Wolves legend Mike Bailey took the Seagulls to their highest-ever finish

ONE OF the all-time greats of Wolverhampton Wanderers led Brighton & Hove Albion to their highest-ever finish in football.

Midfield general Mike Bailey played for Wolves for 11 seasons between 1965 and 1976, leading the team to promotion from the Second Division in 1966-67, helping them to top-flight positions of fourth and fifth in 1971 and 1973, getting to the final of the UEFA Cup in 1972, and lifting the League Cup at Wembley in 1974.

MB WWFCLgeCupMike Bailey holds aloft the League Cup after Wolves beat Manchester City 2-1 at Wembley.

It was perhaps a hard act to follow Alan Mullery as manager of Brighton, particularly as the former Spurs and Fulham captain had led the club from Third Division obscurity to the pinnacle of English football within three years.

But Bailey had just got Charlton Athletic promoted from the Third Division and in the 1981-82 season led Albion to a 13th place finish, a record which was only threatened in 2017-18 by Chris Hughton’s side, who eventually ended up 15th.

Unfortunately, even though Bailey’s team was relatively successful, the style of play he adopted to achieve that position was a turn-off to the fans who deserted the Albion in their hundreds and thousands.

Eventually, chairman Mike Bamber felt he had to address the slump in support by sacking Bailey in December 1982. “He’s a smashing bloke, I’m sorry to see him go, but it had to be done,” said Bamber. There are plenty – in particular Bailey! – who feel he acted a little too hastily.

Bailey shared his feelings in an interview he gave to the News of the World’s Reg Drury in the run-up to the 1983 FA Cup Final.

Mike Bailey talks to the News of the World; his often frank programme notes; his assistant, John Collins, a former Luton Town player.

“It seems that my team has been relegated from the First Division while Jimmy Melia’s team has reached the Cup Final,” he began.

Wanting to put the record straight having been hurt by some of the media coverage he’d seen since his departure, he explained: “I found the previous manager Alan Mullery had left me with a good squad, but, naturally I built on it and imposed my own style of play.”

Bailey resented accusations that his style had been dull and boring football, pointing out: “Nobody said that midway through last season when we were sixth and there was talk of Europe.

“We were organised and disciplined and getting results. John Collins, a great coach, was on the same wavelength as me. We wanted to lay the foundations of lasting success, just like Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley did at Liverpool.

“The only problem was that winning 1-0 and 2-0 didn’t satisfy everybody. I tried to change things too soon – that was a mistake.

“When I left, we were 18th with more than a point a game. I’ve never known a team go down when fifth from bottom.”

It was clear from the outset of Bailey’s reign that he didn’t suffer fools gladly and there were numerous clashes with players, notably Steve Foster, Michael Robinson and Neil McNab, the displaced Gordon Smith and Mickey Thomas, a Bailey signing who repeatedly went missing because his wife didn’t like it in the south.

Bailey would vent his feelings quite overtly in his matchday programme notes; he was not afraid to hit out at referees, the football authorities and the media, as well as trying to explain his decisions to supporters, urging them to get behind the team rather than criticise.

Happier times as Mike Bailey becomes Albion manager and signs Tony Grealish to replace outgoing stalwart midfielder and skipper, Brian Horton.

Attempting to shine a light on the comings and goings associated with his arrival, he explained: “The moves we have been making are designed to provide Brighton with a better football team and one that can consolidate its position in the First Division, rather than struggle, such as in the last two seasons.”

By Christmas, the team were comfortably in the top half of the table and in an interview with the Argus, Bailey said: “I must admit that as a player and captain of Wolves I was a bit of a bastard, slagging others off, and that sort of thing. But being a manager, one sees everything in a different light. I am still trying to learn as a manager, especially now that I am with a First Division club.”

Three months later, shortly after he had appeared at a fans forum at the Brighton Centre, he very pointedly said: “It is my job to select the team and to try to win matches.

“People are quite entitled to their opinion, but I am paid to get results for Brighton and that is my first priority.

“Building a successful team is a long-term business and I have recently spoken to many top people in the professional game who admire what we are doing here at Brighton and just how far we have come in a short space of time.

“We know we still have a long way to go, but we are all working towards a successful future.”

As he assessed his first season, he said: “Many good things have come out of our season. Our early results were encouraging and we quickly became an organised and efficient side. The lads got into their rhythm quickly and it was a nice ‘plus’ to get into a high league position so early on.”

He had special words of praise for Gary Stevens and said: “Although the youngest member of our first team squad, Gary is a perfect example to his fellow professionals. Whatever we ask of him he will always do his best, he is completely dedicated and sets a fine example to his fellow players.”

Meanwhile, in his own end of season summary, Argus Albion reporter John Vinicombe maintained: “It is Bailey’s chief regret that he changed his playing policy in response to public, and possibly private, pressure with the result that Albion finished the latter part of the season in most disappointing fashion.

“Accusations that Albion were the principal bores of the First Division at home were heaped on Bailey’s head, and, while he is a man not given to altering his mind for no good reason, certain instructions were issued to placate the rising tide of criticisms.”

Vinicombe recorded that the average home gate for 1981-82 was 18,241, fully 6,500 fewer than had supported the side during their first season amongst the elite.

“The Goldstone regulars, who are not typical of First Division crowds (but neither is the ground) grew restless at a series of frustrating home draws, and finally turned on their own players,” he said.

At the beginning of the following season, off-field matters brought disruption to the playing side. Arsenal’s former FA Cup winner Charlie George had trained with the Seagulls during pre-season and senior players Foster, Robinson and McNab publicly voiced their disappointment that the money wasn’t found to bring such a player on board permanently.

McNab in particular accused the club of lacking ambition and efforts were made to send him out on loan. Similarly, Robinson was lined up for a swap deal with Sunderland’s Stan Cummins, but it fell through.

Meanwhile, Albion couldn’t buy a win away from home and suffered two 5-0 defeats (against Luton and West Brom) and a 4-0 spanking at Nottingham Forest – all in September. Then, four defeats on the spin in November, going into December, finally cost Bailey his job. Perhaps the writing was on the wall when, in his final programme contribution, he blamed the run of poor results on bad luck and admitted: “I feel we are somehow in a rut.”

It would be fair to say Bailey the player enjoyed more success than Bailey the manager. So, where did it all begin?

Born on 27 February 1942 in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, he went to the same school in Gorleston, Norfolk, as the former Arsenal centre back Peter Simpson. His career began with non-league Gorleston before Charlton Athletic snapped him up in 1958 and he spent eight years at The Valley.

During his time there, he was capped twice by England as manager Alf Ramsey explored options for his 1966 World Cup squad. Just a week after making his fifth appearance for England under 23s, Bailey, aged 22, was called up to make his full debut in a friendly against the USA on 27 May 1964.

He had broken into the under 23s only three months earlier, making his debut in a 3-2 win over Scotland at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on 5 February 1964.He retained his place against France, Hungary, Israel and Turkey, games in which his teammates included Graham Cross, Mullery and Martin Chivers.

England ran out 10-0 winners in New York with Roger Hunt scoring four, Fred Pickering three, Terry Paine two, and Bobby Charlton the other.

Eight of that England side made it to the 1966 World Cup squad two years later but a broken leg put paid to Bailey’s chances of joining them, even though he got one more chance to impress Ramsey.

Six months after the win in New York, he was in the England team who beat Wales 2-1 at Wembley in the Home Championship. Frank Wignall, who would later spend a season with Bailey at Wolves, scored both England’s goals. Many years later, Wignall was playing for Burton Albion when a certain Peter Ward began to shine!

In 1965, Bailey broke his leg in a FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough and that was at a time when such injuries could be career-threatening.

“I was worried that may have been it,” Bailey recalled in his autobiography, The Valley Wanderer: The Mike Bailey Story (published in November 2015). “In the end, I was out for six months. My leg got stronger and I never had problems with it again, so it was a blessing in disguise in that respect.

“Charlton had these (steep) terraces. I’d go up to them every day, I was getting fitter and fitter. But it was too late to get in the 1966 World Cup side – Alf Ramsey had got his team in place.”

 Bailey missed out on the 1966 England World Cup squad but he won Football League representative honours and enjoyed success as captain of Wolves.

During his time with the England under 23s, Bailey had become friends with Wolves’ Ernie Hunt (the striker who later played for Coventry City) and Hunt persuaded him to move to the Black Country club.

Thus began an association which saw him play a total of 436 games for Wolves over 11 seasons, leading a side with solid defenders like John McAlle, Francis Munro and Derek Parkin, combined with exciting players like forwards Derek Dougan and John Richards, plus winger Dave Wagstaffe.

However, when coach Sammy Chung stepped up to take over as manager, he selected Kenny Hibbitt ahead of Bailey so the former skipper chose to end his playing days in America, with the Minnesota Kicks, who were managed by the former Brighton boss Freddie Goodwin.

Nevertheless, Bailey’s contribution to the team famous for their old gold kit saw him inducted into the Wolves Hall of Fame in 2010.

On his return to the UK, Bailey became manager of Hereford United, then he returned to The Valley as manager of Charlton and, immediately after getting them promoted to the third tier, took over at Brighton in the summer of 1981.

A somewhat extraordinary stat I discovered about Bailey’s management career in England through managerstats.co.uk was that he managed each of those three clubs for just 65 games. At Hereford, his record was W 32, D 11, L 22; at Charlton W 21, D 17, L 27; at Brighton, W 20 D 17, L 28.

In 1984, he moved to Greece to manage OFI Crete, and he later worked as reserve team coach at Portsmouth. Later still, he did some scouting work for Wolves.


Pictures from various sources: Goal and Shoot! magazines; the Evening Argus, the News of the World, and the Albion matchday programme.


Fans took Alan Duffy to their hearts after a sensational debut goal

TWENTY-year-old Alan Duffy couldn’t have wished for a better start to his Brighton career than scoring a belter on his debut.

A £10,000 signing from Newcastle United, he was quickly off the mark on 17 January 1970 in a 2-1 Third Division win over Bradford City.

He appeared to be “the Third Division answer to George Best by beating two Bradford players and smashing a ferocious shot in off the crossbar” according to Seagulls TV, which recounted he was a “stocky striker with a robust style”.

Fan Mo Gosfield, posting on North Stand Chat in January 2011, described the goal as “one of my top 10 Albion moments, because it took your breath away”.

Mo added: “He had all the makings of a cult figure at Brighton. The swagger, the shock of hair, the slight beer belly. I loved him, but he never quite lived up to that sensational start.”

The fans in the old North Stand adapted the Hare Krishna chant to incorporate his name and, after that promising debut, the young striker kept his place in the starting line-up through to the end of the season.

He repaid manager Freddie Goodwin’s faith in him with five more goals. Particularly memorable were Duffy’s two goals in Albion’s 2-1 win over Reading on Good Friday when a huge crowd of 32,036 packed into the Goldstone.

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Brighton were top of the league going into the game and looking a good bet for promotion.

Former goalkeeper Brian Powney discussed that game – and Duffy – when he was interviewed by Brian Owen for an article in the Argus on 20 February 2017.

There were question marks over both Duffy’s goals – a suspicion of handball for one, the other possibly offside – but, while both stood, a seemingly good goal from the youngster was ruled out later on.

Looking back on the game was a painful reminder for Powney, who dislocated a finger which physio Mike Yaxley had to put back while out on the pitch, it being the era long before substitute goalkeepers were available.

Unfortunately, too, Albion blew their promotion chances by losing four of the last five games after that Easter win over the Royals.

The only other points collected came in the penultimate game, a 2-1 home win over Rotherham, when Duffy again scored twice – one a penalty.

Asked about Duffy in that 2017 interview, Powney said: “Alan was hit and miss, a bit madcap.

“He had a lot of talent and, had he applied himself, he would have had a longer career. He was a good player but not such a good pro.”

Like many a player before and since, a change of manager in that World Cup summer of 1970 didn’t help Duffy’s progress at Brighton although, according to Seagulls TV: “Weight issues and injury woes, starting with a thigh problem on the opening day, marred his 1970-71 campaign.”

Duffy began in the no.8 shirt for the opening two games of that season under Goodwin’s replacement, Pat Saward, but he was left out for the third game and, by the season’s end, had made just 15 starts, and was subbed off on five occasions. There were seven appearances off the bench, plus three occasions when he was a non-playing sub.

Duffy was out of the side from mid-October to February and, on his return to the starting line-up, was involved in one of the most curious incidents I ever saw at the Goldstone.

On 27 February 1971, against Preston North End, Albion won a penalty at the south stand end of the pitch.

Centre forward Kit Napier shaped to take the spot-kick, but, as he did, Duffy stepped forward, pushed his teammate out of the way and took the penalty himself – and missed! The game finished in a disappointing 0-0 draw.

“The manager went mad at him afterwards,” Powney recalled, and Saward promptly dropped Duffy to the bench for the next two matches.

In the meantime, the manager brought in the experienced Bert Murray and Willie Irvine on loan to add some nous and quality. Although Duffy did get back in the side for six games, the rest of the time he was on the bench.

His only goals of the season came in the same match – against Bradford City, in a 3-2 win at Valley Parade on Easter Monday. Duffy struck twice in the second half as Albion came back from being 2-1 down at half-time.

In 1971-72, he made just one start – in a league cup match – and was only ever a substitute in the league, coming on 12 times and not being used on 10 other occasions.

A Brighton & Hove Gazette special publication noted that shortly after coming on as a substitute in a second round FA Cup game at home to Walsall in December 1971, he was booked for fighting with the Saddlers’ goalkeeper, Bob Wesson.

His final appearance saw him come on for Murray in a 4-2 win away to Oldham Athletic in mid-January 1972.

He then had to serve a six-week suspension, and, with Brighton pushing for promotion, Saward clearly didn’t see Duffy as a long-term part of his plans.

When he plunged into the transfer market on deadline day in March, he brought Wolves’ Irish international Bertie Lutton back to the club following a loan spell earlier in the season, and headed to the north west to clinch a deal for Tranmere Rovers striker Ken Beamish.

In addition to a fee of £25,000, Duffy was used as a makeweight in the deal for Beamish.

In two years at Prenton Park, Duffy made 33 appearances and scored just twice, before heading back to the north east in 1973 to join Darlington.

In the 1973-74 season, he played 24 games for Darlington without getting on the scoresheet and the following season drifted into non-league football, playing for Consett.

It was quite some fall from that glorious day on 21 September 1968 when he had made his Newcastle first team debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a 3-1 defeat.

Born on 20 December 1949 in Stanley, Co Durham, Duffy joined Newcastle in 1966 and won an England Youth international cap in 1968.

After that debut at Old Trafford, he didn’t play for the first team again until 9 August 1969, coming on as a sub in a 1-0 defeat v West Ham.

His next chance came on 20 September 1969 when he came on as a sub in a 1-1 draw with Southampton.

A week later, he got a start in another 1-1 draw, this time against Wolverhampton Wanderers. But Toon1892.com recounted: “In his time at Newcastle he was always considered to be Pop Robson’s deputy rather than a first team choice.”



Pictures from my scrapbook either originated in the matchday programme or were published in the Evening Argus. Also featured, a special publication produced by the Brighton & Hove Gazette.

Magpie Kit Napier Brighton’s top scorer in five out of six seasons

While we await ex-Workington striker Glenn Murray’s 100th goal for Brighton, here’s another who chalked up 99 for the Albion.

In parallel lines

FORMER Newcastle United centre forward Kit Napier, who moved from the Magpies to Brighton in 1966, was playing up front alongside Alex Dawson when I first started watching the Albion (in 1969).

          Kit Napier at full stretch to score against Bournemouth on Boxing Day 1971

Born in Dunblane on 26 September 1943, Kit’s promise as a schoolboy prompted his headmaster to put his name around as a future footballing talent and he left Scotland to join Blackpool (then playing in the top tier) as a junior before turning professional in 1960. But he only played twice for the Tangerines before moving on to Second Division Preston North End in 1963-64. Things didn’t work out there either, though, and he dropped down a further division to Workington, where it all started to click.

Workington were newly-promoted to the Third Division and Napier was on the scoresheet during what has been…

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The cheek of Parris in the autumn briefly lightened Brighton’s gloom

LIGHTER moments were few and far between as an Albion follower in 1995. A despised regime seemingly intent on taking the club into oblivion had spread such disillusionment among fans that gates were badly hit.

It meant only 5,659 were at the Goldstone Ground on 28 October 1995 to see an amusing incident that can still be seen on YouTube.

Step forward George Parris, a star at West Ham United a decade previously, who had joined the Seagulls to help out his old Hammers teammate Liam Brady, by then trying to manage a club in turmoil.

Bristol Rovers humiliated Brighton & Hove Albion 8-2 at the Goldstone Ground in 1973, shortly after ‘Old Big ‘ead’ Clough had taken charge, but, 22 years later, it was the Rovers goalkeeper who was left with the red face.

That was all down to quick-thinking Parris. The experienced defender-midfielder found himself on the blind side of the Rovers goalkeeper and, as the ‘keeper rolled the ball forward to clear it, Parris nipped in, got a toe in to win the ball, swivelled and buried it into the empty net.

These days he would almost certainly have been penalised for a foul as he appeared to use his shoulder to nudge the no.1 off balance, but, back in 1995, the goal stood.

He talked about the incident, and his career, in an interview with the Argus in November 2001.

George Michael Ronald Parris was born in Ilford on 11 September 1964. His talent for football saw him chosen to play for England Schoolboys and he joined West Ham United from school.

He signed professional for the Hammers in 1982 and made his league debut at Upton Park in a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool in May 1985.

Also making their debut that day, for what would be their one and only first team appearance for the Hammers, was central defender Keith McPherson, who played 35 games for the Albion in the 1999-2000 season.

Parris meanwhile became the regular left-back in the 1985-86 season when West Ham finished third in the top flight. He was comfortable in either full-back position, but could also fill in as a defensive midfielder.

He was part of the West Ham side who were Littlewoods Cup semi-finalists in consecutive seasons and FA Cup semi-finalists in 1990-91.

In 12 years at Upton Park, ‘Smokey’, as he was known, made 290 league and cup appearances, chipping in with 17 goals too.

But it was an era when he had to endure some dreadful racism, which he talked about in a 2014 interview with Sam Wallace in the Independent.

Former Hammers skipper, Alvin Martin, said of Parris: “What we remember most about George was his friendly disposition and true honesty which was reflected best when he was on the field. George is one of the most reliable professionals anyone could wish to play alongside.”

Sadly, when West Ham decided to honour Parris’ 11 years’ service at the Boleyn Ground with a testimonial match at the end of the 1994-95 season, there was a dismally low turn-out as reported on website theyflysohigh.co.uk.

Parris had left the Hammers in March 1993, a £100,000 fee taking him to Birmingham City, and his infectious enthusiasm soon made him a fans’ favourite at St Andrews. Unfortunately, when Barry Fry took over as manager, he made it plain Parris didn’t fit into his plans.

Brady brought him to the Seagulls on a three-month loan and he also had loan spells with Brentford and Bristol City before spending a summer in Sweden with IFK Norrköping.

Brady invited him back to the Goldstone in September 1995 to play on a month-by-month contract basis, and he stayed until 1997, taking on the captaincy when Paul McCarthy was injured.

Parris scored five times in 74 games for the Seagulls before briefly joining Southend United in August 1997.

Sadly, there was a hidden side to Parris’s life: he was a compulsive gambler and he later told the whole harrowing story in a four-hour long DVD.

He also spoke to the dailymail.co.uk about how he considered suicide after his addiction and mounting debts spiralled out of control in the late 90s.

It came after another large bet on the horses lost, he walked out of a bookies and seriously considered ending it all. He revealed: “I drove up to Newhaven. I can remember looking out over the bridge there and thinking ‘What do I do?’

“I couldn’t see how I was going to get myself out of the big hole I was in. I’d begged and borrowed from everyone I knew and, yes, I did give serious thought to killing myself.

“I owed money to my closest friends and family and had nowhere else to go. But, thankfully, I pulled myself together and went home and confessed to my then wife that I’d lost every penny I had gambling.”

Gradually Parris pieced his life back together and obtained coaching qualifications, such as the UEFA A licence, and became a Football Association-approved level-two coach educator.

Parris stayed on the south coast, living in Rottingdean, and had spells as player-manager of non-league Shoreham and St Leonards, but also ran youth football and cricket schools.

In 2016, Parris took interim charge of Albion’s women’s team and guided them to promotion to Women’s Super League Two. When Hope Powell took over the women’s team in August 2017, Parris reverted to the role of regional talent club technical director.
In November 2017, Parris was honoured alongside Albion manager Chris Hughton (another former playing colleague) at the Football Black List Awards in London for their contributions to coaching and management.




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!!


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.”


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.