Robbie ( or Robert to give him his correct name) Reinelt will undoubtedly be best remembered in the world of football for the goal he scored whilst playing for Brighton and Hove Albion against Hereford United in 1997. It’s importance to his then club could justifiably be labelled as ‘priceless’ given the possible consequences of his club’s defeat that day and the progress that club has since made as they are now an established Championship club potentially vying for promotion to The Premier League.
It was on the 3rd May 1997 to be exact and Brighton were losing 1-0 to the home side and staring relegation to The Conference in the face when Reinelt scored the equaliser to gain a 1-1 draw which was sufficient to save Albion from the embarrassment of non league football, but condemned their hosts to that fate instead. The wonder of modern technology allows you to witness that goal, the celebrations and Robbie’s reaction to the goal via YouTube today.
However, it was indeed non league football and more relevantly Wivenhoe Town that gave him the platform to re- launch his career following disappointments with previous League clubs.
Having spent some time on the books of Charlton Athletic as a schoolboy, he had gone on to make 5 appearances in the Fourth Division for the original Aldershot FC prior to their bankruptcy and ejection from the Football League. Unsuccessful trials with Colchester United and West Ham United followed along with a brief appearance for Braintree Town, then in the Beazer Homes League Southern Division, who were not convinced enough to want to take him on.
In stepped Wivenhoe Town FC and then manager Mick Loughton secured his services for The Dragons. Robbie made his debut on the 5th September 1992 in an Isthmian League Premier Division game against Kingstonian – scoring our opening goal in what turned out to be a narrow 3-2 defeat here at Broad Lane.
He quickly earned the nickname of ‘Rhino’ amongst the behind the goal supporters due to his strong running up front and determined, aggressive attitude, which endeared him to the fans. More goals quickly followed – 2 in the 3-0 home win over Harrow Borough in September and a further 2 three days later in a 6-0 defeat of East Thurrock United on their own ground in the Essex Senior Cup. It wasn’t just opposing defenders that were having problems with Robbie, programme editors and the local press struggled to come to terms with the correct spelling of his surname – much to the amusement of the supporters! A long succession of mis-spelt variations of Reinelt appeared in print on a regular basis.
His desire to play at a higher level of football was never hidden as he quite rightly wanted to launch a career in the professional game. He had a short two week trial at Conference side Dagenham & Redbridge before returning to Wivenhoe in October 1992. Another goal in the 3-2 home league win over Basingstoke Town was followed by an Essex Senior Cup tie with Braintree Town, who had previously rejected him. With more than a point to prove to the visitors Reinelt ran The Iron ragged that night, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory, to more than emphasize Braintree’s mistake in letting him go.
The Wivenhoe supporters had long since accepted that Robbie’s sojourn at Broad Lane would not be a long term one as scouts from Charlton, Watford and Gillingham had been attracted by his performances and were tracking his progress. Gillingham even offered him a series of games in their Reserve side. A two week trial was then offered by Finnish side Rovaniemen Palloseura who had ex-Dragon goalkeeper Jeff Wood scouting for them in this country. Before leaving for Finland he scored his last of his 12 career goals for Wivenhoe in a 2-1 defeat at Chesham United in January 1993. His time in Finland was successful as he was offered a contract there, but Gillingham had also been impressed enough to offer a 14 month contract here in the UK. So, Robbie’s final appearance in Wivenhoe colours came in February of that year as a substitute in a 3-1 defeat to Sutton United before joining the Kent club in the Football League.
In total Reinelt made 27 appearances for The Dragons, scoring 12 goals. Quite a short, unspectacular career at Broad Lane when looked at in isolation, but in the context of his overall career it was a spell in the game that proved crucial in acting as a springboard for his return to the professional game. He went onto make 52 appearances for The Gills scoring 5 goals, before his transfer to Colchester United in 1995, where he turned out on 48 occasions, scoring 10 times. In 1997 he moved onto Brighton & Hove Albion – 44 apps.7 goals – when he scored ‘that goal’ which will no doubt forever be remembered by supporters of the south coast club. Moves to Leyton Orient and Stevenage Borough followed before dropping back down the non league pyramid again with St Albans City, Braintree Town and Ford United at the end of his playing career.
In addition to Richie’s article above, Robbie made one more appearance at Broad Lane as part of the Chatham Town side that visited us for a Southern League Division 1 (East) fixture on Saturday 15th January 2005. The Dragons won the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Ray Turner in front of 217 spectators (envy envy).
Reproduced below are the line-ups for the match.