Defender / Midfield. Born Lowestoft, Suffolk. Age 25 (until 31 Jan ’73). Consistent, versatile player and a long throw expert. Began his League career with short spell at Arsenal before blossoming as a left-winger for Ipswich, where he scored seven times in the club’s Second Divison Championship side of 1967/68. Played 39 League games in the 1972/73 campaign. Teed up by Peter O’Sullivan, Spearritt scored a tremendous 30 yard volley at Cardiff in September. Sully later said: ‘It was a remarkable goal. I certainly have not seen a better goal since Willie Irvine’s effort against Aston Villa last season.’ Spearritt went on to be praised later on in the season, by Saward in March, for the way he ‘has maintained a high level of consistency this season and his work in defence and in midfield has been invaluable.’ Took over the penalty-taking duties from Bert Murray half-way during the campaign, getting three from the spot. Player of the Season for 1972/73.
Utility Player. Born Shoreditch, London. Age 30 (until 22 Sep ’72). Known as the ‘People’s Player’ as a large percentage of his transfer from Birmingham came from Albion fans through the ‘Buy a Player’ fund. This former Chelsea player was an England Under-23 and Schoolboy international. He initiaily joined the Albion on loan in March 1971 and was signed ahead of the transfer deadline. Made a valuable contribution in 1971/72, scoring thirteen goals as a midfielder and winger and then switching successfully to full-back in the latter part of the season. He was voted ‘Player of the Year’. When the 1972/73 season kicked off, he was one of only three Albion players with previous Second Division experience. Murray’s penalty against Fulham in September gave Albion their first taste of victory in the League season. Enhanced his reputation for versatility when he took over in goal in the away defeat to Carlisle in December after Brian Powney’s injury. Overall, he played 38 games and took over the captaincy from Ian Goodwin during the campaign.
Midfield. Born Folkstone, Kent. Age 19 (until 11 Apr ’73). Promising teenager who captained Kent Schools and Kent Boys’ Club. After joining Folkestone and then captaining England’s amateur youth team in 1971, he joined Coventry City for a short time. Signed by Pat Saward in May 1971 and became a professional in December 1972. With Bert Murray out, Boorn made his League debut at home to Blackpool in December 1972 and played the next game, at Sunderland before being substituted. Loaned to Canterbury City and Tonbridge during the campaign before joining Canterbury on a free transfer at the end of the season.
Midfield. Born Lewes, Sussex. Age 30 (until 15 Sep ’72). A former captain of Sussex Schools who joined Fulham for whom he signed professional forms in May 1959. This adaptable utility player made 397 League and cup appearances for the Craven Cottage side in a fifteen year spell. Despite his diminutive size, Brown was commanding in the air as well as showing fine ability with his passing and tackling. When he joined Albion in October 1972 to strengthen the midfield, he commented. ‘It was as if I had been playing for Albion all my life. You see, I live at Lewes, the training ground is only four miles from my house and I have known Bert Murray and Barry Bridges for a long time. As for the rest of the lads I felt I knew them too from reading about them in the Evening Argus every night.’ Made his debut in the 2-0 away win at Huddersfield, slotting in effortlessly, but did not experience another victory in his other eight games with his loan side before returning to Craven Cottage.
Midfield. Born Burnley, Lancashire. Age 26 (until 20 Mar ’73). Strong, experienced player with the ability take control of the direction of a game. Also had some of the biggest sideboards in the game! When on song, always seemed to have a lot of time on the ball and a fabulous passer. He first made his mark with Bolton Wanderers, playing First Division football at the age of 16 in March 1963. Transferred to Portsmouth in 1969. As well as his influential performances, Bromley will always be remembered for being sent off in an FA Cup replay at Highbury in 1971. More than proved his worth when he joined Brighton initially on loan in November that year. When he returned to Hove after his loan spell expired, it was as a permanent signing for £14,000. Played a massive part in Albion’s bid for promotion but was hampered by injury the following season, when reduced the influence he was able to assert. Played just nineteen League games in the horrific 1972/73 season. Lost the captaincy to Ian Goodwin.
Forward. Born Bebington, Cheshire. Age 24 (until 25 Aug ’72). An all-action forward who never gave up and shot on sight. He joined Tranmere from junior football, but obtained qualification as a draughtsman before signing full-time. With seventeen goals by March, Beamish’s free-scoring form in 1971/72 at the Birkenhead club attracted Pat Saward who signed him for Brighton for £25,000 plus Alan Duffy on transfer deadline day in March 1972. Repaid the fee with six goals in eleven games that were vital in Albion’s promotion run. In 1972/73, Beamish suffered concussion on first day of the season against Bristol City and had to go off. Had to wait until October to record his first goal in Division Two, a dramatic last minute equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday in a 3-3 draw, Finished the season as the club’s top scorer with ten goals. These included both goals in the morale-boosting 2-0 win against Luton in February.
Forward. Born Dumblane, Perthshire, Scotland. Age 28 (until 26 Sep ’72). Fleet-footed opportunist who scored many brilliant goals. Napier had spells with Blackpool, Preston and Workington before he signed for Brighton from Newcastle in the summer of 1966 in a £8,500 deal. The deceptively quick forward scored twice on his debut against Peterborough in October 1966, and was top scorer in five of the next six seasons. A great favourite at the Goldstone, Napier captured the hearts of fans with his ball skills, deadly inswinging corners and eye for goal. Made three League appearances at the start of the 1972/73 campaign. After falling out with Saward, Napier was sold to Blackburn Rovers for £15,000 in August 1972, having scored 99 League and cup goals in his time at Brighton.
Willie Irvine Forward. Born Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. Age 29 (until 18 Jun ’73). A prolific striker with exceptional ability to anticipate where a ball will land and finish. Had a distinguished career with Burnley, whom he joined from school, before being transferred to Preston in 1968. After joining Brighton from Preston in July 1971 in a £7,000 deal, his club form got him back into the Northern Ireland team. Indeed, he played in all three of his country’s Home Internationals in the summer of 1972. He began the 1972/73 season with Albion on fire, hitting five goals in the first four games. Irvine also appeared on as part of the Irish ‘Quiz Ball’ team on the exciting BBC television panel game. However, the signing of Barry Bridges from Chelsea spelt a premature end to the Goldstone career of this classy goalscorer. Sold very cheaply to Halifax Town in December 1972 as a makeweight, in a deal that brought Lammie Robertson to the Goldstone Ground.
Forward. Born Banbridge, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Age 22 (until 13 Jul ’73). Capped by Northern Ireland, this former Wolves forward signed for Brighton in March 1972 following a loan spell. His four goals in eleven matches in 1971/72 had helped Albion towards promotion to Division Two. In 1972/73, he began the season as substitute and while he started four matches from the end of August, he failed to score and lost his place in the side. He was used sporadically from that point onwards, playing his last Brighton match against Oxford on Boxing Day. After a spell in the reserves, Lutton joined West Ham on loan in January 1973, with the Hammers eventually paying £12,000 to secure a permanent move.
Forward. Born Horsford, Norfolk. Age 31 (until 29 Apr ’73). A very experienced player with Chelsea, Birmingham, Queen’s Park Rangers and Millwall. Bridges won four England caps in 1965 due to his electrifying pace and predatory instincts in front of goal. Became Albion’s record signing when he was signed by Pat Saward in a £29,000 deal as a replacement for Kit Napier in September 1972. While showing some of the class that made him so prolific, Bridges was well past his prime by 1972/73. Playing in a struggling side, he scored just four times for Brighton in 25 League appearances during the campaign. Highlights of the season included goals against former clubs Millwall in September and QPR in December. Astonishingly, the latter was the only goal in twelve games scored by an Albion player in open play! With the side in dismal form, he was relegated to substitute after February, a period when a reshaped Brighton team began to get to grips with Second Division football.
Winger. Born Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales. Age 21 (until 4 Mar ’73). A big favourite at the Goldstone following his free transfer from Manchester United towards the end of the 1969/70 season. This Welsh wideman continued his progress in the Second Division, impressing fans at the higher level with his pace and close control, as well as his ability to spot an incisive pass. Scored within 22 seconds of the second half in the game against Aston Villa in September for Albion to claim their first away point of the campaign. For the second consecutive season, O’Sullivan was ever-present in the Albion side in 1972/73. His form earned him a call-up to the Welsh squad and his first full-cap, as substitute in the match against Scotland in March.
Winger. Born Brighton, Sussex. Age 17 (until 2 May ’73). Pacy teenager whose skilful wing play and crossing ability made him a thorn in the side of opposition defences. He became an apprentice at Brighton in December 1970 and breathed new life into the season when he made his League debut as outside-left alongside striker Pat Hilton in the revitalising 2-0 win against Luton in February 1973. That win ended a miserable sequence of thirteen consecutive defeats and Towner’s impressive performance captured the imagination of many at the Goldstone, hinting at a bright future. He held on to his place, playing as left-winger for the rest of the season, amassing fourteen League appearances and two goals in home wins against Huddersfield and Preston in March.
Forward. Born Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Age 24 (until 27 Sep ’72) Lanky Scottish player with commendable fight described by Pat Saward as having ‘a lot of ability and is a good strong runner.’ He began as a centre-back for the Glasgow junior club Drumchapel before signing for Burnley in September 1966. Without an appearance to his name, he moved to Bury on a free transfer in June 1968. In February the following year, he joined Halifax in a £3,000 deal. After being converted from a defender to striker, he became a star at The Shay, impressing with his football brain. Pat Saward tried unsuccessfully to buy him during the 1971/72 season. However, a £17,000 bid plus Willie Irvine secured his services in December 1972. Used as a striker in his first season at the Goldstone, Robertson struggled to turn the fortunes of the team around although his first Albion goal won the match against Huddersfield in March. Saward added: ‘Once you have broken your duck, goalscoring starts to come easier. At least I hope this will be the case with Lammie.’ So it proved as Robertson hit three goals in three games from the end of March, including another winner, at home to Orient in April.
Forward / Winger. Born Aylesham, Kent. Age 18 (until 1 May ’73). A skinny, young winger who could also play up front. While not the quickest, he showed enough promise to break into the Albion first team. Aged 15, he became the youngest player to play for Folkestone Town, once setting the place alight with an astonishing goal where, starting from the centre-circle, he beat four players and rolled the ball past the goalkeeper. After spells as a West Bromwich Albion apprentice and at Canterbury, he joined Brighton in February 1973. He had an encourage performance in a friendly against First Division club Stoke City that month before making his League debut, alongside Tony Towner, in the 2-0 win over Luton a week later. A week after signing as a full-professional, he injured his ankle ligaments in a reserve game against Orient. Returned to play in the last two matches of the season in late April.
Winger. Born Sheffield, Yorkshire. Age 16 (until 11 Mar ’72). With highly dangerous crosses and speedy runs as hallmarks of his game, this exciting prospect made a great impression for Westdene against the Brighton youth team in the Sussex Sunday Minor Cup Final in 1972. When he was taken on as an Albion apprentice, he progressed quickly through the ranks, delighting his coaches with his enthusiasm and ability to cut inside and shoot. Conway first appeared for the Brighton first team in a friendly game against Moscow Spartak in February 1973. Then, on the last day of the season, and aged just 17 years and 45 days, he made his League debut against Nottingham Forest, marking the occasion with the equalising goal as Albion came back from 0-2 down with a flourish.
“The euphoria of promotion hadn’t lasted long. Pat Saward changed. He seemed to become unapproachable, or at least he did with me, and where once I could see him whenever I wanted, now I seemed to have to book an appointment two or three days in advance. We all had to.
Brighton, now a Second Division club with a new office and dressing rooms, and with new players coming in, went on the slide and results were dreadful.
The hammerings were frequent and regular. Saward, for some reason had decided Barry Bridges was the player he wanted to bring in. He would bring them success in the higher division and the team, when he arrived, would be fashioned around him. The old maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ was sadly ignored.” Willie Irvine, ‘Together Again’ (2005)