Dean Wilkins

Dean Wilkins Brighton & Hove Albion
Dean Wilkins

Dean Wilkins had just eighteen League appearances under his belt when he left England for the Continent in 1984, but after three years in the Netherlands he returned considerably more experienced and played a large part at the Goldstone for nine years, appearing in more than 370 games and nearly leading the Albion back to the First Division in 1991.

Although he sometimes became the target of criticism from the terraces. the talented midfielder could transform a game when his vision and distribution came off. Equally, his outstanding free-kicks will long be remembered, especially the superb effort against Ipswich Town in May 1991 which famously clinched a place for the Albion in the Second Division play-Offs.

A member of the Wilkins football dynasty, Dean is the younger brother of Ray (ex-England skipper), Graham (Chelsea and Brentford) and Steve (Brentford): and the son of George (Brentford, Bradford (P.A.), Nottingham Forest and Leeds United). As a schoolboy, he represented Middlesex and trained with Chelsea and Manchester United. but it was with Queen’s Park Rangers that he served his apprenticeship. signing professional forms in May 1980.

Originally a defender. he developed into a midfielder but in three seasons at Lotus Road he made the starting line-up just twice. In August 1983, Dean arrived at the Goldstone on a free transfer and appeared in the first-team three times, but was released after a loan-spell with Orient towards the end of the season. Recommended to PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands by his former Albion colleague Hans Kraay, he honed his skills during three seasons in the Dutch League. Although Zwolle finished bottom of the First Division in his first campaign, they regained their place the following season and finished 1986-87 in mid table.

In July 1987, Albion manager Barry Lloyd brought the 25-year-old back to the Goldstone for a £10,000 fee. After a rocky start to his second spell with the club, Dean played an important part in Albion’s promotion back to the Second Division in 1987-88 and became an essential member of the side, making 123 consecutive appearances and captaining the team on many occasions. Although often criticised for his apparent lack of ‘bite’ and left-footed almost to a fault, there was no doubt that he was the chief play-maker in the side for several seasons and created countless goals with his imaginative passes.

Beset by injury problems in his latter days, Dean enjoyed a testimonial season in 1995-96, his brother Ray bringing Queen’s Park Rangers to the Goldstone for his benefit. At the end of the season, though, he was released, subsequently taking trials with Worthing and Torquay United. During 1996-97 he played for Worthing and Crawley Town before settling down with Bognor Regis Town.

Mike Trusson

Mike Trusson Brighton & Hove Albion
Mike Trusson

Mike Trusson made only a limited impact at the Goldstone, but he did enjoy a successful career in Yorkshire before coming to Sussex. After a trial with Chelsea, the Middlesex born youngster was playing for a youth side in Somerset when he was taken on as an apprentice by Plymouth Argyle, and made his Football League debut as a trainee before signing professional forms in January 1977.

Playing up front, Mike scored fifteen goals in 73 League games in four seasons at Home Park which included a loan spell with Stoke City in December 1978) before moving to Sheffield United for £60,000 in July 1980. While with the Blades’ he won a Fourth Division championship medal in 1981-82 and appeared in 126 League matches before being exchanged for Rotherham United’s Paul Stancliffe in December 1983.

Three-and-a-half seasons and 124 League matches at Millmoor ended when a receiver was called in to handle the club’s affairs. Mike was offered less-favourable terms and was made available for transfer at £50.000, but, as a creditor of the club, he appealed to a Football League tribunal for a free transfer and won his case. Now able to negotiate his own conditions, he signed for the Albion in July 1987. but suffered persistent knee problems before makine his debut five months later.

Playing as a tough-tackling midfielder, Mike was plagued with injuries while at the Goldstone and, unable to establish himself in the team, moved to Gillingham for a £20,000 fee in August 1989 where he brought his total of League appearances to 434 before further injuries cut short his career.

Mickey Thomas

Micky Thomas Brighton & Hove Albion
Mickey Thomas

Mickey Thomas came to prominence with Wrexham, whom he joined as an amateur in 1969 after representing Clwyd & Conwy and North Wales Schools. In 1971 he became an apprentice, signed as a pro in April 1972, and went on to play a big part in the “Robins'” most successful era. Gaining Welsh Cup winner’s medals in 1975 and 1978, he helped his side to the Third Division title in 1977-78.

The tenacious little Welshman also represented his country at youth, under-21 and under-23 levels, and won his first full cap against West Germany in October 1976 in a 2-0 defeat in Cardiff. His success as an attacking midfielder or winger attracted the attention of Manchester United, and he signed for them for £300,000 in November 1978. Mickey went on to enjoy 90 First Division outings at Old Trafford, playing in the side which lost the 1979 F.A. Cup final, but that proved to be the pinnacle of his career.

After joining Everton in August 1981, in an exchange deal for John Gidman valued at £450,000, he started on a downward spiral which barely relented. Mickey made just ten League appearances before joining the Albion three months later for a £350.000 fee, but his spell at Goodison was idyllic compared with his time in Hove and the impish 28-year-old moved on in August 1982, joining Stoke City for £200,000.

Mickey continued his wanderings for many vears: he later turned out for Chelsea (January 1984), helping them to the 1983-84 Second Division title: West Bromwich Albion (September 1985), where he won his last cap; Derby County (on loan March 1986): Wichita Wings in the U.S.A. (August 1986); Shrewsbury Town (August 1988); Leeds United (August 1989); and Stoke City again (on loan March 1990, signed August 1990).

In August 1991, Mickey returned to Wrexham and enjoyed a last, brief moment of glory when he helped knock Arsenal out of the FA. Cup, but he played his last League game in November 1992 at the age of 38 and was released in May 1993, joining Conwy United.

Gordon Smith

Gordon Smith Brighton & Hove Albion
Gordon Smith

‘And Smith must score!’ Gordon Smith has gone down in history for the incident in the 1983 F.A. Cup final when, confronted only by Gary Bailey in the last minute of extra time, he shot against the Manchester United goalkeeper – who spread himself well – and thus failed to land the F.A. Cup (and a place in Europe) for the Albion.

Yet it would be most unfair if the gifted Scot was remembered only for that. Described by manager Alan Mullery as ‘the Trevor Brooking of Scottish football’ when he paid £400,000 for the 25-year- old’s signature in June 1980 (an Albion record at the time), Gordon was an intelligent, constructive player with undeniable skill on the ball, and was – that one incident excepted – a good finisher in his role as an attacking midfielder.

As a precocious youngster he represented Ayrshire Schools, played regularly for Kilmarnock’s reserves while still at school, and made his first-team debut for ‘Killie’ at the age of seventeen in August 1972. After 44 goals in 203 League and Cup games at Rugby Park, and four appearances in Scotland’s under-23 team, Gordon joined Glasgow Rangers for £65,000 in August 1977 and won a host of honours in three seasons at Ibrox: a Scottish League championship, two Scottish Cups and two League Cups.

The tall midfielder was an immediate success on arriving at the Goldstone in 1980: he scored on his debut, completed a nineteen- minute hat-trick at Coventry two months later, and finished second in the scoring list to Michael Robinson in his first season with the club. At his best when coming forward from the middle of the park, Gordon was played as an out and-out striker by new manager Mike Bailey in January 1982, a situation which caused him to seek a transfer.

Subsequently in and out of the side, he returned to Ibrox on loan in December 1982 and played in the Rangers side which was beaten 2-1 by Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final. In the meantime, though, Bailey had left Hove and Gordon was welcomed back by Jimmy Melia, who used him as a striking partner for Michael Robinson following an injury to Gerry Ryan in March.

The Scot’s contribution to the F.A. Cup run was substantial: it was Gordon who made the winner for Robinson in the semi-final, and it was he who opened the scoring at Wembley with a beautifully directed header before booking his place in football folklore.

Following the appointment of Chris Cattlin as manager, Gordon had little opportunity to impress and was transferred to Manchester City for £35,000 in March 1984, helping them to promotion to Division One in 1985. He subsequently played for Oldham Athletic (on loan January 1986, signed for £5,000 in February).

Don Shanks

Don Shanks Brighton & Hove Albion
Don Shanks

A Fulham apprentice who joined Luton Town at the age of seventeen in July 1970, Don Shanks represented England at Youth level during his time at Kenilworth Road and had made 90 League appearances up to November 1974 when he was transferred to Queen’s Park Rangers for a £35,000 fee.

Helping Rangers to runner’s-up spot in the First Division in 1975-76, he was released in 1981 after 180 League matches at Loftus Road and joined Albion on their pre-season tour of the Netherlands Proving a more-than- adequate replacement for the departed John Gregory, Don was quickly signed on a free transfer by manager Mike Bailey and went on to make 42 League and Cup appearances in the ensuing 1981-82 season, playing consistently well as Albion tightened up their First Division defence considerably to finish a respectable thirteenth.

He appeared in twelve matches during the early part of 1982-83, but was dropped by Jimmy Melia and George Aitken in favour of Chris Ramsey when Bailey was dismissed in December 1982 and soon left for the Eastern club in Hong Kong.

On returning to the U.K, Don joined Wimbledon on a non-contract basis and made one Third Division appearance in 1983-84 before leaving to play and coach in the United States.

Gary Rowell

Gary Rowell Brighton & Hove Albion
Gary Rowell

An accomplished attacking midfielder Gary Rowell was worshiped by the fans on Wearside during a twelve year career with Sunderland, but was sadly unable to reproduce his excellent form away from Roker Park.

The son of John Rowell, the former Bournemouth, Wrexham and Aldershot forward, Gary played junior football in his native Seaham before joining the Roker staff as an apprentice in 1972. After turning professional in July 1974, the local youngster went on to become one of the club’s greatest heroes of recent times, scoring 99 goals in nearly 300 League and Cup games.

Top scorer in five of his ten seasons as a professional, he converted no fewer than 24 penalties and won an England under-21 cap in 1977 However, all good things come to an end, and Gary’s Sunderland career finished in 1984 following a dispute over the terms of his contract.

He moved on to Norwich City, but his time at Carrow Road was wrecked by injury and twelve months later he returned to his native North-East with Middlesbrough. ‘Boro, though, went into receivership during the 1986 close season and, with Ayresome Park padlocked, Gary was released to join the Albion in August 1986; Brighton manager Alan Mullery, in his second spell at the helm, thus finally signed a man he had pursued in the “Seagulls'” First Division days.

The classy midfielder’s debut came somewhat ironically at his spiritual home, Roker Park, but he was unable to establish himself in the Albion side until December, and then a toe injury suffered on 27 December effectively ended his career in Sussex.

Making only three more appearances before his contract was paid up in February 1988, Gary joined Dundee on a month’s contract and also had spells with Carlisle United (March 1988) and then Burnley (close season 1988), where he made nineteen appearances in the Fourth Division before he left the Football League.

Doug Rougvie

Doug Rougvie Brighton & Hove Albion
Doug Rougvie

A rugged, hard-as-nails defender, Doug Rougvie won great popularity wherever he played for his uncompromising approach to the game, a style of play which earned him the nickname ‘Doug the Thug’; yet he was a competent enough performer to play for Scotland and won a host of honours in his homeland. He could also be an inspirational leader, as he proved at the Goldstone Ground.

On Dunfermline Athletic’s books as a schoolboy, Doug was playing for junior side Dunfermline United when he joined Aberdeen in 1972 at the age of sixteen. Farmed out to Rosemount, an Aberdeen junior club, for experience, he also completed his education in mechanical engineering before going on to appear in 308 League and Cup games for the ‘Dons’. A great favourite at Pittodrie, he gained two Scottish League championship medals; three Scottish Cup winner’s medals; a European Cup-Winners’ Cup medal against Real Madrid in 1983; and made one appearance in a Scottish jersey, in a 2-0 defeat by Northern Ireland in 1983.

Transferred unexpectedly to Chelsea in August 1984, Doug spent three seasons at Stamford Bridge and played in 90 League and Cup games, mainly at left-back (in competition with his future Albion colleague Keith Dublin). In 1986 he added a Full Members Cup medal to his collection.

With the departure of Eric Young to Wimbledon imminent, Albion manager Barry Lloyd spent £50,000 in June 1987 to bring the hugely experienced 31-year-old to the Goldstone, and installed him as skipper following the departure of Danny Wilson. Although looking a little crude at times, Doug was a colossus at the heart of the defence as Albion gained immediate promotion back to the Second Division in 1987-88, but the season ended on a sour note when, after recovering from a bout of flu, he was replaced by Bob Isaac for the last few matches and requested a transfer.

In September 1988 he moved on to Shrewsbury Town for £50,000, and joined Fulham five months later, but the following August he returned to Scotland with the club he had started out with as a lad, Dunfermline Athletic. After 28 Premier Division outings for the ‘Pars’, Doug left for Montrose during the close season of 1990 and starred in the team which took the runner’s-up spot in Division Two in his first season at Links Park. In December 1991 the 35-year-old defender was appointed manager, but left Montrose the following May and resumed as a player with Huntly in the Highland League, later to become manager.

In 1993-94 he helped the Aberdeenshire club win the League and League Cup, and won a second championship the following season. In April 1995, Doug played for the Highland League XI which defeated an FA. XI – effectively the England semi-pro side – 4-3 at St Albans.

Sammy Nelson

Sammy Nelson Brighton & Hove Albion
Sammy Nelson

After joining the Arsenal ground staff as a young left-winger, Sammy Nelson signed professional forms at the age of seventeen in April 1966 and went on to enjoy a long and highly successful career at Highbury.

The former Northern Ireland schoolboy international was soon converted into a left-back and went on to make 255 First Division appearances for the north London club. In 1966 he gained an F.A. Youth Cup winner’s medal, and made his first-team debut in 1969-70. but he had to wait until 1975 and the departure of Bob McNab to Wolves before making the no.3 shirt his own.

In both 1978 and 1980, Sammy appeared on the losing side in the F.A. Cup final, but gained a coveted winner’s medal in between when the ‘Gunners’ defeated Manchester United 3-2 in the 1979 final. He also appeared in the European Cup-Winners’ Cup final of 1980, when Arsenal lost to Valencia in a penalty shoot-out in Brussels. Kenny Sansom’s arrival signalled the end of Sammy’s days as a first-team force and he came to Hove in September 1981 when Mike Bailey paid a fee of around £30,000.

Taking over the no.3 shirt from Gary Williams, the experienced 32-year-old retained his place for the remainder of the 1981-82 campaign and spent the summer with the Northern Ireland World Cup team in Spain where he played in two games. After playing thirteen League matches at the outset of 1982-83, the tough-tackling full-back lost his place to Graham Pearce and took to coaching the reserves.

Sammy won a total of 51 caps for Northern Ireland, the last four of which came while he was on Albion’s books.

Dennis Mortimer

Dennis Mortimer Brighton & Hove Albion
Dennis Mortimer

Dennis Mortimer was born in Liverpool. He began his career with Coventry City, where he came through the ranks to make more than 200 first-team appearances as a midfielder. His displays for Coventry attracted the attention of several top clubs, and he joined Aston Villa for £175,000 on Christmas Eve 1975.

Dennis captained Villa to the 1980-81 Football League championship, the club’s first League title for more than 70 years. He then led the team to victory in the 1982 European Cup Final a 1–0 win against Bayern Munich. From 1975 to 1985 he made 406 appearances for Villa scoring 36 goals.

After leaving Villa, Dennis moved to Brighton & Hove Albion but was only there a year before returning to the Midlands with Birmingham City. During 1985-86 Dennis played 49 matches for the Seagulls.

Neil McNab

Neil McNab Brighton & Hove Albion
Neil McNab

Neil McNab began his career in 1972 with Greenock Morton where he made 14 appearances before 1974, becoming the club’s youngest ever professional. He was signed by Tottenham Hotspur and became their youngest ever first team player at age 16. He made 72 appearances for Spurs, scoring 3 goals.

In November 1978 he was transferred to Bolton Wanderers for a fee of £250,000, making 35 appearances and scoring 4 goals, before Brighton & Hove Albion acquired his services for the fee of £220,000 in February 1980.

Then after 115 appearances for the Seagulls he signed in 1983 for Manchester City with whom he stayed until 1990. He was arguably City’s player of the eighties, being voted Player of the Year in both the 1986–87 and 1988–89 seasons.

A skilful and very combative defensive midfielder, Neil inspired a young team to promotion from the Second Division in 1989. He played 221 league matches for City and scored 16 goals.

He left for Tranmere Rivers in January 1990 for £125,000, the third six-figure move of his career, and played over 100 first-team games for them.

Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy Brighton & Hove Albion
Paul McCarthy

Paul McCarthy a Cork native came through the ranks at Rockmount and played on the same underage teams as Roy Keane.

Paul joined Brighton as a trainee in 1989 and made 217 appearances for the Seagulls before enjoying spells at Wycombe Wanderers, Oxford United, Hornchurch and Ebbsfleet United.

He was an important part of the Wycombe team that reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 2001 — going out to Liverpool 2-1 at Villa Park.

John Keeley

John Keeley Brighton & Hove Albion
John Keeley

Born in Plastow, Essex, John Keeley began his career at Southend United where he made 63 first team appearances between 1979 and 1986. He was signed by Brighton & Hove Albion in 1986 and made 138 league appearances in four years with the Seagulls, helping the club to promotion to the Second Division in 1988.

He joined Oldham Athletic in 1990, but made only two league appearances, being loaned out to Oxford United, Reading and Chester City in 1991 and 1992.

He joined Colchester United in 1993, making 15 league appearances. He subsequently joined Stockport County, making 20 league appearances. John later played for Peterborough United before retiring from the professional game.

Gary Howlett

Gary Howlett Brighton & Hove Albion
Gary Howlett

Gary Howlett joined Brighton & Hove Albion in 1982 from Coventry City. The highlight of his Brighton career came in the 1983 FA Cup final against Manchester United, where he crossed for Gordon Smith to head the first goal in a match that ended 2–2.

He won one cap for the Republic of Ireland against China in 1984. Gary, whose playing career was hampered by injuries, later joined AFC Bournemouth (1984–88) and York City (1988–91), and played on loan for Aldershot (1987) and Chester City (1987–88).

Gary later returned to Ireland to play for Shelbourne, making his League of Ireland debut on 1 March 1991.

Tony Grealish

Tony Grealish Brighton & Hove Albion
Tony Grealish

Fondly remembered as a midfielder who gave his all in the green shirt, and dubbed ‘Mr Reliable’ by former Ireland manager Eoin Hand, Tony Grealish earned 45 caps for Ireland – scoring eight goals – between 1976 and 1985.

Tony enjoyed a 21-year career at Leyton Orient, Luton Town, Brighton (1981-84, 121 appearances, 8 goals) West Brom, Manchester City, Rotherham and Walsall before finishing up with non-league side Bromsgrove Rovers in 1995.

He captained the Seagulls in the 1983 FA Cup final clash with Manchester United.

John Crumplin

John Crumplin Brighton & Hove Albion
John Crumplin

John Crumplin was born in Bath in 1967, and spent his early childhood in Singapore, where his soldier father was stationed, before the family settled in Walberton, West Sussex.

He was on the books of Southampton as a youngster, but his progress was interrupted by a broken leg, and he joined Bognor Regis Town. After playing for Bognor’s first team at 16, he spent time on the books of Portsmouth, and returned to Bognor before signing for Brighton & Hove Albion in March 1987.

He took a few years to establish himself in the side, and was released at the end of the 1992–93 season, before re-signing for one final campaign in which he took his totals to 245 appearances and 9 goals, of which 207 and 7 were in league competition.

After leaving Brighton, he played for Woking, contributing 3 goals from 48 Conference appearances as the team finished as runners-up in 1994-95 and 1995-96 and starting in the 1994-95 FA Trophy Final.

Joe Corrigan

Joe Corrigan Brighton & Hove Albion
Joe Corrigan

Joe Corrigan joined Manchester City as a youth player in 1966. He made his debut in 1967, in a League Cup match against Blackpool. Joe established himself in the first team during the 1969–70 season, and was part of the Manchester City team which won a cup double of the European Cup Winners Cup and the League Cup. Hr was also a member of the 1976 League Cup winning side.

His debut appearance for England came on 28 May 1976 against Italy, the first of a total of 9 caps, and he was part of the England squad for the 1982 FIFA World Cup. He would undoubtedly have played more time for England if his chances had not been limited by Peter Shelton and Ray Clemence.

Joe also appeared for Manchester City in the 1981 FA Cup Final defeat by Tottenham Hotspur where he was named as man-of-the match. In total Corrigan made 592 appearances for Manchester City, a figure beaten only by Alan Oakes, and a club record for a goalkeeper. He also won Manchester City’s Player of the Year award three times, a feat matched only by Richard Dunne.

Joe transferred in 1983 to American club Seattle Sounders for £30,000. He stayed in the US only a few months, making 29 appearances before returning to England with Brighton & Hove Albion where he made 42 appearance between 1983 and 1985.

Terry Connor

Terry Connor Brighton & Hove Albion
Terry Connor

Terry Connor scored on his senior debut for Leeds United aged 17, in a 1–0 win over West Bromwich Albion on 17 November 1979. He made 108 appearances in total for Leeds over four seasons, scoring 22 goals.

He joined Brighton & Hove Albion in exchange for Andy Ritchie, in March 1983. However, he was unable to appear in the Seagull’s FA Cup Final appearance just months later as he was already cup-tied. The majority of Terry’s games for Brighton came in the Second Division. His form here won him an England under-21 cap in November 1986, when he played and scored against Yugoslavia under-21.

He scored 51 goals in 156 appearances before leaving Brighton as they dropped into the third tier in 1987. One of his most memorable goals for Brighton came when they knocked Liverpool out of the 1983-84 FA Cup, a season in which Liverpool won the League Cup, European and were crowned League Champions.

He moved along the South Coast to sign for Portsmouth in a £200,000 deal. Portsmouth were newly promoted to the First Division at the time of Terry’s arrival, but despite his goals they were relegated after just one season. He remained at Fratton Park for three seasons before joining Swansea City for £150,000 in August 1990.

After a solitary full season with the Swans in the third tier, he moved to Bristol City in September 1991.