Every football club has more than one skeleton in the cupboard, some a whole cemetery full. Albion are no exception.

One of the great unsolved mysteries is nothing to do with the shenaningans of the Goldstone sale as the majority of supporters have made their own minds up about that.

Nor do stalwart fans care now about who profited most when a mass of FA Cup final tickets found a way into the wrong hands leaving Albion followers to stare in amazement at the in-balance on the Wembley terraces. There have always been crooks and spivs in the game and a fair share got into the act in 1983.

No...my curiosity concerns the sudden departure of one of the most prolific marksmen ever to play for the club. Nobody has ever discovered why Hugh Vallance, who has been dead for nearly 30 years, suddenly disappeared at the height of his fame. Vallance took his secret to the grave.

The sketchy circumstances of his overnight skedaddle gave rise to much speculation at the time. The club said nothing except to confirm that his contract had been terminated for what was enigmatically described a "serious misdemeanour." And it wasn't only the golden boy.

Another player, Irish international Jack Curran, was kicked out at the same time so, presumably, they had acted in concert when breaking club rules.

But what rule, and why the hurry to see them off the premises? Talk was that Vallance had an eye for the girls, but with Curran also being shown the door, that theory doesn't suggest there was a breaking of the pretty strict moral code of the day. Nor would there be the slightest foundation in suspecting the pair were in a relationship together.

The most likely explanation is that the pair had been caught drinking while under express orders to stay away from the booze and not for the first time.

And yet...it was a pretty drastic measure for the directors to take assuming that the decision was theirs and not that of manager Charlie Webb.

Scandal cropped up again shortly afterwards when another popular player impregnated the Mayor of Hove's daughter and was given leave of absence while the furore died down.

It couldn't happen today. For a start, intense media pressure would not allow a club to sweep something as serious as the instant dismissal of two players, and one a free-scoring centre-forward, under the carpet. Clubs were laws unto themselves; players were often treated like skivvies and the paying public taken for granted. Directors felt no obligation to explain their actions in the certain knowledge that given a reasonably successful side, the punters would keep coming back for more.

In Hugh Vallance we are talking about an icon who, for close on half a century, was the only Albion player to score 30 League goals in a season. His remarkable, though short-lived career at Brighton, showed no sign of taking off at Aston Villa, his first pro club. The former guardsman from Wolverhampton played only in the reserves and shortly went to QPR. He didn't fare much better there and had played just one League game before arriving at Albion in the spring of 1929.

Charlie Webb soon gave Vallance his chance and, rather like Peter Ward derived both service and inspiration from Ian Mellor, quickly became part of a deadly duo with Dan Kirkwood.

The goals came thick and fast. By Christmas, Vallance had scored four hat-tricks helping propel Albion into third place although the one promotion spot had already become a two-horse race.

By all accounts the opposition among the rank and file Third Division clubs wasn't much cop but the facts cannot lie. Merthyr, relegated that season, were on the receiving end of Vallance's first hat-trick in losing 4-1 at the Goldstone.

His second three-goal blitz stunned Northampton 3-1 and then Luton buckled 4-1 at Brighton closely followed by Fulham (5-0). Not to be outdone, Kirkwood twice scored four goals in a match and had a hat-trick in another.

When it was adding-up time, Vallance had 30 League goals in 37 outings and Kirkwood knocked in 38 in 40. However, Brighton could do no better than fifth and 18 points behind Plymouth. Losing seven out of the last ten games accounted for Albion's finish.

Still, with players like Vallance and Kirkwood around it was all the fun of the fair at the Goldstone at Christmas time.

On Boxing Day, Vallance and Potter Smith scored the goals that beat Brentford in front of 19,183 people, the largest crowd to see a League game on the ground at the time.

Jack Curran didn't miss a game that season as Albion reached the fifth round of the FA Cup. It was Vallance who scored the only goal in the replay at Grimsby when Albion gained a first ever win over a First Division side on their own ground. It must have been some game as Reg Wilkinson missed a penalty only for Vallance to pounce for the winner three minutes from time. When the team arrived back home they were carried shoulder high from Brighton Station. And it was Vallance again who scored the only goal in the fourth round win at Portsmouth. The run ended with a 3-0 reverse at Newcastle when the crowd was 56,500.

Although the season ended without tangible reward for Albion in the League, Vallance and Kirkwood were very much top dogs.

To Vallance went the plaudits for smashing the record of 25 League goals belonging to Jimmy Smith, Tommy Cook and Sam Jennings. All told, Vallance and Kirkwood netted 63 goals.

The next season began badly with just two wins out of nine games; Vallance's magical touch deserted him, just two goals in seven matches was a poor return by a player from whom so much was expected.

Jack Curran, a left-back, played in the first four games and Vallance's farewell, although he might not have known it at the time, was on September 20 when Albion lost 3-1 at Torquay. Geordie Nicol, who had lost his place on Vallance's arrival, returned to the side and Albion pulled themselves together to finish fourth.

SO what became of Vallance after his mysterious departure from the Albion?

He vanished into the comparative obscurity of the Birmingham League with Worcester City.

But less than six months later he was an Evesham player. Something, or somebody, attracted him back south and he signed at the beginning of the 1930-31 season for Tunbridge Wells Rangers.

His move to Gillingham later that year meant Albion were entitled to a fee and £500 was settled. If Gillingham thought Vallance was going to recapture the sensational form he had displayed at Brighton they were disappointed.

While seven goals in 13 outings wasn't bad it was not enough to impress the directors at Priestfield and he was released a few months later and returned to non-League with Kidderminster Harriers.

By now Vallance had decidedly itchy feet. It was not common then for players to ply their trade on the continent but that was Vallance's next berth.

He played for Nimes and then moved to Basle.

By 1934-35 he was back at Gillingham with three goals in five appearances and at the age of 30 chucked in pro football and joined the RAF.

He died in Birmingham in 1973 and three years before Peter Ward beat his record with 32 Third Division goals.

As for Jack Curran, who had left Albion under the same cloud after five years, he returned to Belfast to play for Linfield before calling it a day.

He was a good servant of Brighton - steady and reliable at the back.

But when the finger was pointed at him and Vallance their feet didn't touch the ground and I'd love to know why.