When Brighton & Hove Albion played Tottenham Hotspur for the first time in the Football League in November 1977, the encounter at White Hart Lane drew a massive crowd of 48,613.
At the time, it was Albion’s highest-ever league match attendance and the Division Two game resulted in a very creditable 0-0 draw.
Neil McNab played for Spurs in midfield that day and he was signed from Bolton by Alan Mullery for the Seagulls two years later. Mullery himself had been a distinguished Spurs midfielder before hanging up his boots. The boss did put one over his former side when Brighton defeated Spurs 3-1 in the return fixture at the Goldstone in April 1978. Here is the Daily Mirror’s match report.
The young Brighton manager had quickly dispensed with two ex-Tottenham men that he had played alongside, Phil Beal and Joe Kinnear, when he took over the Goldstone hotseat in 1976/77. However, he was not averse to signing a former Spurs team-mate, as Martin Chivers joined to aid the promotion bid in 1979.
Chivers was not the first-ever big name Spurs and England centre-forward to join Albion. Those who were watching matches in the 1960s will recall the great Bobby Smith shocking the football world with a transfer to the south coast.
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At the time of Smith’s arrival, Brighton were in the basement division of the Football League while Spurs were amongst the elite. By 1979/80, the Seagulls joined the North London side in the top flight. Action from the 2-1 defeat at White Hart Lane in September 1979 made the back page of a fledgling soccer publication called Football Weekly News. It featured Spurs striker Gerry Armstrong, who eventually joined Brighton after the 1986 World Cup.
Early on in the following 1980/81 season, Albion’s fixture at Spurs was featured on the Big Match show on ITV. Gordon Smith’s clever brace ensured the Seagulls came home with a share of the spoils.
Into the Mike Bailey era and Smith turned provider as the Seagulls recorded their only ever victory at White Hart Lane in October 1981, thanks to Michael Robinson’s 70th-minute winner. Sadly, Albion lost the return fixture 3-1 in March 1982. However, the matchday programme makes for entertaining reading, with Brighton pushing for a UEFA Cup place.
Europe was not to be, as Brighton slid down the table towards the end of 1981/82. The slump continued the following campaign as the Seagulls were relegated. One of the brighter days was the fixture in April 1983, when two late Albion goals secured an improbable victory.
After impressing at the heart of the Seagulls defence in this match, Gary Stevens secured a switch to White Hart Lane in the summer. Here he is giving one of his last interviews with Brighton for Match magazine.