Tag Archives: peter suddaby

It all adds up to success for maths wizard Peter Suddaby


From Shoot! magazine in the summer of 1980:

When a player is given a free transfer by a Third Division club, it invariably signals the end of the soccer road. For Peter Suddaby, the ‘free” handed to him by Blackpool last season meant the start of a new career in Division One with Brighton.

Peter’s been around the League scene for quite a while, but mainly in Division Two and Three with the Tangerines. At 30, he had no right to expect he’d be playing at Anfield and Old Trafford, apart from the odd ‘dream” Cup-tie.

Brighton manager Alan Mullery struggles for superlatives when speaking of Suddaby. “‘He may not be a big name,” says the Seagulls boss, “But Peter does it for me week in, week out. I know I can rely on him to turn in a good performance.”

For Suddaby, the First Division is a long way from the days of ten years ago when he wondered whether to make soccer his career or pursue and academic career.

He says: “‘1 hadn’t really thought too much about becoming a professional. Although I was born in England, most of my schooldays were in Wales and I spent three years at Swansea University. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics.

“I’d virtually decided that my future was as a teacher and I attended training college in Oxford for a year. During that spell I played as an amateur for Wycombe Wanderers in the Isthmian League.

“Wycombe are one of the top non-League clubs and scouts from the Football League are always at their games. I played for England as an amateur and I was obviously aware that I was under the spotlight.

“Brian Lee, Wycombe’s manager, kept me informed and told me Blackpool were interested. I signed for them as an amateur in the summer of 1970 and played a few games towards the end of 1970/71 when they were relegated from Division One.

“Looking back, I have no regrets apart, possibly, that I didn’t join a League club a couple of years earlier. On the other hand, I am happy that I finished my education. University life taught me a lot and developed my character.

“I don’t know what I’ll do when I finish playing. At the moment I’m just happy to be back in the First Division.”

Suddaby is just one of an evergrowing number of players who have been snapped up from non-League teams. Even his Brighton team~mate, Peter Ward, was bought from Burton Albion after being spotted by Peter Taylor during his spell at the Goldstone Ground,

The former Blackpool skipper was a major factor in Brighton establishing themselves in the First Division after a shaky start.

“We have enough good players to build on what we did last season,” says Suddaby. “We’ll all be a year more experienced and for many it was their first taste of Division One.

“The club think big and I’m delighted to be part of their success. I didn’t think I’d ever play in the First Division again, but now I’ve been given this chance I mean to make the most of it.”

Unfortunately, a slipped disc in May 1980 halted Suddaby’s progress. He was eventually released a year later, without playing part in the 1980/81 season. After six matches for Wimbledon, the central defender exited the League scene to teach maths at the American School in Uxbridge. He also coached and played for Isthmian League side Hayes.

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Panini Football 81 – a Brighton watershed

Brighton fans may have initially balked at getting a sticker album with Crystal Palace’s Gerry Francis on the cover, but I’m sure they got over it!


Besides, Palace’s season was a disaster. They even had four different managers during the course of the 1980/81 season, none that could arrest their slump. Even Ray Wilkins’ side, Manchester United, sacked theirs, ex-Albion player Dave Sexton, at the end of their own disappointing campaign.

And Brighton? It was a watershed season for us too. Potentially Albion’s strongest squad had flattered to deceive. Peter Suddaby had played a major role in 1979/80 but injury meant he never did play in the new all-blue Adidas kit. Mullery resigned at the end of the 1980/81 season, and the reliable John Gregory was another departure, to QPR. While he stayed, Graham Moseley was deeply unsettled, rocked by a loss of form, the signing of Perry Digweed as well, as Mullery’s stinging criticism of the erstwhile number one keeper at the Goldstone:


Interesting to see Mark Lawrenson listed here as a midfielder. He had performed that role admirably in the second half of 1979/80. Would Albion fortunes have been different had he stayed there in 1980/81? He, alongside Ward and Horton, also departed the Goldstone not long after the publication of this album. We are also treated to a rare shot of Peter Sayer in our new fangled Adidas kit. Sayer was an unused sub on the opening day match against Wolves before leaving for Preston North End.


Notable absences here are Perry Digweed, Gary Stevens and Andy Ritchie, all of whom made a significant number of appearances during the course of the season.

This album is notable for the first appearance of team groups being made up of two stickers rather than one. Looking through the album, there are some alignment issues with some team groups, but happily, the Brighton one looks fine.

Second Division clubs were also given the half and half treatment, and it’s possible to clearly see Ray Clarke at his new club, Newcastle United. Even Third Division clubs were covered by Panini at the time, albeit with a single sticker team photo. 15mm tall in Charlton’s team sticker was Mike Bailey. Little did Albion fans know it in 1980/81, he would be man to bring forth a new era to the Goldstone, and a whole lot of new player stickers to collect!

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Brighton saviour Suddaby


Thirty-four years ago today, centre-back Peter Suddaby made his Brighton debut in the famous 1-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground. In this interview from Shoot! Magazine (6 January 1980), he lifts the lid on turning from a reserve in the Third Division to first choice in the top flight:

Peter Suddaby can’t thank Blackpool manager Stan Tennant enough – for dropping him!

For when Suddaby moved into the reserves to make way for Jackie Ashurst, Brighton manager Alan Mullery couldn’t move quick enough to snap up the commanding centre-half.

“Looking back, I suppose it was a blessing in disguise,” said Suddaby. “My career wasn’t going anywhere, and a move to the First Division was the perfect remedy.”

Suddaby’s arrival at the Goldstone Ground had an immediate impact on Brighton’s previously unhappy first season at the top. In his first game he helped Brighton end Nottingham Forest’s 51-game unbeaten home League record, and successive victories during the Christmas period against Wolves and Crystal Palace took the club out of the bottom three for the first time this season.

“I tried getting Peter last season to help our promotion bid,” Mullery explained. “He’s a tremendous winner and is just the sort of player we needed.

“But Bob Stokoe wouldn’t let him go which is why I was delighted when he suddenly became available in November.”

Suddaby admits that he has always been impressed with Brighton’s potential, and wanted to play in the First Division since Blackpool lost their place in the top flight.

“Obviously it wasn’t easy to adjust after playing two games in the reserves and I was sad about leaving Blackpool. But it was made clear to me that I was fourth in line for the centre-half position, so I made up my mind to move if the opportunity arose.

“Coming to Brighton cost me a testimonial,” Suddaby continued, “but this didn’t mean as much to me as Blackpool thought it might.

“I wanted a challenge and still felt I had something to offer which is why it didn’t worry me to join a struggling club. There’s still plenty of time for Brighton to move out of trouble which is what I think will happen as there’s a superb spirit in the club,” Suddaby commented.

Suddaby admits that life in the Third Division had proved hard for Blackpool. “The boardroom troubles inevitably rubbed off on the players and gave the club an unsettled atmosphere. The trouble is that neither the players nor the public have come to terms with the fact that Blackpool are a Third Division club,” Suddaby pointed out.

“When we were relegated it was only through a series of freak results which is why last season was something of a settling-in period. Even though there aren’t many medals in the club’s cupboard there’s a lot of tradition and people still talk of the team in the 50s.”

Suddaby modestly refused to accept that his move was a significant factor in Brighton taking what could be ten crucial points out of 14 in their battle for First Division survival.

“Forest are a very good side, but we defended well against them and had that little bit of luck we needed. But I thought that everyone in the Brighton side buckled down and gave everything that day.”

Suddaby’s fun loving approach to life, which makes it hard to believe he became a bookworm to study for a University honours degree, not only explains his long stay at Bloomfield Road but also why he bears no bitterness towards his former club.

“I desperately hope they do well as I had such happy memories but I would like to think they’ll miss me,” he added.

“Certainly, things are beginning to click at Brighton, and I’m sure we will survive this season. Alan Mullery has given me a chance to prove myself in the best League in the world, and i certainly do not wish to let him down now.”

Sadly, we never got to see him in this shirt

Sadly, we never got to see him in this shirt

Suddaby definitely didn’t let Brighton down. His strong, determined tackling and ability in the air at the heart of defence was an important factor in moving Albion up the table. It also released Mark Lawrenson to play in midfield. However, in May 1980, Suddaby slipped a disc and, as a result, was released by the club. Had he been able to continue First Division football, perhaps 1980/81 would have been not have have been a campaign of so much struggle.

He briefly returned to the Goldstone in 1986/87 as chief coach under Alan Mullery and held onto his position until the end of the season, even when Barry Lloyd took over.