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1970s
In 1969/70 new manager Freddie Goodwin led the club in an unsuccessful bid for promotion, but he then left for Birmingham City to be replaced by Pat Saward.

Albion, beset by the perennial lack of cash, struggled in 1970/71, but Saward inspired thousands of supporters to raise money for his “Buy a Player Fund” which resulted in the purchase of Bert Murray. The following season Saward put together a team which finished runners-up in the Third Division behind Aston Villa thanks to outstanding away form – 12 games were won away from the Goldstone – and Murray was voted Player of the Season, but, following 13 consecutive defeats the following term, they soon found themselves back in Division Three once more.

New Era
After suffering the ignominy of relegation, the Board chose Mike Bamber, a property tycoon, as the new chairman. Under his dynamic leadership the Albion were to enjoy a golden period.

However, one of his first actions was to sack Saward, a move which at first alienated supporters, but news of his replacement soon silenced the doubters. Bamber brought in Brian Clough, the most outspoken manager of his day — and also one of the best. But while the club and its supporters basked in the spotlight the team was humiliated at home, firstly by the amateurs of Walton & Hersham (4–0 in the F.A. Cup) and then Bristol Rovers (8–2 in the League). Things soon improved as a new team was built and the drop was avoided, but Clough deserted the Albion for Leeds United after less than nine months in charge, leaving his assistant Peter Taylor to carry on.

Golden Years
The new man proved a dour contrast to his vociferous predecessor and the team finished in the same place, 19th, in 1974/75. Albion came close to promotion in 1975/76, though, and also acquired a genuine new nickname: “Seagulls” was to become synonymous with Brighton & Hove Albion over the next couple of years. Indeed, “Seagull mania” was soon to take hold of Sussex, and huge crowds would flock to worship at the almost impregnable Goldstone Ground.

However, Taylor then opted to rejoin his erstwhile partner, Clough, at Nottingham Forest in 1976, so in came Alan Mullery for his first managerial post. With a team assembled by Taylor, he steered the club to second place in the Third Division in a campaign that had everything: a run to the fourth round of the League Cup with wins over First Division sides Ipswich Town and West Bromwich Albion; a classic, three-match encounter with the new arch-rivals, Crystal Palace, in the first round of the F.A. Cup; and a wonderful performance from the quicksilver Peter Ward, who set a new record of 36 goals in the season and was top scorer throughout the Football League.

Mullery was allowed to spend money like no other Albion manager before or since. In came Mark Lawrenson, destined to become the most accomplished player ever seen at Hove, for more than £100,000, followed by forward Teddy Maybank for over £238,000. With Brian Horton proving an inspirational skipper and Peter O’Sullivan feeding his forwards superbly, Mullery’s side challenged for promotion to the First Division for the first time and crowds came to the Goldstone in record numbers to witness the attempt. The gate averaged 25,264, and three times within a fortnight in April 1978 it topped 30,000. These staggering figures prompted the Board to draw up more plans to improve the Goldstone, but once again they remained on the drawing-board. In fact, the club’s strategy soon changed to seeking a completely new home.

The visit of Tottenham Hotspur saw large-scale hooliganism both in the ground and in the town, but Albion beat their rivals 3–1 to set up a fascinating finale which saw “Spurs” draw 0–0 with Southampton to pip the “Seagulls” on goal difference.

In 1978/79 supporters expected the team to do well, but it was only after reaching the fifth round of the League Cup for the first and only time – they lost 3–1 at Nottingham Forest – that they gained the confidence to challenge for promotion. With only two League defeats after November, Albion looked likely champions, but after securing promotion with a 3–1 victory at Newcastle they were pipped for the title by Crystal Palace and finished in second place.
Promised Land

Just as their Second Division debut 21 years earlier had proved “difficult”, the first game in Division One, on 18th August 1979, was a 4–0 home defeat by Arsenal. Soon struggling at the bottom of the table, the “Seagulls” faced a daunting trip to Nottingham Forest in November 1979. The European champions were unbeaten at home for over two years, but Gerry Ryan scored the goal which beat Clough and Taylor’s men, and suddenly the team found a new lease of life. Peter Ward, who had been the subject of an aborted transfer to Forest, began to sparkle again, and Albion rallied to 16th place, avoiding relegation with ease. The season ended with a fire in the South Stand following a game against Middlesbrough.


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