Ex-Forest ‘keeper Peter Grummitt a contender for Brighton’s best ever no.1

One of the best goalkeepers I’ve ever seen play for Brighton and Hove Albion previously spent a decade with Monday’s opponents Nottingham Forest.

Peter Grummitt was outstanding between the sticks and racked up an impressive career total of 570 appearances, virtually half of them in what is now the Premiership.

A quick Google search reveals he is now 73 years old so it is a lifetime ago when he was the last line of defence for Forest between 1960 and 1969.

But he also made 158 appearances for the Albion between 1974 and 1977. Signed initially in the wake of the famous 8-2 defeat to Bristol Rovers, he went on to be a key part of side that was on the up in the mid ‘70s until injury cut short his career, albeit that he was in his mid 30s by then.

Grummitt headed south, initially on loan, from Sheffield Wednesday where he’d played 130 games after leaving the City Ground.

His arrival at the Goldstone was Brian Clough and Peter Taylor’s direct response to that horrendous home defeat to Bristol Rovers in front of the TV cameras.

Long-standing no.1 Brian Powney was the first of several casualties and Grummitt was drafted in for the next game – but in his first match even he had to fish the ball out of his net four times as Tranmere ran out 4-1 winners.

As it turned out, Powney did reclaim the ‘keeper’s jersey when Grummitt was injured in a game against Shrewsbury in a challenge with Ricky Marlowe, who the following season became a teammate.

Looking back, though, the signing of a goalkeeper of Grummitt’s undoubted pedigree was very much the beginning of what was to become a memorable era in the club’s history.

In the 1960s, he was a contemporary of Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti, and they vied for the number one spot for the England Under 23 team.

Looking back through my scrapbooks, I found a feature from Shoot! magazine in which Grummitt and Bonetti, by then both 35, exchanged views and memories.

Grummitt revealed how he ended up being a ‘keeper. “My fate was decided at an early age because my brother was a budding inside forward and he used to stick me in goal so that he could practice his shooting on me,” he told the magazine.

In the same article, Grummitt said he hoped he would be able to carry on for another four or five years. Sadly that wasn’t to be. His last game was against the same opponents he’d made his Brighton debut against, Tranmere, and he suffered a knee injury which, together with an arthritic hip, prevented him regaining full fitness and forced him to retire in December 1977.

One small claim to fame on my part – I once played in the same team as Grummitt at Withdean Stadium.

Former Argus sports reporter Jamie Baker put together a team of Sussex sports writers for a game and, as one who reported on local football at the time, I was invited to play.

Imagine my surprise as we were getting changed before the match to discover sitting alongside us in the dressing room was Peter Grummitt, who Jamie had drafted in as a “ringer” to try to ensure at least our last line of defence was sound!

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