Tag Archives: norman gall

A point at Villa

Norman Gall, amongst others, helps Brighton defend a corner at Villa Park in September 1972:


The Division Two match was a reunion of the sides that had gained promotion from the Third Division in magnificent style and to huge crowds in the previous campaign; Villa taking the Third Division championship on 70 points and the Albion as runners-up on 65 points.

Having lost 2-0 at Villa Park twelve months previously, Brighton made a better fist of it here as Peter O’Sullivan’s goal helped Pat Saward’s side to a 1-1 draw. It was the first away point of the season. The match also marked the debut of Barry Bridges:


Brighton stood in 19th position after the result, but were to sink in Division Two, finishing bottom by the end of 1972/73, despite gaining goalkeeper Tommy Hughes on loan from Villa in February. As for the Villans, they found the waters of the Second Division were to their liking. Vic Crowe’s side finished 3rd, one place off promotion back to the top flight, although they were nine points adrift of QPR as runners-up.

Still, it was a magnificent achievement for the Midlands club. A sign of the changing fortunes of the two promotion rivals of 1971/72, came in the match at the Goldstone Ground in January 1973. Alun Evans gave Villa a half-time lead before his side went on to secure a 3-1 victory thanks to further goals by Ray Graydon and Jimmy Brown. The win took Villa from 5th to 3rd. A dispirited Brighton, who scored via a John Brown own goal, had to face up to their twelfth successive defeat, and remained in 22nd place.

Sleeping giants Villa eventually rejoined the top flight in 1975 and, in a rapid revival, Brighton followed four years’ later.

The Seagulls’ first away game in Division One? Yes, at Villa Park in August 1979. But despite losing 2-1, Mullery’s men had the know-how and ability to adapt to playing in a higher division.

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Obscure Albion kits: 1970/71 Home

‘Come on, you chalky whites… say cheese’. So proclaimed the Argus as Pat Saward’s squad posed for the cameras before the 1970/71 season:


Back row: Joe Wilson (chief scout), Howard Wilkinson, John Templeman, John Napier, Keith Watkins, Alan Gilliver, Alex Sheridan, Alex Dawson, Eddie Spearritt, Peter O’Sullivan;

Third row: Stewart Henderson, Terry Stanley, Bobby Smith, Geoff Sidebottom, Brian Powney, Paul Flood, Alan Duffy, Andy Marchant;

Second row: Mike Yaxley (trainer), Kit Napier, Nobby Lawton, Pat Saward (manager), Dave Turner, Norman Gall, Peter Dinsdale (coach);

Front row: Martin Tew, Gary Parsons, Mark Douglas, Mick Stanley.

A second shot, mainly of first-reamers, was also taken:


Back row: Howard Wilkinson, Alan Gilliver, John Napier, Peter O’Sullivan;

Middle row: Stewart Henderson, Bobby Smith, Geoff Sidebottom, Brian Powney, Eddie Spearritt, Alan Duffy;

Front row: Kit Napier, Alex Dawson, Nobby Lawton, Dave Turner, Norman Gall.

As John Vinicombe explained:

Albion’s playing staff are seen here in their new strip for the first time. The outfit is predominantly white, with blue cuff and collar.

Giving a clue as to the location of the photo shoot, he added:

Pre-season training is being carried out at the University of Sussex, and manager Pat Saward said he had never seen such marvellous facilities made available for a professional club.

It is not particularly clear why the club ditched the familiar blue shirts with white sleeves after six years in favour of all-white. Perhaps it was to emulate Real Madrid or Leeds United. Or perhaps it was so the Albion players stood out under floodlights. Some online discussion suggests it was a change that was implemented by outgoing boss Freddie Goodwin rather than one introduced by the new man at the helm Pat Saward.

Here is a close-up of it sported by John Napier in the 1-0 victory over Aston Villa in March 1971:


It was even worn with red socks during the penultimate match of the season, as by substitute Norman Gall against Bristol Rovers in May that season:


Unsurprisingly, the all-white number proved unpopular with Goldstone regulars, so different it was from what they classed as a Brighton and Hove Albion home kit. As part of Pat Saward’s drive to build a stronger bond with supporters, he listened to supporters, and brought back the famous blue and white stripes after a long absence in time for the 1971/72 campaign.

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Roy Jennings: The Sole Survivor in 1961

Brighton’s first ever match in Division Two was a disaster. It was at Middlesbrough in August 1958 and the Albion were thumped 9-0 with future Brighton manager Brian Clough grabbing five of the goals. The return game at the Goldstone Ground in December saw the Sussex side treated to a 4-6 home defeat. By 1961, the Brighton line-up was much changed, but the club was still competing in the Second Division.


Roy Jennings was the tough-tackling stalwart of the side. In Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly in December 1961, he looked back at the previous few years:

It doesn’t seem three years since Brighton won the old Third Division South championship and promotion to the Second Division. Yet we are now in our fourth season as a Second Division club – and I am the only survivor of the side which won a championship medal in 1958.

True, Steve Burtenshaw, our regular left-half, was a colleague at that time, but Steve played only occasionally in the League side and did not qualify for a medal.

I made the bare 14 appearances needed to earn a medal. I was mainly a full-back in those days and Brighton were well off in that department. All the other stalwarts of our Third Division days have moved on… Jim Langley, Eric Gill, Glen Wilson, Denis Gordon, Peter Harburn, Frankie Howard and co.

There have been other changes in my time at Goldstone Road. A new stand to replace the rickety old construction which did duty as the main building for too many years; new dressing rooms; floodlighting.

Mr Billy Lane, who steered us to promotion and whose powers of persuasion had so much to do with my joining Brighton, has also gone. The place doesn’t seem the same without him although I feel sure that his successor, George Curtis, from Sunderland, is going to do a great job for us.

When we won promotion some people said we would be out of our depth in the Second Division. When we took two early beatings from Middlesbrough it seemed as though the critics were right.

But we recovered and more than held our place in the higher grade.

The Second Division is the toughest one from which to gain promotion. Each season there seem to be about four top-class sides challenging, with the rest cutting each other’s throats week by week.

For the last three years I have been the regular centre-half and now I am club skipper. At school, in my native Swindon, I was a full-back and won England Youth and Wiltshire county honours at the same time as John Atyeo, of Bristol City.

I had no ambition to become a professional footballer. I was keen on accountancy and studied it. I was working as a clerk in a garage when Ted Nash, a local scout, recommended me to Southampton manager George Roughton.

I signed amateur forms for Southampton and played a few games in their reserves before going into the RAF. Then I had a firm offer from Brighton and, in 1952, I signed for them as a full-time professional – and forgot about a career as an accountant.

I was switched to first team centre-half soon after those Middlesbrough defeats I have mentioned. A good game against Tottenham reserves (I managed to blot out Dave Dunmore) earned me promotion and since then I have held my place. Only twice have I missed a match through injury.

One of my most memorable games in our first season in the Second Division was a Boxing Day meeting with the then League leaders, Fulham, in 1958. Their visit drew a record Goldstone Road crowd of 36,747, with receipts of £4,376.

We beat them 3-0, Johnny Haynes and all, and I shut out centre-forward Maurice Cook out of the game.

A quick thumb through the record books show that on Boxing Day, 1958, Brighton actually lost 3-1 at Craven Cottage. Here is some very ropey footage from the match:

Brighton’s magnificent 3-0 victory over Fulham came on the following day, and was aided by the return of Jimmy Langley. Two Tommy Dixon goals and one by Adrian Thorne beat the eventual Division Two runners-up.

Sadly, after a four-year stay in the Second Division, Brighton finished bottom at the end of 1961/62, the season of this feature in Football Monthly. Albion were relegated, with Jennings’ faith in the managerial ability of George Curtis proving misplaced. Here’s the team photo from the same edition:


In the following season, such was his popularity, that when Jennings was dropped for three games in favour of youngster Norman Gall, Curtis’ decision prompted ‘We Want Jennings’ chants from the Brighton supporters. Roy was then restored.

He was eventually given a free transfer at the end of 1963/64 and joined Crawley Town, where he eventually became player-manager. He had made 297 appearances for Brighton, scoring 22 times (13 of which were from the spot).

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The Book of Football: Part 2 (Norman Gall)


In the early 1970s, Marshall Cavendish brought out a magnificent partwork called ‘Book of Football’. Covering all aspects of the game, such as club histories, the development of tactics and strategy, and profiles of many players at different levels of the game, writers such as Martin Tyler, Brian Glanville and Phil Soar created an authoritative snapshot of how the game was back then. Accompanied by photo captions, the widespread use of colour photography and diagrams was revolutionary at the time when most magazines were in dull monochrome. This was a point that Phil Shelley, of oldfootballshirts.com was keen to emphasise when he kindly leant me all five volumes a couple of months ago.

The idea with ‘Book of Football’ was that each week, you’d buy one part of a 75-part set of journals that formed a football encyclopaedia, housed in five stylish black binders. Much of the text and photos were later repurposed for the book ‘The Story of Football’ by Soar and Tyler, published in 1986.

Albion fans didn’t have to wait long to see their club featured in ‘Book of Football’. In the second issue, ‘Football star, football satellite’ compared and contrasted the careers of Arsenal striker Ray Kennedy and Brighton’s Norman Gall. There were also this photo of Gall heading away a Bristol Rovers attack at the tail end of the 1970/71 campaign.


Of the central defender, it says:

In March 1962, when he was 19, he was approached by Brighton and Hove Albion, then also in the Second Division. He went south this time, liked what he saw of the resort town, and signed. “They offered me good money and I just jumped at it,” he explains. He joined a club then on the slide to Division Three. He was not able to do much to help. Gall did not get out of the reserves in his first season nor for much of his second. But on his twentieth birthday he made his League debut. Gall played in three consecutive games in place of Roy Jennings, a ten-year veteran with the club. All the games were lost and Brighton were in trouble at the foot of the table. His memories of his first home game are not happy: “As soon as I went on the pitch they booed and during the kick-about they were on my back. They chanted, ‘We want Jennings.’ I played quite well, but it affected my play a bit and I think it ruined me for the rest of the season. Anyway, I was dropped right after that.”

However, Gall did establish himself and a local newspaper is quoted as singing his praises:

“The complete footballer, quiet on the ground and decisive in the air. Few people get past him. Gall’s strength is in his marvellous timing and crispness of tackling. Mobility is another strong point and he has the legs of most attackers. An intelligent fellow, he reads the game with uncanny precision and is invariably in the right place at the right time. His coolness infuses confidence among his fellow defenders and he seldom wastes the ball in distribution.”

One of the things I didn’t know before reading the article was the fact he was cleared of assault in court after a scuffle with a spectator during a promotion battle at Rochdale in 1968 when he was ‘dragged over the barrier and into the crowd.’


Gall is portrayed as married to Jackie, a local girl, with a baby daughter Sarah, and living in a modern house in the village of Upper Beeding in the South Downs. He worries a bit about what he will do for a job once he reaches 33 or 34. ‘Still, there’s always non-League football.’ he adds.


In this highly candid interview, Gall also shares the fact he would not recommend the life of professional football to any son of his, and says he only really enjoyed about 15 of the 40 games he played in the previous year. He also openly describes what it is like being a lower league player:

“A lot of times you feel you want a move because of the attitude of the club, or the manager. If you don’t get the money you ask for, again you want to get out. Then if the club’s not doing too well, you think you can do better and you want to move. Then you get stuck in a rut and you decide to get away to get your game going again. Or, simply, you might get bored. Then one day, a new manager comes and the place is different overnight, so you stay.”

When he said that, I’m pretty sure he must have had Pat Saward in mind.