Tag Archives: eric potts

I want to go places with Brighton, says Eric Potts


Despite wanting a long career with Brighton, winger and super-sub Eric Potts only lasted one season with Brighton, in 1977/78. Here is an interview with Shoot! magazine:

One of the close-season’s most astute signings was Alan Mullery,s move for Eric Potts. For just £14,000 the Brighton manager whipped away from Sheffield Wednesday one of the most popular players the Steel City has had.

Potts’ will-of-the-wisp skill has electrified many crowds and will quickly win over the Brighton supporters. An exciting individualist, his darting runs andninety-minute wholeheartedness will undoubtedly set the terraces buzzing at his new club just as he did many times in the seven years he was with Wednesday•

Attacking from midfield, the role given to him last season, did not suit him. “I would rather have midfield opponents worry about me,” said Potts. And although he only scored two League goals, a groin injury plus a change of position limited his appearances to twenty League games last term.

With over 150 games for The Owls behind him there was some sadness at leaving Sheffield. “‘I’ve had some good years with them •.. and got on well with the directors and supporters…you can’t play for them for seven years and not have them in your heart. The supporters made me… they pushed and pushed by letters to the Press and in other ways to get me into the side.

“But I want to go places… not sit on the substitutes’ bench like I did eight times in the Third Division last season. The First is my aim and that’s the reason I’m delighted to be joining Brighton. They want to play there, too.

“When I met Alan Mullery and the chairman and vice-chairman of the club in June their attitude to the-game was impressive enough for me to want to sign for them… they didn’t have to sell the potential of the club to me.

“I have played against Brighton twice and they seem to have the right blend of players. The motivation from Mullery. makes their chances of success that much greater and I know I can do a good job for them.”

Potts is no stranger to the Second Division in which Brighton will be competing next season. Under Sheffield W~dnesday’s previous managers, Derek Dooley and Steve Burtenshaw, he had four seasons in the Second.”

In the close season the 27 year-old, ginger-haired winger spent two weeks holiday in his mother’s house, opposite Everton Football Club, andthen went house-hunting in Shoreham with wife Linda end daughters Jennifer (3) and Deborah (1). They’re likely to enjoy life there for many reasons.


Eric Potts – from New Brighton to Brighton


From the Brighton v Luton programme in September 1977:

Eric Potts joined the Albion from Sheffield Wednesday in June this year. His energetic and busy style of play had made him a real favourite with the Hillsborough crowd and in 1976 the knowledgeable Yorkshire fans voted him ‘Player of the Year’. Before joining Wednesday he had spells with Oswestry, New Brighton and Blackpool but throughout his career to date representative honours have always eluded him.

Christened Eric Stanley, he was born in Liverpool on March 16, 1950 and was educated in that famous city. In fact, the latter part of his schooldays were spent at the Anfield Comprehensive School, within a stone’s throw of that shrine of football, the home of Liverpool FC.

The Potts household gives the man of the house plenty of female company as, in addition to wife Linda, Eric has two lovely daughters, Jennifer and Deborah. Pop music often provides the home entertainment and Eric admits to being a fan of most brands of this kind of music.

For relaxation filmgoing features among Eric’s interests and he lists Kirk Douglas and Natalie Wood as the stars he enjoys most. If asked his favourite country Sweden is the immediate answer. Where likes end dislikes are concerned among foods fish and steak are his most popular dishes.

Fascinating stuff!

Like many of Albion’s very happy squad, Eric’s main ambition is to play first division football with the Seagulls but looking back the high spot of his career was playing against the legendary Pele when with Sheffield Wednesday.

In ‘A Light in the North – Seven Years With Aberdeen’, Alex Ferguson wrote a fine summary of what a ‘supersub’ was, when he described bringing on eventual match winner John Hewitt against Bayern Munich on a famous night in 1982/83:

‘John is a tremendous substitute and although he lacks the consistency for a full game, he can come on and change a match and often score. Some players are not good substitutes. They are not used to it mainly because they take a long time to get warmed up and cannot get into the swing of a game, but John is excellent is this role.’

Go back five years, and into the English Second Division, and that description would have been apt for Eric Potts. The winger and midfielder played for Brighton & Hove Albion for just that one season, in 1977/78, and yet he claims a place in club folklore for his goalscoring exploits as substitute.

Joining Brighton from the Owls in a £14,000 deal, the red-headed signing made his Albion debut as the number seven in the club’s opening fixture, at Cambridge in the League Cup. In the next round’s replay at Oldham, he notched up his first goal for the Seagulls. The 5ft 5in winger held onto his starting place until he lost out to Tony Towner for the visit to Tottenham in November. From this point onwards, Potts only started five more matches for Brighton, such was the form of Towner, and it was in the number twelve shirt that Potts made his most memorable impact.

He scored Brighton’s second against Scarborough in the 3-0 win in the FA Cup 3rd Round in January 1978. Then, sensationally, he hit two goals in the last two minutes against Sunderland the following month, as Albion overturned a 1-0 deficit, after future Brighton loanee Jeff Clarke had given the Rokerites the lead. I know that match was televised by Southern TV but, sadly, I haven’t yet been able to track down the video footage. All I can offer is this image of the flame-haired one celebrating his winner:


Returned by Alan Mullery to the starting line-up, Potts opened the scoring against Stoke in a 2-1 win at the Goldstone in March. Then, combining well with John Ruggiero, Potts hit the late, solitary goal at Blackburn that these produced delirious scenes amongst the visiting players:


And how did his manager reward his match winner for the next match? Yes, by dropping him to the bench for the Tottenham game, for the second time that season. Nevertheless, unperturbed, when he came on, ‘Supersub’ scored in the second half to clinch a famous 3-1 win. And that concluded Potts’ goalscoring at Brighton. Five League goals, four of which were as substitute.

Here he is, in action in his Albion swan song, against Blackpool on the final day of the season:


Once the season ended, he joined Preston for £37,000 in August 1978 before closing his Football League career with Burnley from 1980 and Bury for two seasons from 1982.


Getting to Division One: Alan Mullery’s budget


The wheeling and dealing side of being a football manager was something that certainly appealed a lot to Alan Mullery. Luckily for him, he had far more cash to play with than, say, Pat Saward, at the start of the 1970s. It’s often commented that Mullery had a massive transfer budget. Trying to get beyond the opinion, I wanted to see to what extent this was true and have (to the best of my ability) tried to collate all the incomings and outcomings from 1976/77 to the end of 1978/79:

Steele £19,000
Lawrenson £112,000
Ruggiero £30,000
Potts £14,000
Williams swop
Clark £30,000
Maybank £238,000
Poskett £60,000
Sayer £100,000
Ryan £80,000
Chivers £15,000

Total: £700,000

Beal free
Kinnear free
Morgan £15,000
Cross Swop
Wilson Swop
Binney Free
Towner £65,000
Ruggiero Free
Potts £37,000
Mellor £30,000
Fell Swop

Total 147,000

To my eyes, despite the over-inflated price for Teddy Maybank, a deficit of £553,000 at late 1970s prices seems a reasonable price to pay for a club going from the Third Division into the top flight. Still, it wasn’t me writing the cheques! Undoubtedly, the Albion boss’ best capture of the time was Preston defender Mark Lawrenson. In this article from Shoot! magazine, the Brighton manager explains how he tried to balance the budget in the summer of 1977 after a big outlay:

Brighton caused a bit of a stir in the close-season when they splashed out a club record £112,000 to buy unknown defender Mark Lawrenson from Preston. It was a bold move from a progressive club who are determined to make a big success of life now they have been promoted to the Second Division.

And manager Alan Mullery is the first to admit they had no intention of spending that sort of cash when they first decided to go into the market. Mullery – who capped his first season as a manager by steering Brighton to the Third Division top two – explains:

“At first all we were going was a standby for Graham Cross – someone to play in the reserves and come into the first team when necessary. “But clubs were asking a ridiculous amount for this type of player. They were demanding £40,000 or £50,000 – and there was no way we were going to pay that for reserves. So then we decided to change our tactics and go in and spend big on a player who could come straight into the first team. I called all the staff together to discuss names of likely prospects. And they all came up with the same one – Mark Lawrenson.

“My chairman, Mike Bamber, and my coaching staff had all seen the lad play and were all impressed. And I thought he was tremendous on the three occasions I had seen him last season – twice against us, once at Crystal Palace. With so many people raving about him, it was obvious he was the man we wanted – so we moved in and did the deal. I know a lot of people have not heard to much about him yet. But they all will – believe me, they will.

“He is only 20, is big and strong and will make his mark in a big way. he settled down as soon as he joined us for pre-season training and seemed to be enjoying life on the South Coast. The thought of spending that sort of money on an unknown does not frighten me. A football manager has got to be prepared to back his judgement and I’m sure Mark will turn out to be a huge success.”

Mullery’s only regret is the enforced change of deal brought Cross’s time at the Goldstone Ground to an end. Soon after Lawrenson arrived, Cross and full-back Harry Wilson moved to Preston as part of a deal that brought another defender, Gary Williams, to Brighton from Deepdale. “Graham had an absolutely tremendous 1976-77 season for us and I can’t speak too highly of him,” said Mullery. “When I started planning for the new term I reckoned on having him in the side for our step up into the Second Division. Then events overtook us as I have explained, and things worked out differently. I wish him well at Preston and can assure their supporters they are getting one of the most honest lads in the game in Graham.”

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