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PARALLEL LINES: BRISTOL CITY

5 November 2016

The connections between Albion and Bristol City.


The seventies
The second half of the 1970s provided some halcyon days for both clubs. Under the managerial reign of Alan Dicks, the Robins won the Anglo-Scottish Cup in 1977/78, defeating St Mirren, then managed by Alex Ferguson. Dicks also led the club to promotion to the First Division in 1976. For Bristol City, it was a four-season stay, just like it was for Brighton and Hove Albion when Alan Mullery guided the Seagulls to promotion from Division Two in 1979. The top-flight matches between the sides in 1979/80 ended with a 2-2 draw at Ashton Gate, before the Seagulls’ 1-0 home defeat in April 1980. The results were not enough to save the West Country side, who were relegated in 1979/80, while Brighton finished in 16th.

The long-term contracts
In the early 1980s, Brighton and Hove Albion sought to protect their assets and ward off bids from other clubs by offering long contracts to their star players. For example, in summer 1980, Steve Foster signed a ten-year contract. Mark Lawrenson was also on a contract of that length, while Peter Ward had signed for eight years. Then, 12 months later, goalscorer Michael Robinson also signed a ten-year deal. Such financial commitments ended up proving very onerous for the club, which was relegated to Division Two in 1983. Similarly, when Bristol City were relegated to the Fourth Division in 1982, highly-paid players Chris Garland, Jimmy Mann, Peter Aitken, Geoff Merrick, David Rodgers, Gerry Sweeney and Trevor Tainton, all agreed to tear up their contracts to help save the club. They became known as the ‘Ashton Gate Eight.’

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The Anfield wins
Both clubs have enjoyed famous wins at Liverpool in the FA Cup. in February 1983, Brighton and Hove Albion won 2-1 thanks to goals from Gerry Ryan and Jimmy Case. It was a massive shock especially as the then dominant Liverpool side went on to win the Division One championship and League Cup that season. In January 1994, Liverpool had somewhat fallen from grace despite winning the cup two years previously. It was still a surprise, however, when Russell Osman’s side floored the famous Reds in a third round replay, 1-0, thanks to Brian Tinnion’s left-foot finish. The result triggered Graeme Souness’s resignation.

The managers
After leaving Bristol City, Russell Osman went on to play for Brighton and Hove Albion from 1995 to 1996. Other Robins managers with Albion associations include Danny Wilson, who led the club to a Play-Off Final defeat by Brighton in 2004. Wilson had been an industrious and skilful player for the Sussex side under Chris Cattlin in the mid-1980s. Steve Coppell also had short spells with both clubs. In 2002/03, the former Manchester United and England winger very nearly helped the Seagulls to a great escape in a relegation battle from Division One. He managed the Robins for just four months in 2010.

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