Albion Nostalgia: Back to the difficult 90s

As we approach the climax of our first season in the Premier League, Huddersfield Town visit on Saturday for a huge game, one that could well determine our ultimate fate.

The front cover of the matchday programme when Albion played Huddersfield in 1992
The front cover of the matchday programme when Albion played Huddersfield in 1992

The 1992/93 season was also crucial for the Seagulls, although for different reasons. It was the first for the newly-created Premier League but Albion were in the third tier, and struggling. Financial uncertainty threatened the very existence of the club.

Huddersfield visited the Goldstone in September, 1992, with Albion third in the table. Barry Lloyd was still unsure of his best 11 but sent out an unchanged team from the previous week’s win against Preston North End. In goal was Mark Beeney, a keeper who was ever-present until his sale later in the season.

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At half-time, honours were even, with Steve Foster, who had returned to the club after eight years away and was rock-solid all season, scoring for Albion. A small crowd of just 6,141 saw Paul Moulden score the winner.

This should have been the springboard for a concerted push for promotion, but events off the pitch were starting to take their toll. Manager Lloyd was concentrating more and more on the financial side of things, leaving team affairs to his assistant, Martin Hinshelwood. The game against Huddersfield was John Robinson’s last in an Albion shirt, as he departed for Charlton Athletic.

The biggest saga was the ongoing financial struggle. The club had attempted to raise money against the value of the Goldstone but the underlying planning permission, for retail units on the site of the ground, was refused in November 1992. In that month, we received a winding-up petition from the Inland Revenue. At stake was £398,000 in in PAYE. A revised planning application was hastily prepared, but this too was thrown out.

Negotiations continued until April, 1993, when it looked very much as though the end of Albion as a football club was approaching. Ex-Albion player Howard Wilkinson was by then the manager at Premier League Leeds United. He made a £350,000 bid for goalkeeper Beeney and the bank draft for this sum was hand-delivered by Lloyd to the Worthing tax offices, just in time.

The club remained in a perilous situation and the events of 1992/93 were the start of a terrible period in our history. Thankfully, we are now in a period of great stability, and three Premier League points on Saturday will go a long way towards continuing this.