A five-a-side team comprised of legendary Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County players over the years.
Eric Steele (Goalkeeper)
Currently, Eric is serving as Derby County’s goalkeeping coach, having been appointed in September 2013. To see his side at the top of the table must be a familiar sight for ‘Groucho’ who has experienced umpteenth promotions throughout his professional career. His extended loan spell at Peterborough in 1973/74 culminated in Posh winning the Fourth Division championship. When Steele joined Albion in February 1977, it wasn’t long before he was thrust into action, helping Mullery’s side to promotion in 1977 and 1979. A further promotion was achieved with Graham Taylor’s Watford to Division One in 1983, before he contributed to Derby’s rise from the Third Division to the First Division in the mid-1980s. During his playing days, he said, “I have very happy memories of the Goldstone and its fans. We packed them in up to 25,000 in fact, and I can see it all stirring again just like here at the Baseball Ground.”
John Gregory (Defender)
The former Aston Villa utility player cost the Seagulls £250,000 in July 1979, as the club prepared for their first season in the top flight. In an interview with Shoot! Magazine, Gregory sounded a note of optimism, “From what I’ve seen so far, I think we’ll certainly hold our own. We haven’t got many players with First Division experience but having seen how the other half lives in the lower regions of the Second and Third divisions, I think our players won’t want to give up life in the First too easily.” One of the reasons Gregory joined Brighton was because he wanted a regular place at right-back. However, he was used in midfield in the latter stages of 1980/81, scoring some crucial goals that helped to avert relegation. Gregory later played First Division football with QPR and Derby County.
Gerry Ryan (Midfielder and Winger)
The popular Irishman proved value for money after joining Brighton from Derby in September 1978 for £80,000. Over the next seven years Gerry Ryan made 199 appearances for the Seagulls, hitting 39 goals, some on very memorable occasions. For example, he rounded off the 1978/79 promotion season by smacking a loose ball to give Albion an unassailable 3-0 lead in the final match at Newcastle. The following campaign, his finish gave struggling Albion a much needed tonic, defeating league champions Nottingham Forest in November 1979. Against the odds, Ryan also scored goals in both the famous FA Cup victories over Liverpool in 1983 and 1984. Of these games, he said, “The goal at Liverpool was a simple tap-in after some great work by Michael Robinson, but it will always be special because it helped set up a victory at Anfleld and not many teams achieve that. My effort last week was more spectacular, although I thought the referee was going to blow for offside when Tony Grealish lobbed the ball over the heads of Mark Lawrenson and Alan Hansen.”
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Dean Saunders (Striker)
Looking back at the 1984/85 campaign with the Seagulls, the future Welsh international felt invincible. “The past 12 months have taught me so much about positioning and tactics,” he told Shoot! Magazine. “I had both cartilages out of my left knee at 18 and had both Swansea and Cardiff turn me down. I’ve had my share of the downs. From the moment I joined Brighton, my career has turned for the better.” He electrified the Goldstone by hitting 19 goals in his first season at the Goldstone but financial trouble led to Albion selling one of their star strikers to Oxford United for just £60,000 in March 1987. Saunders’ last year at the Goldstone was a troubled one, with the potent attacker being deployed on the wing and not being guaranteed a first-team place. His eventual transfer from Oxford to Derby for £1million led to the resignation of U’s boss Mark Lawrenson.
Alan Biley (Striker)
The flamboyant Biley had first come to the attention of many Brighton fans when his two goals for relegation-bound Derby County had helped beat the Seagulls 3-0 in the First Division in April 1980. After featuring for Everton, Stoke (loan) and Portsmouth, he joined Brighton in March 1985 for £50,000. The hope was that his goals would turbo-charge the Seagulls’ return to Division One. In an interview for the matchday programme he declared, “I take enjoyment very seriously. By that I mean that I know how lucky I am to earn my money playing the game I love. When I was 10 my only ambition was to become a professional footballer and that has never changed. It was the only thing I ever wanted to do. I know there are millions of kids who dream of making the grade. I’m one of the lucky ones. Now I’m there, I love to make the most of every day.” Sadly, he hit just nine goals in 40 appearances for Brighton.
Brian Clough (Manager)
From leading Derby County to the European Cup semi-final against Juventus in April 1973, the legendary manager saw his new club, Brighton & Hove Albion, humbled at home by Isthmian League side Walton & Hersham in the FA Cup 1st Round just seven months later.