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JOE MAYO - TWICE TO THE ORIENT!

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: March 11, 2004

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Tipton-born centre-forward Joe Mayo almost made it to Wembley in 1978 - with the unfashionable London club Orient - whom he joined after spending four years at The Hawthorns.

He moved to Brisbane Road in an exchange deal that brought the brilliant Laurie Cunningham to Albion with Allan Glover also being involved in the transaction.

Orient knocked out Norwich, Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Chelsea in the 1977-78 FA Cup competition before meeting Arsenal in the semi-final at Stamford Bridge. Almost 50,000 saw the Gunners win 3-0 and end big Joe's dreams of playing under those Twin Towers.

On that very same day - 8 April - in North London, Joe's former club Albion were also in action, losing their semi-final showdown with Ipswich Town.

Two years earlier Joe had helped the Baggies gain promotion to the First Division under player-manager Johnny Giles and in all he did well at The Hawthorns, scoring 20 goals in 90 senior appearances, including eight strikes in the League in 1975-76, one of them a real beauty to earn a point against his future club Orient, and also a vital winner at Oxford.

Born in Tipton on 25 May 1951, Joe attended and played for Horseley Heath Junior & Tipton Grammar schools, before representing Braithwaites Works and Tipton Sports. He had an unsuccessful trial with Oxford United in 1971-72 and after assisting Dudley Town and the Hawthorns Throstles Club team, he signed for Walsall in September 1972, as professional.

He only managed seven senior games for the Saddlers (one goal scored) before transferring to Albion for £17,000 in February 1973, acquired by Baggies boss Don Howe.

He made his Albion debut against Hull City (away) in the Second Division in September 1973 as a substitute and gained a regular place in the First XI the following season. His last outing in the navy blue and white stripes was in the local derby against Aston Villa at The Hawthorns in November 1977 (1-1 draw), and four months later he was in London with Orient.

He certainly did well in the capital, scoring 40 goals in 177 games for the 'O's' who then sold him to Cambridge United for £100,000 in September 1981. After that he served with Blackpool (on loan, October 1982), had a spell in the 'Orient' with Happy Valley United in Hong Kong (summer 1983) and then wound down his career in Wales by assisting Caernarfon Town (season 1986-87). Joe now runs a hotel in Criccieth, near Portmadog, North Wales.

A strong, bustling centre-forward, perhaps a shade clumsy at times, he did a fine job for Albion. He was, I know, criticised for not using his weight more than he did, but as a 'pro' he had a pretty useful career, amassing well over 300 League and Cup appearances for his five English clubs and scoring a total of 75 goals. He played in the same Cambridge side as George Reilly, later to join Albion.

Joe is now a member of the ex-Albion Players' Association and attends The Hawthorns whenever possible - hotel commitments permitting!

TONY MATTHEWS

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