Tag Archives: liam brady

Frankie’s fire

Here’s Arsenal’s Frank Stapleton at the Goldstone Ground with its prominent white Townsend Thoresen advertising in the background:

The photo was taken just before Brighton’s first ever match in the top flight, in August 1979. Frank, one of Europe’s most feared strikers at the time, holds the distinction of scoring the first ever goal in the Seagulls’ four year stay in Division One. He beat Eric Steele with a thunderous shot from 20 yards in the Gunners’ 4-0 victory.

Two season later, in October 1981, and by then a Manchester United player, Frank partnered Michael Robinson up front in the Republic of Ireland’s famous 3-2 victory over France at Lansdowne Road. Here is Robbo giving a clenched fist just before kick-off:


The Eire team also featured Lawrenson and Liam Brady in midfield as well as current Brighton boss Chris Hughton at left-back.

Suffice to say, had Robinson and Stapleton played together up front for Brighton at the time, the team would have finished considerably higher than 13th in that 1981/82 season. As it was, both strikers were on fire that day and scored in a magnificent performance:

The following 1982/83 campaign, Stapleton’s eye for goal proved a considerable thorn in the Seagulls’ side at Wembley, bundling in Manchester United’s equaliser in the first match.

Frank’s career subsequently took him to Ajax, Anderlecht, Derby, Le Havre, Blackburn, Aldershot, Huddersfield and Bradford. After being sacked as player-manager of Bradford City, he joined Brighton to help out his ex-Gunners team mate Liam Brady in 1994/95.

Considerably past his best, the Irish marksman made his Seagulls debut as a substitute at the Goldstone against Bournemouth in a 0-0 draw in November 1994, before starting up front against Cardiff in a 3-0 defeat. Here he is in a Brighton shirt:

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You can see match highlights from his last ever match as a professional player here:

While at Brighton, Frank applied for the vacant managerial post at Oldham. He then became QPR’s reserve team coach under Ray Wilkins before resigning in February 1995. After that, Stapleton was appointed head coach of New England Revolution, in the new American Major Soccer League, but resigned that summer. Frank currently works as assistant manager of the Jordan national side, as number two to Ray Wilkins.

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Fans fury over Brighton move to Fratton Park


Thank your lucky stars that the future looks bright for Brighton. The current set-up is quite unlike what it was in the mid-1990s when it was increasingly difficult to write about the club without using the word ‘beleaguered.’

This article by Andrew Arlidge from 1995/96 captures the horror as a soon-to-be homeless Brighton face up to the prospect of playing home matches in Portsmouth, with the recent demise of Maidstone hanging in the air:

Brighton’s shell-shocked players and fans are still finding it hard to come to terms with the club’s plans to sell the Goldstone Ground and share Portsmouth’s Fratton Park from next season.

Albion’s chief executive David Bellotti says the Second Division club are now £6 million in debt and the only way for them to survive within their own resources is to sell the Goldstone – their home for 93 years.

Bellotti claims there are now provisional contracts in place for the sale, and that is why they have secured a provisional agreement to play at Portsmouth, but he stresses that temporary facilities much nearer to the Goldstone are being examined.

A possible location is the Hove greyhound stadium, less than a mile from the Goldstone, but vanous hurdles need to be overcome before a safety certificate can be granted•.

As well as an agreement from owners Corals, Brighton would need land from the adjoining Alliance and Leicester Building Society, a new stand for 5,000 supporters and financial help from Hove Council.

Fans have been quick to oppose the prospect of making a 100-mile round trip to Fratton Park for home matches by staging a pitch invasion and demonstrations. But Bellotti emphasises going to Portsmouth would be a last resort.

He said: “If there is any chance of accommodating the club at the greyhound stadium, or anywhere else nearby, we shall make every effort to do so. Ground-sharing at Portsmouth is a safety-net but if there is no alterntive we shall be going there in 1996.”

Brighton have been told by the Football League that they will not sanction the ground-share unless they receive guarantees that the club will be building a new stadium in the town. So far a site for Brighton’s proposed 30,000 seater multi-purpose ground has not been identified and the League say they need to know the situation well before next June when Brighton are due to leave the Goldstone.

League spokesman Chris Worley confirms that regulations state new clubs must play in their home town while establishing themselves in the League. but the League would do all they could to help established sides, like Brighton, survive.

The League are anxious to avoid a repeat of the situation which led to the demise of Maidstone three years ago. The Third Division outfit were allowed to ground-share at non-league Dartford but their plans for a new stadium in the town never came to fruition, and the club eventually resigned from the League after going out of business.

Said Worley: “Brighton moving to Portsmouth is not ideal because of the distance supporters would have to travel. But it wouldn’t be a major obstacle as long as there were cast-iron guarantees from Brighton about the future.

“There would be no sanction from us until we were satisfied that the club had planning approval for a new ground and we had an idea when building would begin.”

Bnghton say they have to repay more than £4 million worth of debt by next June, but the total amount they owe is approaching £6 million because of other debts which are to be met on different timescales.

Bellotti maintains the only thing that prevented Albion from folding in 1993 was a financial re-structuring. This resulted in Greg Stanley and Bi!l Archer becoming the only shareholders in the club.

Said Bellotti: “They had a clear determination, whch rernalns to this day, that the first and foremost objective was to have a winning team and obtain Premier League status.

“A second objective was to build a new stadium fit for Premier League football. The Goldstone Ground cannot be developed as a football stadium.

Funding the debts in a ground that cannot be developed is not a viable proposition. The debts become repayable in the summer of 1996. They were incurred over many years and resulted in several High Court appearances in 1993.

“Since those days in the High Court nobody has offered to help with our debts and no true supporter would expect us to simply wait for the inevitable winding-up order finishing us off at the end of this season. We must maintain Albion as a League club at whatever sacrifice.”

Bellotti claimed club chairman Archer and president Stanley would Invest money on the club provided Albion has the council’s support to build a new stadium.

He added: “By the close season in 1996/97, the shareholders will make available more money than ever before for manager Liam Brady to buy players to strengthen the team for a real push for promotion.

“Other clubs succeeding with plans for new grounds have nearly all had planning and financial help from their local authormes. I urge our fans to contact the leaders of Bnghton and Hove councils requesting their heip in both the short term, with a move to the greyhound stadium, and in the longer term with a move to a permanent stadium.”

A step in the right direction has been the setting up of a Sports Development Trust with the aim of attracbng funds for the new stadium.

Meanwhile, Brady has gone into his second full season in charge having only added loan players Gary Bull and Greg Berry to his squad. His sole cash signing since taking over 21 months ago has been winger Stuart Storer, a £15,000 buy from Exeter last season, and Albion’s plight would be even worse without veteran battlers Steve Foster and John Byrne.

Brady commented: “It’s ironic because I had all this stadium talk when I was manager at Celtic. It didn’t help me there and it’s not helping at the moment. I wish I couid manage in calmer circumstances.

The former Republic of Ireland star admits this is a critical period in Albion’s history but he and his staff remain committed and won’t be quitting.

He confessed: “The situation at Brighton is of a very big concern to me, though it’s really out of my hands. I don’t have any role in decision-making as regards which way the club is going.

“Whether the right decisions have been made I am not prepared to say at the moment. I think we have got to give a little bit more time for things to develop.

“My job is to get results. Although we haven’t made a very good start to the season, I believe in the players and fee! we can c!imb the table to challenge for those play-off positions.”

Despite Brady’s attempt to sound optimistic, Brighton’s playing prospects were bleak. He did not survive the season as the club were relegated to the bottom division at the end of 1995/96.

When you're young...

When you’re young…

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Number jacked

Nothing particularly unusual about this photo of Brighton’s match with Cambridge on New Year’s Day 1994, you may think:


However, it was at this match that Brighton became the first League club to abandon a squad numbering system and revert to the original 1-11 shirts. Squad numbers were optional under Football League regulations, with ten clubs utilising the system in the 1993/94 season.

As Ron Pavey, Albion secretary, said to Matchday magazine in March 1994:

‘It was one of the first things that Liam Brady suggested when he came to the Goldstone that we should revert to the traditional system. The squad numbering system was beginning to look very messy, with players’ numbers ranging up to 25, and it also caused chaos in our programme.’


That was the last we saw of squad numbering at the Goldstone. It was only a temporary reprieve for traditionalists, though, as by 1999-2000, it was back for the first season at Withdean.

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No cash – but Brady’s aim is promotion

Football Monthly ran this interesting piece discussing the merits of Liam Brady’s managerial skills and his prospects at Brighton:


Colin Mafham’s excellent piece effectively captures the disparity between Brady the international superstar player and the unproven manager with barely two pennies to rub together at the Goldstone:

You couldn’t blame Liam Brady for wondering what might have been when he commentated on the World Cup finals in America.

There he was, the man who won 72 Ireland caps and also graced the soccer fields of England and Italy, rubbing shoulders with the sort of super stars he once mixed with regularly.

But any daydreams he may have had of returning to the high-life were abruptly ended.

He was brought down to earth with a thud when he flew back home to Brighton. Waiting to greet him there were a group of more humble pros and the prospect of a financial crisis.

For the seasiders, who won the imagination of the country 11 years ago in an FA Cup final clash against Manchester United and with a flamboyant manager called Jimmy Melia in white dancing shoes, are in real deep water again.

Brady, who took over the reins last season days after Albion escaped being folded up, returned to the fear that there might be no money to pay his players’ wages.

As it was they received their July salaries two days late.

It’s been one heck of a culture shock for the former stylish mid-fielder. One minute he was watching the likes of Baggio and Romario; the next he was trying to scratch together a few quid to keep less romantic heroes like Dean Wilkins, Kurt Nogan and Paul McCarthy.

As Brighton’s optimistic owner David Bellotti looks for a magic wand to keep the club afloat, so Brady searches for a miracle that will help lift his honest journeymen into the First Division [second tier] next season.

It is quite an astonishing turnaround for a man who was one of the highest paid players in the world when he was in Italy with Inter Milan and Juventus and splashed out more than £5 million trying to restore Celtic in his two ill-fated years as manager at Parkhead.

But he was honest enough to admit when he breezed into the Goldstone Ground last December: “1 have much to prove, haven’t I? I want to do it, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” Liam signed a two year contract then with an undisclosed option at the end of it. And he remains confident. He reflects: “It was pretty hard deciding to leave Celtic. It was my first job in management and I will use the experience. The pressures are just as great here.

‘I’ve had 25 years in the game so far and I would like another 25; so I won’t be giving up without a fight, no matter what the hurdles are.

I plan to stay at Brighton rather longer than Brian Clough did” (42 days for those without long memories).

He’s already well ahead of that target – but can’t be certain how much longer the club will be around.

Despite promises from Mr Bellotti last season of a more stable future the edifice crumbled again at about the time Brady was returning from America. The club, the players were told, just didn’t have the readies to pay their wages on time.

But, and once again this is all new to Brady, the money was found and he kept his job – and his team.

The cause was, of course helped by a preseason visit from Spurs that attracted an 11,000-plus crowd – a couple of thousand more than Brighton need every week to break even.

Whether they get that depends on Brady’s ability to lift players of considerably less ability than himself, to heights that will take them into the First Division – and something more like the company the Irishman is used to keeping.

Brady couldn’t hide his yearnings after that Spurs match: “It was nice to play quality opposition again,” he said.

Well, if the bookies are any judge, there’s a fair chance he’ll be doing that NEXT season. Most rate Brighton’s odds of promotion at 12-1, with Birmingham, Stockport and Plymouth the only teams more fancied than the South coast club in the pre-season betting.

But even Liam Brady has to admit he’ll need a bit more luck than he’s had so far in his managerial career to lift Brighton.

Money – or the lack of it – has decreed that he has to make do with what he inherited. There have been no Celtic-style buys this close season.

The only new faces have arrived on free transfers – striker Junior McDougald and Jeffrey Minton, a midfielder, both from Spurs, plus Peter Smith, a youngster from non-League Swanley Town.

So, for the moment at any rate, Brady will have to live with his memories of Highbury, Juventus and the last World Cup.

But if he does get the breaks and Brighton do respond to his promptings there is the prospect of a brand new stadium to which he can look forward.

Money permitting, Brighton hope to move into that by the 1997/98 season. Whether Mr Brady will be with the team then remains to be seen.

Of course, predictions of Albion moving into their new stadium by 1997/98 were wildly over-optimistic, as were the pre-season dreams of promotion, although Brighton showed excellent form at the start of the 1994/95 campaign. Brady won the divisional Manager of the Month award in September 1994, before that famous 2-0 victory at Filbert Street over Premier League Leicester City.

The wheels came off thereafter as star striker Kurt Nogan once again went through a long goal drought and Albion faded badly that season, ending in 16th position. By 1995/96, the turmoil of the disastrous sale of the Goldstone and the disharmony at the club took their toll, not least on the players who found themselves in a relegation battle. Brady even found himself in the frontline to end a supporters’ half-time pitch protest. Despite retaining the backing of fans, he resigned in November 1995.

While it was almost an impossible job, Brady did not manage to disprove the dictum in the Football Monthly article’s verdict: ‘Brilliant managers rarely make brilliant managers.’


Des Lynam’s dream team

As a reader, having outgrown Shoot! and with Match dumbing down to becoming little more than a poster magazine, I became a big fan of 90 Minutes magazine in the 1990s. Irreverent and intelligently written, it’s a weekly magazine that I wish was still going. Here’s a fascinating read from its pages on 28th January 1995. Interview by Kevin Palmer:


Des Lynam may spend his Saturdays discussing the ins and outs of the Premiership with his Match of the Day colleagues, but what he’d really like to be doing is breathing in the sea air and cheering on his beloved Brighton at the Goldstone Ground. 90 Minutes dons a jacket and tie and asks our Des to spend an imaginary £8million on his Seagulls Dream Team.

Why Brighton?
My family originally come from Ireland, but when we moved over here and into the Brighton area I started going to watch and developed a real interest. I started to go to the Goldstone Ground more and more as time went on, but I did play on Saturdays for school teams which meant I missed some games. Since I’ve been working on TV I’ve become associated with Brighton and have even been offered a place on the board, although I wasn’t mad enough to take it.

First game?
I clearly remember the first game I ever attended at Brighton and it wasn’t especially for the football. It was around 1952 and they still used those big, heavy leather footballs. I went along to the game with a neighbour and his daughter and unfortunately a ball smashed the child in the face and knocked her out cold. We were dragged away from the game while they got treatment. I have always said it was the first time I had ever experienced a woman’s headache getting in the way of a lot of fun! We did manage to see some of the game in the end, but it was an interesting afternoon that was somewhat spoilt by the pre-match ‘entertainment.’

stevefoster6This season?
I don’t get to see the team as often as I like because I have to work every Saturday with Match of the Day, but I follow their fortunes very closely. I also live in the London area now which makes it a little more difficult to go. But a team like Brighton are always going to find it very hard in a modern football environment. Liam Brady is doing a good job, but they’ve had a bad run of late which has pulled them down somewhat. I still feel Brady has a lot to prove as manager, but Brighton is a great place for him to make his mark. There has been talk of him moving in as the new Arsenal manager if George Graham was to leave, but I don’t think Arsenal would want to make such an ambitious appointment with an unproven manager. The main aim for Brighton this season has got to be survival in the Second Division and then we can look to build from there.

An £8 million injection would surely have been enough to stop the club from selling the Goldstone Ground. But if it had to go on players who would Des have chosen?

battyDavid Batty
Current club: Blackburn Rovers
Fee: £2.95 million

He’s a great competitor and would give us the extra edge we need in the midfield, although we do have Jimmy Case who’s still a good performer even if he is past his 40th birthday. Batty would win the ball for you and let the others play the football, though he has improved his passing game immensely in recent years.

harfordMick Harford
Current club: Wimbledon
Fee: £50,000

This will be a surprise choice for most, but he is perhaps the sort of player we could hope to sign with the financial situation at brighton. Harford would put the fear of God up the defenders in our division and would cause a lot of problems. He’s proved he still has the ability with his recent burst of goals for Wimbledon in the Premiership.

collymoreStan Collymore:
Current club: Nottingham Forest
Fee: £5million

One of the most sought-after players in the Premiership and it’s not surprising. Everything he does makes him look like a class striker. I wouldn’t say he’s the best in the country, though. Alan Shearer’s the best striker around, but with just £8million to spend, I wouldn’t have enough to make a bid for him.

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