Tag Archives: michael robinson

Extended video highlights – Brighton 4-0 Manchester City (FA Cup, 1983)

manchestercity

In January 1983, Brighton followed on from their FA Cup replay victory at Newcastle by demolishing Manchester City 4-0 at the Goldstone in the Fourth Round. In his autobiography ‘Big Joe’, Joe Corrigan, the City keeper, revealed unrest within the City camp prior to the tie:

In the previous road we’d seen off Sunderland after a replay but a Sunday morning training session at Maine Road prior to the game showed how badly things had deteriorated at the club and should have made events after the game at Brighton not quite so surprising. As we trained, Nicky Reid and John Bond had an argument that threatened to get out of hand, and that resulted in a nasty half hour of action with some players intent on hurting one another.

Brighton hammered us 4-0 in the cup tie. It was a dreadful day and an awful, disjointed performance by all of us. As we left the pitch Alex Williams walked over to console me and I said, ‘It’s yours now, kid. I won’t be here for much longer.’

‘What do you mean by that?’ he asked. I explained that the cup exit would mean cost-cutting exercises and I’d be one of them. I assured him I would be on my way before long and, within three months, that’s exactly what happened.

It was all smiles from the Brighton perspective, however. Here’s how John Vinicombe reported the match in the Evening Argus at the time:

The 217th FA Cup-tie in Albion’s 82-year-old history will long be remembered for the majestic manner in which Manchester City were despatched.

Thus an equally famous occasion 58 years ago at the Goldstone was averaged. Then, in a third-round tie, Third Division Albion were crushed 5-1 after previously performing the prodigious feat of knocking out Everton.

No doubt the degree of satisfaction warmed the cockles of any old-timer’s heart to see the record put straight, for it ever a side were comprehensively beaten it was Manchester City.

I doubt if John Bond, who departed in utter misery, contemplated for one moment the total destruction of his team.

On the day, i thought, they sold him short and, seeing no way past Albion, an air of surrender was discernible.

There was the misfortune of losing skipper Paul Power with damaged knee ligaments at the half-hour after a tackle with the uncompromising Chris Ramsey, but that alone could not explain City’s astonishing collapse.

Peter Bodak, the sub, caused one or two problems with his crosses, but at no time were Albion in danger after taking such a firm grip.

Had a goal at 57 minutes been allowed, then Mike Robinson would have scored a hat-trick and Albion finished even more convincing than 4-0 winners.

Surprised
The revelation was Steve Gatting, playing only the third game of his League career at left-back.

I think Gatting had two games at No.3 in his first season at Arsenal. Having been omitted lately, and then moved to say that he didn’t fancy staying unless he is in the team, maybe Gatting will have a re-think. Apart from Pearce, and among defenders, Gatting is the only natural left-sided player in the squad, and I must say he surprised me with the quality of his play.

In my book, the star was Jimmy Case on a day when there were so many stellar performances. Since Melia took over and got on the Merseyspeak wavelength with Case, his involvement has become greater with every match.

He ripped the heart out of City’s experienced midfield together with Tony Grealish. At training, Grealish is the first player the five-a-side skippers automatically ask for.

To be so highly esteemed by colleagues has to be earned, and never let it be forgotten that it was Grealish who set such a sterling example by his leadership at Newcastle.

He won ball after ball against City, and exhibited fine control in setting up the third goal for Robinson with just over 20 minutes remaining.

By then City were skint, and Robinson finished them off rather as a matador puts the bull out of its misery.

The eighth-minute opener by Case that deflected off Kevin Reeves was a piece of overdue luck and Neil Smillie’s continuing improvement was signalled by his first goal for the club before the break.

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Worried
Just before, Steve Foster suffered a painful dead leg. At first, there were fears it might be a pulled hamstring, but it was nonetheless worrying. It might have slowed him a pace or two, but his attitude remained unchanged.

City vainly tried to unsettle him: an elbow in the eye was the prime example, but nothing worried Foster, and certainly nothing diverted Gary Stevens from that much admired elegance that made City’s England candidate, Tommy Caton, look so average.

As the physical element was introduced by despairing City, so they derived no change from Ramsey.

Gordon Smith used his incisive eye for an opening to set up a rich assortment of passes, while Andy Ritchie and Robinson created havoc in the box.

The one dodgy moment came early into the second half when Steve Kinsey hit a post. Had it gone in, Albion’s lead would have been cut to 2-1.

When it did not, the white flags were fluttering, and it might have been appropriate had Bond tossed in the towel as well.

Albion: Moseley, Ramsey, Gatting, Grealish, Foster, Stevens, Case, Ritchie, Robinson, Smith, Smillie. Sub: Ryan.

Manchester City: Corgan, Ranson, Bond, Reid, Power, Caton, Tueart, Reeves, Cross, Kinsey. Sub: Bodak for Power (injured, 31 minutes)

Well, John Bond did toss in the towel, resigning after this capitulation by the Seagulls.

And now, for the first time on YouTube, here are 20 minutes of highlights from this match to savour:

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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.
•
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.
•
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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Thunderboots Robinson is a blast from the past

From Shoot! magazine:

Michael Robinson – he doesn’t like Mike and Mick, he says, “sounds like a dog food” won’t complain if you describe him as an old-fashioned centre-forward.

But surely he’d mind being called Mick ‘Robertson’!

michaelrobinson

The article continues:

He doesn’t go in for centre partings nor steel toe caps. Nor does he have a penchant for barging goalkeepers Into the back of their own nets. But as centre-forwards go, he’s definitely more a Thunderboots Bobby Smith than a Budgie Byrne.

Raw strength and courage are the attributes he takes on to a football field. Plus a powerful shot that he’s not afraid to exercise liberally.

As any schoolboy economist can tell you, supply and demand dictate price. And it’s because centre-forwards of Robinson’s type are in such limited supply and heavy demand that he cost Manchester City £750,000 in the summer of 1979.

Even so, it did seem a bit extravagant even for Malcolm Allison. He was shelling out what, at the time, was the third highest fee of all time for a player who’d had one full season in the Second Division.

In a season and a bit at Preston, Robinson scored a modest 15 goals in 43 League games. But he’d already shown enough to attract other clubs besides Manchester City.

As it turned out, last season was a bit of a disaster for Robinson, Allison and the rest of the City team. But down on Brighton’s South Coast this season, Robinson is proving that he can do the business in Division One.

He scored only eight goals in 29 appearances for Manchester City, but he blames that as much on his ever-changing role in an ever-changing team as anything else.

He says: “At times, I might as well have stood on the touchline or sat in the stands. City played me all over the place and I couldn’t understand why Malcolm Allison had paid all that money for me if he didn’t want me as an out and out striker.

“it was difficult playing in the City team, anyway. It always seemed to be an experimental side, rather than a settled formation.

“We attracted a lot of attention, too, because of all the money Malcolm spent and we’d find that some teams treated a game against us like the Cup Final.

“They’d get a big gate to see the game and it would lift them to play really well. At times, you’d stand around watching the other team buzz about thinking, ‘what on earth is going on here?’

“But the experience was good for all of us. I feel much more able to cope now and I’m sure the young lads I left behind at City feel the same way.”

He had other problems at Maine Road. The price tag itself was one of them. When you cost three-quarters of a million pounds, people feel free to be more critical than if you were a kid from the reserves and Robinson admits: “The fee did bother me.”

He was also cajoled into playing on occasions when he really wasn’t fit and that, too, brought more pressure on him. “I went out once when I had a temperature of over 100. I thought I was doing the manager a favour.

“But it’s silly because you are bound to play below par and then you’re open to criticism from the fans again. I would never do that again.”

For all his problems, Robinson didn’t exactly jump at the chance when City agreed to sell him to Bdghton for something less than half their original investmenL His friends and family mostly live in the North West and he also owns property there.

“It was a wrench to leave City as well because I enjoyed my time there, despite the problems. But Brighton manager Alan Mullery is a very persuasive man. He reminds me of Nobby Stiles, my former manager at Preston.”

Mullery’s tongue was one influentual factor. The other was the prospect of playing alongside Peter Ward. Robinson got his best view of Ward when playing for City at the Goldstone Ground last season.

“We got hammered 4-1 and Peter was brilliant. So the thought of playing alongside him was naturally tempting.” Robinson also likes having Mark Lawrenson and Gary Williams behind him in the Brighton defence. He describes them as “two of the best defenders in the country.”

The individual components may be impressive but as a whole, the Brighton side leaves something to be desired. After last season’s early struggles, they were hoping for a good start this time. But so far, they haven’t suggested that they’ll be anything other than an average First Division team, if that.

Taking the 'Mick' again

Taking the ‘Mick’ again

Robinson is already finding the goals a lot easier to come by than last season, and if he continues at the same rate, he could top 20 this season.

He feels confident enough to predict that “City will regret selling me. I intend to show them this season that they made a mistake letting me go.”

Even so, he has mixed feelings about Maine Road. Through all his troubles, the crowd gave him full support, and the exposure helped to attract Brighton to him.

And as Robinson says himself, It was a great education for him in Manchester. “I shall always think of my spell at City as the time when I grew up – both as a man and a player.”

City’s loss…

It certainly was. Robinson rebuilt his confidence and career by scoring 19 goals for Brighton in the First Division during that 1980/81 season. These including one at the Goldstone Ground against his former club City in October. Unfortunately for him, Albion went down 2-1.

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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:

topps1981

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:

topps1981p3

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:

topps81-gregory

topps81-lawrenson

topps81-ritchie

topps81-robinson

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Steve Foster joins exclusive 10-year club

stevefoster9

No wonder he’s smiling. He’s signed for a club that would later ensure he’d never run out of money for headbands. This is from Football Weekly News, 9-16 July 1980:

Brighton defender Steve Foster has joined an exclusive 10-year club at the Goldstone Ground.

Last week the 22-year-old former Portsmouth centre-back signed the long-term contract which will keep him on the south coast for a decade.

“We want all our best players to spend their whole careers with this club,” said manager Alan Mullery, who purchased the player from Pompey for £150,000 last summer.

“Steve, added the boss, “is an outstanding prospect and could go to the very top of the tree.”

Republic of Ireland star Mark Lawrenson is already serving a similar 10-year stint with Brighton while Young England striker Peter Ward has signed on for eight years.

In addition, Michael Robinson signed a 10 year deal about twelve months later.

But so much for these eye-wateringly long contracts! Ward was gone within three months, Lawrenson after a year while Foster played three more seasons for the Seagulls. Even so, Foster did return, to great acclaim to the Goldstone in the 1990s, once again becoming one of the key players in the team. By then, of course, much shorter contracts were the order of the day for a financially impoverished Albion.

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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

newsigning1980v2

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.

wolves3

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.

wolves7

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.

ipswich

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.

raymchale

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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Double A-Side single: ‘In Brighton’ / ‘The Goldstone Rap’ (1982)

First Division footballers they may have been, but Brighton’s team of ’82 also made an audacious bid for pop fame and hip-hop credibility.

From left to right, here are the rather earnest-looking Gordon Smith, Steve Gatting, Perry Digweed, Andy Ritchie, Jimmy Case, Gary Williams, Gary Stevens, Gerry Ryan, Michael Robinson and Steve Foster seeking to set the world alight with their dulcet tones and Farah slacks, not to mention their previously unrevealed rapping skills:

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In the Brighton v Tottenham match programme from March 1982, it was announced:

Last Wednesday our first team squad had a unique day out when they travelled to recording studios in South London to cut their first record. The record is entitled ‘In Brighton’ and should be available on general sale in early April.

Howard Krugar, who lives in Hove and specialises in organising concerts for some of the world’s biggest stars, is the man behind the idea and he is hopeful of the disc making the charts. In fact it is highly likely that the Albion squad will appear on ‘Top of the Pops’.

Also involved in the record is BBC football commentator Peter Brackley who livens things up with commentary on a memorable Albion goal… which one? Well, for that you’ll have to buy the record.

Thanks to the lads at We Are Brighton, you can hear ‘In Brighton’ here:

Based on the Drifters’ song ‘On Broadway,’ the song received a positive response from John Henty who gave it a spin at Radio Brighton on Sunday 4th April. With dubious lyrics such as ‘Big Fozzie keeps it tight for Brighton’ and the boast of ‘Playin’ at the Goldstone Ground, where good football’s always found’ (sadly, no football of any kind down there now), not to mention even dodgier singing, the song probably did not have much of a fanbase outside of Brighton supporters.

Nevertheless, it was also played by Peter Powell on Radio One. However, as notes that month in the Brighton v Manchester United programme lamented:

Last week Peter Powell played the disc on his Radio One show but allowed his own support of Wolves to colour his comments on the merits of the recording.

The song was also erroneously aired on BBC’s ‘Match of the 80s’ series in the 1990s in its coverage of Brighton’s FA Cup run of 1983, with Danny Baker hesitating about even calling it a ‘song’! And, just in case you are wondering, the Andy Ritchie goal that Brackley acts out a commentary on is almost certainly this swerving free-kick belter from the Brighton v West Bromwich Albion game in February 1982:

The other track on this Double A-side was ‘The Goldstone Rap’, which this very blog you are reading takes its name from. Looking at it now, it’s amazing to think that Brighton & Hove Albion were at the forefront of the UK hip-hop scene in 1982, especially as this was almost certainly the first ever football song to feature rapping.

Unlikely to win any prizes at the MOBO awards, the rap memorably includes such lyrical gems as:
‘When you make that cross you’re gonna cross it fine / Give the ball to the player on the dead ball line.’

Never mind the MOBOs, though. Were you at Busby’s Night Club on Kingswest, Kings Road, in Brighton on the evening of Tuesday 6th April 1982? If you were, you would have been present to the grand launch of the single, as Brighton & Hove Albion’s first team squad belted out their musical masterpieces on stage! Sadly, I have no video footage of this priceless moment.

When released to the general public, the colour sleeve of the 7″ looked splendid, with the players proudly posing in front of the temporary Lego Stand in all its glory:

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The price was a bargain £1.20. Buyers of the single from the club shop were also given a chance to enter a great competition to win two tickets to Dallas, Texas, with British Caledonian Airways.

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So, was the Brighton release a launchpad to instant chart fame and fortune? Unfortunately, the single sank without trace but it gave Steve Foster (whose vocals also featured on the England 1982 World Cup song ‘This Time’), an opportunity to meet up with proper singer David Soul and wing a copy to the ‘Starsky and Hutch’ star:

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Years later, I was wondering about ‘The Goldstone Rap’ and imagining what it would have sounded like if it adopted the electro sound of 1982’s other great hip-hop release, ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. Thanks to the power of the internet, and due to a discussion on North Stand Chat, I got to find out.

Major props to Ian, the DJ who created this ‘Goldstone Message’:

A much enhanced version, I hope you’ll agree. In terms of pushing at the limits of what was possible for music and Brighton & Hove Albion footballers, it was certainly close to the edge.

Some MP3 files for your listening pleasure:
(right-click to ‘Save Target As…’ or ‘Download Linked File’)
In Brighton
The Goldstone Rap
The Goldstone Message

Other Wrap posts about Brighton & Hove Albion songs:
Carol Manns – ‘Seagulls’ (1979) – a video!

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Michael Robinson, Albion’s sharpshooter, guns for Malcolm Allison

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Over three seasons, Robinson scored 37 First Division goals for the club, more than any other Albion player. He joined Brighton in a £400,000 deal in the summer of 1980. In March 1981, he returned to Maine Road with the Seagulls to play in the First Division fixture against his old side. By that point, it was clear that his move to the South Coast had been a success. Although his new club was facing a relegation battle, Robinson was ever-present and his seventeen League goals so far had rebuilt his confidence and reputation as a centre-forward.

On the eve of the match, he spoke to Peter Gardner of the Manchester Evening News:

Michael Robinson returns to Maine Road today for the first time since his transfer to Brighton last summer with the controversial admission: ‘I had to leave City to get away from Malcolm Allison and save my career.’

Robinson lines up against a City side now without the man whose views forced him to leave the Blues. And the man who had earlier handed Preston a then-club record fee of £750,000 for the striker’s talents. Robinson says: ‘Malcolm Allison and I just didn’t see eye-to-eye – it became inevitable that I would have to leave the club. It was a total conflict of ideas. Malcolm wanted me to do things I didn’t think I was capable of doing. He was asking me to play wide up front, on my own or on the wing… crazy things like that. It just wasn’t me. All I ever wanted to do was to be successful for City as a centre-forward, my best position. But Malcolm somehow got these ideas that I should play everywhere except that one, and I could never agree. Being messed about like that was making me a poorer player. In those circumstances I just had to leave.

Looking back on his move to Brighton, Mike says: ‘Alan Mullery told me from the outset that he wanted me to play just as I always wanted to play, and I shall always be grateful to him for that. I am thoroughly enjoying my football once again. And that is certainly a relief after all the agonies and frustrations I went through in the later part of my stay at City.’

Robinson admits to still being baffled by the Allison strategy: ‘I couldn’t understand it then and I still can’t work it out now,’ he says, adding: ‘The season before Malcolm bought me he had Peter Barnes and Mike Channon drifting wide down the flanks, but no centre-forward to take advantage of the service. Then, when I arrived as an orthodox centre-forward, he sold Barnes and Channon. So where was I expected to get the service form? Since I have left City, I feel I have come on leaps and bounds. My game was deteriorating at Maine Road where Malcolm, in his time, blinded the players by science. Their minds were blank by the time they went out on the field. Here at Brighton I have found a new lease of life.’

The match at Maine Road ended in a 1-1 draw. Although Robinson didn’t score, he headed a long clearance by Digweed to give goalscorer John Gregory, in oceans of space, an excellent chance to make it two points rather than one, but Gregory stubbed his toe and the ball ran wide. Nevertheless, Robinson added two more goals to bring his League total for the season to nineteen. He also received the Albion Rediffusion ‘Player of the Season’ award.

Years later, Robinson was much more receptive to what Allison was conveying to his players as a coach. He said: “”I used to think Malcolm Allison woke up in the morning wondering how to complicate my life. He would speak to me about angles and zones. And I wasn’t the only one. Mick Channon didn’t understand a blind word either. But I archived it somewhere. Later, what Malcolm had been saying fell into place.”

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