years, was back at the helm.

As you can see, the 1986/87 campaign began with an exciting prospect of a south coast derby at home to Portsmouth (yes, it ended 0-0). By the season’s end, Alan Ball had led Pompey back to the First Division (probably the only club where the World Cup winner is considered a managerial success).

Brighton, however, headed in the opposite direction. Mullery was harshly sacked in January 1987 for lacking ‘commitment’ despite doing OK with having virtually no money to spend. Waiting in the wings, Barry Lloyd took his place. Of the fixtures in the second half of this card, only three were won.

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Small, Codner, Wilkins

Here’s Mike Small


Here’s Robert Codner


And here’s Dean Wilkins


All excellent players on their day. All plucked from non-league football or as English players brought back from abroad, hallmarks of a Barry Lloyd signing for the club at the time.

On Saturday 15th September 1990, all three players scored for Brighton in a 3-2 victory over Charlton Athletic at the Goldstone Ground. Small, Codner, Wilkins. Nothing unusual about that.

The following Wednesday, 19th, Brighton played their next match, against south coast rivals Portsmouth, again winning 3-2. And you’ve guessed it, the scorers were… Small, Codner and Wilkins. In that order. I wish I could say the attendance was exactly the same for both games, but that wouldn’t be true!

Then, the next Saturday, Brighton were away to Bristol City, 2-0 down at half-time. Could the miraculous happen again with a stirring 3-2 comeback courtesy of our famous goalscoring trio? Sadly, it was not to be. Although Mike Small scored, Codner and Wilkins didn’t and Brighton ended up losing 3-1.

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Celebrate Red Nose Day with Barry Lloyd and Doug Rougvie


Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day first kicked off 25 years ago in 1988, and who better to launch it than Barry Lloyd and ‘Doug The Thug’?

Sadly, there was not much time left together for this comedy double act as Lloyd dropped his skipper Rougvie in favour of Robert Isaac in the Division Three promotion run-in.

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70-goal tester


At the start of the 1986/87, Ashdown Garage offered the players a new BMW if they could score 70 goals during the course of the campaign. With goalscoring aces Dean Saunders and Terry Connor, backed by World Cup wing wizard Steve Penney and the motivational powers of Alan Mullery, back at the helm, surely this was going to be a possibility?

Unfortunately, cost-cutting at the Goldstone Ground led to many experienced players such as Graham Moseley, Steve Jacobs and Dennis Mortimer leaving before the campaign started, considerably weakening the spine of the side. And equally sadly, it was not an offer of one car each, but one for the team, with the individual driving off with the car being selected by lots if the team was successful.

By January 3rd, the team under Alan Mullery was on a meagre 25 goals following a 2-1 win at Grimsby. Not an amazing season, but acceptable and forgivable given the dire finances of the club. Then, Mullery was harshly sacked even though the side were 15th in the League and comfortably away from the relegation zone.

And you probably know the nightmare under Barry Lloyd that happened next. From early January to the end of the season, Brighton scored a pathetic 13 more goals. Indeed, it took Lloyd over three and a half months to record his first victory as manager, but at least it was a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace. Those three points gained by Brighton in April were enough to deny Palace a play-off place at the end of the season. However, it couldn’t save our campaign. Unsurprisingly, Brighton crashed to the Third Division. This was not how life on the fast lane was meant to be.

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Evening Argus previews the season

I’m sure the Argus has been previewing the football season since time immemorial. And covered every one since the start of the 1990s. However, I don’t think they’ve ever done a job as good as this fondly remembered free magazine-sized publication from the start of the 1989/90 campaign, ditching the usual newspaper-sized format. Mine came with an ‘Evening Argus – Seagulls’ cardboard banner. If only I’d still kept it!


A forty-page special is graced with interviews with cover star Steve Gatting, comeback kid Martin Lambert, Robert Codner and Perry Digweed, a colour team photo centre-spread, pen pictures and photo opportunities with the players in pre-season training, including in that horrid red and white patterned away kit that looked more like a dull pink from a distance.


A full page advert for embarrassing club sponsors NOBO promised the company would be ‘top of the 1st division for display and training aids.’ However, the British Gas ad below with 1970s-style comic is splendidly retro, even for back then.


The only downside is that the magazine is rather heavy on adverts. Even so, they help give an evocative sense of what life was like in the late 1980s, when the local dialling code was still 0273, Garry Nelson had his car sponsored by FIAT, and ASICS were a popular sportswear manufacturer proud to have Barry Lloyd (awkward, insincere smile and all) advertising its football boots.


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