Mobley still Mossley history maker 40 years on

MOSSLEY’S defeat of Crewe Alexandra in the first round of the FA Cup in November 1980 remains etched in the history of the Seel Park club.

It is still the only time the Lilywhites have beaten a Football League club in the competition with centre back Dave Mobley scoring the matchwinner in a 1-0 victory.

It was also an afternoon when legendary Mossley manager Bob Murphy sprang a surprise on his team pre-match.Unknown to the players, Murphy had signed Manchester City legend and former England international Mike Summerbee to play for them as a one-off in the cup-tie.

John Fitton, Mossley’s goalkeeper that day, recalled: “The first time we knew Mike was playing was when we arrived at the game, a surprise as you can imagine.

“Bob wanted to keep it quiet and for it to be a shock for Crewe which it was.

“It was another of Bob’s ideas to win a game and get the other team on the hop.

“Sometimes we thought his ideas were stupid, but they invariably worked and we won the game.”

Fitton, a retired teacher, also recalled how Murphy took the entire team to watch Crewe before the cup tie.

“Bob wanted us all to go to see them play and we went to a night game,” he continued.

“We all paid to go in and it must have looked funny as we were stood in a group on the terraces.”

Summerbee, who was aged 37, still fondly remembers the game and providing the assist for Mobley’s winner which was from his corner.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Former Manchester City player Mike Summerbee waves during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion at Etihad Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt McNulty – Manchester City/Man City via Getty Images)

“I will never forget it because it was my last-ever game and it was nice to be part of Mossley causing a cup upset,” he said.

Summerbee also revealed how he came to play for the Lilywhites.

At the time he co-owned a menswear business with George Best and they provided shirts for Mossley earlier that year when they played at Wembley in the final of the FA Trophy.

Summerbee, who had not played since the previous season when he had been player-manager at Stockport County, admitted to being taken aback to be asked to play for Mossley.

“I discussed it with my wife Tina and she told me to play,” he explained.

Summerbee, now aged 77, can still remember in minute detail the day.

He said: “Actor Michael Crawford, who is a close friend, was staying with me at the time as he was starring in the musical Barnum in Manchester.

“And Michael went to watch the match along with Tina who was from that part of the world as she was from Stalybridge.”

Tina’s father had Schofields sports shops in Ashton and Oldham.

Summerbee recalled Crewe’s Tony Waddington, who was one of Stoke City’s most successful manager, being taken aback as the winger had often terrorised his Potters’ sides.

“He said ‘not again at your age’,” he continued.

Summerbee recalled the slope of the Seel Park pitch which he liked to scaling Kilimanjaro in the second half.

“The only thing I did in the game was taking the corner for the goal that won the game, but it was nice to make a contribution and something I will always remember,” he continued.Summerbee was also stood at half time in the dressing room.

“Bob, who was a lovely man, told me to sit down. I said if I did that I would never get up again,” he said.

After the victory, Summerbee was approached to play again in the second round at home to Mansfield Town.

“I was asked if I would play the next month, but I told them it would take me two years to recover and Crewe was the final game of my career.

“It was the icing on the cake for my career and great to help Mossley create a piece of history.”

Fitton added he met Summerbee years later at a sportsmen’s dinner and mentioned they had previously been team-mates.

He explained: “Mike didn’t recognise me and must have had a stock response when others did the same as he said I must have had my hair cut since then.

“He told me he couldn’t walk for a couple of weeks after the game which had been his first for a long time.”

Matchwinner Mobley, who played left back against Crewe, described it as a rare goal, but arguably the most important of his career.

He pointed out the goal was by no means lucky, but from a well-rehearsed corner routine.

Mobley, 72, recalled: “Bob Murphy’s attention to detail was second to none and we would have probably 10 or more rehearsed set pieces.

“Two or three were from corners, and I scored from one of them.

“Kevan Keelan and I would stand on the goalkeeper’s toes, figuratively.

“As Mike Summerbee took the corner, Kevan would peel off to the back post and I would go to the near post.

“Mike knocked the ball long and Kevan beat the goalkeeper and headed the ball back across goal for me to tap in from about one yard. I couldn’t miss.”

Mobley, who began his career at Sheffield Wednesday and played in the Football League for Grimsby Town, described that period of unprecedented success as down entirely to Murphy.

He said: “Bob was an absolute perfectionist and his attention to detail was incredible.
“He trained really hard and we were fit and well organised.“I came to Mossley towards the end of my career, but it was certainly not going out to graze as I had to work harder than at any club I had been at.”

Mobley, whose elder brother Vic played for Sheffield Wednesday, QPR and England U23s, retired at the end of the 1980-81 season, though he was only 32 years of age and could have continued for several more years.

He had just begun a company manufacturing frames for pictures, photos and mirrors, and could not afford to be seriously injured which might have impacted his business.

• It is 37 years since Mossley last reached the first-round proper in the FA Cup when they lost 5-0 at Darlington in 1983.

Mossley reached the first round for the first time in 1949 in only their second season in the competition.

They came through six qualifying rounds before beating Witton Albion before playing at Nuneaton where a special train took more than 1,000 fans to the game which ended in a goalless draw before they lost the replay 3-0 at Seel Park.

It was another 20 years before they made the first round when they drew at Stockport County and lost the replay 1-0 on a Tuesday afternoon in front of a 4,493 crowd. They did not have floodlights until 1972.

Between 1977 and 1983, Mossley reached the first round six times during the most successful chapter in the club’s history.

They lost 3-0 at Rotherham in 1977 when Howard Wilkinson was manager and Murphy was in charge for the others.

They lost 5-2 at York City in 1979. After 1980 when they beat Crewe and lost 3-1 at home to Mansfield Town in round two, Mossley lost 3-1 at Stockport County in 1981, 1-0 at Huddersfield Town in 1982 and 5-0 at Darlington in 1983, the last time they reached the first round.

One Reply to “Mobley still Mossley history maker 40 years on”

  1. Remember the game well.Mossley had a great job league side in those days and regularly had gates of over 1000 fans.The slope was a great plus for us and a lot of sides feared playing up the hill.Bob Murphy was a true legend of the club and we have a lot to thank him for.
    RIP Bob

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