Fifty Years, Fifty Programmes – 1972/73

The early 1970s.

What a time to be alive, or to be more specific, what a time to be entering your teenage years. It’s that period in your life when a whole new world is opened up and you realise there is more to life than home, school and crap TV.

For me, I already had Brighton & Hove Albion to distract me, but as I reached my 13th birthday, the twin spectres of music and girls made an entrance.

In September 1972 I moved into the third year (Year 9 in today’s language) at Bognor Regis Comprehensive. This involved moving across the playing field into the school that housed all years up to the Upper 6th Form. From looking at pre-pubescent girls all day, I was transported into a world that brought me in to contact (from a distance at any rate) with actual real women, albeit the seventeen year old version. It was an eye-opener in many ways and got my hormones racing. This led to a few tragic and short-term fumbles with various girls who will remain anonymous to protect them (and me, obviously).

My Dad had passed on his old record player to me. It was a cream-coloured machine with a funny gizmo attached to the spindle that, in theory, allowed me to pile a few 7-inch singles on top of one another to avoid having to get up each time the track finished. This never really worked properly but despite this, the record player was my absolute pride and joy.

hqdefaultThe first single I bought was ‘You Wear it Well’ by Rod Stewart and it is one of my great life achievements that I still have this record. Another hugely popular artist at the time was a young singer called Gary Glitter. He seemed to be on Top of the Pops every week, with songs like ‘Rock & Roll Part 1’ and, imaginatively, ‘Rock & Roll Part 2’. The story of his later life explains why he spent so much time in the TOTP studios but at the time, he was at the cutting edge of the Glam Rock movement.

76-12-30-sweet-csOther bands of the time included The Sweet and, of course, Slade. The latter band were to feature on the pitch at The Goldstone some years later. Slade were also part of the Glam Rock scene but their slightly harder edge led me to the discovery of a band that I still love to this day.

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The actual album that I bought, all those years ago, framed at home.

My friends and I used to gather at each others houses with the latest records we had bought and one friend, Rob Howard, turned up one day with a copy of an album by The Who, called ‘Meaty Beaty, Big & Bouncy’. I found out later that this was a compilation of songs previously released as singles but I was so captivated by the sound, that I bought the album for myself, followed closely by ‘Who’s Next’, which had been released in November 1971. All these years later I still have the original copy of Meaty, Beaty Big & Bouncy.

Anyway, all these distractions meant that I had some decisions to make as to which aspect of my life was going to get the benefit of my pocket money. Girls didn’t really come into it, because a quick grope in the back row of Saturday morning pictures didn’t really cost too much. Records took most of the rest because I was still being taken to The Goldstone by my Dad, whenever he could.

In 1972/73 we were in the second division. Uncharted territory in my history with the club and only the fifth time ever that we had played at that level. Things didn’t go quite according to plan however, and between November 11th 1972 and January 27th 1973 we lost TWELVE league games in a row. Then, as now, second division clubs entered the FA Cup at the Third Round stage. We were in the middle of that horrendous losing run and I was hoping that we would get a completely rubbish team in the cup to try and get some confidence back.

No such luck.

Page 01 (1)We were paired with First Division glamour-side Chelsea. They had England internationals John Hollins and Peter Osgood in their team, along with a host of other stars. I pleaded with my parents to be allowed to go to the game with my mates, the plan being that we would get into the North Stand and try to look like we had been standing there for years.

My parents relented, against their better judgement. Hooliganism was beginning to make a real impact on football in England and they were terrified the ‘You’re gonna get your fucking head kicked in’ chant was going to come horrifically true.

Pat Saward was still in charge and his programme notes for the game betray the worrying situation we found ourselves in. He welcomed the opportunity to play in the FA Cup, Page 02-03 (1)but because “it gives us a chance to briefly forget about Albion’s unhappy plight at the foot of the Second Division table”.  Mr Saward was, by nature, a positive man and he assured the fans that “we are trying our utmost to correct a slide that goes back to November”. He adopts the usual stance of the manager of a struggling team, by thanking the fans for their support, saying “I was delighted with the heart-warming applause you gave (the team) at half-time and the final whistle”.

Page 04-05 (1)Chelsea were welcomed over three of the sixteen pages in the programme, and it reads like a Who’s Who of early-70s football flair. The team photo includes players like Peter Bonetti, Alan Hudson, Ron Harris, Ian Hutchinson and Eddie McCreadie, many of whom had played in the famous replayed FA Cup Final against Leeds United in 1970. Chelsea were managed by Dave Sexton, who had made 53 appearances for Albion in two seasons in the late 1950s.

Page 10-11 (1)The ‘Goldstone Gossip’ article welcomed new signing Lammie Robertson to the club and informs us that he is looking to move in to a flat on Shoreham Beach with his bride-to-be Maureen, a trainee teacher. We are also told of a ‘boardroom shuffle’ that led to the resignation of -time Chairman Tom Whiting, as well as fellow board member Tony de Boer. One of the new board members was Dudley Sizen, who was to remain involved with Albion until 1996. The shuffle was brought about by a need for a financial re-structuring of the club and it led to Mike Bamber taking up the role of Chairman. He was bring about a golden era for Albion fans over the coming years.

The game itself didn’t quite live up to the billing of a feast of flamboyant football. Bookings weren’t as frequent as they are now and you practically had to commit GBH before the referee got involved. He was a busy man as five men entered his notebook. In a particularly brutal sequence of the game, Albion’s George Ley and Chelsea’s Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris were sent off. The ‘Seagulls!’ book describes the final quarter of the game as ‘particularly brutal’. Chelsea won the game with two goals from Peter Osgood but the lively nature of the match was reflected off the pitch. While myself and my mates were able to steer clear of the trouble, 25 people were arrested for fighting on the terraces.Page 16 (1)

All in all it was an eventful day but unforgettable in the eyes of this 13-and-a-half year old boy. My parents were less enamoured by the days events and were VERY reluctant to let me go to games on my own. I pleaded with them, on the basis that ‘it’s easy to avoid the trouble’.

They eventually gave in and I saw a few more games as we continued our inevitable journey back to Division Three. The last game of the season was at home to Nottingham Forest and it was on that day, 28th April 1973, that my Albion-supporting time nearly came to an end.

I have said that it was easy to avoid trouble, but that isn’t quite the case when it was me causing it! I’m not talking about fighting, that really isn’t my thing. It was more to do with a bit of mindless (and pointless) vandalism. On the way back from the game, we were casually lobbing lightbulbs out of the train windows without too many cares in the World, when we were challenged by the train guard. Most of my friends just turned and ran away but I hesitated and ended up being locked in the guards metal cage.

I was handed over to the Police when we got back to Bognor and to say my parents were upset when I arrived home in a Police Car, was a massive understatement.  They understandably went ballistic and among other things, I was banned from going to Brighton games for the foreseeable future. I ended up in Juvenile Court, was fined and had an altogether horrendous summer as I tried to worm my way back into my parents’ affections.

They eventually mellowed and I returned to action soon after the start of the 1973/74 season, back in Division Three.

If you’ve reached this far in my story, well done and thank you so much for persevering.

Until the next time.

References:

Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by Tim Carder and Roger Harris

Albion A-Z – A Who’s Who of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by the same authors

Albion – The First 100 Years by Paul Camillin and Stewart Weir

Rothmans Football Yearbook

 

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The Football League Review

My children often ask me; “Dad, what was it like before the Internet?”.  I tell them stories from a time long, long ago.  Of encyclopaedias, libraries and strange things called newspapers.  They look at me with wonder in their eyes.

Or is it pity?

Either way, we now have access to an almost unlimited amount of information, available at the click of a mouse, or the swipe of a screen.  If you want to know the address of the Rochdale FC club shop, or the name of the ground where Bury FC play, that information would take less than 30 seconds to find.

I was born in 1959 and by the age of 7, was consumed by a thirst for knowledge of football.  My Mum & Dad did their bit, by buying me magazines like Goal!, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly and Shoot! but that wasn’t enough.  I wanted facts, information and statistics – loads of them.

By that time, I had caught the football programme collecting bug, and couldn’t get enough of these wonderful little magazines.  Whilst growing my collection, I stumbled across another little publication, one that went a long way to satisfying my endless quest for mindless trivia.

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Soccer Review Issue 1 – 21 August 1965

I’m talking about The Football League Review.

A trail-blazing journalist in Leicester, by the name of Harry Brown, realised that the matchday programme for all 92 clubs in the Football League, presented a great opportunity to distribute his brainchild. On 21st August 1965, he launched Soccer Review, a magazine designed to be included within a club’s programme, covering news and views about football from all over the country.

England was in an absolute frenzy over the World Cup, which was less than 12 months away. Harry Brown was able to lock in to this feel-good vibe across the country and Soccer Review carried a lot of World Cup-related articles throughout the 1965/66 season.

By today’s standards (by any standards, to be honest) the quality of the magazine was pretty poor. Printed on rough paper, the columns were wonky, words disappeared off the edge of pages and the pictures (always black & white) were very grainy.

I wasn’t too bothered about the finer details of the production process. For me, it was all about information. That first issue contained articles about the newly-introduced concept of substitutes; the fact that showing emotion is actually good for players; a World Cup diary and an article written by Harry Brown’s daughter Marilyn, aged 15, about whether southern girls are slightly less enthusiastic about the game than their northern counterparts.

These were the days before the stifling constrictions of political correctness. If Harry Brown wanted to run a story on the best looking female supporters, then he did. Publish and be damned!

Number 1

Football League Review, Vol 1, no 1 – August 1966

After that first, fairly experimental, season, Soccer Review became the Football League Review, a name retained for six seasons. At the start of the 1972/73 season, a further name-change saw the issue of ‘League Football’ magazine. This lasted until midway through the 1974/75 season, when rising costs and decreasing revenue saw circulation fall. The final copy came out in January 1975. The one good thing to come out of the demise of the magazine, was the realisation that programme editors needed to focus on the content of their own matchday issue, rather than rely on padding from a generic League publication. Coventry City, under the revolutionary stewardship of Jimmy Hill were the trailblazers in this regard. In the early 1970s, they experimented with bold colour schemes, radical page payouts, and a move towards content that was genuinely interesting for the readers, rather than a bland regurgitation of club information. As other clubs followed suit, the programme moved into the late 70s and 80s with renewed hope.

Soccer Review/Football League Review/League Football ran for 366 issues. 5,856 pages that left an indelible mark on my childhood.

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League Football number 920. The final issue, January 1975

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to have a look back at these wonderful magazines and give an insight into league football in the decade from 1965 to 1975.

Thanks for reading.

As well as the magazines themselves, there are a couple of resources I would like to recommend if you want some more information.

The fantastic website Goals & Wickets has a superb ‘brief guide’ to the Football League Review, as well as a huge eBay shop with hundreds of Reviews for sale.

A sportswriter from Liverpool, Hyder Jawad, in the first issue of his ‘Soccerama’ series of books, wrote a magnificent history of the Football League Review, focusing on Harry brown and his increasingly fractious relationship with the Football League. For more information, have a look at the Soccerama FACEBOOK page.

Fifty Years, Fifty Programmes – 1971/72

At twelve years old, I was starting to really pester my parents to be able to go to The Goldstone on my own. It didn’t bother me that it was a couple of train journeys from Bognor and then a walk from Hove station. I just wanted to watch Albion every single week. My parents resisted, but they did agree to take me to as many games as they could.

Looking back at 1971/72, there are loads of candidates for the most important game of the season. We were promoted, so the Rochdale game right at the end of the season could go in there. We made an appearance on Match of the Day as well. In those days, it wasn’t all about the top flight. The BBC cameras visited three games a weekend across all four divisions and at the end of March 1972, our game against Aston Villa was chosen.

Page 01 (1)This series of articles is all about MY experience though, so I’m going for the game on 27th December 1971, when a huge Christmas crowd of 30,600, including me and Dad, turned up for the game against AFC Bournemouth.

It was Christmas and my first experience of a ‘top-of-the-table clash’. Pat Saward was coming good on his promise of attacking football and we were just 4 points behind the Cherries, who were second.

Mr Saward’s programme notes were written, as always, in a very formal style. He welcomed Bournemouth for ‘what is virtually a four-pointer, and 90 minutes of tremendous endeavour lies ahead’. He also focuses on the consistency of the Albion team. Up to that point in the season, he had used just 16 players. Imagine that today! He also comments on the loyalty of some of the players. John Napier, Norman Gall, Dave Turner, Brian Powney and Kit Napier (no relation, strangely) had all played over 200 times for us and to me, these were some of the players who had helped form my love for Brighton & Hove Albion.

Page 02-03 (1)Page 04-05 (1)Mr Saward made no mention of the opposition that day, but Bournemouth were absolutely on fire. Up front, they had Ted MacDougall and Phil Boyer. Between them , they scored 50 goals that season with McDougall scoring NINE in an FA Cup game against Margate in November 1971. The ‘Welcome to Bournemouth’ section of the programme did talk at length about Boyer and ‘Super-Mac’, describing them as ‘the goal-scoring twins of the third division’.08-09 (1)

Page 10-11 (1)In ‘Goldstone Gossip’, young Albion goalkeeper Alan Dovey was praised for his great performance the previous week at York City. This was in the days of just one substitute and reserve goalkeepers had to wait for an injury or loss of form for their chance. Unfortunately for Dovey, Brian Powney was the model of consistency and skill. In his three seasons at The Goldstone, the young man only made 8 appearances. After leaving Albion he played locally, for Southwick and Worthing as well as a long spell with Peacehaven and Telscombe in the Sussex County League.

Page 16 (1)The game itself was fantastic in every way. We went 1-0 up with a goal from Kit Napier. I would love to say I remember this goal but I don’t. Which is a shame, because the various  Albion history books describe it as ‘one of the best goals ever seen at the ground’. Kit Napier ended his Albion career on 99 goals, a total of peacetime goals only exceeded by Albion legend Tommy Cook.  The goalscoring twins were kept very quiet by John Napier and Norman Gall and a second-half goal from Peter O’Sullivan sealed a great victory for Albion.

I was a very happy young man after the game and the season just got better and better after that. We only lost four games in the rest of the campaign and were promoted in second place, behind Aston Villa, with Bournemouth missing out. The game against Villa in March, as well as being in front of the cameras, featured another fantastic goal. This one I do remember. Partly because of the fact it came second in the Match of the Day ‘Goal of the Season’ competition, but also due to it now being available on YouTube. Willie Irvine scored it, but it was made by my first Albion hero, John Templeman.

Page 12-13 (1)Promotion was clinched with a 1-1 draw against Rochdale, in front of another enormous crowd in the early May sunshine. The crowd of 34,766 was the fourth highest crowd ever at The Goldstone. Six crowds of over 25,000 were seen that season and as I moved towards my teenage years, my Albion life was looking in great shape.

The following season saw my first taste of second division football, an FA Cup tie against Chelsea and, right at the end of the campaign, something that threatened to derail my obsession with football and The Albion. More of that soon.

As always, thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.

Thanks also to the reference books that provide me with all the statistics. All the programmes I write about can be viewed at my Seagulls Programmes website.

Reference:

Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by Tim Carder and Roger Harris

Albion A-Z – A Who’s Who of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by the same authors

Albion – The First 100 Years by Paul Camillin and Stewart Weir

Rothmans Football Yearbook

 

Fifty Years, Fifty programmes – 1970/71

I’m writing this a couple of days after our opening day defeat at Watford in The Premier League. We were poor, no question about it, but some of the reaction on social media has been nothing short of hysterical. The pre-season euphoria has been instantly replaced with relegation doom-mongering. After ONE game. Ridiculous, right?

Well guess what, that’s what being a football fan is all about. More to the point of this blog, it’s what being a Brighton fan is all about.

In the summer of 1970, I was facing some changes. I started senior school (Year 7 to you kids) at Bognor Regis Comprehensive School and I was also entering my third year of supporting Brighton & Hove Albion. The previous season saw us come so close to promotion, ultimately falling away in the last 5 games of the season. I was gutted, more so when this was followed by England being knocked out of the World Cup by West Germany. Once the disappointment faded, this was replaced with excitement for the new season.

At the club, manager Freddie Goodwin had left and the club were searching for a new man. At the end of June, Pat Saward was announced as Manager and he immediately made his mark with some gruelling pre-season training. In true Albion style, the season was a real struggle, nothing like the previous campaign.

Page 01 (1)We went into the New Year in all sorts of trouble and by the time Fulham visited The Goldstone on 10th March 1971, we were level on points with Gillingham at the bottom of Division Three. Fulham, in contrast, were riding high at the top, 22 places and 20 points ahed of Albion.

Page 02-03 (1)In a taste of things to come 25 years later, there was much dissatisfaction at the way the club was being run. In an attempt to overcome the financial difficulty, Pat Saward had launched his ‘Buy-a-Player Fund’ in December 1970.

In his programme notes for the Fulham game, he talked about one of the players brought in as a result of this initiative. Bert Murray had been on loan with us but was due to join Fulham. At the last minute, £10,000 from the fund secured his services for us and Mr Saward was delighted with his performance in the previous match, saying “he certainly helped towards the lively display“. Page 10-11 (1)He was also full of praise for “the way our supporters applauded and encouraged Albion in the Preston game“.

The Buy-a-Player Fund really captured the imagination of supporters and in February 1971, more than 3,000 school-children and supporters from all over Sussex marched along Madeira Drive to raise money. Page 08-09 (1)Alongside a picture of the day, it was announced in the programme that the two schools raising the most money, would take part in a match at The Goldstone, before the game against Aston Villa in April. The two lucky winners were Whitehawk Primary School and Woodingdean Primary School. The match took place but I can’t find any details of which School came out on top. Anyone??

Page 04-05 (1)In the Fulham pen pictures, was an inside-forward described as a player who ‘spent the early part of last season making occasional over-anxious appearances as substitute, but later settled down to provide much-appreciated quick service to the front runners‘. This player, from Hillingdon, was an unused substitute when Fulham got the to FA Cup Final in 1975. His name? Barry Lloyd, who was to go on to become Albion’s manager. He spent nearly seven years in charge of The Seagulls, from January 1987 to December 1993. He took charge of 371 games, winning 133, drawing 81 and losing 157.

The impetus of the Buy-a-Player Fund was in full swing when we took the field against The Cottagers. We beat the league leaders 3-2, in front of a crowd of 14,413. Our goals were scored by Peter O’Sullivan, Kit Napier and another player brought in with help from the Fund, Willie Irvine. Page 16 (1)This proved to be a watershed for us and we ended up in 14th place, well clear of relegation. It wasn’t much of a blip for Fulham, who were promoted.

By this time, my matchday routine was beginning to settle down. Before the game, I tended to hang around the little hut at the north-west corner of the ground that sold programmes. I was able to pick up those that I was missing, as well as other match programmes from clubs around the country. The collecting bug had well and truly caught hold and I still have some of the programmes I picked up from that hut all those years ago.

Brighton & Hove Albion were well and truly in my blood and now I was at Secondary School, there were a few of my friends who were also Albion fans. By the end of the season, I felt I was ready to go to games if not on my own, but at least with my friends. My parents had other ideas and I it was while before they would let me go on my own. That didn’t go so well, but that story comes in a couple of season’s time.

Next up is 1971/72 and any number of brilliant games for me to choose my favourite. Come back soon to find out which one made the cut.

Thanks as always to the incredible and vast amount of information in the Albion bibles:

Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by Tim Carder and Roger Harris

Albion A-Z – A Who’s Who of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by the same authors

Fifty Years, Fifty Programmes – 1969/70

I knew this would happen. I thought it would be reasonably straightforward, choosing one programme from each season to look at. There can’t be that many highlights, can there?

Well, for a nine-year-old the answer is yes, there can.

After my first game in August 1968, I was desperate to go to The Goldstone again. Unfortunately for me, just a few weeks after this momentous event in my life, came another one for the whole family. My Dad, a PE Lecturer at the Bognor Teacher Training College, got a Fulbright Scholarship to go to America for a year, to study for a degree. We waved him off at Bognor station with lots of tears, knowing we wouldn’t see him until Christmas.

He didn’t come back for good until August 1969 and one of the first things on my agenda was to ask him when we could go to see Brighton again. The answer was 24th September, another midweek game but this time in the League Cup. Wolverhampton Wanderers were the visitors and over 32,500 people, including me and my Dad, crammed into The Goldstone. It was a thriller, with Albion leading 2-1 at half-time. Division One class told in the end and we lost 3-2. At the time, This was my first choice for the memorable programme from that season, as I didn’t think things could get much better than that.

Page 01 (1)However…………as the months drew on, I realised that we were having an amazing season. Coming into March 1970, it looked very much as though we could be promoted. I had been to a couple more games but on Good Friday we again travelled to Hove for the game against Reading, themselves chasing promotion. Another enormous Goldstone crowd of over 32,000 turned up for the game.

Albion’s manager Freddie Goodwin recognised the importance of the game in his welcome. In those days, teams played three games over the easter weekend and the Reading game was immediately followed by a trip to Halifax and then another away game on Easter Monday, at Fulham. A tough schedule and Mr Goodwin was hoping to reward the players with a trip to the Isle of Wight for a few days.Page 02-03 (1)

Page 06-07 (1)Our team was developing and winger Kit Napier and forward Alan Duffy were beginning to forge a good partnership up front. Action from the previous match shows Napier scoring the only goal in the previous game against Southport.

‘Goldstone Gossip’ started with the headline ‘The Yanks have Come’. Professional football in the USA was still in its infancy and former Eastbourne United manager Gordon Jago was one of the pioneering coaches. He was visiting Brighton with a team from Baltimore, who were due to play friendly games against teams in Sussex.

Page 04-05 (1)We also hear about the ‘importance of goal average’. These days of course, goal difference makes it easy to separate teams but 50 years ago, you sometimes had to get the slide rule out (ask your parents if you’re not sure what a slide rule is!). The league table at the time showed Albion at the top, but many newspapers put rivals Bristol Rovers ahead. The truth was more complicated. Our goal average was better than Rovers by 0.02 of a goal! The simpler method was introduced in 1976, thank goodness!Page 10-11 (1)

At that time of the year, thoughts were turning to the voting for Albion’s player of the season. The previous winner, John Napier, was in contention again, and supporters were asked to send in their votes to John Vinicombe at The Evening Argus. The award was eventually won by Stewart Henderson, a Scottish fullback signed in October 1965. In a successful season it was unusual to see a defender winning the award but Stewart was a rock-solid player who ended up with 226 appearances for us, before moving to Reading on a free transfer in 1973.

Opposite this information is the travel information for those fans wanting to go to Halifax the following day. This was in the days before both the M23 and M25, so drivers needed to navigate the Crawley by-pass and various routes through London. Compared to today’s journey, it was a shorter trip in 1970, but took much longer!

Page 12-13 (1)The game itself was very exciting, made more so by the 5,000 Reading fans that had made the journey. Alan Duffy scored a goal in each half and despite Reading pulling a goal back, we held on to stay top of the league. Surely we could hold on for promotion?

Unfortunately, the trip to Halifax in the early hours of the Saturday took its toll, because we lost 1-0. This was followed on Easter Monday by a 4-1 hammering at Fulham. The wheels then completely came off and we finally finished fourth. This ten-year-old was absolutely gutted at our inability to convert the great play into promotion but looking back, this was good preparation for the numerous disappointments that were to come!

Another highlight from 1969/70 was a marathon FA Cup tie against Walsall. No penalties in those days. We were drawn against The Saddlers in the second round on 6th December. The game at The Goldstone ended 1-1, with Alex Dawson scoring our goal. The replay brought the same result, after extra time. The second replay was played at Craven Cottage, home of Fulham and was yet another draw, this time 0-0. We tried again just two days later, this time at Highfield Road, Coventry City’s ground. This time, a solitary Albion goal wasn’t enough and Walsall went through with a 2-1 win. Inbetween these games we played a league game against Leyton Orient meaning that in 11 days, we played 5 times, including two lots of extra time. The good old days………

The feeling of missing out on promotion lasted for a short while, before attention turned to The World Cup in Mexico. England, of course, were the holders and I, along with the rest of the country, felt sure we would bring it home. In the same way that a run of four defeats in the last five games prepared me for a life of broken dreams as an Albion fan, the events in Mexico gave me similar feelings for the national team. The manner in which we surrendered a 2-0 lead to West Germany, Gordon Banks and his ‘tummy upset’ and not forgetting Bobby Moore’s issues with jewellery, was a sign of things to come as an English football fan.

In a strange way though, all these events helped to cement my love for the game in general, and Albion in particular. Even as a 10-year-old, I was completely captivated by the game and literally couldn’t wait for the 1970/71 season to start. The amazing thing  about football is that at the start of every season, all teams are equal, despite the amount spent in the transfer market. We enter the season with hope, expectation and excitement. For most fans, that slowly dwindles as the season unfolds but the underlying love never, ever goes.

Next up is 1970/71. A new kit, new manager and (always) new hope.

Thanks as always to the treasure trove of information in the following books:

Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by Tim Carder and Roger Harris

Albion A-Z – A Who’s Who of Brighton & Hove Albion FC by the same authors

Fifty Year – Fifty programmes

My last blog post celebrated the fact that it will soon be fifty years since I saw my first Brighton and Hove Albion game. That game triggered my passion for collecting football programmes, particularly those of my beloved Seagulls. Over the years my collection has grown and, following a crazy idea 10 years ago, you can see scans of my programmes at Seagulls Programmes

People often ask me about my favourite programme and I always give the same answer. It’s the one that accompanied that first game, on 28th August 1968. As well the sixteen pages in the programme, Albion also provided the Football League Review. That made 32 pages of news and information on Albion and the Football League. Looking back to that game, got me thinking about my favourite programme from each of the fifty seasons since then.

They may not be programmes from crucial games but they all mean something to me, so here goes. I’ll start with the programme that started it all off.

Page 01 torquay (1)1968/69 v Torquay United 28 August 1968.

Obviously the place to start. The beginning of my journey that has brought joy, pain, despair and a fair bit of misery along the way.

The programme cover shows a drawing of one of the iconic Goldstone floodlight pylons, behind an image of Brighton beach that is almost unrecognisable from what is there today. The aerial photo shows the West Pier in all it’s glory, with the Palace Pier in the background. In the far distance you can see Rottingdean Cliffs, with no Marina in sight.

Page 02-03 (1)Inside, Manager Archie Macaulay offers a ‘cordial welcome’ to Torquay United, before talking about some of the changes he had introduced at the start of the season. He looks forward to some ‘interesting and attractive football’ as the season progresses.

The team listings are presented in a familiar Albion format, with the teams shown surrounded by adverts for some famous local products and services. Among those is an invitation to ‘kick off to a good start for a stay in Brighton’ at The Salisbury Hotel on the seafront. The Hotel is now called The Brighton Hotel but there is a link to the past, as you can dine in the Salisbury Restaurant.

Page 04-05 (1)Next we have an action from the previous week’s game. Albion midfielder John Templeman is shown scoring in the game against Oldham Athletic. Opposite this are the pen pictures of Torquay United.  Robin Stubbs is listed as a Centre Forward, signed from Birmingham City in August 1963. Somewhat disappointingly, there is no mention of the fact that it was his complimentary tickets, given to his brother (and my Godfather) that led to me going to the game.

 

Page 06-07 (1)Elsewhere in the Torquay player details, we see an Inside Forward (Attacking Midfielder would be the modern description) by the name of Fred Binney. Born in Plymouth in 1946, Fred joined Torquay United in 1966 from non-league Launceston. His career didn’t really take off until he moved the short distance to Exeter City. After scoring 28 goals in the 1972/73 season, he became one of Brian Clough’s last signings for Albion, when he moved to The Goldstone in May 1974. He went on to play 85 times for us, scoring 44 goals.

Also in the Torquay team was a defensive partnership of John Bond and Ken Brown. They both went on to have a successful managerial career and played a part in Albion’s run to the FA Cup Final in 1983. Bond was manager at Manchester City when they were beaten in the fourth round and Brown brought his Norwich City team to Hove for the quarter-final.

‘Goldstone Gossip’ conjures up images of nuggets of behind the scenes information but the reality is nothing like that. We hear that George Dalton, recovering from a broken leg, is to present the prizes at Moulscoomb Adventure Playground, and that skipper Nobby Lawton recently appeared on Radio Brighton recently.

Page 12-13 (1)Nobby is featured in ‘Albion Spotlight’. He started his career at Manchester United at the time of the ‘Busby Babes’ and made 36 league appearances for United before moving to Preston North End in March 1963. He captained them in the 1964 FA Cup Final and played 143 games for the Deepdale club before Archie Macaulay brought him south to act as Albion’s ‘midfield general’. He made a total of 127 appearances for us, scoring 16 goals. He once scored an incredible 40-yard goal against Shrewsbury Town in February 1969.

Page 16 (1)The back cover of the programme advertised something that is still going strong in Hove. Greyhound Racing at Nevill Road offers ‘Bars, Buffets, Restaurant, Cocktail Lounge and All-weather comfort’.

Albion’s programme was heavy on content with a relatively small portion of the content given over to advertising. What there was, was geared almost exclusively to local companies and products. This was the same for most clubs and means that the Matchday programme provides an almost unique snapshot of life in the city at the time. From Albion’s programme we can see that there are restaurants and hotels that are still here today, along with some landmarks that are sadly no longer with us.

So, one down and 49 to go. A look at the programme from our League Cup tie with Wolverhampton Wanderers in September 1969 will be next.

Thanks for reading.

Thanks also to the absolute mine of information contained in Tim Carder’s two essential Albion books

Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton and Hove Albion FC  and Albion A-Z – A Who’s Who of Brighton & Hove Albion FC   

Fifty Years a Seagull!

On 28th August, I will reach a pretty crazy milestone in my support of Brighton & Hove Albion. Back in 1968, for my 9th Birthday, my Dad took me to The Goldstone Ground to see Albion play Torquay United in Division Three. Five decades later, I’ve seen nine promotions, seven relegations, an FA Cup Final, two play-off finals and countless moments of drama. We’ve played at four grounds, in all four divisions, I’ve cried with joy and with anguish. Would I have changed any of it?

Not. A. Chance.

The irony of my first game being against the other Seagulls, is that, according to the doctrine that you should support your local team, I should be a Torquay fan. I was born in Newton Abbott, Devon, just a few miles from Plainmoor. My Mum and Dad were both really sporty and my dad was a PE teacher at the local Grammer School. We moved to Sussex when I was three, where my sporting education continued. By this time, my dad was a Lecturer at a Teacher Training College, in the PE department. We also lived on campus, which meant my holidays were completely dominated by sport. We had the run of all the facilities and it was fantastic.

My Dad was a Rugby man but I loved football. Me and my brother played whenever we could, which was basically all the time. When I wasn’t playing football, I was reading about it, via the pages of magazines like Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly and later, Goal!

My earliest real football memory was the 1966 FA Cup Final. We were decades away from the wall-to-wall TV coverage we have today and Cup Final day was a real feast of viewing. Everton won that day, 3-2, with two goals from the brilliantly-named Mike Trebilcock. A couple of months later was the World Cup but as a six year old, my recollections are very vague.

Number 2Over the next couple of years my thirst for the game increased and I was introduced to something that is still a huge part of my life today. I started collecting football programmes. These wonderful publications, unique to each club, captured my imagination and started me on a journey that I’m still on. Many programmes in the late 60s carried an additional magazine in the form of The Football League Review. The FLR was a way for programme editors to pad out the content in their programmes but for me, it was an incredible source of information on clubs the length and breadth of the country.

In the summer of 1968, there was another reason to watch the TV because an English team was in the final of the European Cup. Manchester United won, beating Benfica 4-1 and after watching George Best strut his stuff across the Wembley pitch, I couldn’t wait to go to an actual real-life football match.

My Godfather was a man called Peter Stubbs. He was my Dad’s best friend and responsible for much of my football education. He was a Queens Park Rangers fan and his brother Robin was a professional footballer, who played for Torquay United. Peter turned up at our house for my birthday, bearing a handful of tickets to Torquay’s game at Brighton the following day. I was beside myself with excitement.

Page 01I was allowed to take a friend so sharing in my excitement was my best mate Craig. Dad drove from our home in Bognor to Hove, parked up and walked up Old Shoreham Road towards The Goldstone Ground. It was late summer and beginning to get dark. The sight of the strange floodlight pylons, angled in over the pitch, was absolute heaven to this 9 year old. I couldn’t wait to get into our seats and for the game to start.

To be honest, I don’t remember too much of the game. It was a 1-1 draw and John Templeman scored Albion’s goal. This was a great thing because at the time, John Templeman lived in Yapton, about 3 miles from where we lived. The game may have been less than memorable, but in terms of cementing my love for the game in general and Brighton & Hove Albion in particular, it absolutely did the trick.

From then on, I was pestering my Dad every week to take me to a game. He was brilliant and despite his leaning towards the oval ball, he happily took me to Hove. In the weeks Albion were away, we sometimes went to Fratton Park, or Nyewood Lane, the home of Bognor Regis Town. But my heart was firmly pledged to Brighton.

Page 01When I was 13, I was finally allowed to travel to Hove with my friends, without Dad. Promotion in 1972 was an incredible experience, tempered by relegation from Division Two the following season. We were promoted again in 1977 and then again in 1979, this time to the First Division. By this time I was playing Saturday football so the home and away trips of 77/78 and 78/79 gave way to midweek trips and the occasional Saturday.

When we reached the FA Cup Final in 1983 I was working in Jersey, and watched the game with a slightly bewildered group of friends in one of the Hotels on the Island. The end of the 1980s marked the start of the great decline of the club but despite the nightmare that was unfolding within the club I loved, my unwavering support continued. This is no different from the thousands of other Albion fans who went through the same torment and it was that collective tidal wave of support that dragged us from the Abyss in 1997.

Trips to Gillingham were followed by the move back to Brighton and the amazing ‘Theatre of Trees’, AKA Withdean Stadium. Watching football there was an horrendous experience but ironically, we enjoyed a period of great success in the suburbs. Withdean hosted four promotions and a whole load of memorable moments. The Swindon play-off game in 2004 and the League Cup win against the Manchester City millionnaires immediately spring to mind.

Life comes full circle and it was during the Withdean years that I started taking my son to games, in the same way my Dad had done in the 1960s. Fraser loved everything about his trips to the football although looking back, he didn’t really have much choice.

001Life at Withdean ended with a promotion back to Division Two (The Championship) and also a move to our brand new stadium at Falmer. I’m not going to dwell on the emotions surrounding the first game at The Amex – there has been plenty written about that – but it was amazing to be able to celebrate it with Fraser, who was then 12.

In April 2017, the two of us journeyed to the game against Wigan Athletic, knowing that we were almost certain to be playing back in the top flight. The players duly did their bit and despite 49 years of support, I completely lost my mind at the final whistle. Drink had been taken and things got very messy.

We safely negotiated our first season among the money of the Premier League and I’m now looking forward to our second season. I can honestly say I am just as excited about watching my team as I was all those years ago. Danny Baker had it right when he said “Football. Fucking football. Imagine not being into it. Those poor, poor half-alive bastards”.

Football has changed, almost beyond recognition, in those 50 years. But underneath all the TV hype, the money, social media and other random nonsense, it’s still a massive buzz watching those men in stripes. Win, lose or draw, I (along with thousands of others) will be back week after week.

We are Brighton, super Brighton from the South.

Here’s to the next 50 years!

Back to the Proper Business

After the ‘transition’ season immediately following WW2, football resumed properly on 31st August 1946 after a break of almost exactly 7 years. The general public were desperate to get back to (sporting) normality and Bryon Butler’s Official History of the Football League  said that ‘football offered excitement, a sign of normality and the promise of of a better tomorrow in one heady and irresistible package’.

Albion took their place in Division Three (South) with an opening fixture against Port Vale at The Goldstone. The fixture list was the same as for the aborted 1939/40 season, another attempt to give the impression of normality. The ground was in a sorry state, having suffered bomb damage during the war. Money to make the repairs was in short supply and the club obtained a large amount of government surplus ‘battleship-grey’ paint. This was liberally daubed all round the ground, resulting in the pseudonym ‘HMS Goldstone’

Page 1The programme for the game was an eight-page issue, larger in size than the previous season’s offering. Inside, the content was sparse, evidence that the club had a lot of work to do, building on the post-war positivity seen in the previous campaign.

Crosse & Blackwell were back on the front page but the panel below was blank.  The twin crests of Brighton & Hove appear above a list of club officials, with Charles Wakeling listed as Chairman. Mr Wakeling had steered the club through the difficult war years and he was to continue in the role until 1951. He was a prolific author on football and the money he made from these publications was often used to help the club financially.

Page 2 lists the fixtures for the season, for both the first team and reserves, above an advert for the Brighton Corporation Electricity Department. Their slogan was ‘The Best way is the Electric Way’, in an attempt to modernise the way we ran our homes after the War. The Corporation was based in Electric House, an imposing Art Deco building in Castle Square, now occupied by Royal Bank of Scotland.

Turning to page three, we see the first example of what was to evolve into ‘Club News’ over the years, penned by Victor Champion, the club Press Manager. Mr Champion opens with a note of real positivity, saying New hopes arise in the hearts of Albion supporters this afternoon, there is a feeling of confidence in the Albion camp”. The previous season had been spent assembling a squad of permanent players, to replace the wartime system of ‘guest’ players. With another game coming up four days later, Mr Champion ends his article by saying These two matches so close together should give home supporters some concrete idea of what the season holds for them”. The War had decimated the numbers of young players available and for the opening game, we fielded a line-up which was the oldest in the history of the club, with an average age of 31.

Page 4-5The centre-pages are a familiar sight. The teams are laid out in the centre of the page, surrounded by a number of adverts for local companies. These include FryCo, the soft drink manufacturer based in Portslade. Founded in 1984, the company had moved to Victoria Road in 1920, manufacturing a large range of ‘Delicious Squashes and Table Waters’. To encourage the football fan to buy their products, Fryco offer ‘Half Time refreshers’ and ‘Full Time favourites’. They were to become a stalwart advertiser in the programme in seasons to come.

Page 7The back half of the programme was almost completely blank, with each page urging prospective advertisers to take up space. One of these slots was ‘reserved for C Baker & Co Ltd of Portslade’. A wholesale tobacconist, with a factory in Portslade and a shop in St Georges Place, Bakers obviously ran out of time when it came to submitting their advertising copy!

As the season wore on, advertisers returned to the club and by the time Exeter City visited in December 1946, the programme was looking much healthier. The game against The Grecians took place on Christmas Day and is the last time we played at home on December 25th.

The blank panel on the front cover of the programme was taken up by The King Alfred Restaurant, offering ‘Luncheons, Teas and Dinner. Dancing Wednesdays and Fridays’. The King Alfred complex was started in 1938 but as war intervened, the building was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a training complex and became HMS King Alfred. The building was eventually finished after the War and was opened for public use in August 1946. The King Alfred was to become a regular fixture in Albion programme for years.

BHA v Exeter 25 Dec 1946 1The Brighton Corporation still believed in the benefits of electricity and enhanced their adverts with drawings of the latest state of the art gadgets, which included cookers, kettles and water heaters.

Mr Champion was at his festive best, passing on ‘All the Very Best’ from the club; The Albion Directors extend to the players, the Executive Staff, the ground Staff and the Sport-Minded folk who consistently support the Club, the compliments of the season”. He goes to provide a mid-season update and we are told “Barracking does not affect players”; “The Board can take all the criticism that is coming to them”; and “‘HMS Goldstone’ will shed its battle-ship grey when controls are removed”. 

The Evening Argus push their Saturday Football Special underneath Mr Champion’s article, who also writes for the paper under the name ‘Crusader’. Blank advertising spaces were filled by more local companies, including Moody’s Motors of Davigdor Road, Hove.

In the spirit of post-war togetherness and re-building, C Baker & Co used their space in the programme to ‘Offer this space, gratis, for the purpose of advertising any charitable function that may be held during the football season’.

The programme ends with yet more adverts. The Restaurant Imperial near the Clock Tower in North Street promises to ‘Cater for any Party, large or small’ with a Dinner Dance available for 5/- (25p) inclusive. Underneath this was further evidence that electricity was the way forward. Page & Miles Limited at 60 Western Road is the place to go ‘for EVERYTHING electrical’.

Page 3The penultimate programme of the season, for the game in April against Bristol was almost identical to the Christmas Day offering. No-one had come forward to take up the offer made by C Baker & Co and the format of the programme had settled down, much like life after the War. Mr Champion talked to us about International players at The Goldstone. The England team had used the Goldstone’s “Virgin turf” to help them prepare for the forthcoming match against Scotland at Wembley. We are told that “They were greatly impressed with the condition of the pitch and not one of them had seen a better conditioned ground this season”Mr Champion puts this down to the land being originally used for sheep grazing, a practice that continued until after the First World War. The secret, we are told, is “the wonderful fertilising characteristics” of the animals.

Albion fans didn’t exactly flock back to The Goldstone. The average crowd for the 46/47 season was 8,217 and they saw just eight wins in the 21 games. Things had to improve the following season.

Thanks for reading. These blogs will form the basis for what I hope will eventually turn into a book on the Post-War history of the Albion programme. Any feedback is gratefully received.

Ian

Acknowledgements:

My own programme collection is the main source of information for these articles. For the seasons immediately following the War, I am indebted to the help provided by the Albion Collectors & Historians Society, who have lent me programmes from their stock for me to scan. I am particularly grateful to Society member Peter Irvine, the real Albion programme ‘guru’, who sent me scans of the Christmas Day 1946 programme.

Other information was obtained from:

“Seagulls!”The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC” by Tim Carder & Roger Harris. Online, Judy Middleton’s blogs on the local area have been invaluable, especially when looking at the history of the companies that advertised in the programme.

Post-War Recovery

This is the start of a series that will (hopefully) result in a post-war history of Albion’s programme. I would love it to turn into an actual book but that needs my enthusiasm for the Brighton & Hove Albion football programme to be shared by quite a few other people! We will see, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy.

I should say at this stage that all the comments and interpretations are my own, and may or may not be representative of the views of others. Where I have referred to other publications I have tried to give the correct reference. I apologise in advance if this is not the case.

So, starting with a brief look at Albion during WWII…………….

The Second World War affected nearly all aspects of life in Britain. Families were split up, homes destroyed, workplaces disappeared and at times, it felt as if there was no way back.

In times of adversity, people tend to take solace in the things that make them happy and football was one of those things. Wartime football was nothing like what had gone before but it provided an outlet and an antidote to the misery of the conflict.

Albion competed in the Football League (South) from 1939 until the end of hostilities. When Germany surrendered on 7th May 1945, it wasn’t long before thoughts turned to the re-establishment of proper league football. With men scattered all over the World, it wasn’t thought possible to make an immediate return to the pre-war league set-up, so a transitional season was agreed. Albion played in the Third Division (South) Southern region.

Page 1Post-war rationing meant that many things continued to be in very short supply, including paper. For this reason, Albion’s programme was a small affair. Measuring just over 4inches wide and 5inches tall, it was roughly the same size as a postcard. The club decided on an 8-page programme as we kicked off the season against Reading on 1st September 1945, almost exactly six years since the last non-war-time fixture.

The cover showed the badges of Brighton and Hove above a graphic of some white cliffs with seagulls gliding around. A very British image was completed by an advert for Crosse & Blackwell Foods, along with a plea for people to ‘Visit the Grand Theatre – Brighton’. Crosse & Blackwell were to stay on the cover of Albion programmes for the next nine seasons, a stalwart of the post-war years.

One of the things I love about programmes from this era is that it’s not just about the football. Each programme provides a unique snapshot of life in Brighton at the time of the match. The majority of adverts were for local companies and give a clear picture of what life was like for Brightonians at the time.

In that first post-war season, there is clear evidence of the overwhelming desire to return to some form of normality, with local firms eager to persuade punters it was ‘business as usual’. In the programme for the game against Bournemouth (or Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic as they were known then), this is clear as soon as you open the programme.

Page 2-3The season’s fixtures are on page two, above an advert for Tamplins Ales. The strap-line on the advert is ‘Still Winning’, a clear reference to the fact that life (and especially beer drinking) must go on. Founded in 1821, Tamplins was a stalwart of the Brighton pub scene until it’s acquisition by Watney Mann in 1953. The Tamplins name lived on for a while after that and was a regular in Albion’s programme throughout the 1950s.

 

On page 3, five of the six small adverts are for Brighton pubs. At The Golden Cross in Western Road, ‘mine host’ I.B. De Costa states that ‘Besides good beers, wines and spirits – there are excellent and tasty sandwiches’. This theme is continued with other adverts. The Old Ship Hotel in Kings Road invites you ‘down the stairs on the left to that comfy little saloon’. Dick Roberts at The White Horse Hotel in Rottingdean says that ‘Sportsmen still call’ and ‘even in the black-out there is that congenial and happy atmosphere’. The Volunteer, on the corner of New Road and Church Street (now The Mash Tun) is ‘still the house for snacks’.

Page 4-5The centre-pages contain the staple of programmes from the 40s and 50s, the team listings. Laid out in the ultra-traditional 2-3-5 formation, there is not a squad number in sight. You don’t even get first names for the players, with Albion’s team listed as Baldwin, Risdon, Longdon, Darling, Trainor, Whent, Munro, Wilson, Moore, O’Donnell and Stephens.

The adverts surrounding the teams continued the theme of ‘back to normal’. Miller’s Pies urges everyone to ‘d’you remember our slogan – “The Pie with the Meat in”‘. They go on to say that ‘It’s still difficult, but we manage it!’. I’m wondering what they filled the pies with, in the absence of meat. Sawdust? Who knows.

The Grand Theatre in North Road was another sanctuary for Brighton folk throughout the war and beyond. In October 1945, it was all about the Variety Show, with performances at 6pm and 8pm.

Page 6-7One of the adverts on page 6 gives a handy list of ‘Mine Hosts’ that welcome darts players to their establishments. These include Jack Burchell at the Hartington Hotal in Whippingham Road, ‘Slosh’ Hoad at the Freshfield Inn and Billy Wells at London Road’s Branch Tavern.

One feature of life in the 40s and 50s was the country-wide obsession with smoking. It was almost seen as a badge of honour back in those days, with many prominent sportsmen advertising the ‘benefits’ of smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars. C.Baker & Co, ‘The South Coast Wholesale Tobacconist’ from Portslade, indulged in a piece of post-war propaganda. They are proud that ‘throughout the six years of war we did our utmost to provide good service for our hundreds of clients’. This may sound a little strange within the context of what we now know about the dangers of smoking, but these were very different times.

Page 8On the back page, was the only written reference to the football match that was taking place. Penned by Victor Champion, who also wrote under the name of ‘Crusader’ for the Brighton Evening Argus, he welcomes ‘our old and friendly seaside rivals from Bournemouth’, in a perfect illustration of the camaraderie that existed just after the War.

 

The final word goes to the last advert in the programme, for Mr S Cowan, a certified masseur and ‘trainer to Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’. Mr Cowan offers a number of services, including the intriguingly-named ‘Medical Electricity’ treatment. I’m struggling to get rid of an image of a poor unfortunate patient, wired up to numerous electrodes while a mad professor-type rushes around throwing switches and laughing manically as the current arcs across the electrodes.

So there we have it, a look at what the Albion programme looked like in the first season after the Second World War. As you can probably gather from the way I’ve written it, I absolutely love these little glimpses of life over 70 years ago. In case you were wondering, we beat Bournemouth 4-2 that day. Maybe the medical electricity treatment did the trick!!

References:

The programme I talk about isn’t mine. The scans were very kindly provided by Albion fan Mick Wright. I’m very grateful to Mick for sending this through, as I am to anyone who provides images of old Albion programmes.

As always, any piece on any aspect of the history of The Albion needs reference to “Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC” by Tim Carder & Roger Harris

Further material sourced from http://www.historic-newspapers.co.uk , arthurlloyd.co.uk , pubshistory.com , mybrightonandhove.org.uk

Albion v Arsenal in 1942

Last weekend, Albion beat Arsenal in the 17th competitive meeting between the clubs. This was our third victory against them, following the Division One wins in April and September 1982.

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Albion v Arsenal January 1934

We first played the Gunners in January 1934 in the FA Cup. The programme from that game shows one of Albion’s most iconic programme designs and is one of my great favourites. The 17 ‘proper’ games over the years doesn’t tell the full story. I also posted on twitter (@SeagullsProg), some covers from other games against Arsenal, mostly friendlies in the 1980s, but even this leaves some gaps in the story of our games with Arsenal. My programme collection is almost exclusively from the post-war years but as a result of all the activity surrounding the game last week, I was sent a fantastic old programme, from March 1942.

This was, of course, in the middle of World War Two. Various league and cup competitions took place during the conflict but are usually excluded from official club records because of the number of ‘guest’ players that took part. This was due to clubs taking players from the ranks of servicemen stationed close to grounds, and Albion were no exception. We came perilously close to liquidation in the early stages of the war, finding it difficult at times to raise a team.

The organisation of football at that time was haphazard to say the least and at the start of the 1941/42 season, a huge row was brewing between the Football League and the London clubs. This came to a head when the fixtures were published for a South Regional competition. The London clubs were unhappy with the arrangements and broke away to form their own competition. The geographical isolation of Albion, Portsmouth, Aldershot and Reading, meant that we were almost forced to join the rebels. This, in turn, led to our expulsion from the (official) league, although we were welcomed back the following April.

The season’s fixtures were therefore in the London War League, which included Crystal Palace, Spurs and Arsenal. The Gunners played their wartime games at White Hart Lane (imagine that happening now!), as Highbury was being used as a first-aid post and air-raid patrol centre.

Page 1 resizedOn 14th March 1942, we travelled to Tottenham for the game against Arsenal and a 2-page programme was issued for the fixture. Another feature of Wartime football was the use of ‘guest’ players, a system Albion relied on quite heavily.

The team listings on the front page of the programme illustrates this very well. At left-back for Albion was Cyril Tooze, who was actually registered to Arsenal! He made a number of appearance for us but as a serving soldier, he took part in the commando raid on a German Radar station at Bruneval in Normandy just weeks before his run-out at White Hart Lane.  Cyril was sadly killed in February 1944, while serving in Italy, the victim of a sniper’s bullet.

Up front on that day in March 1942 was listed ‘Eastham’. This could have been George, an England International who played for Blackpool. As well as Albion, he guested all over the country during the War. It could also have been his brother Harry, another who played for a number of clubs but turned out 50 times for Albion in the War.

Page 2 resizedPage 2 of the programme carries the fixtures for both North London clubs, as well as an article entitled ‘items of interest’. This listed a number of players who had departed the clubs for wartime activities. It also served to highlight the tragic aspect of things, when mourning the loss of Pilot Officer WW (Bill) Parr, ‘a loveable fellow, who won the hearts of all our Highbury family’.

This was the second of four fixtures against Arsenal that season, all four ending in defeat for Albion. The match in March 1942 was lost 4-2, with Albion’s goals scored by Risdon (penalty) and Morgan. A crowd of 7,500 watched the game.

Although it’s only 2 pages, this is a magnificent programme. I’m always amazed that items like this survive for so long and I’m hugely grateful to Albion fan Mick Wright, who very kindly supplied scans of the programme.

You can see this and loads more of my Albion programmes at Seagulls Programmes

References:

Seagulls! – The Story of Brighton & Hove Albion FC – Tim Carder & Roger Harris                                                 Albion A-Z – A Who’s Who of Brighton & Hove Albion FC – Tim Carder & Roger Harris