Brighton & Hove Albion Football Shirt

Brighton & Hove Albion have made an impressive start to the season in the new Amex Stadium. Some fans may already be thinking back to past glories, such as the 1983 FA Cup final. One of Brighton’s goals in that final was scored by Gary Stevens, and his shirt is proudly displayed in our Exploring Brighton gallery. Back in the less optimistic days of 2005, one of our volunteers, Wills McGuigan, was so impressed by this shirt that he wrote down his memories of that final.

Football shirt belonging to Gary Stevens, Brighton & Hove Albion player in the 1983 FA Cup final.

Brighton & Hove Albion Football Shirt
Brighton & Hove Albion Football Shirt

If you were to tell someone that Brighton & Hove Albion were playing in the FA Cup final this year, they would eventually (no doubt after a hearty laugh) look on you with pity and accuse you of living in a football-shaped dream world.

Way back in the early 1980s however, when this fan was just 9 years old, the Seagulls commanded respect that stretched all the way to the Anfields and the Old Traffords of the domestic game.

Gary Stevens played for us – an England international no less! Irishman Gerry Ryan represented his country too. Steve Gatting, Michael Robinson,…..Steve Foster was heroic, deadly, extremely hairy (he wore a headband too and STILL looked cool),… the mighty lanky Graham Moseley in goal (who I’d actually met at Sussex General – I had stepped on a weaver fish near the West Pier, he was visiting his son who was in the next bed)…. In 1983 Brighton & Hove Albion had made it to the FA Cup final!

At 9 years old you would have forgiven me for believing that this was just the beginning of a golden era for the Seagulls – a Golden era at the Goldstone with silverware pouring out of every trophy cupboard.

The enemy was Manchester United. It was David and Goliath. I watched the game at home on Goldstone Road in Hove. Manchester United were 2-1 up with only a few minutes left to play…. and 22 years later in Brighton Museum & Art Gallery I can actually listen to the hero of the day, Gary Stevens, talk about how he hit the ball as hard as he could at the target, scoring the equaliser!

Brighton & Hove Albion had made it to Wembley and hadn’t lost to Manchester United. That was our victory.

And yeah we lost the replay of course, but the Seagulls came home to a hero’s welcome all the same. The procession passed by the end of my road. I ran out to join in and waved furiously at the Seagulls as they passed by in their very own open-top bus (Brighton & Hove Albion’s answer to the Batmobile, I thought at the time). I looked up and saw them all – Gary, Graham, Gerry, Steve, Michael – and the rest waving right back at me.

It was like the end of that Nick Hornby film ‘Fever Pitch’, except that everything was blue and white instead of red, and we hadn’t won the league, we’d lost the FA Cup. But you can ask anyone who was around back then – losing never felt so good.

Wills McGuigan

8 Responses

  1. The 1983 FA Cup final was one of the greatest days in the history of Brighton & Hove Albion. For years, as I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, the cup final was THE big football occasion of the year. There was no wall-to-wall TV coverage then – the cup final and a handful of of other games were the only live televised games.
    Surely no Albion supporter could ever have imagined our team reaching the final, even though we were “enjoying” our fourth season in Division One, then the highest division. (I say “enjoying” because the league form was terrible and we finished bottom and were relegated the same season.)
    Yet in the cup our form was terrific. Beating Manchester City 4-0 in the fourth round set up a tie away to Liverpool, who were then the dominant team in English football. For some reason I was quite confident, and for the first time ever I went into a bookies and put £3 on Albion to win at 9/1 – the other £2 of my fiver went on them to win the cup at 80/1. We won 2-1, perhaps the greatest single victory in our history. I hugged the chap I was sitting next to at the end – no idea who he was, but he hugged me too!
    We then beat Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday to get to the final against Manchester United. It was odd to be travelling to Wembley and not watching the traditional cup final build-up on the telly! Albion were underdogs, but took the lead when Gordon Smith scored with a great header. We then went 2-1 behind, but I was always confident we would equalise. It was only later I discovered it was so near to the final whistle that Gary Stevens made it 2-2; Gary was also Man of the Match. Gordon Smith had a famous chance to score in the last minute of extra time but his effort was saved.
    The replay was a damp squib – we lost 4-0 – except that it was Albion fans who could be heard singing, not the Man United fans! But because of the Gordon Smith chance, we are perhaps more famous for failing to win the cup than we might have been for winning it!
    I feel immensely privileged to have lived through a golden era in the club’s history. My hope is that we are now embarking on another one!

  2. Anonymous

    AND SMITH DID SCORE…

    I travelled up to Wembley by car with my best friend, Steve MacLennan, who sadly passed away 4 years ago.
    We set off from Brighton at 10 in the morning to give us plenty of time to park and soak up the atmosphere. I bought a scarf outside the ground for £2.50 which I still wear to every game!
    The noise when the players appeared from the famous Wembley tunnel was unbelievable – and this was for my team, Brighton & Hove Albion !
    I remember seeing our captain for the day, Tony Grealish, wearing the headband made famous by our club captain, Steve Foster, who was suspended and couldn’t play.
    When Gordon Smith (who did score!) put us one nil up just before the quarter hour I really thought we could go on and win. Even with the minutes ticking away and 2-1 down I still thought we could turn it around. After all I had dreamt of this day many times … and we always won !
    When Gary Stevens equalised at the far end from where we were standing, with just 3 minutes to go, the Brighton fans went wild.
    I had never experienced anything like it and I had seen some great moments following the Albion since my Dad took me to my first game way back in December 1964 as a wide eyed excited 7 year old – but nothing compared to that moment. Again I thought we could go on and win the game … and with extra time almost over we so very nearly did …. but remember, Smith did score !
    Making our way back to our car I remember shaking hands with loads of Manchester United fans, who congratulated us on such a memorable game and thinking how different they would have been had Gordon scored twice.

    Duncan Muir (age 54) Laughton

  3. Anonymous

    I supported Manchester United on that day. My sister who is also a Man U. fan was on holiday in England from her home in New Zealand and we watched the match on TV along with my parents who were avid Seagull Supporters. My sister and I decorated the lounge and passage in memorabilia – one half blue and the other half red. We sat on different halves of the room and at half time, my nephew (then aged 2) was brought into the room by mum’s neighbour who had been given the job of babysitting with a tray of cakes which they had baked. One half of the tray had blue icing and the other half were red-topped. It was very difficult to keep our seats with all the excitement of the second half and on a number of occasions, all 4 of us strayed to the wrong side of the room!!!! Unfortunately, my sister didnt get to see the replay as that was the day she returned to New Zealand. What wonderful memories even though I wasnt at Wembley.

  4. Alan Parr

    Well, it’s all but thirty years now, and the legends are well established.

    Legend (i) – a great final, and Brighton were unlucky not to win. True enough, but what we

    conveniently forget is how dominant United were, hitting the woodwork, missing golden chances;

    they could have been three or four up by half-time and we couldn’t have complained. The pitch

    was in a dreadful condition and United were far more hampered than we were.

    Legend (ii) – John Motson’s “And Smith Must Score!”. Sorry, what he actually said was “It’s Smith –

    and Bailey’s saved! And the flag stayed down!”

    Legend (iii) – Steve Foster’s return in the replay unbalanced the side and we were outplayed from

    start to finish. Sorry, that’s not the way I remember it. As I recall it was pretty even for at least the

    first half-hour. Things get a bit vague then – an imbecile colleague rang and believe it or not

    talked for the next hour and a half, by which time we’d somehow conceded four goals. I still

    blame myself that my lack of concentration was responsible for each one.

    Legend (iv) – Gary Stevens was immense. No argument about that one.

  5. Bill Arnold

    What nearly was a fantastic result, possibly would have been the best in the history of Brighton & Hove Albion. What still sickens me was a mate of mine who lived in Manchester told me on the night before of the big match, on Manchester local radio it was announced that a large number of tickets had suddenly become available for sale, these were for the Brighton End, come the Cup Final it was proved true, large amounts of Manchester United fans were in the Brighton End, it was said that these Brighton tickets had come from someone on Brighton’s Board of Directors, we all know who but we don’t need to name him. “Judas” comes to mind.

  6. I remember the tremendous feeling of elation, that we were actually going to a Cup Final, starting from the moment when we won our semi-final at Highbury and learned that we would be playing Manchester United. Over the ensuing few weeks the excitement around the town just grew and grew. On the day I was by myself high up on the terraces behind the goal, as my friend Howard, who had a season ticket, had a seat in the stands.

    Like Bill (above) I had heard rumours that had been going around that United fans had been able to buy tickets for the Brighton end and certainly there were plenty of them in the section below us. We were angry as it made it look as if Brighton couldn’t sell all their allocation, which just wasn’t true.

    The match seemed to go by in a blur, us taking the lead through Gordon Smith to lead at half-time. United scrambling an equalizer, then Ray Wilkins putting United 2-1 up with a wonderful curling effort, only for Gary Stevens to grab a late equalizer for us. Then just before the end of extra-time everything went into slow-motion as Michael Robinson broke away, squared the ball to Gordon Smith and for a second we thought Albion’s moment of glory had come – but as we all know it didn’t.

    The replay was a dreadful anti-climax, but at the time, although Albion had been relegated we could not have believed that nearly thirty years later, we would not have had another chance to win the Cup. Only now, with the move to the Amex can we begin to hope again that we may one day return to Wembley.

  7. Thanks to you all for sharing your memories.

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