Tag Archives: steve gritt

Steve Gritt: Hereford as I saw it


Writing in Goal Magazine in July 1997, not long after his moment of triumph:

If I stay in football until I’m 60, I doubt I’ll experience a game as tense as Brighton’s final League match against Hereford. The prize at stake was so great that a lot of my players just seemed to freeze in the first half. It was only after I’d got them in at half time and shook them up a bit by reminding them that there aren’t too many grounds worth visiting in the Vauxhall Conference that they started to battle.

Without doubt, it would have been a tragedy for a club the size of Brighton to slip out of the League – there’s enormous potential here, as proved by the fantastic support we attracted in our last few home games. But it doesn’t matter who you are or what your pedigree, no one’s got a divine right to expect to stay in the League, and that’s something I had to keep reminding our players of.

I do have every sympathy with Hereford. No one wants to see any club drop out of the League, but I’m afiaid it was a case of them or us. Exeter could have been dragged in to it, too. If we’d lost, we would have gone down by two points; the two points that the FA docked. Given that scenario, it was very likely that we would have returned to court to appeal and had that been successful, Exeter could have been relegated.

With Premiership sides hogging the headlines, it’s all too easy to overlook the plight of smaller clubs. It’s something that needs to be addressed because I’m convinced if one club went out of business, others would quickly follow suit. Despite the big-money TV deals and all the glamour of the Premiership, there’s got to be a place for clubs like Brighton. In the past, clubs at this level have proved to be a useful feeding ground for Premiership sides. I’m sure the big boys would want that to continue.

The gulf between the Premiership and the lower leagues was brought home to me again with Aston ViUa’s recent £8million signing of Stan Collymore. I can’t complain, though, because like every other manager, I’d jump at the chance to spend that sort of money on players.

But, of course, it’s not how much you’ve got to spend, it’s how you spend it. Anyone can throw £20million at a problem, but the proof of the pudding is what you get for your money. That’s why I admire Kenny Dalglish’s reign at Blackburn so much. He spent wisely to ensure them promotion, then when he had a lot of money to spend, he spent it well and won the championship – you can’t argue with a return on your investment like that.

Mind you, I haven’t done too badly this season. I pushed the boat out and spent £15,000 on Robbie Reinelt and at Hereford he paid it back ten-fold with just one goal. Not even Kenny ever got that sort of value for money.


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Thank you, Steve!


Despite the Seagulls having to play their home matches in Kent, there was not much chance of relegation in 1997/98, due to Doncaster Rovers’ abject performance. However, with the Albion only seven points clear, Steve Gritt was relieved of his duties in February. Nevertheless, it led to an outpouring of heartfelt appreciation for the manager who performed heroically in the club’s darkest days during the previous campaign. It is unquestionable that without the former Charlton man’s efforts, the club would have slid out of the Football League.

Seagulls fans undoubtedly wished to pay tribute to Gritt. Online, you can still find a 1990s guestbook of thanks to the great man.

Like many supporters, Stephen Cowdry was eager to write a letter of gratitude to the ex-Albion boss after hearing of the sad news. Here is the reply he received:


In his letter, Steve Gritt mentions joining Millwall as reserve team coach. He also had a short spell as caretaker manager at The Den before becoming Mark McGhee’s assistant up to 2003. However, while his spell with us was much shorter, he will always live long in the affections of Brighton fans. The home form after Christmas in 1996/97, and the Doncaster and Hereford matches see to that.


Robbie Reinelt’s magic boots

robbie reinelt

It seems long forgotten that Robbie Reinelt scored a brilliant goal for Colchester against Brighton in his then side’s 2-0 win in September 1997. However, after mixed fortunes at Layer Road during the season, the young striker was signed by the Seagulls in February 1997, and promptly wrote his name in Albion history. From the Argus, 5 May 1997:

It was Robbie’s boots that did it!

Reinelt, the goal hero of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Hereford, saved Albion from relegation wearing a pair of blue Valsport boots his wife, Lisa, bought him for his 23rd birthday eight weeks ago.

He had only worn them twice before, against Northampton and Cambridge, and he hit the target in both of those games as well.

And he had the whole army of Albion fans jumping for joy when his magic boots, bearing his initials R.R, kicked the crucial second-half equaliser at Edgar Street.

He said: “Lisa said they would be my lucky boots.

“I’ve worn them three times and scored three times, so she was right. Women always are, aren’t they?

“I was a bit wary of weaing them. I’ve looked at people before and thought what fairies they were for wearing flash boots.

“But Lisa told me off for not wearing them and said she would take them back.

At the end of the nail-biting match, Robbie presented the mud-splattered footwear to a delighted fan who waved them proudly aloft.

Albion’s hero ha only been on the pitch in place of Paul McDonald when he scored and earned his place in football history.

He said: “I was one of Gritt’s inspired substations.

“His actual words were: ‘This is the one, this is the time to prove yourself. Go out and do it.’ I think I did that by scoring.”


After his moment of triumph, Reinelt joined Leyton Orient midway through the following season in 1998 before winding down his career with Stevenage Borough, St Albans City, Braintree Town and Ford United.

(Many thanks to Jim for supplying me with this and other newspaper articles, and to Pete for lending me the second photo and some Albion cuttings from the 1970s).

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