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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
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
Posted on August 31, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged blog, Brighton & Hove Albion, Brighton and Hove Albion, Collecting, Football, football blogs, Football Programmes, Seagulls. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.