Monthly Archives: August 2018

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

 

Advertisements

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!