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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About seagulldroppings

I'm a 59-year-old father of four and Brighton and Hove Albion fan. I live in enemy territory, in Southampton, but am a season ticket holder at The American Express Community Stadium. This blog may not necessarily be about football, but there's a strong chance it will be.

Posted on September 19, 2018, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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