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Mossley – Northern Premier League Champions 1979-80

LEO SKEETE can still remember like it was yesterday the game which geared up Mossley towards a second successive Northern Premier League title and reaching Wembley.

It was 1979-80, the season after Bob Murphy’s side had claimed the Northern Premier League and Cup double, only to be denied promotion to the newly-formed Alliance League due to ground grading regulations.

That season, the Lilywhites scored 117 goals on the way to taking the title by eight clear points from Altrincham, while victory in the final against Northwich saw them lift the League Cup.

The Northern Premier League title was then retained the following season when they edged out Witton Albion by one point after scoring 96 goals.

At the same time, they also reached the first round proper of the FA Cup and the final of the FA Trophy at Wembley, where they were beaten 2-1 at the hands of Dagenham – their first defeat in 31 matches.

But captain Skeete is very quick to remember two extremely tough training sessions – ordered by an unhappy Murphy – for ­getting their season back on track.

He admits those gruelling sessions are still one of the main topics of conversation when the members of the squad have one of their regular get-togethers to ­discuss the old days.

“We were winning a game at home against Goole Town 2-0 at half-time and we drew 2-2 after they scored two late goals,” ­striker Skeete recalled.

“Bob Murphy used to pride us on our fitness, when we used to train on a Tuesday and Thursday after work. And the first session after that Goole Town match was murder. Bob wasn’t happy.

“He felt that we had let him down and took it personally. So he gave us a terrible training session and then, on the Thursday, it was the same again.

“It was like death and nobody will ever forget that as long as they live. We didn’t want to go through that lot again, it was the gee up that we needed.

“We had become complacent and were second in the league at the time to Witton Albion.

“We were still pretty high up but that made sure we didn’t lose another match until Wembley.

“On our way to the Trophy final we beat the champions of the Midland League, the champions of the Northern League and Altrincham, who won the Alliance Premier, so we beat some pretty decent sides.”

Skeete, though, also remembers the disappointment at not being accepted into the Conference due to the Seel Park ground failing regulations.

He added: “They made the Conference out of the top teams when they split the Northern Premier League and the Southern League. We won the league that season but because of our ground we couldn’t get in, whereas the likes of Altrincham, Northwich and Runcorn, who had better ­stadiums, did.”

MBACK ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

1. Keith Wild: He was a butcher who worked for Andy Taylor & Son but is now retired and living locally.

2. Jimmy O’Connor: Later became Mossley player-manager and was a director of Rhyl until November 2001. Runs the Fford Derwen pub in the town.

3. John Salter: A centre-half who played for Blackpool, Workington and Southport.?He worked as a turner before emigrating to South Africa in 1981.

4. John Fitton: A former Oldham and Rochdale goalkeeper who became a PE teacher at a school in Chadderton near Oldham.

5. Kevan Keelan: Winger Kevan was a pipe fitter and welder and now works as a bid manager for Ercom Electrical Services. Has also managed Stalybridge, Ashton and Mossley.

6. Vinny Garmory: A former Manchester City youth-team captain, he now lives in Market Deeping, Peterborough, and has earned his living working as a civil servant.

7. David Vaughan: The defender worked as a grinder in the engineering trade and has managed Burton Albion and Matlock, where he is based.

8. Bob Murphy: The former groundsman managed Southport, Barrow and Buxton and then scouted for Leeds and Oldham. He is now retired.

9. Jock Anderson: The physio once played for the club and was a chiropodist with a practice in Mossley until retiring. He died in November 1991.

FRONT ROW FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

10. Tony Grimshaw: A full- back who made two first-team appearances for Manchester United and became a policeman with the Greater Manchester Police.

11. Kevin Gorman: A centre midfielder who was an electrical engineer and is now human resources manager at Harkand in Aberdeen.

12. Ian Smith: The former England semi-professional striker is now an accountant in Oughtibridge, Sheffield, and is also a youth football coach.

13. Leo Skeete: The captain, who was a work study officer for an engineering company, is now back in his native Liverpool and is director of a property company.

14. David Moore: A former Manchester City apprentice who scored 234 goals in 399 appearances for Mossley and worked as a butcher in Newton Heath, Manchester.

15. Alan Brown: A defender, who had Football League experience with Bradford Park Avenue, worked as a joiner for a Manchester Council.

16. Mark Smethurst: Full-back Kark is believed to have worked for ICI in Manchester for many years.

NOT PICTURED

Phil Wilson: A winger and teacher, has managed a number of clubs and was director of the FA Centre of Excellence in the North West. He is now a scout at Blackburn Rovers.

Dave Mobley: A full-back, was the director of a marketing company and is now based in Stockport.

Harry Pollitt: A defender, he worked as a postman until retiring. He is based in Failsworth, Manchester.

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