Thanks to Nick Spiller for lending me these marvellous items.
A pair of badges from the late 1970s:
…some discs from 1979/80:
…and yet more discs, this time from 1980/81:
In Part 60 of Marshall Cavendish’s ‘Football Handbook’ in the late 1970s, there is a superb account of Brighton’s First Division debut against Arsenal on the opening day of the 1979/80 season:
From the Fourth Division to the First in 14 years – that’s the Brighton & Hove Albion success story. Handbook went behind the scenes for Brighton’s baptism of fire against FA Cup holders Arsenal, and discovered how nerves and lack of experience played a big part in the Seagulls’ day-one disaster…
August 18, 1979 should have been the greatest day in Brighton & Hove Albion’s history–their first match ever in Division One. Unfortunately, Arsenal were to spoil the celebrations…
Before the match the team meets in the usual hotel. The old brigade who clinched promotion for Brighton chat noisily, while the new boys – like John Gregory, bought in the summer from Villa – smile nervously on the edge of it all.
Peter Ward sits alone and bleary-eyed. He has been up all night while his wife gave birth to their second daughter.
There’s a studied air of calm about the Brighton squad, but the prospect of making their First Division debuts has several of them inwardly buckling with nerves.
This, and the fact that FA Cup holders Arsenal are the visitors, has given everyone the flutters. All the Gunners’ players are familiar to the Brighton lads. Arsenal receive enough press exposure and TV coverage for a team-talk to be almost unnecessary. Alan Mullery concentrates on morale.
‘They’ve only got two feet, same as you. They might pass the ball better than Second Division sides, but they also let teams play which Second Division teams don’t do. We’re not going to respect anyone in this League – we’re going to chase, fight and tackle.’
Mullery to Maybank: ‘Ted, I want you back in our area for corners. I don’t care how tired you are, you’ve got to get back to knock that ball away with your head.’
Before they board the coach that will take them to the Goldstone Ground, Mullery tries one last piece of basic psychology. ‘Now listen. We know them, but I’ve just been talking to their physio, Fred Street, and they haven’t a clue what to expect from us.
‘You beat Arsenal today and you’ll believe in yourselves for the rest of the season.’
As the coach nears the ground, the jitters begin to surface again. Maybank senses the mood and tries to defuse it with a joke. ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic,’ comes his Corporal Jones impersonation from the back of the bus.
Inside the ground, the atmosphere is electric: a pipe and drum band march past the brand new stand, and then the Albion players emerge in their ‘civvies’ to walk around the pitch and acknowledge the fans’ tumultuous applause.
Ten minutes later they re-emerge. This time it’s for real – and within minutes Brighton’s First Division career has begun. After 60 seconds Talbot and Horton tangle and the free-kick to Albion bobbles tantalisingly around the Arsenal box. Ryan latches on to it, wriggles through and swivels to send in a left-footer which the shovel-sized hands of Jennings tip away at full stretch.
Three minutes later it’s Ryan again. This time the toe-end of Willie Young’s despairing lunge relieves the pressure. The Brighton crowd scream their support. Although Ryan yet again comes close, Arsenal are starting to settle. Their offside trap is beginning to frustrate Mullery’s men and, ominously, the Rix-Brady shuttle service is starting to roll down the left.
Then, inside the space often bewildering minutes, Brighton’s dreams come crashing down around them. First Stapleton receives from Sunderland to crash a 20-yarder past Eric Steele; before Brighton have time to reflect on the seeming injustice of it all, Arsenal make it two – from Brady’s freekick, Young’s header drops to Sunderland, who nods in from a yard out.
By half-time Brighton are dead. Rix lofts a pass through the middle. Sunderland delays his run and then sprints past Rollings and scoops the ball over Steele. The keeper gets a palm to it but the ball still drops into the net; 0-3.
As Albion troop in disconsolately at the break, Mullery tells them, ‘You’ve lost the game. Now get out there and start again with a clean slate…’
But it’s all gone flat. Only the jigging of the Arsenal contingent breaks the silence as they mimic the ‘Sea-gulls’ chant with one of ‘Three goals, three goals’. And then a Brady penalty makes it four in the second half to really rub Brighton’s noses in it.
As Brighton file sadly into the dressing-room at the end, their big day ruined, Terry Neill comments, ‘We posed them a few more problems than they’re used to. But I’m sure Alan Mullery is not the type of individual to get discouraged.’
Though bitterly disappointed, Mullery still finds time to praise Arsenal and pinpoint the difference between the sides. ‘They taught us a lesson in cold, clinical finishing,’ he says.
‘It was like a Clint Eastwood movie. Out came the guns, and bang bang – we were dead…’
Under the title ‘Frank’s zapper’, Football Handbook then turned its attention to Frank Stapleton’s goal:
The most meaningful lessons are usually the most painful to learn – in life, in football.
For Brighton and Hove Albion the moment of truth came on the opening day of the season, their first-ever First Division contest.
FA Cup winners Arsenal were the visitors.., and the teachers.
All the exuberance that took Brighton to promotion hardly dented the composure of silky Arsenal, to whom First Division pressure was nothing new.
Manager Mullery’s ‘treat it like a cup tie’ approach – ‘we’re going to chase, fight and tackle’ – lost all significance once Arsenal took the lead approaching half-time.
Brighton had had most of the play and, like an underdog boxer, must have fancied their chances of an upset.
And, like many a ‘softener’ for the knock-out blows to follow, the goal that put them firmly in their place had an almost dream-like essence to it.
Inertia ruled among the Brighton players as Sammy Nelson played the ball down the left to Alan Sunderland.
He was given space to cross where he liked and almost certainly aimed deep for Brian Talbot, who had made a typical run behind the home defence.
His mishit went straight to Stapleton instead. Stapleton stumbled. The crowd laughed. Stapleton recovered but his shot from 20 yards was hardly a hammer blow.
Nevertheless, it went in, the ball looping over the despairing Eric Steele.
If that was a dream-like moment, it soon became a nightmare as Arsenal added two more quick goals before half-time.
In the end it was a humiliating 0-4 scoreline, a result that Mullery rightly saw as a lesson in cold, clinical finishing.
From the Evening Argus after Peter Ward’s explosive start of six goals in eight matches at the end of the 1975/76 season:
The exciting potential of 20-year-old Peter Ward, whose last-minute goal deprived Sheffield Wednesday of a first away win since December 28, 1974, prompted Albion manager Peter Taylor to declare: “He is the hottest proper in English football. I would not dream of listening to any offer for him. He’s that good he would get into Derby’s side tomorrow.”
Knowing as we do Taylor’s close affinity with Derby County, presumably there can be no higher praise… but it is a massive tribute for one so young to have heaped upon his head.
I seriously doubt whether such fulsome billing is good for young players. Of course, Ward is a very promising player. Why, then, did he not make a League debut earlier than eight games ago? In that time he has scored six goals, and opportunism of the sort displayed in the last month was missing in an attack that had gone off the boil.
Naturally, Taylor is keen to enthuse about something after Albion’s failure to win promotion, and Ward is an obvious choice. He seems too level a lad to be affected by the cliches.
Right now Ward has only one thing on his mind, and that has nothing to do with football. He and his wife Sue expect the arrival of their first child on Cup Final day.
Some players have been known to be affected by offspring on the way. But not Ward whose rattlesnake speed of strike is an asset on which Albion must build next season.
Incredible, isn’t it, that he has been an active participant in League football just one crowded, hectic month?
In that time he has shown touches to send the pulses of most managers racing. His goal against relegation-threatened Wednesday came at a time when Albion looked booked for a first home defeat since September 10. Nobody would have been surprised had Wednesday broken their duck.
Now the 1-1 draw means Wednesday must beat Southend at Hillsborough in the final match this week or crash into the Fourth Division for the first time. The anxiety until then can all be put down to Ward.
Remarkably little is known about him because there is a basic shyness and modesty in his make-up. Interviews are foreign to him. This is as it should be – all the best players play with feet and head, not tongues.
On the pitch, however, he has the right stamp of arrogance and determination, and an ability to turn defenders very quickly. His shot is spectacular because he doesn’t wait to tee the ball up.
Lichfield-born, he played for a local side but was never associated with Derby County. He went straight from playing with his mates to Burton Albion, the Southern League club, and last season scored lots of goals, He cannot remember how many.
Word soon reached Taylor, a former Burton manager, about Ward. He was in with a cheque before any rivals, and £4,000 brought Ward to the Goldstone last summer.
He was duly dispatched to learn his trade in the reserves.
Tuesday night regulars at the Goldstone soon noted his prowess. When Ward debuted at Hereford, it was not before time. His name went on the scoresheet in just 50 seconds. He had arrived.
The next match was at Rotherham and he gave Albion an early lead there. At Chesterfield it was a foul on Ward that led to a Joe Kinnear penalty. By this time the lad was starting to feed off Sammy Morgan. They were looking a good pair together. But at Chesterfield, Morgan was injured.
In the Port Vale game Ward’s name appeared in the score frame. Nothing doing at Millwall, but he nearly broke the net with his equaliser at Aldershot. A lot of running and effort finally paid off against Gillingham with a flashing header.
And so to the final game when his flair meant Albion finishing with 39 points from their home matches. Dropping only seven was a remarkable feat, and should have taken them into the Second Division. The millstone that kept Albion down was the dreadful away record.
The Ward goal apart, and yet another strong display by Brian Horton, and solid performances we have come to expect from Andy Rollings and Steve Piper, the less said about Albion’s performance, the better.
Admitted Taylor: “We didn’t really perform at all. They didn’t allow us to play and must deserve credit for that. Len Ashurst got his lads to do everything right, considering their position.”
Apart from Ward’s equaliser, the most appreciated touch came before the ball was kicked. Skipper Horton led the players round the ground and they applauded the crowd for their support. The spectators acknowledged the gesture warmly and two minutes later stifled groans as Eric Potts scored the softest goal at the Goldstone for many a long year.
While the 11,859 crowd was the lowest since September 27, it was by far an ways the best in the division. Hereford, who have run away with the championship, had only 8,950 as the trophy was handed over.
Two minutes: There seemed to be no danger when POTTS swerved away from Horton’s biting tackle. A low shot from just outside the box looked covered by Grummitt, but he could only get a hand to it, and the ball trickled over the line. 0-1.
Eighty-nine minutes: A long ball from the back was nodded down by Mellor, and WARD slammed it on the volley. 1-1.
In 1979, Brighton & Hove Albion achieved their dream of reaching the top flight. Unsurprisingly, the Evening Argus marked the achievement with a 40 paged ‘Division One – Here We Come’ supplement.
This included a seven-part review of the season, an Alan Mullery eulogy by John Vinicombe, a discussion of the club’s prospects in the First Division plus pen pictures of the squad. All in black and white newsprint… which is where this foray into colour comes in: on the final page, it says:
To obtain a free full-colour folder celebrating Albion’s promotion, fans can collect vouchers from six different days’ issues of the Evening Argus, starting on Monday. Each voucher carries the name of a different Albion player. The folder, printed on art paper, includes a team picture in full colour. You can use it as a cover for this souvenir supplement or alternatively as a wall poster – or both if you collect two sets of vouchers.
All you had to do was bring your vouchers to any Evening Argus office on or after Wednesday 23rd May or send it off to the Argus promotions department.
Here is the front cover, with Brian Horton apparently jumping for joy in front of a delirious home crowd. On closer inspection, you can see his body has been cut out and crudely superimposed on the background. All done without Photoshop:
As for the centre spread, there is a marvellous team photo. I’m sure that would have made the wall of many supporters at the time:
Finally, the back page features action shots of key players Mark Lawrenson, Peter O’Sullivan, Teddy Maybank and Peter Ward:
While he was with Luton Town, Brian Horton took the time to reflect upon the greatest moment in his career, winning promotion to the First Division with Brighton, after a 3-1 victory at Newcastle. This is from Shoot! Magazine:
Brian Horton meticulously gathered together the contents of his kit bag for the most imporrant match of his life. Then, just as carefully, he made sure he had not forgotten the lucky charm that is his constant companion.
A Sphinx, given to him while he was playing for Brighton in the Third Division, has not left his keyring since.
Horton explains: “One of our supporters handed it to me, saying the Sphinx would bring me good luck, That night we played at Lincoln and Steve Piper, who was with me at the time, and myself each scored a goal.” So Horton, now doing the same inspiring captain’s job at Luton as he did with Brighton, was not without the key-ring when his team made the trip from the South Coast to play Newcastle at St. James’ Park on May 5th, 1979.
Brighton needed to win to be certain of gaining promotion to Division One for the first time. There could be few more daunting trips than to the heart of Geordieland.
Horton, a tenacious midfield player, recalls: “We travelled to Newcastle by train on the Wednesday before the match, played golf on the Thursday and trained on Friday. Alan Mullery, our manager, wanted to get us in as relaxed a frame of mind as possible.
“I managed to score an early goal with a near-post header from a corner. When I think about it even now, I can almost feel the ball hitting my head. It is probably the most important goal I’ve ever scored and it gave us the perfect start.
“Peter Ward and Gerry Ryan added further goals to give us a 3-0 lead at half-time.”
“Newcastle pulled one back in the second-half, but we’d done enough in our superb performance before the interval. We came home the same night and the champagne hardly stopped flowing all the way from Newcastle to Brighton. There were hundreds of fans on the train as well, so the atmosphere was marvellous.
“When we arrived back at Brighton in the middle of the night there were thousands of people to greet us and there were memorable celebrations when we went round the town the next day.” Horton was a significant figure in Luton’s promotion last season.
He says the two campaigns were different: “Everybody expected Luton to go up and we were clearly the best team.
“But at Brighton, we’d missed out a couple of times in tight finishes and we realised that it was imperative we made it.” Horton received a Second Division Championship medal with Luton last season, but did not get any medal for leading Brighton to the First Division. Players from clubs finishing second or third do not receive any momento from the League.
“But I do have my lucky Sphinx to remind me of Brighton’s day of glory.”
Horton still sees some members of the Brighton side that never failed to finish in the first four of either Division Three or Two in four successive seasons.
Whenever he wants to recall that memorable day in May at Newcastle, he needs merely to insert the television recording in his video.
“Every now and again I watch it,” he says. “It always makes me feel good.”
John Vinicombe’s report from the Evening Argus on Brighton’s 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers, in their last home match of the 1978/79 season:
The crock of gold that is the First Division is shimmering up there at St James’ Park, Newcastle.
It is there to be taken by Albion, who must not only win the battle on the pitch but prevail in a war of nerves that took a heavy toll of their rivals while they overcame Blackburn Rovers.
The last match at the Goldstone of this marvellously exhilarating campaign set Albion up to snatch the prize of prizes – a place among the coveted elite.
Brian Horton led his players in a lap of honour. Blackburn most sportingly clapped their conquerors from the pitch. These were memorable moments. Now Albion prepare for the final hurdle. At St James’ Park, they will be cheered by an army of admirers travelling by air, rail, and road. A win will take them into the First Division without any arguments: anything less must depend on other results.
In their present mood, Albion are perfectly capable of winning in the grand manner. The championship could be theirs by twenty-to-five on Saturday.
They have shrewdly taken matches one by one, and were well aware that beating Blackburn was absolutely vital.
This was the game that could have gone horribly wrong (shades of Blackburn’s recent wins at Stoke and Sunderland), but Albion never looked like losing although I wouldn’t care to relive the last ten minutes.
Great credit must go to Albion for keeping their heads after the Easter Saturday defeat at Cardiff City. Subsequently, Cardiff spoiled a few cards, culminating in the sensational win at Sunderland that dispelled City’s relegation fears.
Newcastle will not yield without a fight, and I cannot take seriously the story going the rounds that they might be a pushover because Sunderland in the First Division would affect their gates.
Of course, there is no love lost between the traditional rivals of the North – East but can you imagine a manager like Bill McGarry demanding anything less of his players than 100 per cent?
There has been stress on Albion, who have been in the top three since the 3-0 win at Charlton on December 23. Manager Alan Mullery has proved an inspirational motivator and Brian Horton quite the most outstanding captain the club has had, certainly since the war.
These redoubtable qualities were fully tested when Blackburn arrived no longer tortured over doubts of staying up. They came knowing full well that Division 3 is their scene next season. It ever a team stood to upset the favourites, it was Rovers.
Fears of a slip-up were partially justified as Albion were without Peter O’Sullivan, and had to re-jig with a new formation on the left. It didn’t quite come off, but in terms of chances created Albion outclassed Rovers.
Instead of being consumed by their own fears, Albion took early command, and the work rate of Teddy Maybank, who chased everything and won most of the balls in the air, typified the spirit. Tiring players found that extra half yard, and rovers were unable to stage a third sensation of the season.
The 18th minute opener by Maybank that bulleted through a cloud of smoke was grabbed with tigerish tenacity. Whoever hurled the canister from the South Stand may have distracted goalkeeper John Butcher but it would have taken a wonderful save to have prevented Maybank scoring.
From that point on, Rovers thrashed about in a fog of they own making. They hadn’t a clue about picking up Peter Ward, who had a splendid match, while their star man, Duncan McKenzie, seldom shook off the shackles imposed by Paul Clark.
Watching Andy Rollings it was difficult to believe that here was the player who needed assistance in boarding the train from Cardiff a fortnight ago. Then the head was temporarily down! Rollings feared a break, and in the next match Mark Lawrenson snapped an arm in two places.
The rapid return of Rollings to fitness has been an important factor. He not only read the game well but scored the all-important clincher early into the second half beyond Rover’s reach.
The foraging of John Bailey, one of the best left-backs we have seen at the Goldstone, and Noel Brotherstone’s fondness for varying the point of attack often spelled danger, but in all honesty the 2-1 scoreline let Rovers off rather lightly.
Quite early on, Ward was unlucky to hit the bar, and he might have scored at the half-hour, only Butcher blocked bravely. Malcolm Poskett on the left wing for the first time got into many good positions, but just couldn’t finish. But he never gave up, and on effort alone was worth his place.
And for sheer brilliance of reflexes Eric Steele once again proved why he is first choice goalkeeper at the Goldstone. There had been one nail-biting moment when a pass back from Rollings bobbled just past the post. And another two-thirds of the way through when Mike Rathbone’s shot deflected off Horton and against the far post where Peter Sayer pounced to clear.
Steele’s moment of brilliance came at 78 minutes when Martin Fowler’s shot clipped off Maybank’s backside. In a split second he changed direction to turn it round.
He hadn’t much chance four minutes from time with John Aston’s beautifully curled free-kick.
For ITV’s footage of the match, watch this:
A trip to the home of Nick from Fishergate led me to scanning these rather lovely 65mm x 65mm badges from the late 1970s:
Apparently, according to Nick, there were shops along Sackville Road, Hove, that used to sell badges such as these on Saturdays, to make a bit of money as supporters made their way to the Goldstone Ground on Old Shoreham Road.
I was actually given a set of these when I was about five or six in the mid-1980s, as I decided that making badges was a very fine hobby. So, yes, I took off the head and shoulder images of the various Brighton players and replaced them with my own designs. Silly me.
Suffice to say that I won’t be doing that with these!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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…
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.
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…
Here’s Chris Cattlin’s formidable Albion squad ahead of the 1984/85 season. Having beaten Liverpool the season before, the Seagulls had cup pedigree and feared no-one in a knockout competition.
When Brighton drew Hull City in the FA Cup in both 1984/85 and 1985/86, they achieved satisfying victories in both encounters. However, it could not paper over the fact that the Tigers, led by player-boss Brian Horton, were set to surpass the Albion in the League.
As Chris Cattlin wrote in his programme notes before the third round clash of 1984/85:
“I would like to welcome Brian Horton and his team. He and I have many happy memories of our days together with the Albion both on and off the field. I know he will be particularly keen to do well against his old club, but he will certainly remember his happy days at the Goldstone.
I am sure he shares my memories and will want his team to win but I hope I don’t see anything of that bristling beard until around 5 o’clock… then I am sure we’ll have a drink together and the years will go rolling back.”
In the match, played in front of 11,681 in the January frost, ex-Albion striker Michael Ring was also re-united with the Goldstone, playing up front for Hull City:
However, it was the Seagulls’ Chris Hutchings who scored the only goal in a second half counter-attack:
By the end of the season, while Albion narrowly missed out on returning to the top flight, Hull City had succeeded in clinching promotion from the Third Division.
When the sides met in the Second Division in 1985/86, goals from Connor, Wilson and Fashanu firmly put the new boys in their place, as Hull crashed 3-1 at the Goldstone in November 1985.
In the FA Cup, in January, in the Fourth Round at Boothferry Park, Albion prevailed again. A Cup Indian sign, perhaps? Or maybe a home jinx, seeing as Hull have not beaten Albion away to this day since 1965. On 25th January 1986, Dean Saunders and Terry Connor (2) scored the goals to take Albion through in a 3-2 victory. The rapidly improving Hull City did get revenge in the League, however, beating Albion on the last day of the season, and pushing up to sixth position, five places above the fading Seagulls, now managed on a temporary basis by assistant George Petchey (below), after Cattlin had been given the sack days before.
Brighton fans may have initially balked at getting a sticker album with Crystal Palace’s Gerry Francis on the cover, but I’m sure they got over it!
Besides, Palace’s season was a disaster. They even had four different managers during the course of the 1980/81 season, none that could arrest their slump. Even Ray Wilkins’ side, Manchester United, sacked theirs, ex-Albion player Dave Sexton, at the end of their own disappointing campaign.
And Brighton? It was a watershed season for us too. Potentially Albion’s strongest squad had flattered to deceive. Peter Suddaby had played a major role in 1979/80 but injury meant he never did play in the new all-blue Adidas kit. Mullery resigned at the end of the 1980/81 season, and the reliable John Gregory was another departure, to QPR. While he stayed, Graham Moseley was deeply unsettled, rocked by a loss of form, the signing of Perry Digweed as well, as Mullery’s stinging criticism of the erstwhile number one keeper at the Goldstone:
Interesting to see Mark Lawrenson listed here as a midfielder. He had performed that role admirably in the second half of 1979/80. Would Albion fortunes have been different had he stayed there in 1980/81? He, alongside Ward and Horton, also departed the Goldstone not long after the publication of this album. We are also treated to a rare shot of Peter Sayer in our new fangled Adidas kit. Sayer was an unused sub on the opening day match against Wolves before leaving for Preston North End.
Notable absences here are Perry Digweed, Gary Stevens and Andy Ritchie, all of whom made a significant number of appearances during the course of the season.
This album is notable for the first appearance of team groups being made up of two stickers rather than one. Looking through the album, there are some alignment issues with some team groups, but happily, the Brighton one looks fine.
Second Division clubs were also given the half and half treatment, and it’s possible to clearly see Ray Clarke at his new club, Newcastle United. Even Third Division clubs were covered by Panini at the time, albeit with a single sticker team photo. 15mm tall in Charlton’s team sticker was Mike Bailey. Little did Albion fans know it in 1980/81, he would be man to bring forth a new era to the Goldstone, and a whole lot of new player stickers to collect!