Kurt Nogan is right up there as one of my favourite all time Brighton & Hove Albion players. The ‘No, no; No, no, no, no; No, no, no Nogan’ fans’ chant still rings around my head when I think about his goalscoring exploits in the stripes.
One of my favourite Albion memories involved Kurt scoring at Filbert Street when he rounded off one of Albion’s best ever performances to give Division 2 Albion a 2-0 League Cup victory over Premiership Leicester.
It was the autumn of 1994 and I had travelled halfway across the country to Cheltenham to meet up with my then exiled Albion-supporting friend Colin Snowball to travel up to Leicester together to watch the game.
Before the match, we parked in a side street near the university and found a tiny back-street boozer where they served a magnificent pint of Everard’s Tiger, the local ale.
In those days, League Cup games were played over two legs and Albion, with Liam Brady as manager, went into the away game leading 1-0, courtesy of another Nogan goal, which had given us optimism rather than confidence that Albion could progress.
Leicester got their Nogans in a twist in the match programme, mistakenly identifying the first leg scorer as Kurt’s older brother Lee who played for Watford at the time – they knew which one it was by the end of the game!
With one of the best away displays I have seen, Brighton took the game to their supposedly more illustrious opponents and caused a major shock when a stunning long range strike from young defender Stuart Munday sailed past Kevin Poole in Leicester’s goal.
There was a curious cameo towards the end of the game when Jimmy Case, who was hard of hearing, trotted over to take a corner and seemed to be wasting time. The ref also thought so and promptly sent him off but Case later claimed he had been waiting for the whistle but hadn’t heard it above the din of the crowd!
With Leicester pushing up for a goal to get themselves back in it, Nogan was left unmarked to seal the win and stun the majority of the crowd into silence.
None of the faithful knew at the time, of course, but it was the last goal Nogan would score for the club.
He subsequently went on a 20-game barren run and, at the end of February 1995, with Albion desperately needing funds, they persuaded Burnley to part with £250,000 for his services.
He might have finished on a downer, but Nogan’s Albion record was 60 goals in 120 games, making him one of the club’s great all-time goalscorers.
He arrived at the Goldstone having been released at the end of the 1991-92 season by David Pleat during his second spell as manager of Luton Town. At Luton, Nogan celebrated his top flight debut in 1990 with a goal in a 2-2 draw against Liverpool at Anfield.
The young Welshman was quickly called up for his country’s under-21s for whom he also scored on his debut. However, competing for a place alongside the likes of established forwards Mick Harford and Brian Stein, he struggled to gain a starting berth in the Luton first team, mainly being used as a substitute.
The Seagulls picked him up after he’d had a short trial at Peterborough.
If Albion had been able to retain the services of the on-loan strike pair Steve Cotterill and Paul Moulden, who started the 1992-93 season up front, Nogan’s chances of making the breakthrough might have been limited.
But finances dictated otherwise and Nogan eventually made his debut in October 1992, taking over up from another free transfer signing, Matthew Edwards, although much of the season he played alongside Edwards, who moved out to the wing, and Andy Kennedy.
After a slow start Nogan scored his first goal in one of those lower league meaningless cup matches and then started finding the net regularly in the league, ending the season with 22 goals in all competitions.
For part of the 1993-94 season he enjoyed a particularly fruitful partnership with a young Paul Dickov, the diminuitive Scottish striker on loan from Arsenal for eight matches.
Nogan ended the campaign with 26 goals to his name, and was voted player of the season, even though the team finished in a disappointing 14th place.
Nogan continued to have a variety of strike partners – often it was Junior McDougald but twice in late 1994 he was alongside the legendary Frank Stapleton who was doing his old Arsenal teammate Brady a favour by turning out for the Seagulls.
In fact, one of Stapleton’s two games in a Brighton shirt was away to Cardiff on 5 November 1994. In the Bluebirds line-up that day were future Seagulls Charlie Oatway and Phil Stant, the latter scoring twice in a 3-0 win.
Nogan’s career was detailed brilliantly in a profile by Tony Scholes on clarets-mad.co.uk and he noted that Burnley boss Jimmy Mullen’s gamble on Nogan wasn’t enough to prevent them being relegated. The Welshman scored just three times and got involved in an altercation with the manager after being substituted at Bristol City.
However his goal touch returned in the 1995/96 season when he racked up 26 goals, 20 of them in the league, and got on well with Mullen’s successor Adrian Heath – until halfway through the following season when he was suddenly out of favour.
A move was inevitable after Nogan aired his differences with the manager on local radio. “All of a sudden the crowd hero had become public enemy number one,” said Scholes.
That he moved to near neighbours Preston in February 1997 was somewhat galling and Burnley fans of a certain age recall the inevitability of him scoring against them for his new club.
Three years later he moved to home town club Cardiff but, after only four full games and a few substitute appearances, a ruptured hamstring ended his league career prematurely at the age of 32. He did subsequently turn out for some Welsh League clubs but he wasn’t able to return to the previous level.
- From a matchday programme, Nogan is pictured in Albion’s awful ‘pyjamas’ kit and, from the Leicester programme for that cup tie, he is wrongly captioned with his brother’s name.