Southampton will be out to keep Glenn Murray off the scoresheet on Monday.

The Albion striker is, now by common consent, three short of a century of goals for the club after records were updated.

That news came as a pleasant surprise to Murray himself after his double secured the recent 2-2 draw at home to Fulham.

Many sources, including stats-based, still had him on 96.

That has been changed in the last week on request from Albion.

So as he aims to add his tally by the Solent, it is perhaps fitting it was a former Southampton centre-back who denied him a goal, at least according to some sources, for more than a decade.

Had their eras coincided, Chris Nicholl would have been marking Murray in these South Coast tussles.

The big Irishman made 228 league appearances for Southampton between 1977 and 1983 and was a regular opponent of Albion’s during their four seasons in the top flight.

Previously with Aston Villa, he returned to the West Midlands when his playing and managerial career ended.

Which is how he ended up at the Bescot Stadium in a professional capacity when Albion visited in March 2008.

Nicholl, below, was one of the many former players found in press boxes around the country working for Press Association in the collection of stats during matches.

The Argus:

Ex-pros were given pens and headsets and asked to relay every event down the phone to a central office, where stats and match facts were collated and quickly circulated to a host of sources.

Opta later took over the service and, a few years ago, the link-up with the PFA came to an end due to a disagreement over fees.

Ross Johnson and Russel Bromage were two of the former Albion players who donned the headsets at Withdean.

Nicholl was in the main stand, with quite a low vantage point, as Albion attacked in the second half of that midweek League One game ten-and-a-half years ago.

They got the ball out to Ian Westlake on the left, who delivered an outswinging cross towards the far post.

It was a ball which put Walsall centre-back Anthony Gerrard into a horrible position.

He had to stoop to head it and was facing his own goal with Murray coming in on his blindside.

The two players and the ball arrived at the same spot at the same time and the latter ended up squirming between Clayton Ince and his post before the Trinidadian keeper hauled it back.

Murray went running away to celebrate with fans right behind that goal.

It was his first away goal for the club following his high-profile mid-season move from Rochdale and was reported as such by The Argus.

Similarly, Brian Halford, writing for the Birmingham Mail, reported: “Murray’s 78th-minute header was deflected into the net to put the Seagulls ahead.”

But Nicholl saw it slightly differently as he studied the flurry of goalmouth activity. He immediately reported an own goal by Gerrard.

It was a call no doubt made in good faith but, all the same, it looked a little questionable at the time.

No one in the press box had access to action replays but it seemed the ball had been forced home by a combination of Gerrard and Murray, in which case the striker would normally be credited with the goal.

As news of the Gerrard own goal spread, many outlets latched on to the fact he had also netted for the Saddlers in the first half to put them ahead and had therefore scored for both teams.

Again, that was appropriate given the identity of the man who gave the info.

One of Nicholl’s greatest claims to fame is that he once scored all four goals in a match between Aston Villa and Leicester City – two for each team.

Albion’s media staff became aware of what they saw as an error and asked Nicholl to phone in and change the scorer details soon after the final whistle.

Whether the call was made is unclear but the goal remained debited to Gerrard for a decade.

That was until ten days ago, when Albion reminded of the discrepancy.

Chris Mann of the Racing Post, which runs soccerbase, made the change last Friday.

That was a plus for Murray himself, whose tweet after the Fulham game included the hashtag #96.

A look at footage of the goal appears to show Gerrard getting his head to the ball before it went in off Murray’s turned back. But the pictures are not exactly crystal clear.

As a man who knows how the system works, Bromage can understand Nicholl sticking to his guns at the time.

He said: “We had one at Withdean involving Zesh Rehman.

“I think it was Paul Watson who put the ball in and Rehman went to head it and then ran away with his hand in the air and I said he scored.

“Tony Millard, who was in the press box, turned around and told me I’d got it wrong.

“But that night PA called me and said they had looked at it again and I was right.

“I think it was possible to get scorers or assists changed but I never did it.

“You didn’t have screens to look at and show you that you were wrong so I always went with my first judgement. Sometimes you just went on instinct.

“It was a decent job because it kept you in football. It was organised through the PFA to keep former players involved. We had training and then went on to cover matches.

“The job got easier when we went to the Amex because there was less to do.

“They could watch feeds themselves but sometimes, if the camera was focusing on something else, they might need their person at the ground to tell them something like who was taking a corner and with which foot.”

While there was still some doubt over the goal, The Argus contacted Anthony Gerrard, via his current club Carlisle, to ask whether he recalled the incident.
He didn’t - but he said he was happy to see it given to Murray, as are Glenn’s old club at Brunton Park.