Tag Archives: joe corrigan

Joe’s not for keeps


After an illustrious career with Manchester City, Joe Corrigan had a short spell with Seattle Sounders before the club folded in the summer of 1983. The 34 year old ex-England international keeper then returned to the United Kingdom, with Brighton & Hove Albion in September 1983.

Memories from Seagulls’ supporters on Corrigan’s year on the south coast tend to be very positive. Most memorably, the experienced shot-stopper performed admirably in front of the ‘Big Match Live’ cameras in Brighton’s famous 2-0 victory over Liverpool in the FA Cup in january 1984. Disappointingly, the keeper himself is far less positive about his experience with Albion, in his autobiography ‘Big Joe’:

On his signing

I returned to England in September 1983 ready to begin life as a Brighton player. It would be the first time I’d played for a club outside the top flight having never actually seen any first-team action during my loan spell at Shrewsbury. They had the makings of a decent squad and most people felt we could bounce back to the top flight at the first attempt. It was a beautiful place to live, but completely different to life in Manchester. I’d come from an area where you could nip down to the local and have a pint on your own if you felt like it. At the same time, you were never lonely as punters would always come up and talk about City. It was much more standoffish in Sussex, where, if you went out on your own, you probably wouldn’t talk to a soul. Neither Val nor I knew anyone in Brighton apart from the players and so we decided to rent a house in Hove rather than diving in feet first and buying a place.

The sea was five minutes away and we enrolled the kids at an excellent local school, so, off the pitch, everything was great, which, as any player will tell you, is just as important as everything being right on it.
I had always negotiated my own contracts so when I sat down with chairman Mike Bamber and manager Jimmy Melia, I was surprised that Jimmy was asked to leave the room before we began to discuss my terms.

For some reason, I asked the chairman what would happen if I was badly injured. What would happen to my wages? He asked me why I asked that and I didn’t really know the answer but he added, ‘Don’t worry about it, Joe. We’ll insure you for £100,000.’ That was the first time I’d really heard of insurance policies on players, but it would turn out to be a question well worth asking, though I’m still not sure why I’d asked in the first place.

On the phantom Keegan transfer

‘Jimmy Melia stitched me up,’ chairman Mike Bamber told me. I asked him what he meant and he replied: ‘Well he promised me you and Kevin Keegan, but only you turned up.’ I thought that Jimmy had probably been sacked because of poor results, not because he’d failed to get Keegan, but it was hard to imagine Kevin ever signing for Brighton.

On Chris Cattlin

Jimmy Melia was sacked shortly after I’d signed my contract. Maybe that’s why he’d been excluded from the negotiations – and Chris Cattlin took over. He was a former Coventry City left back and would turn out to be the worst manager I’d ever played under. He owned a rock shop in the town and also had a home in Brighton so whether that swung the job for him, I don’t know. He brought in former Arsenal player Sammy Nelson as his right-hand man. Cattlin just didn’t have the right character to manage, in my opinion, and things deteriorated pretty quickly during his tenure.

On being an Albion player

Playing for Brighton felt a little like being on holiday. It was by the sea, we were renting a home and the players had a different attitude. The lads enjoyed a good social life and I felt things weren’t as focused as they should have been, but whether that was down to the division we were in, the lads at the club or the manager, I’m not sure, though Cattlin was certainly part of the reason. We had players like Steve Gatting, Steve Foster, Jimmy Case, Tony Grealish and Gordon Smith – a terrific bunch of lads – but we lacked direction and drive. It was hard to get used to the smaller crowds at the Goldstone Ground after so many years at Maine Road playing in front of crowds of 40,000 or more.

On playing while drunk

Brighton had been an experience and while I’d been there I learned a lot about myself. I also realised how much drink was influencing my life, more than at any other club I’d been at. It was while playing for them that, for the only time in my career, I went into a game drunk. There is no excuse for such a lack of professionalism, but it was the laid-back culture at Brighton that made it so easy. On a Friday after training we went to an Italian restaurant in the town and everybody would have a couple of glasses of wine and then go home. But I was too easily swayed and if anyone said, ‘Come and have another one, Joe,’ I would tag along. Travelling to Watford on one occasion, I got on the coach with two bottles of brandy in my pocket and drank one in my hotel room the night before the game. We were beaten 3-0 by a very good Watford side – managed by Graham Taylor and with the likes of John Barnes in the side – but while I wasn’t to blame for any of their goals, it was totally unacceptable. It made me realise how far I’d allowed myself to drift and since I had more time on my hands than ever before, I had to make sure the boozing didn’t get out of control.

On playing Manchester City

It hadn’t seemed like I’d been gone five minutes and already I was on my way back to Maine Road, this time in the colours of another team, which would be very strange. I flew up to Manchester before the rest of the team travelled so I could spend some time with my mum and dad and then I met up with the squad at a Manchester-airport hotel and we were soon setting off for Moss Side. The drive along Princess Parkway was surreal and I kept away from the windows, trying to keep my emotions in check. When I got off the bus I got a lovely reception from the fans around the main entrance and all the old feelings started to flood back, though it was a bit odd getting changed in the away dressing room. Finally, it was time to walk down the tunnel and as soon as I stepped on to the pitch I was greeted by the most wonderful standing ovation from the entire ground. It seemed to go on for an age. It was incredible and brought a lump to my throat. The rest of the Brighton team may have lost their focus in the emotion of the occasion and we didn’t perform at all on the day, going down 4-0.


On being axed

Our season bumbled along and the return match with City a few months later was also a memorable encounter. I took a whack on my elbow, the one I’d had floating bone in, and was given an injection at halftime and told I’d be going out again, which I’d wanted to do anyway. Again, I got a fabulous reception from the travelling City fans and the match ended one apiece, honours even. I’d signed a three-year deal and the first season passed without much incident or success and I returned to pre-season training hoping that things would pick up and we could have a crack at winning promotion. Then Cattlin asked me to meet him in his office shortly after the first training session of the summer.

‘I’m just telling you now that you’re not going to play for the first team again.’
‘Oh,’ I replied. ‘For what reason?’
‘Why? Because I’ve made my decision and we’ve decided to go with Perry Digweed this season. In fact, I don’t want you here any more and would prefer it if you left the club.’
‘Fair enough,’ I said. ‘You find me a club and I’m gone.’

The main reason, I assumed, was my wages. Getting me off the payroll would free up enough cash to pay two or three decent players. I understood it was a business decision and didn’t take it personally.

On his tribunal victory

When I was interviewed a little while into the season, I told the reporter in so many words that I was disillusioned with life under Chris Cattlin and his attitude towards me, which I found disrespectful and ignorant. After it appeared in the paper, he fined me two weeks’ wages for ‘going public’.

I wasn’t having that because all I’d done was spoken the truth and if Cattlin didn’t like it, so what? He had made it clear I was surplus to requirements so I owed him nothing and I launched a formal appeal, which my union, the Professional Footballer’s Association, fully supported. Gordon Taylor, their top man, called me up to tell me they’d had enough and that if managers could speak publicly about players, why shouldn’t players be able to speak up when they wanted? It was deja vu because it had happened before at City under Malcolm. As things stood, we were fined every time we opened our mouths.

A tribunal was arranged at FA headquarters in London. Chris Cattlin, Gordon Taylor and I were in front of a panel and Gordon was magnificent. He put everything across in a manner that would have been beyond me and despite Brighton’s protestations that the ruling would open a can of worms, the panel ruled in my favour.

Cattlin was livid. ‘I can’t fucking believe you, Joe,’ he said. ‘The club will never let this lie.’ Whatever he thought, Brighton had to refund my fine. I had got one over on him and I wondered what his reaction would be. I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

On Cattlin’s revenge

The day after I received a phone call from Sammy Nelson telling me not to report for training, but to meet him at the ground at 4.30 that afternoon. I said that would be no problem and arrived at the designated time. Only the kit man was there, so I got changed and eventually Nelson turned up and said, ‘Right, you’ve got to run and run and run …. ‘ I told him that was fine by me and began to jog around the pitch as slowly as I possibly could. In my opinion it showed how petty Cattlin and company were; they’d obviously spat their dummies out of the pram. It seemed to me they were trying to break my resolve but they couldn’t. I’d been through a lot in my career. I was a thirty-five-year-old former England keeper and this was child’s play to me, though I admit it was the worst period of my career. It must have taken me three or four minutes to complete the lap and while I was meandering round Sammy was watching me, so I said, ‘Look, I’ll do what I have to do, but you’re going to stand there and watch me until I’ve finished.’ I continued my gentle jog around the Goldstone and took forever to complete the task.

The next morning Cattlin hauled me in.

‘We’re not having that again.’

I retorted, ‘Chris, let’s get this straight. I’m not twenty-five, I’m thirty-five and coming to the end of my career. I’ve got a good contract so if you want me to go, find me a club. If you want me to play in the youth team, fine. If you want me in the reserves, I’ll play. That’s what I’m paid to do – play football. That’s what the article was all about: playing for the first team.’

Out of favour in 1984/85, Corrigan had a loan spell with Norwich in September 1984 and then with Stoke City in November. He eventually retired in 1985 after a disc in his neck burst during a Brighton reserve match.

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Extended video highlights – Brighton 4-0 Manchester City (FA Cup, 1983)


In January 1983, Brighton followed on from their FA Cup replay victory at Newcastle by demolishing Manchester City 4-0 at the Goldstone in the Fourth Round. In his autobiography ‘Big Joe’, Joe Corrigan, the City keeper, revealed unrest within the City camp prior to the tie:

In the previous road we’d seen off Sunderland after a replay but a Sunday morning training session at Maine Road prior to the game showed how badly things had deteriorated at the club and should have made events after the game at Brighton not quite so surprising. As we trained, Nicky Reid and John Bond had an argument that threatened to get out of hand, and that resulted in a nasty half hour of action with some players intent on hurting one another.

Brighton hammered us 4-0 in the cup tie. It was a dreadful day and an awful, disjointed performance by all of us. As we left the pitch Alex Williams walked over to console me and I said, ‘It’s yours now, kid. I won’t be here for much longer.’

‘What do you mean by that?’ he asked. I explained that the cup exit would mean cost-cutting exercises and I’d be one of them. I assured him I would be on my way before long and, within three months, that’s exactly what happened.

It was all smiles from the Brighton perspective, however. Here’s how John Vinicombe reported the match in the Evening Argus at the time:

The 217th FA Cup-tie in Albion’s 82-year-old history will long be remembered for the majestic manner in which Manchester City were despatched.

Thus an equally famous occasion 58 years ago at the Goldstone was averaged. Then, in a third-round tie, Third Division Albion were crushed 5-1 after previously performing the prodigious feat of knocking out Everton.

No doubt the degree of satisfaction warmed the cockles of any old-timer’s heart to see the record put straight, for it ever a side were comprehensively beaten it was Manchester City.

I doubt if John Bond, who departed in utter misery, contemplated for one moment the total destruction of his team.

On the day, i thought, they sold him short and, seeing no way past Albion, an air of surrender was discernible.

There was the misfortune of losing skipper Paul Power with damaged knee ligaments at the half-hour after a tackle with the uncompromising Chris Ramsey, but that alone could not explain City’s astonishing collapse.

Peter Bodak, the sub, caused one or two problems with his crosses, but at no time were Albion in danger after taking such a firm grip.

Had a goal at 57 minutes been allowed, then Mike Robinson would have scored a hat-trick and Albion finished even more convincing than 4-0 winners.

The revelation was Steve Gatting, playing only the third game of his League career at left-back.

I think Gatting had two games at No.3 in his first season at Arsenal. Having been omitted lately, and then moved to say that he didn’t fancy staying unless he is in the team, maybe Gatting will have a re-think. Apart from Pearce, and among defenders, Gatting is the only natural left-sided player in the squad, and I must say he surprised me with the quality of his play.

In my book, the star was Jimmy Case on a day when there were so many stellar performances. Since Melia took over and got on the Merseyspeak wavelength with Case, his involvement has become greater with every match.

He ripped the heart out of City’s experienced midfield together with Tony Grealish. At training, Grealish is the first player the five-a-side skippers automatically ask for.

To be so highly esteemed by colleagues has to be earned, and never let it be forgotten that it was Grealish who set such a sterling example by his leadership at Newcastle.

He won ball after ball against City, and exhibited fine control in setting up the third goal for Robinson with just over 20 minutes remaining.

By then City were skint, and Robinson finished them off rather as a matador puts the bull out of its misery.

The eighth-minute opener by Case that deflected off Kevin Reeves was a piece of overdue luck and Neil Smillie’s continuing improvement was signalled by his first goal for the club before the break.


Just before, Steve Foster suffered a painful dead leg. At first, there were fears it might be a pulled hamstring, but it was nonetheless worrying. It might have slowed him a pace or two, but his attitude remained unchanged.

City vainly tried to unsettle him: an elbow in the eye was the prime example, but nothing worried Foster, and certainly nothing diverted Gary Stevens from that much admired elegance that made City’s England candidate, Tommy Caton, look so average.

As the physical element was introduced by despairing City, so they derived no change from Ramsey.

Gordon Smith used his incisive eye for an opening to set up a rich assortment of passes, while Andy Ritchie and Robinson created havoc in the box.

The one dodgy moment came early into the second half when Steve Kinsey hit a post. Had it gone in, Albion’s lead would have been cut to 2-1.

When it did not, the white flags were fluttering, and it might have been appropriate had Bond tossed in the towel as well.

Albion: Moseley, Ramsey, Gatting, Grealish, Foster, Stevens, Case, Ritchie, Robinson, Smith, Smillie. Sub: Ryan.

Manchester City: Corgan, Ranson, Bond, Reid, Power, Caton, Tueart, Reeves, Cross, Kinsey. Sub: Bodak for Power (injured, 31 minutes)

Well, John Bond did toss in the towel, resigning after this capitulation by the Seagulls.

And now, for the first time on YouTube, here are 20 minutes of highlights from this match to savour:

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From Alan Young’s autobiography: When Brighton played Real Madrid

Three weeks ago, this blog featured an extract from Alan Young’s autobiography, covering the time Jimmy Case went AWOL.


Today we will look at the striker’s £150,000 signing for Brighton from Sheffield United, and the club’s pre-season jaunt to Spain in the summer of 1983, where they even played the mighty Real Madrid:

The following pre-season with Sheffield United we were over at Reg Brearley’s place at Boston Spa. I remember looking around thinking to myself that we were going to have a very good season. I was feeling very happy at the prospect of another season at Sheffield United so I was surprised when Ian Porterfield cornered me at the bar one evening after training and told me that they had received an offer from Brighton for me. He then told me that they were going to accept the offer and asked if I would like to speak to Jimmy Melia.

So I looked Ian in the eye and asked him “Don’t you f*cking want me like?”

And he made all the right noises and assured me that it wasn’t his decision, that it was the chairman. They needed to get some money in and that I was the only player that they could sell right now. So I went down to see Jimmy and his wife Val and met them at Hotel in Brighton where he taught me what the terms were and that my signing on fee would be 20 grand. That was when I got back to Brearley and asked for the extra five grand which of course he honoured. Now Val was quite spiritual individual and when Jimmy and I had finished discussing the terms of the transfer she asked me what star sign I was. When I told her I was Scorpio she clapped her hands together and said, “Jimmy, it’s perfect. We need that tough Scorpio character in the team”. At this point I was thinking, what are you on? But I was far too polite to say anything. I kept it to myself whilst Val was bouncing up and down because she had found a Scorpio.


Anyway, we went to Majorca for the pre-season preparations and had games against Real Madrid, Real Majorca and Ferencvaros; just a little three team tournament at Majorca’s ground.

Quite marvellously, the Seagulls’ players were not without support as some very loyal Albion fans made the journey to enjoy the competition:



(photos kindly supplied by ‘Al Bion’ from North Stand Chat)

Some even got to meet the players as this photo shows:


Alan continues:

When we arrived where is the first place we go? Magaluf. In the bar where the ducks are, Mano’s Bar (it’s a famous bar). So we are all in this bar and I remember there was a song by Malcolm Maclaren going around at the time called Double Dutch and there was a section of the video for the song where there is a skipping routine (Ooh ma ma, ooh ma ma etc, you know the one) in the middle of it and so what are we doing in this bar? The whole team is recreating this video from Double Dutch and the whole place has gone mental and joined in and it was wild – and we had only just arrived!

What I hadn’t realised at the time was that someone was putting vodka in my beer and so I was getting drunk very quickly and at one point I went and sat next to this girl in a polka dot dress and I was thinking that she was right fit but I couldn’t talk, I really couldn’t.

I thought, I’ve got to get out of here before I collapse or something. So I got in to this taxi and I couldn’t remember where the hotel was and I was starting to feel sick and the taxi driver is jabbering away at me in Spanish and I am a right mess.

So I summoned up all of my Spanish and said “Momento. Marina Hotel” and so off we went and the taxi driver found the Marina Hotel and dropped me off so I paid him and got out, thinking that I had finally had a slice of luck. I saw Gordon Smith walking out of the front door of the hotel so I knew I had the right place and I stopped. “Smudge!” and he said, “What are you doing, Big Man?”

I said “Oh Smudge, I just want ma bed” so I went in to the hotel and walked up to reception and told them that I am Mr Young but I can’t remember my room number. But they can’t find me on their records and keep saying “No Meester Young” and I’m going “Yeeesss Mr Young!” and eventually I gave up and ran out after Gordon Smith. I caught him up and said “Smudge, they won’t give me my key” and he looked at me a bit odd and said “I’m not f*ckin’ surprised” and I said “Why?” and he grinned and said “It’s not our f*ckin’ hotel that’s why! Ours is next door.”

Now quite what he was doing in that hotel … I wouldn’t like to say. He later became president of the Scottish Football Association of course. He could also play the piano really well; he would just sit down at a piano, any piano that might be in a hotel foyer or something, and go straight in to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. I used to think, you bastard. I was so jealous of that kind of talent. That is one my regrets in life, never having piano lessons. So anyway, I made it to my bed and I was up for training on time the next morning. We didn’t have a blast like that every night but my word did we ever go for it on that first night. Later on, the bastards admitted to putting vodka in my drinks.

In the City of Palma Tournament, Brighton lost narrowly, 1-0, to Real Madrid on 18th August 1983. That prestigious match is notable not just because of the opposition, but because of the debut of rookie goalkeeper Simon Steele. Here are some more of ‘Al Bion’s photos, from the Real Madrid match:

Brighton v Real Madrid: Pre-Match

Brighton v Real Madrid: Pre-Match

Brighton v Real Madrid: After the match

Brighton v Real Madrid: After the match

Two days later, Brighton beat Hungarian side Vasas Diosgyori 3-2 with goals from Steve Gatting, Tony Grealish and a Terry Connor penalty to finish third in the tournament. And exactly thirty years ago today, Brighton’s final match of the tour ended on a high on the Balearic Islands. SD Ibiza were hammered 5-2 with Gerry Ryan, Martin Lambert (2) and Michael Ring (2) getting the goals.

Then it was back home to Brighton for Alan to enjoy the sunshine and beach:


Looking back at the tour, Alan reminisces:

The most amazing thing that happened on that trip however was that big Joe Corrigan (all six feet seven inches of him) got mugged in Alessandro’s night club and had his watch stolen! I mean, Joe Corrigan! There must have been about a hundred guys in the gang that mugged him.

If you are interested in reading more, you can buy ‘Youngy,’ the Alan Young autobiography here on the accompanying site.

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