Tag Archives: chris cattlin

Watching Forest at the Town Hall

From Football Handbook (part 25):


In a scintillating League Cup Quarter-Final, Alan Mullery’s men put on a great performance against the reigning English League champions and League Cup holders on 13th December 1978. The Seagulls succumbed to a 3-1 defeat against Clough’s side that retained the trophy and then also lifted the European Cup that season.

An estimated 5,000 Albion supporters cheered the Seagulls on at the City Ground. However, the support would have been even more if two of the three charter trains had not broken down en route.

In the Brighton v Stoke programme from 1978/79, there is a nice piece on how the club in January that season made it up to the supporters who missed this exciting cup tie:

With all the recent bad weather there has been a lot of work for the Promotions Office with re-arranging trains, etc. But one event that we had to work particularly hard on was the film showing of the Notts Forest Albion League Cup quarter-final. It was, of course, staged for the benefit of our unlucky supporters who were stranded on the two special trains which didn’t reach the City Ground.

Just under 1,000 people attended Hove Town Hall for the evening last Tuesday and several of the players came along to the delight of the supporters. The row shown in the picture shows the lads really enjoying some of their glory moments.

Some of the comments from the players made commentator Hugh Johns’ sound almost an amateur. Naturally everyone hopes we would never again have a similar situation but we hope supporters will agree that we’ve done our very best to make up for the disappointment.


Each one of the audience at Hove Town Hall was even issued with a black and white copy of the matchday programme:


Update 26/12/15: Two of the goals (from John McGovern and John Robertson) made it into the recent ‘I Believe in Miracles’ film:

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Cat makes the Seagulls soar


After Albion narrowly failed to clinch promotion to Division One in 1977/78, boss Alan Mullery promised at the end of the Blackpool match that Brighton would achieve the feat a year later. It seemed an unwise thing to pledge, especially when Brighton stood in mid-table position at the end of November 1978. However, the trusty and experienced full-back Chris Cattlin was recalled, in place of Ken Tiler, a decision that helped the team to find its mojo again:

Professional pride is an expression often misused, frequently abused and occasionally I misconstrued. It is, however: a phrase that is deservedly applied to the’ attitude” of certain players.

In these days Of commercialisation it is indeed pleasurable to see a seasoned professional who has seen both success and disappointment yet still has genuine enthusiasm for the game.

As Brighton push ahead towards the First Division, experienced defender, Chris Cattlin plays with as much, if not more, enthusiasm than many of his much younger colleagues.

For Chris it’s very much a case of ‘I’ve seen it all before’. Three caps for England at Under-23 level, chosen for the Football League against the Scota tish League, transferred from Huddersfield to Coventry nearly 13 years ago for £70,000 and over 250 appearances in the First Division.

When he moved to Brighton in May 1976, many thought the cheerful Lancastrian had come to the end of the road. The thought of a stay for a few years by the sea in the Third Division could be the ideal prelude to retirement.

But, for the big and enthusiastic son of a Rugby League international, that was not the aim. Twelve months after his arrival Brighton were in Division Two and a year later they missed promotion to the First by goal difference.

Last August it seemed Brighton manager, Alan Mullery had written off the one time Burnley Youth player. Ken Tiler and Gary Williams had settled in as a full-back pairing.

By the end of November The Seagulls had dropped to the bottom half of the table and Mullery seemed to be facing problems.

Chris Cattlin, was recalled and immediately fortunes changed.

A League Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest was hardly a disgrace and nor was a one-nil reverse on the ice-bound pitch at Preston in February. Apart from those two defeats the presence of “Cat”, as he’s known to his colleagues, has been more than just as a lucky mascot.

His skill, enthusiasm, experience and quite obvious enjoyment is infectious.

Looking back to his time at Coventry, Chris recalls nine years of fun and dozens of games that literally stirred the blood. When he left Highfield Road, The Sky Blues’ supporters protested and signed petitions to retain their favourite.

The move to Brighton, however, was finalised but Cattlin vowed his First Division days were far from finished.

And now he could be right. The heroics of Eric Steele, the foot perfect precision of Mark Lawrenson and the pulsating talent of Peter Ward may well grab the headlines but always there, in the number two shirt is the dependable true professional, Chris Cattlin – and when skipper Brian Horton was suspended he was made team captain.

For some footballers, careers are short but Chris has no thoughts of retirement. To play regularly again in the best League in the world – Division One – is his singular aim.

Alan Mullery is unstinting in his praise for the man who, as a teenager, was prevented by his parents from starting a professional career.

“Defeat never enters his head,'” says the Brighton manager. “Cat sets a fine example to my young players.

Chris is already a successful businessman but football will always be part of his life. The First Division is his immediate target but even that, one imagines, won’t completely satisfy him. Maybe to play in Europe would.

To talk the game with this now “neturalised” Brightonian is a pleasure and he gives the impression he’d be happy playing until he’s 50…

Yes, the man has “Professional Pride” with a capital “P” in the best and most genuine sense.

Cattlin was ever-present in the number two shirt for the second-half of the 1978/79 season. However, when Brighton entered the First Division, he was honest enough to Alan Mullery to admit that he wasn’t going to make it as a top flight player again. A heavy 4-0 defeat at Highbury in a League Cup replay in November proved his only appearance before retiring from the game to concentrate on his rock shop.


Panini Football 80 – Brighton’s first double spread


I originally bought this second hand at the Sunday market outside Brighton train station in the early 1990s. I thanked my lucky stars that all the Albion stickers were there. This was years before eBay, so finding someone with a spare Peter Sayer sticker lying around would have been tricky, whereas now it would only take a few seconds…

Looking at the Arsenal pages now, it’s striking that out of the 14 Gunners on display, five would eventually join Brighton (Steve Gatting, Willie Young, Sammy Nelson, Liam Brady and Frank Stapleton). Neil McNab lined up as a Bolton player sticker for the last time, while future Seagull favourite Michael Robinson smiled for his Manchester City photo shoot with a joviality that was not reflected in his unhappy year at Maine Road.

However, it’s the Albion double-spread that really catches the eye!



In these head and shoulder shots, we get to see the bubble perms of Sayer and Ward, but even these are outnumbered by the popularity of moustaches within the Brighton first team, through Lawrenson, Horton, Clark, O’Sullivan, Poskett and Ryan. Curiously, our players here are wearing flared collars with a triangular panel at the bottom, whereas during the season (I’m addressing fellow shirt anoraks, here!) it was open flared collars that were on display, at least for the home kit.

As the season unfolded, keeper Eric Steele gave way to Graham Moseley. Gary Stevens and Steve Foster also played much stronger roles in defence than either Chris Cattlin or Andy Rollings. Sayer, Maybank and Clark would be further casualties as Mullery moved his Panini stickers around his imaginary album to try to find a winning formula. Then, from nowhere (OK, Blackpool in the Third Division) Peter Suddaby took Lawrenson’s spot in defence while the Republic of Ireland international was pushed further forward. He would have taken one of the midfielder stickers, while Neil McNab and Ray Clarke would have been the new arrivals bringing high quality passing and forward play to the Goldstone. Good swopping, Mullers!

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Ken helps Albion out of doldrums

What a stylish pose!


While hardly remembered as a star player during Albion’s glory years, right-back Ken Tiler certainly played his part as Albion escaped the mediocrity of fighting to survive in Division Three in the mid-1970s.

At a time when the Goldstone was short of class, he was signed from Chesterfield by Peter Taylor in November 1974 and valued at £45,000 in a deal that took Billy McEwan and Ronnie Welch in the opposite direction.

Tiler settled quickly, showing the kind of form and know-how that steered Brighton away from the drop zone in the New Year. With the side being rapidly rebuilt by Taylor, things were on the up. Together with Harry Wilson on the other flank, the two full-backs are best remembered for their roles in the promotion near-miss of 1975/76 and then, a year later, when Brighton finished as runners-up. With Joe Kinnear out of favour under Alan Mullery, Tiler played 38 League matches in that glorious 1976/77 season.

In the Second Division, Tiler started the first 16 League matches before suddenly being dropped in favour of Chris Cattlin. In January 1978, he asked for a transfer but was restored for the final seven matches of the season. Here he is in action against Bob Hatton of Blackpool on the last day:


Despite beginning as first choice in the 1978/79 campaign, Tiler was not able to shake off the competition from Chris Cattlin forever. Brighton had a mediocre start, falling as low as 12th at the end of November. When the ‘Cat’ was restored to the right-back slot at the start of December 1978, it solidified the defence immeasurably and this spelt the end for Tiler’s time at Brighton. He didn’t play another match for the Seagulls and left for Rotherham in a £15,000 deal in July 1979.

In his 151 appearances, he never got on the scoresheet for the Albion, but attacking intent did exist in his family. Here he is with his family, including eight-year-old son Carl Tiler, who later made it as a centre-back with Barnsley, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield United:


At the time, Carl played as an orthodox left-winger. Ken said of his son:

“He already has the skill to beat me all ends up”

Perhaps it was this frank admission that confirmed Alan Mullery was right to go with Cattlin for the rest of the season!

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Happy New Year …with Albion Calendar 1980!

Short of Peter O’Sullivan, Teddy Maybank and Gary Williams turning up at your door tipsily singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, what finer retro Albion way to see in the New Year than an invitation for you to feast your eyes on a Brighton football calendar from 1980?

In 1979/80, a company called Print For Sport Ltd launched some lavish A2-sized Soccer Action Calendars for each First Division club, some ‘top’ Second Division clubs (West Ham, Leicester, Sunderland, Newcastle and Burnley, Luton and QPR) and the England team. For just £2.49 each, you received one for your favourite team with twelve colour action shots of first-team players.

The item, advertised heavily in the likes of Shoot! Magazine and Match Weekly, also included red ‘You-Fix’ stickers allowing fans to mark match dates and opponents on the calendar itself. I suppose they could have pre-printed the fixtures directly onto the relevant dates themselves but this was what counted as ‘fun’ and ‘interactive’ in those days!

Here is the Brighton & Hove Albion calendar, lovingly scanned by yours truly:


In a clever, eye-catching design, Malcolm Poskett, Chris Cattlin and Peter Ward are the cover stars.


Then into January is… ermm, Brian Horton with a full head of hair in the perm? Well, it’s definitely Nobby’s signature on the bottom right but, as Alan Wares (Albion Roar) from North Stand Chat has identified, it’s Andy Rollings blocking the shot from Orient’s Alan Whittle in a memorable 3-3 draw. Peter O’Sullivan and Mark Lawrenson are in the background, along with Clark’s hair!


Next up is Malcolm Poskett, also in action against Orient, out to prove Alan Mullery was right to prefer him to Wardy in the number eight shirt for this match.


When Peter Ward does show up in March, it’s on a bad hair day.


Steve Foster had signed for the Seagulls in pre-season in the summer of 1979. Without a genuine match appearance for Brighton to his name yet, he strikes a pose for the camera instead.


In the same Blackburn game where he scored a goal in the midst of a smoke bomb going off, here’s Teddy Maybank challenging for the ball.


Eric Steele shows a safe pair of hands for the camera.


‘Viking’ Paul Clark on the ball, possibly against Luton in April 1979.


New signing John Gregory juggles the ball.


Veteran Chris Cattlin is star of the month for September 1980 even though his Albion playing were over by then.


Gary Williams carries the ball out against Blackburn.


Proving his acting skills are no better than his punditry skills, Mark Lawrenson fakes celebrating a goal!


And finally, Gerry Ryan goes for a dribble.

As you can see, 1st January 1980 fell on a Tuesday, whereas 1st January 2014 is a Wednesday, so you’ll be disappointed if you were hoping to print this out and use it, unamended, as your calendar for the New Year. Significantly, 1980 was also a leap year so you’ll have to wait all the way until 2036 before this calendar fits the bill again. Never mind! I hope that you are patient. In the meantime, Happy New Year!

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Santa sleighs Crystal Palace

Getting into the festive spirit, these Albion folks featured on the cover to the Brighton v Newcastle matchday programme in December 1983:


Can you work out who they are?

Inside, the identities were revealed… well, two of the trio, anyway:

Our cover photograph on today’s programme was the idea of supporter Stove Blunt, “but very few supporters will know exactly who the Father Christmas is alongside the two clowns. The identity of these are no secret as both Neil Smillie and Steve Foster have been the butt of their colleague’s humour this week.

Steve claims that his diet is responsible for the ill fitting trousers while Nell, who has missed training in recent weeks due to his ankle injury, shows that he has still been keeping fit . . . but what about Father Christmas, who is it?

I don’t know… surely it’s not Chris Cattlin, is it?

The early appearance for our photo of the lads in fancy dress gave no secrets away for the players’ own fancy dress party next Thursday. This party has become an Albion Christmas tradition and some marvellous characters have emerged in recent seasons.

Gary Williams’ depiction of Wurzel Gummidge two years ago was one of the best, but one or two of the players have some ‘secret’ plans lined up for next Thursday and local costume shops have been the ‘odd’ target for some.

One of the biggest, ACE Fancy Dress Hire, in Eastbourne, provided the material for our photo and several of the lads were over there this week lining up their own for the party. Everyone is playing a part but they all claim secrecy is part of the enjoyment.

Two rumours circulating the ground suggest that one player will be dressed as a well known cricketer and another is threatening to go as ‘Boy George’

Despite the seasonal cheer, manager Chris Cattlin was keen to maintain a discipline squad, as he revealed in the Brighton v Fulham programme on 27th December 1983:

“We were due to train on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and every player will be expected to step on the scales each day so that their weight can be checked… too much Foster turkey, Corrigan Christmas pudding or Case cream cakes will show up and the lads know it.”

It seemed to do the trick as Brighton won 2-0 at Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, with goals from Danny Wilson and Neil Smillie.

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Brighton have got it right this time!

Brighton are on their way back to the First Division – and when they get there this time, they mean to stay there.

So says journalist Tony Pullein, writing for ‘Football Monthly’, the world’s greatest soccer magazine, according to its strap line, in February 1986. He was convinced of this view after speaking with Albion chairman Bryan Bedson and manager Chris Cattlin, as the season entered spring and the Sussex club dreamed of promotion.

Bedson thinks the future's so bright he'll be wearing shades

Bedson thinks the future’s so bright he’ll be wearing shades

“All our planning over the past couple of years has been geared to putting Brighton into the First Division and establishing the club at that level,” explained chairman Bryan Bedson.

“When the club previously reached the top, they did it with quite a few expensive signings. But those players grew old and were worth very little in the transfer market.That was one of the reasons why the club was so heavily in debt. When I took over, we had 32 players on our books, many of them being paid far too much.I can tell you that I took over enormous debts. We had to take care of these and now, they are being carried by the directors. We had to trim the staff and get the housekeeping right. We have spent a lot of energy on our lottery scheme, which is now one of the most successful in the country. We have new completely restructured the club financially and are very optimistic for the future.”

Brighton have a good chance of winning promotion this season but, should they miss, there is little doubt they will make it next term.

Visiting the Goldstone Ground recently, I could sense the feeling of optimism around the place. With five wins in their previous six games including that fine 2-0 F.A. Cup success at Newcastle – the feeling was that they have got it right this time.

Smudge, with Chris Cattlin

Smudge, with Chris Cattlin

“The pleasing thing for me,” smiled manager Chris Cattlin, “is that we have won four of our last five away games.” That was no surprise to Brighton’s travelling supporters, who have become accustomed to seeing their side attack the opposition both at home and away.

“My policy is to go at the opposition right from the start,” explained Cattlin.”I don’t care whether we are home or away. Our tactics are the same. The important thing for us all is that the game is made entertaining. We have to put the game before individual club ambitions. Football has had many problems. One of the reasons is that it has not been marketed in the right way. We have got to make people want to come to the ground to see a good game. There is too much talk about sponsors. As far as I’m concerned, the only sponsors I want to see are fans pouring in through our turnstiles. That’s what the professional game is all about,” added Cattlin.

Certainly, there has been a tremendous transformation at the Goldstone Ground since Cattlin took over as manager in November, 1983. The Seagulls were third from bottom of the Second Division at the time. Though few people realised it, the club was on the verge of closure.

“That’s right,” shrugged Cattlin. “If we had gone down again, we might have become another Swansea or Bristol City. It was as serious as that.” “Brighton were saddled with too many old players, many earning far too much money for what they were contributing. I sold an old team and have bought a new team of my own. I had to pick them up from the lower divisions and from reserve teams. But I chose players with the right attitude and players who would be proud to play for Brighton.

“I set myself two targets. One was to ensure the club survived. The other was to set up a youth policy that would provide players for the future.”

The latter will probably prove to be the most important contribution made by Brighton’s live-wire manager in the long term. Few local-born players have made the first-team in modern times and the whole of the current first-team squad came from other clubs.

George Petchey was brought in as youth development officer to set the scheme in motion and is still in charge of recruitment, though he is also coach to the first-team. John Shepherd, the former Millwall, Brighton and Gillingham player, runs the yeuth team on a part-time basis.

“Of course, it will be some time before we see real results,” says Cattlin. “But I am hopeful that we shall find many first-team players from this source in the future.”

At the moment, Cattlin still has to find his players elsewhere. Last summer, he sold Nell Smillie to Watford for £ 110,000 and bought Justin Fashanu from Notts County for a similar fee.


“I also signed my old Coventry friend Dennis Mortimer on a free transfer. He is such a fine player with the right attitude,” said the Seagulls boss.

Ray Houghton - one that got away

Ray Houghton – one that got away

“I got Dean Saunders from Swansea on a free, so my summer dealings cost the club nothing. I would dearly have liked to have signed John Gregory from Q.P.R. and Fulham’s Ray Houghton. But the fact was, we couldn’t afford them,” shrugged Cattlin.

“I was disappointed because, at the moment, I am £300,000 in credit on my transfer transactions. But, besides being a football manager, I am also a businessman and I accept that the board has had to make cuts – just like the Government!”

Cattlin spent his distinguished playing career With Burnley, Huddersfield, Coventry and Brighton. A leftback, he also won England Under-23 honours. When he retired in 1979, he left the club to go into business locally. He later returned to the Goldstone Ground as coach and in November, 1983, he became manager.

“It has been difficult at times,” he admits. “In the old days when the club went through a lowspell, they would spend £400,000 on a new player. I can’t do that. This season, we have been crippled by injuries. Strikers Gerry Ryan and Terry Conner both broke a leg. Fashanu had a knee operation, Steve Gatting a pelvic injury. Chris Hutchings broke an arm and now he’s out with a cartilage injury. In the circumstances, it’s not suprising we received a few set-backs during the early weeks.”

At the turn of the year, Brighton were fielding a settled team for the first time. And it showed in results.

Of the game generally, Cattlin feels football needs to take a good look at itself.

“We have got to market the game and we needed TV to help. We’ve got to run our clubs on a businesslike basis and, most important of all, we have to examine the product we are selling football. I’m absolutely convinced that football has a great future. We have to stop being too cautious. Here at Brighton, we are all willing to have a go. To take chances. All right, we shall make mistakes. But the game is about winning and that means you have to attack.”

The Seagulls’ boss is confident his side can succeed this season. “In the Second Division, we want to win the Championship,” he emphasises. “We enter the F.A. Cup because we want to win it. We are going for both this season.”

Cattlin concedes that Portsmouth and Norwich seem likely to take two of the promotion places. “It looks that way at the moment, but there’s a long way to go. I’m proud of my team. They are all playing for Brighton. Playing to win every game. Of course we can win promotion.”

Will the current side be good enough to hold its place if it does go up this year? Cattlin is realistic: “I think we would have to spend a bit to strengthen it. The youth policy has not been going long enough yet to provide First Division players. But if you look at the First Division, there are about seven really outstanding clubs. I’m sure we can survive among the others when we first go up. It’s really a question of organisation, of using your assets to the best advantage.”

It seems clear that when Brighton do regain their First Division status, they will not again have to live on a clay-today basis, hoping for survival.

Now, they know their future is in good hands.


In the end, Brighton did not achieve promotion and Cattlin got the sack in the summer of 1986.

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Jimmy Melia has gone!


Thirty years ago today, on 19 October 1983, Jimmy Melia resigned as Brighton manager. With Cattlin succeeding Melia, in its opinion piece ‘Shoot View!’ in its 12th November issue, the magazine characterised the decision as a ‘Dark deed at Brighton’:

Yet another League club has had its grubby internal affairs aired in public.

And once more, the great game of football is the loser as the fans are given another full-frontal peek at soccer’s sordid side.

This time Brighton have become embroiled in a distasteful episode that would not look out of place in television’s “Dallas” and “dynasty” programmes.

The plot is familiar: Boss, Jimmy Melia, is instructed by the board that his chief coach, Chris Cattlin, is charged with the duty of picking the Brighton team every Saturday.

That arrangement is a little like Margaret Thatcher having to take orders from one of her underlings. Not unnaturally, Jimmy Melia found it hard to take just five months after guiding a modest Brighton team to their first F.A. Cup Final.

And so it was inevitable that 47-year-old Melia, a proud Liverpool-born man with a deep-seated love of the game, would quit only ten Second Division games after dancing for joy across the Wembley grass.

Few episodes of “Dallas” have been more cruel than this real life football drama.

Cup Final manager one moment; having his team picked by a member of his staff the next.

Melia packed his bags and said simply: “The appointment of Cattlin as coach produced a personality clash and I simply found I could not work in the conditions. He has even been picking the team.”

Jimmy Melia might not have been the world’s greatest manager, but he was as good as some and better than others.

We offer our best wishes to Mr Cattlin. He became an unsuspecting pawn in a rather grubby Goldstone game. Let’s hope he’s treated a lot better than his predecessor.

Despite the ‘Melia in, Bamber out!’ chants at the time, thirty years on, you’d struggle to find an Albion fan who still regrets Melia making way for Cattlin. Despite Shoot! magazine arguing that ‘Jimmy Melia might not have been the world’s greatest manager, but he was as good as some and better than others’, it is clear that Melia have a rotten League record as Brighton manager. The FA Cup run should not have camouflaged that to a magazine that still had pretensions of serious analysis. Despite the struggles that Mike Bailey faced in 1982/83, it is worth remembering that his side stood in 18th position, outside the Division One relegation zone, when Bailey and his coaches John Collins and Brian Eastick left on 6th December 1982. By the end of the season, under Melia and George Aitken, the Seagulls had slumped four more places to bottom of the the First Division.

In the summer, with the euphoria of the FA Cup Final still fresh in the memory, it would have taken a very brave Albion board to sack Melia. Perhaps this is why they chose to appoint Cattlin, to provide some much needed discipline and rigour, while stitching up Melia to some extent by putting the new coach in charge of team selection.

With ten Division Two games gone in 1983/84, after a 5-0 pasting at Grimsby Town, the club stood in 14th position and in real danger of a second successive relegation battle. The unhappy arrangement was not to last. Despite Melia making a surprise appearance, being held shoulder-high in the North Terrace by supporters in the next match, a 3-1 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, from then on it was most definitely the Chris Cattlin show.

As a young manager who eschewed the razzmatazz of his predecessor, Cattlin put the Brighton team’s affairs back in order with some shrewd signings, such as Steve Penney, Chris Hutchings and Danny Wilson. He was able to turn the Seagulls into serious promotion candidates in the Second Division over the following few seasons before he also came a cropper, sacked in the summer of 1986.

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‘I expect the bullet’ – Cattlin’s confession


In this revealing interview from 1983, Chris Cattlin shows a mixture of realism and determination as he replaces Jimmy Melia as Brighton boss:

Chris Cattlin has no illusions about the struggle he faces in trying to steer 1983 Cup Finalists Brighton back to the First Division.

“I shall do my best until the bullet comes,” he says bluntly.

Cattlin, the former Huddersfield, Coventry and Brighton defender who has spent recent years building up a thriving rock selling business (see image below) in the Sussex seaside town, has move into his new job as successor to Jimmy Melia with such caution that a casual observer could be forgiven for believing that the Goldstone Ground has been relayed with mines left over from the Falklands war.


Chris Cattlin is arguably the most unpopular manager to be appointed in the history of the game. And none of it is his fault.

Appointed last summer as chief coach, he was given Melia’s job when the Brighton manager walked out last month.

“I didn’t ask to do the job. I was given the job, and having got used to it, I’ll do it to the best of my ability,” explains Cattlin.

“I want to let the dust settle, and then try to get the club straightened out.”

His priority is to win promotion to the First Division and get the club into Europe. But he confesses that the current side, unless stiffened up by two or three new players, is not good enough to gain promotion this season.

“They said Watford didn’t have potential to do anything. Look what happened. Look what Bobby Robson did for Ipswich Town in his time there. One of the best things that happened to Brighton was to get to the Cup Final. It has given us tradition, and Jimmy Melia and the team must be congratulated for that.”

He is looking for new players of “substance” and will not confine his scouting to Brighton. His priority is to find a defender and midfield player.

In the meantime, he confesses to being happy with the quality of many of the Brighton team.

Cattlin’s coach-like appraisal of his squad is fascinating:-

Goalkeeper Joe Corrigan – “Marvellous professional.”

Full-back Kieran O’Regan – “infectious enthusiasm with a will to win.”

Steve Gatting – “A First Division player who needs a kick occasionally. Educated left foot.”

Eric Young – “Lots of potential. He has played against Frank Stapleton and Mark Falco and learns with every game.”

Graham Pearce – “A steady player. Won’t let you down.”

Tony Grealish and Jimmy Case – “Two great professionals. Dedicated.”

Neil Smillie – “Pacey Winger. Doesn’t always produce what he is capable of.”

Gerry Ryan – “Scores goals. He’s lost half a yard of pace. At 28, he has stopped working at his game. I want to get more out of him – and I will.”

Terry Connor – “A shy lad, he has done well, but can improve. Great potential.”

Gordon Smith – “Cost £400,000. Needs to play with more passion. Can score goals.”

Alan Young – “Aggressive striker.”

“I want to pour some concrete into the club to give it the solid foundations it needs. I want to do that before I get the sack, as I inevitably will. Most managers do.

“I have no fear of the sack. I was invited back to the club by the chairman and now i have got the bit between the teeth.”

Chris Cattlin, one of the few managers to be appointed without a fanfare of trumpets, deserves to be given a chance.

But with the smell of cordite fresh around the Goldstone, the most sceptical Brighton supporter would not give much for his long term future.


Cattlin certainly steadied the ship in 1983/84. A side that had fallen to 16th position in the Second Division in October 1983, Melia’s last as manager, recovered to 9th by the end of the campaign. The new manager, with assistant Sammy Nelson, had instilled a new discipline into the running of the team, something that bore fruit in a famous, handsome 2-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup in January. All was set for a promotion push the following season.


European Sky Blues – the future Albion stars that beat Bayern Munich

The proof-readers must have been on holiday, because the matchday programme for Brighton’s recent pre-season friendly with Norwich City carried this juicy blunder:

Norwich are the only English side to have beaten Bayern Munich in European competition.

Well, apart from Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United and Tottenham, of course. Three of those were in the final of the European Cup (or Champions League), so it was a sizeable gaffe that deserves to be squelched. And, in an act that might inspire some Jimmy Hill chin-stroking style incredulity, Coventry City have also defeated Bayern Munich. Yes, that’s right. And it was in the decade when Bayern were crowned champions of Europe three times. What is more, the Sky Blues did it with a quite a few players who went on to ply their trade with Brighton & Hove Albion several years later.


Autumn 1970. Ex-Eire international midfielder Pat Saward had recently left the coaching staff at Coventry City, where he had nurtured the youngsters of Highfield Road to the FA Youth Cup Final for the second time in three seasons. However, now a much bigger challenge loomed, as the prospect of relegation threatened to engulf his first campaign as Brighton manager. Having finished fifth in the previous campaign under Freddie Goodwin, Albion had started 1970/71 with a measly two wins in ten matches. So Saward went back to old club to replenish his side in the face of an injury crisis. He emerged with the reserves’ tough centre-half Ian Goodwin on loan. As John Vinicombe wrote of Saward in the Evening Argus:

He well remembered Goodwin, a 6ft central defender, who at 20 was still learning his trade. Goodwin, all 13st of him, had lost his first team place after four appearances when City splashed £100,000 on Wednesday’s Wilf Smith.

The transfer struck a chord with Saward, who during his career at City had tried to sign Goodwin’s younger brother. Ian only turned up at Highfield Road as a driver for the 15-year-old kid. Saward recalled: “We happened to be short of a player and asked Ian to show us what he could do and he turned in such a good performance that he had a month’s trial and stayed.”

Two years later Goodwin answered Saward’s SOS and breezed into the office, declaring: “Have no fear, Goodwin is here.” That self introduction was typical of Goodwin, who became a breath of fresh air to Albion’s dressing room.

“You can relax,” he beamed. “From now on it’s going to be wins all the way.” Now Saward was no mean motivator himself, but with Goodwin having joined the ranks, initially on a short-term arrangement, spirits began to soar.

Goodwin’s boast proved empty as Albion continued to fall, from 17th place in early November to as low as 23rd in late March 1971 before rallying to finish a respectable 14th position.

As for Coventry, the Sky Blues had much, much bigger fish to fry. The Midlanders had finished sixth in the First Division in 1969/70, which opened the way to the first and only European campaign in their history, in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Once they progressed past the first round, having beaten Trakia Plovdiv 4-1 in Bulgaria before a 2-0 win at Highfield Road, Coventry then drew mighty Bayern Munich.

The Sky Blues line-up at the Olympic Stadium in Munich was:
McManus, Coop, Cattlin, Machin, Blockley, Strong, Hunt, Carr, Martin, O’Rourke, Clements.

cov-chriscattlin2So that’s three players there that went on to join Brighton. Left-back on the night was the ever-dependable Chris Cattlin. He had a distinguished career at Highfield Road after signing from Huddersfield for a record fee for a full-back, £80,000, in March 1968. On the Sent From Coventry blog he said recently: “I was a long, lanky lump and I wouldn’t dive in. I’d trap the attackers in the corner then wallop them. I had a great relationship with the fans at Coventry. They knew what they were going to get from me.” He was transferred to Brighton for no fee in summer 1976 as Peter Taylor’s last signing for the Albion, and his stiffening of the defence (when ousting Ken Tiler from right-back mid-way through the season) made such a huge contribution to Brighton clinching promotion to Division One in 1978/79.

cov-machinMidfielder Ernie Machin also played in Germany on that evening. This energetic and skilful player eventually came to the Goldstone Ground via Plymouth in summer 1974. Although he was appointed captain, he never settled on the south coast, and still lived in Coventry and trained in the Midlands. Released at his own request in 1976, he eventually returned to Coventry briefly as youth team coach.

cov_neilmartinCoventry’s lanky striker Neil Martin also didn’t last very long as an Albion player. Signed by Taylor in summer 1975 as a freebie from Nottingham Forest, he left for arch rivals Crystal Palace in March 1976 after losing his place.

In the first leg, Coventry went down 6-1 to Bayern.

For the return leg, Neil Martin kept his place and scored the winner in a famous 2-1 victory. Cattlin and Machin dropped out, and Wilf Smith and Dennis Mortimer were promoted to the side:
Glazier, Coop, Smith, Mortimer, Blockley, Hill, Hunt (Joicey sub), Carr, Martin, O’Rourke, Clements.

cov-Wilf-SmithWilf Smith had been born as Wilfred Schmidt in Neumünster, Germany before his parents decided to Anglicise his name. He had joined Coventry from Sheffield Wednesday for £100,000, a record fee for a full-back, in summer 1970. It was this move that led to unsettled Goodwin joining Pat Saward’s Albion. The classy Smith also came to Albion on loan from Coventry in October 1974, but Albion could not afford the fee to make the deal permanent.

cov-mortimerFinally in this exodus-of-sorts to the Goldstone, Dennis Mortimer. At the time of the Bayern clashes, he was just eighteen years old, eventually playing 193 Division One games for the Sky Blues before a successful move to Aston Villa. He joined Albion much later in 1985, signed by Chris Cattlin, now Brighton manager, on a free transfer. By that time, Mortimer was reaching the end of his career and yet his powerful performances with Brighton made him a firm favourite at the Goldstone Ground. The influential midfielder had already notched up another victory over Bayern Munich, in the 1982 European Cup Final as Villa skipper.

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