EVERYONE at Burton Albion FC is sad to learn of the passing of former Chairman Sam Brassington.
Sam took over as Chairman in 1986 at a time of great financial strain for the club but quickly brought success to Eton Park with the Brewers reaching Wembley for the first time in 1987.
Albion were in the Northern Premier League with Neil Warnock’s successor Brian Fidler as manager during the 1986/7 season when Sam Brassington arrived on the scene but punched above their weight to enjoy extraordinary cup success reaching the semis of the GMAC Cup and the final of both the Birmingham Senior Cup and NPL League Cup (played at Maine Road).
But it was the run to Wembley in the FA Trophy that inspired the Brewers faithful with Albion reaching the old stadium for the first and only time despite being in the second tier of non-league football. The Brewers drew 0-0 with Kidderminster Harriers on a gloriously sunny day at Wembley with Sam describing the occasion as “quite simply wonderful – a fabulous experience” after enjoying the great day out with his “Wembley board” of Stuart Truman, Barry Thomas, Alan Dolman, Stan King and Ken Hill. More than 10,000 fans from Burton made the trip to Wembley that day – one of the proudest in the club’s history.
Albion with any luck might have even lifted the Trophy but lost 2-1 at the Hawthorns in the replay missing a late penalty and having a goal disallowed.
It didn’t stop the Burton public turning out in force to celebrate the club’s achievements though, with an open-top bus tour finishing at the Town Hall where a large crowd had gathered to cheer the Brewers.
Albion switched to the Southern Premier League the following season but couldn’t build on that Wembley success and Sam had to preside over a managerial merry-go-round that was started by the resignation of Brian Fidler after a run of poor results.
Sam’s five-year tenure at Eton Park was full of highs and lows with big signings brought into the club and some of the biggest transfer fees received as well as fluctuating fortunes on the pitch. Investment was made in the fabric of the ground with stadium and floodlight improvements, but it was instability on the pitch that always held the Brewers back.
Vic Halom was appointed as Fidler’s successor but lasted only 21 days and Bobby Hope was recruited from Bromsgrove, but he too resigned after a short tenure in October 1988. New manager Chris Wright’s team played attractive attacking football and had one of the most feared strike forces in non-league football with Mark Whitehouse, John Gayle and Steve Cotterill in the team. But Wright was sacked for misconduct and Sam appointed three more managers before he left – Kenny Blair, Steve Powell and the returning Brian Fidler.
It was a colourful and memorable period in the club’s history with Sam Brassington’s strong character and the business acumen he brought from his estate agency business background much needed with the club struggling financially when he took over.
But after five years he decided that he had given it his best shot and that it was time to step aside and he sold his majority interest in the club to Jock Gordon in 1991.
Known to the fans as “Brasso”, Sam Brassington’s Burton Albion journey lacked the promotion he craved but brought some memorable moments to the club and he will always be fondly remembered by Brewers fans for that big day out at Wembley.
Everyone at Burton Albion sends their condolences to Sam’s wife Sue and the rest of the family at this very sad time.