Tag Archives: mike bamber

Saward sacked: The ‘loan ranger’ leaves a big gap

Saward, in his first season as Albion boss, 1970/71, with Norman Gall as substitute.

Saward, in his first season as Albion boss, 1970/71, with Norman Gall as substitute.

It is forty years to the day that Pat Saward was sacked as Brighton manager, on 22nd October 1973.

Three days later, John Vinicombe wrote an outstanding piece in the Evening Argus, lucidly summing up the situation and Saward’s rollercoaster reign at the club:

The world that Pat made came crashing down about his ears this week. Saward’s career as Albion’s manager is in ruins. The club is struggling for Third Division survival and inside the plush, new offices that Pat helped build, stands a big, black empty swivel chair.

It is the Goldstone hot seat, vacant at the moment, but for how long? Until Albion appoint a new manager, the playing side of the club will be run by trainer Glen Wilson with chairman Mike Bamber very close to his elbow.

Rumours about Saward’s successor buzz… will it be Steve Burtenshaw.. could the club afford Brian You-Know-Who?

The insatiable seekers for an answer to the burning question are unlikely to be satisfied in the near future. Having sacked one manager, who must be compensated for three-and-a-half years unexpired contract, the board won’t be in rush into a snap decision.

Those who might agree with the board’s decision in parting company with the manager must be somewhat puzzled at the timing of the act.

Barely a fortnight before the directors made their minds up to dismiss Saward because they felt he could no longer motivate the players there had been every appearance of a happy family atmosphere at the Goldstone.

At the beginning of this month, joint chairman Len Stringer resigned. He had made no secret of his opposition to Saward. Mr Stringer simply disagreed with the manager on more or less everything, and when he left Saward heaved a sigh of relief.

Mr Bamber was in complete control, and it was to him that club captain Eddie Spearritt went with a message from the players pledging their solidarity behind the manager.

This was received by a delighted board, and within a few hours of the meeting Albion shook off their worries to win impressively at Oldham.

Nevertheless, the chairman made a meaningful remark at the time. “All that has been lacking is confidence at home. We must find a way to spark it, but this will come. It must.”

But it didn’t… Albion went to Blackburn and lost 3-1, dropping their heads after scoring first. Then came the shuddering home defeat against Halifax.

Afterwards Mr Saward confessed: “I haven’t any more answers. I am in a fog.”

Directors interpreted this as loss of confidence. They believed the manager was losing his grip, and so last Saturday while Saward was catching a cold in more ways than one at Crewe they decided to sack him.

As the board sat in sombre session Mr Saward was homeward bound in a wet suit. He had watched Bryan Parker, Crewe’s 18-year-old goalkeeper, from behind the goals in each half, scorning the pouring rain.

By Monday morning he had a sore throat. Come lunchtime he was choking… news of his sacking had been delivered straight from the chairman.

They had been golfing partners for quite a while, discussing club business over 18 holes at The Dyke on Monday afternoons. When Saward got the final message from Bamber he went home to Shoreham Beach. The chairman proceeded to Willingdon for a golfing appointment.

He saw no good reason to change his routine. The deed was done. There could be no turning back.

Saward will bounce back in the game. He is a compulsive and persuasive influence, and life with him was never, never dull at the Goldstone. His regular column in the Evening Argus attracted a love-hate readership.

He used to say: “I don’t mind my backside being kicked. That’s what I’m there for. Management is a vocation.”

There are some who might say the timing of the whole operation was off-key, and the board should have taken such a step during the close season.

Then the ashes of defeat were still bitter in the mouths. Thrust back into the Third Division after one season in the Second… the frustration was almost too much to bear for some directors.

And one can readily see their point of view… suddenly, and quite by chance, Albion found themselves reaching out towards First Division football with the arrival of season 1972-73.

Then the image of the crock of gold crumbled, and Saward stood indicted among the shattered remains of the dreams he had cherished.

Big money has been in short supply since he was appointed in June 1970, and my estimate of fees spent come to around £150,000. This is based on the following transactions:

Barry Bridges (£29,000)
Ken Beamish (£25,000)
George Ley (£25,000)
Graham Howell (£17,500)
Lammie Robertson (£17,000)
Brian Bromley (£14,000)
Bert Murray (£14,000)
Willie Irvine (£7,000)
Bertie Lutton (£5,000)
Alan Dovey (£1,000)

During his term of office Saward transferred:
Kit Napier (£15,000)
John Napier (£10,000)
Bertie Lutton (£12,000)
Brian Bromley (£8,000)
Willie Irvine, Bert Murray and Dave Turner for undisclosed fees that are thought to have been nominal.

That Albion were promoted was a piece of pure luck, plus a good deal of hard work. That has always been the inside view. The club never expected to go up, and consequently the necessary preparation was not there.

Then one day Albion woke up and found themselves in the Second Division. The players Saward bought, however, did not set the Goldstone on fire.

Instead, Albion got a bad name for borrowing and Saward was dubbed the ‘Loan Ranger.’

The total reached nearly 20, and of that number only seven became contracted players. The list is imposing, and includes no fewer than five goalkeepers:

Ian Seymour (Fulham)
Alan Dovey (Chelsea)
Peter Downsborough (Swindon)
Tommy Hughes (Aston Villa)
Steve Sherwood (Chelsea)

The others:
Ian Goodwin (Coventry)
Wilie Irvine (Preston)
Bert Murray (Birmingham)
Stan Brown (Fulham)
Hohn Moore (Luton)
Brian Bromley (Portmsouth)
John Boyle (Chelsea)
Colin Dobson (Huddersfield)
John McGrath (Southampton)
Henning Boel (Aberdeen)
Bertie Lutton (Wolves)
Ray Crawford (Colchester)

Much happened during Saward’s reign to improve the ground and, after all, he is only the second manager in the history of the club to take the club into the Second Division.

When Pat arrived the awful collection of old builders’ huts that served as offices were still under the West Stand, and the urinals were positively prehistoric. There was woodworm in the dressing rooms, and the boiler must have been designed by Stephenson!

Promotion made ground improvements possible, and Saward leaves a vastly improved scene. Now Albion have facilities to compare with most grounds. The Goldstone is no longer a footballing slum.

But the big black chair is empty. It will take a big, big man to fill it.

Hmmm… any guesses?

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Brighton 7-0 Charlton

In the match programme for Brighton v Charlton Athletic in October 1983, Jimmy Melia wrote:

We aim to provide more entertainment and hopefully this will produce the goals we want. We need a bit of adventure, we need to allow players to show their skills and inventiveness, and that is the only way we will bring people back through the turnstiles to watch our matches.

A crowd of 11,517 was rewarded (well, the Albion fans anyway!) with a goal frenzy that lived up to Melia’s emphasis on attacking play and enjoyment. In Match Magazine (22 October 1983), a short article called ‘Case cracker’ waxed lyrical about the Albion, and Case’s, performance:

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Brighton hot-shot Jimmy Case set the Goldstone Ground buzzing with his hat-trick goal in the demolition of Charlton.

His third goal was a spectacular effort straight out of the Case text book and one which has become his trademark over the years. A thundering shot from the edge of the box and the ball was in the back of the net before the ‘keeper had time to move.

Says Jimmy: “They are the sort of goals the fans love to see and players love to score – it certainly gave me a lot of pleasure. I’ve always been aware that long-range efforts like that excite the crowd and that’s probably why I’m prepared to have a go from any distance. Sometimes they don’t come off, but I have always said that if you don’t shoot then you don’t score. And I think more players are adopting that attitude this season, which has got to be a good thing.”

Jimmy’s moment of magic wasn’t the only thing that Brighton fans had to cheer against Charlton as the Seagulls romped away to an emphatic 7-0 win.

He says: “The supporters deserved to see a good performance because we hadn’t played too well at home until that game. All the players were keyed up before the match and determined to turn in a good display… and once we got the first two goals there was no stopping us. Everyone was full of confidence and every time we went forward we looked like scoring, it wasn’t much fun for Charlton, but our fans went home happy.”

Brighton’s seven-goal display was in stark contrast to their performances at the start of the season when they lost their first three games.

Says Jimmy: “We were forced to use three different goalkeepers in as many games, which didn’t help, and we gave away some silly goals. But, since Joe Corrigan arrived, we have had more stability at the back and confidence has spread throughout the team. The turning point was probably the 1-0 win against Derby, which set us back on the right road. We still weren’t 100 per cent happy when we went into the Charlton game, however, and we decided to change our style a little bit. We played with a more attacking formation and it paid off.

“We always try to play entertaining football, especially at home, and that is obviously going to help bring the fans back through the turnstiles. In fact I think that more and more clubs are realising their responsibility to provide the public with open, attacking football and, of course, plenty of goals.”

The performance was all the more impressive as Charlton arrived at the Goldstone far from being lambs to the slaughter. The Addicks were previously undefeated and had only conceded three goals in seven matches. However, the Seagulls made mincemeat of the Athletic defence, with diagonal balls proving especially troublesome. Terry Connor’s speed down the wing caused havoc, with Gerry Ryan taking advantage with the first two goals, before Gordon Smith tucked in another Connor cross to make it 3-0.

Then, Case smashed the fourth in from the edge of the area after efforts by Connor and Kieran O’Regan had been well saved by the busy Charlton keeper Nicky Johns before Connor notched up a well-earned goal through a header before half-time.

In the second half, it was the Jimmy Case show. As Pat Needham in the Sunday Mirror wrote:

Case flicked home Smith’s cross before completing his first League hat-trick with the goal of the match. O’Regan and Ryan broke from deep inside their half and Case nearly burst the net from 20 yards.

After the match, Case was presented with the match ball:

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It was the first Albion hat-trick since Gordon Smith’s at Coventry almost exactly three years before.

And if you wish to celebrate the Charlton match with a Jimmy Case T-shirt, please head here to the ‘Cult Zeros’ site. There is even a design for the unfortunate Charlton keeper on the day, Nicky Johns.

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Alan Mullery – Brighton’s best manager?

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On the Football League 125 website, it says:

As part of the celebrations of the 125th Anniversary of The Football League, this week we’re giving you the chance to vote for your club’s greatest ever manager.

As far as Brighton & Hove Albion bosses go, the choices are Billy Lane, Alan Mullery, Micky Adams, Mike Bailey and Gus Poyet. You can vote for who you think is the greatest here. However, while young fans will probably plump for Gus Poyet, one of the frontrunners in this vote, surely there is a much stronger case for Alan Mullery?

Poyet led the Seagulls to one glorious promotion and, of course, came very close to a second. But this is eclipsed by Mullery’s achievements. The former England international midfielder guided Brighton to promotion twice to usher the club into the top flight for the first time ever. Once there, he successfully kept Albion there for two seasons before leaving his job.

He resigned after a disagreement with chairman Mike Bamber in June 1981 over cuts to the coaching staff and the Mark Lawrenson transfer. Yet, in the middle of the glory years, Bamber was bold enough to praise Mullery as the ‘best manager in the country’ in an issue of Football Weekly News:

“People still try to tell me that this Brighton side is Taylor’s team – but they could not be more wrong,” says Bamber.

“He and Clough put Brighton on the football map when they came here. But it was Alan Mullery who has brought us success. He has had two fantastic years and there’s plenty more to come from the man I rate the best manager in the country.”

Mullery, a natural leader and born winner, won’t rest until he has steered Brighton to the top. And with the experience – and financial resources he has at his disposal – only a fool would bet against him doing it.

“This is a fantastic club to work for and I’m loving every minute of it here,” he says.

“I was out of work for three months after finishing my playing career with Fulham and had begun to give up hope of getting a job. Mike Bamber did me a favour by offering me the manager’s job here. I’m going to repay him by really helping this club to take off. And it’s a dead cert they will. They are going up in a big way – higher than the roof of the stand.”

Mullery certainly had a way with words and he kept his promise. His second stint at the Goldstone was creditable, but it is the meteoric rise of the club in his first spell that will live long in the memory.

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Why Pat Saward had to go – by Mike Bamber

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From the Evening Argus, 23 October 1973, by John Vinicombe:

The dismissal of Albion manager Pat Saward was confirmed today at the Goldstone Ground by chairman Mike Bamber.

Mr Bamber met Mr Saward and after a meeting with the players, he said: “Pat Saward has been sacked. The decision was made after the game with Shrewsbury on Saturday evening. The parting has been on the cards for some weeks but there is no ill-feeling between us,” said Mr Bamber.

“I have seen Pat Saward. He is very upset and very sick. I would also feel very sick. But we have had six home defeats and are down to crowds of 5,000 wonderful people. No club can live on such gates.

“The running of the team is the manager’s responsibility. I feel sorry for managers in a way but if they want to be managers it is up to them.

“Naturally, some of the players are upset at him going. But I have just had a meeting with the players and morale is high.

“We will come to an agreement with Mr Saward over his contract. We have not approached anybody and will be advertising the job and hope to get a really top manager.

“Money will be available for players. It is not easy to get them and we have been after half a dozen this year without success.”

Club captain Eddie Spearritt told me that Mr Saward was backed by the players and they did not want him to leave.

Spearritt himself communicated the same message weeks ago at the same time that joint chairman Len Stringer resigned from the Board.

It was then felt that Mr Saward was in a position of receiving full support from the directors and indeed this was the message conveyed when Mr Bamber took over as head of the club executive.

Mr Saward has three and a half years of his contract to run and today he visited the ground for the last time and told me he wanted to think about his position and whether or not he would comment on his departure.

Confessed Saward: “I still cannot believe it has happened. But I will say nothing to knock the club, nothing at all. Of what happened yesterday, I can remember very little. The reason I have been sacked is that they say I can no longer motivate the players. What I need now is a holiday to get away from it all.”

In the meantime Glen Wilson, the trainer, is responsible for running the playing side of the club, assisted by Ray Crawford, who is now youth coach.

Tomorrow night, Albion are at home to Southport and today the players were training very much down in the dumps.

The atmosphere in the dressing room was solemn, although Spearritt admitted that two players were not unanimous in their support of Mr Saward.

Saward’s departure was on the agenda as Brighton had suffered six successive home defeats at the start of the 1973/74 campaign.

It was a rude re-awakening to Third Division football, after the club had played such pulsating football to finish runners-up in 1971/72. This promotion had led to a calamitous season in Division Two, when the Albion finished bottom of the table. Now back in Division Three, the side’s slump continued. It was relegation, not promotion, that was on the horizon and this ultimately cost Saward his job.

Other bad news was to follow that day when Saward’s club car received a parking ticket outside the Goldstone.

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Fans warned by Bamber to turn up early

brighton-supporters

From Shoot! magazine in 1979:

Brighton fans get a warning from chairman Mike Bamber as they prepare to welcome the First Division big boys to the Goldstone Ground.

The Seagulls start life in the top flight with a glamorous home game against FA Cup winners Arsenal – and Bamber makes it clear the fans must get there early. “I’m afraid they are going to have to change the habit of a lifetime and turn up at the ground with plenty of time to spare now we are in the First Division,” he says.

“The days when they could turn up ten minutes before kick-off and stroll through the turnstiles are over. If they do that now there’s a fair chance they won’t get within a mile of the ground. Our promotion to the First Division has created tremendous interest down here and everyone is excited about seeing some of the great names and some of the great teams of football at Brighton.

“We have all got to make adjustments to meet the new challenge and I beg the fans to get here in plenty of time in future. We’v had problems in the past on big-match days trying to pack in everyone who turned up late and many have complained it’s taken them ages to get through the turnstiles.

“It will do. It you get lots of people arriving together – and late. They will have no chance at all this season if they leave it late. So my message to fans is – please be early.”

In the end, Bamber was both right and wrong. A huge crowd of 28,604 came to see Brighton trounced 0-4 by Arsenal in a First Division baptism of fire in August 1979. All but one home league game hit the 20,000 mark, which was understandably the Stoke match shortly before Christmas. (If fans had to miss one, they chose wisely as it was a 0-0 stalemate). At the same time, the attendance at the Arsenal match was still five-thousand short of the capacity at the time. There was not one 30,000 attendance at the Goldstone Ground by the end of 1979/80.

By the following season, the novelty of top flight football had waned, with Brighton mostly struggling to keep their head above water. With the onset of recession and much higher ticket prices than in the old days of the 1970s, home attendances began to dip.

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Bamber’s dream of a future stadium

newstadium

I found this amazing artist’s impression of the club’s proposed new home in a copy of the Evening Argus in 1983. It’s rather laughable now to see the suggested design captured by this rather primitive looking sketch. Even more laughable that it’s so talked up:

Architects will tour the United States before drawing up final plans for Albion’s £8 million super stadium.

Henry Carn, of the Hove firm of Morgan, Carn and Partners, believes a two-month stay would be needed to catch up with advances in design.

They are determined not to make mistakes like that which occurred with one U.S. stadium which generated its own atmosphere… and thunderstorms.

Albion’s planned stadium is currently designed with 25,000 seats, although Chairman Mike Bamber might opt for 20,000 seats and space for 10,000 standing fans.

Areas under the seating would be for office use or other sporting activities. Around the playing pitch would be a running track to attract local and regional athletics meetings.

I wonder at what point was a consensus reached that athletics tracks spelled bad news, with the cost to the atmosphere at football games eclipsing the financial gain of athletics events. Certainly not in 1983. At least not here. Of course, Brighton fans did end up watching home games on a pitch surrounded by an athletics track – at Withdean Stadium from 1999 to 2011.

The structure above ground would be ringed by precast concrete arms. Between these would be overlapping concrete planks which allow in air but keep out rain. The roof cover would be made of polycarbonate translucent sheeting hung from steel masts and cables.

That would be some eyesore! If we had got this design, would we have been stuck with it?

The sheeting would allow natural light through to the playing area while artificial lighting would be slung below the inner edge of the overlapping concrete roof planks.

Like Mr Bamber, Mr Carn believes fans now demand much better facilities than the Goldstone Ground offers.

“It’s not necesarily just the men who want to see matches now. Soccer is much more a family activity and you need facilities that accommodate families and cut out the aggro we see at grounds today,” he says.

In April 1983, East Sussex County Council’s Policy and Resources Committee offered to hold talks with the club on a new home. It was envisaged that the stadium could be built at any of half a dozen sites on the outskirts of Brighton. Mike Bamber most favoured the site of Waterhall, off Mill Hill:

Close to the proposed Brighton bypass and the main Brighton-London rail line, the site would be easy for fans to reach. But it’s not just soccer fans that would benefit from the development, Sitting in his plush American-style offices in Hove Street, the property millionaire outlined his thoughts on how the stadium would be financed and its variety of uses.

“All we would need from council is the land – the rest won’t cost a penny,” he said.

A supermarket concern would pay for the stadium in exchange for approval to build a giant superstore. Parking space for thousands of cars would be provided for shoppers in the daytime and fans in the evening or at weekends. The development would be set low in the valley to protect the natural beauty of the surrounding Downs. And with soccer being played only once or twice a week, the complex would become a multi-purpose community centre.

Gyms, squash courts, athletics tracks and clubs could be established at the stadium and the main hall would cater to community events and major entertainment. It’s a concept well advanced in North America and one the Government in this country is thought to favour. There would be other benefits for Albion. The sale of the Goldstone would wipe out the club’s debts and put them back into black.

Youth team football pitches adjoining the new stadium could provide valuable prospects for the team. Mr Bamber rejects the idea that the complex would drive trade out of the town centre and he insists the facilities will generate their own business. “I expect to get opposition but I believe we will win through in the end,” he said. “We have a team in the FA Cup Final. All that’s missing is a decent ground. The new stadium will be great for the community and I’m convinced it will bring back the missing fans.”

His big dream since becoming chairman eight years ago, Mr Bamber believes the stadium could be the first of many in Britain and would rival some of the greatest centres in Europe. “People are much more upmarket these days,” he said. “The days of the cloth-cap terraces and the cup of tea and hotdog stands are over.”

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Sadly. relegation from Division One, financial difficulties and boardroom unrest took their toll on Mike Bamber. He suffered a heart attack in March 1984 and resigned as chairman and director in July, citing ‘major and mutual disagreements on policy.’ As a result, his plans for a stadium never got off the ground.

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How it was then: Alan Mullery leaves Brighton in June 1981

At the end of ‘Up, Up And Away,’ John Vinicombe’s account of Brighton’s promotion to the First Division, he paints a rosy picture of the relationship between chairman and manager in 1979:

It took the arrival of Mike Bamber to bring about a new era, for, without Bamber, there would have been no Mullery – no promotion. They are twin architects of Albion’s success and the key to their thinking can be seen in Bamber’s motto on the wall of his Goldstone office – “they can, because they think they can”:

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(In the photo above, from ‘Through Open Doors’ by Brian Radford, you can just about see the slogan).

However, by 1981, things had turned for the worse. Manager Alan Mullery resigned after disagreeing with Mike Bamber about the chairman’s plans to reduce the size of the coaching staff and how to resolve the Mark Lawrenson transfer saga. Mullery had cut a deal with Manchester United that involved cash plus a part exchange of a player, but Bamber had already set his sights on a money only £900,000 deal with Liverpool. Mullery decided it was time Bamber found a new club manager.

From Alan Mullery – ‘The Autobiography’ (2007):

Angry.

That’s how I felt in the days after I left Brighton. I thought I’d achieved more than any previous manager at the club. I’d started with a decent Third Division team and developed it into a Division One side filed with top-level players – Mark Lawrenson, one of the best defenders of modern times; John Gregory, Steve Foster and Gary Stevens, all of whom went on to play for England; Michael Robinson of Eire; Neil McNab and Gordon Smith, both Scottish internationals.

Plenty of that calibre would never have dreamed of joining Brighton and Hove Albion before I took over. My credibility helped me to sign them. I’m not saying I deserve all the praise for the rapid rise the club enjoyed during my five-year stay, but I sure as hell played my part. Our two seasons in the top flight were tough, there’s no denying that, but any club should expect a similar period of transition.

If I had continued to enjoy the backing I’d received while Harry Bloom was alive, I’m sure we could have consolidated our position as a First Division club. Instead I was out of the cold and Brighton went on to be relegated just two seasons later.

Did I regret walking out after my confrontation with Mike Bamber? Was I too headstrong? The honest answer is yes, I was fiery and prone to rush into emotional decisions. I should have taken my time to think things through before resigning, but it wouldn’t have changed anything in the long term. If I had backed down over the Lawrenson transfer, I believe Bamber would have walked all over me from that moment on. And my pride was too strong to allow that. Our split was inevitable.

As Mullery departed from Brighton & Hove Albion that summer, “the truth was,” he later wrote, “my best days as a manager were already behind me.”

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With Clough By Taylor: The Peter Ward Story

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Fascinating extract from this book by Peter Taylor first published in 1980:

I wish Peter Ward had signed for us earlier. I saw Ward slotting straight into Woodcock’s position, with Trevor Francis striking from midfield; everything about the deal looked right, yet everything went wrong.

I had signed Ward for Brighton from Burton Albion – a deal that came about through appointing Ken Gutteridge, Burton’s manager, as a coach at Brighton. He told me, ‘I’ve two or three players at Burton who are good enough for the Third Division. They are Ward, Corrigan and Pollard. Clubs have looked but turned them down. Now will you have a look?’ I sent my assistant manager Brian Daykin, who watched them in an away match and gave the thumbs down. Gutteridge, though, persisted and said, ‘You must rate me to have fetched me all the way from Burton to Brighton so at least give me the satisfaction of seeing these three for yourself.’

There was no answer to that, so I went to Burton and watched them in the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-final against Buxton, whose centre-half was Peter Swan, the old England player. Swan gave Ward a hard time and Burton lost, but I still thought, ‘Yes, he’ll do.’ Burton played at Maidstone four days later and I took Brian Daykin with me. He’d seen Ward once and voted no; I’d seen him once and voted yes, so it seemed a good idea to watch him together. The pitch was bad; Burton, who had turned up with a scratch side, were bad; and Ward was bad – yet he still showed a few class touches, enough to make him worth a £4,000 gamble.

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Ward has scored a hat-trick for England Under-21s and had a place in the full England squad but I don’t think he’ll realise his full potential because of inconsistency. Yet I like him. He is very good with his back to goal because he can turn and lick defenders and finish. That’s a rare quality – sticking it in the net.

I thought he would be good value for Forest at £300,000, the price I agreed with Brighton chairman Mike Bamber on the night before leaving for a European Cup tie in Romania. The signing was arranged for the day after our return but, shortly after landing, I heard a story that Derby were hoping to exchange Gerry Daly, their Irish midfield player, for Ward. Efforts to contact Alan Mullery, Brighton’s manager, were unsuccessful, which made me suspicious. Then Brian, for the first time in our partnership, doubted my judgement and asked, ‘Are you right about Ward?’

I felt floored and insulted. ‘Right?’ I shouted. ”I’ve got every detail about him except his fingerprints. I’ve bought him once; I’ve played him. He’s tried and tested. I know him as well as I know you’ – and with that, I left the ground. Brian, on seeing my conviction and eagerness to complete the deal, then got in touch himself with Mullery and Bamber but found them no longer anxious to sell, because Ward was returning to form. He played at Forest in November and gave a dazzling display in Brighton’s 1-0 win. This was our first home defeat in the League for fifty-one consecutive matches, stretching back to April 1977. Mullery said afterwards, ‘You couldn’t have him for £600,000.’

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Hostess tackles Lawro and Nobby

This is from an edition of ‘Roy of the Rovers’ magazine. A spot of foul play by Nobby, I suspect:

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From the Brighton v Bristol City programme of April 1980:

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Last Wednesday we held a very successful buffet lunch for the firms that have helped the club during the year with sponsorship and advertising.

With us for the first time were our new sponsors British Caledonian and we have reproduced here a novel action picture that shows Brian Horton and Mark Lawrenson in the new Albion kit that will be worn next August.

The Caledonian hostess seemed to enjoy the action in front of the North Stand and we hope that supporters will equally enjoy seeing the team play in its new strip next August.

It was certainly a radical change. Nothing quite screams top flight Albion football as that all-blue Adidas kit with the British Caledonian sponsor, making Brighton the first side in the south to be involved in shirt advertising. The Brighton v Nottingham Forest programme from March 1980 says that:

the colour change was decided upon after consultation with the players and they were virtually unanimous about the new strip. To many the stripes associate the club with the Third Division days and we are determined to be a First Division club in every way.

The Albion vs Forest matchday programme also includes this image:

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Here you can see Albion chairman Mike Bamber shaking hands with Adam Thomson, the Chairman of British Caledonian Airways, as a helicopter waits to whisk Mr Thomson back to Gatwick. Yes, the 1980s had certainly arrived!

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