Busby: Albion supporters were tip top

David Busby looks back on his ground-breaking debut as the club’s first black player.

By Charlie Hanson • 20 October 2020

By Paul Hazlewood
David Busby made his Albion debut in 1973.

Albion’s first black player David Busby looks back fondly on his debut 47 years ago and the support he received from the fans. 

On this day in 1973, a 17-year-old Busby came on against Shrewsbury Town with just over ten minutes to go in a third division game which Albion won 2-0.

“I was nervous before I came on but then afterwards I had a bit of recognition around Brighton and not just because I was a black guy walking around. I could be on a bus going back to my digs and somebody would say ‘you’re Dave Busby’, and I would think ‘how the hell do they recognise me!’

David Busby (front row, second from right) with the rest of the 1974/75 squad.

“I would go shopping and people would come up to me and say ‘you’re that young player at Brighton’. They were nice little things that I still remember.

“The fans used to sing ‘there’s only one David Busby’ which I was a bit embarrassed about then our supporters would reach out while I was warming up because they wanted to shake my hands and our trainer Glen Wilson would shout, ‘Oi, I told you to warm-up!’ Albion supporters on the whole were tip top. They just wanted to know me and I lapped it up.”

Busby, who these days works as a bus driver at Heathrow Airport, was an apprentice when he made his debut.

“After the games us apprentices had to sweep the stands and it would take us two days to get rid of the rubbish. We had to help the groundsman Frankie [Howard] divot the ground.

“We cleaned the boots, did the laundry and all the jobs around the ground. The only thing we didn’t do was mow the grass.

David Busby (back row, first from left) with the rest of Albion youth team of 1973/74.

“To prove yourself, the management had trials to see how you would fair with a lot of boys my age – 16 or 17 – waiting to come on. It was a roll-on, roll-off game.

“Once, I remember the guy in front of me got so nervous that when it was his turn he walked down the track and out through the gate and left. So Glen Wilson put me on and I did okay. Glen used to drive me to and from my school in Heathfield and I will always be thankful to him for that because the only way of getting there was by bus and they only came every two or three hours.”

The anniversary of Busby’s debut comes during Black History Month, where we celebrate the achievements of black people in all walks of life throughout history and not just in the UK, but all over the world.