Tag Archives: sammy morgan

Shoot Cover: Sammy Morgan (30 July 1977)

As promised, there will be occasional posts to The Goldstone Wrap, and here’s one of them…


It would be unthinkable for the leading football magazine in Britain nowadays to feature League One action on its front cover. However, in the 1970s, with more even coverage of all the different tiers, we were treated to this shot of Crystal Palace v Brighton from the Third Division in 1976/77. The caption reads:

Promotion action… Brighton striker Sammy Morgan clashes with Crystal Palace’s George Graham (left) and Jim Cannon in this aerial battle. Next season the two clubs will meet again… in Division Two.

Hard as nails, Morgan was a Northern Ireland striker in his time with Port Vale and Aston Villa, and joining Brighton in December 1975 for £30,000, where he added two further caps. Memorably, his two goals in February 1976 helped Albion to a splendid 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace at the Goldstone.

The following season, with the blossoming of the Ward and Mellor show, Morgan’s outings were strictly limited to the bench on all but two occasions. Nevertheless, as Tim Carder and Roger Harris’ ‘Albion A-Z’ book recounts:

Perhaps his most memorable performance was at Crystal Palace in an FA Cup replay when he came on for the injured Andy Rollings and gave a heroic display at centre-half.

The photo above is probably taken from Albion’s 3-1 defeat at Selhurst Park in March 1977, a game when Morgan came off the bench to replace Steve Piper.

The month after the publication of this edition of Shoot! magazine, Morgan departed for Cambridge United, making 37 appearances in his only season to help the ‘U’s gain promotion into the Second Division for the first time. He then had spells in the Netherlands and the USA before becoming a school teacher in Great Yarmouth in 1980.


Sammy’s double puts Palace on the rocks

After spells with Port Vale and Aston Villa, the Northern Ireland centre-forward Sammy Morgan joined Brighton in December 1975. Although a regular in the Albion side, it took him under the Goldstone clash with Crystal Palace on 24th February 1976 for him to get on the scoresheet. Here’s how Jack Steggles of the Daily Mirror reported the action the following morning:


Irish international Sammy Morgan last night repaid a large chunk of his £35,000 transfer by shooting the goals that brought Brighton’s dream of Second Division football a step nearer.

The goals were Morgan’s first since he joined Brighton from Aston Villa eight games ago. And he could not have chosen a better time to score them.

The victory lifted breezy Brighton into second place and proved another League setback for poor Palace who have now notched just one win in their last 12 matches.

Morgan struck his first blow in the 13th minute to set the full house crowd of 33,300 – Brighton’s biggest for four years – roaring.

A long cross from Ernie Machin was headed on by Ian Mellor and Morgan darted in behind a static Palace defence to apply the killer touch.

And in the 55th minute Morgan did it again.

This time Tony Towner set it up with a probing run deep into the heart of the Palace defence.

His final shot was kicked away by Paul Hammond – and Morgan had the rebound in the net in a flash.

Brighton’s delighted manager Peter Taylor said: “In view of the tremendous tension and atmosphere generated by the crowd I thought we gave a magnificent performance.

Palace are still a skilful side and I have no intention of knocking them.

“I am delighted for Morgan. It must have given him a great boost to get a couple of goals like this.”

Palace boss Malcolm Allison put on a customary bold face, and predicted his faltering side would still win promotion.

He said: “It was an excellent match for the third division and I have no doubt that we will still go up.”

Palace have often claimed, with justification, that they were superior to most of the teams who have beaten them during the deplorable League run that has put their prospects of promotion in grave danger.

They could offer no such argument last night. Brighton were worth their victory – for the basic reason that they were prepared to work much harder.

Palace, in patches, showed some of their smooth skills.

But they seemed to turn their noses when the going got rough – and in the Third Division that is tantamount to signing your own death warrant.

Brighton had the game’s outstanding individual in Welsh international Peter O’Sullivan, who turned in a glittering midfield performance.

By comparison Palace’s England Under-23 star Peter Taylor had a disappointing return from a two-match suspension.

Taylr made little impression as Brighton bustled Palace out of their stride and Palace’s frustrations were shared by an unruly section of their fans.

Louts wearing Palace colours hurled smoke bombs and metal objects onto the pitch after Morgan’s goals.

Referee Ron Challis threatened to abandon the game and police moved in with dogs to restore order.

It was only fair to Brighton that the police did win their battle for it would have been criminal if their hard earned victory march had been checked.

The win completed a league and up double over Crystal Palace, with Albion having won 1-0 at Selhurst Park earlier on in the 1975/76 season.

Growing in confidence and sharpness, Morgan went on to hit five goals in five matches in a prolific spell in March as Albion strode confidently towards promotion. However, the debut and form of Peter Ward put the Northern Ireland striker’s starting place in jeopardy. Never Albion nor Palace gained promotion from Division Three in 1975/76, with Brighton undone by their away record and Palace distracted and overstretched by their impressive FA Cup run that took them to the semi-final.

When the new campaign was in sight, Morgan got off to a bad start in the Alan Mullery era, fracturing a cheekbone in a pre-season friendly with Luton in August 1976. When he recovered, he was unable to break the winning Ward-Mellor partnership and, as a consequence, was a perennial substitute. He was sold to Cambridge in August 1977 for a £15,000 fee.



Seagulls soar over BN3 7DE

Yesterday, Brighton won 3-1 against Port Vale in the FA Cup 4th Round. In April 1977, though, they battled in the Third Division in front of 23,446 supporters at the Goldstone, with Gerry Fell getting the only goal.

The jubilation surrounding the goal was captured by photographer Ken Tyhurst of the Brighton Gazette, and used in a magnificent poster for the Post Office:


As you can see, Peter Ward and Sammy Morgan led the celebration (with a mixture of Bukta and Umbro branding on their kit), plus Ken Tiler in the background.

According to a piece by Tim Carder:

Bill Swallow of the Swallow Company, designers of the current Albion programme, tells me that he was the Post Office’s Press Officer for the South East in 1977 and the poster was his idea. Apparently the ‘bean counters’ wouldn’t allow him to get it printed until promotion was certain, but he wanted to get it on the side of mail vans as soon as possible after the date so it was prepared it in advance.

In the article, Bill said:

“The image was actually a bit of a cheat. Although the Goldstone crowd was over 23,000, the terraces didn’t go back far enough to take the image to the top of the poster. So, in those pre-Photoshop days, we fiddled it by adding a tier or two of faces from elsewhere.”

Tim Carder added:

The poster was a great success. It went on nearly all local vans during May 1977 and, to Bill’s delight, numbers of them were stolen off the sides, probably an unprecedented occurence! Bill later did a Reading FC poster – very similar but obviously not as nice!

albionbookI won my copy of the poster at an auction at Withdean many seasons ago. It is also on display in the BHAFC fan bedroom at the new museum at the Amex stadium, which will hopefully be opening very soon.

Of course, the image from the 1-0 victory over Port Vale was also used on the front cover of ‘Albion – An illustrated history of Brighton & Hove Albion FC’ by John Vinicombe. This rather error-ridden book was published in 1978, covering the story up to the end of the 1977/78 season in Division Two. At the time, the matchday programme described how ‘the sales of the book from our Promotions shop was both brisk and plentiful.’ It was almost certainly helped by having such a striking image on the cover.

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