The postman who delivered for Ward

The songs still sung today that immortalise Peter Ward sadly fail to recognise the man who laid on so many of the nimble striker’s goals.

But fans of a certain vintage will never forget the contribution of former postman Ian ‘Spider’ Mellor.

Nicknamed because of his long-legged build, the beanpole midfielder-turned-striker, scored 31 goals in 122 appearances for Albion between 1974 and 1978.

Mellor began his career as a winger at Manchester City towards the end of the Bell, Summerbee, Lee era and although, as the headline indicates, there were great expectations of him, he eventually moved on to Norwich.

He came to Brighton as part of the Brian Clough revolution of the squad and remarkable as it may sound today was a record signing at £40,000 in 1974. He was part of a triple signing from Norwich as Clough persuaded him and centre backs Andy Rollings and Steve Govier to drop down a division to play for Brighton.

He never played competitively under Clough because of ol’ Big Ed’s move to Leeds that summer but under Peter Taylor he played mainly in a left-sided midfield role.

It was Taylor’s successor, Alan Mullery, who changed him from a wide midfield player to a centre forward, a position from which he contributed so many ‘assists’ for Ward. Those in the know certainly recognised his contribution.

In Matthew Horner’s excellent biography of Ward, He shot, he scored, Mullery is quoted as saying: “Ian Mellor had the ability: he was a big tall lad and he had super pace and a great left foot. I thought that they would form a terrific partnership.

“In my opinion, Mellor was wasted in midfield. He could hold on to the ball and he’d learnt his skills from Malcolm Allison and Joe Mercer at Manchester City, who were both great coaches. He shouldn’t really have been playing at the level we were at – he was too good – but he was and that was great for us.

“Spider would get the ball to him and Peter would go on these mazy runs and, nine times out of 10, would knock the ball into the back of the net.

“The partnership is history now but they were absolutely fantastic together.”

Former Albion colleague, now BBC pundit, Mark Lawrenson said of him: “Playing Ian Mellor alongside Ward was the masterstroke really – Mellor was an out-and-out footballer and a perfect partner for Wardy.”

Club skipper at the time, Brian Horton, added: “In the first year Ward and Spider were unbelievable. We didn’t have a big target man but the movement with those two was fantastic. They got about 50 goals between them and I chipped in with about a dozen more.”

Ironically one of the stand-out games of his Albion career, on 3rd May 1977, came against Albion’s play-off opponents, Sheffield Wednesday, in front of 30,756 fans at the Goldstone.

Argus reporter John Vinicombe named him his Albion man-of-the-match as Wednesday were beaten 3-2 to earn promotion.

 

 

The following season saw the arrival of Teddy Maybank from Fulham which signalled the end of his time on the south coast.

He moved back to his native north west from Brighton to play for Chester for two years but then had three years at Sheffield Wednesday where he managed 11 goals in 70 games and, like his spell alongside Ward, provided a perfect foil for Terry Curran to bang in the goals.

Younger readers will be more familiar with the former Liverpool striker Neil Mellor, who now works in the media, who is one of Ian’s sons.

 

  • Pictures from my scrapbook show headlines Mellor made and two of the goals he scored at the Goldstone.

scrapbok mellor

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