Tag Archives: glen geard

Albion’s youth side 1973

From the Brighton v Charlton programme from September 1973:

albionyouth1973

It’s the Albion’s youth party at the Freiburg Youth Tournament from July that year.

Back row: Dave Busby, Stephen Barratt, Richard Sopp, Steven Piper, Trevor Bryson, Glen Wilson (trainer).

Middle row: Tommy Barden, Lee Williams, Paul Holder, Garry Wilkins, Michael Jones, Pat Hilton, Malcolm Lord.

Front row: Francis Fraser, Terry Norton, Glen Geard, Tony Towner, Mick Conway.

Look at how small Glen Geard is in this photo – but then he was just 13 years old at the time!

With him in that front row is Francis Fraser, dad to Tommy Fraser, who was with the Seagulls from 2004 to 2009. Francis’ dad was former Richardson gang member ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser.

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Vaughan’s great leap forward

Vaughan in a pre-season photoshoot

Vaughan in a pre-season photoshoot

“I’m slightly torn between two teams that are very close to me. In a way I’ve got to be happy if either team goes through. I had great memories at the Albion, but Derby is where I grew up and my home town.”

So says Vaughan Woolley, a reserve centre-back on Brighton & Hove Albion’s books between 1975 and 1978.

He has Derby County partly to thank for his most unforgettable experience in Albion colours. In the League Cup in 1976/77, Alan Mullery’s high-flying Brighton first team had knocked out Ipswich Town and West Bromwich Albion, both formidable First Division sides at the time. In the fourth round in October 1976, the Third Division outfit faced a star-studded Rams team featuring seven internationals including Roy McFarland, Colin Todd, Charlie George and Leighton James.

derby

With demand for cup tickets running high, the Albion’s marketing team came up with the novel idea of making them available at the reserve match with Charlton that month. In all, 17,554 watched as Brighton reserves ran out 3-0 victors against the Addicks’ reserves.

“We only used to get around 800 to 1,000 fans for normal reserve matches at the Goldstone, but they were selling cup tickets for the Albion match against Derby County,” Vaughan says. “When I ran out the ground looked full. The Argus published an article about me in 2009 about the match and the fact that so many fans went to see the reserves when the first team at Withdean was only getting around 8,000.”

And to cap it all, Vaughan got on the scoresheet and spectacularly dived into the fans! “Chris Cattlin, who latterly became the Seagulls manager, also scored one. I remember mine clearly. It was just before half-time. I was playing left side midfield on that occasion. We won a corner. Tony Towner took it, and I rose high to head into the top right corner. I was ecstatic, so I just continued running past the goal and lunged into the celebrating fans. Great memories, I just loved playing at the Goldstone Ground.”

Not that left midfield was his normal position: “I came to Brighton as a centre-back. I remember Peter Taylor who was the manager of Albion at the time told me that he wanted to build the future Brighton team around me and Robin Madden, another reserve team player from the Worthing area. It didn’t work out unfortunately for either of us.

“I was quite versatile as I could kick as well with either foot. So I ended up playing in midfield as well. I was gutted in a way when Albion signed Mark Lawrenson as he played in my position, plus he was a record signing at the time so it made things difficult for me.”

Peter Taylor and Brian Clough both knew Vaughan from Derby as he was captain of Derby Boys when at school. Another Brighton reserve, Stephen Ward, and Vaughan grew up together, went to the same school, Noel-Baker, and played for Derby Boys at the same time. Vaughan reminisces: “Steve Ward was my best friend at school. He was very skilful but not the quickest of players. He went on to play for Halifax Town and Kettering Town. I lost touch with Steve in recent years as he moved out of the Derby area.”

“Steve joined Albion in June 1975. As for me, I was originally asked to go on trial at Brighton for six weeks that August. After the first week I was asked to sign as an apprentice. Of course, I said yes and loved every minute of it. Moving to the south coast was possibly the toughest thing, moving away from my family and not able to travel home that often. I guess I was a little home sick.”

You must have encountered the subsequently more well-known Ward, Peter (no relation to Steve!), in the reserves, just before he broke in the first team?

“I loved my time at the Albion and frequently in training had the pleasure of marking Peter Ward. I thought I always did quite well in marking him but his history speaks for itself. He was certainly a legend of the club. I used to get on with Pete really well. He was also from Derby. I saw Pete several times in Derby in subsequent years and since then I bought and read his autobiography. Very interesting!”

Vaughan believes he also got close to making a breakthrough: ‘I think I was being thought of for first team, I had scored the home reserve game the week before the Charlton game. We played Northampton Town and I scored a header in a 2-2 draw. I also played in Brighton & Hove Albion ‘Select’ 11 when we played local town teams in the Sussex Cup matches. As well as this, I also played in a behind closed gates friendly against Fulham. This was mostly consisting of first teamers and I started the match. It was unfortunately marred when Sammy Morgan went into a tackle with the Fulham left-winger and unfortunately broke the lad’s leg. It was a nasty compound fracture.”

Apart from the two Wards, which other reserve players does Vaughan remembers most vividly? “There was a decent young lad join as apprentice from the Brighton area, Glen Geard. He went to school in the Brighton area. He was a real laugh, a bit cocky and full of himself but genuinely a nice lad. I think he might have gone on to play for the firsts. There was also Mark Elliott, a Welsh lad, really nice. He made his debut but didn’t play much. After I left, another of my friends from the Derby area joined the Seagulls, a lad called Tony Vessey. He was a centre-half who made an appearance for the first team. Not sure where he ended up afterwards. Might have gone to the States to play!”

Well, Tony Vessey had an illustrious non-league career with Crawley. He also played for them against Brighton in the FA Cup 3rd Round at the Goldstone in January 1992. To which, Vaughan replies: “Crawley, that’s interesting because I was in digs or lodgings in Portslade by Sea with two other guys, Eric Steele who helped teach me to drive. Now he’s the goalkeeping coach at the Rams. Also, a lad named Carmine Porpora, He also played for Crawley. He was released by the Albion after his apprenticeship. I met up with him and my old landlady for a meal down at the Marina a couple of years back. ‘Pop’ as he was known played for time in Italy, in their second division, I think. He played in same team as Claudio Ranieri apparently. He went on to play for Crawley Town in the 80s, I believe.”

Sadly, Vaughan Woolley didn’t make any appearances for the Seagulls’ first team: “I made a decision to leave Brighton in the summer of 1978. On reflection I was foolish but I had no agents, mentor or father figure to guide me. I asked Mr Mullery to pay me more otherwise I would have to leave. He said he wasn’t paying me any more, so I’d set myself up. I wished I hadn’t.”

After Brighton, Chesterfield were interested in signing Vaughan. However, he became disillusioned after leaving the Seagulls and really wanted time out: “I signed for a local team and played in the East Midlands Regional league mainly playing teams in Derbyshire and Notts area. I enjoyed my football and was with my old friends. I think, on reflection, I needed guiding by someone but that didn’t happen. I was basically on the dole. I joined Rolls-Royce and have worked there ever since. It’s all history. As I say, you have to accept what you do and the decisions you take in life. But if I have one regret it is leaving Brighton. If I could have played the way I did in the years following my departure, who knows what might have happened?”

How did you develop as a player after leaving the club? “I matured in the years after that and became a better and stronger player,” Vaughan contends. “However, I seriously broke my leg in two places in 1984 and that finished my playing career, aged 25. Oh well. I cannot get too regretful as many lads just don’t get the chances that I did.”

Have you been back to watch Brighton & Hove Albion? “I have been to the Amex, I went to one of the first games there with my son against Gillingham. I would have played to have played there. What a stadium! But it doesn’t hold the memories of the Goldstone. Anyway, I look forward to watching the Play-Off semi-final game this next week and hope whoever wins go on to promotion.”

Any predictions? “I think it will be 1-1 at the Amex and 2-0 to the Rams at the iPro,” Vaughan reveals. “Sorry to all Seagulls fans, but my head is ruling my heart. Best of luck to all involved, though.”

vaughanwoolley2

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We’re going on a Brighton bear hunt

On Facebook, there are a few groups that can help you get your Brighton retro fix. For instance, there is the sublime Brighton-Past where members share an incredible archive of photos relating to the city/town. With more of an Albion focus, there is the equally splendid He Shot, He Scored. It Must Be Peter Ward group.

One photo that did the rounds a few months ago was this evocative image of Peter Ward holding a teddy bear, with former ‘next big thing’ Glen Geard in the background:

peterwardteddybear

As you may remember, last year, we already looked at this bear in these snaps during Albion’s promotion season in 1978/79:

teddy bear with alan mullery

Mark Lawrenson and teddy bear

But now, there are a few more to add to the pile. For instance, in the Peter Ward group, Matthew Yeates wrote of his now increasingly scary looking bear – look at those eyes now:

teddybearincolour

30 years on and I still have that teddy in my loft. Think my mum and dad bought it for me from the old club shop at the Goldstone. Spent most of its life on my bed wearing my old British Caledonian kit.

Meanwhile, Graham Lucas scanned a photo of himself with a rude slogan on T-shirt, plus the fluffy pal he took to Newcastle in 1979:

teddybearincolour2

Thanks, chaps! That bear seemed to have been ubiquitous at the time. Clearly, Maybank wasn’t the only Teddy in town.

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Geard for success?

In the 1977/78 season, the Brighton programme featured page profiles of its first team. In the Albion v Burnley edition on 11th February, it spotlighted rising star Glen Geard who had joined Brighton in October 1976 as an apprentice. He turned pro in the same month as this feature, although this bubble perm was to come a little later:

glen geard

Most of the players already featured in this series are regulars in the first team but always at any Football League club there are youngsters waiting in the wings for an opportunity to make their name.

One such young man is Glen Geard who, although not born in Brighton, is very much locally bred. Glen was in fact born in Malta on February 25, 1960, but was educated in Brighton. He spent his junior days at Bevendean School and then went on to Patcham Fawcett, a school very much to the fore in local football.

A single man, Glen lives at home with his parents and sister Julie and he also has a married brother, Damon. At schoolboy level he represented both Brighton and Sussex Boys and went on to trials with the England Boys side although not being lucky enough to receive a cap.

Very much an all-round sportsman, Glen represented his school at rugby, basketball and athletics as well as football. He joined the Albion after a spell with Lewes who at that time were in the Athenian League.

As befits a youngster on the Goldstone staff, his first ambition is to play first team football for the Seagulls and he also hopes that one day he may be good enough to play for England. For a young man not yet 18, he certainly has a promising career in front of him.

Musically, Glen is a fan of Stevie Wonder and the Stylistics and from the world of films Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson are his favourite stars. Steak and Chicken are his favourite foods and, as yet none too widely travelled, a home loving Glen says England is his pet country.

The next stage in this ambitious young man’s career is first team football and that, says Glen, is a chance he is eagerly awaiting… there are many youngsters in Brighton who would like to have come as far as he has already… here’s one who hopes to go a little further.

Wild hair for a wild child

Wild hair for a wild child

After impressing for the reserves, Geard eventually made his debut, starting in the number 7 shirt in a dreadful 4-0 League Cup 4th Round replay defeat to Arsenal at Highbury on 13th November 1979. He was eventually substituted, with Gerry Ryan coming on.

Seen by many people as a truly gifted midfield player, Geard’s attempt at becoming a hard man proved to be part of his undoing. Alan Mullery once tipped Geard for a full England cap. However, poor discipline led to the wayward pro being handed a free transfer by the Brighton boss in March 1981.
In 1981/82, he joined Horsham, becoming top scorer in the League with nine goals from 40 matches. He also masterminded a famous comeback in the FA Vase, scoring twice as the Hornets came back from 3-0 down against Hastings to force a draw. In the replay, Geard got the winner in a 3-2 victory.

Because of good form, Geard was given a second chance by Albion boss Jimmy Melia in 1983 but he did not make the most of his second chance.

According to
one source on North Stand Chat, Geard’s view of himself is that he ‘wasted his talent.’

As well as Horsham, he hotheaded midfielder played for many local sides in Sussex including Whitehawk, Eastbourne United, Worthing, Southwick, Shoreham, Crawley, Lewes and Littlehampton, before embarking on a managerial career.

When he left as Ringmer boss in 2002, having felt let down by many of the players, he said:

To be honest I’d like to get my boots back on and play against a few of them.

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