Lammie Robertson took on Pelé after departing the Goldstone

MUCH as I liked Lammie Robertson as a player at Brighton, I never expected that one day he would share a football pitch with Pelé.

I imagine fans of Leicester City would say the same: some of them consider the Scot to have been one of the worst players ever to play for their club!

Mind you, during his days at Halifax Town he competed against George Best, so perhaps it was his destiny to play amongst the stars.

Let’s unravel the story a little more.

Born on 27 September 1947 in Paisley, Scotland, he was christened Archibald. Lamond – after a family name – was his middle name and, in the way names often evolve in football, that became Lammie.

Football was clearly in his genes; his maternal grandfather played for Sunderland before the war. Lammie was one of several budding footballers at Camphill Senior Secondary School in Paisley who reached two finals of a Scottish schools’ national competition.

In 1961, they were runners-up in the Scottish Schools Junior Shield, and the following year they won the Scottish Schools Intermediate Shield.

Lammie’s footballing ability took him to junior Scottish side Benburb FC, based in Govan, Glasgow, and Eastercraigs, from where, at the age of 19 in 1966, Burnley signed him.

At the time, Burnley were riding high in English football’s top tier. Their Northern Irish international centre-forward Willie Irvine (more of whom later) was the First Division’s top scorer for the 1965-66 season with 29 goals.

Bury circa 68

Robertson didn’t make the grade at Burnley and it was only when he switched to Bury, in 1968, that he made his professional debut. Bury’s squad (above) at the time had former Man Utd and Preston North End centre-forward Alex Dawson up front (it would not be long before he moved to Brighton), the legendary ex Leeds skipper Bobby Collins in midfield (circled in picture) and an emerging full back called Alec Lindsay, who went on to play for Liverpool and England.

Robertson, though, only made five appearances for the Shakers before moving to Halifax Town in February 1969.

It was at The Shay that his career finally took off. He won a regular place in the side and scored 20 goals in 150 league games, including being part of a side promoted from the old Fourth Division to the Third.

That encounter with George Best (pictured below) happened while he was at Halifax. It was in 1971, in an early season competition called the Watney Cup, and the Fourth Division side shocked Frank O’Farrell’s mighty United, beating them 2-1 (the televised game can still be seen on YouTube).

halifax v best

After Brighton went up to the old Second Division in 1972, manager Pat Saward was determined to bring in better quality players and there was no question of sentiment as he decided to discard two of the strikers who scored the goals that earned promotion.

First to go was Kit Napier (to Blackburn), replaced by Barry Bridges for what at the time was a record £28,000 fee.

Tranmere’s Ken Beamish had joined Brighton to aid the final promotion push in the spring of 1972, and in the opening months of the Second Division season, he played alongside Bridges and Willie Irvine.

Although both had played at the highest level earlier in their careers, Saward felt Irvine’s days were numbered – although he was only 29 – and, come December, Saward swapped him for the 25-year-old Robertson.

The deal involved a fee of £15,000 plus Irvine, who was a reluctant participant in the arrangement. The popular Irishman later wrote particularly unfavourably about the move in his autobiography, Together Again, feeling Saward rather unceremoniously dumped him.

At the time, Halifax manager George Mulhall admitted it was a gamble and told Shoot! magazine: “I didn’t want to sell Lammie. He was very much a part of my future plans. But £15,000 plus Willie Irvine was a generous offer and to instill fresh interest I feel I must introduce new faces.

“We have only a small pool of players here and no money to give any breathing space – so obviously this cash, plus an Irish international centre-forward who can score goals, is very welcome.”

Robertson quickly settled and bought himself a flat on Shoreham Beach, with his fiancée Maureen, but on the field he joined a team descending into one of the longest losing streaks in the club’s history.

He signed during that infamous period when Saward’s side lost 13 successive matches, heading to Hove just days after a 5-1 drubbing at Carlisle and making his debut at home to QPR, a 2-1 defeat.

In the division below, he had already scored 11 goals (nearly half Halifax’s total!) up to the time of his move, but it was to be three months before Robertson scored for his new club.

Eventually he got off the mark in a 2-1 home win over Huddersfield and got three more before the end of the season. Saward eventually lost patience with Bridges, who was relegated to the subs bench, and Robertson was paired up front with Beamish, with teenager Tony Towner out on the wing providing inviting crosses.

Lam from Towner

One such (as can be seen in the picture above) came against Preston on 31 March 1973 when Robertson headed in Towner’s inch perfect cross in injury time to clinch a 2-0 win. It was all too little, too late and Albion duly returned to the Third Division.

As the season got underway, Bridges and Beamish were back in tandem and Robertson on the bench but in some games Saward played all three as he battled without success to revive Albion’s fortunes.

After an eight-game spell out of the side, during which time Saward lost his job, Robertson was back in the frame for the first game of the Brian Clough-Peter Taylor era.

Robertson told The Sunday Post (Dundee) in 2016: “Things hadn’t been going too well for me at Brighton when Clough arrived. The previous manager, Pat Saward, wasn’t my favourite person and he’d left me out of the team. Then Clough arrived, having just won the League Championship with Derby County.

“He brought me straight back in and took us away to a hotel to prepare for his first game.

“The first thing he did was to go round the lads and ask them what they wanted to drink.

“They started asking for orange juice or a soft drink, but he said, ‘No, a proper drink’.

“He was always testing people and coming up with the unexpected. But I couldn’t help thinking that he was a bit half-hearted about the Brighton job. He didn’t want to move down from Derby and so we’d sometimes be training at 5pm just to fit in with his movements.”

In his third game under the pair, on 13 November 1973, Robertson’s cross for Pat Hilton produced a headed winner away to Walsall to give Clough his first win as Brighton manager.

Fans who go back that far will remember the terrible lambasting the management pair dished out about the players they inherited. Robertson, though, retained his place for most of the season and scored in the final game of the campaign, a 1-1 draw at Bristol Rovers that only marginally avenged the home 8-2 hammering that had been dished out in Clough’s seventh game in charge.

However, it was to be Robertson’s last goal and last appearance in Albion’s colours because, within a matter of days, he and John Templeman were used as makeweights in the recruitment of goalscorer Fred Binney from Exeter City.

exeter pair

Robertson and Templeman (in an Exeter line-up above) were only part of what became known as “the Clough clear-out” – a total of 12 players were released – but it marked the beginning of a period which was transformational in the history of the club.

The move to Devon actually suited Robertson just fine. He went on to attain cult status amongst the City fans and over three years played in 133 league matches, scoring 25 goals.

grecianarchive.exeter.ac.uk says Robertson was “regarded as one of the finest ball and creative players to have worn the City shirt” although it also adds he had his fair share of run-ins with referees, leading to a few sendings off.

During the Seventies, the United States was trying to get football off the ground as an alternative to baseball and American football and there were loads of opportunities for English-based players to travel across the Atlantic to play for these fledgling teams in the North American Soccer League.

In the summer of 1976, Robertson joined a team called Chicago Sting and played 14 games, including a memorable 4-1 win over the big-money New York Cosmos in front of a crowd of 28,000.

Cosmos included the immortal Pelé up front alongside Italian international Giorgio Chinaglia and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.

Beeholeclaret on uptheclarets.com found a YouTube clip of the players being introduced before the game, and mentions Burnley’s “Eddie Cliff who played in our 1968 FA Youth Cup win alongside the likes of Mick Docherty, Dave Thomas, Steve Kindon and Alan West” and “ex Claret Lammie Robertson, who was a teammate of Eddie for Chicago”.

There are some great memories of that era to be found online courtesy of nasljerseys.com and there are pictures (above) of Robertson in action against ex-Newcastle and Middlesbrough player Alan Foggon, (who was playing for Hartford), in a 7-1 win for Sting. Another shows him avoiding a clearance by San Jose Earthquakes’ Laurie Calloway (who played for York in England and who Jimmy Melia later wanted as a coach at Brighton, but chairman Mike Bamber appointed Chris Cattlin instead).

Back at Exeter, the 1976-77 season saw player-manager Bobby Saxton’s team earn promotion from the Fourth to the Third Division as runners up and Robertson’s form obviously caught people’s attention.

Frank McLintock was only a couple of months into a brief reign as Leicester City’s manager at the start of the 1977-78 season, and eyebrows were raised when he bought Robertson for an £8,000 fee.

Robertson, at 30, was one of several ageing players McLintock recruited in what was to be a fairly disastrous 10 months as Leicester’s manager; the others were Dave Webb, George Armstrong, Eddie Kelly and Geoff Salmons. Two more signings, Alan Waddle and Roger Davies, were also flops.

In an online debate about the worst players ever to play for Leicester, three of those mentioned all played for Brighton at some stage!!

Trevor Benjamin and Junior Lewis were listed by more than one fan but Lesterlad1 was quite certain it was Robertson.

“Lammie Robertson has to be the all time worst City player,” he said. “Made Junior Lewis look like Messi.”

On talkingballs.uk, Redditch Fox said: “He sort of played towards the right wing position – but was not a winger and neither a midfielder nor a forward. Considering he usually played wide – he was incredibly slow moving.

“He was dire – out of his depth – but to be fair was probably past his best when he came here. People were just astonished that we had signed him.”

When Leicester were on the brink of their famous Premier League win two years ago, The Sunday Post (Dundee), on 1 May 2016, found Robertson and asked about the time he lined up for Leicester at Old Trafford in 1977.

He said: “Frank McLintock signed me from Exeter, where I’d just won promotion to Divison Three. I believe Frank’s old Leicester teammate Davie Gibson had recommended me.

“Having spent my entire career in the lower leagues, it was a great thrill to be facing Manchester United.

“I normally played in midfield but that day I was the main striker. I thought I did quite well but we lost 3-1. We had a decent collection of players at Leicester but the results just didn’t come.

“Frank McLintock lost his job but I couldn’t help feeling that things might have turned round if he’d been given a little bit longer.”

Jock Wallace took over and Robertson’s year-long stay at Filbert Street came to an end in October 1978 when he moved on to Peterborough United, where his teammates included midfielder Billy McEwan and striker Barry Butlin, who had played for Brighton. However, his stay at London Road was even shorter than his time at Leicester, moving on again after just 15 league games in which he scored once, to join Bradford City in January 1979.
City were his last League club as a player. By the end of the 1980-81 season, he’d clocked up 43 league games and three goals for the Bantams.
Robertson was appointed player-manager at Northwich Victoria in July 1981 and one of his signings was the former West Ham, Everton and Man City winger Mark Ward.

Ward wrote in his autobiography, Hammered: “The team didn’t make a good start to the 1981-82 season and poor old Lammie Robertson was sacked after just six matches.”
According to grecianarchive, Robertson then became an independent financial advisor but kept in touch with football as a scout for Sheffield United.

Eight years ago, he was living in Goostrey, Cheshire, and, in March of that year, was appointed caretaker at the Goostrey Village Hall.

In 2016, Halifax fans spotted him at one of their games and were pleased to report he was looking in good health for a man who is now 70.

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Goalscoring Busby Babe Alex Dawson was my first Brighton hero

ALEX DAWSON remains the youngest player to have scored a hat-trick in a FA Cup semi-final.

He was just 18 years and 33 days on 26 March 1958 when his perfect treble (header, right foot and left foot shots) for a makeshift post-Munich Manchester United helped to secure a 5-3 win over Fulham in a replay in front of 38,000 fans at Highbury.

Eleven years later he scored twice for Brighton & Hove Albion in what for many might have been a meaningless Third Division match against Walsall.

But for me, it was the beginning of a lifelong journey supporting the Albion. It was the very first Brighton game I saw and the burly Dawson, wearing number 9, became an instant hero to an impressionable 10-year-old.

Little did I know then of the famous background of the man who played a big part in Brighton’s 3-0 win over the Saddlers that afternoon.

What I’ve learned since makes him even more of a hero, and it’s evident that fans of other sides he played for remember him with great fondness too.

Returning to that 1958 match, it was just six weeks after the Munich air disaster that claimed the lives of eight of United’s first choice team –Dawson’s pals – so youngsters and fringe players had to be drafted into the side to fulfil the remaining fixtures that season.

Thirteen days after the accident, Dawson took his place beside survivors Bill Foulkes and Harry Gregg and scored one of United’s goals as they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in the fifth round of the Cup. He scored again as United drew 2-2 with West Brom in the sixth round, before winning through 1-0 in a replay to go up against Fulham in the semi-final.

Dawson told manutd.com five years ago: “In our first game with Fulham (played at Villa Park), Bobby Charlton scored twice in a 2-2 draw, and I was put on the right wing. I was a centre-forward really and when we played the replay at Highbury four days later, I was back in my normal position.

“Jimmy (Murphy) said before the game: ‘I fancy you this afternoon, big man. I fancy you to put about three in.’ I just said: ‘You know me Jim, I’ll do my best,’ but I couldn’t believe it when it happened.

“The first was a diving header, I think the second was a left-footer and the third was with my right foot.

“Nobody can ever take that afternoon away from me. It was a long time ago, of course, and it’s still a club record for the youngest scorer of a hat-trick in United’s history. Records are there to be broken and I’m surprised that it’s gone on for over half a century.

“I’m a proud man to still hold this record. Even when it goes, nobody can ever take the achievement away from me – I’ll remember that afternoon for as long as I live.”

Also in the United side that day was Freddie Goodwin….and he was the manager of that Brighton side I watched for the first time v Walsall in February 1969.

Born in Aberdeen on 21 February 1940, Dawson went to the same school as United legend Denis Law, but his parents moved down to Hull and Dawson joined United straight from Hull Schoolboys.

Dawson and future Preston and Brighton teammate Nobby Lawton were both on the scoresheet as United beat West Ham 3-2 in the first leg of the 1957 FA Youth Cup Final and Dawson scored twice in the 5-0 second leg win. West Ham’s side included John Lyall, who later went on to manage them.

On redcafe.net, Julian Denny recalled how Dawson once scored three hat-tricks in a row for a United reserve team that was regularly watched by crowds of over 10,000.

He scored on his United first team debut against Burnley in April 1957, aged just 17,

and in each of the final two matches that season (a 3-2 win at Cardiff and a 1-1 draw at home to West Brom) to help win the title and secure United’s passage into Europe’s premier club competition.

They were the first of 54 goals in 93 United appearances, but was it all too much too soon? Some say Dawson’s career with United may have panned out differently if he hadn’t been thrust into first team action at such a young age.

Was he mentally scarred by the loss of those teammates, in the knowledge he could well have been with them on that fateful journey?

Let’s not forget he was just short of his 18th birthday when the accident happened. In an interview with Chris Roberts in the Daily Record (initially published 6 Feb 2008 then updated 1 July 2012), he recalled: “I used to go on those trips and had a passport and visa all ready but the boss just told me I wasn’t going this time. I had already been on two or three trips just to break me in. I know now how lucky I was to be left in Manchester. The omens were on my side.”

Dawson went on to describe the disbelief and the feelings they had at losing eight of the team, including Duncan Edwards several days later.

“We were all so close and Duncan was also a good friend to me before the accident,” said Dawson. “Duncan was such a good player, there is no doubt about that. He was a wonderful fellow as well as a real gentleman.

“I will never, ever forget him because he died on my birthday, February 21, and before that he was the one who really helped me settle in.”

Dawson gradually became an increasingly bigger part of the first-team picture at United, making 11 appearances in 1958-59 and scoring four times. The following season he scored 15 in 23 games then went five better in 1960-61, scoring 20 in 34 games.

He was at the top of his game during the last week of 1960 when he scored in a 2-1 away win at Chelsea on Christmas Eve, netted a hat-trick as Chelsea were thumped 6-0 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, and then scored another treble as United trounced neighbours City 5-1 on New Year’s Eve.

A fortnight later he had the chance to show another less well-known string to his footballing bow…. as a goalkeeper!

It was recalled by theguardian.com in 2013. When Tottenham were on their way to the first ever double, and had an air of near-invincibility about them, they arrived at Old Trafford having lost only once all season, and had scored in every single game.

Long before the days of a bench full of substitutes, when ‘keeper Harry Gregg sustained a shoulder injury, Dawson had to take over in goal.

Dawson excelled when called upon, at one point performing, according to the Guardian’s match report, “a save from Allen that Gregg himself could not have improved upon”.

The article said: “Tottenham’s attempts to get back into the game came to naught and Dawson achieved what no genuine goalkeeper had all season: keep out Tottenham’s champions-elect. In the end, there were only two games all season in which Spurs failed to score, and this was one of them.”

Tottenham’s north London neighbours, Arsenal, finished a disappointing 25 points behind Spurs in 11th place, but United manager Matt Busby had been keeping tabs on the Gunners’ prolific centre forward David Herd (Arsenal’s top scorer for four seasons), and in July 1961 took him to Old Trafford for £35,000. It signalled the end of Dawson’s time with United.

When the new season kicked off, Dawson had a new apprentice looking after the cleaning of his boots….a young Irishman called George Best. In his 1994 book, The Best of Times (written with Les Scott), Best said: “Alex Dawson was a brawny centre forward whose backside was so huge he appeared taller when he sat down. To me, Alex looked like Goliath, although he was only 5’10”. What made him such an imposing figure was his girth.

“He weighed 13st 12lbs, a stone heavier than centre half Bill Foulkes who was well over 6ft tall. What’s more, there wasn’t an ounce of fat on Alex – it was all muscle.”

Best’s responsibilities for Dawson’s boots didn’t last long, however, because in October that year, Busby sold the centre forward to Preston for £18,000.

During a prolific time at Preston, Dawson scored 114 goals in 197 appearances, and became known as The Black Prince of Deepdale. In the 1964 FA Cup Final at Wembley, Dawson scored in the 40th minute but Preston lost 3-2 to a Bobby Moore-led West Ham United.

The Preston captain that day was his former Man Utd teammate Nobby Lawton, who he subsequently joined at Brighton.

Lawton, now no longer with us, mentioned “that great striker Alex Dawson” in an interview he gave to the Lancashire Evening Post, published in May 2004.

“I’d known Alex since we were both on the groundstaff at Old Trafford,” Lawton recalled. “He was a bull of a centre-forward and was a Deepdale hero.

“He’s a lovely man and I was best man at his wedding. He hasn’t changed at all, and we are still great friends.

“Alex and the rest of the team would have graced any Premiership side today.”

Clearly Preston fans felt the same way. Albertan on pne.net in 2012 said: “Alex Dawson was a super player … He was the complete centre forward – powerful, mobile and lethal with either foot or his head. He was also brave, committed and characterful.”
While sliper on the same forum added: “In his prime Dawson was a powerhouse and great to watch. I can safely say I’ve never seen a better header of a ball at Deepdale.”

Curlypete recalled: “You could literally see goalkeepers tremble when Dawson was running at them, it was either the ball, ‘keeper or more likely both who ended up in the net.”

In 1967, Dawson took the short journey to Bury FC where his goalscoring exploits continued with 21 goals in 50 appearances. I was intrigued to see in a team photo of the Bury squad before the 1968-69 season, a young Lammie Robertson sitting at Dawson’s feet.  I shall tell more of Lammie in an upcoming post on this blog.

In December 1968, the aforementioned Freddie Goodwin had just taken over as Brighton manager and he paid Bury £9,000 to make his old United teammate his first signing at the Goldstone.

Dawson certainly arrived with a bang on the south coast, finding the net no fewer than 17 times in just 23 games, including three braces and four in an away game at Hartlepool.

The following season, Goodwin added Alan Gilliver to the strikeforce and he outshone Dawson in the scoring stakes, although the Scot still scored 12 in 36 games.

As is so often the case, it was a change of manager that marked the end of his time with the Albion. With Goodwin departed for Birmingham, replacement Pat Saward didn’t give the old-timer much of a look-in and he went out on loan to Brentford where he showed he could still find the back of the net with familiar regularity.

Greville Waterman, on bfctalk.wordpress.com in July 2014, recalled: “He was a gnarled veteran of thirty with a prominent broken nose and a face that surely only a mother could love, but he had an inspirational loan spell at Griffin Park in 1970 scoring seven times in eleven games including the winner in that amazing late, late show FA Cup victory against Gillingham.

“Typical of the times at Griffin Park, he departed after his loan spell as apparently the club was unable to agree terms with him. A classic example of both parties suffering given that Dawson never played another Football League game and Brentford lacked a focal point in their attack until the arrival of John O’Mara later that same season.”

Released by the Albion at the end of the 1970-71 season, Dawson’s final footballing action was with non-league Corby Town.

Nevertheless, he could look back on a fantastic career as a goalscorer, with a strike rate the envy of many a modern day forward.

Pictures: Top: Alex Dawson portraits – in the 1969-70 and 1970-71 kits.

 

 

  • A montage showing Dawson:
    • scoring the first of his goals in the 1958 FA Cup semi final
    • in a Bury line-up (from the Bury Times) with future Albion forward Lammie Robertson also encircled.
    • powering a header for the Albion.
    • in a portrait from pnefc.net.

Goals dried up at Everton and Brighton for fans favourite Alan Biley

1 150th goal v Leeds (1-1)

Alan Biley was a fans favourite at all six English league clubs he played for but the prolific goalscoring that made his name at Cambridge United and Portsmouth wasn’t replicated at Everton or Brighton.

His spiky, long blond hair reflected his devotion to singer Rod Stewart and, on the pitch, the way he wore his football shirt outside his shorts, clutched the cuffs, and saluted a goal with a raised forefinger was a tribute to another of his heroes, Scottish footballing legend Denis Law.

Biley was quite the hero at Portsmouth, with a goalscoring record of more than a goal every other game, having been signed by Bobby Campbell in 1982.

But when he fell out of favour with Campbell’s successor, Alan Ball, Brighton’s Chris Cattlin stepped in and paid £50,000 to take the striker along the coast in March 1985.

Within a month of the move, he was back at Fratton Park in Albion’s colours for an Easter Saturday south coast derby when honours were even in a 1-1 draw.

Biley had made his Seagulls debut as a substitute for Frank Worthington in a 0-0 draw away to Barnsley, then got his first start the following game (another goalless draw, at home to Oxford) and kept his place to the end of the season.

The first of four goals during that spell came in a 2-0 win at home to Oldham, and the goal he scored in a 1-1 home draw with Leeds on 20 April was his 150th in league football (top picture).  Although Albion finished with three wins, it wasn’t enough to reach the promotion places, and they finished sixth.

2 AB celebrates w M Ferguson

Biley made a great start to the 1985-86 campaign, scoring against First Division Nottingham Forest in a remarkable 5-1 pre-season friendly win, and then in the opening league fixture, a 2-2 home draw with Grimsby Town.

However, competition for places in Albion’s forward line had intensified. In addition to Terry Connor, £1m man Justin Fashanu arrived together with Dean Saunders, on a free transfer from Swansea, (Saunders went on to be named player of the season).

With the much-derided Mick Ferguson also managing a brief purple patch of scoring, it meant Biley struggled to hold down a regular spot, making 24 starts plus three appearances as a sub, and only managing to add three more goals to that season’s opener.

Cattlin’s dismissal as boss, to be replaced by the returning Alan Mullery, also spelled the end of Biley’s time at the club. He initially went back to Cambridge on loan but then tried his luck in Greece before ending up in Ireland, playing for Waterford who were managed by his old Everton teammate, Andy King.

But let’s go back to the beginning. Born in Leighton Buzzard on 26 February 1957, Biley was spotted by nearby Luton Town at the tender age of 10 and signed schoolboy forms aged 12. He was then offered an apprenticeship and professional forms as he worked his way through the different levels. But financial issues hit the club and when their chief scout left to link up with Cambridge, he recommended Biley to manager Atkinson, and in 1975 he made the move to Fourth Division United.

Biley netted a total of 82 in 185 games as United rose from the Fourth Division to the Second between 1975 and 1979, when his eye for goal caught the attention of First Division Derby County, who paid £450,000 for his services.

Biley continued to find the net regularly in the top flight, scoring nine in 18 games for the Rams, but he couldn’t prevent them from being relegated. He stuck with them in the 1980-81 season and scored 10 playing in the second tier but was sidelined through injury for several months.

He recounted recently how he fell out with manager Colin Addison and there was talk of him being sold to West Brom, where his old boss Atkinson had moved to, but instead, in July 1981, he became new Everton manager Howard Kendall’s first signing for a £300,000 fee. Everton fans who go back that far refer to the Magnificent Seven – because that’s how many players Kendall signed in a short space of time.

Biley was an instant hit, scoring on his Everton debut as Birmingham City were beaten 3-1. He scored again in his next game away to Leeds, but things quickly started to go wrong for him, as he explained in great detail to Everton fan website bluekipper.com.

“I was always appreciative of the Evertonians’ footballing knowledge and the support and gusto, particularly through the tough times,” said Biley. “They were very loyal through the tough times, and they are a different class.

“I would like to think they took to me but my only big regret was that I wasn’t there long enough to enjoy them.”

By October, Kendall had dropped his new signing and Biley was mystified.

“Years later, as I look back at it, I wasn’t Howard Kendall’s cup of tea. Whatever that was, I can’t put my finger on it because history tells you what I was and what I did and where I played, and he had a different opinion of that.

“I would have loved him to have had the faith in me he had in lots of other players.”

Eventually his lack of involvement in first team action saw him go out on loan to struggling Stoke City and in eight games he helped them to retain their status in the top division, but hopes of a permanent move fell through.

Instead he departed Goodison Park with just 18 appearances (plus three as sub) and three goals to his name and dropped down to the Third Division with Portsmouth.

The Pompey faithful had already had a taste of what they could expect when, at Christmas 1977, as a 20-year-old playing for Cambridge, Biley had scored twice for table-topping Cambridge at Fratton Park.

And, sure enough, when paired up front with Billy Rafferty, he became an instant hit and the duo scored 40 between them as Pompey won promotion. Biley’s performances earned him a place in the PFA select XI that included Gillingham’s Steve Bruce and Micky Adams, Portsmouth colleague Neil Webb and Kerry Dixon, then of Reading.

The following season saw Biley gain a new strike partner in the shape of Mark Hateley, who would go on to earn England international recognition. However, a series of 10 home defeats put paid to their promotion hopes and Campbell was sacked on the coach on the way back from the season’s penultimate game at Derby. In the final game of the season, with Alan Ball in temporary charge, Biley hit a hat-trick in a 5-0 demolition of Swansea.

Ball was installed as manager and Biley was very much a part of the side that began the 1984-85 season. He played in 22 games and came off the bench twice, scoring a total of 13 goals before Ball mysteriously sold him to Brighton in March.

Biley’s heart never left Fratton Park, though, and in 2015 he told Neil Allen, the author of a book Played Up Pompey: “Pompey was – and still is – my club.

“Pompey was a three-year box in time and if I could possibly open that box again and recover moments, a day even, then I would die happy. I fell in love with the club and it has never gone away.”

Biley has revelled in many opportunities to reminisce about his playing days, attending numerous reunions and enjoying all the memories.

In June 2017, he got together with other former players to talk about his goalscoring days at Cambridge and in October 2017, broadcaster and Albion fan Peter Brackley helped a number of former Pompey players, including Biley, recall a famous occasion when a fan ran on the pitch dressed as Santa Claus and, after the disruption, Biley scored two late goals to win a dramatic cup tie against Oxford.

But in all my research for this piece, I could find no loving references to his time with the Albion, although five years ago the excellent thegoldstonewrap.com brought together some footage of some of his best moments.

After his playing days were over, he moved back to his Bedfordshire roots and got involved in non-league football with various sides in and around the Home Counties, alongside running his own gym in Biggleswade.

  • Pictures from the Albion programme / Evening Argus and various online sources.