Trev Smith has kindly allowed me to publish his images from the Brighton v Tottenham match of April 1978:
The images have been added to the match report here
Top Soccer magazine may not have lived long in the memory of many supporters, but the edition from 15th December 1979 certainly gave Seagulls fan Sean Coleman, then 11, one of the best Albion-related childhood stories of the glory years:
If people paint a room in the colours of their favourite soccer team then they must be close to being fanatical fans!
That can certainly be said of young Sean Coleman’s family after their kitchen received a blue and white coat of paint in honour of Brighton F.C.
That fact persuaded us to grant 11 year-old Sean his wish of meeting his idol, Peter Ward.
Sean was so excited at the prospect that he couldn’t sleep the night before and woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning.
He met Peter outside the Goldstone Ground with his kit bag at the ready.
Within a couple of minutes, he was achieving his greatest goal by running out of the tunnel in his ‘Seagulls’ strip.
Sean could hardly believe it when Peter gave him a few priceless tips on the game then autographed his football for him.
Then it was over to the dugout where Peter took it easy for a cup of tea while Sean got on Alan Mullery’s ‘hot line’ to the director’s box… to talk about the colour scheme at the Goldstone, no doubt.
Marvellous! 36 years on, I wanted to see if Sean was still supporting the Seagulls. After a bit of detective work, via North Stand Chat, I managed to track down Sean to ask him about his great day at the Goldstone all those years ago. Bet it must have been strange to see your name discussed on NSC!
“I got a message from a friend about it and I thought you’re having a laugh,” Sean says. “Didn’t seem quite real to be honest. I had a look at it and so here we are.”
So what is the story behind your appearance in Top Soccer magazine? “My dad used to buy Top Soccer magazine and, unbeknown to me, wrote to them saying I was a fan of Peter Ward and that would like to meet him. One day, he said, ‘Get in the car with your football kit on. We’re going for a drive’ and we ended up at the Goldstone. I met the whole team, including Brian Horton, Mark Lawrenson, Andy Rollings, Gerry Ryan, and went down the tunnel and there was Peter Ward on the pitch. I was blown away, really.”
Sean had been watching the Albion since he was five. He remembers going to see them play Southampton at the Goldstone Ground in his first game, in August 1972, when Saints fans climbed the floodlights. He was hooked. “I also went to Norman Whiteside’s first ever game for Man United. He came on for the last few minutes,” he adds. “I used to go regularly every week, home and away until I was 17 or 18. Then I got married and things changed. However, I did get a season ticket for the first season at the Amex, but now my work stops me going on a Saturday. I go as and when I can.”
And then things turned full circle.
“Funnily, about three years ago, I went to a signing at the club shop and Peter Ward was there. I was with my youngest son. I told him Peter Ward was the man I had idolised. My son’s hero at the time was Mackail-Smith as he was such a big signing at the time.”
Finally, is it true your kitchen was painted in blue and white? The answer is yes, thanks to his father, a man of many Albion-related surprises: “My dad came home with two pots of paint and began to paint the kitchen in Albion colours and my mum never let him live it down. That was quite something.”
And his current place? “My wife would never let me do that!”
Here’s Garry Birtles in action for Nottingham Forest in his second spell at the club. I don’t know who that Brighton player is!
The bearded striker first came to the attention of Forest assistant manager Peter Taylor in September 1976, according to the book ‘With Clough By Taylor’:
A friend rang from Burton, saying. ‘There’s a lad from Long Eaton who is going to Manchester United.’ I was thunderstruck: I expect that sort of information from my staff. I phoned my scout for the area who said: ‘Oh, Birtles. Used to be at Clifton as a amateur. Can’t play.’ I fumed, ‘Whether he can play or not, if he goes to Old Trafford and signs, you’ll get the sack.’ Then I phoned back to my contact in Burton and asked him to watch Birtles, who was there that afternoon with Long Eaton. He rang in the evening. The United business is a bum steer. No-one’s in for him but I think the boy has got something; he’s no mug.’
After a month’s trial, Birtles eventually signed for Forest from Gerry Fell’s old club Long Eaton in a £2,000 deal. After a slow start, he eventually forced his way into the first team following Peter Withe’s departure. Memorably, the striker scored the first and created the second in a famous 2-0 victory over holders Liverpool in the European Cup in 1978.
Three months later, Garry tucked home Forest’s third goal against Brighton in a 3-1 victory in the League Cup, after Graham Moseley failed to hold onto Frank Clark’s shot.
Such was Birtles’ progress that forced his way into the England team, making his debut against Australia on 13th May 1980 against Australia – Peter Ward making his international debut against the same opposition later that month.
Such was Birtles’ progress that forced his way into the England team, making his debut against Australia on 13th May 1980 against Australia, just two weeks before Peter Ward’s only full England appearance.
On 22nd October 1980, Clough sold Birtles in a £1.25 million deal to ex-Brighton player Dave Sexton, then boss of Manchester United. It was a fee considerably higher than if he had signed from Long Eaton all those years before. The deal was part of a famous ‘triangular’ transfer that saw Peter Ward join Forest from Brighton for £450,000, and Andy Ritchie arrive at the Goldstone from Manchester United in a £500,000 deal.
All three attackers struggled at their new clubs. Ritchie battled to win over Seagulls’ fans’ disappointment at the departure of Peter Ward. However, Ritchie’s rich vein of form in 1981/82 was such that he was voted Rediffusion’s Albion Player of the Year. Birtles went through a barren spell when he just could not score. It took until the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay against Brighton at the Goldstone Ground in January 1981 for him to register his first goal for the Red Devils:
Brighton also proved lucky for him the following 1981/82 season, and Birtles shook off his Old Trafford despondency to score for Manchester United in a 2-0 victory over the Seagulls in November, with future Albion centre-forward Frank Stapleton the other scorer:
However, Birtles never truly established himself as a Manchester United player, despite being given a fair chance by new boss Ron Atkinson
In 1982/83, the Nottingham-born striker found his way back to the City Ground at a fraction of the original fee. Another misfit, Peter Ward, also returned to Brighton on loan. As for Ritchie, he finished the season back up north, at Leeds United in a straight swop for Terry Connor. He eventually returned to Old Trafford, in a way, when his newly promoted Oldham Athletic side played Manchester United in August 1991.
In Part 60 of Marshall Cavendish’s ‘Football Handbook’ in the late 1970s, there is a superb account of Brighton’s First Division debut against Arsenal on the opening day of the 1979/80 season:
From the Fourth Division to the First in 14 years – that’s the Brighton & Hove Albion success story. Handbook went behind the scenes for Brighton’s baptism of fire against FA Cup holders Arsenal, and discovered how nerves and lack of experience played a big part in the Seagulls’ day-one disaster…
August 18, 1979 should have been the greatest day in Brighton & Hove Albion’s history–their first match ever in Division One. Unfortunately, Arsenal were to spoil the celebrations…
Before the match the team meets in the usual hotel. The old brigade who clinched promotion for Brighton chat noisily, while the new boys – like John Gregory, bought in the summer from Villa – smile nervously on the edge of it all.
Peter Ward sits alone and bleary-eyed. He has been up all night while his wife gave birth to their second daughter.
There’s a studied air of calm about the Brighton squad, but the prospect of making their First Division debuts has several of them inwardly buckling with nerves.
This, and the fact that FA Cup holders Arsenal are the visitors, has given everyone the flutters. All the Gunners’ players are familiar to the Brighton lads. Arsenal receive enough press exposure and TV coverage for a team-talk to be almost unnecessary. Alan Mullery concentrates on morale.
‘They’ve only got two feet, same as you. They might pass the ball better than Second Division sides, but they also let teams play which Second Division teams don’t do. We’re not going to respect anyone in this League – we’re going to chase, fight and tackle.’
Mullery to Maybank: ‘Ted, I want you back in our area for corners. I don’t care how tired you are, you’ve got to get back to knock that ball away with your head.’
Before they board the coach that will take them to the Goldstone Ground, Mullery tries one last piece of basic psychology. ‘Now listen. We know them, but I’ve just been talking to their physio, Fred Street, and they haven’t a clue what to expect from us.
‘You beat Arsenal today and you’ll believe in yourselves for the rest of the season.’
As the coach nears the ground, the jitters begin to surface again. Maybank senses the mood and tries to defuse it with a joke. ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic,’ comes his Corporal Jones impersonation from the back of the bus.
Inside the ground, the atmosphere is electric: a pipe and drum band march past the brand new stand, and then the Albion players emerge in their ‘civvies’ to walk around the pitch and acknowledge the fans’ tumultuous applause.
Ten minutes later they re-emerge. This time it’s for real – and within minutes Brighton’s First Division career has begun. After 60 seconds Talbot and Horton tangle and the free-kick to Albion bobbles tantalisingly around the Arsenal box. Ryan latches on to it, wriggles through and swivels to send in a left-footer which the shovel-sized hands of Jennings tip away at full stretch.
Three minutes later it’s Ryan again. This time the toe-end of Willie Young’s despairing lunge relieves the pressure. The Brighton crowd scream their support. Although Ryan yet again comes close, Arsenal are starting to settle. Their offside trap is beginning to frustrate Mullery’s men and, ominously, the Rix-Brady shuttle service is starting to roll down the left.
Then, inside the space often bewildering minutes, Brighton’s dreams come crashing down around them. First Stapleton receives from Sunderland to crash a 20-yarder past Eric Steele; before Brighton have time to reflect on the seeming injustice of it all, Arsenal make it two – from Brady’s freekick, Young’s header drops to Sunderland, who nods in from a yard out.
By half-time Brighton are dead. Rix lofts a pass through the middle. Sunderland delays his run and then sprints past Rollings and scoops the ball over Steele. The keeper gets a palm to it but the ball still drops into the net; 0-3.
As Albion troop in disconsolately at the break, Mullery tells them, ‘You’ve lost the game. Now get out there and start again with a clean slate…’
But it’s all gone flat. Only the jigging of the Arsenal contingent breaks the silence as they mimic the ‘Sea-gulls’ chant with one of ‘Three goals, three goals’. And then a Brady penalty makes it four in the second half to really rub Brighton’s noses in it.
As Brighton file sadly into the dressing-room at the end, their big day ruined, Terry Neill comments, ‘We posed them a few more problems than they’re used to. But I’m sure Alan Mullery is not the type of individual to get discouraged.’
Though bitterly disappointed, Mullery still finds time to praise Arsenal and pinpoint the difference between the sides. ‘They taught us a lesson in cold, clinical finishing,’ he says.
‘It was like a Clint Eastwood movie. Out came the guns, and bang bang – we were dead…’
Under the title ‘Frank’s zapper’, Football Handbook then turned its attention to Frank Stapleton’s goal:
The most meaningful lessons are usually the most painful to learn – in life, in football.
For Brighton and Hove Albion the moment of truth came on the opening day of the season, their first-ever First Division contest.
FA Cup winners Arsenal were the visitors.., and the teachers.
All the exuberance that took Brighton to promotion hardly dented the composure of silky Arsenal, to whom First Division pressure was nothing new.
Manager Mullery’s ‘treat it like a cup tie’ approach – ‘we’re going to chase, fight and tackle’ – lost all significance once Arsenal took the lead approaching half-time.
Brighton had had most of the play and, like an underdog boxer, must have fancied their chances of an upset.
And, like many a ‘softener’ for the knock-out blows to follow, the goal that put them firmly in their place had an almost dream-like essence to it.
Inertia ruled among the Brighton players as Sammy Nelson played the ball down the left to Alan Sunderland.
He was given space to cross where he liked and almost certainly aimed deep for Brian Talbot, who had made a typical run behind the home defence.
His mishit went straight to Stapleton instead. Stapleton stumbled. The crowd laughed. Stapleton recovered but his shot from 20 yards was hardly a hammer blow.
Nevertheless, it went in, the ball looping over the despairing Eric Steele.
If that was a dream-like moment, it soon became a nightmare as Arsenal added two more quick goals before half-time.
In the end it was a humiliating 0-4 scoreline, a result that Mullery rightly saw as a lesson in cold, clinical finishing.
From the Evening Argus after Peter Ward’s explosive start of six goals in eight matches at the end of the 1975/76 season:
The exciting potential of 20-year-old Peter Ward, whose last-minute goal deprived Sheffield Wednesday of a first away win since December 28, 1974, prompted Albion manager Peter Taylor to declare: “He is the hottest proper in English football. I would not dream of listening to any offer for him. He’s that good he would get into Derby’s side tomorrow.”
Knowing as we do Taylor’s close affinity with Derby County, presumably there can be no higher praise… but it is a massive tribute for one so young to have heaped upon his head.
I seriously doubt whether such fulsome billing is good for young players. Of course, Ward is a very promising player. Why, then, did he not make a League debut earlier than eight games ago? In that time he has scored six goals, and opportunism of the sort displayed in the last month was missing in an attack that had gone off the boil.
Naturally, Taylor is keen to enthuse about something after Albion’s failure to win promotion, and Ward is an obvious choice. He seems too level a lad to be affected by the cliches.
Right now Ward has only one thing on his mind, and that has nothing to do with football. He and his wife Sue expect the arrival of their first child on Cup Final day.
Some players have been known to be affected by offspring on the way. But not Ward whose rattlesnake speed of strike is an asset on which Albion must build next season.
Incredible, isn’t it, that he has been an active participant in League football just one crowded, hectic month?
In that time he has shown touches to send the pulses of most managers racing. His goal against relegation-threatened Wednesday came at a time when Albion looked booked for a first home defeat since September 10. Nobody would have been surprised had Wednesday broken their duck.
Now the 1-1 draw means Wednesday must beat Southend at Hillsborough in the final match this week or crash into the Fourth Division for the first time. The anxiety until then can all be put down to Ward.
Remarkably little is known about him because there is a basic shyness and modesty in his make-up. Interviews are foreign to him. This is as it should be – all the best players play with feet and head, not tongues.
On the pitch, however, he has the right stamp of arrogance and determination, and an ability to turn defenders very quickly. His shot is spectacular because he doesn’t wait to tee the ball up.
Lichfield-born, he played for a local side but was never associated with Derby County. He went straight from playing with his mates to Burton Albion, the Southern League club, and last season scored lots of goals, He cannot remember how many.
Word soon reached Taylor, a former Burton manager, about Ward. He was in with a cheque before any rivals, and £4,000 brought Ward to the Goldstone last summer.
He was duly dispatched to learn his trade in the reserves.
Tuesday night regulars at the Goldstone soon noted his prowess. When Ward debuted at Hereford, it was not before time. His name went on the scoresheet in just 50 seconds. He had arrived.
The next match was at Rotherham and he gave Albion an early lead there. At Chesterfield it was a foul on Ward that led to a Joe Kinnear penalty. By this time the lad was starting to feed off Sammy Morgan. They were looking a good pair together. But at Chesterfield, Morgan was injured.
In the Port Vale game Ward’s name appeared in the score frame. Nothing doing at Millwall, but he nearly broke the net with his equaliser at Aldershot. A lot of running and effort finally paid off against Gillingham with a flashing header.
And so to the final game when his flair meant Albion finishing with 39 points from their home matches. Dropping only seven was a remarkable feat, and should have taken them into the Second Division. The millstone that kept Albion down was the dreadful away record.
The Ward goal apart, and yet another strong display by Brian Horton, and solid performances we have come to expect from Andy Rollings and Steve Piper, the less said about Albion’s performance, the better.
Admitted Taylor: “We didn’t really perform at all. They didn’t allow us to play and must deserve credit for that. Len Ashurst got his lads to do everything right, considering their position.”
Apart from Ward’s equaliser, the most appreciated touch came before the ball was kicked. Skipper Horton led the players round the ground and they applauded the crowd for their support. The spectators acknowledged the gesture warmly and two minutes later stifled groans as Eric Potts scored the softest goal at the Goldstone for many a long year.
While the 11,859 crowd was the lowest since September 27, it was by far an ways the best in the division. Hereford, who have run away with the championship, had only 8,950 as the trophy was handed over.
Two minutes: There seemed to be no danger when POTTS swerved away from Horton’s biting tackle. A low shot from just outside the box looked covered by Grummitt, but he could only get a hand to it, and the ball trickled over the line. 0-1.
Eighty-nine minutes: A long ball from the back was nodded down by Mellor, and WARD slammed it on the volley. 1-1.
Here’s the centre pages of the Australia v England programme on Sydney Cricket Ground on 31st May 1980. Although a friendly in all but name, at the time the match formed a fixture in the Winfield Cup, a competition to celebrate the centenary of soccer in Australia:
Towards the end, there was a five minute substitute appearance from Brighton & Hove Albion striker Peter Ward, aged 24:
At the time, it was the shortest England career. Current holder of this record is Martin Kelly (Liverpool) with two minutes in May 2012.
In 1979, Brighton & Hove Albion achieved their dream of reaching the top flight. Unsurprisingly, the Evening Argus marked the achievement with a 40 paged ‘Division One – Here We Come’ supplement.
This included a seven-part review of the season, an Alan Mullery eulogy by John Vinicombe, a discussion of the club’s prospects in the First Division plus pen pictures of the squad. All in black and white newsprint… which is where this foray into colour comes in: on the final page, it says:
To obtain a free full-colour folder celebrating Albion’s promotion, fans can collect vouchers from six different days’ issues of the Evening Argus, starting on Monday. Each voucher carries the name of a different Albion player. The folder, printed on art paper, includes a team picture in full colour. You can use it as a cover for this souvenir supplement or alternatively as a wall poster – or both if you collect two sets of vouchers.
All you had to do was bring your vouchers to any Evening Argus office on or after Wednesday 23rd May or send it off to the Argus promotions department.
Here is the front cover, with Brian Horton apparently jumping for joy in front of a delirious home crowd. On closer inspection, you can see his body has been cut out and crudely superimposed on the background. All done without Photoshop:
As for the centre spread, there is a marvellous team photo. I’m sure that would have made the wall of many supporters at the time:
Finally, the back page features action shots of key players Mark Lawrenson, Peter O’Sullivan, Teddy Maybank and Peter Ward:
In summer 1986, Match magazine began a series tracing the top flight players who suddenly disappeared from the scene. On 26th July, it ran ‘Forward with the Force’, a feature on Brighton’s most celebrated striker:
The name of Peter Ward still sets Seagulls fans chirping on the South coast.
They remember the nonchalant way he waltzed around defenders and turned goalkeepers into quivering wrecks with his lethal finishing.
But it’s the followers of America’s Cleveland Force who are being delighted by the skills of the former Brighton favourite.
It’s more than three years since the Goldstone witnessed a Peter Ward goal ~ which has become so familiar in the Major Indoor Soccer League he now graces.
The United States has become Peter’s adopted home since he quit English football and admits: “I’ve loved ever of it.
“The indoor game here is thriving, I enjoy the lifestyle and I’m more financially secure than I would have been in England.”
But Peter does confess that, while he has never regretted making the move, there are times when he yearns for the English First Division.
The American indoor season only runs from November to May, and he says: “We have the rest of the year off and the family and I spend it travelling around the States.
“It’s such a long break from football, and now and again I do wish I was back playing in England.
“In fact it would be great for me if the American season ran during the summer and I could return home to play in the winter.
“But having said all that, being off during the summer does provide an opportunity to travel that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“And of course the money is good. I would be lying if I said that hasn’t been a factor in keeping me out here.”
Peter had his first taste of Stateside soccer in the summer of ’82 and after one successful season with Seattle he was hooked.
Following the disappointment of his spell with Nottingham Forest – a big-money move which had promised so much – his American adventure provided a heaven-sent opportunity to lift his flagging spirits.
He was voted the NASL’s top player in his first season and although he returned to Brighton for a brief loan spell he was convinced his future lay overseas.
“That first summer in Seattle was so enjoyable that I had to go back,” says peter. “I played for them again the following year and I’ve been in America ever since.
“I also had a spell with Vancouver and since the NASL folded a couple of years ago I’ve been playing in the Major Indoor Soccer League with Cleveland.
“It took a while to adapt to the six-a-side indoor game but it’s been a great experience.”
Instead of the normal 90 minutes MISL matches consist of four 15-minute quarters played at frenetic pace.
“It’s very exciting for the fans and exhausting for the players,” he admits. “In fact it’s very rare for anyone to play more than half a match.
“The usual thing is to have a couple of minutes on the field and a couple off to catch your breath. The teams are always being switched about so it’s non-stop stuff.
“The atmosphere inside the magnificent stadiums we play is tremendous, especially when there are about 20,000 excited fans chanting and screaming.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing indoor soccer but I think I’ll probably stay here for just one more season before moving on.
“Coming back to England has always been at the back of my mind and that’s what I’d like to do when my contract with Cleveland runs out.”
“I’m slightly torn between two teams that are very close to me. In a way I’ve got to be happy if either team goes through. I had great memories at the Albion, but Derby is where I grew up and my home town.”
So says Vaughan Woolley, a reserve centre-back on Brighton & Hove Albion’s books between 1975 and 1978.
He has Derby County partly to thank for his most unforgettable experience in Albion colours. In the League Cup in 1976/77, Alan Mullery’s high-flying Brighton first team had knocked out Ipswich Town and West Bromwich Albion, both formidable First Division sides at the time. In the fourth round in October 1976, the Third Division outfit faced a star-studded Rams team featuring seven internationals including Roy McFarland, Colin Todd, Charlie George and Leighton James.
With demand for cup tickets running high, the Albion’s marketing team came up with the novel idea of making them available at the reserve match with Charlton that month. In all, 17,554 watched as Brighton reserves ran out 3-0 victors against the Addicks’ reserves.
“We only used to get around 800 to 1,000 fans for normal reserve matches at the Goldstone, but they were selling cup tickets for the Albion match against Derby County,” Vaughan says. “When I ran out the ground looked full. The Argus published an article about me in 2009 about the match and the fact that so many fans went to see the reserves when the first team at Withdean was only getting around 8,000.”
And to cap it all, Vaughan got on the scoresheet and spectacularly dived into the fans! “Chris Cattlin, who latterly became the Seagulls manager, also scored one. I remember mine clearly. It was just before half-time. I was playing left side midfield on that occasion. We won a corner. Tony Towner took it, and I rose high to head into the top right corner. I was ecstatic, so I just continued running past the goal and lunged into the celebrating fans. Great memories, I just loved playing at the Goldstone Ground.”
Not that left midfield was his normal position: “I came to Brighton as a centre-back. I remember Peter Taylor who was the manager of Albion at the time told me that he wanted to build the future Brighton team around me and Robin Madden, another reserve team player from the Worthing area. It didn’t work out unfortunately for either of us.
“I was quite versatile as I could kick as well with either foot. So I ended up playing in midfield as well. I was gutted in a way when Albion signed Mark Lawrenson as he played in my position, plus he was a record signing at the time so it made things difficult for me.”
Peter Taylor and Brian Clough both knew Vaughan from Derby as he was captain of Derby Boys when at school. Another Brighton reserve, Stephen Ward, and Vaughan grew up together, went to the same school, Noel-Baker, and played for Derby Boys at the same time. Vaughan reminisces: “Steve Ward was my best friend at school. He was very skilful but not the quickest of players. He went on to play for Halifax Town and Kettering Town. I lost touch with Steve in recent years as he moved out of the Derby area.”
“Steve joined Albion in June 1975. As for me, I was originally asked to go on trial at Brighton for six weeks that August. After the first week I was asked to sign as an apprentice. Of course, I said yes and loved every minute of it. Moving to the south coast was possibly the toughest thing, moving away from my family and not able to travel home that often. I guess I was a little home sick.”
You must have encountered the subsequently more well-known Ward, Peter (no relation to Steve!), in the reserves, just before he broke in the first team?
“I loved my time at the Albion and frequently in training had the pleasure of marking Peter Ward. I thought I always did quite well in marking him but his history speaks for itself. He was certainly a legend of the club. I used to get on with Pete really well. He was also from Derby. I saw Pete several times in Derby in subsequent years and since then I bought and read his autobiography. Very interesting!”
Vaughan believes he also got close to making a breakthrough: ‘I think I was being thought of for first team, I had scored the home reserve game the week before the Charlton game. We played Northampton Town and I scored a header in a 2-2 draw. I also played in Brighton & Hove Albion ‘Select’ 11 when we played local town teams in the Sussex Cup matches. As well as this, I also played in a behind closed gates friendly against Fulham. This was mostly consisting of first teamers and I started the match. It was unfortunately marred when Sammy Morgan went into a tackle with the Fulham left-winger and unfortunately broke the lad’s leg. It was a nasty compound fracture.”
Apart from the two Wards, which other reserve players does Vaughan remembers most vividly? “There was a decent young lad join as apprentice from the Brighton area, Glen Geard. He went to school in the Brighton area. He was a real laugh, a bit cocky and full of himself but genuinely a nice lad. I think he might have gone on to play for the firsts. There was also Mark Elliott, a Welsh lad, really nice. He made his debut but didn’t play much. After I left, another of my friends from the Derby area joined the Seagulls, a lad called Tony Vessey. He was a centre-half who made an appearance for the first team. Not sure where he ended up afterwards. Might have gone to the States to play!”
Well, Tony Vessey had an illustrious non-league career with Crawley. He also played for them against Brighton in the FA Cup 3rd Round at the Goldstone in January 1992. To which, Vaughan replies: “Crawley, that’s interesting because I was in digs or lodgings in Portslade by Sea with two other guys, Eric Steele who helped teach me to drive. Now he’s the goalkeeping coach at the Rams. Also, a lad named Carmine Porpora, He also played for Crawley. He was released by the Albion after his apprenticeship. I met up with him and my old landlady for a meal down at the Marina a couple of years back. ‘Pop’ as he was known played for time in Italy, in their second division, I think. He played in same team as Claudio Ranieri apparently. He went on to play for Crawley Town in the 80s, I believe.”
Sadly, Vaughan Woolley didn’t make any appearances for the Seagulls’ first team: “I made a decision to leave Brighton in the summer of 1978. On reflection I was foolish but I had no agents, mentor or father figure to guide me. I asked Mr Mullery to pay me more otherwise I would have to leave. He said he wasn’t paying me any more, so I’d set myself up. I wished I hadn’t.”
After Brighton, Chesterfield were interested in signing Vaughan. However, he became disillusioned after leaving the Seagulls and really wanted time out: “I signed for a local team and played in the East Midlands Regional league mainly playing teams in Derbyshire and Notts area. I enjoyed my football and was with my old friends. I think, on reflection, I needed guiding by someone but that didn’t happen. I was basically on the dole. I joined Rolls-Royce and have worked there ever since. It’s all history. As I say, you have to accept what you do and the decisions you take in life. But if I have one regret it is leaving Brighton. If I could have played the way I did in the years following my departure, who knows what might have happened?”
How did you develop as a player after leaving the club? “I matured in the years after that and became a better and stronger player,” Vaughan contends. “However, I seriously broke my leg in two places in 1984 and that finished my playing career, aged 25. Oh well. I cannot get too regretful as many lads just don’t get the chances that I did.”
Have you been back to watch Brighton & Hove Albion? “I have been to the Amex, I went to one of the first games there with my son against Gillingham. I would have played to have played there. What a stadium! But it doesn’t hold the memories of the Goldstone. Anyway, I look forward to watching the Play-Off semi-final game this next week and hope whoever wins go on to promotion.”
Any predictions? “I think it will be 1-1 at the Amex and 2-0 to the Rams at the iPro,” Vaughan reveals. “Sorry to all Seagulls fans, but my head is ruling my heart. Best of luck to all involved, though.”