Working as a photographer I get to attend some fascinating events and get to meet some equally fascinating people at these events; as a freelance photographer for Brighton & Hove Albion the fascination value (for me) increases enormously. But this must have been one of the most joyful and surreal events I have covered.
An Appreciation Dinner was given to celebrate ex-Brighton Manager Alan Mullery at the American Express Community Stadium in mid-March. Mullery enjoyed a successful career as a player with Fulham and Spurs, and when he hung up his boots, he became the manager of the Seagulls.
While Mullery managed Brighton in two spells – 1976 to 1981 and again from 1986 to 1987 – it was in his first spell in charge that he achieved legendary status of with the Brighton faithful by taking the team from the old Third Division through two promotion campaigns into the old First Division – and keeping them there.
To me and my football-following mates the team that Alan Mullery built were heroes. We loved them, and their names still trip off our tongues as easily today as they did back then.
The evening would not have been complete without that team, and they were invited to the celebration at Brighton’s new home. Before the dinner, the players arrived for a pre-dinner reception, appropriately, in what is now the player’s lounge. Most of the players had not seen each other since those long-ago days at the Goldstone Ground; some were instantly recognisable, and others less so.
There is always something quite moving about watching old long-lost friends greeting one another; hugging each other, laughing and grinning joyfully. When the friends I am shooting happen to be my heroes from over 30 years ago, the experience becomes very surreal.
Dear reader, I present the team that Alan Mullery built…
Back row: Steve Foster, Graham Moseley, Paul Clark, Steve Piper, Chris Cattlin, Andy Rollings, Ian Mellor, Gerry Fell, Sammy Morgan, Peter Suddaby, Mike Yaxley (Physio), Martin Chivers, Mark Lawrenson, Gordon Smith, Pat Jennings (not in the team).
Front row: Peter O’Sullivan, Teddy Maybank, Peter Sayer, Peter Ward, Alan Mullery, Ken Craggs (Asst Manager), Brian Horton, Eric Steele.
(The photograph is copyright and may not be used without permission)