Shoot cover: Andy Ritchie (6 November 1982)

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‘Reject Ritchie has a score to settle’ from 1980/81:

Brighton’s record £500,000 signing, Andy Ritchie, has a few words of warning for his former colleagues, Manchester United, as they prepare themselves for Saturday’s (Nov 22) visit to the Goldstone Ground.

“‘I know they’ve been doing well and we’ve been struggling, but I feel this match could go either way especially if we can put our game together and attack. Forget our position in the League, because we’ve been playing far better than the tables suggest.

“Obviously I’ll be trying to prove they were wrong to let me go,” Ritchie continued, “and I’ll be going all out, although I realise that I’ll have to pace myself so that I won’t run out of steam.”

Ritchie describes his move to the South Coast as the biggest decision of his life and still admits to having a few regrets about leaving Old Trafford:

‘I’d lived in Manchester all my life and I’ve got a lot of friends there,” he said. “! didn’t want to leave but in the end I had choice, because there would have been no future for me if I’d stayed.”

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Before choosing Brighton, Ritchie turned down offers from Aston Villa and Chelsea which he still feels he was right to do.

‘The Villa offer was about 12 months ago and I didn’t really have enough time to think about it. I had a look round, and although I liked Ron Saunders and the club, I was still convinced I had some thing to offer United,” Ritchie commented.

Ritchie also stressed that his decision not to join Chelsea was not influenced by the outburst which resulted in Queens Park Rangers parting company with Tommy Docherty.

“There were a lot of reasons why I didn’t go, and what Mr Docherty said didn’t have anything to do with it. I’d rather just say that I didn’t fancy the move,” Ritchie said.

Before joining Brighton, Ritchie had only made five appearances for Manchester United this season, and although he had failed to score he was satisfied with his form.

“1 thought I’d done quite well, even though I know I could have played better. But at least I had given my best, which is why I was a little disappointed at being dropped,” he reflected.

Despite the bizarre events which involved him, Peter Ward and Garry Birtles in the notorious ‘transfer triangle’ between Brighton, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, the thought that his move to Brighton could fall through never entered Ritchie’s mind.

“I first came down Alan assured me that I would a Brighton player provided I wanted to sign. I was told that Newcastle were also interested in me but I said ‘no way” until I’d made a decision with Brighton.

“I don’t feel there’s pressure on me. The fans know they must give me time to settle and I’m sure they realise that Peter Ward and I are two different types of player,” Ritchie explained.

Despite The Seagulls” precarious position in the relegation zone, Ritchie remains adamant that Brighton will still be a First Division club next season. “I can’t see any way we’ll go down if we continue playing as we have been. Things must start going right for us eventually as the club’s got tremendous potential, which is why I’m proud to be part of it.”

It did not take long for Ritchie to discover what a friendly club Brighton are, and despite their bad run and speculation about Alan Mullery’s future he quickly settled in.

“We’re certainly not the worst team in the First Division, and that makes it all the more important that we give our fans a treat on Saturday,” Ritchie pointed out.

Here’s, ahem, ‘highlights’ of the match with Manchester United in November 1980. Ritchie scores a consolation in a defensive horror show, and is involved in a dust up with former colleague Joe Jordan:

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