At care homes and social clubs throughout the county and beyond, sporting memories mornings help to improve the wellbeing of people over 50 through the power of sport, by sharing photographs, articles, memorabilia or talks. Some participants live with dementia or have memory problems, while others have experienced depression, live alone or are dealing with ongoing health issues. Given the current coronavirus pandemic, such events are obviously on hold, so each Friday at brightonandhovealbion.com we’ll be bringing some Albion sporting memories of our own. We continue with the 1955/56 season, which saw another push for the Division Three (South) title…
Albion fans were certainly entertained during the 1955/56 season, with the team winning 14 league games in succession at the Goldstone Ground at an average of almost four goals scored per game.
The opening half of the season was a closely fought affair but once we turned into 1956, the title charge became a three-horse race between the Albion, Leyton Orient and Ipswich Town – although Billy Lane’s side never actually headed the table at any stage.
A surprise 3-2 defeat to Watford in late February – Albion’s only home defeat of the season and first in Hove for 14 months – proved costly. It saw the side fall two points behind Orient at the top and although Malcolm Stephens scored in an excellent 1-0 win at Brisbane Road the following month, in front of over 25,000 fans, the Londoners’ overall consistency proved difficult to match.
Indeed, Albion’s attacking style sometimes left them exposed, with surprise defeats suffered at struggling QPR, Newport County and Shrewsbury Town. Six points over Easter did, however, keep the pressure on but a 1-1 draw with the O’s at the Goldstone on 18th April, in front of 30,864 fans, followed by a 2-1 defeat at Ipswich the following week ended any title hopes.
A second-placed finish was rewarded with £220 in prize money from the Football Legaue, while the Albion fans were certainly handed their money’s worth in entertainment. The 65-point total was the highest the club had ever achieved, likewise the 112 league goals scored. In fact, Albion scored more goals than any other Football League club that season; Albert Mundy leading the way with 28 goals, followed by Peter Harburn with 23.
The team also scored four or more goals on 11 occasions, including an 8-1 thumping of fellow Division Three (South) side Newport County in the first round of the FA Cup.
Albion were proficient at the other end of the pitch too, with only 50 league goals conceded in the 46 league games and the half-back line of Des Tennant, Ken Whitfield and Glen Wilson arguably the best in the division. Jimmy Langley and Tommy Bisset were also outstanding at full-back and Eric Gill was again ever-present in goal.
This was the second time Albion had come agonisingly close to promotion under Lane in the 1950s. How long would the fans have to wait to make it third time lucky..?
Did you know?
Goldstone House, the dominating building which overlooked the eastern side of the football ground, was demolished in 1955 and replaced by new houses in Goldstone Lane and Fonthill Road. It had been the home of Albion’s former landlord, Alderman John Clark.
Star man: Albert Mundy
With 90 goals scored in 178 games for the Albion, ‘Our Albert’ is regarded as one of the club’s goalscoring greats.
He arrived from Portsmouth in November 1953 and was an instant hit, forming a fine partnership with winger Dennis Gordon.
Although he was an instinctive finisher, Albert was essentially an inside-forward and led the attack on only the od -occasion, making his goalscoring record all the more remarkable.
Three times during his five seasons with the club he headed the Albion goalscoring charts and scored more than 20 goals in three successive seasons.
The 1957/58 campaign saw Albert lose his place to the recently signed Dave Sexton and he left for Aldershot in the February.
He eventually left the Shots in July 1961 for Southern League Guildford City and after several seasons returned to his home town to become player-manager at Gosport Borough Athletic.
* With thanks to club historian Tim Carder and Ian Hine [www.seagullsprogrammes.co.uk] for images