Tag Archives: des lynam

A jolly good Mellor

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As a rising star in the media, the ever so smooth Des Lynam was getting lots of gigs. Not only did he commentate for the BBC on the Brighton v West Bromwich Albion match in August 1980, the ubiquitous Albion fan and Grandstand presenter also penned an article for the match day programme as a guest writer. In it, he recalled striker Ian Mellor, whose interplay with Peter Ward played such a pivotal part of the 1976/77 promotion season:

One of the most pleasant aspects of working with the ‘Match of the Day’ team, is the chance it gives one, to meet old friends.

A fortnight ago, while reporting the Second Division match between Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United, I bumped into a very old friend of Brighton & Hove Albion, a man who I feel had a remarkable bearing on the club’s current unprecedented successful run, Ian Mellor – ‘Spider’ to his mates, now playing for Wednesday.

Except for the very newest Brighton supporters among you, I am sure that nearly all will have a great regard for Ian. it was in Brighton’s promotion season from Division Three that Peter Ward broke the club’s scoring record, very much aided and abetted by Mellor who also found the time and skill to notch 12 League goals for himself.

It was the beginning of the best spell in the club’s history and Mellor’s part in ‘assisting’ Peter, who, after all, was playing in his first full season, should never be underestimated.

Ian Mellor turned professional in December 1969, when he was 19, with Manchester City. Malcolm Allison had not so long before, taken City to the League title – and Mellor joined one of the most elite groups of players in the country. Lee, Summerbee, Bell, Marsh and Young were just some of the star names there at the time. In fact Ian feels it was the success of the elegant Young, scorer of the winning goal in the 1969 Cup Final against Leicester, that influenced him joining City. Ian, like Nell, is over six feet tall, but slight and wiry, not the archetype football build at all. City, however were prepared to give Ian a chance, when other clubs were thinking that he didn’t quite look the part. As Ian put it, ‘One tall skinny lad had done the trick for them, and they felt I could do the same.’

Here is Mellor scoring for Manchester City against Arsenal in 1971/72:

Lynam continues:

Ian had a good run in the City first team, but subsequently joined Norwich City. There, after Ron Saunders departed however, things didn’t work out so well and he was delighted when Brian Clough and Peter Taylor brought him to Brighton, then of course in Division Three, and not so very far away, at one stage, from Division Four.

He remembers his first match for the club avidly. Old rivals Crystal Palace, whose success in recent years has matched Albion’s, were the opponents at the Goldstone, 25,000 fans were there, and as Ian relates it: ‘Palace were running all over us. It was remarkable that they weren’t about three goals up. Then in the second-half I got the ball some 35 yards out, went on a run, beat a couple of players and scored probably the most memorable goal of my life.’

Albion won 1-0, and if justice wasn’t exactly served by the scoreline, Mellor himself could not have had a better introduction to the south coast fans.

Well, the promotion season from Division Three was a ‘heady’ one and Ian recalls that he has never known a team spirit like it anywhere, although he feels that Sheffield Wednesday are getting close to it. ‘The Goldstone fans were so good to us,’ he remembers, ‘and that year was the happiest in my playing career.’

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Subsequently came the disappointment of being left out of Brighton’s Division Two team, following the signing of Teddy Maybank. “I honestly felt that Teddy was not a better player than me and I was hurt’. But magnaminously, Ian also admits that the manager lives or dies by his decisions and team selection and he bears absolutely no grudge at all against either Alan Mullery (‘His record is second to none’), or Mike Bamber (‘You won’t find a more direct, honest, or knowledgeable club chairman in the game’).

In fact Ian could have stayed at Brighton and who knows, may well have worked his way back into the first team.

However, he decided to take up the offer of first team football with Chester. ‘The other reason I went back North was because I felt that if there were only a couple of playing years left, then both myself and my wife Sue would like to spend them near to our families and it would also give our parents a chance to get to know our children, Simon (now five and born at the Sussex County Hospital) and Louise (now three and born at Southlands).’

It seems to me to be no coincidence at all, that while Mellor played at Chester, a young forward called Ian Edwards, now with Wrexham and a full Welsh International began to light fires in Division Three. And nowadays, he’s at it again. Last season, Terry Curran knocked home 25 goals for Sheffield Wednesday with Ian playing alongside him as they won promotion to Division Two, and Ian also found time to slot in 11 for himself.

While Ian Mellor may not be one of the outstanding stars of League football, he’ll perhaps be recalled by the fans of those clubs with whom he’s played as more of a star-maker.

I know the Goldstone fans will remember with affection – The Spider touch.

Mellor subsequently joined Bradford City on a free transfer in May 1982, before winding down his career with Tsun Wan (Hong Kong), Worksop, Matlock Town and Gainsborough.

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Des Lynam’s dream team

As a reader, having outgrown Shoot! and with Match dumbing down to becoming little more than a poster magazine, I became a big fan of 90 Minutes magazine in the 1990s. Irreverent and intelligently written, it’s a weekly magazine that I wish was still going. Here’s a fascinating read from its pages on 28th January 1995. Interview by Kevin Palmer:

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Des Lynam may spend his Saturdays discussing the ins and outs of the Premiership with his Match of the Day colleagues, but what he’d really like to be doing is breathing in the sea air and cheering on his beloved Brighton at the Goldstone Ground. 90 Minutes dons a jacket and tie and asks our Des to spend an imaginary £8million on his Seagulls Dream Team.

Why Brighton?
My family originally come from Ireland, but when we moved over here and into the Brighton area I started going to watch and developed a real interest. I started to go to the Goldstone Ground more and more as time went on, but I did play on Saturdays for school teams which meant I missed some games. Since I’ve been working on TV I’ve become associated with Brighton and have even been offered a place on the board, although I wasn’t mad enough to take it.

First game?
I clearly remember the first game I ever attended at Brighton and it wasn’t especially for the football. It was around 1952 and they still used those big, heavy leather footballs. I went along to the game with a neighbour and his daughter and unfortunately a ball smashed the child in the face and knocked her out cold. We were dragged away from the game while they got treatment. I have always said it was the first time I had ever experienced a woman’s headache getting in the way of a lot of fun! We did manage to see some of the game in the end, but it was an interesting afternoon that was somewhat spoilt by the pre-match ‘entertainment.’

stevefoster6This season?
I don’t get to see the team as often as I like because I have to work every Saturday with Match of the Day, but I follow their fortunes very closely. I also live in the London area now which makes it a little more difficult to go. But a team like Brighton are always going to find it very hard in a modern football environment. Liam Brady is doing a good job, but they’ve had a bad run of late which has pulled them down somewhat. I still feel Brady has a lot to prove as manager, but Brighton is a great place for him to make his mark. There has been talk of him moving in as the new Arsenal manager if George Graham was to leave, but I don’t think Arsenal would want to make such an ambitious appointment with an unproven manager. The main aim for Brighton this season has got to be survival in the Second Division and then we can look to build from there.

An £8 million injection would surely have been enough to stop the club from selling the Goldstone Ground. But if it had to go on players who would Des have chosen?

battyDavid Batty
Current club: Blackburn Rovers
Fee: £2.95 million

He’s a great competitor and would give us the extra edge we need in the midfield, although we do have Jimmy Case who’s still a good performer even if he is past his 40th birthday. Batty would win the ball for you and let the others play the football, though he has improved his passing game immensely in recent years.

harfordMick Harford
Current club: Wimbledon
Fee: £50,000

This will be a surprise choice for most, but he is perhaps the sort of player we could hope to sign with the financial situation at brighton. Harford would put the fear of God up the defenders in our division and would cause a lot of problems. He’s proved he still has the ability with his recent burst of goals for Wimbledon in the Premiership.

collymoreStan Collymore:
Current club: Nottingham Forest
Fee: £5million

One of the most sought-after players in the Premiership and it’s not surprising. Everything he does makes him look like a class striker. I wouldn’t say he’s the best in the country, though. Alan Shearer’s the best striker around, but with just £8million to spend, I wouldn’t have enough to make a bid for him.

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Des Tennant – the original ‘Tank’

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Several Brighton players down the years have been known as ‘The Tank’ for the power of their play, but I think Des Tennant was the original.

He signed from Barry Town in the summer of 1948, as a 22 year old, and made a whopping 424 appearances for the club.

His lion-hearted forays down the touchline made him a favourite at the Goldstone. He initially lined up as a right-winger, also playing as inside-right before become a ferocious tackling right-back with a lot of attacking intent. No wonder that Des Lynam, in his autobiography, referred to the other Des as ‘a favourite player of mine.’

In the ten years when he was a fixture in the side, Tennant was also captain for three seasons, including in 1953/54 when Brighton were runners-up in Division Three (South). Unfortunately, in those days, only the champions were promoted. He also scored 47 goals, 23 of which were penalties.

One particular goal is remembered fondly on North Stand Chat by the user nobody’s dupe. He recalls the days when clubs would play home and away fixtures against the same opposition over Christmas. Brighton gave Newport an unhappy present on Christmas Day 1952, thrashing the Welsh side 3-0 on their own ground. Two days later, in the return fixture at the Goldstone, Albion were 1-0 up at half-time but then surprisingly found themselves trailing 2-1. It took a long-range effort from Des to save the day.

Des enjoyed a benefit match against Brentford in May 1954. He retired in 1959 to join the coaching staff.

Sadly, he died in January 2009. His niece, Gillian Marsh, of Derwent Drive, Cwmbach, said: “My uncle was a wonderful character who loved life and valued his family and friends above all else.”

The image above, from a magazine, in a football shirt that buttons all the way down the front, is used to form the crest of the Brighton & Hove Albion Collectors and Historians Society.

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