Watching Brendon Batson play was always an intensely pleasurable experience. He seemed to have been born to glide over the turf, ball adhering to his feet, dispossess an opponent with perfect timing, find a seemingly invisible gap in a defence or urge his colleagues on to greater heights. So it comes as a shock to learn that he never saw a football match until he was nine years old.
Happily for Cambridge United and West Bromwich Albion, he took to the game like the most elegant of ducks to water. At the Abbey Stadium, after Bill Leivers had snapped him up from the Highbury seat of learning for a trifle and he had settled at right back, he impressed his quiet authority, supreme ability and influence on the Ron Atkinson team that won the Fourth Division in 1977 and rampaged on to promotion the following year.
Always seemingly in control of the events unfolding around him, Brendon made such an impact on Atkinson that he stole him for his Baggies team before the U’s won that promotion; he went on to grace the game at the highest level and earn three England ‘B’ caps. After premature, injury-driven retirement, he gained respect as one of the game’s foremost administrators.
Forgive us if we hark back to those happy Abbey days, when at times Brendon seemed to be running games on his own. Over five seasons and almost two hundred games, he bequeathed us memories that will stay with us for ever.