Albion Nostalgia: Andy Ritchie was the star when Brighton beat Manchester City at the Goldstone in 1981
Albion haven't tasted too much success over the years against Manchester City, winning just five of the 19 fixtures between the two sides.
The last of those victories came ten years ago this week, on a memorable night at Withdean in the League Cup. Glenn Murray scored that evening and all Albion fans will be hoping he can do it again on Saturday.
For this week’s look back, we travel to October 1981 and a season of ‘what might have been’ for the Seagulls. The close-season had seen the departure of Alan Mullery, who resigned after a disagreement over, among other things, the sale of Mark Lawrenson.
Mullers’ replacement was Mike Bailey, who made a good start to the season with wins over Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers, leaving us comfortable in mid-table at the end of September.
In his ‘From the Manager’s Chair’ column, Bailey welcomed John Bond and his Manchester City team to The Goldstone. He talked about “evidence that the players are getting used to each other”, but added a note of caution that “now we need to get just a little more stability in our play”. He concludes “we are still learning, albeit learning fast and will be making sure in the future that things remain in our control”.
The ‘Scene around The Goldstone’ article gives us a brief look into the facilities available to the players at the ground. We learn that a new vending machine has been installed in the players’ lounge, along with a Pool Table. I wonder if the players had to buy their drinks from the machine?
Bailey named an unchanged team for the fifth consecutive game. Graham Moseley was in goal, behind a back-four of Don Shanks, Gary Williams, Steve Foster and Steve Gatting. In midfield, Jimmy Case, Neil McNab and Tony Grealish operated behind Gordon Smith. Up front were Michael Robinson and Andy Ritchie.
Ritchie was the subject of the very popular ‘Player Profile’, a fascinating glimpse into the life of a footballer in the 1980s. We learn that he drives a Mazda 323 hatchback, plays golf and tennis in his spare time, and listens to the contrasting sounds of David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Human League.
That musical combination seemed to work, as Ritchie turned in his best performance in an Albion shirt. After a goalless first period, the Seagulls ran riot in the second half.
In atrocious conditions, Michael Robinson opened the scoring before Ritchie scored twice and Gary Williams added a fourth. City scored a consolation, but the rain-soaked spectators went home happy. Bailey paid tribute to those who braved the downpour, saying “everyone on the terraces deserves a medal”. He singled out the contribution of Ritchie, who had come in for criticism from some sections of the crowd in previous weeks.
It was a magnificent performance and over the coming weeks, we continued to play with style. By the beginning of March there was a possibility of a UEFA Cup position, but a sequence of seven defeats in our last eight games put paid to that.
It will be a daunting task on Saturday at the Etihad, but if we draw on the spirit of 1981 and perhaps play some Pink Floyd in the dressing room beforehand, who knows what may happen!