Tag Archives: gordon smith

Clubbing… with Jimmy Case

Regretfully, this is not an article about visiting the 1980s nightspots in Brighton with the Scouse midfielder. In the mid-1990s, 90 Minutes magazine ran a page feature every week profiling the ins and outs of football clubs home and abroad. In the 12th October 1996, it was the turn of Brighton & Hove Albion. Rather than be all guns blazing for a night on the razzle, manager Jimmy Case was undoubtedly in sombre mood, while doing he best to stay positive:

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“I don’t ask for much, just a pitch for my team to play on.” The words of Brighton manager Jimmy Case, on the job that is almost as unenviable as the Manchester City hot seat.

As it stands, Case and his players will be homeless by the end of the season, but the hero of Liverpool’s Championship and European Cup triumphs of the late ’70s and ’80s, remains cheerful.

“My interest is in the supporters – they’re the lifeblood of this club and they deserve to see a team that entertains them, he says. “But we need help from every quarter at the moment. The local paper seem intent on stirring things up when they should be behind us. The pressure they’re putting on all of us is not needed.

“The situation with the ground seems to be changing every day. One day we’re all systems go with a new stadium. The next, a consortium has pulled out and we’re back to square one. We’ve been kicked right in the teeth more than a few times in the last year.

This is certainly not the ideal time for 42-year-old Case to cut his managerial teeth. He finally hung up his well-worn boots last season, but still has the enthusiasm of a teenager: “I miss playing, but when my team performs well, it makes up for everything we have to put up with off the field.

“I like to see good movement and passion from my players. That was bred into me from my days at Liverpool, and we’ve been playing nicely this year. We also have a great spirit in the dressing room which keeps us all going.

“I spoke to Graeme Souness the other week, and he said that if I could manage at Brighton, I could do it anywhere. But I relish a challenge and will see it through to the end,” says Case. So there’s some hope for Brighton fans, whose loyalty has been thoroughly tested of late.

The Brighton job, with all the problems surrounding the sale of the Goldstone, and the club’s general financial plight, would have been a tough nut to crack even for an experienced manager. It clearly proved beyond Case’s abilities at the time to turn around the fortunes of the side. At first, he enjoyed the support of the fans but this ebbed away, with the defeat to Sudbury Town in the FA Cup 1st Round replay underlining how far the club fallen. However, it was the League position that was all-important. When Brighton stood nine points adrift at the bottom of the Football League in December 1996, Case was sacked.

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Panini Football 82 – a reshaped Brighton

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The wind of change blew in 1981/82, and not just for Brighton & Hove Albion. Panini introduced new stickers with a tweaked layout. While the head and shoulder shots remained, the photos now sported rather spatially uneconomical oval frames instead of the standard rectangle. Elsewhere, the one year experiment with two stickers for a First Division club squad photo was abandoned, with team groups reverting back to one sticker.

The Brighton squad was also significantly revamped, under new boss Mike Bailey. Right-back Don Shanks was drafted in while, surprisingly, this was the first Panini collection to feature Gary Stevens in the Brighton double-spread:

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New midfielders Jimmy Case and Tony Grealish are featured here, while youngster Giles Stille also appear for the first time for the Albion. Filling the void left by Horton and Lawrenson, all three players enhanced the quantity of facial hair found within the Brighton squad. Up front, Robinson, Smith and Ritchie powered on with a clean-cut Albion strike force:

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Of the other teams, Steve Gatting still appears on the Arsenal pages even though Brighton signed him quite early on in the season, in September 1981. Panini clearly didn’t get round to updating their stickers. The Welsh rapscallion Mickey Thomas is also on the Everton spread, despite his ill-starred spell at Goodison Park. His time with Brighton in the same 1981/82 season proved just as disastrous. And, surprise surprise, Peter Ward makes no appearance in the Nottingham Forest pages.

Perhaps that’s fitting. As a sticker collection, Football ’82 was a bit like Brighton & Hove Albion that season: solid, no thrills and not very much flair. All that would change the following season when Panini added a healthy dose of innovation back to its flagship football sticker collection.

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If Smith had scored

Not only was the moment so excruciating. So much has been written about the defining moment of the FA Cup Final 1983 that it’s probably hard to generate fresh interest from Brighton fans on Gordon Smith’s choker. Happily, Nick Hancock and Chris England’s amusing and fascinating ‘What Didn’t Happen Next’, published in 1997, imagined the repercussions had the Scotman’s put his effort away. It makes for a delightful read:

Smith must score

Smith must score.

Gordon Smith can hear the men he now works with on the phone sometimes. ‘I’m working with Gordon Smith … yes, that one.’ Gordon Smith should have scored. He’d even scored a last-minute winning goal in a Cup final before, for Rangers in the 1978 Scottish League Cup.

Mind you, haven’t we all. I know my garden frequently echoed to the sound of a familiar voice – mine – declaring:

‘It’s Hancock! What drama! In the dying seconds he has the chance to clinch the Cup for Stoke … and he’s done it! A shot so fierce that United keeper Paddy Roche has been carried through the net and impaled upon some railings here at Wembley.

‘And dramatic news! The United directors have decided to disband the club, such is the finality and power of the goal. Chairman Edwards has just commented: “What’s the point? We can never compete with a club like Stoke and their brilliant if slightly overweight striker Hancock. l’ve suspected it all along, but now I may as well admit it. We are shit.”‘

In 1983 Gordon Smith was in a position to live the dream. Wembley. The Cup final. The last minute. Manchester United 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 2. Michael Robinson had broken away, and the beleaguered defence was drawn to him like Stan Collymore to a signing-on fee.

Robinson slipped the ball to the unmarked Smith, who steadied himself as the commentator – and very likely Gordon himself – cried: ‘Smith must score!’, and fired the ball at the keeper’s legs. If only Coronation Street uniped Don Brennan had been his opponent, this tale would have had a different ending. As it was, it was blond Brad Willis lookalike Gary Bailey, and he made the save.

Inevitably United won the replay easily, and Brighton left Wembley empty-handed.

Relegation to the Second Division was hardly consolation – although the prospect of Second Division football would today have Brighton fans leaping about and counting the days till next season.

Yes, as I said, this book was published in 1997…

Smith didn't score

Smith didn’t score. Well, not in the last minute.

But what if Smith had notched?

The most profound repercussions would have fallen on Smith himself, and not all of them that welcome. The close proximity of Michael Robinson, a strapping lad of no fixed hairstyle, would almost certainly have meant that Smith was in line for a lingering and passionate congratulatory kiss from the Eire international, and it is this prospect which many experts believe may have caused Smith’s fateful hesitation.

The caption from the book read 'Michael Robinson. An enigma: he lives in Spain but he's not an armed robber'

The caption from the book read ‘Michael Robinson. An enigma: he lives in Spain but he’s not an armed robber’

Brighton would have held on to Gary Stevens (a good thing) and Steve Foster (a good thing for Luton Town), whose Brian May hairstyle is coveted by Manager Jimmy Melia.

The European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign would have been a brief flirtation – a la Robbie Williams and Anna Friel – with the Seagulls crashing out 4-0 on aggregate to Hungarian cable TV operators Videoton.
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United sack Ron Atkinson for his lack of success, and for his tactlessness in wearing more silverware at Wembley than the club has picked up in recent years.

Candidates to replace Big Ron include ordinary-sized Ron Saunders, John Toshack and Graham Taylor, the manager with the Midas touch at Lincoln and Watford.

Taylor gets the job, and clears out Bailey, Muhren, Wilkins and Coppell, and, after a surprise auditor’s report, Nobby Stiles, who United had mistakenly kept under contract since 1974. By keeping very quiet and hiding behind a boiler, Nobby had, without kicking a ball, been drawing a wage of thirteen guineas a week.

•At Brighton, Jimmy Melia, the man who’d managed them to Cup triumph, is also sacked for supposed ‘financial irregularities’. Apparently, the substantial cash rewards the Cup had brought had gone missing, and investigations revealed that Melia had blown it all on a series of dubious hair restoration and transplant schemes, which left Brighton in dire straits but Jimmy looking like Michael Bolton.

Graham Taylor puts silverware on the United mantelpiece within three years, and many of that Third Division championship winning side are still held in much affection by the supporters of Manchester City.
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Nick Hancock’s mould-breaking unfunny bloopers video, And Smith Did Score, is a best-seller in the Brighton area, where Gordon Smith has become the town’s very popular mayor.

Steve Foster's famous captain's armband

Steve Foster’s famous captain’s armband

In a parallel universe far, far away, it really did happen…

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Video: Brighton 3-0 Norwich – a flying start for Jimmy Melia’s circus

It's Jimmy Media!

It’s Jimmy Melia – but no disco shoes here

It was boss Mike Bailey out, Jimmy Melia and George Aitken in, come December 1982. Having previously served as chief scout and chief coach, Brighton’s temporary managers helped to lift the gloom over the Goldstone Ground, caused by poor results, falling crowds and growing disharmony within the side:

Brighton are fighting for First Division survival after the departure of manager Mike Bailey. What hope for the club that brought football glory to Sussex by climbing from the Third Division to the First in three years but have since fought desperately to avoid relegation. SHOOT investigates Brighton’s catalogue of problems and turns the spotlight on Mike Bamber, the chairman who wants to be manager as well.

When Brighton were promoted to the First Division three seasons ago it seemed like a Iicence for the club to print money.

They had been magnificently supported, but the crowds melted away as two gritty battles against relegation were fought by Alan Mullery.

Then, last season under Mike Bailey, Brighton appeared to have turned the corner in finishing a respectable 13th, the highest position in their history.

Now, following Bailey’s departure early last month, Brighton, amid falling gates, are fighting all over again to establish themselves.

Alarmingly, there are cracks appearing in the Goldstone structure, and some disgruntled fans have even said they’d be better off in the Third Division.

It is a fact that Brighton have never attracted 30,000 crowd since they went up, yet there is well-heeled catchment area that hasn’t been visibly hit by the recession.

The season was only a few weeks old when two key international players, Steve Foster and Michael Robinson, asked for transfers. Then Nell McNab said the chairman’s involvement extended too far. McNab alleged that he picked the team.

Foster - staying for now

Foster – staying for now

The fuss died down, and Foster and Robinson later said they were willing to stay. McNab, who is also on a lengthy contract, turned down a move sending him to Newcastle on loan, and has since joined Leeds United on a temporary transfer.

While the basis of Foster’s gripe was money he considered a rise was due after getting into England’s World Cup squad, Robinson’s quarrel, besides being financial, raised other questions.

He accused the club of lacking ambition, and this was triggered when Bamber refused to back Bailey up in giving Charlie George a month’s trial.

Robinson: Want-away striker

Robinson: Want-away striker

It was Robinson’s opinion that the chairman should also have given Bailey a contract. After putting his cards on the table, it looked as though Robinson would leave.

But he declined a berth at Sunderland, and was later wooed by Arsenal and QPR.

Foster’s dispute had been settled previously, and he did not identify with Robinson all the way. But McNab’s bluntness in challenging his chairman was a blockbuster.

Ward returns

Ward returns, replacing the Ward-replacement Andy Ritchie

Bamber brought about the return of Peter Ward, Brighton’s former record scorer, on loan from Nottingham Forest.

He saw him as not only a vital crowd-puller, but the man to link-up best with Robinson.

Brighton have only got him until the end of next month, but he did the business by scoring the winner against Manchester United on November 6 when the gate was a satisfying 18,398 – an increase of 8,000. The inclusion of Ward put Andy Ritchie’s nose temporarily out of joint, Brighton’s most expensive signing at £500,000 from Old Trafford stayed in the reserves for six weeks and only re-appeared when Bailey left.

And another big-money player, Gordon Smith, who cost £400,000 from Rangers, went back to Glasgow on a temporary transfer.

The principal reason was to help Rangers in the Scottish League Cup Final against Celtic. But all Smith got was a runners-up medal that was stolen the same night when his car was vandalised.

Smith, like most Brighton players, is also on a long engagement. But he’s in a whirl.

“When I get back to Brighton, I’ll have to introduce myself as a new signing.”

Perhaps Brighton’s biggest mistake was signing Mickey Thomas from Everton. Over £400,000 was involved, and the Wales international couldn’t put a foot right.

He gave domestic reasons for several acts of truancy that held Brighton up to ridicule. Fines and suspensions didn’t bring him into line. But once transferred to Stoke, Thomas showed his real worth.

Then he relaxed, and said: “Joining Brighton was the worst period of my life. Last season was just a horror story for me. I felt trapped there. They were in such a hurry to sign me, and soon everything got me down. And the system they played was so defensive that I got bored. I admit I was out of order in taking time off, but I should never have gone there in the first place.”

Brighton cannot afford another mistake like that, and it is very doubtful they will be able to recoup anything comparable to the fee paid for Smith.

Bamber disclaims responsibility, saying the down-turn in the market has put many clubs in trouble, and Brighton are no exception.

He is hoping that Jimmy Melia, in temporary charge, can lift the side…

The Melia era got off to a glorious start with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Norwich City on 11th December 1982, a win that suggested the side, now more attacking, had turned over a new leaf in the League. Here you can enjoy highlights from this match, Albion’s biggest victory in Division One that season:

Enjoy Jimmy Case’s rocket with his left foot, the close control and creative play of Peter Ward, and Andy Ritchie’s curling free-kick.

Unfortunately, it proved a false dawn. Albion failed to win their next ten League matches, a poor run that plunged the club from 18th to bottom of the division by the start of March. By then the media circus over the FA Cup run gripped the club and First Division survival became of secondary importance.

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Gordon Smith turns set-back into a comeback

Before the home match with Everton in October 1980, Gordon Smith received The Sun’s Golden Ball award for his hat-trick at Coventry City three days before. Making the presentation was a man who knew all about finding the net, Jimmy Greaves, who hit 44 goals in just 57 matches for England:

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It was the second hat-trick of Smith’s career, having scored three of Rangers’ six against Aberdeen two years previously. It was also Albion’s second ever hat-trick in the top flight, following Peter Ward’s three at Molineux in 1979/80.

The result at Highfield Road, in front of just 11,462 supporters, seemed rather unpromising when Coventry raced to a rather flattering 2-0 half-time lead. At the far post, the unmarked Paul Dyson had nodded in Tommy Hutchison’s drive to give the Sky Blues the lead. Then, just before the interval, a lay-off by Mark Hateley set Garry Thompson up to curl a beautiful 20 harder past Albion keeper Graham Moseley. In the second half, Steve Hunt capitalised on a Mark Lawrenson mistake to set up Hutchison for Coventry’s third. Game over… or was it?

As Jack Welling of the Sunday People reported:

Coventry, in front of their smallest crowd in the First Division reckoned without Brighton skipper Horton. He drove his men and fashioned things for the mighty Smith to finish off. The first goal came when Horton slid the ball to Smith to score with Coventry’s defence in a mess.

Then Dyson was beaten by Ward and there was Smith to finish the move with goal number two. With the match almost over, Williams floated a free-kick over to the far post and Smith went up amid a clutch of Brighton players to score.

The equaliser! And Smith does score.

The equaliser! And Smith does score.

The three goals in 19 minutes rocked a Coventry crowd that had been chanting ‘We want five’. Alan Mullery summed up his never-say-die approach when he said:

‘All the way through I didn’t think we would lose. Even at half-time when we were two down, I told the lads they could still win it.’

Smith, a £400,000 signing in the summer, even had a chance to win the match late on, something he regrets to this day. He beat Coventry keeper Les Sealey with a fine header but a defender cleared it off the line. Neverthless, he is proud of his goals that afternoon. After the match, he said:

‘We never deserved to be three goals behind, although I admit I was surprised that we got them back. It was a matter of persevering and that’s what we did. Now I’ve got seven goals for Brighton and when the manager bought me he said he expected me to get 12 goals this season so I haven’t got far to go.’

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Radio Times in May 1983: Gold is their goal

The national edition of the Radio Times for 21-27 May 1983 was priced at 25p and this was its striking cover:

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While the FA Cup itself is a familiar sight, the details of the medals are far less well known. Inside, Humphrey Evans revealed that:

FA Challenge Cup medals are solid chunks of nine-carat, hallmarked gold, 1¼ inches in diameter. There are 12 each for the two teams plus one each for the referee and linesmen. The winners’ medals are about an inch thick and weigh around 25 grams, or just under an ounce:

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The others are thinner and lighter. They cost around £300 each. The front has a design with a couple of footballers in nostalgically baggy shorts either side of a shield carrying the lions of England:

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The back just says Challenge Cup winners or runners-up, with the relevant season engraved round the edge.

The back of the FA Cup Final winner's medal

The back of the FA Cup Final winner’s medal

The back of the FA Cup Final loser's medal

The back of the FA Cup Final loser’s medal

Evans’ article provides details about how these mementos are created:

In England, the Football Association medals are made by Fattorini and Sons Ltd, badgemakers of Birmingham. Each year they send in a quotation. Each year the FA accepts it, although the contract did drift away from them for a while back in the 1950s.

Fattorini’s is proud of the fact it makes all the badges that go on to Rolls-Royce cars. A couple of men are carving out new dies. Others are soldering suspension rings on to otherwise completed medals. And in glassed-off room at the other end of the floor, Rob Collins, Gold and Silver Supervisor, keeps an eye on the progress of the FA Cup medals.

‘You need someone you can trust 150 per cent,’ says Alan Jones [managing director], and Ron Collins is that someone. He has been with Fattorini’s for 18 years, and before that in jewellery all his life. He is past retiring age, but they haven’t been able to stop him coming in. ‘I should have retired,’ he says, ‘but I like practising activity, not vegetating.’

Collins checks and counter-checks each stage the Cup medals go through. Here are some of them:

The original die is hand carved from a solid piece of steel

The original die is hand carved from a solid piece of steel

The medals are racked up and then gold-plated

The medals are racked up and then gold-plated

Finished dies are kept in the cellar for posterity

Finished dies are kept in the cellar for posterity

When the medals are plated with a final thin coat of pure gold, they are shined up to a high lustre. It is at this point they are sent to the FA in London, and held in a strong room until taken out to Wembley with the FA Cup. Ron Collins sums things up:

‘When they’re gone I can live again!’

Even so, he is still concerned that something might go wrong. The article informs us that:

The worst that has happened is that the medals were put in the wrong-coloured boxes. It should be blue for the winners and red for the runners-up.

Yes, blue as the winners, red as the runners-up. It has a nice ring to it. Especially for 1983. If only Gordon Smith had put that chance away…

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Gordon Smith: ‘I shall do my utmost not to let Mullery down’

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This feature in Scoop magazine on Gordon Smith came in 1980/81, after he had completed his move from Rangers to Brighton. It doesn’t seem as if they had direct access to the Scottish attacker, but the article makes for an interesting read nevertheless. I’m sure he feels privileged about being a Scoop Sportstar Club Honorary Member!

There’s a long-standing jibe in Scotland that Glasgow Rangers buy skilful players and turn them into powerful onest in recent years, Jack Wallace, now of Leicester City, is the man who perhaps has done more than most to build up that hard man image.

It has to be admitted though that Rangers’ record over the years indicates the club is probably on the right lines. But the question arises – what happens to players who don’t put on the pounds but insist on relying on pure skill alone?

They move, that’s what – just like this week’s Scoop Sportstar Club Honorary Member Gordon Smith of Brighton. There came a time when the only way he could boost his flagging career was by moving south.

That doesn’t mean to say there’s no skill at Ibrox. Ally Dawson, lan Redford, Dave Cooper and so on would be a credit to any team in the land. It’s Just that the emphasis wasn’t quite right for Gordon.
Even so, his move to Brighton came as a big shock to most football fans in Scotland. Though latterly he’d rarely recaptured the sparkling form of his first season at Ibrex, Gordon was still an important member of the first team pool.

Brighton had chased Gordon for a couple of years, ever since the two clubs had played in a pre-season tournament and manager Alan Mullery had been impressed by the Scotsman’s displays. But all transfer overtures were rebuffed until Rangers started to rebuild their side this summer. As Colin McAdam and Jim Belt arrived, Gordon went.

His £400,000 transfer fee made Rangers a very handsome profit. They had originally paid part-time Kilmamock around £65,000 for his signature. Not bad going for a player who had proved himself over several years with Killie and won an Under-23 Cap.

Gordon had a pretty strong Killle-Rengers family connection. His grandfather Mattha Smith was inside-right and skipper of the Killie side that beat Rangers before a crowd of 114,000 to win the Scottish Cup in 1929.

But when it came to winning honours Gordon put his grandfather to shame during his Rangers days – winning Scottish Cup, League Cup and League Championship medals. Can he do the same with Brighton? That might not be easy. Ambitious though the Seagulls ere, they’re bound to find it difficult competing with the First Division’s “big boys.” Just getting there in 1979 was a great thing for the club. In their ninety years’ history [seventy eight, actually!] it was the first time they’d managed it!

Perhaps the club’s main asset is Alan Mullery, their talented and ambitious manager. Gordon rates him very highly. As he declared recently: “He is ambitious. He made it clear he wanted me and me alone. I shall do my utmost not to let him down.”

Still only twenty-five, Gordon has some of the best years of his career before him. And having been brought upon a diet of facing outstanding opponents such as P.S.V. Eindhoven, Juventus and Cologne, he’s unlikely to remain interested for long in mere survival. So there couM be fireworks down at the Goldstone ground.

When Gordon’s playing career is over, he hopes to go into coaching. He prefers the thought of that to management because he believes that players have to be given a better chance to develop their own abilities.

Of course, skill always has been Gordon’s prime concern. After all, that had been one of his major reasons for moving south…

Smith certainly made a quick impact, scoring the opening goal in the 2-0 victory over Wolves on the opening day of the 1980/81 season. Thriving in a free role behind the strikers Ward and Robinson, he enjoyed a purple patch in front of goal, hitting the target seven times in just nine League matches, including a famous hat-trick at Coventry when Albion stormed back from 3-0 down.

However, as the Scot recalled in his ‘And Smith Did Score’ autobiography: ‘When a few results started to go against us, I was put in a more defensive role.’ After that, the goals dried up. Not only that, but Brighton were in serious danger of relegation from Division One. It took a crucial decision at a team meeting before the season’s finale for Smith to be restored as an attacking force:

‘Now I was back in that free role again and playing in front of midfield just behind the strikers. It was a 4-3-1-2 formation and it worked well for us. There’s no question that has always been my best position.’

The change paid dividends. The Seagulls won each of their last four games to save themselves from the drop. Smith contributed with a towering header that capped a superb 3-0 victory at relegated Crystal Palace. He also supplied the cross for Gary Williams’ winner at Sunderland. Summing up 1980/81, Smith said:

I had scored ten goals from midfield that season, which was quite a good return for a midfielder at that level. For me, it had been a good season – we had stayed up, I felt I had made a significant contribution to the cause and I was getting on well with the manager.

Then two weeks later, things changed dramatically. Mullery resigned, Bailey was brought in, and Smith found himself out of favour.

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From Alan Young’s autobiography: When Brighton played Real Madrid

Three weeks ago, this blog featured an extract from Alan Young’s autobiography, covering the time Jimmy Case went AWOL.

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Today we will look at the striker’s £150,000 signing for Brighton from Sheffield United, and the club’s pre-season jaunt to Spain in the summer of 1983, where they even played the mighty Real Madrid:

The following pre-season with Sheffield United we were over at Reg Brearley’s place at Boston Spa. I remember looking around thinking to myself that we were going to have a very good season. I was feeling very happy at the prospect of another season at Sheffield United so I was surprised when Ian Porterfield cornered me at the bar one evening after training and told me that they had received an offer from Brighton for me. He then told me that they were going to accept the offer and asked if I would like to speak to Jimmy Melia.

So I looked Ian in the eye and asked him “Don’t you f*cking want me like?”

And he made all the right noises and assured me that it wasn’t his decision, that it was the chairman. They needed to get some money in and that I was the only player that they could sell right now. So I went down to see Jimmy and his wife Val and met them at Hotel in Brighton where he taught me what the terms were and that my signing on fee would be 20 grand. That was when I got back to Brearley and asked for the extra five grand which of course he honoured. Now Val was quite spiritual individual and when Jimmy and I had finished discussing the terms of the transfer she asked me what star sign I was. When I told her I was Scorpio she clapped her hands together and said, “Jimmy, it’s perfect. We need that tough Scorpio character in the team”. At this point I was thinking, what are you on? But I was far too polite to say anything. I kept it to myself whilst Val was bouncing up and down because she had found a Scorpio.

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Anyway, we went to Majorca for the pre-season preparations and had games against Real Madrid, Real Majorca and Ferencvaros; just a little three team tournament at Majorca’s ground.

Quite marvellously, the Seagulls’ players were not without support as some very loyal Albion fans made the journey to enjoy the competition:

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(photos kindly supplied by ‘Al Bion’ from North Stand Chat)

Some even got to meet the players as this photo shows:

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Alan continues:

When we arrived where is the first place we go? Magaluf. In the bar where the ducks are, Mano’s Bar (it’s a famous bar). So we are all in this bar and I remember there was a song by Malcolm Maclaren going around at the time called Double Dutch and there was a section of the video for the song where there is a skipping routine (Ooh ma ma, ooh ma ma etc, you know the one) in the middle of it and so what are we doing in this bar? The whole team is recreating this video from Double Dutch and the whole place has gone mental and joined in and it was wild – and we had only just arrived!

What I hadn’t realised at the time was that someone was putting vodka in my beer and so I was getting drunk very quickly and at one point I went and sat next to this girl in a polka dot dress and I was thinking that she was right fit but I couldn’t talk, I really couldn’t.

I thought, I’ve got to get out of here before I collapse or something. So I got in to this taxi and I couldn’t remember where the hotel was and I was starting to feel sick and the taxi driver is jabbering away at me in Spanish and I am a right mess.

So I summoned up all of my Spanish and said “Momento. Marina Hotel” and so off we went and the taxi driver found the Marina Hotel and dropped me off so I paid him and got out, thinking that I had finally had a slice of luck. I saw Gordon Smith walking out of the front door of the hotel so I knew I had the right place and I stopped. “Smudge!” and he said, “What are you doing, Big Man?”

I said “Oh Smudge, I just want ma bed” so I went in to the hotel and walked up to reception and told them that I am Mr Young but I can’t remember my room number. But they can’t find me on their records and keep saying “No Meester Young” and I’m going “Yeeesss Mr Young!” and eventually I gave up and ran out after Gordon Smith. I caught him up and said “Smudge, they won’t give me my key” and he looked at me a bit odd and said “I’m not f*ckin’ surprised” and I said “Why?” and he grinned and said “It’s not our f*ckin’ hotel that’s why! Ours is next door.”

Now quite what he was doing in that hotel … I wouldn’t like to say. He later became president of the Scottish Football Association of course. He could also play the piano really well; he would just sit down at a piano, any piano that might be in a hotel foyer or something, and go straight in to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. I used to think, you bastard. I was so jealous of that kind of talent. That is one my regrets in life, never having piano lessons. So anyway, I made it to my bed and I was up for training on time the next morning. We didn’t have a blast like that every night but my word did we ever go for it on that first night. Later on, the bastards admitted to putting vodka in my drinks.

In the City of Palma Tournament, Brighton lost narrowly, 1-0, to Real Madrid on 18th August 1983. That prestigious match is notable not just because of the opposition, but because of the debut of rookie goalkeeper Simon Steele. Here are some more of ‘Al Bion’s photos, from the Real Madrid match:

Brighton v Real Madrid: Pre-Match

Brighton v Real Madrid: Pre-Match

Brighton v Real Madrid: After the match

Brighton v Real Madrid: After the match

Two days later, Brighton beat Hungarian side Vasas Diosgyori 3-2 with goals from Steve Gatting, Tony Grealish and a Terry Connor penalty to finish third in the tournament. And exactly thirty years ago today, Brighton’s final match of the tour ended on a high on the Balearic Islands. SD Ibiza were hammered 5-2 with Gerry Ryan, Martin Lambert (2) and Michael Ring (2) getting the goals.

Then it was back home to Brighton for Alan to enjoy the sunshine and beach:

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Looking back at the tour, Alan reminisces:

The most amazing thing that happened on that trip however was that big Joe Corrigan (all six feet seven inches of him) got mugged in Alessandro’s night club and had his watch stolen! I mean, Joe Corrigan! There must have been about a hundred guys in the gang that mugged him.

If you are interested in reading more, you can buy ‘Youngy,’ the Alan Young autobiography here on the accompanying site.

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FKS’ last hurrah: Soccer 83-84 stickers

Poor FKS. They once dominated the ’70s football sticker scene with fabulously grandiose album titles such as ‘The Wonderful World of Soccer Stars Gala Collection.’ Which suitably sideburned and flared young kid wouldn’t want to be in on that? By 1983/84, probably due to the intense competition from Panini, FKS had reached the end of the line with the rather dubious ‘Soccer 83-84’ series. Following on from their ‘Soccer 82′, it appears that they were trying to cover two seasons’ worth of top flight soccer with this inept collection. Here are the Brighton players:

Graham Moseley

Graham Moseley

Chris Ramsey

Chris Ramsey

Graham Pearce

Graham Pearce

A stray ball seems to be trying its darnedest to try to muscle in on the limelight behind Moseley’s shoulder. But is this really true? As you can see, the grass behind Moseley and Ramsey looks suspiciously unnatural in its greenness, especially as the unaltered green on the side of Ramsey’s arm rather gives the game away. The mixture of the head and shoulders shots of these players and the zoom-in on Graham Pearce’s head bestow an untidy look for this collection. No wonder Chris Ramsey looks uncomfortable.

Steve Gatting

Steve Gatting

Tony Grealish

Tony Grealish

Steve Foster

Steve Foster

Similar gripes with Messrs Gatting, Grealish and Foster here. Given where FKS had appeared to have swiped their photo shot of Tony Grealish from, you can understand why they had to put on a faux-grass background.

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens

Jimmy Case

Jimmy Case

Gary Howlett

Gary Howlett

A nice, genuine photo of Jimmy Case, fresh from the barbers, follows another manipulated one of Gary Stevens. And whoa! An intensely dim shot of a young and rather frail-looking Gary Howlett. Suffice to say, if you met him in a dark alleyway, I don’t think you’d be that scared.

Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith

Gerry Ryan

Gerry Ryan

Some more bog-standard and doctored head and shoulders shots of some of Albion’s attackers follow. It’s like FKS were trying very hard to emulate Panini here, whereas some of the action shots that the company had previously used would probably have been more interesting to the young collector.

Neil Smillie

Neil Smillie

And then the final insult! Sticking in a shot of a player in a Crystal Palace kit on a Brighton page. Yeah, thanks, FKS! A bit like putting a sticker of Mo Johnston in a Celtic shirt within a Rangers sticker double-spread, I don’t think that would have gone down too well on the south coast at the time.

No need to be too resentful to FKS, though, after a stay that had lasted since the late 1960s. The company had introduced new ideas such as actual albums for affixing your stickers, something we take for granted today. Now, though, the game was up.

soccer83-84

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New arrivals hold the key in 1980/81

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The 1980/81 Albion squad was probably the strongest in the club’s history. At least on paper. With their first season of top flight football behind them, Brighton looked to build on their experience, and were bolstered by Michael Robinson and Gordon Smith, two £400,000 captures. The Robinson-Ward striking partnership appeared to promise an avalanche of goals while Mark Lawrenson and Steve Foster seemed likely to keep things solid at the back.

It certainly didn’t pan out that way, which is perhaps testament to the outstanding contributions that Ray Clarke and Peter Suddaby made to the Brighton side. They both had a profound effect on Albion’s season when they joined mid-way in 1979/80. Their departures certainly coincided with a downturn in Albion fortunes, despite the opening day success, a comfortable 2-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers in the sunshine at the Goldstone in August 1980.

An outstanding article by Dave Spurdens dissects the functioning of the Brighton team at the time:

Last season the First Division induced in Brighton the sort of timorous insecurity common to squatters awaiting removal from their borrowed abode.

No mean appraiser of life’s realities in the big league, Alan Mullery saw clearly that reinforcements would have to be moved up if Brighton was to grow from a rather crotchety tenant to an established mortgagee.

The departures of Ray Clarke, Peter Suddaby and Andy Rollings to pastures new heralded the expected re-jig and after a series of wrangles Mullery forked out a million pounds and came up with Gordon Smith, signed from Rangers, Ray McHale, the generator behind Swindon’s surge, Moshe Gariani, spotted in Israel during a club trip and finally, after much ado, Michael Robinson (below, middle), the Manchester City reject, unloaded by Malcolm Allison in a cut price deal.

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Robinson went to the Goldstone Ground hopefully to prove that Allison had been right to buy him in the first place, but hopefully remiss in sending him packing after one short season.

Apart from those four it’s the same Brighton and at the end of the day success will depend on these players being better than those they have replaced, coupled with the experience of more prolonged First Division status.

Mullery’s prognostications that Brighton will cause a few surprises started off with a bang when Wolves, the team many tip to challenge the leaders, were reminded that the supposed no-hopers from the south would certainly not help them in their aspirations and were duly beaten by them 2-0.

The blend looked good. Smith, everybody in Brighton averred, was another Trevor Brooking. McHale’s industry was commendable and Robinson, if nothing else, confirmed that he was unlikely in the next few years to halve his value again. Robinson, whom nobody apart from Malcolm Allison thought a near million-pound player, now has to prove that he is a near half-million player.

The next game was not so auspicious but nevertheless, despite defeat, demonstrated Brighton’s senior status against another of this year’s tips for the great ‘Nick the title off Liverpool’ campaign, Ipswich.

Taken all round in victory and defeat, this new-look Brighton is a tight outfit with a very solid back four, a midfield that is directed by skipper Brian Horton and a front line that once gets to know itself could produce problems for even the best.

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Horton (above), a ubiquitous character, has an influence in the three lines slotting into the back whenever Mark Lawrenson takes off for advanced territory, running the midfield and going on occasional forays behind his front three whenever the opportunity presents itself.

In four seasons at Brighton, since he arrived from Port Vale, he has matured into an integrating force with a strong sense of how to exploit time and space. His influence gives Brighton a varied tempo and a less predictable pattern of advance.

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Horton (above) plays a complete midfield role and his defensive work is tenacious and very professional.

Unlike his two midfield colleagues, who allow players to steal goalside oblivious of the pressure it puts on the back four players, Horton is an expert tracker and uses his experience to transfer marking responsibilities when he feels he is being pulled too far away from crucial zones.

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McHale (above), though he operated well forward, is an industrious player busily looking for possession from the man with the ball, but he is not so aware of the damage those without the ball can do.

Neil McNab falls into the same trap of being less than attentive to those who ghost behind his area of concentration. On the ball, he has the look of threatening competence as he moves forward with control. The final pass is often less incisive than anticipated, and some of his forward probes are too easily read by those who should be troubled by them.

Brighton’s build-up when started by Horton or full-back John Gregory is patient and constructive, but tends to be a fifteen-yard game which is easily closed down by good defenders or by teams that fall off and vacate the midfield space.

With a build-up like this, one waits frustratingly for the breakthrough from the back or the run into space which has been created by the diagonal drift of their build up.

So often play develops from the right to left, dragging opposition players with it and leaving large spaces into which back or midfield players should be running in order to exploit opportunities on the blind side.

Even when they are developing their game around the midfield, and where the opposition is turned minimally, there is still a great need for play to be switched once the options have closed down on one flank or the other.

If there was a major reason, in their second game, why their opponents could sit reasonably comfortably it was this tendency to attack in straight lines.

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It has been generally accepted by the Seasiders that (above) Lawrenson’s best role is at the centre of the back four.

Certainly with he and Steve Foster at the heart of the defence there is a solidarity that will stand them in good stead whenever they play.

Brighton’s resources probably dictate this policy, lacking the luxury of being able to use players in their perfect role.

I thought Lawrenson playing in front of the two centre-backs last season was more effective because of the strength of his forward runs, and he didn’t have the worry of leaving gaps at the back.

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Foster (above) is playing better than ever alongside Lawrenson, with tireless courage and aggression.

There are those who feel him to be one of the best young centre-backs in the country. Against Ipswich, it was interesting to see him with the two favourite contenders for the spots currently held so securely by Thompson and Watson.

Under far greater pressure, Foster made several early errors – especially when it came to picking up high balls on the edge of the box. But once he settled down, he looked the equal to anybody aspiring to international status.

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At full back, Gregory (above) turn in his usually immaculate performance both defensively and creatively when he plays the ball forward, but his energy in getting forward into good space seems seriously curtailed. Whether through disinclination or orders, only the player and his manager can know.

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On the other flank, young Gary Williams (above) gives the impression that, unless he tightens up on his jockeying to players who run at him withthe ball, he could be in for a skinning before the season gets much older.

The rest of his game seems to be developing well and the way he linked up with the centre-back in the middle when his partner had been pulled out wide suggests he is learning his craft quickly.

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Behind this promising back four Graham Moseley (above) looks quick and agile, enjoying the confidence of those in front of him.

There are times when he could be more positive in his communication but I suspect his diffidence may be prompted by the perpetual dialogue conducted by Foster just in front of him.

The 1980/81 season turned out to be another one of struggle as Brighton’s reshaped side blew hot and cold in the First Division. After the opening day victory over Wolves, it took another six games to record another League victory. Peter Ward left for Nottingham Forest in the middle of a ten match winless spell from late September that saw Brighton vacate the League Cup and marooned at the bottom of Division One by mid-November. Then, a surprise 1-0 win over League leaders Ipswich Town kick-started a brief run of good form. After another slump in the New Year, when Brighton won just twice in fifteen matches, the Seagulls saved themselves with a miraculous spell of four wins in four matches at the end of the season.

This late form showed what Mullery’s most accomplished looking side was capable of. However, it was not without its flaws, as journalist Dave Spurdens capably showed. Although Michael Robinson came good with 22 goals, this did not fully paper over the cracks. When Mike Bailey took over in the summer of 1981, another re-jig of the squad was in the pipeline.

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