Digweed’s meteoric rise



From either Shoot! or Match Weekly in 1980/81:

The opportunity of playing First Division football as Brighton’s first choice goalkeeper seven days after playing in front of a meagre 400 spectators for Fulham reserves left Perry Digweed with no doubts about leaving Craven Cottage.

“I’d asked for a move about a month before. I’d only played in a handful of first team games in five years and felt the time had come for me to establish myself somewhere.

“I was a little surprised to join a First Division club,” Digweed admitted, “although I had read that Brighton were interested in me.” But even though Digweed conceded two goals against West Bromwich Albion on his First Division debut and his 16th League appearance, Alan Mullery felt his new ‘keeper had justified the £150,000 gamble he had taken in plucking Digweed out of obscurity.

“Obviously we were after the best when it became clear that Graham Moseley was costing us vital points, but neither Peter Shilton nor Ray Clemence were available, which is why we had to look to the future,” Mullery explained.

“OK, so the lad was at fault with the first goal he let in, but his overall debut convinced me more than ever that we’ve signed someone who’s going to become a very good ‘keeper,” Mullery commented. And as if to confirm Digweed’s rapid arrival at the top, he was recently called into the England Under-21 squad for the game against the Republic of Ireland.

“He had to withdraw from the squad due to League commitments, but although he could not hide his disappointment, Perry was undoubtedly encouraged by his sudden arrival in the limelight. Digweed, who lives just a stone’s throw from Stamford Bridge, has always been an avid Chelsea supporter and is confident that he will be playing against his heroes in the First Division next season.

“Of course it will take time for me to adjust to the First Division, but it hasn’t taken me long to settle with Brighton as they’re such a young team. This is why there’s such a terrific spirit in the club, which makes me feel that once we’re established in the First Division we must be candidates for European football,” Digweed predicted.

Moving to Brighton has also enabled Digweed to rejoin Brighton’s assistant manager Ken Craggs, who was largely responsible for Digweed joining Fulham.

“My uncle, who played for Hounslow, is a great friend of Ken’s, and because of this, started training with Fulham when I was 13. Eventually Alec Stock saw me play and signed me up.

“It baffles me how Fulham have slipped so quickly,” Digweed continued. “They’ve always played attackinq football and should have pulverised some sides. Their problem has been that they haven’t scored many goals which is, after all, what the game’s about.

“It doesn’t worry me that I’ve joined a struggling club, because there is so much difference between playing here and the reserves. While my immediate aim is to help Brighton maintain their place among the elite, my main aim is to play for England,” Digweed stressed.

Digweed wrestled the first team keeper’s jersey from Graham Moseley, and ended up playing fifteen of the last sixteen matches of the 1980/81 season. However, when Mike Bailey took over the following season, the ex-Fulham player found himself back in the reserves again. Nevertheless, he had the distinction of playing in both the famous victories at Anfield in 1981/82 and 1982/83 and remained with Albion into the 1992/93 season. Despite his long service for the club, he was not awarded a testimonial match, and was fobbed off with a ‘golf event’ to celebrate his decade at the club.

Want to show your appreciation? You can buy a Perry Digweed T-shirt or hoodie at Cult Zeros. I wonder if they do special tracksuit bottoms as favoured by Perry himself…

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