Front row: Tony Towner, Ken Tiler, Harry Wilson, Peter Ward, Alan Mullery (manager), Brian Horton, Peter O’Sullivan, Fred Binney, Steve Piper, Joe Kinnear.
Manager. A player’s player who enjoyed a distinguished career in midfield with Fulham, Tottenham and England. On becoming Brighton manager, said ‘I have to lean back and touch the walls to make sure I’m not dreaming.’ Signed a four year contract ten weeks after beginning the job. Famously got into trouble with the FA for making gestures at Crystal Palace fans in a fiery FA Cup encounter in January 1977. Steered the club to promotion to Division Two in his first season as a manager.
Goalkeeper. Born Bourne, Lincolnshire. Age 33 (until 19 Aug ’76). An outstanding custodian of the goalmouth with excellent reflexes and handling. He made 313 First Division appearances for Nottingham Forest in a ten-year period before moving to Sheffield Wednesday. Kept goal for the Owls 121 times before signing for Brighton for just £7,000 in January 1974 after a loan period. Established himself immediately as first choice, taking over from Brian Powney following the 8-2 reverse against Bristol Rovers. Played 158 games for the Albion before a knee injury in March 1977 put a sudden end to his career.
Goalkeeper. Born Wallsend, Northumberland. Age 22 (until 14 May ’77). Excellent shot-stopper who did not disappoint as Mullery’s only signing during the course of the season. Began his career with home club Newcastle before joining Peterborough in July 1974 for whom he was an ever-present in 1975/76. Signed as goalkeeping cover in a £19,000 deal in February 1977. Got his chance when Grummitt was injured the following month. Starting with his debut at Crystal Palace, played the remaining fifteen games of the promotion push.
Defender. Born Sheffield, Yorkshire. Age 26 (until 23 May ’77). Right-back who joined Chesterfield as an amateur in 1967 and signed professional forms two years later. Made 139 League appearances for Chesterfield before joining Albion in October 1974. Despite some injuries, continued to be a regular in the Albion, figuring in 38 League games during the promotion campaign.
Defender. Born Godstone, Surrey. Age 31 (until 8 Jan ’77) He joined Tottenham in May 1970 as an amateur before signing full professional forms in 1972. An England youth international, he made 420 appearances for Spurs before moving to Brighton in July 1975 on a free transfer. Unable to hold onto a regular place at the Albion, he made just ten League appearances in total for the club including only one in 1976/77. In his last game for Brighton, he was carried off injured against Ipswich in the League Cup replay. Moved to Los Angeles Aztecs in February 1977.
Defender. Born Milnrow, Lancashire. Age 30 (until 25 Jun ’77). Played rugby league as a boy before signing as an amateur for Burnley. Turned professional for Huddersfield and it cost Coventry a fee of £65,000 to sign him in 1968, then a record fee for a full-back. An England Under-23 international, he totalled 213 First Division appearances for the Sky Blues over eight seasons. Was Peter Taylor’s last acquisition when he joined the Albion on a free transfer in May 1976. Despite some injuries, played 37 League games, mainly as left-back.
Defender. Born Hetton-le-Hole, Co. Durham. Age 22 (until 29 Nov ’76). A regular at left-back for the Albion for many seasons including being ever-present in the 1975/76 season. He was previously with Burnley where he progressed through the youth scheme to make twelve first team appearances. He moved south to Brighton in a £70,000 deal in December 1974 together with Burnley team-mate Ronnie Welch. 1976/77 was to prove his last for the Albion. He made seventeen League appearances and faced increasing pressure for the number three shirt from Chris Cattlin. Moved to Preston in July 1977 in a deal involving Gary Williams joining the Albion.
Defender. Born Portishead, Somerset. Age 21 (until 14 Dec ’76). Commanding centre-back who joined Norwich City from school and graduated to make four first team appearances. Jumped at the chance of regular first team football with Albion and was signed in April 1974. In the 1976/77 season, he was again a regular in the defence, this time partnering Graham Cross and helping the Albion to the joint-best defensive record in the division. Played 39 League games and contributed four goals during the season.
Defender. Born Leicester, Leicestershire. Age 32 (until 15 Nov ’76). Another defender of great experience in his first season with Albion. He spent twelve years with Leicester, winning England Under-23 honours and appearing in two Wembley cup finals. Made 599 appearances for Leicester and spent a period on loan to Chesterfield before joining the Albion. Ever-present in the side in 1976/77 and grabbed the last minute winner in a famous League Cup victory over Ipswich. Took over penalty-taking duties for a time, converting spot-kicks against Chester and Lincoln in January 1977. Moved to Preston with Harry Wilson and £50,000 in exchange for Gary Williams in July 1977.
Defender. Born Croxdale, Co. Durham. Age 28 (until 20 Jan ’77). He played seven times for Newcastle before joining Carlisle United. Made 166 League appearances for Carlisle and helped them gain promotion to the First Division. Went on loan to the Albion in October 1974, then the move became permanent a month later for £20,000. His performances that season averted the threat of relegation and he was appointed club captain in August 1975. However, Winstanley broke his nose the following month and thereafter was a squad player rather than first-team regular. Made just four League appearances in 1976/77.
Defender. Born Bermondsey, London. Age 31 (until 27 Sep ’76). A classy central defender, Burnett started with West Ham, then went to Millwall in 1967. In six years he missed only one game until his £60,000 transfer to Hull in October 1973. Dennis joined Brighton in August 1975 and played a significant role as the Albion finished fourth, even captaining the side at one point. His first team chances were much curtailed at the start of the Mullery era, due to the success of the Graham Cross-Andy Rollings defensive partnership. As a result, his contract was cancelled by mutual agreement in February 1977.
Midfield. Born Brighton, Sussex. Age 22 (until 2 Nov ’76). A local boy who gained junior honours with Brighton and Sussex Boys. Signed as a professional in September 1972, after amateur service with the club. Made his League debut against Burnley in November 1972 as the Albion slid from the Second Division. Established himself as a tough-tackling regular in the centre of defence, although occasionally featured at right-back. Such was his development as an Albion player that he was runner-up to Norman Gall in the club’s ‘Player of the the Season’ poll in 1973/74. Used as a ball-winner in midfield for the whole of the 1976/77 season, when he was ever-present. His long-range thunderbolt capped a fine 4-0 win over Portsmouth in April. Had the satisfaction of scoring the goal that guaranteed promotion, the winner against Sheffield Wednesday the following month.
Midfield. Born Hednesford, Staffordshire. Age 27 (until 4 Feb ’77). Inspirational leader and captain who Alan Mullery said performed the manager’s role on the pitch. Served as an apprentice with Walsall. Drifted into non-League football with Hednesford Town before getting his chance again with Port Vale where he was a huge success. Joined Albion in March 1976 after playing 236 games with the Valiants for a bargain £27,000. A tenacious tackler with an eye for attack. ‘Nobby’s purple patch of four goals in the first three games contributed to an impressive haul of twelve goals during the 1976/77 season when he was voted ‘Player of the Season’ by supporters after a magnificent contribution to the side.
Midfield / Winger. Born Newark, Nottinghamshire. Age 25 (until 1 Mar ’77). Attacker who impresses down the right wing with his lightning pace and eye for goal. Joined Long Eaton after impressing against them for Stamford in the FA Cup. A NatWest bank clerk, he turned professional with Albion aged 23 in October 1974 after being tipped off by Albion number two and former Long Eaton boss Brian Daykin. Made 53 appearances and scored thirteen goals in his first two seasons at the Albion. In 1976/77, despite strong competition from Tony Towner, Fell was able to make 26 League and cup appearances. His goals included the third against eventual champions Mansfield and a crucial winner versus Port Vale, both in April.
Winger. Born Brighton, Sussex. Age 21 (until 2 May ’77). A flying wide player who can operate on either flank. A product of the youth scheme who signed as a professional in October 1972. ‘Tiger’ became a regular in the first team after making his debut in the Second Division against Luton Town in February 1973. Was the club’s top scorer in 1974/75 with ten goals. Despite being hampered by a long lay-off, Towner enjoyed playing a significant part in the 1976/77 season, featuring in 23 League games and scoring six goals.
Winger / Midfield. Born Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales. Age 25 (until 4 Mar ’77). Skilful dribbler and passer, and a sole survivor from Albion’s 1972 promotion side. ‘Sully’ was signed from Manchester United in April 1970 and soon established himself as a regular on the wing and midfield, playing 194 consecutive matches between 1970 and 1974. In the 1976/77 campaign, he figured in 43 games, scoring two goals. A Welsh international level.
Winger. Born Rhondda, Glamorgan. Age 17 (until 20 Mar ’77). Recommended to the Albion after playing as a winger for Ton Pentre. He had a successful trial at Brighton and signed for the club in February 1977. After some good performances in the reserves, he made his League debut against Shrewsbury the following month. Played the next two matches before making way for Gerry Fell. Moved on a free transfer to Cardiff in September 1979.
Forward. Born Lichfield, Staffordshire. Age 21 (until 27 Jul ’77). ‘Wardy’ began his professional career with Burton Albion before moving to Brighton in May 1975. Made his League debut at Hereford in march and scored after 50 seconds! Went on to score six goals in eight games in the tail end of 1975/76. In his first full season in the Brighton first team, aided and abetted by Ian Mellor, Ward was top scorer in the entire Football League with 32 strikes. He also smashed Hugh Vallance’s club record in 1976/77 with 36 League and cup goals. This included a four goal haul against Walsall and an opener against Derby in the League Cup after 37 seconds. Mullery said, ‘It is his ability to go past people, slide off them, and his sharpness in the box that makes him a natural.’
Forward. Born Wythenshawe, Cheshire. Age 26 (until 19 Feb ’77). A lanky striker dubbed ‘Spider’. Mellor made 40 appearances for Manchester City before a £65,000 move took him to Norwich City in March 1973. After nine goals in 43 League and cup matches, Mellor was transferred to Brighton in April 1974 for a club record fee of £40,000, hitting five goals in his first game, while on tour with the club in Majorca. Scored the winner on his Albion debut in the League against Crystal Palace in August 1974 but took a few seasons to settle at the club. Knowing when to hold the ball and when to release it, he blossomed up front in the 1976/77 season, scoring twelve League goals and providing ample service for Peter Ward in a famous strike partnership.
Forward. Born Plymouth, Devon. Age 30 (until 12 Aug ’77). Ex-Torquay striker who had a prolific spell with Exeter, hitting 90 goals in 117 League games. Was joint top scorer in the Football League in 1972/73 with 28 goals. Joined Albion from Exeter in May 1974 for £25,000 plus John Templeman and Lammie Robertson. Led the way in attack in 1975/76 with 23 League goals. Two first-half goals against Oxford in the opening League game in the 1976/77 suggested another hatful of goals were to follow. However, Binney was dropped in September in favour of the Ward-Mellor double act and never figured for the Albion again. Played with St Louis in America in the summer before moving to Plymouth on a free transfer in October 1977.
Forward. Born Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. Age 29 (until 3 Dec ’76). Bustling Northern Ireland striker who moved from Port Vale to Aston Villa in August 1973 in a £25,000 deal after 24 goals in 113 League games. After two seasons at Villa Park, joined Brighton in December 1975 for £30,000. Fractured cheekbone in pre-season game against Luton in August 1976. Made just one League start and sixteen substitute appearances during the 1976/77 campaign as he was unable to break the Ward-Mellor strike partnership. After coming on for the injured Andy Rollings, gave an outstanding performance as a centre-back in the FA Cup at Crystal Palace in November 1976. Moved to Cambridge for £15,000 in August 1977.
N.B. All ages correct as of 1 August 1976.