Meet the Girl Behind the Man: Lesley Beamish

From Goal Magazine on 4 August 1973:

lesleybeamish

The wife of Brighton star Ken Beamish has a wide variety of hobbies – needlework, dressmaking, tennis, travelling abroad and watching her husband’s team. Lesley and Ken – and youngster Kirstie – live at Saltdean, Sussex.

What an absolute beauty, showing the elegance, style and warmth that undoubtedly appealed to our goalscoring hero. I am, of course, referring to Ken Beamish’s magnificent tank top!

Beamish had joined Brighton from Tranmere in March 1972. As he told Backpass Magazine (issue 18):

“Pat Saward was the Brighton manager who took me down there and the fee was £30,000 [actually £25,000] plus a player, whose name now escapes me [Alan Duffy]. Brighton were very much on the up and the south coast had great appeal. When you add in the fact that I was also doubling my wages, then it made for a very exciting move for me.”

astonvilla1v1

Beamish quickly found his feet at the Goldstone. Above, he shoots for goal against Aston Villa in the crunch match of the promotion race in March 1972. He totalled six goals in twelve starts for the Albion in 1971/72 and was then joint top scorer with nine goals when Albion’s brief flirtation with the Second Division ended cataclysmically.

In the season that followed the Goal Magazine feature, 1973/74, Saward was sacked in October as Brighton faced falling attendances amid the prospect of a second successive relegation. Enter Brian Clough:

“I recall the first time I met Brian quite clearly. We were staying in a hotel in Lewes ahead of his first game and we had been told to expect the new manager to join us for dinner. We all trooped down to the dining room and finished the meal, but no sign of Cloughie. We were wondering whether he would show up and he suddenly appeared at the top end of the table and asked everyone what they wanted to drink. The first couple of guys said half-a-lager and I joined with the same order. I had never had alcohol from Wednesday onwards during the season.

“By the time the round had been completed I think we all had half-a-lager except for one lad who ordered a coke. I don’t know to this day what Brian made of us – the South Coast drinking gang or what – but he let it pass without comment.

“His managerial methods were unconventional. We trained down at Sussex University playing fields and sometimes he would have us there at 5pm, even in mid-winter when it was getting very dark. He only really joined in on us on Thursdays and Fridays and was a little distant.

“I was never quite sure what he made of me, but I certainly got the message at the end of my third season. I had finished top scorer and was looking forward to a team trip to Spain. The flip flops were out and ready to be packed up when the travelling party was announced my name wasn’t on it. To say I was surprised would not do justice to how I felt. I was gutted – and confused.

“I don’t think Cloughie spoke to me again and the local media down there was full of speculation that I would be leaving. I got most of my information from a next-door neighbour who was forever coming up to me to say what he had read about me in the local paper or heard on the radio.”

It was a sad end for Beamish, who had hit twelve League goals and had done so much to prevent Brighton falling into the Fourth Division. Indeed, it was the striker’s double at Southend in the 2-0 win in April 1974 that saw the Albion home and dry to fight another campaign in Division Three. As hotshot Fred Binney arrived at the Goldstone Ground, Beamish was sold to Blackburn Rovers for £26,000, becoming a favourite at Ewood Park after his two-and-a-half year stint as an Albion striker, and Saltdean resident, was up.

For more in the series visit:
Meet the girl Behind the Man: Rita Irvine

Thanks to Ian Hine from Seagulls Programmes and to Goals and Wickets for tipping me off about this very 1970s magazine feature.

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