Tag Archives: dennis mortimer

How we won the cup

Here’s the Albion team after triumphing in the Oxfordshire Benevolent Cup in summer 1985:


As reported by Tony Millard in the Brighton v Grimsby programme from 1985/86:

A performance full of commitment and for most of the game of high quality, saw the Albion bring home the biggest trophy they’ve ever seen, never mind won, from Oxford on Wednesday, August 7.

The match at the Manor Ground was for the Oxfordshire Benevolent Cup. There was certainly nothing benevolent about the approach of both sides, and the game was a thriller.

An early injury to Eric Young, when the elbow of Jeremy Charles caught him in the face, upset Albion’s rhythm for a while. Jacobs moved back into the defence, and Penney came on to play on the right of midfield.

Once they settled again Albion started to play well, and a great goal from Dennis Mortimer just before half-time put them in front.

Midway through the second-half a scuffle between John Aldridge of Oxford and Albion’s Steve Jacobs, saw both players sent off by referee Hedges, and there could be little argument about the decision, although it was clear that Aldridge’s kick on Jacobs started the trouble.

Seconds from time Gary Briggs netted the equaliser.

Albion protested that Briggs, Charles and Shotton had all bundled into the unfortunate Perry Digweed, but the goal stood.

It had been decided to use penalties as a tie break.

Albion took the first kick through Danny Wilson. Alan Biley and Justin Fashanu had little difficulty in beating Hardwick with theirs, but it took Steve Penney two efforts to make his count when the ‘keeper moved to save. Dennis Mortimer completed a ‘five out of five’.

Oxford’s first four all counted, but a marvellous save by Perry Digweed from Andy Thomas gave Albion the trophy.

The winning penalty

A goal and the winning penalty from Mortimer

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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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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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Warm Up ’85


A mouth-watering pre-season programme in the summer of 1985 saw First Division giants Arsenal, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest make the journey to the South Coast.

With the help of some Panini stickers from ‘Football 86’, I will let the words of Tony Millard from the Brighton v Grimsby programme from 1985/86 give you a sense of how Second Division Brighton fared against the big boys:


The first home game was against Arsenal on Friday August 2. A full-strength Gunners side came to the Goldstone, and among their substitutes was Martin Keown who is now back at the Goldstone on loan. Albion played with the wind and rain behind them in the first-half, and took the lead with a cracking goal from Dennis Mortimer. The former Villa man certainly looked the part when he gave John Lukic no chance in the Arsenal goal.

A defensive slip that saw Graham Moseley stranded gave Paul Mariner a simple chance to put Arsenal level, and a header from Stewart Robson provided the winner for the Londoners after the interval. They might have netted a third, but Charlie Nicholas missed from the spot after Eric Young had been penalised.


The biggest pre-season crowd turned out for the game with Liverpool on Monday, August 5. With new manager Kenny Dalglish also in action as a player, it was a full strength Liverpool side that was looking for revenge against the club that had, twice in three seasons, knocked them out of the FA Cup.

It took Liverpool just seven minutes to take the lead, with Dalglish playing a 1-2 with the Dane Jan Molby, before slotting home from some eight yards. Molby was also involved in the second goal. A precision pass set Steve Nicol away on the right, and he made no mistake. Before the interval it was perhaps predictable that Ian Rush would find the net. Dalglish took advantage of defensive hesitation, Rush showed typical perception and nodded in from only two yards out to score a third for Liverpool.

The fourth too came from Rush, once again Dalglish was the architect, and the Welsh striker found space-a-plenty in the Albion area.

Albion scored a late goal through Steve Jacobs, by now pushing forward in midfield, but by then Liverpool had shown that they will once again be among the best this season.


Albion reserved their best for last Friday at the Goldstone when they walloped First Division Nottingham Forest 5-2. The match was a real thriller for the fans, and no one except perhaps for Brian Clough and his team, went home unhappy.

Justin Fashanu had an outstanding game against his former team mates. Enforced changes had to be made in Albion’s side. Christ Cattlin had signed 22 year-old defender Gavin Oliver on loan from Sheffield Wednesday. He filled the number five shirt.

Albion took the lead when a short corner gave Mortimer the chance to cross from the right and Biley headed in. That provided the only goal of the first-half.

The second 45 minutes was a real thriller. Steve Hodge put Forest level after the Albion defence had been caught napping. Albion were soon back in front when Steve Jacobs crashed the ball in, after Fashanu had nodded on a right-wing corner. The joy was short-lived when an error by Perry Digweed presented Nigel Clough with a ‘sitter’.

The finale from Albion surely left the Goldstone regulars with an appetite for more. First Martin Keown pushed forward. His run produced a corner which Mortimer floated in, Fashanu’s header caused havoc and Dean Saunders provided the finishing touch.

Danny Wilson grabbed the goal he certainly deserve when Fashanu again provided an important touch, not to mention distraction to the visiting defence, and the final goal came from just about the most powerful shot seen at the Goldstone for years. Fashanu connected from 15 years out. Segers could only parry the ball, and O’Reilly tapped it over the line.

While Chris Cattlin gave his team guarded praise in the press room after the match, Brian Clough declined to be interviewed. The praise from Cattlin was well justified, and the performance of his team has surely whetted the appetite of supporters, to kindle that feeling of anticipation of an enjoyable and productive season ahead.

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Great Albion kits: 1985/86 Home


A much loved home shirt design from the mid-1980s. It was mostly worn with white shorts and blue socks, but even in some home matches, such as the FA Cup 5th Round Replay with Peterborough in 1986, Albion wore this with white shorts and socks. Looked great either way! This shirt design lasted two seasons at Brighton, one with the Phoenix Brewery sponsor and then with the NOBO lettering.


The thin blue and red stripes on the V-neck collar and shirt cuff were retained from the previous design, as were the classic three white stripes down the sleeves. With those magnificent three bold vertical stripes on the sides of the collar, though, this showed adidas still had striking new ideas to play around with. Perhaps with such a range of elements, it might have looked a mess. Here, though, it is neatly executed and makes for a winning, pleasing combination.

On the pitch, with this home kit, Brighton, under Chris Cattlin, also seemed to have found a winning formula. With Terry Connor and Dean Saunders firing all cylinders up front (even though Justin Fashanu wasn’t), they were pushing for a return to Division One before a slump from late March 1986 onwards sent them to a chastening mid-table finish. The fall cost Cattlin his job.


Still, the team looked pretty stylish, even as they waved their promotion dreams goodbye! If you look closely, you can see that the badge and the sponsor logo were embossed. Another nice touch! Much more than this, the balance and positioning between adidas logo, club crest and shirt sponsor show a degree of thought and taste that is often missing from many replica shirts nowadays.

Also, I rather love the horizontal pinstripes at the bottom of the shirt – a contrast to the vertical, thinner ones of the previous jersey. The horizontal stripes reprise those of the shirt that France wore during the European Football Championship in 1984 on their home turf. While Steve Penney, Danny Wilson and Dennis Mortimer (below, righteously winning the ball against an opposition player who dared to go for the now outmoded vertical pinstripes!) made immense contributions to that 1985/86 season, there’s no doubt about it: we could have done with Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana in our side!


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Spotlight on Brighton

1985-86 spotlight

Full of optimism here. However, a wretched run of one win in the last ten Division Two games puts paid to the promotion push in 1985/86 and cost Chris Cattlin his job.

Note how much Dennis Mortimer resembles Gordon Greer!

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