23 April 2013


News comes to TSLR of the sad and premature demise of Albion stalwart Tony Grealish who has died aged 56 having suffered from cancer. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.

Grealish’s story gives hope to all Sunday footballers since he was discovered by George Petchey playing on Hackney Marshes and took the short trip to Brisbane Road, Leyton to play for the team then known as just Orient. After a spell at Luton, Tony joined the Albion in the summer of 1981 in a swap deal for legendary skipper Brian Horton. His career at Brighton was always to suffer by comparison with the dynamic, driving force that was Nobby. Nevertheless, he provided sterling and reliable service as a combative midfielder in what would now be called a holding role. He played the vast majority of games in Brighton’s best ever league season, 1981-82. When the Albion won at The Dell in December of that season, the table showed us in the giddy heights of 7th place and challenging for Europe. Tony played a resolute role in the famous win at Anfield in March of that season that left us in 8th, but after he dropped to the bench towards the end of the season it may have been no coincidence that the season tailed off to a 13th place finish.

Never blessed with great pace, he relied on a decent range of passes and liked a tackle. He was the sort of player who you noticed when he wasn’t there – his reading of the game and no-nonsense approach appreciated perhaps more by team mates than by a Goldstone crowd used to flair and winning during the rise of the late 70s.

The following season was an eventful one to say the least, the proverbial rollercoaster. Grealish played most games alongside Jimmy Case and it was his selfless covering and reading of the game that allowed Case license to get forward and score crucial goals, noticeably in the FA Cup run. Tony will of course best be remembered for leading out the team at Wembley in Steve Foster’s headband, a moment that brought a tear to the eye for many Seagulls present. It gave precisely the right message to a worldwide audience, this was a football club with a soul and spirit and it set the tone for the afternoon.

Grealish played in the Division 2 team the following season through until March when his top tier wages forced a move back there with West Brom. In Danny Wilson, the club had a decent replacement.

Grealish played 45 times for Ireland and captained his country, the only Albion player ever to do so. He played alongside Mark Lawrenson, Gerry Ryan and Michael Robinson for the Republic in a team much followed by Albion fans.

Anthony Grealish 1956 - 2013

By @Seagulleo

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