If ever an Albion player had a raw deal it was Micky Kavanagh.

After only 26 first team appearances, in which he scored seven goals, Kavanagh's career was ended by a sheer accident when playing for the Reserves at Bournemouth in August, 1950.

He was 21 and never kicked a ball again.

The moment such a promising career was cruelly cut short is best described by the irrepressibly cheerful Dubliner despite the injury still plaguing his life at the age of 73.

"Glen Wilson took a throw-in and I brought the ball back with the inside of my right foot and turned on my left. But the leg locked like a vice and I immediately went down. In those days studs were put in with a hammer and were longer than today and that had the effect of anchoring my left leg to the grass as I attempted to push off.

"I went back on but the damage was done although I didn't know at the time how serious it was. After that it was weeks and months of treatment and swimming at the King Alfred.

"The club sent me to a Harley Street specialist and he said my playing days were over. I had severely damaged the cruciate and lateral ligaments. Nowadays players come back from a similar injury but medical science has moved on a lot since my day."

When Micky was able to swallow the disappointment he learned to his dismay that the club had insurance against injuries to players but he was not personally covered.

"I never got a penny from the club. Don Welsh, who signed me, gave a verbal promise of a testimonial. But he left in the middle of the season to become Liverpool's manager and Billy Lane took over." There was nothing for it but to get a job and Micky worked as a capstan operator for CVA.

"I didn't despise the club, or anything like that, but I think they could have done something. The Players' Benevolent Fund, through the PFA, arranged a cheque for a few hundred pounds on my behalf and they followed the correct procedure by sending it to the club and not personally to me.

"Billy Lane wanted to present it to me with an Argus photographer there. I could see what his game was. He wanted to make it look as though the money was coming from the club. I got the money but wouldn't agree to any picture."

Half a century on, Micky has a constant reminder of that accident at Bournemouth. In the last few weeks he has had a total knee replacement at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore. And it was 18 years ago at the same hospital that surgeons had to re-align the left leg that has caused him problems for almost all his adult life.

But, if its laughs you are after, Micky is your man. No wonder he was so popular among his colleagues at the Goldstone and the good standing in which he is held by a host of friends and neighbours meant adversity never got the better of him.

How differently things might have turned out had he not been sacked at Hull City by the legendary Major Frank Buckley. Micky was 16 when invited for a trial. He took the cattleboat to Holyhead and made his way to Hull. The city was a bombed out shell and Micky, on his tod at three in the morning, sat on a bench in the Paragon station wondering what to do.

Help in the shape of a friendly bobby arrived and gave him shelter in a police box for the rest of the night before pointing him in the direction of the right bus to Boothferry Park. In the year he had there as an amateur Micky did all the chores only to be given the boot.

"I thought it was the end of the world and I went home," he said. Back in Dublin Micky, who also played Gaelic football and hurling, was spotted quite by chance because of a heavy snowfall. The conditions meant a change of plan for Sam Cowan who had been sent by Welsh to scout another player. Albion's trainer had been tipped off about Micky so he made tracks to his game and liked what he saw.

"That night when I returned home from the pictures, my mum asked why a policeman had been round looking for me. She thought anybody as big as Sam had to be a copper and what sort of trouble was I in. I had left school, there was no work locally and I jumped at the chance. Joe Wilson picked me up at Northolt as Heathrow wasn't operating then and, of course, it was my first time on a plane."

Micky impressed Welsh, and Ernie Marriott, the captain, brought the good news that a signing was imminent.

"Ernie told me to refuse any offer of a one year contract, but to stick out for two years. When I saw the manager he wouldn't agree. It was a year or nothing. I wouldn't budge and said I'd go round to my digs, get my case and go home. But, when I looked in at the ground to say my goodbyes, Mr Welsh said he'd been through to Lancaster Gate and a two year contract would be fine. It was okay by me and I was £10 better off by reason of my signing-on fee, an enormous amount of money at the time."

Shrewd Micky guessed that Welsh had pulled a piece of managerial bluff about contacting the FA, but had no complaints about his treatment.

"He was a nice man and I'm sure he meant what he said about a testimonial. But Billy Lane was another matter." The aftermath of Micky's injury brought grim but not wholly unexpected news from the new manager.

"He had me in and told me my contract was being terminated as I was a liability to the club. I was given 28 days notice and put on half pay."

Micky took PFA advice but that only amounted to contracts not being worth the paper they were printed on.

"I had no option but to get on with my life and it was thanks to Jack Mansell that he recommended me to Littlehampton and I had eight happy years there as chief coach and bottle washer.

"When I look back on my career at the Albion we were a happy crowd of players but Billy was forever trying to pull a fast one. We didn't get much by way of team talks. Typical of him was having us all together and suddently Joe Wilson would come out and call him to the phone.

"But you have to hand it to him for getting the club into the Second Division, he'll always be remembered for that and it was a fine achievement."

One match stands out in Micky's memory - the 3-2 win over Notts County when Tommy Lawton led the visiting attack shortly after his move from Chelsea.

It was December, 1948 and 23,000 were at the Goldstone to see Albion go third in the Division Three (South) table. Lawton was just approaching the end of his England career while County also had Jackie Sewell, who was to gain international honours with Sheffield Wednesday after a £45,000 move.

Football was booming just after the war and Albion's public rallied round an ailing club. And, joy of joys, Micky scored and the other two goals came from George Lewis. Micky, on only his fourth appearance, was outside-left having made his league debut in a goalless affair at Bristol Rovers.

After a natty foot flutter that took him round Harry Bamford, he was given a quiet word during a lull in play a few minutes later. "He said to me 'Lad, do that once more and you'll be sitting on the cinders."

The fun and games at the Goldstone usually centred around Micky and his Dublin chum Paddy Brennan. Imagine what it must have been like for a Dutch triallist goalkeeper named Brinkman who they discovered wore a hair net.

There was no lack of amusemenet in a reserves match at West Ham when Geoff Taylor left the field to look for a lost contact lens.

"I was making tracks for goal and looked for Geoff to give him the ball. But there was no sign of him. Without the lens, that we had all clubbed together to buy, he was blind as a bat."

But Micky revealed there were some bad times. "They treated George Lewis very badly, throwing him out of his club house and I think he had four or five kids."

Discipline was strict as Micky recalled: "I'd been to the pictures with my girlfriend whom I later married. Next morning I was called into the office to face Don Welsh who said he'd been told I'd been seen walking along West Street hand-in-hand with a blonde."

When Micky returned home after getting a new knee there were over 50 get-well messages and cards. He never knew he had so many friends.

"Thank them all for me, thank them very much 'cause I shan't be able to write all those letters."