Tag Archives: chris cattlin

Grandmaster Fash

Here is mascot Gavin McLean, then 12 years old, posing with new Brighton striker Justin Fashanu on the opening day of the 1985/86 season, before the 2-2 draw with Grimsby Town at the Goldstone in August:


Fash had a fine spell with Notts County in 1984/85, leading to considerable interest from the likes of Manchester City, Norwich, Chelsea, Birmingham, Oxford and Oldham. In Jim Read’s superb biography of Justin Fashanu, he provides a vivid anecdote:

Also interested in Justin was the manager of another Second Division team, Chris Cattlin of Brighton & Hove Albion. Feeling he might be a difficult player to manage, Cattlin decided to invite Justin to stay at his house for four days so they could get to know each other. They obviously hit it off and the transfer was agreed.

Catlin explained: “Justin had a reputation of being a bit of a problem player with his other clubs but that is all in the past. In my dealings with him I’ve found him to be a smashing person and the sort of player our supporters will take to.’ He told the Evening Argus that Justin was ‘a dedicated player who has been asleep for a couple of years’, adding ‘I’m sure, with us, he will bring his talents to fruition’. For his part, Justin told The Times: ‘I only took this step after a good deal of thought and prayer. I am convinced Chris Cattlin can get the very best out of me.’ He described the move as the most important of his career. He must have felt it was his last chance to regain the form he had shown at Norwich and in his first few months at Notts County.

He signed in June 1985 for a fee of £115,000 given a generous three year contract, reported to be around £45,000 a year. He had passed his medical but there was an exclusion clause on his troublesome right knee. It would only be covered by insurance after he played 12 consecutive League games.

There was some lingering ill-will from supporters over various incidents when he had played against them including the injury to Jeff Clarke the previous season. When still at Norwich, he had broken the nose of Brighton’s defender, Andy Rollings, who was then sent off after swinging a punch at him.

Dismissing the broken nose as arising from an accidental clash of heads, Justin claimed: ‘I think I have become more subfie in my game. I would really hurt people in the past but that is all behind me, now.’ But, as one Brighton supporter put it: ‘He was the kind of player you couldn’t stand because you thought he was dirty, then he comes to play for you and you think he’s brilliant.’

Tagged , ,

Derby delight for the Seagulls

Smith does score!

Smith does score!

It was time to stop the rot. After opening with three successive defeats, Gordon Smith converted a penalty as relieved Brighton under Jimmy Melia picked up a very welcome 1-0 victory against Derby County at the Goldstone in September 1983.

At the time, the Rams had seasoned players of the calibre of Roy McFarland, Archie Gemmill and John Robertson. However, they were all past their best. County were managed by ex-Albion boss Peter Taylor, who had returned to the Baseball Ground in November 1982, having ended his long partnership with Brian Clough by quitting Nottingham Forest six months previously. Together, Clough and Taylor had shocked the world by leading the Midlands side to the League Championship in 1972. However, going it along a decade later, Taylor struggled, although he did put one over Ol’ Big ‘Ead when the Rams beat Forest in the FA Cup in January 1983.

By the return match between Derby and Brighton at the Baseball Ground in March 1984, County were on their way towards Division Three and Taylor heading towards the sack. Helping them on their way was the Rams’ emphatic defeat to Cattlin’s Brighton side. Here’s how John Vinicombe of the Evening Argus reported it at the time:

Chris Cattlin’s rebuilding programme, aimed at promotion next season, continued apace at crisis-ridden Derby.

A wholly satisfying 3-0 victory also stilled any criticism at selling Steve Foster and Tony Grealish. Dissenting voices, always a minority, must now be faint echoes in the light of this latest performance.

Displays like this beat out Cattlin’s promise that the last two and half months of the campaign will not be allowed to peter out.

Amazingly, Peter Taylor axed four key players, including skipper Archie Gemmill and, before Gordon Smith scored the third and best goal of the match after 75 minutes, the Baseball Ground was a scene of bitter rancour.

Peter Taylor, who with Brian Clough, threw Albion a precious lifeline a decade ago, is himself in need of rescue.

Second from bottom, this grad old club, a founder member of the Football League, face relegation to the Third Division for only the second time, in their centenary year as well as today’s Inland Revenue winding-up petition in the High Court.

Perhaps Robert Maxwell will save Derby after all, but the prospect of charing a Third Division club cannot be that attractive. If he were to pay the preferential creditors in full, Derby could be had for under £1m.

Vinicombe blamed Derby’s poor financial affairs on poor housekeeping and contends that Brighton will never suffer such problems under Chris Cattlin, whose financial acumen was being demonstrated by his opposition to long-term contracts and the sale of senior players. Their opponents had the look of a veterans’ side, with Kenny Burns and Dave Watson also recruited to fight Derby’s relegation battle. Of the Rams, Vinicombe wrote:

Derby, this time shorn of not only Gemmill, but Paul Futcher who says he never want to play for Taylor again, John Robertson and Steve Cherry, had only endeavour to offer.

This is really only a polite way of saying their football was nothing but kick and rush, but there was a moment in the first half when the game might have gone their way.

That is did not was entirely due to Perry Digweed rectifying Willie Young’s mistake and preventing a certain goal by Bobby Davison. Digweed smothered the ball at Davison’s feet after Willie’s ill-timed pass back, and a few minutes’ later, when there didn’t appear to be a call, collecting one of Eric Young’s size 11 boots in the face.

For at least ten seconds, Digweed didn’t know what time of day it was. This was his first game for Cattlin, and only re-affirmed the manager’s high opinion of his second-string keeper.

A first ever Albion goal for Steve Penney.

A first ever Albion goal for Steve Penney.

Brighton took the lead on 54 minutes when Alan Young’s header found Steve Penney. The Ballymena-born winger turned Steve Buckle inside out and finished off the far post just as goalie Yakka Banovic tried to close the angle.

Striker Alan Young turned from provider to goalscorer eight minutes later, latching onto Gary Howlett’s pass to fire the ball home off Banovic’s foot.

Finally, Gordon Smith wrapped up the match with his last ever goals for the Seagulls, and it was a good one too. Danny Wilson caught ex-England defender Dave Watson at sixes and sevens and fed the Scotsman who rifled the ball into the roof of the net.

At the end of the season, Brighton finished ninth and Derby in 20th. However, it was a brief stay in the Third Division for the Rams and they returned to the Second Division in 1986 under the canny leadership of Arthur Cox.

Tagged , , , ,

Topsy-turvy clash with the Terriers


Just when everything looked like it was coming together, along came the storm clouds to obliterate supporters’ optimism…

Fifth in Division Two in mid-October 1985, promotion hopefuls Brighton endured a miserable spell in the four weeks that followed. After crashing 5-3 at the Goldstone to Charlton Athletic, Chris Cattlin’s injury-hit side were hammered 4-0 at Oldham and then by the same score at Liverpool in the Milk Cup. Suddenly, the season was falling apart. Although hard-won point at the Goldstone against a spritely Norwich kept the Seagulls in eighth position, a sign of poor form was confirmed when second-from-bottom Shrewsbury defeated Brighton 2-1 at Gay Meadow.

Suddenly, the home fixture against Huddersfield Town took on a great level of importance. Town were managed by Mick Buxton, who had guided the side from the Fourth to Second Division following his appointment in October 1978. While Albion’s displays had been dire prior to the match, so it was with the Terriers who had also lost four of their previous five matches and stood in 16th position. Here’s how the Argus described Albion’s 4-3 victory, watched by a gate of 7,952:

According to Cattlin, they [Albion] would not have been flattered if nine had been converted. That’s an understandable exaggeration made after the tumult of a seven-goal thriller, two sendings-off and five bookings, but he has a point.

When Albion had the ball they pushed up constantly, and got more numbers in the opposing box than ever before this term. It was a different story when Huddersfield gained possession, then Albion gave it away rather too easily.

The result was sometimes pandemonium, especially in the closing minutes as Huddersfield strove for a point.

It must have been exciting for the crowd, but managers do not like being put in fear of a cardiac arrest.

Not until the final whistle could you bank on the result, and from Albion’s point of view it was a good one.

Dale Tempest had got the Terriers’ goal in Albion’s 2-1 victory the previous season at Leeds Road. Within three minutes of the kick-off, he was on the scoresheet again, latching onto a long ball to steal between Eric Young and Steve Jacobs. With keeper Moseley coming out, the former Fulham striker finished to put the Yorkshire side ahead.

Goal No.1: Mick Ferguson

Goal No.1: Mick Ferguson

However, the Seagulls stormed back. The maligned Mick Ferguson smashed in Terry Connor’s cross on 20 minutes, before Dean Saunders was fouled in the box by Hudderfield’s Malcolm Brown fourteen minutes later.

Alan Biley

Goal No.2: Alan Biley

Alan Biley confidently stuck home the penalty and so it was Brighton who held the lead at half-time.

When the second-half kicked-off, once more it was the Terriers who were quickest out of the block and striker David Cowling watched his 52nd minute shot take a deflection off Chris Hutchings to give Graham Moseley an unwanted 32nd birthday present.

Eric Young

Goal No.3: Eric Young

Ten minutes later, Eric restored the Albion lead with an impressive header from Steve Penney’s corner. As John Vinicombe in the Evening Argus commented:

It was his first of the season, and must have felt as sweet as a nut coming off that black headband.

The popular accolade was indeed music to the ears of a man whom Cattlin says – indeed we are all of one accord – is going through a bad patch.

Nobody likes to see a player struggle, and it is a tribute to the sporting nature of the Goldstone crowd that they have not honed their barbs towards Young.

Then the match took another interesting turn when the Seagulls’ Mick Ferguson and the Terriers’ Paul Jones were both sent off for a minor dust-up on 67 minutes.

Dean Saunders

Goal No.4: Dean Saunders

With Brighton 3-2 up, star striker Dean Saunders seemed to seal the three points for the Albion on 73 minutes. He capitalised after the otherwise outstanding keeper Brian Cox found Dennis Mortimer’s shot too hot to handle. However, four minutes later, the game was thrown wide open again, as Huddersfield’s David Cowling got his second deflected goal of the day, as his free-kick clipped off the Brighton defensive wall past a stranded Graham Moseley.

After the match, Chris Cattlin wanted Saunders back on afternoons after training for some shooting practice, as he felt the Welsh striker should have got four in this heart-stopping match. Perhaps, he should have looked at the defence as a matter of urgency first!

Tagged , , , ,

Bedson blasts ‘stupid’ streamer stunt

It’s not just Manchester United’s David Moyes that has had to deal with messages in the sky undermining his managerial reign. Chris Cattlin faced the same issue in November 1985 during Brighton’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City at the Goldstone when a Cessna flew from Shoreham Airport calling for him to be replaced. Here’s how John Vinicombe from the Evening Argus reported it:


Albion chairman Bryan Bedson today slammed the West Stand season ticket holders who hired an aircraft to advertise their call for a return of Alan Mullery to the Goldstone.

“It was absolutely stupid – I presume people in our stand are supporters, not knockers.

My directors feel the same way. They all said it was a ludicrous thing to do and a complete waste of money.” The plane, hired from Air South at Shoreham, €circled the ground twice just before the Norwich game trailing a streamer bearing the words: “Come back Mullery all is forgiven.”

It cost £200 to hire and 20 West Stand season ticket holders were responsible and went to extraordinary lengths to keep their identities secret. Staff at Air South said the money was paid by a man who insisted thai no name appear on the invoice,

Manager Chris Cattlin did not see the stunt. The canopy of the stand also prevented many occupants reading the message. Those on the terraces who did, gave it a chilly response.

John Vinicombe was also negative about it:

My first reaction to the couple of circuits of the Goldstone as the players came out was what had Mullery to be forgive for. Anyway, the exhortation fell flat. There were boos from the crowd, an odd handclap here and there, and the kite buzzed off. As a piece of agitation, it was a flop.

I had received a telephone call during the morning saying what was in the air and that the object of the tasteless exercise was to draw attention to the directors that Mullery would be welcome back.

Not for one minute do I think the skywriting coincides with the publication of Mullery’s autobiography. Mullery wouldn’t dream of being party to anything like that. He said as much yesterday and sympathised with Cattlin who was a player in his promotion team.

Cool shades for Mullery

Cool shades for Mullery

“I was going to the game,” he said. “But then we decided to visit friends instead. Then early in the evening, a friend came up from Brighton and told me about this aeroplane. I needed that like a hole in the head. I have been in a similar situation myself the night I got the sack from QPR with people chanting for me to leave, was terrible. It is a difficult time for a manager especially when you are doing your best. I feel very much for Chris in this position.

“Somebody must have money to waste, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I found it hilarious when I read about it in all the papers.”

Having come so close to promotion back to the top flight the previous season, Albion looked out of sorts in 1985/86. At the time of the draw with Norwich, they stood in eighth position, six points off a promotion spot. In their previous three matches, a leaky defence had shipped thirteen goals, losing to Charlton (3-5), Oldham (0-4) and Liverpool in the Milk Cup (0-4).

Although only one above the Seagulls in Division Two, Norwich looked a cut above the Albion in terms of quality. Future Seagulls Ian Culverhouse and Mark Barham were mere youngsters then. Yet they were showing promise in a City packed with outstanding players, such as Chris Woods, Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan and Dave Watson (the one who eventually played with Everton). Supported by the potent strike force of Kevin Drinkell and Wayne Biggins, the Canaries then powered up the table, starting a sparkling ten match winning run later that month. Ken Brown’s side were crowned Second Division champions by the end of 1985/86, with an impressive seven point margin.

As for Brighton, Cattlin’s men did rediscover their form, and looked outside bets for promotion, before tailing off towards the end of the season. Cattlin was sacked after Brighton lost 2-0 in the penultimate match at relegation-bound Carlisle. In the summer of 1986, Bedson sought Alan Mullery as the successor. Through the power of suggestion, perhaps the banner was not as big a flop as Vinicombe had surmised. Nevertheless, anger at the banner and the departure of Cattlin still exists to this day.

Tagged , ,

Player badges from the late-1970s

A trip to the home of Nick from Fishergate led me to scanning these rather lovely 65mm x 65mm badges from the late 1970s:

Top row: Gary Winstanley, Mark Lawrenson, Paul Clark Middle row: Andy Rollings, Peter Ward, Chris Cattlin Bottom row: Brian Horton, Gary Williams, Peter O'Sullivan

Top row: Graham Winstanley, Mark Lawrenson, Paul Clark
Middle row: Andy Rollings, Peter Ward, Chris Cattlin
Bottom row: Brian Horton, Gary Williams, Peter O’Sullivan

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Brighton rock ‘n’ roll

Here are Neil Smillie and Gordon Smith at the start of the 1983/84 season:


Before his Albion days, Smillie (known as ‘Specky’ to his team mates as he wore spectacles) spent eight seasons with Crystal Palace. He also had a loan period with Brentford as well as enjoying a spell in the United States. As he says in the Brighton v Manchester City programme in January 1983:

‘I played over in Memphis and we had a great time there. We lived just around the corner from Elvis Presley’s house, Gracelands. They call that road Elvis Presley Boulevard and across the street from the house you can see camper trucks and trailers from all over the States and Canada.’

Speaking of his partner Penny and himself he adds:

‘It’s strange to think that if Elvis had still been alive, we would probably have met him. He was always keen on sport and supported all the local teams. We’re not really Elvis fans, but you couldn’t help wishing you’d met him. Elvis is one of the biggest stars that ever lived.’

That’s not to say that Smillie didn’t enjoy listening to music. However, it was Dire Straits, Elton John, Christopher Cross and ‘some American West Coast bands’ that were more his bag.

As for Gordon Smith, he is described in the Brighton v Carlisle programme in September 1983 as ‘the music man!’:

“I’ve loved pop music since I was a little lad, back home in Scotland. I can remember hearing ‘Please please me’ by The Beatles on the radio and liking it a lot. When I got my first record player, I bought ‘She loves You’ and played it so many times I nearly wore the grooves.”

Apart from his cup final infamy, Smith also found fame through a friendship with Paul McCartney who he met at a Wings concert in Glasgow. Through this link, the Brighton player got a chance to play acoustic guitar to ‘Blackbird’ while at McCartney’s house near Rye.

With such music credentials, perhaps it is unsurprising that Gordon Smith had rock tastes that were respected by his peers. In his autobiography ‘And Smith Did Score,’ he recounts the time when his Albion days were reaching their end in November 1983:

I had made up my mind. Manchester City was a team I wanted to play for at that stage and I wanted them on my CV. The manager said, if that was the way I felt about it, I’d better go home.

For the bus journey to Derby [sic] for the game the previous Saturday I had brought a cassette tape I had recorded of different songs and the boys had asked me to play it over the bus sound system. As I was going out the door of Chris Cattlin’s office, he said a strange thing to me. ‘See that compilation tape you played on the bus on Saturday? It was good. Any chance you would make one up for me?’ I told him I would give him the tape I had with me on the bus and he said, ‘That would be great.’ Later on that day I got a call at home to go back in to the club.

In Chris Cattlin’s office he told me, ‘The deal’s done. You can go to Manchester City.’

‘What about the £5,000 Brighton owe me in signing-on fees?’ I asked.

‘No, you won’t get that,’ he said.

‘I’m owed that money and I want it before I leave.’ I replied.

He left the room to talk to the chairman about my demand and when he came back he said, ‘We’ll give you £3,000.’ I said, ‘No, I’m owed £5,000 and that’s what I want.’

‘Go away and think about it,’ he said. ‘That’s the most I can offer you.’

As I was going out the door, he asked if I’d brought the compilation cassette tape he had asked me for. I said I had and was about to hand it to him when I pulled it back from his outstretched hand.

‘I’ll give you the tape if I can get the full £5,000 you owe me,’ I said.

‘Alright then,’ he said. ‘You can have your money.’ So I got the other £2,000 they owed me for making up a compilation cassette tape. That must have beenthe dearest piece of music Brighton ever paid for. I suppose you could call it Brighton Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Tagged , ,

Grealish out! Cattlin’s Brighton revolution takes shape

Tony Grealish was one of the established stars shown the door in Chris Cattlin’s first season in charge:


It meant that we weren’t going to see that 30 harder against Cyprus (mentioned above) recreated by him at Old Shoreham Road any time soon. With a hint of regret, Shoot! magazine spotlights the dramatic turnover of staff at the Goldstone during 1983/84:

Chris Cattlin’s Brighton revolution has totally changed the face of the 1983 FA Cup Finalists.

Less than a year after taking Manchester United to a Cup Final replay, most of the Cup heroes have either been sold off or left out in the cold.

The facts are startling, Before Jimmy Melia’s departure from the Goldstone Ground, Gary Stevens and Michael Robinson were sold off for almost £600,000.

But if Brighton fans were disappointed to see two big names depart almost as soon as the Cup Final celebrations were over, much more was to occur once Cattiin took control following Melia’s sacking in October, From the Cup Final squad of 13 players who comprised the two teams which faced United … Robinson, Stevens, Steve Foster, Gordon Smith and Tony Grealish have been sold, pushing the earnings from transfers in less than a year to a staggering £1 million.

But other Cup Final heroes have also felt the draught. Graham Moseley, the goalkeeper, defender Gary Pearce and wingers Nell Smillie and Gerry Ryan have been left out of Cattlin’s rebuilding plans while another Cup star, full-back Chris Ramsey, has been given a free transfer.

Case shoots against Swansea in the FA Cup

Case shoots against Swansea in the FA Cup

Of 13 players, that leaves only three with any real involvement in Brighton, 1984, under the Cattlin regime… ex-Liverpool star Jimmy Case who was made captain, centre-back Steve Gatting and midfield kid Gary Howlett.

The new men are everywhere in the team.

Joe Corrigan in goal, full-backs Chris Hutchings and Mark Jones, coloured defender Eric Young, midfielder Danny Wilson, striker Alan Young, and Irish winger Steve Penney.

It looks as though Cattlin has moved to clear out the old stars in a bid to launch the club’s new future, based on organisation and discipline.

Cattlin says: “The club had been organised only for the present, no thought had been given to the future.
Whatever else I do, I intend to build a structure so that youngsters will emerge for first team soccer from our own junior teams.

That is of immense importance and much work has been done already to that end.”

The man Cattlin wants to build his team around is ex-Liverpudlian Jimmy Case. And Case is happy with the job, saying: “Although the club haven’t yet spoken to me, I would like to stay here when my present contract expires.”

Sadly for Seagulls fans, it looks for the moment at least, as though First Division aspirations have gone out of the window.

As departing Eire international Tony Grealish said just after clinching a £75,000 move to West Bromwich Albion: “The club seem to have sold all the players capable of taking them back to the first Division.”

That, unfortunately, has been the price Brighton have had to pay for the post Wembley revolution.

Despite the exodus of star players, Cattlin’s methods seemed to be working, at least in Hove. By late March 1984, the Seagulls stood in a healthy ninth position in the Second Division following a 3-0 demolition of Leeds United at the Goldstone. While the team went on to win their remaining four matches at home, they did not pick up another victory on their travels for the remainder of the campaign. Still, the side looked a good bet to mount a serious promotion bid in 1984/85.

Tagged ,

Shattered dreams


Having been sold to south coast rivals Southampton a year before, Jimmy Case came back to haunt the Seagulls in the FA Cup Quarter-Final at the Goldstone on 8th March 1986.

In the first half, the Saints seemed to be first to every loose ball, and quickly gained a foothold against a rejigged Brighton side. Chris Cattlin dropped Chris Hutching at right-back, shifted Steve Jacobs from midfield to fill his place, and gave Mick Ferguson his first home start since November 1985. Suffice to say, it didn’t work:

Brighton did make more of a fight of it in the second-half but the two goals in the first half had given First Division Southampton an unassailable lead. A pity that Ferguson and Biley couldn’t have stuck those chances away here:

Chris Cattlin’s programme notes the following week reflected on the emphatic defeat:

“I would like to start this afternoon by saying what a great disappointment it was to us all that we failed to do ourselves justice last Saturday, against Southampton. That disappointment is, I know, shared by all our supporters and I appreciate how you feel. We had done so well to get so far in the competition, with battling displays in all the other rounds, but to be honest, the way we played last Saturday did not justify our presence in the Quarter-Finals. We did not play anything like we can on the day.”

Tagged , , ,

Joe’s not for keeps


After an illustrious career with Manchester City, Joe Corrigan had a short spell with Seattle Sounders before the club folded in the summer of 1983. The 34 year old ex-England international keeper then returned to the United Kingdom, with Brighton & Hove Albion in September 1983.

Memories from Seagulls’ supporters on Corrigan’s year on the south coast tend to be very positive. Most memorably, the experienced shot-stopper performed admirably in front of the ‘Big Match Live’ cameras in Brighton’s famous 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup in january 1984. Disappointingly, the keeper himself is far less positive about his experience with Albion, in his autobiography ‘Big Joe’:

On his signing

I returned to England in September 1983 ready to begin life as a Brighton player. It would be the first time I’d played for a club outside the top flight having never actually seen any first-team action during my loan spell at Shrewsbury. They had the makings of a decent squad and most people felt we could bounce back to the top flight at the first attempt. It was a beautiful place to live, but completely different to life in Manchester. I’d come from an area where you could nip down to the local and have a pint on your own if you felt like it. At the same time, you were never lonely as punters would always come up and talk about City. It was much more standoffish in Sussex, where, if you went out on your own, you probably wouldn’t talk to a soul. Neither Val nor I knew anyone in Brighton apart from the players and so we decided to rent a house in Hove rather than diving in feet first and buying a place.

The sea was five minutes away and we enrolled the kids at an excellent local school, so, off the pitch, everything was great, which, as any player will tell you, is just as important as everything being right on it.
I had always negotiated my own contracts so when I sat down with chairman Mike Bamber and manager Jimmy Melia, I was surprised that Jimmy was asked to leave the room before we began to discuss my terms.

For some reason, I asked the chairman what would happen if I was badly injured. What would happen to my wages? He asked me why I asked that and I didn’t really know the answer but he added, ‘Don’t worry about it, Joe. We’ll insure you for £100,000.’ That was the first time I’d really heard of insurance policies on players, but it would turn out to be a question well worth asking, though I’m still not sure why I’d asked in the first place.

On the phantom Keegan transfer

‘Jimmy Melia stitched me up,’ chairman Mike Bamber told me. I asked him what he meant and he replied: ‘Well he promised me you and Kevin Keegan, but only you turned up.’ I thought that Jimmy had probably been sacked because of poor results, not because he’d failed to get Keegan, but it was hard to imagine Kevin ever signing for Brighton.

On Chris Cattlin

Jimmy Melia was sacked shortly after I’d signed my contract. Maybe that’s why he’d been excluded from the negotiations – and Chris Cattlin took over. He was a former Coventry City left back and would turn out to be the worst manager I’d ever played under. He owned a rock shop in the town and also had a home in Brighton so whether that swung the job for him, I don’t know. He brought in former Arsenal player Sammy Nelson as his right-hand man. Cattlin just didn’t have the right character to manage, in my opinion, and things deteriorated pretty quickly during his tenure.

On being an Albion player

Playing for Brighton felt a little like being on holiday. It was by the sea, we were renting a home and the players had a different attitude. The lads enjoyed a good social life and I felt things weren’t as focused as they should have been, but whether that was down to the division we were in, the lads at the club or the manager, I’m not sure, though Cattlin was certainly part of the reason. We had players like Steve Gatting, Steve Foster, Jimmy Case, Tony Grealish and Gordon Smith – a terrific bunch of lads – but we lacked direction and drive. It was hard to get used to the smaller crowds at the Goldstone Ground after so many years at Maine Road playing in front of crowds of 40,000 or more.

On playing while drunk

Brighton had been an experience and while I’d been there I learned a lot about myself. I also realised how much drink was influencing my life, more than at any other club I’d been at. It was while playing for them that, for the only time in my career, I went into a game drunk. There is no excuse for such a lack of professionalism, but it was the laid-back culture at Brighton that made it so easy. On a Friday after training we went to an Italian restaurant in the town and everybody would have a couple of glasses of wine and then go home. But I was too easily swayed and if anyone said, ‘Come and have another one, Joe,’ I would tag along. Travelling to Watford on one occasion, I got on the coach with two bottles of brandy in my pocket and drank one in my hotel room the night before the game. We were beaten 3-0 by a very good Watford side – managed by Graham Taylor and with the likes of John Barnes in the side – but while I wasn’t to blame for any of their goals, it was totally unacceptable. It made me realise how far I’d allowed myself to drift and since I had more time on my hands than ever before, I had to make sure the boozing didn’t get out of control.

On playing Manchester City

It hadn’t seemed like I’d been gone five minutes and already I was on my way back to Maine Road, this time in the colours of another team, which would be very strange. I flew up to Manchester before the rest of the team travelled so I could spend some time with my mum and dad and then I met up with the squad at a Manchester-airport hotel and we were soon setting off for Moss Side. The drive along Princess Parkway was surreal and I kept away from the windows, trying to keep my emotions in check. When I got off the bus I got a lovely reception from the fans around the main entrance and all the old feelings started to flood back, though it was a bit odd getting changed in the away dressing room. Finally, it was time to walk down the tunnel and as soon as I stepped on to the pitch I was greeted by the most wonderful standing ovation from the entire ground. It seemed to go on for an age. It was incredible and brought a lump to my throat. The rest of the Brighton team may have lost their focus in the emotion of the occasion and we didn’t perform at all on the day, going down 4-0.


On being axed

Our season bumbled along and the return match with City a few months later was also a memorable encounter. I took a whack on my elbow, the one I’d had floating bone in, and was given an injection at halftime and told I’d be going out again, which I’d wanted to do anyway. Again, I got a fabulous reception from the travelling City fans and the match ended one apiece, honours even. I’d signed a three-year deal and the first season passed without much incident or success and I returned to pre-season training hoping that things would pick up and we could have a crack at winning promotion. Then Cattlin asked me to meet him in his office shortly after the first training session of the summer.

‘I’m just telling you now that you’re not going to play for the first team again.’
‘Oh,’ I replied. ‘For what reason?’
‘Why? Because I’ve made my decision and we’ve decided to go with Perry Digweed this season. In fact, I don’t want you here any more and would prefer it if you left the club.’
‘Fair enough,’ I said. ‘You find me a club and I’m gone.’

The main reason, I assumed, was my wages. Getting me off the payroll would free up enough cash to pay two or three decent players. I understood it was a business decision and didn’t take it personally.

On his tribunal victory

When I was interviewed a little while into the season, I told the reporter in so many words that I was disillusioned with life under Chris Cattlin and his attitude towards me, which I found disrespectful and ignorant. After it appeared in the paper, he fined me two weeks’ wages for ‘going public’.

I wasn’t having that because all I’d done was spoken the truth and if Cattlin didn’t like it, so what? He had made it clear I was surplus to requirements so I owed him nothing and I launched a formal appeal, which my union, the Professional Footballer’s Association, fully supported. Gordon Taylor, their top man, called me up to tell me they’d had enough and that if managers could speak publicly about players, why shouldn’t players be able to speak up when they wanted? It was deja vu because it had happened before at City under Malcolm. As things stood, we were fined every time we opened our mouths.

A tribunal was arranged at FA headquarters in London. Chris Cattlin, Gordon Taylor and I were in front of a panel and Gordon was magnificent. He put everything across in a manner that would have been beyond me and despite Brighton’s protestations that the ruling would open a can of worms, the panel ruled in my favour.

Cattlin was livid. ‘I can’t fucking believe you, Joe,’ he said. ‘The club will never let this lie.’ Whatever he thought, Brighton had to refund my fine. I had got one over on him and I wondered what his reaction would be. I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

On Cattlin’s revenge

The day after I received a phone call from Sammy Nelson telling me not to report for training, but to meet him at the ground at 4.30 that afternoon. I said that would be no problem and arrived at the designated time. Only the kit man was there, so I got changed and eventually Nelson turned up and said, ‘Right, you’ve got to run and run and run …. ‘ I told him that was fine by me and began to jog around the pitch as slowly as I possibly could. In my opinion it showed how petty Cattlin and company were; they’d obviously spat their dummies out of the pram. It seemed to me they were trying to break my resolve but they couldn’t. I’d been through a lot in my career. I was a thirty-five-year-old former England keeper and this was child’s play to me, though I admit it was the worst period of my career. It must have taken me three or four minutes to complete the lap and while I was meandering round Sammy was watching me, so I said, ‘Look, I’ll do what I have to do, but you’re going to stand there and watch me until I’ve finished.’ I continued my gentle jog around the Goldstone and took forever to complete the task.

The next morning Cattlin hauled me in.

‘We’re not having that again.’

I retorted, ‘Chris, let’s get this straight. I’m not twenty-five, I’m thirty-five and coming to the end of my career. I’ve got a good contract so if you want me to go, find me a club. If you want me to play in the youth team, fine. If you want me in the reserves, I’ll play. That’s what I’m paid to do – play football. That’s what the article was all about: playing for the first team.’

Out of favour in 1984/85, Corrigan had a loan spell with Norwich in September 1984 and then with Stoke City in November. He eventually retired in 1985 after a disc in his neck burst during a Brighton reserve match.

Tagged ,

The Mullery effect

You may remember that Football 78 was Panini’s first sticker album covering all the First Division clubs. Strangely, in the coverage of Division Two, Brighton’s team sticker featured the Third Division squad for 1976/77:


In a piece for Shoot! magazine, Alan Mullery gave some insight into how he re-shaped the Albion in his first season at the Goldstone:

I wasn’t in charge at Brighton when they just missed going up last season. But I could still tell everyone was mighty disappointed from the long faces when I took over.

With eight games left – and I was watching Brighton closely last year without, of course, dreaming I’d be their manager within months – Brighton were second and looked certainties to go up. But then they suddenly lost their form at the vital time and won just one of their last eight games. That decided it and they finished fourth, missing promotion by just three points.

The main thing I wanted to know when I took over was how a side could be so good at home and so terrible away. Three of the teams relegated from Division Three last season had better away records so something was wrong somewhere. Brighton’s home record was the best in the Division so we obviously needed some character instilled into the side.

I suppose I changed six positions.

Peter Ward had only played six games last season but he was a regular right from the start this season.

Ian Mellor only played nine League games while Tony Towner was moved farther forward: Steve Piper moved to midfield from the back and I brought in Graham Cross and Chris Cattlin, two highly experienced professionals, to give us some know-how at the back [both were Taylor signings].

I think it has worked well. We are now averaging about a point a game away which is very acceptable. I’m still looking to make the side a better one – just because we’ve been in the top three all season doesn’t mean we’re world-beaters.

We’re not sitting back and saying everything is fine. And there’s no doubt the best time to bring in new players is when you’re at the top of the table, not struggling at the bottom. I want to improve us all-around as a side but I think we’re well on the way to overcoming some of the problems which cost the club promotion last year.

Players like Cattlin, Cross and Brian Horton have the character and fighting instinct to keep working when things are going against them away from home. That’s what I wanted to get into the side and we have benefited from that. Whether we go up is up to us – no one else. One thing is sure – I feel we have more character and a better set up in those crucial away matches this season. And it’s invariably your away results that decide whether you taste success or disappointment.

Brighton had picked up a meagre 14 points away from home in 1975/76 (W4 D6 L13), but turned things around slightly the following campaign with 20 points (W6 D8 L9). It was still not much to shout about. However, allied to the Albion’s astonishing home record where they attained 41 points (W19 D3 L1), and it was enough to seal promotion. No wonder Mullery (below) was so happy:


Tagged , , , ,