Memory Lane

Sunday 13 October 2013 09:00

This week’s Memory Lane saw us catch up with the talented Teddy Maybank – a man whose playing career ended far too prematurely.

Few players have left a bigger mark at Fulham than Teddy Maybank, but only those of a certain era will know why.

A forward by trade, the Whites were sufficiently impressed with him during a loan spell to sign him permanently from London rivals Chelsea in March 1977.

Maybank quickly became a popular figure with the Fulham faithful and formed a strong partnership up front with John Mitchell. Such was his form that six months after putting pen to paper, he was off.

Brighton & Hove Albion were a side eyeing promotion to the top flight and saw Maybank as the ideal man to lead their line, forking out a club record £237,000 to take him to the Goldstone Ground.

It meant an incredible £172,000 profit for Fulham and was money that came in handy, paying off the recently-built Eric Miller Stand or, as we know it now, the Riverside Stand.

"I left some mark there, definitely. Pity it doesn't have my name on the top saying 'Ted paid for this'," Maybank said, letting out a chuckle. "They had just built that stand and it was a proper business deal, you know what I mean? A whole stand for me.

"Brighton came in for me, offering around £250,000. Fulham had bought me for £65,000, so it was a brilliant business decision of the Club and basically paid off the Eric Miller Stand."

Sadly, the move would eventually bring an early end to a career that began alongside Fulham favourite Ray Lewington at primary school. They played together in the Kingston League and with South London Boys, before going on to progress 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. At Chelsea we were all youngsters."

Maybank's first-team debut came in a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur in April 1975 aged just 18. He would go onto play the remaining games of the season, but could not prevent Chelsea getting relegated from Division One. The following campaign Maybank became a first-team regular under Eddie McCreadie while still a teenager, grabbing five goals in 26 appearances. Soon, though, the opportunities began to dry up and he grew restless.

"I just wanted to play," Maybank explained. "Really and truly, I said to Eddie that I didn’t want to play in the reserves. That's when he asked if I wanted to go out on loan, so that’s when I went to Fulham."

Maybank netted three goals in four games after signing on loan in November 1976 and, despite Chelsea manager McCreadie's initial desire to keep him, he eventually joined permanently the following March.

"I loved Fulham - it was the best time of my life, really, in terms of playing football," he said. "I had the freedom of expression, whereas under Chelsea it was always 'be reliable, do this, do that'. When I played for Fulham, it was just lovely to get the ball and do what I like doing, which is scoring really."

It was a special time on the banks of the Thames, with Bobby Campbell's side blessed with some of the finest talent ever to grace a field.

"Playing with George Best and Bobby Moore was my reason for joining Fulham," Maybank said, the excitement in his voice clear. "They were seeing out their careers but, for a youngster, playing with them was special. We had Rodney Marsh, and then there was Les Strong, another legend.

"I remember scoring a goal against Oldham when I was on loan. Besty passed it down to John Mitchell who crossed it and I headed it in. Mooro said it was one of the best goals he had ever seen because it was only a three-pass move and, when you’re involved in that, it was just amazing."

The likes of Moore and Best eventually moved on in the summer of 1977 and Maybank soon followed. "I thought Bobby was going to leave and I didn't particularly want to take a chance on a new manager," he explained. "I mean I loved the lads, loved Fulham and loved the crowd, but the Club would get good money and Brighton were flying pretty high. Fulham weren’t really, put it this way, threatening promotion."

It looked an exciting move to the south coast, but it soon turned sour. "I’d scored in the first couple of games," Maybank said. "Then we were playing against Orient and our goalkeeper made a save, pushed it out and a chap called Dennis Rofe was just going to whack it in and I put my leg in the way.

"Normally you get a kick in the calf and it doesn't really hurt, but this one bobbled up and smashed through my knee."

Maybank was in agony, but the club gave him cortisone injections and assured him there was no real damage. "They kept giving me injections, taking all the fluid out every Sunday after the game," he said. "I was barely training. I could run in a straight line but anytime 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 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 anymore 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."

Maybank was never the same player and returned to Fulham on loan, but could only manage three goals in 19 appearances as the Whites were relegated to Division Three.

"I did all right, but I wasn't the same type of player I was when I was first there," he said. "I think I only played 13 games or something like that and they paid £160,000 for me. Then PSV Eindhoven came in and offered £230,000 for me, so they made a good few quid out of me. I was a pretty good business venture for them."

Maybank's debut for the Dutch giants came in front of more than 120,000 fans at the Nou Camp, where Barcelona were holding a four-team tournament with Vasco da Gama and River Plate. It was a rare highlight of a frustrating time for Maybank as a few games into his time with PSV his knee flared up again.

"They opened me up and saw what a state my knee was in," he said. "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 he loved with a gammy knee and little support.

"You basically haven’t got a clue what to do," he said. "Depression manifests itself in so many different ways and I had nothing to do, not a clue what to do profession-wise. Not a scooby. You end up playing a bit of golf, getting into the drinks, but fortunately I didn't have enough money to gamble.

"But basically for five years I went out, played golf and drank. I just threw years of my life away. It was almost manic depression and you don't realise that until you’re older."

Thankfully Maybank is on a steadier path now but the mental scars left by the game are still evident, admitting it’s still a "bit painful" to watch matches on television.

He’s also haunted physically, with doctors not so long ago telling him they didn’t understand how he was walking. In fact, they said he should be bed ridden as he the knee of an 89-year-old woman.

He said: "Now I’m the limping man of the street, with a dodgy knee or whatever, and you think, ‘was it worth it?’ If you come out unscathed from football mentally or physically, you've done bloody well to escape. You miss out such a lot with the kids and that because of the injury. There’s no chance of playing rugby or football with them."

It’s a horrible price to pay for somebody who brought so much joy to so many.

Fulham was the highlight of a career ended too soon and is a club that will always remain in Maybank's heart - one where his legacy will live on in the form of bricks and mortar.

The Riverside Stand might not be named after him, but it will always be the stand Teddy built.

For information on corporate hosting opportunities (or just to say thanks for the memories), you can email Teddy at tedgmaybank@gmail.com.