John Shepherd made a sensational debut for Millwall, scoring four goals at Leyton Orient. With a growing reputation, the striker joined Brighton & Hove Albion in June 1958, hitting 19 goals in 45 appearances over the next two-and-a-half years.
You can read about his playing days, and his long association with Albion’s schoolboy and youth set-up, in this biography by his daughter.
Without the goals of the burly centre-forward, Brighton dropped out of Division Two football in 1962. Albion returned a decade later under Pat Saward, who had played 120 times for Millwall as a stylish wing-half. As Albion boss in 1972,he told Football League Review: “We may be a Third Division team but we all think in terms of being a First Division outfit. If you don’t think big in football you’ll never win anything.”
Saward’s positive thinking seemed to do the trick in 1971/72, as Albion’s pulsating attacking approach took the club to the Third Division runners-up spot. Early on in the following campaign, he returned to the Den to sign striker Barry Bridges, who had a bittersweet tale to tell in the Brighton v Millwall matchday programme of September 1972.
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That match at the Goldstone was lost 3-1, although Bridges netted Albion’s goal that day. Things got worse two months later as Brighton were defeated 3-0 at the Den in the first of 13 consecutive defeats for the club.
The popular Tony Towner made his Brighton debut in that ill-starred 1972/73 campaign. ‘Tiger’ told of his time on the south coast before signing for Millwall under boss George Petchey, who went on to have a spell as caretaker manager at the Goldstone in 1986.
In 1990/91, Brighton enjoyed two cracking matches against Millwall in the Second Division Play-Off Semi-Final. From a goal down, Barry Lloyd’s side hit back with four goals in a celebrated first leg win at the Goldstone Ground.
The Lions’ hopes of a comeback were dashed in the return leg, with Robert Codner and John Robinson helping the Seagulls to another victory.
The following season, 1991/92, was of great disappointment to the Seagulls as the side slid to relegation. Even so, the team enjoyed another spirited success at the Den. Defender Gary Chivers making a brief appearance as an emergency goalkeeper and John Byrne scored against his future club.