Tag Archives: john ruggiero

When you’re young

Brighton supporter Gary Cook sent me a tremendous photo of himself with Albion players John Ruggiero and Eric Steele:


He says:

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.

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John Ruggiero clarifies and diversifies

Midfielder John Ruggiero made only a handful of appearances for Brighton (eight in the League, and four in the League Cup) in the 1977/78 campaign. However, he managed to get featured in Brighton v Tottenham’s matchday programme in April 1978:


While his time with the Albion was brief, he expressed warmth for those days, on Facebook last week:

Loved my short time in Brighton. Would have liked to have played a few more games but still love the place and the team were buzzing at that time.

And to answer a question that has remained unanswered for many Seagulls fans of the 1970s, this son of Italian parents explained that his surname is pronounced ‘roo jerr oh’. So now you know!

When I read him some of what is said of him from this profile, and wondered whether he was still a fan of Clint Eastwood and Oliver Reed, and the group Yes, he clarified some of the factoids within the profile:

Al Forno was a restaurant in Brighton. We would all go in there on a Friday afternoon after training and have pasta and wine. Yes, that was the secret of Brighton’s success! Carol and Denise were wives of Eric and Brian, who were my best mates.

Interesting that he has short back and sides in the photo here as others of him featured a moustache and bubble perm. He certainly kept people guessing with his look in those days, and quips:

Most footballers are in love with themselves. I suppose it was the same in my day!

Nowadays, John works for Cheshire Police.


Watching Forest at the Town Hall

From Football Handbook (part 25):


In a scintillating League Cup Quarter-Final, Alan Mullery’s men put on a great performance against the reigning English League champions and League Cup holders on 13th December 1978. The Seagulls succumbed to a 3-1 defeat against Clough’s side that retained the trophy and then also lifted the European Cup that season.

An estimated 5,000 Albion supporters cheered the Seagulls on at the City Ground. However, the support would have been even more if two of the three charter trains had not broken down en route.

In the Brighton v Stoke programme from 1978/79, there is a nice piece on how the club in January that season made it up to the supporters who missed this exciting cup tie:

With all the recent bad weather there has been a lot of work for the Promotions Office with re-arranging trains, etc. But one event that we had to work particularly hard on was the film showing of the Notts Forest Albion League Cup quarter-final. It was, of course, staged for the benefit of our unlucky supporters who were stranded on the two special trains which didn’t reach the City Ground.

Just under 1,000 people attended Hove Town Hall for the evening last Tuesday and several of the players came along to the delight of the supporters. The row shown in the picture shows the lads really enjoying some of their glory moments.

Some of the comments from the players made commentator Hugh Johns’ sound almost an amateur. Naturally everyone hopes we would never again have a similar situation but we hope supporters will agree that we’ve done our very best to make up for the disappointment.


Each one of the audience at Hove Town Hall was even issued with a black and white copy of the matchday programme:


Update 26/12/15: Two of the goals (from John McGovern and John Robertson) made it into the recent ‘I Believe in Miracles’ film:

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They played for Brighton & Portsmouth

Recently, I’ve discovered a rather curious collection of coloured drawings of players who played for the Albion and Portsmouth. Leant to me by Nick from Fishersgate, they are neither stickers nor cards. These Victory Blend illustrations are simply printed on small sheets of paper.

Maybe the rest of the collection includes the players of Fratton who have fraternised with Southampton… or Crystal Palace… or Millwall – I just don’t know! If anyone has any details about this series, please comment. For now, I will concern myself with these ten collectables. Give or take a Warren Aspinall, I wonder if it’s possible to construct a decent, well balanced football team out of these players:


Goalkeeper: Doug Flack.
Fulham’s goalkeeper who joined the club in 1935 and made one war-time appearance for the Albion in January 1940, losing 1-0 at Reading. Also guested for Portsmouth in the war years before being a regular in Fulham’s 1948/49 Second Division championship side.

Centre-back: Gary Stevens.
Outstanding, classy defender during Albion’s glory years in the top flight. He joined Tottenham and played for England before injury problems wrecked his career. Joined Portsmouth on loan in January 1990, which became a permanent deal.


Centre-back: Steve Foster.
Beginning with Portsmouth as a centre-forward, he turned into a central defender and transferred to Brighton after the club had gained its First Division status in 1979. After spells with Aston Villa, Luton and Oxford, Fozzie rejoined the Albion in the 1992/93 season.

Midfielder: John Ruggiero.
Joined Brighton in June 1977, scoring on his League debut against Southampton. Loaned to Portsmouth for a month in December 1977 before making his final Albion appearance in the famous match with Blackpool in April 1978.


Inside forward: Bert Barlow.
Portsmouth’s Bert Barlow scored in the 1939 FA Cup Final, but I could find not record of him playing for Brighton. Perhaps there was confusion with K Barlow, a Southampton born lad leant to the Albion for a game against his own club in 1944/45.

Inside-forward / Centre-forward: Albert Mundy.
With his 87 goals in 165 League appearances for the Albion from 1953 to 1958, mainly as an inside forward, Mundy is the second highest scorer in Albion history. He joined the club from Portsmouth where he established a growing reputation.


Centre-forward: Jackie ‘Jock’ Anderson.
A Portsmouth player for thirteen seasons, he scored against Wolves in the 1939 FA Cup Final victory. Played three times for Albion during the war as a guest, beginning with a home match with West Ham in 1943.

Inside forward: Bill Pointon.
A Port Vale player who made a single appearance guesting for Brighton at home to Portsmouth in April 1944. I’m unsure when he played for Portsmouth, but it was probably as a wartime guest player as well.


Inside forward: J. Lewis.
Looking rather like a member of Frankie Goes To Hollywood! He played for Portsmouth in between two spells with Bristol Rovers. The second time at Eastville led to a call up to Wales’ team, where he figured in a 1-0 win over England in March 1906. Two months later, he left for Brighton where he played 43 times before joining Southampton.

Winger: Mark Chamberlain.
Explosive winger who made his name with Stoke and England early in his career. An unsuccessful move to Sheffield Wednesday marred his career before returning to form with Portsmouth. He had a so-so spell with Brighton in the 1990s before being released. You can read more about him here.

As you can see, even though with only ten in the side, this team is refreshingly attack-minded. If only Oscar Garcia could choose an Albert Mundy or a ‘Jock’ Anderson (in their prime, of course!) to solve Brighton’s very current striker crisis!

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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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