Brighton Rock; Slade at The Goldstone Ground

Brighton RockGlam rock band Slade, with their iconic leader Noddy Holder, dominated the airwaves for the first half of the 1970s. They wrote their name into British culture forever in ’73 with the smash-hit festive anthem, “Merry Xmas Everybody”. The band’s releases spent more than 300 weeks in the UK charts and sold more records than any other group in Britain that decade. Yet, despite these achievements, almost nobody remembers their one and only attempt at a football song back in 1978; “Give Us A Goal”. It’s a great shame as the song enjoys a special connection with Brighton and Hove Albion. Strangely enough, the Goldstone Ground provided the rockers with the location for their music video. On a freezing winter day in February, the band were present for the Albion’s match with Burnley where Slade made Brighton rock.

This post pieces together the story of the single through articles, cuttings and children’s television performances.


SLADE: “GIVE US A GOAL” (Barn Records, Released 1978)

slade-daddioSlade, as we know them now, began life under various different guises in the mid-1960s – The Vendors, The ‘N Betweens, Ambrose Slade – before agent John Gunnel and his business partner Chas Chandler paid a visit. As the 1970s approached, Chandler liked what he heard and agreed to manage the band. They adopted a skinhead look, wrote their own songs and shortened the name down to just ‘Slade’. They broke into the charts in August 1971 under Chandler’s direction and positioned themselves within the ‘glam rock’ movement, with the long hair and big costumes that went with it. Success followed as they began to take over the UK charts for the next few years, peaking with their best-selling juggernaut ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’; the 1973 Christmas number one.

But every rise comes with a fall, and the band’s popularity declined after that. A move to America came in the mid-70s, to little critical acclaim. By 1977, Slade aimed for a comeback in the UK so Chas Chandler switched them to his own label; Barn Records. The move didn’t bring much initial joy, with only a tribute song to the death of Elvis Presley breaking the top forty. They followed this up with an idea for a song to kick off 1978 based on football chants, aiming to capitalise on their old skinhead following, a look which was closely linked with supporters of the sport.

With their new football single written and ready to go, Slade needed to record a music video to flog to television programmes to use and promote the song for its release date (some publicatiosn report this as 3rd March 1978 though many others suggest it was actually 24th February). According to website Dave Kemp and Slade, Chas Chandler lived in the Sussex area at the time and had contacts with the Brighton and Hove Albion directors so arranged to use their Goldstone Ground home for the video shoot. Ahead of the visit of Burnley in the middle of February, Brighton’s North Stand were treated to some top-notch rock ‘n’ roll pre-match entertainment.

SLADE Cartoon promo

A cartoon promo advert in the music newspaper Record Mirror for the new Slade single as the band score past Jim Lea


FILMING THE VIDEO

Brighton 2-1 Burnley; Saturday 11th February 1978

SLADE Crowd SLADE Albion

Brighton competed in the Second Division of English football having gone up from the Third tier the previous year. Managed by Alan Mullery, the club were going well in the promotion shake up again with two thirds of the season gone. They’d won twelve of the twenty-seven League fixtures thus far, losing just the once at fortress Goldstone. Twenty-two-year-old striker Peter Ward was fast becoming a club legend, dominating the goalscoring charts to add to his tally of a whopping thirty-six the previous season. Albion’s number eight had a new strike partner in Malcolm Poskett, who scored on his debut the previous week at Hull.

Protecting goalkeeper Eric Steele, the Seagulls defence included ex-Huddersfield and Coventry man Chris Cattlin, who would later return as manager. Preston’s young, impressive Player of the Year 1977, Mark Lawrenson, moved to Sussex that summer for £100,000 to play alongside former North End teammate Gary Williams and established centre half Andy Rollings.

Brian Horton was pivotal in the middle of the park. Local lad Tony Towner featured on the right wing, with Welsh international Peter O’Sullivan serving the other flank. Long-serving O’Sullivan joined as a teenager in 1970. Completing the home line up was the midfielder nicknamed the ‘tank’; Paul Clark made his debut back in November ’77 to grab the number ten shirt.

Perhaps inspired by Slade’s pre-match singalong, both teams did what the rockers asked. Brighton gave us goals from Horton and Poskett to defeat Burnley two-one, defender Derek Scott netted for the visitors. Mullery’s men sat fourth in the Division Two table, the same place where they’d finish at the end of the season. Albion agonisingly missed out on promotion to the top flight on goal difference alone; nine worse than third placed Tottenham. In fact, they were only two points off the title! The foundations, though, were in place for a successful promotion push the following season as Brighton hit the big time at last.

SLADE Clap SLADE Guitar and backing vocals

But before the match, it was Slade’s turn to ignite the ground. Their line up at the time comprised four members: Noddy Holder, Dave Hill, Jim Lea and Don Powell. The quartet performed in front of the North Stand at the Goldstone, on a little stage by the side of the pitch. Noddy was the enigmatic frontman, responsible for lead vocals and played rhythm guitar. In this video, draped in the blue and white Albion scarf (above left), he led the clapping and chanting, rousing fans to join in at every opportunity.

Above right, we see guitarists Jim Lea (yellow and black scarf) and Dave Hill (red and white scarf). Jim co-wrote the song with Noddy, as was the case for most of Slade’s back catalogue. The track heavily relied on the guitar to drive the familiar riff of the football chant, topped off with the rasping voice Holder was renowned for. The chorus lyrics were catchy; “We’ll beat ya, defeat ya, we’re ready to roll! Get the ball into the net and give us a goal!” The reviews weren’t glowing, but one from the music paper ‘Record Mirror’ at the time did state it “recaptures the football fervour that they used to build up” at gigs.

SLADE Drums SLADE Pitch

The band earned a reputation for their energetic and engaging Live performances, making good use of the gathered crowd for a fantastic atmosphere. Despite Slade’s decision to move into the football song market, the band members weren’t particularly fussed by the game. Hailing from Wolverhampton, some of the members would look out for their results but weren’t particularly sporty themselves. Drummer Don Powell is shown, above left, in the white scarf. Don recovered from a very bad car accident five years earlier, which left him with lifelong injuries and killed his partner.

SLADE Noddy SLADE Football

There was an existing link between football and popular music, with many clubs and teams releasing their own songs. For the 1970 World Cup, England’s trophy holders sang the famous ‘Back Home’, which reached top spot and kicked off a tradition of the tournament anthem to celebrate their participation. Clubs reaching the FA Cup Final would often follow suit, with the likes of Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea all lending their voices to vinyl early on in the decade. The players tended to also appear in the video. So this recording needed some footballing actions shots too.

SLADE Dave SLADE More football

Interspersed between clips of Noddy and the gang giving the North Stand a performance to remember with their musical instruments, the band also took part in a football match with some of the Brighton players. The musicians donned the famous blue and white stripes of the Albion for a kickabout on a frosty winter’s day, with their ‘opponents’ decked in red. It was so cold that Dave Hill needed a thick bobble hat to protect his skinhead top, with the guitarist complaining of the temperatures throughout. This was recorded separately to the Burnley match day, during a squad training session. Several of the Albion first team were involved, including Eric Steele who was standing firm in goal. See how many you can spot.

SLADE Supporters SLADE North Stand

A crowd of 22,694 was recorded in attendance at the Goldstone for the Burnley match. The North Stand terrace behind the goal was full of Albion fans ready to make their music video cameo in the build up to the big game. With the club flying at the top end of the table, it was an exciting time to be a Brighton supporter. It’s not every day you get to be a film extra. Could you imagine Withdean Stadium being used as a rock backdrop?!

Spectators were shown making their way down to the stadium and through the turnstiles. In the stands, the sea of blue and white scarves brightened (and Brighton-ed) up the screen, bouncing around to the music being played out just yards in front of them. A small stage was erected in the penalty area adjacent to the goal to elevate Slade, their recording equipment and instruments whilst several cameramen recorded the scenes.

SLADE Goal SLADE Net

The filmmakers wanted a big finish to the video, with one of the band scoring a goal as the climax. However, none of them had really played the game since leaving school and so it appeared much trickier than first thought. None of them could put it in the back of the net! Which might explain the slightly odd footage of the ball entering a virtually open goal (above right) but with no indication of how it got there. Drummer Don Powell is credited by Dave Kemp with the strike to bring the curtain down on the video. As the lyrics suggested, they stopped their fancy footwork and just gave us a goal. The whistle blew. It was now all ready to go and send round the broadcasters for airplay.

SLADE Programme

Excerpt from the Brighton programme against Sunderland, 25/2/78, housed online by Seagulls Programmes

Disappointingly, the song failed to chart and so there would be no appearance on the number one music show, Top of the Pops. However, that didn’t mean it sunk without a trace. Children’s television programmes gave many artists a platform to connect with the public, some even making their screen debuts there. First to televise the band’s new football song was ITV’s anarchic Saturday morning powerhouse TISWAS.


TELEVISION COVERAGE

‘TISWAS’ video broadcast; ATV, 9.30am-12pm; Sat 4th March 1978 

TISWAS Titles TISWAS Tarrant

TISWAS TV Times Listing

TV Times Listing, 4/3/78

As confirmed by the band’s excellent fan site Dave Kemp and Slade, TISWAS aired the ‘Give us a Goal’ music video on the morning of Saturday 4th March; not long after release. An acronym for ‘Today is Saturday, Watch and Smile’, TISWAS began in January 1974 as a strand for children which linked together programmes in ITV’s midlands region of ATV. As the popularity of the presenter links overtook much of the programming they were introducing, it began to be picked up by other regions as the years progressed. By the time of this fourth series during 1977/78, the HTV, Anglia, Granada, Border and Scottish Television regions were all airing the show.

At the time it was fronted by ATV’s news and current affairs host Chris Tarrant (above right), as he did from the outset, and former Midlands sports reporter Trevor East alongside newcomer this series, Sally James. TISWAS started to enter its ‘golden age’ with slapstick characters such as ‘The Phantom Flan Flinger’ causing chaos in the studio, and early appearances from comedians and showbiz stars who would later go on to become household names; such as Lenny Henry, Frank Carson, Bob Carolgees and Jasper Carrott.

But the ITV region serving the Brighton and Hove area, Southern Television, didn’t begin to take the show until, at least, the end of 1979. So local Albion fans would not have seen their Goldstone Ground home appearing in Slade’s music video when TISWAS gave it this television outing.


3

‘Get It Together’ performance; Granada, 4.20-4.45pm; Tue 14th March 1978

GET Titles GET Roy North

GET TV Listing

TV Times Listing, 14/3/78

Slade performed the song in the Granada studios in mid-March, as they appeared on children’s afternoon programme Get It Together on ITV. This was a weekly pop music show as groups and artists showcased their latest single in front of a studio of excitable children. Slade’s performance was on the penultimate episode of series 2.

Get It Together was broadcast on Tuesday afternoons at 4.20pm, the ideal post-school slot. It was shown across most of the ITV network, with the exception of Wales. The performances provided many bands with their first TV appearance at a time when there were few opportunities for up and coming acts.

Another key element of the show was performances from the hosts, who at the time were Roy North and New Faces winner Linda Fletcher. They were the show’s original presenters, joining for the April 1977 launch. As well as singing, North was better known as having been the straight man to Basil Brush for three years, playing Mr Roy.

As the series went on, it adapted its format to include a house band with backing singers and, of course, its own dance troupe – known as The Teri Scoble Dancers. It would run for over four years with almost one hundred episodes.

Slade’s song was part of a football themed episode, sharing the bill with ‘Hampden’s Heroes’ singing Scotland’s track for that summer’s World Cup. The audience cheered and clapped along, adorned with football shirts and scarves, to really get into the spirit of it.

GET Slade GET Audience


4

‘Cheggers Plays Pop’ performance; BBC1, 4.40-5.05pm; Mon 17th April 1978

CHEGGERS Titles CHEGGERS Chegwin

CHEGGERS Genome Listing

Radio Times Listing from BBC Genome

Young Scouse actor-turned-television presenter Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin became a household name in the mid-70s through his work on children’s programming. He was part of the BBC’s Saturday morning alternative to TISWASMulti-Coloured Swap Shop with Noel Edmonds and John Craven from 1976.

That led to success in his own right as host of Cheggers Plays Pop two years later. This was classic kids TV, with a screaming young audience taking part in silly games and challenges in the studio, punctuated by performances from the latest hitmakers. The second ever episode had Slade belting out a performance of “Give us a Goal”. Again, the crowd were decked in football scarves to look the part.

CHEGGERS Slade CHEGGERS Slade on stage


5

FIFA ’09 commercial; EA Sports television advert soundtrack, 2008 

FIFA Rooney FIFA Gameplay

FIFA TaglineAfter not achieving much success, the song garnered a mini revival some thirty years later. Computer game makers EA Sports used “Give us a Goal” as the soundtrack for the official television advert for the latest in their football series FIFA ’09. The full four-minute commercial featured Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney taking on Real Madrid’s Higuain as they went head to head playing the game, whilst hundreds gathered in the street to cheer and watch on the big screen.

Whilst this wasn’t enough to push the track into the charts for the first time, it did bring it to a whole new audience who wouldn’t have been aware of it or even around at the first time of asking.


Those Albion supporters who were heading to the Goldstone Ground on that bitterly cold day on 11th February 1978 would likely have been blissfully unaware that later that afternoon they’d be the unwitting stars of a rock music video. The players must have been listening closely to Slade’s instructions to “Give us a Goal”, as the following season Brighton were promoted into the top flight for the first time in club history. Cum on feel the noize!

SLADE Scarves

SOURCES and EXTRA READING

About Mark O'MEARA
I am Mark O'MEARA.

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