Tag Archives: brian bromley

A shock for Villa in the crunch game

Albion's new skipper, Brian Bromley

Albion’s new skipper is the influential midfield man Brian Bromley

Having suffered defeats to Oldham and Bradford in the run up to the clash with Division Three leaders Aston Villa on 25th March 1972, Brighton boss Pat Saward made some brave changes. Out went Stewart Henderson and captain John Napier, and in came Bert Murray and Ian Goodwin. Brian Bromley was installed as the new skipper.

The changes paid dividends, and the promotion push was back up and running thanks to a famous 2-1 victory. Here is how the Sunday Mirror reported it:

Brighton manager Pat Saward bounced to the edge of the pitch at the end of this ding-dong Third Division promotion battle.

And he ordered his Albion troops: “Get back into the middle and take a bow. You deserve it.”

Saward’s tribute to his swashbuckling side was deserved. They fully earned a victory which takes them one step closer to Second Division soccer next season and which dented ambitious Aston Villa’s own title chances.

It was the long, frizzylocks of Kit Napler which nodded bubbling Brighton to victory six minutes from time,

Villa ‘keeper Jim Cumbes should have cut out a left-wing centre from Peter O’Sullivan.

But he missed it, Napier didn’t, and Villa were beaten for only the second time in their last twenty-one League outings.

Villa boss Vic Crowe took defeat with a philosophical shrug of his shoulders. “They plaved out of their skins,” he sald.

“Yet we might well have got a point. Jim Cumbes says the sun got in his eyes when they grabbed that late winner.

“Still, I think we can go top and I don’t care who goes up with us.

“Brighton play Bournemouth next-Saturday, and as far as I’m concerned they can both lose.”

Villa were dodgy at the back. And stodgy up front.

Brighton looked the likelier Championship bet all through.

Said Saward: “Tremendous, tremendous. We tore them apart in the first quarter of an hour of the second-half.”

He was not exaggerating.

In that spell. Villa’s £275,000 centre half Chris Nicholl twice had to scoop what looked like certain scoring-chances off his own goal-line.

The first was from Ken Beamish and that was followed by another from Napier.

But Brighton began tearing Villa apart as early as the sixth minute when Willie Irvine shot them into the lead with as good a goal as anyone will see this Season,

Beamish launched it. John Templeman drove, a magnificent pass with surgical precision diagonally through a floundering Villa defence.

And Irvine finished it off with a searing shot from the edge of the penalty box.

Villa looked like salvaging a point when skipper Bruce Rioch rifled a fifty-fifth minute equaliser which was every bit as good as Brighton’s opener.

Willie Anderson. who looked such a weary Willie until that moment, sent Charlie Aitken sprinting along the left.

The full back’s cross was played back into the middle by Ray Graydon and Rioch met it on the volley to almost burst the Brighton net.

Rioch’s joy was shortlived. He was booked in the the seventy-seventh minute after a clash with rival skipper Brian Bromley.

Referee Norman Burdenshaw had no alternative but to take Rioch’s name.

Others were more fortunate, avoiding a similar fate in this beefy promotion battle.

The Midlands’ moneybags have now taken only one point fronx their last three outings, and the promotion boat is beginning to rock.

But Brighton look if their Second Division intentions are honourable, Seldom has any side have run Villa so ragged.

The Sports Mirror editorial also spotlighted the crucial match:


Hands all those who deserve an ice lolly! Brighton’s team will probably get the freedom of the town’s ice cream parlours after licking Aston Villa 2-1. This happy threesome are Peter O’sullivan, Willie Irvine and Kit Napier after Irvine had fired Br!ghton’s first goal in the sixth minute at sunny Hove. And by the look of him he wouldn’t swap that moment for all the pebbles on the Brighton beach.

Cut open any Aston Villa player this morning and it wiil probably say “Brighton” all the way through.

Villa, with tradition a mile high and just as long on optimism about playing in the Second Division next season, found it was too hot by the seaside yesterday.

Brighton and Hove Albion, to name just one side, have never hit the heights. And apart from one stay in the Second Division, have never reached for them.

Yesterday afternoon Brighton took Villa apart. They won 2-1 with goals by Willie Irvine and Kit Napier, Napier leaving the fans biting their fingers until six minutes from the end when he popped in the winner.

It was a shock to Vllta’s sophisticated system.

Irvine cheekily nosed Brighton in front after six minutes. And it was another fifty minutes before Bruce Rioch put the leaders level.

Villa still head the table but they are now only one point ahead of second-placed Bournemouth who dropped a point at Rochdale.

BournemouttL who have played two more games than Villa or third-placed Brighton, had a lucky escape when Gowan missed a penalty for Rochdale,

Our forecast of next week’s hottest soccer spot must be Bournemouth, Brtght0n are the visitors and they want to cut two more points off that four-point gap between them and Villa.

Eddie Spearritt challenges for the ball with Villa's Ray Graydon

Eddie Spearritt challenges for the ball with Villa’s Ray Graydon

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Think big! Pat Saward wields his baseball bat


Here’s manager Pat Saward showing off a momento from an American trip that went a long way towards changing his football thinking. As he said in Football League Review in 1972:

“I asked a lot of questions from people in the know. They told me you have to think big to get anywhere. We think big. We may be a Third Division team but we all think in terms of being a First Division outfit. If you don’t think big in football you’ll never win anything.”

Saward was a highly respected player with Millwall, Aston Villa, Huddersfield Town and Coventry City before hanging up his boots at the age of 33 to break into management as assistant to Noel Cantwell at Coventry. There his re-education in the game began. On a close-season tour to the United States, he realised the extent to which English football has to catch up on the public relations side. “I learned a hell of a lot out there. They get into a frenzy about the game in America because they’re so involved. This is how I want everyone at Brighton to be now.”

“My big mistake when I came here was still thinking in terms of the First Division. I had a First Division outlook and did not adapt at first to the differing problems of the Third Division. But it was a natural mistake to make. We’ve had no money to speak of for rebuilding. Everyone is looking for the best, aiming for Mount Everest, but you have to adjust your sights. Even so, not every player will do for me. I want players with character, the Maurice Setters type.

“We loaned Brian Bromley from Portsmouth before eventually signing him permanently and it was the best move I’ve made. You know, I look on players in two ways. There are some I feel uneasy about when they get the ball, others I sit back and watch quite relaxed. Brian is one of the latter. He’s an exceptional player, one who instils and builds confidence in those around him. He can do anything I ask for because he has both ability …and character.”


“I realise now how teachers feel when they see all their thoughts and ideas, all their long hours of patient work bearing fruit. Management is a vocation. You get wonderful satisfaction out of moulding players to your ideals. When you see young kids coming through and developing you get a fantastic feeling of satisfaction. It’s great.”

Saward’s positive approach spurred Brighton to winning promotion to the Second Division in 1972, after a season of all-out attacking play that yielded 43 away goals in the League.

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