Can Brighton find their 'Bryan Wade type hero' against Newcastle this Saturday?

Ian Hine looks back: Brighton and Hove Albion have played Newcastle United just 27 times in their history.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 10:11 am
Victory for Brighton against Newcastle this Saturday would be a huge boost for their Premier League survival

The first meeting was way back in 1930, when an FA Cup tie at St James’ Park was watched by over 54,000, who saw Newcastle win 3-0.

It was to be over 30 years before the team met again and in 1961/62, in a season that saw Albion relegated, Newcastle won 4-0 at The Goldstone and 5-0 at St James’ Park.

Our record against the Magpies has been better in recent years but this week, I’m going back to January 1991 and a very special day for 27-year-old Bryan Wade.

After a topsy-turvy start to the season, we were in 10th position after 23 games. A 3-2 win at Wolves the previous week was cause for optimism, but manager Barry Lloyd used his programme notes to discuss another hot topic of the time.

The recent FA Cup match between Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers had been moved to a Monday night, to suit the requirements of the satellite broadcasting company British Sky Broadcasting.

Lloyds said that, whilst inconvenient, “We must be in the business of selling our sport to the general public”. He went on to say,“Major sponsorship has played a big part in the game and we must also recognise the advantage of television when attracting multi-national companies to support football”

I wonder what happened to that embryonic broadcaster?

Programme cover from 1991: Brighton enjoyed a fine victory against Newcastle in 1991 thanks to four goals from Bryan Wade

Back to the match in hand and Lloyd named an unchanged team. Perry Digweed was between the sticks, behind a back-four of John Crumplin (Football Genius), Steve Gatting, Gary Chivers and Paul McCarthy. The midfield was Dean Wilkins, Clive Walker and Mark Barham, with Robert Codner, Mike Small and Bryan Wade up front.

Wade was making his full home debut. After being released by Swansea City, he was playing for Havorfordwest before Barry Lloyd offered him a trial in September 1990.

He scored a hat-trick for the reserves in a 5-0 defeat of Southampton and was offered a contract. He signed, only to suffer a hamstring injury which kept him out for a number of weeks. After scoring in the win at Molineux the previous week, Lloyd kept him in the side for the visit of The Magpies to The Goldstone.

The small crowd of 7,684 on a Wednesday night, saw something not done since the heyday of Peter Ward, as Bryan Wade scored all four goals in the 4-2 win.

There was little sign of what was to come, as just one goal separated the sides at the interval. Wade pounced just before the break, controlling the ball smartly, beating a defender and slotting the ball past John Burridge in the Newcastle goal.

In the second half, Newcastle scored twice, before Wade scored again, rounding Burridge to finish with style. Then came the best of the night. A cross from the right-hand side was flicked on by Wade at the near post, his header looping over the keeper and into the net, in front of the North Stand.

Newcastle threw everything at the Albion defence in search of an equaliser but with just over a minute to go, Robert Codner broke through and could have gone on to score himself. Instead, he flicked the ball with the outside of his right boot into the path of Wade. He slid in and thumped the ball home, sparking wild scenes of celebration in the North Stand.

Wade never really hit those heights again, and was released at the end of May 1992, following our relegation to the Third Division. Despite just 22 appearances, he will always be remembered for that January night of magic.

Saturday’s game is huge for both teams, with Premier League survival at stake. All Albion fans will be hoping for a hero to emerge and deliver a crucial victory.