TEDDY MAYBANK signed for the Seagulls for what at the time was a club record transfer in November 1977 and went on to score Brighton’s first ever top division goal.
But the new signing came in for some flak from the terraces and, over two years, never really delivered a significant return on the investment.
Maybank himself reckons the club forced him to play on with an injured knee when he shouldn’t have, which led to irreparable damage and ultimately a premature end to his career.
The former Chelsea centre-forward was signed to replace Ian Mellor, Peter Ward’s prolific strike partner in the 3rd Division, after Brighton had won promotion to the second tier.
“We let Ian Mellor go because we felt that he had reached a certain age and had probably peaked,” Alan Mullery told Matthew Horner, in his Peter Ward biography, He Shot, He Scored. “When Teddy Maybank became available, we thought that he was probably a better option.”
Born in Lambeth on 11 October 1956, Maybank lived the first 15 years of his life in Brixton and went to Christchurch Primary School, close to his home, where one of his playground footballing mates was Ray Lewington — now loyal deputy to Roy Hodgson — who, together with Maybank, went on to play for Chelsea and Fulham.
At the age of 11, Maybank moved to Stockwell Manor Secondary School and played various age group levels for South London Boys. One of the representative matches he played in took place at the Goldstone Ground on 25 September 1971, against Brighton Boys.
The Maybank family moved to Mitcham, close to the Chelsea training ground, and, when Teddy was 15, he joined them straight from school.
Maybank and Lewington progressed through Chelsea’s youth ranks at a time when the club’s focus was on bringing through home-grown talent. “It was a good time at Chelsea,” he said. “We had such a good youth side and I loved playing under Ken Shellito.”
That team, which won the South-East Counties Championship four years in a row, included Ray and Graham Wilkins, Lewington and John Sparrow.
Maybank’s first-team debut came in a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in April 1975 aged just 18, and he scored in only his second game, a 1-1 home draw against Sheffield United, but Chelsea were relegated from the top division that year.
The following campaign saw Maybank, still a teenager, become a first-team regular under Eddie McCreadie, grabbing five goals in 26 appearances between August and February.
After falling out of favour, he went out on loan to Fulham just before Christmas 1976 and then signed permanently for a £65,000 fee later that season.
Back in the ‘70s, Chelsea were a long way from the force they are now and Maybank admitted: “I wouldn’t say I ever played that well at Chelsea. I didn’t find it easy to score goals there.”
It was a different story at Craven Cottage. After scoring more than a goal every other game – 17 times in 31 games – Maybank was sold to Brighton for £237,000, which gave Fulham a swift £172,000 profit that they used to pay off money owed on their recently-built Eric Miller Stand (now, the Riverside Stand).
Blond locks flying, Maybank comes up against QPR’s Dave Clement in a 1978 pre-season friendly. (Above right) This overhead kick against Sunderland at The Goldstone scraped the bar … otherwise would have been a Goal of the Season candidate!
Maybank made a good enough start for the Seagulls, scoring after just six minutes on his debut in a 2-2 home draw with Blackburn Rovers, played on a bitterly cold day in front of a crowd of 26,467. Tony Towner scored the Albion’s other goal and another debutant in that game was tough-tackling midfield player, Paul Clark.
Maybank was on the scoresheet again in the very next game as Albion recorded their first ever win, 1-0, at Blackpool.
It was in a game against Orient a week before Christmas that Maybank got a kick on his knee from defender Dennis Rofe (who later played for Leicester and Southampton) which caused an injury which he maintains wasn’t properly managed by the club.
He told fulhamfc.com in 2013: “They kept giving me injections, taking all the fluid out every Sunday after the game.
“I was barely training. I could run in a straight line but any time I put weight on my leg I would fall over. I wouldn’t feel any pain because of the injections, but I just fell over.”
The Brighton fans thought they had bought Bambi and were soon on his back, leading to a “pretty terrible time” that Maybank never really recovered from.
“The club should never ever have allowed me to play in that situation,” he said. “A surgeon saw me outside of the club, opened me up and said: ‘if you ever play football again, you’ll be the luckiest bloke in the world’.
“Brighton had told me, basically, that I couldn’t do any more damage. They wouldn’t do it now, but because I was the highest transfer fee they ever paid, they didn’t really take my welfare into consideration at all. In the end, it ruined my career.”
Shoot! article and (above right) Maybank goes full length to head the second of his three goals against Cardiff on Boxing Day 1978.
In an article in Shoot! magazine at the time, Maybank talked about how he hadn’t had the best of starts with his new club. He said: “I wasn’t playing well. I knew that. My early form was a disappointment to the fans. They expected me to come in and start scoring regularly and doing incredible things.
“It’s always hard when you change clubs and you need a while to settle in. I have to adjust to my new team-mates but they’ve also had to change and adapt to playing with me.”
Mansfield were trounced 5-1 at the Goldstone on 21 January 1978 when Peter Ward shone with a hat-trick. Maybank also got one, but it was his last of the season. He made only six more appearances between January and the end of the season and new signing Malcolm Poskett seized his chance alongside Ward.
Albion narrowly missed out on promotion (by goal difference) and during the close season Maybank went under the knife for a cartilage operation.
Fit for the new season, Maybank was among the goals as Albion beat Millwall 4-1 at The Den on 2 September. He got a brace that day but in the same month was in trouble with the manager who’d had an anonymous tip-off that the star striker and Welsh international winger Peter Sayer had been seen in a nightclub on the eve of what turned out to be a 4-1 defeat by Leicester City.
Mullery made an example of the pair and they were both ‘persuaded’ to donate a fortnight’s wages to the local Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
On the pitch, the goals dried up for Maybank until Boxing Day when he netted a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Cardiff City. In total, he scored 10 times as Albion won promotion, and he was leading the line in the famous promotion-clinching 3-1 win at Newcastle on 5 May 1979.
In that season’s Rediffusion Player of the Year competition, Maybank finished third behind winner Mark Lawrenson and runner-up Brian Horton.
In much the same way Pascal Gross was feted for scoring Brighton’s first-ever goal in the Premiership, so Maybank scored the Albion’s very first goal in the top division.
After being hammered 4-0 by Arsenal in the opening fixture at the Goldstone, the Seagulls were away to Aston Villa in the second game.
Arms aloft, Maybank celebrates Albion’s first ever top division goal with skipper Brian Horton and Peter O’Sullivan. (Above right) Maybank battles with Arsenal’s David O’Leary watched by John Hollins and O’Sullivan.
Latching on to a John Gregory through pass and, with the very last kick of the first half, Maybank buried a shot past ‘keeper Jimmy Rimmer.
Albion lost the game 2-1 but the national newspapers were full of praise for the newcomers to the division.
Frank Clough in The Sun wrote: “Teddy Maybank and Peter Ward tore great holes in Villa’s jittery defence and were only stopped by inadequate finishing and fine goalkeeping by Rimmer.”
It was the first of three Maybank goals at the top level, but, according to Ward, the striker had a big falling out with Mullery. The manager brought in Ray Clarke as his first choice centre-forward and, in December 1979, Maybank was sold back to Fulham for £150,000.
He had scored a total of 16 goals in 64 appearances for the Seagulls, less than half the ratio he’d been scoring when bought.
After just 19 games for Fulham, Maybank joined Dutch side PSV Eindhoven for £230,000 in August 1980 (Fulham making another tidy profit on the player).
His debut for the Dutch giants came in front of a packed house at the Nou Camp, where Barcelona were staging a four-team tournament with Vasco da Gama and River Plate.
However, only a few games later his knee flared up again.
“They opened me up and saw what a state my knee was in,” Maybank explained in that 2013 interview with fulhamfc.co.uk. “I was told in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t retire I would be playing with the youth team or reserves. I think they thought they’d been taken for a ride.”
Maybank was left with no choice. At the age of 24, he retired from the game.
Pictures from my scrapbook sourced from Shoot! magazine and the matchday programme.