With his gold chain, classic moustache and impressive goalscoring ability, the lanky marksman Malcolm Poskett became a favourite at the Goldstone in the late 1970s, following a £60,000 transfer from lowly Hartlepool in February 1978. All this despite competition from Peter Ward and Teddy Maybank.
With Maybank facing a cartilage operation, Poskett scored on each of his first two matches for the Seagulls, against Hull and Burnley before a cherished hat-trick at Bristol Rovers in April 1978.
This article is from Shoot! magazine in 1978/79, when Maybank had a firmer grip of the number nine shirt:
Malcolm Poskett’s brilliant goalscoring has been one of the most important reasons for Brighton’s rise up the Second Division table after a poor start to the season.
Yet earlier this term, the £60,000 striker had wanted to leave the Goldstone Ground.
He explains: “I felt I was playing well enough to be in the first team, but I wasn’t getting a chance. Peter Ward and Teddy Maybank had the two striking roles and I couldn’t see how I was going to get into the team. The boss, you see, doesn’t think it works for all three of us to play in the same side. And I couldn’t see either of the other two being dropped. I asked for a transfer and I was actually on the list for a few weeks.”
But then Alan Mullery asked me to withdraw my request and a short time afterwards, I was in the first team,
“I don’t really mind who I play alongside in the forward line, but I do seem to get on particularly well with Teddy Maybank. I prefer playing with a big target man up-front. It’s the way I used to play at Hartlepool.”
“My strengths are my control on the deck, going past people to get into shooting positions.” Incredibly, Poskett is in only his second full season of League football. Having been turned down by Jack Charlton at Middlesbrough as a youngster, he got a job as a plater and played part-time for Whitby.
But he didn’t hesitate when he got another chance of League football in the 1976-77 season even though the club after him were struggling Hartlepool.
Poskett decided to give himself two years to make the grade.
His career was made, he says, by Hartlepool manager Billy Horner. “When I first went there I was a lazy player. At Whitby I just used to hang around goal and wait for the ball to come to me. But Billy made me work hard – almost to the point of exhaustion sometimes. And he told me I’d play in the First Division one day.”
If Brighton’s goal record had been a little better, Poskett would be there now, But they missed out last season because Tottenham had a slightly better margin, though the teams finished level on points.
Even so, Poskett thinks it will turn out to be only a temporary setback. He thinks this season, Brighton will prove good enough for promotion.
“I think we’re as good as anybody in the Second Division, although it’s so close, any of ten teams could go up. There’s been no outstanding side so far, but I reckon Palace will make it: “I just want to keep banging the goals in, so that I stay in the Brighton side. With three of us: competing for the two places, I never believe I’m in the side until I pull the shirt over my head on Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve set myself a target of 20 goals this season. I got 16 in the League last season — ten at Hartlepool and six in 11 full games at Brighton.
“So I don’t think 20 should be beyond me. And if the other front lads get the same, we’ll be pretty sure of a place in Division One.”
In the end, Ward, Maybank and Poskett each hit the target in the League ten times in the 1978/79 season, with Poskett’s hat-trick at Charlton in December showing him at his most prolific. Helped by Brian Horton’s magnificent tally of eleven strikes in Division Two, Albion’s goalscorers provided the perfect platform for Albion to build a successful promotion campaign to Division One.
Poskett did not experience much First Division football with the Seagulls, however. A substitute in the first two matches of 1979/80, he lost his place only to return in a League Cup clash with Northampton, where he hit the winner. Spurred on by this, and Maybank failing a fitness test, Poskett was recalled for the away Division One fixture at West Bromwich Albion, where (below) he nodded in Peter Ward’s cross after 83 minutes. One First Division start, one goal. This was a very impressive ratio.
With no more appearances due to the blossoming Peter Ward-Ray Clarke partnership, Poskett was sold to Watford for £120,000 in January 1980. According to John Vinicombe, ‘Poskett went like a shot to Vicarage Road.’ There, he played his part in the Hornets’ eventual promotion to the top flight in 1982, hitting seventeen goals in 63 League games.
Poskett later had spells with Carlisle, Darlington, Stockport, and Carlisle and Hartlepool again before hanging up his boots. For a man who took a pay cut of £50 a week to play for Hartlepool in his first spell at the club, the striker had certainly grabbed his chance to play professional football.
(And if you wish to relive your days as a, erm, Posketteer, a Malcolm T-shirt could be yours from Cult Zeros).