Manager. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.