‘Smashing’ Brighton suits Jimmy Case

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A nice magazine interview with Jimmy Case at the start of the 1981/82 season:

When a Scouser regretfully shakes the Liverpool dust from his feet, life, at least in the football sense, is never the same again.

Jimmy Case, a Reds favourite since he was s starry-eyed 18-year-old from Wooiton, has, however, made a rapid conversion to Brighton and Hove Albion, which lies snugly in the soft underbelly of the South.

If, say, a year ago Case had been asked where he would be playing at the start of the 1981-82 season, then Brighton would have been the unlikeliest answer.

Little did he know, but his destiny was wrapped-up in the ambitions of Mark Lawrenson, the Brighton and Eire central defender.

When Lawrenson told Brighton he wanted, after four years, to join a club with a realistic chance of winning a major trophy, there was no way the Goldstone could hold him.

At first it was Manchester United who showed a lively interest, then Arsenal and finally Bob Paisley set the wheels in motion that took Lawrenson to Anfield for £900,000. Part of the deal allowing Lawrenson to leave was that Brighton would have Case, 27, for £350,000.

The nearest Case had previously been to Brighton was a holiday in Hastings with his parents. Apart from a couple of visits with Liverpool, Brighton might just have been a vague spot on the map. Yet the welcome he received quickly warmed Case’s heart.

Breezy Brighton also delighted Lana, Case’s wife. Both Jimmy and •Lana were born and bred in Woolton, and they have a daughter, Emma, of five months.

It is a long way from Liverpool where the Case’s look around the smart furnished bungalow that Brighton have made available.

Case didn’t fancy hotel living, and quickly asked his wife to join him. So much for the tearsway image.

“Brighton and the area is ideal for us,” he said. “The place itself is smashing, especially all the antique shops.”

Case, after 186 League games for Liverpool and 23 goals in the Championship, is only too well aware that he has joined a side that has struggled for the first two seasons to stay in the First Division.

“If they look like going down this time, I’m not one to say that I’ll be off. I’ll just keep fighting. I shall commit myself fully to what I am contracted to do.” Mike Bailey has told Case that he wants him to get into the box more than he did at Liverpool.

“Nell McNab makes s lot of runs similar to Terry McDermott, and that will help me. I’ll be looking for a few goals. I had a good season in 1977, and I managed to get some vital goals. It’s high time I did the same again.”

Brighton players were almost total strangers when Case arrived in time to play in three pre-season friendlies. “I remembered Graham Moseley, the goalkeeper, from the England Under-23 squad in Hungary a while ago, end I had spoken to McNeb before and met Mike Robinson briefly at Manchester City,

“I well remember my last appearance at Brighton. That was at right-beck and Liverpool were disorganised at the back around that time.

“My favourite position is wide on the right, and there you can receive the ball easily with your back to the touch-line and then be able to turn. I like to be busy.”

And he admitted: “I thought I would be at Liverpool for my entire career. I had two years as a semi-pro and signed full time at 20. They asked me to sign at 18, but I turned them down because I wanted to finish my apprenticeship. I’ve had six marvellous years at Liverpool with medals every year; three in one year, in fact.

“‘1 suppose in my heart of hearts I knew eventually I would have to move, but I didn’t think it would be so soon.

“If I had gone to a Midlands club, or Manchester, or Leeds, it would have meant commuting by motorway, and being behind the wheel of a car for long periods is the easiest way to pull muscles.

“If you must move, then a long distance is preferable from the point of view of fitness. Travelling kills you up and down the motorways.”

Life at Brighton may lack the bustling pace of Merseyside and there is not such a committed following for the game, but it will suit Jimmy Case, who, when not playing football, likes to shoot and fish. “I reckon this could become my kind of place you know. And all I really care about now is keeping Brighton in the First Division.”

Although Brighton reached thirteenth position in Division One in 1981/82, their highest League position, Case’s form was patchy, rarely hitting the heights of his time at Anfield. For all his flaws as a League manager, it took the reign of Jimmy Melia for Case to truly sparkle, famously scoring in each round of the FA Cup bar one on the round to Wembley in 1983.

After Brighton were relegated, the ex-Liverpool hard man kept his word and continued to battle for the club in the Second Division, helping towards to a tilt at promotion in 1984/85. At a talk I went to last week given by Chris Cattlin, Melia’s successor said there was a specific reason why he felt he had to sell Case in March 1985, but out of respect to Jimmy, he couldn’t disclose it at the meeting…

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