Tag Archives: chris hutchings

The walking wounded

Gerry Ryan, Chris Hutchings, Justin Fashanu and Terry Connor posed before Brighton’s match with Blackburn at the Goldstone in September 1985:

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Making up a ‘plaster cast’, the photo illustrated how Chris Cattlin was down almost to a bare minimum of players from which to choose his team. Ryan’s injury was caused by the terrible challenge by Crystal Palace’s Henry Hughton in the previous season. He never played for the Seagulls again and eventually had to retire, receiving a benefit match in August 1986.

By contrast, Hutchings recovered by October, eventually making 29 League appearances, mainly as right-back. Even so, he was surprisingly dropped for the FA Cup Quarter-Final against Southampton in March, a decision that Cattlin readily admitted was a mistake, before being restored for the rest of the campaign.

Fashanu also enjoyed an extended run after the controversial striker made his return in the 4-0 defeat by Liverpool in the Milk Cup at the end of October 1985. While never quite hitting the heights of form, he was ever-present in the number 9 shirt in December and January. His last game for the Seagulls was in the memorable FA Cup tie at Peterborough in February 1985 before he fell foul of recurrent knee injury problems.

It was Connor, though, who made the biggest impact upon his return. He had limped off against his former side Leeds in the 1-0 home defeat at the start of September. It took two months to recover and yet the centre-forward plundered a very creditable 14 goals in the rest of the season, one short of top scorer Dean Saunders.

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Albion relegation shirt almost tops £900 on eBay

Some headlines were made this week by the news that England ‘match shirts’, identical to the ones the players will wear at the World Cup, will go on sale at the eye-watering price of £90. However, on eBay yesterday, a Brighton & Hove Albion shirt was sold for almost ten times that figure!

Here is the 1986/87 Seagulls shirt in all its long-sleeved glory:

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The seller, johnnyaxcell from Scarborough, described the item as:

Very rare Brighton shirt. Number 3 on back. Long sleeves. 1986. From very good source that shirt is match worn. Can’t prove it tho. Although replica shirts in 80s didn’t have numbers on back so no reason to think not match worn. Large size. Shirt in good condition for age. Great memorabilia piece.

He also later added:

Adidas logos are embroided on shirt. I have been told this is a good sign they are match worn originals.

On the back was number 3:

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This was the shirt number of Ian Chapman when he made his debut at Birmingham in February 1987. However, it was Chris Hutchings’ shirt number mostly, as he made 36 appearances for the Seagulls in the Second Division that inglorious campaign.

On sale for seven days, the item attracted 38 bids, eventually going for an astonishing £896.99 yesterday at tea-time.

Now, I’ve dabbled in buying retro Albion shirts on eBay from time to time. By far the most I ever spent was £226 on a super-rare Adidas 1983 Brighton FA Cup Final shirt. The NOBO jersey was well beyond me financially. That said, it would have been a good investment as retro football shirts are increasing in value significantly each year.

However, I was interested in finding out whether the 1986/87 shirt was the highest fee for a Brighton shirt. And if not, which one holds that accolade? Phil Shelley of the Old Football Shirts website said this:

“I think the yellow adidas 1984/85 away shirt on my site went for more. If not the yellow one then one of the blue ones. There were two or three that were listed at the same time a couple of years ago. Top one went for more than £900, if I remember correctly.

“Also, Peter Ward’s Bukta shirt, as worn in the Blackpool match in April 1978, went for over £1,000 at an auction at Withdean stadium.

“That said, it was a mighty impressive figure the NOBO one went for.”

Yes. Not a bad price for a relegation season shirt with a dubious sponsor!

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Love the Tiger feat

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.

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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:

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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.

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Black day at the Goldstone Ground: Brighton v Chelsea 1983

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According to Tim Carder and Roger Harris’ ‘Seagulls!’ book, discussing the 1983/84 season:

An anonymous supporter took out a four-page advert in the Evening Argus on 2 September, appealing for more support and, in particular, for more vocal support; he wanted the game the following day to be a fun afternoon for everyone. He should not have wasted his money – it was the Chelsea match!’

Thirty years to the day, it certainly seemed like a match to savour, the first ever Football League encounter between recent FA Cup Finalists Brighton against a resurgent Chelsea, with rising stars such as Kerry Dixon, David Speedie, Pat Nevin, Colin Pates and Nigel Spackman firing all cylinders alongside very experienced players such as John Hollins and Colin Lee (below):

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The Blues had trounced Derby County 5-0 on the opening day of the season. However, the spectre of football hooliganism was to mar the Albion v Chelsea game. As authors Carder and Harris went on to say:

Friday night saw running battles between Chelsea followers, police and local youths; and the game was played in a brooding atmosphere before 20,874 people, 8,000 of them from London.

Played out in the sunshine, the highlight of the match for Brighton supporters was Alan Young’s spectacular banana shot after 76 minutes. Reporting in the Sunday Mirror, Pat Garrow wrote:

Chelsea were quickly in their stride and when the hapless Steve Foster handled in the box, Dixon gave the visitors the lead.

…a shaken Brighton stormed back. It started when Jimmy Case took a free kick that Niedzwiecki failed to hold and Young did the rest with a spectacular overhead kick.

Brighton’s joy was short-lived. A minute later Chelsea scored the winner. This time it was the consistent Clive Walker who squared the ball almost from the byeline across goal.

‘Keeper Digweed could only get his left hand to it and he pulled it down for Dixon to volley into the net.

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The game was far from rough but referee Ken Baker kept bringing out his notebook.

Indeed, he showed the red card to one of the Chelsea players, which surprisingly drew fierce criticism from Brighton boss Jimmy Melia who said: “The referee was diabolical. The decision to send Canoville off for retaliation was terrible.”

But the drama did not end there. As Carder and Harris explained:

Chelsea supporters infiltrated all parts of the ground, and at the final whistle the hooligans invaded the pitch from all unfenced areas to launch a vicious attack on the hopelessly outnumbered police. By the time a police horse had managed to clear the pitch, seven constables were injured and the north goal was broken. It was the worst outbreak of violence ever seen at the Goldstone.

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Chelsea’s left-back Chris Hutchings even got in on the act, and was charged with threatening and abusive behaviour for swearing at police trying to clear the pitch. According to an article by Spencer Vignes in the Brighton v Sheffield Wednesday programme in 2012/13, it started when he applauded the visiting support after the match, an act interpreted by a policeman as inciting further crowd trouble. As Hutchings said:

“All I did was clap them and this copper comes over and says ‘Get off the pitch at me.’ I said ‘No’ so he said ‘get off the pitch’ again and tried to help me on my way, and I told him to ‘Fuck off’ and ran down the tunnel. Next thing I know he’s nicking me!’

By the time the case was heard at Hove Magistrates Court, Chris Hutchings the Chelsea player had become an Albion player, signing for the Seagulls in a £50,000 deal in November 1983. I’m sure his signing on fee covered the £250 fine he received!

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With Hutchings a fixture at left-back, Brighton were eager to avenge the defeat in the corresponding fixture at Stamford Bridge on the last day of 1983. It was not to be as the sharpshooting David Speedie grabbed the winner to complete the League double over the Albion.

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