A sweet image of Gary Williams from Shoot magazine in 1979:
The Mike Bailey era was known for its tight, defensive football. However, when the Southern TV cameras arrived for their last ever two broadcasts from the Goldstone Ground, before TVS took over broadcasting in the region, they were treated to two goal-fests in the shape of Brighton’s matches with Manchester City and Liverpool in October 1981.
Here’s Michael Robinson in action against his former team mates from Manchester:
Brighton had beaten Manchester City, Robinson et al, 4-1 over Christmas in 1979/80. They repeated the scoreline on 3rd October 1981, with the help of the former Preston centre-forward.
After a drab, scoreless first half, Michael Robinson opened the scoring, before Andy Ritchie (2) and Gary Williams put the game out of reach of City:
A fortnight later, the Goldstone crowd was treated to another classic in the rain, this time a 3-3 draw with Liverpool, with another Seagull – Jimmy Case – scoring against his former side.
Note: Just a quick reminder – this blog is finishing in two days time as a daily blog…
Brighton supporter Gary Cook sent me a tremendous photo of himself with Albion players John Ruggiero and Eric Steele:
The raffle prize was at the Sussex Mini Minor League Awards 1978 I think. We came runners-up in the Cup if I am right, which may well be wrong. The Cup final was also played at Withdean, lost 3-1 to Coombe Rovers. Won the Cinzano, remember selling it to my willing Mum for a much appreciated fiver!
And Gary Williams and Mark Lawrenson also did their bit to encourage young players:
The Withdean photo was approximately 1979. As I recall a late summer 5-a-side tournie where Holiingbury Hawks (my team) came runners-up and got our medals from the players.
Thanks, Gary! If you have any vintage snaps of yourself with Albion players of the past, feel free to let me know in the comments section.
A trip to the home of Nick from Fishergate led me to scanning these rather lovely 65mm x 65mm badges from the late 1970s:
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!
Former England wing wizard Keith Weller, who died in 2004, is considered one of Leicester City’s greatest ever players. In September 1978, he tore the Albion team apart with a scintillating display. The 4-1 victory was the Foxes’ first of the season. It was also Albion’s heaviest defeat since they returned to the Second Division. From the Daily Express:
If Albion were still suffering from the flu germ that forced the postponement of the previous week’s match against Stoke, it was Weller who sent Leicester fans’ temperatures soaring with a vintage display.
He played the key role in Leicester’s first three goals, then capped a first-class display with a goal of his own.
Weller gave warning of what was to come when, after four minutes, he cut past three men and struck a shot over the bar.
Leicester then had to survive a purple patch by Albion, before going ahead after 20 minutes. Steve Kember, who controlled midfield for most of the match, found Weller on the right – and Trevor Christie tucked Keith’s low cross inside the far post.
Eight minutes later, Leicester were two up. Weller won the corner and took it himself. And with the bewildered Albion defence massed at the post, Billy Hughes placed his header just inside the near post.
But Brighton did enough before half-time to suggest that Leicester still had a fight on their hands. Peter O’Sullivan missed a first half sitter, and Teddy Maybank’s strong running caused moments of blind panic in the Leicester defence.
Leicester indeed looked to lose their rhythm until a 57th minute penalty by Hughes put the result beyond doubt.
Again, it was Weller’s good work that created the opening. He seemed certain to score until Mark Lawrenson brought him down.
The usually immaculate Lawrenson had his name take for dissent and Leicester centre-half Steve Sims was also booked for a stiff challenge.
But by then, Leicester were beyond caring. For although full-back Gary Williams pulled one back for Albion with a superb volley 15 minutes from the end, it was then too late to mean much.
And a minute later Weller got the goal he so richly deserved when he pushed a short ball from Christie past the helpless Eric Steele.
Leicester: Wallington, Whitworth, Rofe, May, Sims, Kelly, Weller, Kember, Christie, Duffy, Hughes. Sub: Welsh.
Brighton: Steele, Tiler, Williams, Horton, Rollings, Lawrenson, Towner, Ward, Maybank, Clark, O’Sullivan. Sub: Sayer.
Having won their previous three League games, the Seagulls dropped to tenth following the trouncing. In the Brighton v Leicester City programme earlier on this current season, Alan Mullery provided an interesting postscript to this defeat:
It was a mystery to me why we had performed so badly. On the Tuesday following the defeat, I received a letter saying all the lads had been spotted out in a nightclub in Worthing on the Thursday night. Maybe there was a reason for our poor performance after all and there was going to be hell to pay if it was true. I confronted the lads in a group the next day in training and gave them the opportunity to see me in my office if they were involved.
In the end, Teddy Maybank and Peter Sayer both knocked on the door and admitted they had been at the club, but hadn’t been drinking any alcohol. Both were fined two week’s wages which went to a guide dogs’ charity.
From Football Weekly News in March 1980:
Brighton defender Gary Williams is entitled to feel a little tension when he steps out to face Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.
He was born just outside the great Merseyside city 24 year ago, and this is the first time he has played at the famous stadium.
The nearest he has got to it so far was when Brighton played Everton at Goodison Park in December, and before that he played for Preston North End – 30 miles down the road.
But the real thing is approaching for the Litherland man who appears to be taking it all in his stride.
“It’s certainly going to be something special to be playing there,” he admitted, “but I’ve already played against Everton and they were the team I supported as a lad.
“But Liverpool, on their own pitch, is entirely different and I can tell you the lads are all keyed up for this one.
“It’s just going to be fantastic. I’m really looking forward to it. All my family and friends were at Everton and I suppose I’ll have to find around 30 tickets again from somewhere if I can.
“Liverpool have been so successful that no-one will give us a chance of getting a result and that can work in our favour.
“They have everything to lose while we are the underdogs and that’s how we like it.
“We are all going to enjoy this one, probably more so than at grounds like Norwich where there is more pressure on us to get something.”
Williams’ present Albion partner Mark Lawrenson was also with him at preston, where they used to get gates of 6,000.
“The rest of the fans used to travel to watch Liverpool,” explained Williams who joined Brighton in October 1977 via Preston and, before that, Northern League side Marine.
“I wanted to better myself and get into the First Division but football is such an up and down game that it’s not too wise to look too far ahead.”
Williams’ visit to Anfield coincides with the club’s first match there in Division One.
All of Brighton’s previous four visits to Liverpool were in the Second Division, starting with a 5-0 reverse in the 1959/60 season.
The following term they won a point in a 2-2 draw but in 1960/61 lost 2-0, and in 1961/62 went down 3-1.
Glen Wilson, who captained the first Brighton side to play at Anfield, now looks after the players’ kit at the Goldstone Ground.
Brighton could hold their heads proudly after this match, which was narrowly lost, 1-0. The Seagulls were in 17th position and looked set to keep their top division status. With the home game against European champions Nottingham Forest coming up, Williams’ highlight of the season was still to come.
It was not just any other spring Saturday morning on 21st April 1979. Brighton were within sight of promotion. Three games, including the day’s match at Luton, separated them for Division One, as reported in Football Handbook in ‘One Stop from Division One’:
At Brighton station there’s a blue and white queue filing on to the ‘Seagull Special’. There are no beer cans, no early morning drunks. These are, they claim, ‘the best behaved supporters in the land’.
Suddenly a murmur of excitement disturbs the quiet. Cat, Whizzo, Sully, Nobby, Tot, Leo… are all walking alongside them on the platform. To anyone outside the close confines of the club, these men are Chris Cattlin, Peter Ward, Peter O’Sullivan, Brian Horton, Graham Winstanley, Peter Sayer and the rest of the Brighton first team.
On board the train, some play cards, some read, some just listen to the radio and look out of the window. They’re keyed up, but confldent. At East Croydon a cluster of fans tdisplays a flurry of derisory gestures. But then this is Crystal Palace country…
At Clapham Junction Alan Mullery and assistant manager Ken Craggs come on board to ironic cheers from the team. ‘Oh no, he’s not still wearing his Marks and Spencer shoes is he?’ It’s a standing joke. Mullery wears the same suit and shoes for every match, home and away.
Outside Luton station the team stands to one side while the police escort the line of Brighton supporters which snakes its way past us. As they disappear down the road a chant of ‘Clark is E-vii’ goes up. Paul Clark is the young Brighton ball winner. When Albion played Luton earlier in the season Paul Fucillo’s leg was broken in a challenge with Clark.
If Clarky is wondering how the Luton fans are going to react to that incident he soon finds out. As the teams are announced over the tannoy at the ground there is mass booing at the mention of his name, and when the Brighton team emerges from the tunnel a Luton fan tips tomato sauce over his head. Just what you need before a vital promotion match.
Brighton’s nerve ends are showing in the first five minutes of the game and Maybank and Sully have a shout at each other. Gary Williams hits a simple pass into touch and his captain, Horton, gives him the palms down, ‘calm down’ sign. Two old sweats, Alan Birchenall and Bob Hatton, organise the Luton side.into some promising moves.
Clark ‘the tank’ is playing in low gear, his usual aggressiveness blunted by the crowd’s reaction to the Fucillo incident. Their hysterical shrieking every time he touches the ball seems to have subdued him. There are none of his usual earth-removing runs through the middle as he looks to play safe, obvious, square passes.
Brian Horton bellows at his team and claps his hands for more effort all round. Clark slips the ball to Maybank, takes the return and almost before the boos are out of the home supporters’ mouths tonks a left-foot drive just wide of the post with the keeper struggling. Donaghy, the Luton number four, panics on finding himself directly up against Ward. He yells ‘Kirk, Kirk’ – and right-back Kirk Stephens scuttles back to help him out.
But the momentum dies. Ricky Hill shrugs off a challenge from Sully and crosses the ball from the right. Alan West shoots tamely but as goalkeeper Eric Steele bends to gather the ball Gary Williams sticks out a toe and deflects it past him for an own goal.
Brighton are on the rack. At the end of 45 minutes those two promotion points look a long way away.
After three minutes of the second half the ball falls to Ward in the box. He takes his time, tees up and right foots it past the keeper, but Brighton’s first shot on target is booted off the line. Within a minute Luton are clean through at the other end. For a split second it looks all over, but Steele rushes out to get an arm to the shot and the ball loops wide of the goal for a corner. Brighton are still alive – but they’re living dangerously.
On the hour a Luton defender appears to handle in the box. Brighton players swarm round referee Clive Thomas but he ignores their appeals for a penalty. Horton stands, hands on head, unable to believe it.
Mullery throws on striker Poskett for full-back Williams. All or nothing now. Birchenall tries to calm the Luton side with a back pass towards his own goal, but it slides under the advancing keeper. Poskett follows the ball but stops running when it looks certain to dribble into the net. The Brighton players’ arms are in the air saluting the ‘goal’ as the ball drifts against the inside of an upright.
‘You’re staying down with us’
Poskett realises to his dismay that it’s not going to go in but Donaghy is fractionally quicker off the mark to beat him to the ball and knock it to safety.
Horton is booked. Nobody knows why. ‘You’re staying down with us…’ The Luton fans revel in Brighton’s despair.
Five minutes to go and the First Division is a million miles away. Brighton get a free-kick. Maybank has a word with Horton and wanders away. Horton’s pass finds him on the left side of the penalty area. He checks, holds, picks his spot and drives it into the right-hand corner of the net.
Horton clenches his fists and the veins stand out on his neck as he screams for that last little bit from his team. Gerry Ryan risks the back of his legs by taking the ball to the corner flag for a classic piece of time wasting, but as Luton boot the ball out of the ground for the third time it’s clear that they’ll settle for the draw.
At the final whistle the players scurry down the tunnel. Relief floods through the dressing-room.
‘Well done, Teddy boy. The King.’ Chris Cattlin applauds Maybank’s goal. ‘I told you never to fluster, my son,’ Maybank is nonchalant. Then: ‘I caught it really sweet. I haven’t hit one of them since I was 17.’
Suddenly the hollering dies and a hush descends as the other results come out of the tranny. Mullery stands arms folded and straight-faced. Hoots and jeers greet the results of their promotion rivals, but Sunderland and Stoke have done well. The pressure hasn’t eased.
Now for the post mortems. Poskett’s miss: ‘He should’ve followed that ball in.’ Mullery is critical. The turned-down penalty: ‘Definite penalty. The ref was looking at it.’ Horton is certain.
‘What did he book you for Nob?’ Lawrenson asks him.
‘Yeah. Facial expression,’ Horton assures him.
‘Was it one of your special looks Nob?’ ‘Yeah, show us.’ The rest of the side request a Horton grimace. He obliges.
‘Good job it wasn’t Tot, he’d have been sent off.’
‘Tot’ Winstanley smiles a toothless smile.
Not a pretty sight…
As the train draws away from Luton the blinds are pulled down so that if stones are thrown at the windows by rival fans the glass will not spray all over the place. The mood is quiet on the journey back. Not the abject gloom which would have accompanied a defeat but silent reflection on the fact that in a 42-match season the dividing line between success and failure can be almost nonexistent. Last year they missed promotion by goal difference. Will today’s draw be enough at the final reckon up? Surely fate would not be so cruel a second time round.
With this result, Brighton dropped down to second place, one point behind Stoke City on 53 points. Quite remarkably, the Albion had amassed the same points total, after forty matches in 1977/78. What an amazing level of consistency displayed by Mullery’s men. Their next fixtures were Blackburn at home and then Newcastle away. No one knew it at the time but a win and a draw would see them through…
In the summer of 1981, Alan Mullery resigned as manager of Brighton. He was appointed boss of Charlton and led the cash-strapped club to a brief flirtation with promotion from the Second Division before it fizzled out with the Addicks finishing 13th. In July 1982, in a highly controversial move, Ron Noades appointed Mullery as the new manager at the even more cash-strapped Crystal Palace, following the sacking of Steve Kember.
Unsurprisingly, Mullery attracted enormous hostility from Eagles supporters, due to his association with arch rivals Brighton, not to mention his rather impolite gestures at their fans following the FA Cup match at Stamford Bridge in 1976.
Palace’s new gaffer struck a more diplomatic tone once appointed, however:
I sympathise with the fans who not so long ago saw their team perched proudly at the top of the League and have since followed the club’s decline in fortune. We approach the season with new faces and new optimism. Palace have had more than their share of bad publicity over the last two years. That is inevitable when a club reaches the top. People are all too ready to knock you down.
Mullery even put one over Brighton, and his replacement at the club Mike Bailey, with Crystal Palace prevailing 1-0 in the friendly at Selhurst Park on 7th August 1982:
The new boss also made an excellent start to the 1982/83 campaign, with Crystal Palace drawing with Barnsley and Rotherham before beating Shrewsbury and Blackburn, taking the Eagles unexpectedly to sixth in Division Two. In the Barnsley match programme on the opening day, here was the centre-spread:
As you can see, seventh from the left in the back row is Gary Williams, previously a favourite at the Goldstone. Mullery said:
Gary Williams is an experienced pro who, while at Brighton, travelled with me from the Third [sic] to the First Division. I have every confidence that his value will lie in his experience as well as his ability.
Also, in relation to the player who would later end Gerry Ryan’s career with a horrific tackle in April 1985, Mullery said this:
Henry Hughton was Steve Kember’s last signing for the club and he is a player who is never satisfied with giving less than his best effort.
At the end of the 1982/83 season, Brighton were relegated from Division One and financially-stricken Crystal Palace did well to hold on to their Second Division status, meaning that in 1983/84, the rivalry between the clubs would be renewed once more.
However, Brighton proved Palace’s masters in both league matches, winning 2-0 at Selhurst Park on Boxing Day 1983 before the Seagulls’ 3-1 victory at the Goldstone Ground in April 1984. As a match report at the time said:
By Michael Eaton
Brighton 3 Palace 1
Palace boss Alan Mullery suffered agonies on his return to the club he twice led to promotion.
Rival manager Chris Cattlin had plenty to be pleased about – especially the performance of leading scorer Terry Connor, who was dropped last week.
Connor responded with three goals in two reserve games and crowned an eventful week with his 16th goal of the season.
Alan Young put Brighton ahead after nine minutes and Brighton were only threatened when Peter Nicholas scored early in the second half.
But Eric Young’s 89th minute goal, when Palace’s defence was pulled apart at a corner, settled the match.
Brighton: Corrigan 7, O’Regan 6, Hutchings 7, CASE 8, Young (E) 7, Garring 7, Wilson 7, Penney 7, Sub: Ryan 6.
Palace: Wood 6, Locke 6, Hughton 6, Stebbling (inj) 6, Cannon 7, Gilbert 6, Cummins 6, Lacy 6, McCulloch 6, Nicholas 8, Hilare 6. Sub: Giles 6.
“I’m not happy with the way the club is being run. Alan wasn’t a yes man and shouldn’t get the sack for that. He deserved a fair chance after all the injuries we’ve had this season.”
Keeper George Wood added: “I’m sick. He’s a good manager who, I feel, has been let down.”
And only last week star winger Vince Hilaire said: “If Alan goes – so do I.”
The 42-year-old Mullery, who took Palace to Brighton for a testimonial last night, said: “I’ve been in football long enough not to be surprised by anything, but it did come out of the blue.
Two years later Alan Mullery would return to the club where his management career began – Brighton. By that point he may have believed he had seen almost everything in football management, especially as far as ailing clubs go. Perhaps he thought he was beyond surprise. He was in for another shock.
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!