1976 – 1977

Back row: Dennis Burnett, Gerry Fell, Graham Cross, Andy Rollings, Peter Grummitt, Ian Mellor, Chris Cattlin, Sammy Morgan, Graham Winstanley;

Front row: Tony Towner, Ken Tiler, Harry Wilson, Peter Ward, Alan Mullery (manager), Brian Horton, Peter O’Sullivan, Fred Binney, Steve Piper, Joe Kinnear.

Alan Mullery

Alan Mullery
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.

Peter Grummitt

Peter Grummitt
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.

align boxEric Steele
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.

align boxKen Tiler
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.

align boxPhil Beal
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.

align boxChris Cattlin
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.

align boxHarry Wilson
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.

align boxAndy Rollings
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.

align boxGraham Cross
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.

align boxGraham Winstanley
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.

align boxDennis Burnett
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.

Steve Piper

Steve Piper
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.

align boxBrian Horton
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.

align boxGerry Fell
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.

align boxTony Towner
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.

align boxPeter O’Sullivan
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.

align boxMark Elliott
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.

align boxPeter Ward
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.’

align boxIan Mellor
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.

align boxFred Binney
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.

align boxSammy Morgan
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.


1971 – 1972

Pat Saward

Pat SawardManager. A wing-half and inside-forward who played for Millwall, Aston Villa and Huddersfield. After a spell on the Coventry coaching staff under Jimmy Hill, Saward became Albion boss in the summer of 1970. He showed supreme commitment to the job and was passionate about involving supporters in making the club a success, through innovations such as the ‘Buy A Player’ fund. ‘This is your club as much as mine. Help make it great,’ he declared. He guided the club to a final position of fourteenth after flirting with relegation for much of the campaign. With right-hand man Mike Yaxley, Saward decided to embark on an all-out attacking game in 1971/72 which brought rich rewards with 43 away League goals in a scintillating season. Made the brave decision to switch Bert Murray to right-back and drop skipper John Napier for the vital clash with Aston Villa in March. Became only the second manager to lead Brighton to promotion to Division Two when the club clinched the runners-up spot.

Brian PowneyBrian Powney
Goalkeeper. Born Seaford, Sussex. Age 26 (until 7 Oct ’71). Although short for a goalkeeper at 5ft 9in, he proved one of the best in Division Three in 1971/72. Few could match his agility on the ground or courage in tight situations. After playing for East Sussex Schoolboys and Eastbourne United as a youth, he joined the Albion direct from school in Seaford, Sussex, in September 1961, being first choice keeper during the Fourth Division Championship side of 1964/65. Having completed ten years’ service with the club, he was granted a second joint benefit with Norman Gall in a friendly with Chelsea in May 1972. Missed just two League games during the promotion season under Pat Saward.

Alan DoveyAlan Dovey

Goalkeeper. Born Stepney, London. Age 19 (until 18 Jul ’72). A 6ft tall young keeper, signed as a understudy to Brian Powney for £1,000 from Chelsea in July 1971. Joined Chelsea straight from school following representative honours with Thurrock Boys. Dovey had served three years on the Stamford Bridge staff and had yet to make his League debut when he came to the Goldstone on loan in May 1971. Played in Albion’s last two League matches of the 1970/71 season, impressing many fans with his displays. In 1971/72, having signed a permanent deal with Brighton, he appeared against Norwich in the League Cup, making some daring saves despite the 0-2 defeat. Again played twice in League matches, including a ‘Man of the Match’ performance at York.

Stewart HendersonStewart Henderson
Defender. Born Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire, Scotland. Age 24 (until 5 Jun ’72). Sturdy and methodical, Henderson was described by John Vinicombe as ‘the quiet man of the side, and rarely flustered.’ This Scot won three schoolboy caps and joined the Albion after a spell at Chelsea. As an eighteen year-old, he made his debut for Brighton towards the end of the 1965/66 season. He established himself as the regular right-back from 1968 onwards, pleasing the Goldstone crowds with his solid tackling and overlapping, which led to his ‘Player of the Season’ award in 1969/70. In 1971/72 he made 34 League appearances before being substituted against Bradford in March. Henderson was then astonishingly dropped by Saward for the next match, the big clash with Aston Villa, and subsequently missed the rest of promotion run-in as his season came to a premature end.

Eddie SpearrittEddie Spearritt
Defender. Born Lowestoft, Suffolk. Age 24 (until 31 Jan ’72). Skilful, overlapping player with strikingly blonde curly hair. He was as versatile as he was reliable, even able to play as an emergency goalkeeper when required. His first club was Arsenal, but after six months at Highbury spent five and a half years with Ipswich Town, scoring seven times as a left-winger in their Division Two championship season of 1967/68. Joined Albion in a £20,000 deal in January 1969. Featured on the left-side of midfield under Freddie Goodwin but successfully switched to left back by Pat Saward during 1970/71. Ever-present in 1971/72 with 46 League appearances. scoring three goals including a double in the 4-2 win at Oldham in January. A long-throw expert.

John NapierJohn Napier
Defender. Born Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. Age 24 (until 23 Sep ’71). Classic, lanky centre-half with great aerial prowess. A full Northern Ireland international, Napier joined Albion from Bolton in August 1967 for £25,000, impressing Albion fans with his total commitment and understanding at the back with Norman Gall. So commanding were his displays, he won the club’s first ever ‘Player of the Season’ award in 1968/69. Besides a full cap gained against West Germany in May 1966, he also had Under-23, Youth and Schoolboy games for his country. As the club captain, he was ever-present in 1970/71 and for all of 1971/72 until he was suddenly dropped in favour of Ian Goodwin for the Aston Villa match in March. A player who gave everything on the field, Napier took his dropping, and loss of the captaincy, over the last two months of the season without complaint.

Norman GallNorman Gall

Defender. Born Wallsend, Northumberland. Age 28 (until 30 Sep ’71). This rock at the heart of the Albion backline was one of three players ever-present during the 1971/72 campaign. Indeed, John Vinicombe wrote that ‘the conversion of Gall, the club’s second longest serving player, to sweeper behind John Napier did wonders for the defence.’ After playing for Wallsend Boys, Corinthians youth team and Gateshead, Gall joined Albion in March 1962 and had made over 350 League appearances by the end of the 1971/72 promotion campaign, where his calm, steadying influence over the side provided a base for the team’s pulsating attacks. Together with Brian Powney, enjoyed another joint testimonial match, against Chelsea in May 1972.

Ian GoodwinIan Goodwin
Defender / Midfield. Born Irlam, Lancashire. Age 19 (until 14 Nov ’70). Known as ‘Reg,’ this tall, tough-tackling player’s emergence towards the end of the 1971/72 season helped to revitalise the promotion charge. As an inside forward, he joined Oldham at 15 as an apprentice but left a year later. At 17, his prowess was noted by Pat Saward at Coventry for whom he signed as a professional and converted to a midfielder, subsequently making four League appearances. In 1970/71, he went to the Albion on an extended loan before joining the club permanently on a free transfer in March 1971. A knee injury kept him out of action early in the 1971/72 season, finally resulting in a cartilage operation shortly before Christmas. At that time, he had only started one match in the season, in midfield, in the home defeat by York in September. Caused a stir when he fought his way back into the side, in defence, to play against Aston Villa in March, resulting in club captain John Napier being dropped. Kept his place in the side for the rest of the campaign. One of the most improved players of the season, leading to a ‘Goodwin for England’ banner in the East Terrace.

Bert MurrayBert Murray
Utility Player. Born Shoreditch, London. Age 29 (until 22 Sep ’71). Voted ‘Player of the Season’ in 1971/72, his first full season with the Albion, following his £10,000 signing from Birmingham in March 1971. The deal, using money raised by supporters to Pat Saward’s ‘Buy-a-Player’ Fund, led to Murray being known as ‘The People’s Player,’ and he repaid the fans with many impressive performances. He had joined Chelsea straight from school. In his 160 games for the Stamford Bridge side, this ex-England Under 23 international appeared in almost every position, including as a stand-in goalkeeper, before joining Birmingham for £25,000 in August 1966. Made 44 League appearances for Brighton in the 1971/72 promotion season, starring in midfield and on the right-wing, before playing with aplomb in the right-back position in the last twelve games to accomodate Ken Beamish. Scored twelve goals in the campaign, including four from the penalty spot. This included the late show against Torquay when, with Albion 1-0 down, Murray set Brighton on the way to a 3-1 win in the last fifteen minutes, with a cool spot-kick (after a Torquay defender admitted to the unsighted referee that he handled the ball). Fittingly, it was on Good Friday.

Colin DobsonColin Dobson
Midfield. Born Eston, Yorkshire. Age 31 (until 9 May ’72). Skilful left-sided midfielder with England Under-23 honours who had sharp control, positional sense and all-round ability. He scored 52 times for Sheffield Wednesday over five years before playing significant role in Huddersfield Town’s Second Division championship side of 1969/70. Travelled down to Brighton for a practice game with his club in January 1972 – and ended up playing against them for the Albion that night! Signed on a month’s loan after impressing in that friendly match. Made Albion debut as substitute at Bristol Rovers that month, coming on for John Templeman. Four games into his loan spell, he received a fractured ankle injury against Walsall, and returned to Huddersfield. Later returned to the Goldstone to set up two goals for Bristol Rovers in the 8-2 humbling of the Albion in 1973/74.