Tag Archives: tony millard

How Millard, Pavey & Mullery led The Goldstone Goldrush

At the Brighton v Millwall match today, there will be a full tribute to the life of Tony Millard, who sadly passed away last week.

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I’m not sure which magazine this cutting is from, although it’s probably Shoot! It covers the increasingly lucrative commercial side of the game of the late 1970s, with Albion doing a much better job than Arsenal at the time!

As Brighton battle to win praise and points in their first season of First Division football, Alan Mullery’s other side are already top of their League! When it comes to making money for the club, commercial manager, Ron Pavey, and promotions expert, Tony Millard, have started a Goldstone Goldrush!

This season, the Seagulls’ financial team look set to earn £600,000 from lotteries, promotions, club shop sales, programmes, ground advertising and TV fees. And that puts them above huge clubs like Arsenal, in the money game.

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“You’ve got to have it,” says manager Alan Mullery, “because you can’t get your revenue back through the gate. We were averaging gates of around 22,000 at home last season. Now, that will pay people’s wages, but it won’t put any money in the bank for you. So the commercial side is very important.

“For example, we have match ball sponsors for every League match. We’ll use 21 in a season and each ball costs about £35. If we had to pay for them, it would be expensive over a full season. It’s the same with boots. We’re sponsored by Puma. They supply us with about 250 pairs a year. That’s a big saving too.”

Mullery has seen Pavey and, more recently, Millard make great steps, since his arrival at the Goldstone in July, 1976.

“At that time, the club was taking around £800 a week, from all sources. Now, it’s over £500,000 a year. So, what they’ve done on the commercial side has been fantastic. All right, our success on the field has been a help and people don’t really want to advertise and bring money into a club if it’s not doing well. But they’ve put in a lot of hard work.

“Basically, they’re trying to help me. If they can bring money into the club, and I need to buy new players, it’s a boost for me. Since I’ve been here we’ve had a new pitch, built a new stand and spent £1,250,000 on players. There’s no way we could have done these things without the commercial side.”

In the 1970s, even the commercial aspect of the game had a certain naive  charm to it, unlike nowadays. The Seagull Lottery is held weekly every Monday at a different venue around the County. The second lottery was held at the Southdown Hotel in Worthing and together with Ron Pavey (commercial manager) and the lottery promoter Joan Shipp are vice-chairman Harry Bloom and players Peter O'Sullivan and Peter Grummitt.

In the 1970s, even the commercial aspect of the game had a certain naive charm to it. The Seagull Lottery was held weekly every Monday at a different venue around the county. The second one was held at the Southdown Hotel in Worthing. That contraption is a lottery drawing machine. Very hi-tech, I’m sure!

One of the biggest money-spinners at Brighton is the lottery system. The club runs two weekly lotteries and these produce a yearly profit in the region of £250,000. Ron Pavey is the mastermind behind this area of big business. When he joined the club, five years ago as commercial manager, Brighton were £200,000 in the red. Things have changed a little since then!

“I think we compare quite well with the bigger clubs in the First Division,” says Ron. “We’ve made quite a lot of progress and we’re learning all the time. Being a small club helps us in a way. There’s more of a family atmosphere here. We’ve got a good team, working closely together.

“Everyone who’s involved wants to do their best, because at hear, we’re all Brighton fans! And if we do a good job on the commercial side, we know it can only help the team.”

Tony Millard echoes that brand of positive thought: “Everyone knows football must be commercial to survive. All of us involved in the game love it. We all know football is the number one. But we also know it needs financial support and every aspect must be explored. There’s no doubt about that.

“People who suggest the game has become too commercial are burying their heads in the sand. The way we look at it, we need the support of companies outside the club and we intend to give them value for money. As far as we’re concerned, you’ve got to ride with the times.”

Brighton toured America last summer. Like most lovers of the game, Mullery was irritated by the commercial circus that surrounds every match in the States. He knows British fans don’t want their Saturday afternoons dressed up in gimmicks and candy floss. But Brighton are proving to the soccer world that it is possible to milk the commercial possibilities, without any loss of dignity or pride.

“before I came here, I remember reading about Brighton manager, Pat Saward, going along the seafront with a box, collecting for the Save Brighton Fund,” said Mullery, finally. “We’ve certainly come a long way since then.”

The special souvenir programme for the Brighton v Arsenal match, the Albion's debut in the First Division, in August 1979. Price 50p. Sponsored by Sussex Mutual Building Society.

The special souvenir programme for the Brighton v Arsenal match, the Albion’s debut in the First Division, in August 1979. Price 50p. Sponsored by Sussex Mutual Building Society. I wonder what became of them.

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Tony Millard, Rest In Peace

Tony Millard, sports commentator, ex-Brighton & Hove Albion matchday programme editor and the brains and voice behind the Seagull Line, has died, aged 74, yesterday morning.

He played a key role in bringing the shirt sponsorship deal with British Caledonian Airways to the club while his eye for a good promotional venture also led the Brighton team to record and release two music singles in the early 1980s, as well as fly to the 1983 FA Cup Final via helicopter.

While disliked by some who depict him as ‘rude,’ ‘obnoxious’ and ‘arrogant’, not to mention less than flattering comments about some of his supposed dalliances, Millard is mostly remembered fondly by Brighton fans for his tremendous work at the club as well as commentating on key moments in the club’s history.

Being a superb organiser and doer, the man was a driving force of so much that was great behind the scenes. Taken from the Brighton v Everton programme in April 1983:

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Walking into programme editor Tony Millard’s office at the Goldstone can be like stepping into a tornado!

If there is a sports personality in the town who lives a fuller life than Tony, I’ve yet to meet him. It’s not unusual for him to be talking to two people on different telephone lines, whilst looking through programme photographs and Albion promotional material on his desk.

If variety is the spice of life, Tony should be nicknamed ‘Heinz’. He’s always got at least 57 things on the go at the same time! As a sports journalist he has covered everything from speedway and golf, to cricket and basketball. His radio broadcasting has taken him as afar as Los Angeles.

But home is where the heart is and no aspect of Tony’s career is more important to him than his work for Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. Together, with his friend of many years standing, Ron Pavey, Tony has spearheaded the club’s money-spinning promotions team. He also spends a lot of time fixing personal appearances and interviews for Albion stars.

His journalistic experience means he is never shot of ideas for the match day programmes. Many of the club’s supporters have commented on the improved standard in recent years. Tony also does a great deal as match day announcer. Some of his jokes may be in the Tony Blackburn class, but his professional style eases supporters through the afternoon with pop music, match details and sports news from around the country.

Tony’s match days don’t stop there. He broadcasts reports for local radio stations and he is a regular contributor to ITV’s ‘World of Sport’ big match coverage too. His Saturdays race past in a whirl of activity, but Tony wouldn’t have it any other way.

‘I came to the Albion full-time five years ago,’ says Tony. ‘My first jobs were to reshape the ground advertising contracts and also find sponsors for matches here at the Goldstone. Next I got to work on redesigning the programme and that tied in well with the match day announcing I’d already been doing for some time.

‘It’s a busy life, but I like it. You never quite know what the day ahead holds in store and that’s exciting.’

Tony is a useful cricketer and seems to cram more matches into his summer than Australian sponsors pump into their one-day tournaments. He also plays golf and he enjoyed a fair amount of success as a footballer, playing for Haywards Heath receives, after leaving school.

His flair for organisation shone through as early as 1961, when he became involved with the local football Sunday Leagues. His friendship with Ron Pavey dates back to that time. Now, Tony lives and breathes sport. His energy and enthusiasm combine to make him a popular member of the Goldstone staff.

‘I make my living from being involved with sport,’ says Tony, finally. ‘I really couldn’t ask for more.’

A great example of his intense commentary style can be found here in this famous heartstopping match with Hereford in 1997:

Finally, some classic Millard anecdotes gleaned from the pages of North Stand Chat. Enjoy!

El Presidente – The Albion Supporters Club XI played against the Southern Sound XI in 1985. Millard was playing for Southern Sound, I pushed the ball past him, ran onto it, and his response was to rip my shorts off.
gjh1971 – My favourite Millard moment was during the early eighties at the Goldstone, Andy Ritchie missed an open goal, and Tone had inadvertently left the microphone on, and Millard blurted out ‘pull your bloody finger out, Ritchie’ across the PA.
Harty – My top Millard Moment was at the York City game in 1996, with a near riot taking place and the goals already ripped down ‘our Tone’ comes out with an Albion PA golden moment.
“While we’ve got this break in the play, can I remind you it’s Steve Foster’s testimonial this Tuesday, when the Albion take on Sheffield Wednesday, 7.45 kick off? Hope to see you all back here.”
The Large One – After-match interview with Danny Cullip
Millard: Interesting goal you scored there, Danny…
Cullip: Yeah, well. A bit flukey, but to be honest, it doesn’t matter how they go in – as you should know, Tony.

There’s also another one where he is commentating for radio and accidentally uses one of his catchphrases from his other big project: “You’re listening to Seagull Line on Brighton 8049, that’s the number for Albion information, everyday, 24 hours a day.” Oops. Thanks for the memories, Tony.

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Seagull Line – Brighton 8049

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In the days before the internet took hold, finding out the up-to-date news about your club was a lot harder. The Seagull Line, Brighton 8049 was set up by the Post Office on 13 April 1979 and was one of the first of its kind in the country.

In the Brighton v Bristol Rovers programme from that month, it said:

The service started this week and 24 hours a day information may be heard on Brighton & Hove Albion, simply by dialling 8049… remember it rhymes… 8049, the Seagull line. Last Monday at the Adur hotel when our weekly lottery draw was held there was a chance to know just what Buzby is all about and to hear about the Seagull line. Our picture shows Paul Clark and Peter Ward happily accompanied by a young lady who is clearly hoping to ‘Make someone happy.’

Ahem!

With his catchphrase ‘And it’s bad news for the Albion’, often heard when reporting on an away fixture, commentator and programme editor Tony Millard is remembered as the mouthpiece of the premium rate service. He’d begin “You’ve called the Seagull Line on Brighton 8049, that’s the number for Albion information every day… 24 hours a day…” After informing fans of the telephone number that they know about because they’ve just dialled it, he would then precede to waffle on about various matters of little interest, such as how the reserves got on, the groundsman’s opinion on the state of the pitch before next Saturday’s game before… FINALLY!… giving supporters the news they wanted at the end. Devious tactics, Tony!

From the memory of Storer 68 from North Stand Chat:

“You’ve called the Seagull Line on Brighton 8049. The line for Albion information everyday, 24 hours a day. Later we’ll have news from Wembley where the Albion were playing Manchester United in the F.A. Cup final, but first, the results of Seagull Lottery number 762 drawn by assistant physio Mike Yaxley at the Swan pub in Falmer…”

With the high calls costs incurred, there are several stories of young Brighton followers getting into trouble with their parents for running up huge phone bills. Some fans even reminisce about their parents suspecting that they were calling premium rate sex lines! The mums and dads were only persuaded otherwise by calling the number themselves, ‘although Millard did breathe quite heavily if I recall,’ adds Easy 10, another Albion supporter.

Even though it was a premium rate service, this rather significant detail did not feature in the adverts in the matchday programme. Neverthless, some wonderful artwork appeared advertising the service. Seagull Line was replaced by a more general, premium rate service called Sussex Sportsline in 1987/88 before making a comeback two seasons later on 0898 and 0891 numbers. Anyway, enjoy this stroll down Seagull Line Memory Lane…

1979/80

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1980/81

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1981/82 – 1982/83

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1983/84 – 1984/85

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1985/86 – 1986/87

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