seagulls.tv

1972 -1973

align boxPat Saward
Manager. Former Millwall, Aston Villa Huddersfield and Eire international and Coventry assistant manager who joined the Albion in the summer 1970. After guiding the side to promotion the previous season, he appeared to dismantle the side prematurely, putting Henderson, Turner and both Napiers on the transfer list. During a traumatic season, a bid to restore order to the side led to Saward to get his players to get a hair cut: ‘Let’s face it – abnormally long hair looks terrible. I want the boys to present a more clean-cut image of the professional footballer.’ A refreshing of the side by the manager in Spring enabled the side to find their feet, and the Saward won the ‘Manager of the Month’ award for March after a stirring fightback. That month, the team won four and drew one of six matches. Indeed, at the end of the season, Saward commented: “I personally believe if the season had gone on for another month we would have saved ourselves.’


align boxBrian Powney
Goalkeeper. Born Seaford, Sussex. Age 27 (until 7 Oct ’72). Goalkeeper. Born Seaford. Spring-heeled keeper who made up for his lack of height with his agility and positional sense. He joined the club in September 1961 direct from school after representing East Sussex schoolboys. Made his debut for the Albion in the final match of the 1961/62, a Division Two game with the side already relegated. A decade on, in 1972/73, Powney was again part of an Albion side relegated from the second tier. He kept a clean sheet in his 300th League appearance for Brighton, a 2-0 win at Huddersfield in October, the only away success of the campaign. Made 37 League appearances despite suffering a broken nose colliding with a Carlisle forward in the 1-5 defeat in December. Speedily returning for the next game. Nevertheless, he was dropped briefly in favour of loan signing Tommy Hughes in February. However, in a topsy-turvy season, Powney was restored to the side after Hughes returned to Aston Villa.


align boxAlan Dovey
Goalkeeper. Born Stepney, London. Age 20 (until 18 Jul ’73). Tall, young keeper who joined the Albion for £1,000 from Chelsea in July 1971 following a successful loan spell. He provided capable cover for Brian Powney yet was unable to get a decent run in the side. His first game of the season was in the club’s nervy 2-1 victory over Exeter in the League Cup in August when a header by future Albion player Fred Binney past Dovey had given the Fourth Division side a shock lead. Just like in the two previous seasons, in 1972/73, Dovey played just twice in the League, in the 0-4 defeats at Preston in November and Sunderland in January. When Tommy Hughes joined the Albion in February, Dovey was once again below his former Stamford Bridge team-mate in the goalkeeping pecking order. With limited first team action, Dovey was placed on the transfer list in March and was released at the end of the season to pursue a career in insurance.


align boxTommy Hughes
Goalkeeper. Born Dalmuir, Clydebank, Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Age 25 (until 11 Nov ’73). Former Scotland Under-23 international who began his career at Chelsea in 1965. He made just eleven League appearances at Chelsea, where he was understudy to Peter Bonetti. His career at Stamford Bridge was effectively finished by the televised 5-2 defeat by Leeds in January 1970 although, on closer inspection, he was hardly at fault with the goals. Joined Third Division Aston Villa in a £12,500 deal in May 1971 and played sixteen times in 1971/72 for the Midlands side as they pipped Brighton to the Division Three championship. After losing his place to Jim Cumbes, he joined Albion on loan in February. Kept a clean sheet on his Albion debut, a 2-0 victory over Luton, that arrested the dismal run of thirteen successive defeats. Kept his place for the next two matches, both defeats, before returning to the Midlands. Pat Saward wanted to make the deal permanent but could not afford Villa’s asking price.


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John Templeman
Defender / Midfield. Born Yapton, Sussex. Age 23 (until 21 Sep ’71). Dynamic player with excellent tackling skills and very much at ease in providing the impetus for attacks. When Portsmouth’s reserve team disbanded, he joined Brighton in July 1966. Had a baptism of fire which he passed with flying colours, when successfully marked Rodney Marsh in December that year. Over the next few seasons, established himself as a regular in the side, impressing with his versatility and occasional long-range goal. While his forward running was not so much in evident in 1972/73, Templeman had another fine, consistent season despite Albion’s slide back towards Division Three. Used mainly as right-back, he also played at the centre of defence and midfield too. Scored in two successive matches in September, against Fulham and Luton Town.


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Graham Howell
Defender. Born Salford, Lancashire. Age 21 (until 18 Feb ’73). A tenacious right-back able to make his presence felt in both defence and midfield. Joined Manchester City, signing as a professional in October 1968. Howell played for City’s reserves in the Central League before joining Bradford City in July 1971. He became a regular in the Yorkshire side, missing just three games in 1971/72 although the season was a disaster as they finished bottom of Division Three. Came to Brighton in a £17,500 deal in August 1971, making 32 League appearances in Division Two, switching to a defensive midfield role in December until the last day of the campaign, However, the fortunes of his new club was not much better, as he experienced a second successive relegation season.


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Stewart Henderson
Defender. Born Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Age 25 (until 5 Jun ’73). Albion stalwart who seemed to be coming to the end of his time at the Goldstone Ground during the start of the 1972/73 campaign. A small, reliable right-back who had been a fixture in the side since 1968 until losing the number two shirt to Bert Murray in the latter stages of 1971/72. Now faced competition from the versatile John Templeman and new signing Graham Howell, he had to wait until a 4-0 League Cup humiliation at Third Division Bristol Rovers in September 1972 for his first game of the campaign. Made just two League appearances for Brighton during 1972/73, the last a resounding 5-1 crash at Carlisle in December. Joined Reading on a free transfer in June 1973.


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Ian Goodwin
Defender / Midfield. Age 21 (until 14 Nov ’72). Born Irlam, Lancashire. Strong, powerful player who made four League appearances for Coventry before being snapped up on loan by Pat Saward in September 1970. Joined Albion on a free transfer and displaced club captain John Napier at the heart of the defence in the last twelve matches of the 1971/72 promotion season. In 1972/73, he made just fourteen League apperances. While first choice central defender when the campaign kicked off, he damaged his knee in the match at Nottingham Forest in August and faced a second cartilage operation. Returned to the side in December and was appointed the new club captain, aged just 22, with Saward presumably hoping his physical presence and determination would inspire the rest of the side. However, he lost the captaincy after a surprise transfer request later on in the campaign.


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John Napier.
Defender. Born Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. Age 25 (until 23 Sep ’72). This committed, tall centre-back was snapped up by Brighton for £25,000 from Bolton in August 1967. His partnership of with Norman Gall had formed the nucleus of the defence for the previous five seasons before being surprisingly dropped in March 1972. Took languishing in the reserves without a murmur. With Ian Goodwin first choice to partner Norman Gall at the onset on the new campaign, Napier played the first five matches of the 1972/73 season, mainly in midfield. Joined Bradford City in a £10,000 deal in October 1972. A full Northern Ireland international, having played for his country in 1965.


 

George Ley

seagulls.tvDefender. Born Exminster, Devon. Age 26 (until 7 Apr ’73). Classy, experienced left-back who could pack a terrific shot. Strong defensively and also able to move forward to support the attack. Starting as an outside-left, he became a professional with Exeter City in September 1963, playing 104 League and Cup matches for the Devon side before joining Portsmouth in May 1967. Now converted to a left-back, and latterly even midfield, Ley played 184 League games for the Fratton Park side, becoming popular with the crowd. Indeed, he was once voted England’s most attractive player in a Football League Review poll. Famously scored a thirty yard belter with his left-foot against Arsenal in an FA Cup replay at Highbury in 1971. As Pat Saward looked to bolster his defence with proven Second Division-calibre players, Ley moved to Brighton in a £25,000 deal in September 1972. The cultured defender made 31 League appearances in the 1972/73 season. Was memorably sent-off for retaliation in the volatile FA Cup tie with Chelsea in January.


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Norman Gall
Defender. Born Wallsend, Northumberland. Age 29 (until 30 Sep ’72). Long-serving defender who was a rock in defence for much of the time since he joined Brighton in March 1962. However, was put under much more pressure by the speedy attacks of Second Divison forwards in 1972/73. Made 32 League appearances during the campaign. Was transfer-listed when he fell out with Pat Saward after the 3-0 defeat at Millwall in November when the manager publicly criticised his performance. Nevertheless, he kept his place until late December. After two months out, he returned to the side in March, which coincided with Albion’s best form of the season, five wins and two draws in seven matches.


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John McGrath
Defender. Born Manchester, Lancashire. Age 33 (until 23 Aug ’72). A vastly experienced player with England Under-23 honours who developed into a no-nonsense, uncompromising centre-back. Yet at Bury, where he signed as a professional, he began a much more constructive, polished defender. Joined Newcastle in 1961 with the Shakers getting £24,000 plus Bob Stokoe in return. After initially struggling, McGrath’s game was transformed into a rugged, abrasive style by Joe Harvey, contributing immensely to the Magpies winning the 1964/65 Second Division Championship. When he joined Southampton in February 1968 after a £30,000 bid, he became a cult hero at the Dell, cementing his reputation in Division One as one of the toughest defenders in the game. In the twilight of a long, distinguished career, McGrath was signed by Saward to toughen up the defence. The Mancunian played three times for the Albion in December 1972 but all the games were lost, including a 5-1 hiding at Carlisle in his final match for the side.


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John Moore
Defender. Born Harthill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Age 28 (until 21 Dec ’72). Experienced defender with a no-frills approach to the game. He began his career at Motherwell, making just four League appearances before joining Luton Town on a free transfer in May 1965. Moore became a huge asset to the Hatters, playing a significant role in the club’s promotion from Division Four to Division Two in the late 1960s. With John Napier set to leave the Goldstone Ground, he was signed by Pat Saward on loan in October 1972 to shore up the leaky defence. In his first Albion match, Moore played exceptionally well as sweeper in the away win at Huddersfield. While lacking in pace, his reading of the game helped the Albion to a run of one defeat in five before he returned to Kenilworth Road.


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Steve Piper
Defender. Born Brighton, Sussex. Age 18 (until 2 Nov ’72). Tall, homegrown central defender with strong tackling and good work-rate. He gained junior honours with Brighton and Sussex Boys and, in September 1972, signed professional forms with the Albion. When John Moore’s loan spell from Luton ended, Piper was given a League debut against Burnley in November 1972 as Pat Saward tried to find an answer to the defensive mistakes that were hampering the side. Had to wait until the turn of the year to get another match, playing seven consecutive matches before getting injured against Hull in March. Piper gallantly played on despite fracturing his nose and cheekbone in that match but he was out of action for the next six weeks. Returned for the last two matches of the season.

seagulls.tv

1971 – 1972

Pat Saward

Pat SawardManager. A wing-half and inside-forward who played for Millwall, Aston Villa and Huddersfield. After a spell on the Coventry coaching staff under Jimmy Hill, Saward became Albion boss in the summer of 1970. He showed supreme commitment to the job and was passionate about involving supporters in making the club a success, through innovations such as the ‘Buy A Player’ fund. ‘This is your club as much as mine. Help make it great,’ he declared. He guided the club to a final position of fourteenth after flirting with relegation for much of the campaign. With right-hand man Mike Yaxley, Saward decided to embark on an all-out attacking game in 1971/72 which brought rich rewards with 43 away League goals in a scintillating season. Made the brave decision to switch Bert Murray to right-back and drop skipper John Napier for the vital clash with Aston Villa in March. Became only the second manager to lead Brighton to promotion to Division Two when the club clinched the runners-up spot.


Brian PowneyBrian Powney
Goalkeeper. Born Seaford, Sussex. Age 26 (until 7 Oct ’71). Although short for a goalkeeper at 5ft 9in, he proved one of the best in Division Three in 1971/72. Few could match his agility on the ground or courage in tight situations. After playing for East Sussex Schoolboys and Eastbourne United as a youth, he joined the Albion direct from school in Seaford, Sussex, in September 1961, being first choice keeper during the Fourth Division Championship side of 1964/65. Having completed ten years’ service with the club, he was granted a second joint benefit with Norman Gall in a friendly with Chelsea in May 1972. Missed just two League games during the promotion season under Pat Saward.


Alan DoveyAlan Dovey

Goalkeeper. Born Stepney, London. Age 19 (until 18 Jul ’72). A 6ft tall young keeper, signed as a understudy to Brian Powney for £1,000 from Chelsea in July 1971. Joined Chelsea straight from school following representative honours with Thurrock Boys. Dovey had served three years on the Stamford Bridge staff and had yet to make his League debut when he came to the Goldstone on loan in May 1971. Played in Albion’s last two League matches of the 1970/71 season, impressing many fans with his displays. In 1971/72, having signed a permanent deal with Brighton, he appeared against Norwich in the League Cup, making some daring saves despite the 0-2 defeat. Again played twice in League matches, including a ‘Man of the Match’ performance at York.


Stewart HendersonStewart Henderson
Defender. Born Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Age 24 (until 5 Jun ’72). Sturdy and methodical, Henderson was described by John Vinicombe as ‘the quiet man of the side, and rarely flustered.’ This Scot won three schoolboy caps and joined the Albion after a spell at Chelsea. As an eighteen year-old, he made his debut for Brighton towards the end of the 1965/66 season. He established himself as the regular right-back from 1968 onwards, pleasing the Goldstone crowds with his solid tackling and overlapping, which led to his ‘Player of the Season’ award in 1969/70. In 1971/72 he made 34 League appearances before being substituted against Bradford in March. Henderson was then astonishingly dropped by Saward for the next match, the big clash with Aston Villa, and subsequently missed the rest of promotion run-in as his season came to a premature end.


Eddie SpearrittEddie Spearritt
Defender. Born Lowestoft, Suffolk. Age 24 (until 31 Jan ’72). Skilful, overlapping player with strikingly blonde curly hair. He was as versatile as he was reliable, even able to play as an emergency goalkeeper when required. His first club was Arsenal, but after six months at Highbury spent five and a half years with Ipswich Town, scoring seven times as a left-winger in their Division Two championship season of 1967/68. Joined Albion in a £20,000 deal in January 1969. Featured on the left-side of midfield under Freddie Goodwin but successfully switched to left back by Pat Saward during 1970/71. Ever-present in 1971/72 with 46 League appearances. scoring three goals including a double in the 4-2 win at Oldham in January. A long-throw expert.


John NapierJohn Napier
Defender. Born Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. Age 24 (until 23 Sep ’71). Classic, lanky centre-half with great aerial prowess. A full Northern Ireland international, Napier joined Albion from Bolton in August 1967 for £25,000, impressing Albion fans with his total commitment and understanding at the back with Norman Gall. So commanding were his displays, he won the club’s first ever ‘Player of the Season’ award in 1968/69. Besides a full cap gained against West Germany in May 1966, he also had Under-23, Youth and Schoolboy games for his country. As the club captain, he was ever-present in 1970/71 and for all of 1971/72 until he was suddenly dropped in favour of Ian Goodwin for the Aston Villa match in March. A player who gave everything on the field, Napier took his dropping, and loss of the captaincy, over the last two months of the season without complaint.


Norman GallNorman Gall

Defender. Born Wallsend, Northumberland. Age 28 (until 30 Sep ’71). This rock at the heart of the Albion backline was one of three players ever-present during the 1971/72 campaign. Indeed, John Vinicombe wrote that ‘the conversion of Gall, the club’s second longest serving player, to sweeper behind John Napier did wonders for the defence.’ After playing for Wallsend Boys, Corinthians youth team and Gateshead, Gall joined Albion in March 1962 and had made over 350 League appearances by the end of the 1971/72 promotion campaign, where his calm, steadying influence over the side provided a base for the team’s pulsating attacks. Together with Brian Powney, enjoyed another joint testimonial match, against Chelsea in May 1972.


Ian GoodwinIan Goodwin
Defender / Midfield. Born Irlam, Lancashire. Age 19 (until 14 Nov ’70). Known as ‘Reg,’ this tall, tough-tackling player’s emergence towards the end of the 1971/72 season helped to revitalise the promotion charge. As an inside forward, he joined Oldham at 15 as an apprentice but left a year later. At 17, his prowess was noted by Pat Saward at Coventry for whom he signed as a professional and converted to a midfielder, subsequently making four League appearances. In 1970/71, he went to the Albion on an extended loan before joining the club permanently on a free transfer in March 1971. A knee injury kept him out of action early in the 1971/72 season, finally resulting in a cartilage operation shortly before Christmas. At that time, he had only started one match in the season, in midfield, in the home defeat by York in September. Caused a stir when he fought his way back into the side, in defence, to play against Aston Villa in March, resulting in club captain John Napier being dropped. Kept his place in the side for the rest of the campaign. One of the most improved players of the season, leading to a ‘Goodwin for England’ banner in the East Terrace.


Bert MurrayBert Murray
Utility Player. Born Shoreditch, London. Age 29 (until 22 Sep ’71). Voted ‘Player of the Season’ in 1971/72, his first full season with the Albion, following his £10,000 signing from Birmingham in March 1971. The deal, using money raised by supporters to Pat Saward’s ‘Buy-a-Player’ Fund, led to Murray being known as ‘The People’s Player,’ and he repaid the fans with many impressive performances. He had joined Chelsea straight from school. In his 160 games for the Stamford Bridge side, this ex-England Under 23 international appeared in almost every position, including as a stand-in goalkeeper, before joining Birmingham for £25,000 in August 1966. Made 44 League appearances for Brighton in the 1971/72 promotion season, starring in midfield and on the right-wing, before playing with aplomb in the right-back position in the last twelve games to accomodate Ken Beamish. Scored twelve goals in the campaign, including four from the penalty spot. This included the late show against Torquay when, with Albion 1-0 down, Murray set Brighton on the way to a 3-1 win in the last fifteen minutes, with a cool spot-kick (after a Torquay defender admitted to the unsighted referee that he handled the ball). Fittingly, it was on Good Friday.


Colin DobsonColin Dobson
Midfield. Born Eston, Yorkshire. Age 31 (until 9 May ’72). Skilful left-sided midfielder with England Under-23 honours who had sharp control, positional sense and all-round ability. He scored 52 times for Sheffield Wednesday over five years before playing significant role in Huddersfield Town’s Second Division championship side of 1969/70. Travelled down to Brighton for a practice game with his club in January 1972 – and ended up playing against them for the Albion that night! Signed on a month’s loan after impressing in that friendly match. Made Albion debut as substitute at Bristol Rovers that month, coming on for John Templeman. Four games into his loan spell, he received a fractured ankle injury against Walsall, and returned to Huddersfield. Later returned to the Goldstone to set up two goals for Bristol Rovers in the 8-2 humbling of the Albion in 1973/74.


1970 – 1971

seagulls.tv
Back row: Joe Wilson (chief scout), Howard Wilkinson, John Templeman, John Napier, Keith Watkins, Alan Gilliver, Alex Sheridan, Alex Dawson, Eddie Spearritt, Peter O’Sullivan;
Third row: Stewart Henderson, Terry Stanley, Bobby Smith, Geoff Sidebottom, Brian Powney, Paul Flood, Alan Duffy, Andy Marchant;
Second row: Mike Yaxley (trainer), Kit Napier, Nobby Lawton, Pat Saward (manager), Dave Turner, Norman Gall, Peter Dinsdale (coach); Front row: Martin Tew, Gary Parsons, Mark Douglas, Mick Stanley.

Pat Saward
seagulls.tvManager. An ex-Irish international who served Millwall, Aston Villa and Huddersfield as a stylish wing-half and inside-forward. Spent two years at Coventry as assistant to Noel Cantwell. He was especially responsible for the youth policy, leading the Sky Blues to two FA Youth Cup finals. Having originally applied for the Albion job in 1968 when the club appointed Freddie Goodwin, he was successful second time around in June 1970 after Goodwin departed for Birmingham. Dubbed ‘the Loan Ranger’ after bringing many players on loan. In December 1970, he launched the successful ‘Buy a Player’ fund that led to Bert Murray’s permanent signing. Led the club to a somewhat disappointing fourteenth place although he won the divisional Manager of the Month award after the team’s excellent form over Easter.

 

Brian Powney

seagulls.tvGoalkeeper. Born Seaford, Sussex. Age 25 (until 7 Oct ’70). An agile shot-stopper who commanded the box effectively despite his lack of height. Joined the Albion ground staff in 1960, before signing professional forms the following season. Powney made his League debut against Derby County in April 1962, with Albion already relegated from Division Two, before established himself as first choice in the 1963/64 campaign. Played in 35 League games in 1970/71 despite competition from Sidebottom and Dovey. To mark his ten years as a professional with Albion, Powney enjoyed two testimonial matches with Norman Gall in May 1971, against Wolves and International Club.

 

Geoff Sidebottom

seagulls.tvGoalkeeper. Born Mapplewell, Yorkshire. Age 33 (until 29 Dec ’69). Courageous keeper who was a master at closing down angles. Notable for his bravery in diving at the players’ feet. Joined Wolves straight from school and was understudy to Bert Williams and Malcolm Finlayson. Joined Aston Villa where he won a League Cup winners’ medal in 1961. Played for Freddie Goodwin at Scunthorpe and New York Generals before signing for him at Brighton in January 1969. Vied with Powney for the keeper’s spot but suffered severe concussion after saving at the feet of Walsall’s Tommy Watson in December 1969. In 1970/71, he made six League appearances, but was badly hampered by clashing with a post in a reserve game in October. Retired from the game in February 1971 and enjoyed a testimonial match against Goodwin’s Birmingham in May 1972.

Alan Dovey
seagulls.tvGoalkeeper. Born Stepney, London. Age 18 (until 18 Jul ’71). A competent teenage keeper who signed for Chelsea as an apprentice in October 1969. Facing competition from Peter Bonetti, Tommy Hughes and John Phillips (the latter two were to eventually join the Albion), he failed to make a first team appearance. After Seymour returned to Fulham, Dovey came to Brighton on loan as cover for Brian Powney in March 1971, before signing permanently for Brighton in July 1971 in a £1,000 deal. Making his debut at Bristol Rovers in May 1971, Dovey played the last two games of the season to give him experience.

 

Stewart Henderson
seagulls.tvDefender. Born Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Age 23 (until 5 Jun ’71). Just 5ft 6 tall, this small and classy right-back was an excellent tackler and often could be seen raiding down the right-wing. Also had a very fine cross on him. Played for Stirling Schoolboys and won three Scottish Schoolboy caps before joining Chelsea. Did not make his mark at Stamford Bridge but he impressed Albion on a trial in July 1965, eventually joining in October that year. After vying with Jimmy Magill, he established himself as first choice right-back in 1968. Voted ‘Player of the Season’ in 1969/70, he had another consistent season in 1970/71, making 40 first team appearances.

 

Alex Sheridan

seagulls.tvDefender. Born Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Age 22 (until 19 Jun ’71). Slim full-back who made a name for himself in four years at Scottish League side Queen’s Park, where he added youth and full amateur caps to his schoolboy international honours. After a month’s trial at the Albion, he signed as a professional in August 1970, making his debut against Torquay on the opening day of the season. While never truly establishing himself at the Goldstone, he made twelve League appearances for the Albion, switching from left-back to right-back as the season progressed. Got on the scoresheet in the 3-0 win over Doncaster in January before suffering a broken toe the following month. Sheridan scored Albion’s last goal of the season, at Wrexham in May. He was released a year later to join Maidstone in June 1972.

 

John Templeman

seagulls.tvDefender / Midfield. Born Yapton, Sussex. Age 22 (until 21 Sep ’70). A utility player who had the ability to get the crowds buzzing with surging runs from midfield. With his flowing locks, he also got some stick from some sections of the crowd who called him ‘Shirley’ after Shirley Temple. Pacy and assertive, he made a sensational start to his Albion career in a Goldstone debut against QPR in December 1966, dealing adroitly with the threat of Rodney Marsh who had caused mayhem in the Albion defence at Loftus Road just 24 hours earlier. Became a regular until 1969/70 when he had just two League starts. Even so, he re-established himself in 1970/71, taking the left-back berth from Alex Sheridan after four matches. Having suffered a knee injury in September, he went on to make 31 League appearances during the campaign, scoring twice.

Norman Gall

seagulls.tvDefender. Born Wallsend, Northumberland. Age 27 (until 30 Sep ’70). Long-serving player who joined the club in March 1962, signing from Gateshead. Able to play at full-back position. However, he is best known for strong displays as a consistent, assured centre-back. Helped the club to the 1964/65 Fourth Division championship and continued to inspire his team in Third Division football. With 43 League appearances sweeping around John Napier at the heart of the Albion defence, his wholehearted work and fearless tackling helped him to win the Albion ‘Player of the Season’ award for 1970/71.

 

John Napier

seagulls.tvDefender. Born Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. Age 23 (until 23 Sep ’70). A Northern Ireland international who became club skipper by the end of the season. Joined Albion from Bolton in August 1967 for what was then a record club fee of £25,000. Formed an excellent central defensive partnership with Norman Gall. Could pass and tackle but his strength was in the air. Ever present in the 1970/71 season. Journalist John Vinicombe was full of praise in describing John Napier’s performance at Reading in April in the 3-0 triumph: ‘He was absolutely commanding and this rated as his best perfomance of the campaign. Nothing beat him and this mastery inspired confidence all around.’