Roger Ockenden - memories of the 'old' days

Roger Ockenden spends most of his summer days at the County Ground in Hove taking photos before, during and after many of the fantastic cricket matches that have seen Sussex rise from being an 'unfashionable' club with few players being even noticed for England duty to being the one club that everyone in the country actually wants to beat.

However, Roger was also a very passionate Albion supporter and Liz asked him for his memories of the 'old' days...............

"In less than a years' time, the Seagulls will be playing at their inspiring new stadium at Falmer. For their loyal band of supporters this cannot come soon enough.

I joined the Brighton & Hove Albion Supporters' Club in the mid 60s and I could never have imagined what drama my local football team would go through in the next 40 years.

My main reason for joining the Supporters' Club was to be able to use the coaches, which they organised for nearly every away game, at a very cheap price [currently, we take a coach to EVERY first team away game]. The coaches left from St Peter's Church in Brighton. Some trips involved an overnight stay, and I recall one of these occasions when Brighton played at Stockport and Darlington on consecutive days! Another memorable trip was for a game at Torquay, when the coach broke down on the return journey, in the middle of nowhere. We all had to get out and push to try to bump start the coach! [We had to do this en route TO Torquay during the 'dark years' - photo in 'More than 90 Minutes'].

The Supporters' Club had their own premises in St Georges Place, Brighton. This was manned by volunteers and was open Monday to Friday during the day, and for 2 hours each evening. From here, lottery tickets were sold and bookings could be made for away games. A large quantity of football programmes from various professional teams were stocked, and could be purchased, together with many other football related items. [From this we are getting a picture that there was apparently no commercial operation within the football club and they relied on the Supporters'Club to do most of their marketing!]

At the Goldstone Ground, the Supporters' Club had the use of an old house at the North East corner of the ground. This was used for selling all kinds of football memorabilia, and was also a meeting place for the supporters both before and at the end of home games.

When I joined the Supporters' Cub I was amazed by how much support we gave to the parent club. For a start, the club handbook and magazines were all produced by the Supporters' Club. Social events like the annual dance, Meet the Players' nights and beauty contests were again organised by the Supporters' Club.

The Supporters' Club also ran their own sports teams - the stoolball team was very successful. In the late 60s, both a men's and ladies Supporters' Club football team were formed and competed in the local leagues. The house in the North East Corner of the Ground was used for changing, storage and socialising during the week for these sports teams.

The committee comprised 14 people although I am not sure why there were so many! [With all the activities they were involved in, I would say this was a sensible number!]. A Horsham section also existed, with their own committee, and they ran their own coaches to all home games plus some away games, especially in the London area. [Horsham Blue and Whites were disbanded relatively recently when numbers of spectators in general at the Goldstone dwindled and the original members sadly passed away and sadly were not replaced by younger fans].

One thing that does stay in my memory from the 60s is the support and participation that the Albion Directors gave to the Supporters' Club in those days. All were successful local business people with a genuine love of the football club. I believe and hope that the present Albion hierarchy are also of the same breed.

The club cannot exist without supporters and the Supporters' Club has a vital role to play, just as it did 40 years ago."

So, the 60s version of the Supporters' Club was once a very active entity - we aim to get back that reputation and play a large part in the future at The Amex - there will be facilities for supporters to meet before and after games, the Museum will be a fantastic 'must see' part of the matchday experience and our aim is to be the Supporters' Club that everyone wants to be part of.

Liz Costa

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