The miss that never goes away for Cup Final scorer Gordon Smith

3 and smith must score“NEVER in my wildest dreams – or should that be nightmares? – did I think that, more than 20 years later, that miss in front of goal would still be getting replayed on television and mentioned in the media wherever I go.”

The words could only have been said by one man and they appear in the autobiography…And Smith Did Score (Black and White Publishing, 2005).

Gordon Smith’s football career included being a treble trophy winner with Glasgow giants Rangers, top scorer of the season for Manchester City, and becoming chief executive of the Scottish FA.

But it is what happened in the final seconds of extra time in the 1983 FA Cup Final that he is most remembered for.

Gordon Duffield Smith was born in Kilwinning (20 miles south of Glasgow) on 29 December 1954 and followed in his grandfather Mattha’s footsteps in becoming a pro footballer.

He was at Kilmarnock for five years, scoring 36 goals in 161 appearances, during which time he earned international honours with Scotland’s under-23 side, twice starting and three times coming on as a substitute.

In 1977, having joined Rangers for a fee of £65,000, he also collected an under-21 cap as an overage player, in a 1-0 defeat to Wales, but he was never selected for the full international side.

In his first season at Rangers, they won the domestic treble and he scored 27 goals from midfield. To cap it off he scored the winning goal in the 1978 Scottish League Cup Final against Celtic.

Alan Mullery paid £400,000 to take him to Brighton in 1980, and talked about the deal in his autobiography. “Sadly, Gordon Smith is remembered as the man who missed the last-minute chance to win the FA Cup in 1983,” said Mullers. “That’s a shame because he was one of the best players I ever worked with. He reminded me of Trevor Brooking. A midfield player with silky skills who could read the game perfectly.”

Smith played 38 games in his first season at Brighton and scored 10 goals. “I couldn’t ask for more than that,” said Mullery. But when Mullery quit the club in the summer of 1981, the rest of Smith’s time at the Goldstone could at best be described as turbulent.

He didn’t get on with Mullery’s replacement, Mike Bailey, or his assistant John Collins, mainly because of their more defensive style of play. In March 1982, the Argus reported Smith was pondering his future having been left out of the side, with Gerry Ryan and Giles Stille being selected ahead of him.

“I am just wondering what is happening now that I’m not even travelling with the team. I don’t know what my standing is at all,” he told reporter John Vinicombe.

Bailey accused some players of lacking commitment following a 4-1 reverse at Notts County, and Smith was dropped for the following game.

Smith voiced his displeasure at being made a scapegoat and told the Argus: “It seems that every time we lose, I get dropped. Then I read the manager’s remarks about lack of commitment. What other inference can I draw?

“He asked me to play defensively at Notts and I don’t think I let him or the team down. Throughout my career, I have never shown any lack of effort.”

In the 1981-82 season, Smith played 27 matches plus four as sub. He started 15 of the first 16 games of the 1982-83 season but, as Bailey and Collins tried to find the right formula, he lost his place to summer signing Neil Smillie and decided to take the opportunity to return to Rangers on loan.

He only played three matches, but one of them happened to be a League Cup Final defeat against Celtic at Hampden Park!

Almost as soon as Bailey and Collins had left, on Smith’s return to the south coast Jimmy Melia restored him to the first team, hence his subsequent involvement in the 1983 FA Cup Final.

“I had said I would never kick another ball for Brighton, but that was because I had been told there was no place for me as a regular first team player,” Smith said in the run-up to the big game.

“The change of manager altered that and obviously now I am looking forward to playing at Wembley within six months of taking part at Hampden Park. I just hope the result is different.”

Interestingly, the Express said: “The Wembley stage may just suit Smith’s style of game; he’s a studious player with a capacity to drift past people and quite capable of producing telling passes from the bye-line.”

It didn’t help Brighton’s striker options that Brian Clough had refused to allow Peter Ward’s loan from Nottingham Forest to continue until the end of the season, nor that Melia had organised a deal that saw striker Andy Ritchie swap places with Leeds United’s Terry Connor – who was already cup-tied, thus ineligible to play cup games for the Seagulls.

But, in an amazingly prescient pre-match comment, Melia said: “Gordon can be a matchwinner in his own right…he can play a very key part in this final.”

As the title of Smith’s autobiography reflects, the Scot silenced Manchester United followers the world over by opening the scoring for Brighton on that memorable May afternoon in 1983.

In only the 13th minute of the game, young midfield player Gary Howlett found Smith with a delightful chipped diagonal pass over United centre back Kevin Moran and Smith arched a header past Gary Bailey to put the Seagulls in dreamland.

After United had taken the lead, and Gary Stevens had equalised for Brighton, the game went into extra time and the stage was set for one of the most talked about moments in the club’s history.

Interestingly, United ‘keeper Bailey believes Smith has been given a raw deal over the years.

He told the Argus: “It was not the best save I ever made and not the greatest ever seen in English football, but it was a decent one because of my reaction after I’d blocked it.

“I managed to keep my eyes open to make sure I got to the loose ball before Gordon. Often in those 50-50 situations your eyes close and the forward just taps it in but I watched and reacted quickly that time. I want to take credit for it because it came at such a vital time.

“Gordon has taken a lot of stick for what happened, and it was a crucial moment in Brighton’s history, but he shouldn’t get the blame. It is not justified at all. He didn’t score, but he didn’t miss the target.”

On the 25th anniversary of the 1983 final, Argus reporter Andy Naylor interviewed Smith at The Grand Hotel, Brighton, and asked if he ever got sick and tired of being asked about the incident.

“Not really. In life, you have to be able to get over things and deal with them,” Smith explained. “If you become famous for something you don’t do, a lot of people throw it in your face and take the mickey out of you, so you have to show a bit of character and I think I’ve done that.

“I am able to handle it and talk about it and I have no problem at all in taking full responsibility.

“I should have scored. I would love to have scored. I am sorry for the fans, my teammates, the management, everybody who suffered as a result. I suffered greatly too because I’m a perfectionist and I always wanted to be at my best. Everybody else’s disappointment can’t match my own.

“You just have to live with it. There are two choices, either hide away or come out and deal with it. I have put it into perspective. I swapped shirts with Alan Davies after the game. He got a winner’s medal and I didn’t. He’s dead now. He committed suicide. So winning didn’t change his life for the better.”

And, with the benefit of hindsight, would he have done anything differently? “I would have delayed my shot,” said Smith. “I thought Gary would come to me to shut me down. That is why I took a touch and hit it early, hard and low to his side, which meant he would never have got down to it. I scored a few goals in my time like that.

“For some strange reason, I don’t know why, Gary decided to dive. He dived the wrong way and it stuck in his legs. If I had delayed my shot for another split second, he was going down and I would have just chipped it over him.”

To personalise the situation just for a few short moments: Smith’s parents were travelling back to Sussex on the same coach as me that day, and I’ll never forget what happened. We had all gradually drifted back to our seats on the coach and there was understandably an excited hubbub of chatter mixed with the disappointment of seeing Brighton come so close and yet so far from winning the fabled trophy. As Gordon’s parents boarded the coach, an almighty silence descended. You could hear a pin drop. No-one quite knew what to say.

Of course, no-one would have known it at the time, but less than a year later, Smith was no longer with the club.

The new season back in the second tier of English football was barely a couple of months old before manager Melia was on his way, succeeded by Chris Cattlin, the former player who had been drafted in as coach by the chairman, Mike Bamber.

Smith fell out with Cattlin and was ostracised for five months – ordered to train with the youth team and banned from anything to do with the first team and reserve team.

During that time, I can remember travelling by coach to Brighton’s FA Cup tie at Watford on 18 February 1984 and, as we were headed along the motorway, Smith was sitting in the front seat of a minibus of fans heading in the same direction.

Nine months earlier, he had scored – and missed – for the Seagulls at Wembley, and, here he was, reduced to a minibus passenger travelling to watch his pals because the club wouldn’t allow him to use any of their official transport.

His first team exile was suddenly lifted unexpectedly for just one more game, and he scored in a 3-0 away win at Derby County on 17 March 1984. But, within days, he was sold to then second-tier Manchester City for just £45,000.

A tad ironically for an ex-Rangers player, it was legendary Celtic captain Billy McNeill who took him to Maine Road. He made his debut in a home game against Cardiff City on 24 March 1984.

Thirty-eight of his 46 appearances for City came in the 1984-85 season, when he was top scorer with 14 goals.

Smith recalls the details of his spell at the club in the autobiography but, in short, he fell out with McNeill and made his last appearance for City on 4 November 1985, at home to Sunderland. He eventually joined up with nearby Oldham Athletic, where he played nine games.

In 1987, he had the chance to play for Austrian side Admira Wacker, where he featured in 38 games, and the following season he switched to FC Basel in Switzerland, playing 25 games.

Eventually, in 1988, he returned to Scotland and finished his playing career at Stirling Albion.

Smith subsequently became an agent, representing the likes of Paul Lambert and Kenny Miller, but relinquished that work when he was appointed the chief executive of the Scottish FA, a job he held for three years. He was later director of football at Rangers during the 2011-12 season.

In June 2018, the Daily Record reported Smith’s daughter Libby had given birth to a baby boy and she’d taken on board her dad’s suggestion to call him Edson Thunder after the legendary Pele!!

 

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Fluctuating fortunes for Guy Butters after beginning alongside Spurs stars

GUY BUTTERS saw plenty of highs and lows in a 20-year playing career that started with great promise at Tottenham Hotspur and included six years at Brighton, where he still works.

Butts coaches for Albion in the Community, he’s scouted players, hosted hospitality lounges and still turns out to play in charity matches, not to mention sharing a constant flow of corny jokes with his 3,600+ followers on Twitter! [Follow him @GuyButters].

Promotion via the play-offs at Cardiff in 2004 and being chosen as player of the season would be up there in terms of highs with Brighton.

My personal favourite came on 13 November 2004, when Butters scored the only goal of the game as Albion committed daylight robbery in front of 29,514 packed into West Ham’s Boleyn Ground.

Brighton were up against it going into the game and had taken veteran Steve Claridge on for a month to help them out of a striker crisis. Hammers threw everything at the Albion that afternoon but somehow the Seagulls kept the ball out and, on 68 minutes, Butts, up for a Richard Carpenter free kick, got his head on the end of it to send the ball into the back of the net in front of the Seagull faithful.

Even after versatile Adam Virgo and Hammers’ Haydn Mullins were sent off for a scrap on 74 minutes, and West Ham bought on substitute Bobby Zamora, the scoreline remained 1-0 to the Albion.

A couple of months later, it was obviously a special day for Butters when, on 8 January 2005, he was given the captain’s armband to lead the Albion in their third round FA Cup tie against Spurs at White Hart Lane.

  • A programme portrait and skipper for the day in the FA Cup at White Hart Lane.

The matchday programme recalled how Butters “was very much the discovery of the 1988-89 season when manager Terry Venables lifted the tough tackling former Spurs trainee from our reserves to the first team to play alongside Gary Mabbutt and Chris Fairclough in a back three.

“Guy was also in there alongside such names as Paul Gascoigne, Chris Hughton, Chris Waddle, Paul Walsh, Terry Fenwick, Paul Stewart, (former Brighton Cup Final hero) Gary Stevens and Paul Allen. And he kept his regular place the following season when Gary Lineker was added to the squad.”

Born on 30 October 1969 in Hillingdon, he made his debut shortly after his 19th birthday in a League Cup game against Blackburn, and suffered the agony of scoring an own goal. But on his full league debut as a sub against Wimbledon on 12 November 1988, he made amends with a goal in the right end.

“We won that one 3-2 but it’s probably better remembered by Spurs fans as the game in which Gary Stevens was injured following a tackle by Vinnie Jones,” Butters told the Spurs programme.

“I’ve got great memories of my time at Tottenham but, looking back, I recall spending much of my time trying to avoid Gazza who was always up to something! But it was the players around me that I will never forget – I was in there with men who had appeared in World Cups, and that’s my abiding memory.”

The year after his Spurs debut, Butters also earned international honours. In June 1989, he was involved in three England under 21 tournament matches in Espoirs de Toulon matches.

He started in the 3-2 defeat to Bulgaria on 5 June, and was replaced by substitute Neil Ruddock. Two days later, he came on as a sub for Dean Yates in England’s 6-1 thrashing of Senegal in Sainte Mazime. Two days after that, he came on as a sub for Ruddock, as the under 21s drew 0-0 with the Republic of Ireland in Six-Fours-les-Plages.

Of that side, Carlton Palmer, David Batty and David Hirst went on to gain full England caps, but those three games were Butters’ only representative appearances.

After limited game time at Spurs in the 1989-90 season, Butters went out on loan to Fourth Division Southend United, scoring three times in 16 games.

Steve Sedgley, Fenwick and Gudni Bergsson were all ahead of him as potential partners for Mabbutt so, on 28 September 1990, he was transferred to Portsmouth for a fee of £375,000, having made a total of 35 league appearances for Tottenham.

At Pompey, he played at the back alongside Kit Symons and colleagues included Mark Chamberlain on the wing and Warren Aspinall up front, together with his ex-Spurs teammate Paul Walsh, now better known as a Sky Sports pundit.

But there were mixed fortunes for Butters at Pompey, which he spoke about in a November 2016 interview for the Portsmouth website. He was there six years and enjoyed some good times when Jim Smith was manager.

guy butters YouTube

He had a brief spell on loan with Oxford United in 1994 and he eventually realised his time at Fratton Park was up when a regime change saw the arrival of Terry Venables, who was the Spurs boss when he was sold to Portsmouth.

Tony Pulis signed him for Gillingham for £225,000 on 18 October 1996 and, in six years at Priestfield, one game in particular stands out for the unfortunate pivotal moment Butters played in it.

It was 30 May 1999, the Football League Second Division play-off final to determine the third and final team to gain promotion and Gillingham were up against Manchester City, remarkably, at that time, struggling to get out of the third tier of English football.

Goals from Carl Asaba and Bob Taylor on 81 and 87 minutes looked to have given Pulis’ side victory. But Kevin Horlock had pulled one back for Joe Royle’s City and, as normal time expired, former Albion loanee Paul Dickov equalised for City in the fifth minute of added on time to level the scores at 2-2.

With no further scoring in extra time, it went to penalties. City scored three of their first four; Gills had scored only one of their three. So, the pressure was on Butters, the fourth penalty taker, to bury it to keep the Gills in it.

When Butters stepped up and hit it low to ‘keeper Nicky Weaver’s left…. it was within the 20-year-old’s reach, and he pushed it away. Cue wild celebrations as City won the shoot-out 3-1.

“Missing that penalty was one of the worst moments of my life but you have to move on and I am not afraid to have another go,” Butters told interviewer Alex Crook in an article for the 2004 Division Two play-off final match programme. “At the time, I just wanted the ground to swallow me up but nobody blamed me because it was just one of those things.”

Consolation for Butters came the following year when Gillingham returned to Wembley and on that occasion won 3-2 in extra-time against Wigan Athletic. As with Pompey, Butters had six years in total with the Kent club and played 159 league games before being released in the summer of 2002.

The 2002-03 season was already under way by the time Butters joined Albion on a free transfer and, in the September, he was doing his own personal pre-season workout programme in a bid to get fit.

“When I first came here I had to do a lot of extra work with Dean White,” Butters told Brian Owen, of the Argus. “It was a case of trying to cram a lot of stuff into a little space of time. I wasn’t really getting too much time to recover after it.”

The managerial change from Martin Hinshelwood to Steve Coppell didn’t do Butters any favours either. Virgo and Butters were the centre back pairing for Coppell’s first match – a 4-2 home defeat to Bristol City – and both were then discarded into the wilderness.  Virgo went on loan to Exeter and, after Coppell brought in Dean Blackwell to play alongside Danny Cullip, Butters was sent out on loan to Barnet.

But when injury meant Blackwell’s career was over, the door opened again for Butters and he seized the opportunity to such an extent that as Albion won promotion back to the second tier via the play-offs, he was voted player of the season.

GB potseas by Bennett Dean• 2004 Player of the Season pictured by Bennett Dean.

In fact, it was the arrival of Mark McGhee to succeed Coppell that was very much a turning point in Butters’ career because he had previously been considering hanging up his boots.

In Match of My Life (www.knowthescorebooks.com), he said: “Mark was a real breath of fresh air as manager. Straight away he helped me with a special diet and fitness programme aimed at improving my general match fitness, but, more importantly, helping me work towards prolonging my professional football career.

“He was the first manager to do that and under his guidance I began to thrive and really enjoy my football again.”

As the Argus previewed the 2004-05 season with a special publication, they declared: “Buoyed by a great run of form in last season’s run-in and looking in good shape in training, Butters is ready for another stab at the second tier of English football.”

And Butters said: “This year I did a bit in the summer when I was on holiday and the gaffer put us through our paces so I’m sure that when the season starts I’ll be pretty match fit.

“It’s a big step up but, if we can get a few results away from home, not too many of those big teams are going to fancy coming to Withdean.”

  • The Argus spots a lighter refreshing moment!
  • Butters and Cullip were opponents when the Seagulls won at Sheffield United, another moment captured by the Argus.

Three years later, at the age of 37, Butters was still with the Seagulls and looking forward to what would ultimately turn out to be his last in the stripes.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it last year,” Butters told Andy Naylor. “It is probably one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had.

“I missed out on pre-season last year through injury. The gaffer was amazed I played as many games as I did.

“I cannot see why, with a decent pre-season under my belt and, as long as I look after myself, that I cannot do the same again.

“I just want to go on playing as long as I can and along the way enhance my CV with coaching badges.”

Manager Dean Wilkins finally released Butters at the end of the 2007-08 season, during which he had been sent off for the first time in his career.

He’d played a total of 187 games for the Seagulls and carried on playing with Havant & Waterlooville briefly plus a seven-game spell on loan at Lewes before trying his hand at management with Winchester City and Eastleigh.

Guy + Nick

  • I got the chance to meet Guy when he kindly presented an award at an event I was involved in organising: what a great bloke!

Saint Dean a sinner in some Albion fans’ eyes

HASTINGS-born Dean Hammond enjoyed two spells with the Albion having joined the club aged 11 and was also captain of Southampton as they rose from League One to the Premiership.

However, it’s a pretty surefire bet to say fans would be divided if asked to judge his contribution.

An over-the-top celebration in front of the Albion faithful after scoring for Southampton at Withdean made him public enemy number one in many people’s eyes.

The way he left the club under a cloud, suggesting they lacked ambition, was another catalyst for rancour.

Personally, I struggled with his penchant for missing some unbelievable, gilt-edged chances to score. There was one away at Leicester (one of his future employers) – a proverbial ‘easier to score than miss’ – that was particularly galling in a game that finished 0-0.

Putting all these things to one side, there is no denying that he ultimately enjoyed a decent career and, while his most successful years were spent in the second tier of English football, he also got to play at the highest level.

Albion have struggled for a good many years to bring through promising local talent from schoolboy level but Hammond was one of the few who made it.

Born a couple of months before Brighton’s 1983 FA Cup Final appearance, he made his Albion bow in December 2000 when former Saints full-back Micky Adams put him on as a substitute in a 2-0 Football League Trophy win over Cardiff, but it was only when former youth coach Martin Hinshelwood briefly held the first team manager’s role that he got his next chance.

That came as a substitute in a 4-2 defeat at Gillingham in September 2002 and 10 days later he scored his first Albion goal in a 3-1 League Cup defeat to Ipswich.

When Hinshelwood was sacked, new boss Steve Coppell opted for experience over youth and Hammond’s next competitive action came during two spells out on loan in 2003 – at Aldershot (seven games) and Orient (eight games).

In an Argus interview in November 2006, Hammond said: “It’s been up and down for me at Brighton. I loved it when I came through the youth team and then broke into the first team at quite a young age.”

Hammond watched from the sidelines at the Millennium Stadium in May 2004 as the Albion won promotion to the Championship via play-off victory over Bristol City. A couple of months later, the Argus was reporting how he had been given three months to prove he had a future with the club.

 

He did enough in a handful of games to be offered a contract until the end of the season and, although he was mainly used from the bench between October and March, by the season’s end he was playing a pivotal role in helping to steer Albion clear of the drop zone, scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw away to Burnley and getting both goals in a vital 2-2 draw at home to West Ham.

Before the 2006-07 season got under way, manager Mark McGhee obviously felt players like Hammond needed toughening up and sent him and a few others to some boxing sessions with former world heavyweight title contender Scott Welch, from Shoreham, at his Hove gym.

Hammond told Andy Naylor of the Argus: “When the gaffer mentioned it, I think the boys were thinking ‘Boxing? How is that going to help us’. But he worked on the mental side, as well as the power and strength stuff.

“If we felt tired or felt we couldn’t go on he was pushing us and he said it would help us in a game. I think he’s right. When we went back for pre-season training you tended to push yourself that bit more, so I think it will help in the long run.”

Unfortunately, it didn’t help enough because the season saw Albion relegated back to the third tier. It wasn’t long before former youth coach Dean Wilkins was installed as manager and youngsters were given a chance to flourish in the first team, with Hammond appointed captain.

 

“I would say it is the best time of my career and I am really enjoying it,” he told Naylor. “It’s brilliant at the moment.”

In the same interview, however, there were perhaps the first rumblings of his discontent with the progress of the club.

“I’ve been here since the age of 11. I’m like every other player. I’m ambitious and I want to do the best I can in my career and play as high as I can. Hopefully that will be with Brighton.”

A career-ending injury to Charlie Oatway and Richard Carpenter’s departure from the club in January 2007 led to Hammond taking over the captain’s armband and 2006-07 was undoubtedly his best Albion season. He finished with 11 goals from 39 appearances and the award of Player of the Season.

It was in the 2007-08 season that it turned sour between player and club, even though before a ball had been kicked he told the Argus he thought Brighton had it in them to make the play-offs.

“We can beat anyone in the division. It’s just about being consistent. Realistically we can push for the play-offs,” he told Brian Owen.

Considering he had been at the club from such an early age, what happened next clearly rankled with chairman Dick Knight, who talked about it in his autobiography, Mad Man: From the Gutter to the Stars, the Ad Man who saved Brighton.

Knight accused Hammond’s agent, Tim Webb, of touting his client around Championship clubs while there was an offer on the table from the Albion that would have made him the highest paid player at the club.

“Hammond kept telling the local media that he wanted to stay and sign a contract, but I think he was being told to hold out for more money,” said Knight.

Because Hammond could have walked away from the club for nothing at the end of the season, the pressure was on to resolve the situation one way or another by the close of the January transfer window.

All the off-field stuff was clearly affecting Hammond’s head and I can remember a game at Oldham in the second week of January when he lunged into a reckless challenge after only nine minutes which certainly appeared to be a deliberate attempt to get himself sent off. That early dismissal was his last action for the Seagulls until his return to the club in 2012.

“I didn’t want to sell Dean but I was forced to,” said Knight, who persuaded Colchester United to buy him for £250,000, with a clause added in that Brighton would earn 20 per cent of any subsequent transfer involving the player. “In normal circumstances, I might have got more, but time was running out,” Knight added.

The move to Colchester wasn’t an unbridled success because his arrival couldn’t prevent them being relegated from the Championship, but, with Paul Lambert as manager, Hammond took over the captaincy in December 2008 and by the season’s end was voted Player of the Season.

Throughout the season there had been speculation that Southampton wanted to sign him and a deal duly went through in August 2009. At the time, Alan Pardew was the Saints manager and Hammond’s former Albion youth team coach and first team manager, Dean Wilkins, was Southampton first team coach.

As had happened at his previous two clubs, it wasn’t long before Hammond was taking on the captaincy and he got to lift the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley on 28 March 2010 when Pardew’s team beat Carlisle United 4-1 – the first piece of silverware Saints had won since the 1976 FA Cup.

When Albion travelled to St Mary’s on 23 November 2010, the matchday programme inevitably featured their captain and former Seagull. It said: “Hammond was barely out of nappies when he first started supporting the Seagulls. He can even recall the days they played in front of 20,000 crowds at the old Goldstone Ground.

“The new Brighton stadium will hold just over 22,000 and the Saints midfielder said: ‘There’s no doubt they’ll fill it, certainly for their early games. That’s just about the size of their fan base and, if anyone deserved a bigger ground, it’s them’.”

Reflecting that he had certainly made the right career move, Hammond said: “I’ve developed as a player. I have a slightly deeper midfield role which means I pass the ball more and get involved in the game more.”

After two seasons in the third tier, Southampton famously finished runners up to Brighton in 2010-11 to regain their place in the Championship. Hammond was a regular throughout the 2011-12 season, although at times contributing from the bench, as Saints won promotion back to the Premier League, runners up behind Reading.

However, manager Nigel Adkins obviously didn’t see Hammond as top tier material and on transfer deadline day (31 August 2012) the midfielder agreed a season-long loan deal back at Brighton.

By then 29, Hammond told the Argus: “It’s a different club now. The stadium is amazing and I can’t wait to get going.

“I saw the plans when I was 15 and it’s amazing to see it come to life. It will be a dream to play at this stadium as a Brighton player and I have been dreaming of that since a boy.”

Hammond made 33 appearances plus five as a sub during that season, alongside fellow loanees Wayne Bridge and Matt Upson, but was allowed to return to parent club Southampton as manager Gus Poyet departed the club in the wake of the play-offs loss to Crystal Palace.

In August 2013, Hammond signed a two-year contract with Championship side Leicester City, manager Nigel Pearson telling the club’s website: “We’re really pleased to be able to add a player of Dean’s quality and experience to the squad.

“As well as having played a considerable number of games in his career, he also arrives with promotion credentials and will be a very positive influence on the squad both on and off the pitch.”

DHLCFC

Hammond added: “Once I knew of Leicester’s interest I wanted to come. My mind was made up. There was some interest from other clubs, but once Leicester was mentioned and I spoke to the manager, I wanted to come here.

“It’s a massive football club. They came close last year in the play-offs and they’ve got a good history. It’s a club that’s going places and wants to push to the Premier League. It’s very exciting to be here.”

While facing midfield competition from Danny Drinkwater and Matty James, Hammond nevertheless played 29 games as Leicester were promoted and he finally got to play in the Premiership, albeit competition and injury restricted his number of appearances to 12.

Not all Saints fans felt it right that he had been abandoned as soon as the club reached the Premiership and, on the eve of his return to St Mary’s as a Leicester player, Saints’ fansnetwork.co.uk considered supporters might like to “thank him for his contribution to our resurgence in the game …. without Dean Hammond perhaps none of what they are enjoying in the Premier League would have been possible”.

Although Hammond earned a one-year extension to his contract in July 2015, he was not involved in the side that surprised the nation by winning the Premier League.

He had gone on loan to Sheffield United, then managed by his old Saints boss Adkins, and made 34 appearances for the Blades by the season’s end. However, he didn’t figure in new boss Chris Wilder’s plans and left the club in the summer of 2016.

Russell Slade gave him a trial at Coventry City in January 2017 but he didn’t get taken on and eventually he returned to Leicester to work with their under 21s. He is now loans manager for the Leicester City Academy.

 

  • Most photos from Argus cuttings; plus Southampton programme and Leicester City website.