Tag Archives: justin fashanu

Grandmaster Fash

Here is mascot Gavin McLean, then 12 years old, posing with new Brighton striker Justin Fashanu on the opening day of the 1985/86 season, before the 2-2 draw with Grimsby Town at the Goldstone in August:


Fash had a fine spell with Notts County in 1984/85, leading to considerable interest from the likes of Manchester City, Norwich, Chelsea, Birmingham, Oxford and Oldham. In Jim Read’s superb biography of Justin Fashanu, he provides a vivid anecdote:

Also interested in Justin was the manager of another Second Division team, Chris Cattlin of Brighton & Hove Albion. Feeling he might be a difficult player to manage, Cattlin decided to invite Justin to stay at his house for four days so they could get to know each other. They obviously hit it off and the transfer was agreed.

Catlin explained: “Justin had a reputation of being a bit of a problem player with his other clubs but that is all in the past. In my dealings with him I’ve found him to be a smashing person and the sort of player our supporters will take to.’ He told the Evening Argus that Justin was ‘a dedicated player who has been asleep for a couple of years’, adding ‘I’m sure, with us, he will bring his talents to fruition’. For his part, Justin told The Times: ‘I only took this step after a good deal of thought and prayer. I am convinced Chris Cattlin can get the very best out of me.’ He described the move as the most important of his career. He must have felt it was his last chance to regain the form he had shown at Norwich and in his first few months at Notts County.

He signed in June 1985 for a fee of £115,000 given a generous three year contract, reported to be around £45,000 a year. He had passed his medical but there was an exclusion clause on his troublesome right knee. It would only be covered by insurance after he played 12 consecutive League games.

There was some lingering ill-will from supporters over various incidents when he had played against them including the injury to Jeff Clarke the previous season. When still at Norwich, he had broken the nose of Brighton’s defender, Andy Rollings, who was then sent off after swinging a punch at him.

Dismissing the broken nose as arising from an accidental clash of heads, Justin claimed: ‘I think I have become more subfie in my game. I would really hurt people in the past but that is all behind me, now.’ But, as one Brighton supporter put it: ‘He was the kind of player you couldn’t stand because you thought he was dirty, then he comes to play for you and you think he’s brilliant.’

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England World Cup Squad 1982 album

Here are Brighton’s skipper Steve Foster and the Seagulls’ future striker Justin Fashanu in action:


In 1982, both players also turned their talents in the recording studio. With the Albion, Foster had a stab at singing on ‘In Brighton’ / ‘The Goldstone Rap’.

Fozzie also featured in the official England World Cup Squad song: ‘This Time (We’ll Get It Right)’:

Believe it or not, a whole album of songs was released:


As noted by Derek Hammond and Gary Silke in ‘Got Not Got’:

The FA’s resolute refusal to acknowledge disco, punk or even New Romanticism was partly tempered on the ‘This time We’ll Get It Right’ LP, where Justin Fashanu’s frankly astonishing ‘Do It Cos You Like It’ predated the thrust of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ by at least a year.

Please note: This blog is coming to an end as a daily blog in 10 days time…

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How we won the cup

Here’s the Albion team after triumphing in the Oxfordshire Benevolent Cup in summer 1985:


As reported by Tony Millard in the Brighton v Grimsby programme from 1985/86:

A performance full of commitment and for most of the game of high quality, saw the Albion bring home the biggest trophy they’ve ever seen, never mind won, from Oxford on Wednesday, August 7.

The match at the Manor Ground was for the Oxfordshire Benevolent Cup. There was certainly nothing benevolent about the approach of both sides, and the game was a thriller.

An early injury to Eric Young, when the elbow of Jeremy Charles caught him in the face, upset Albion’s rhythm for a while. Jacobs moved back into the defence, and Penney came on to play on the right of midfield.

Once they settled again Albion started to play well, and a great goal from Dennis Mortimer just before half-time put them in front.

Midway through the second-half a scuffle between John Aldridge of Oxford and Albion’s Steve Jacobs, saw both players sent off by referee Hedges, and there could be little argument about the decision, although it was clear that Aldridge’s kick on Jacobs started the trouble.

Seconds from time Gary Briggs netted the equaliser.

Albion protested that Briggs, Charles and Shotton had all bundled into the unfortunate Perry Digweed, but the goal stood.

It had been decided to use penalties as a tie break.

Albion took the first kick through Danny Wilson. Alan Biley and Justin Fashanu had little difficulty in beating Hardwick with theirs, but it took Steve Penney two efforts to make his count when the ‘keeper moved to save. Dennis Mortimer completed a ‘five out of five’.

Oxford’s first four all counted, but a marvellous save by Perry Digweed from Andy Thomas gave Albion the trophy.

The winning penalty

A goal and the winning penalty from Mortimer

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Love the Tiger feat

Here’s Chris Cattlin’s formidable Albion squad ahead of the 1984/85 season. Having beaten Liverpool the season before, the Seagulls had cup pedigree and feared no-one in a knockout competition.


When Brighton drew Hull City in the FA Cup in both 1984/85 and 1985/86, they achieved satisfying victories in both encounters. However, it could not paper over the fact that the Tigers, led by player-boss Brian Horton, were set to surpass the Albion in the League.

As Chris Cattlin wrote in his programme notes before the third round clash of 1984/85:

“I would like to welcome Brian Horton and his team. He and I have many happy memories of our days together with the Albion both on and off the field. I know he will be particularly keen to do well against his old club, but he will certainly remember his happy days at the Goldstone.

I am sure he shares my memories and will want his team to win but I hope I don’t see anything of that bristling beard until around 5 o’clock… then I am sure we’ll have a drink together and the years will go rolling back.”

In the match, played in front of 11,681 in the January frost, ex-Albion striker Michael Ring was also re-united with the Goldstone, playing up front for Hull City:


However, it was the Seagulls’ Chris Hutchings who scored the only goal in a second half counter-attack:

By the end of the season, while Albion narrowly missed out on returning to the top flight, Hull City had succeeded in clinching promotion from the Third Division.

When the sides met in the Second Division in 1985/86, goals from Connor, Wilson and Fashanu firmly put the new boys in their place, as Hull crashed 3-1 at the Goldstone in November 1985.

In the FA Cup, in January, in the Fourth Round at Boothferry Park, Albion prevailed again. A Cup Indian sign, perhaps? Or maybe a home jinx, seeing as Hull have not beaten Albion away to this day since 1965. On 25th January 1986, Dean Saunders and Terry Connor (2) scored the goals to take Albion through in a 3-2 victory. The rapidly improving Hull City did get revenge in the League, however, beating Albion on the last day of the season, and pushing up to sixth position, five places above the fading Seagulls, now managed on a temporary basis by assistant George Petchey (below), after Cattlin had been given the sack days before.


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All is forgiven, by Rollo and Ramsey

A scratched photo of King Rollo

A scratched photo of King Rollo

You may be interested in reading an interview of Andy Rollings by me in the current Viva Brighton magazine (January / February 2014).

When I spoke to ‘Rollo’ last month, I was eager to ask him about his notorious clash with Justin Fashanu in October 1979 in Andy’s penultimate match for the Seagulls. You can see the no holds barred battle below:

In his match report at the time, John Vinicombe drew attention to something underhand that may have contributed to the injuries sustained:

Nobody in authority seemed to have a clear view. Suddenly, Rollings was lying on the ground and then taken off holding his nose. A clue was spotted by Albion’s club doctor, Herzl Sless. He later asked (referee) Daniels if he had spotted a large signet ring Fashanu was wearing.

In Sless’s opinion, the ring should have been taken off before the start or covered by a protective tape. Daniels said it had gone unnoticed and thanked Sless for his observation. The piece worn by Fashanu was likened to a knuckleduster and could easily have accounted for the injury to Rollings’ nose.

However, when I met Andy, he wasn’t able to confirm it either way:

“I couldnt tell you to this day. I always used wear a ring but always had it taped up. With Justin Fashanu it wasn’t a big nugget. It could have been an elbow. I didn’t have too many issues. Football then was that type of game, about winning your battle. Sometimes people will overstep the mark. That was their choice. It was a bit sad for that to be my last Goldstone game, but what a way to go!”

Rollings left for Swindon at the end of the 1979/80 season before turning out for Portsmouth, Torquay, Brentford and Maidstone.


Unexpectedly, Andy rejoined Brighton as a non-contract player under Alan Mullery in 1986/87. I wonder if he encountered Justin Fashanu again, who was in the process of retiring through injury from the game in July 1986. Awkward moments in the dressing room? Stand-offs in the canteen? Andy says no:

“The only time I did encounter him was when I was with Portsmouth. We won the Third Division Championship. and they took us all to Marbella with girlfriends and wives. Funnily enough, he was over there. We shook hands. We didn’t hold any grudges and both accepted that what happened was all part of the game.”

Very magnanimous.


Likewise with Chris Ramsey, currently U21s coach at Tottenham Hotspur who helped in a caretaker team once Andre Villas-Boas was sacked. As you’ll recall, Whiteside’s awful foul on Ramsey in the 1983 FA Cup Final caused Brighton’s right-back to be substituted. Some say that it resulted in Manchester United’s equaliser. I certainly feel that Ramsey would not have been outmuscled by the waif-like Arnold Muhren, the way that Gerry Ryan was, before the Dutchman’s diagonal ball for Ray Wilkins’s goal to put united ahead. In Brighton’s matchday programme v Oldham on 24th October 2009, Ramsey said:

I saw Norman Whiteside about 12 years after (the Final) at a PFA do and we had a good laugh about it (Whiteside’s foul). We exchanged autographs and he wrote on my card ‘You went in high but I went in higher!’ To be fair he says in his book that he never intentionally went out to hurt anyone in his career, and that the only person he actually ended up hurting was me.

At the end of the day neither of us were angels, were we? I had my moments- I had a lot of moments come to think of it (Chris was sent off five times during his Albion career)! They were different times and the game was a lot more physical then, so those things used to happen unfortunately.

I suppose it’s not that surprising Ramsey was so relaxed about it. Off the field, he certainly knew how to chill out. Here he is listening to reggae music on his Sony Walkman!

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Topps Footballer Card Collector’s Album, 1981/82

Just like FKS by the early 1980s, Topps was on the decline. The chewing gum firm’s garish bubblegum cards were a big part of many childhood memories from the 1970s, but its position was now under increasing threat. It was certainly slow get in on the sticker market that Panini was sewing up. In addition, perhaps Topps had also over-stretched itself trying to cover the whole of the Football League rather than focus on the more lucrative First Division. For instance, in 1978/79, it had rather delightfully issued eight playing card-sized ones for Brighton & Hove Albion, who were still a Second Division side. Although, for that, I will always retain a soft spot for Topps!

Fast-forward three seasons, and perhaps to counter the threat from Panini, Topps issued an actual album that you could glue on your cards. Here is the eye-catching cover:


As you can see, all cards were now shrunk to cigarette card size. If you were a supporter of Arsenal, champions Aston Villa, Ipswich, Liverpool or Manchester United, you were given a full page of eleven player cards of your favourite side to stick in.

Disappointingly, as Brighton who were one of the smaller fish in the top flight, the Seagulls were only allocated three cards, and had to share their page with the ‘other Albion’, West Brom:


But spare a thought for Norwich City, who were only issued with one card, of Justin Fashanu! (Actually, they were issued with another, on a 1980/81 top scorers page of all the top flight clubs. And yes, that was also Justin Fashanu!)

As for the actual cards, themselves, the cardboard quality was quite poor (think cereal box card) and the borders often uneven. Here are the Brighton ones. Gregory and Lawrenson both left the Albion before the season, but here they are along with Michael Robinson’s from the aforementioned 1980-81 top scorer page:





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Peter Sayer, Justin Fashanu and Alan Mullery in the new Backpass magazine


It’s a lovely feeling to be filled with expectation about a new edition of a magazine that’s about to hit the newsstands. I don’t know about you, but football-wise, I haven’t felt this way since 90 Minutes magazine died a death in the 1990s and Tuesday mornings were never quite the same again. In a previous post, I have documented the excellent coverage Brighton & Hove Albion has received in past issues.

With its first edition of the new season, a refreshed Backpass Magazine is now up to issue 30, and now defines itself as ‘the retro football magazine with a modern-day bite.’

In terms of Brighton interest, there is a great interview with Peter Sayer. A substantial part of the article recalls his wonderful winner for Cardiff against Tottenham in the FA Cup in 1977:

Albion fans chiefly remember Peter’s magical wing-play in the late 1970s while playing in Brighton’s blue and white stripes. Even so, I have found an FKS Soccer ’82 sticker of Peter in the B-Cal Brighton shirt of the early 1980s:


However, Albion fans didn’t get much of a chance to see him in it as he was an unused substitute on the opening day of the 1980/81 season against Wolves and made no further appearances for the first team before departing for Preston.

Nevertheless, he speaks well of his years at the Goldstone Ground:

It was an excellent time at Brighton. There were some very good players at the club and I was playing well. I especially remember when we won promotion to the old First Division at Newcastle in 1978-79. We had our own train which we used to travel to away games on! It was great for team morale.”

When Albion struggled to maintain their place in the First Division, Peter lost his place in the side:

I ended up in the reserves even though I was playing well. I got asked to go to Newcastle but failed the medical. The club then had an opportunity to sell me to Preston and they perhaps felt they needed to offload some players. Maybe I should have dug my heels in and fought.

justinfashanu3Elsewhere, Jim Read’s fascinating biography of Justin Fashanu covers the latter part of the striker’s career and strongly argues against the myth that seems to be grown that some of the main facts known of Fashanu:
a) He was a promising footballer (as shown by the ‘Goal of the Season’ against Liverpool)
b) He came out as gay
c) His manager at Nottingham Forest, Brian Clough, and his brother John were far from supportive.
d) He committed suicide

were somehow all linked and that coming out as gay led to his death as be became ostracised from the football community. The details of Fashanu’s life, especially his struggle with injury (he actually retired from the professional game when he was released by Brighton) and his particularly brand of religion, not to mention the varying social values of football fans and players, show that things were far more complicated than that.

Spencer Vignes writes a splendid piece about ‘football specials’, the trains that carried the team and supporters to away matches in the 1970s and 1980s. He mentions the Seagulls Specials and there is a lovely quote from Mark Lawrenson about the party on the train after Brighton clinched promotion to Division One with a 3-1 win at Newcastle.

mullery_bigAs Alan Mullery said in his latter autobiography:

“We travelled home by train and The Seagull Special became The Paralytic Express. There was champagne everywhere. The journey back seemed to take a lifetime, but nobody cared. I walked the length of the train with the team, thanking the fans for their support. Everyone who was on that train will remember it forever.

Presenter Alan Mullery is also the ‘star’ of a low budget video nasty reviewed by Chris O from the Football Attic.

Finally, the magazine also charts the fall and heartwarming rise of Newport County, Brighton & Hove Albion’s League Cup opponents on Tuesday evening.

So, if this has whetted your appetite, feel free to nip off to the newsagent now. Or subscribe online via www.backpassmagazine.co.uk. Just £3.99.

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Warm Up ’85


A mouth-watering pre-season programme in the summer of 1985 saw First Division giants Arsenal, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest make the journey to the South Coast.

With the help of some Panini stickers from ‘Football 86’, I will let the words of Tony Millard from the Brighton v Grimsby programme from 1985/86 give you a sense of how Second Division Brighton fared against the big boys:


The first home game was against Arsenal on Friday August 2. A full-strength Gunners side came to the Goldstone, and among their substitutes was Martin Keown who is now back at the Goldstone on loan. Albion played with the wind and rain behind them in the first-half, and took the lead with a cracking goal from Dennis Mortimer. The former Villa man certainly looked the part when he gave John Lukic no chance in the Arsenal goal.

A defensive slip that saw Graham Moseley stranded gave Paul Mariner a simple chance to put Arsenal level, and a header from Stewart Robson provided the winner for the Londoners after the interval. They might have netted a third, but Charlie Nicholas missed from the spot after Eric Young had been penalised.


The biggest pre-season crowd turned out for the game with Liverpool on Monday, August 5. With new manager Kenny Dalglish also in action as a player, it was a full strength Liverpool side that was looking for revenge against the club that had, twice in three seasons, knocked them out of the FA Cup.

It took Liverpool just seven minutes to take the lead, with Dalglish playing a 1-2 with the Dane Jan Molby, before slotting home from some eight yards. Molby was also involved in the second goal. A precision pass set Steve Nicol away on the right, and he made no mistake. Before the interval it was perhaps predictable that Ian Rush would find the net. Dalglish took advantage of defensive hesitation, Rush showed typical perception and nodded in from only two yards out to score a third for Liverpool.

The fourth too came from Rush, once again Dalglish was the architect, and the Welsh striker found space-a-plenty in the Albion area.

Albion scored a late goal through Steve Jacobs, by now pushing forward in midfield, but by then Liverpool had shown that they will once again be among the best this season.


Albion reserved their best for last Friday at the Goldstone when they walloped First Division Nottingham Forest 5-2. The match was a real thriller for the fans, and no one except perhaps for Brian Clough and his team, went home unhappy.

Justin Fashanu had an outstanding game against his former team mates. Enforced changes had to be made in Albion’s side. Christ Cattlin had signed 22 year-old defender Gavin Oliver on loan from Sheffield Wednesday. He filled the number five shirt.

Albion took the lead when a short corner gave Mortimer the chance to cross from the right and Biley headed in. That provided the only goal of the first-half.

The second 45 minutes was a real thriller. Steve Hodge put Forest level after the Albion defence had been caught napping. Albion were soon back in front when Steve Jacobs crashed the ball in, after Fashanu had nodded on a right-wing corner. The joy was short-lived when an error by Perry Digweed presented Nigel Clough with a ‘sitter’.

The finale from Albion surely left the Goldstone regulars with an appetite for more. First Martin Keown pushed forward. His run produced a corner which Mortimer floated in, Fashanu’s header caused havoc and Dean Saunders provided the finishing touch.

Danny Wilson grabbed the goal he certainly deserve when Fashanu again provided an important touch, not to mention distraction to the visiting defence, and the final goal came from just about the most powerful shot seen at the Goldstone for years. Fashanu connected from 15 years out. Segers could only parry the ball, and O’Reilly tapped it over the line.

While Chris Cattlin gave his team guarded praise in the press room after the match, Brian Clough declined to be interviewed. The praise from Cattlin was well justified, and the performance of his team has surely whetted the appetite of supporters, to kindle that feeling of anticipation of an enjoyable and productive season ahead.

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They love tough-guy Justin Fashanu at Brighton


From Shoot! Magazine in 1985/86:

“At 24, the born-again Christian has put a controversial past behind him, and following a £110,000 move from Notts County in June, he is already a hit with the fans.

They love his power and skill, and Cattlin has opted for a front duo of Fashanu and Alan Biley, the £50,000 buy from Portsmouth late last season.

Unfortunately for the muscular striker, his Brighton career was only four games old when he was sent off for the third time in a year during the club’s recent 2-1 home win over Bradford.

“It was a ridiculous decision,” he says. “I was slightly late with a challenge and when the ref went for his book I just said, “You must be joking.” That was it. I was off!”

Brighton’s players were keen for Fashanu to join them early last season when they beat Notts County in a tremendous battle at The Goldstone.

Fashanu was involved in incidents that put Jeff Clarke and Eric Young in hospital and figured among seven names in the book of referee John Moules.

Danny Wilson, Brighton’s skipper, and an ex-Forest player like Fashanu, said at the time: “He certainly puts himself about, but I would like him in my side.”

Enthuses Fashanu: “This is the most important move of my career. Coming to Brighton is not just a financial thing; it is the best chemistry for Justin Fashanu, and I shall give 100% in every game.”