A few months ago I was lucky enough to interview Jimmy Melia for Viva Brighton magazine. The best bits can be read here.
However, there were some other questions and answers that didn’t make the final edit. Here are some of them:
Is it true that you were an Everton fan?
When i was at school i used to watch Everton. I was an Everton supporter. I joined the Liverpool ground staff at the age of 15 because I knew Bobby Campbell, who eventually went on to manage Chelsea. He was in the same street as me and we were big mates. He went to liverpool so I followed him there. Everton were down at the household too I was at because i was captain of Liverpol schoolboys and also played for England Schoolboys.
You had a great career at Liverpool, getting promotion to the First Division and eventually becoming English champions in 1964. Why did you leave in March 1964, before the season had finished?
I got an injury and wasn’t playing well and felt I needed a change and Shankly was the manager and I was sold to Wolves after ten years of service, for £50,000 – a lot of money in those days. I stayed at Wolves for one year. They fired Stan Cullis and I spoke on his behalf and they transferred me to Southampton and stayed there for five years. We won the Second Division and I got the goal that got us up, i was player manager at Aldershot for four years and had a few good cup runs, then to Crewe for a few years – it was very hard work. We had no money. Then I went to Dubai for three or four years, then to California, before coming to Brighton as chief scout. Then I got the manager’s job.
What was it like working as chief scout to Mullery and Bailey?
Mike was a good guy. He knew the game but he had a way of playing that didn’t go down very well with the supporters or people at the club. He did a good job the first year he took over. Second year wasn’t very good so when he left they put me in charge. Unfortunately, we didn’t do so well in the league although I made a lot of changes that got them playing a lot better, even though results didn’t go our way.
Was it a deliberate decision to take the lead when you were joint manager with George Aitken?
It wasn’t done officially but with my knowledge and background, George let me take over. The players should a lot of respect for me too.
What do you remember about getting to the Cup Final?
It was a great day. It was a tremendous thing because we’d never been there. Seeing all the supporters there at Wembley was a great day. We had a great time. it was a tremendous feat. Great memories. People still remember. They ask me, “When are we going to have another cup run and get to Wembley?” I always hope they can get there again and maybe win it. It looks like they’re getting everything right at the club, and the stadium and the finances are right and are very stable.
Could you have turned the club’s fortunes around the Second Division?
When we went to the Second Division we sold so many players. Gary Stevens left for Spurs, Robinson went to Liverpool. It’s a pity we didn’t just stabilise. and leave things alone for about three years because I could have built the club up. I had all the contacts and knew who I needed. i didn’t get the time.
And is it true you never had a contract?
I remember Mike Bamber saying ‘Let’s meet. I want to talk to you about a contract.’ So we met at lunch and saw his mother – we didn’t even talk about a contract! I was happy doing what I was doing. I didn’t feel I needed a contract. I made a couple of mistakes bringing people into the club who i shouldn’t have brought in, but hey! That’s life.
Can you give your version of what happened with Chris Cattlin? Was he picking the side?
The chairman wanted him to get involved with the coaching with me as the manager making the decisions. I still wanted to be outside all the time with the team. It was a bad mistake on my part to put him in but the chairman seemed to like him – it happens. i wanted to bring in Laurie Calloway, a good friend of mine who I trusted, knew the game and played the game, as my assistant but we couldn’t get that to happen so he brought in Chris. Things happen – thats the way it it and life goes on.
When you look back at your time with the Seagulls, how do you feel about it?
I really enjoyed my time at Brighton. It was terrific. As soon as I left Brighton I went to Portugal and won another championship with Belanedas – and then finished 5th in the Portuguese League – they were a very good couple of years. Winning two championship medals as a player and getting a team to the cup final and winning a championship. My career has been good, plus I’m still working – nowadays I’m teaching the kids at Liverpool FC America.
And finally… what became of the disco shoes?
They are still around, but they don’t get much use these days!