Part of the current and past history of Manchester United weaves through the lives of two goalkeepers who played for Brighton and Derby County.
Stretford-born Graham Moseley once played in a FA Cup semi-final for Derby against Manchester United but went one better with Brighton and made it to the final.
Eric Steele was Albion’s custodian in the historic 1978-79 climb from the second tier of English football to the elite and in more recent times played a part in the recruitment and development of some of the Premier League’s top goalkeepers, including United’s current no.1 David de Gea.
Considering Derby’s pre-eminence in the mid ‘70s compared to Brighton’s more modest status, after leaving the Baseball Ground Moseley’s chances of making a Wembley final were fairly remote.
Even more so considering some turbulent times at the Goldstone during which he very publicly fell out with the manager who signed him. Alan Mullery paid Derby £20,000 for the England Under 23 ‘keeper when his old Spurs teammate Dave Mackay, who took over at the Baseball Ground from Brian Clough, decided he was surplus to requirements.
The outspoken Albion boss lambasted some of Moseley’s performances in the press, understandably causing a rift which ended up with the ‘keeper being transfer-listed. However, it was the manager who would leave before him.
Moseley had a new lease of life under Mike Bailey following Mullery’s departure in 1981 and, although he often shared the goalkeeping duties with Perry Digweed, he was in possession – and in terrific form – for the memorable 1983 semi-final at Highbury against Sheffield Wednesday and retained the jersey for the final.
That he was to be a loser to United both at that semi-final stage with Derby in 1976 and in the replayed final in 1983 was a supreme irony – because United were the team he had supported since a boy.
Competition for the green jersey at the Goldstone was a regular feature of Moseley’s years on the south coast and restricted his league appearance total to 189 in nine years.
Although he successfully saw off Steele as a rival for the shirt, the bulk of former England international Joe Corrigan was a bigger hurdle in the 1983-84 season.
Nevertheless, when injury curtailed big Joe’s career, Moseley stepped back into the top spot and his heroics in the 1984-85 season earned him the player of the season accolade.
It was his misfortune that another managerial change saw the return of his nemesis Mullery and his Albion career came to a close. He moved on to Cardiff, where his career was cut short in 1987 when injured in a road accident, and he subsequently became a postman.
Steele joined Albion from Peterborough United in February 1977 and, with Peter Grummitt injured, it wasn’t long before he was making his debut in a 3-1 defeat away to Crystal Palace.
The season was to end in triumph, though, with Peter Ward making the headlines at one end and Steele playing his part in the run-in to Albion winning promotion to the old Second Division.
Steele played 27 times compared to Moseley’s 20 in the 1978-79 season that saw Albion finally win promotion to the First Division.
But in October 1979, only a few days after he’d had an altercation with his own teammate, Gary Williams, in a game at Old Trafford, Mullery turned a sizeable profit on his investment and sold Steele to Watford for £100,000.
Geordie Steele’s first club had been Newcastle but he never made it to the first team and it was Posh where he built a reputation, setting a record of 124 consecutive appearances, since overtaken by George Boyd.
Steele was remarkably involved in six promotions as a player: the fourth division championship at Peterborough, going from third to first with Brighton, second to first with Watford and third to first with Derby too.
Younger readers may be more familiar with him as a coach, perhaps most famously at Manchester City where he worked with Kasper Schmeichel and subsequently Joe Hart, and then Manchester United, where he was part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s team, and helped to recruit de Gea.
Previously he had worked at Aston Villa and coached the Republic of Ireland international Wayne Henderson, who later moved to the Albion.
When Ferguson stood down at Old Trafford, Steele returned to Derby – where he’d previously worked as a coach for four years – under Steve McLaren and he now coaches young goalkeepers for the English FA.
- Scrapbook photos from the Argus and Shoot!
- Spot Garth Crooks scoring for Spurs past Moseley.
- Moseley made a wonder save from Pat Heard in the 1983 FA Cup semi final at Highbury.