Mens Team

City DNA #114: The Forgotten Keegan

City DNA #114: The Forgotten Keegan
There were two Keegans in City’s history, but it’s fair to say that for the majority of supporters, it is only Kevin Keegan who is remembered.

But there was another Keegan – Ged – who in the annals of time, has perhaps been somewhat forgotten.

Yet in the 1970s. Ged Keegan more than played his part in City’s history, and while he might not have hit the heights of some of the players of his era, he played his part in one or two notable feats before moving on to pastures new.

“I was with City from the age of nine and signed professional forms in 1972,” recalled Keegan.

“It was around 1965 when I first joined and it was quite interesting how that came about.

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“I played primary football in Sale and in one game, was up against Malcolm Allison’s son and apparently, Malcolm - who lived close by - was watching and asked my coach who I was and things just went from there.

“My family were catholic and all I knew was George Best, Bobby Charlton and Manchester United. My dad had been approached by City and then we got a call from a United scout asking if I wanted to go and train there.

“My dad asked me if I had agreed to train with United and I told him I hadn’t, so he said ‘Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number! About an hour later, Harry Godwin, City’s chief scout called and I agreed to join City – and that was that.”

But a serious back problem almost finished the teenage Keegan’s career…

“I joined as a forward but after I picked up an injury that it was discovered I had crushed discs and needed an operation.  I was side-lined for seven months. When I came out after the operation, I couldn’t run or do anything and could just about walk around the pitch.

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“When I eventually came back against Preston’s B side, I had to come off after 20 minutes and later got wind that that Harry Godwin had told Malcolm I wasn’t going to make it – so the next game I played I never stopped running!

“It was a wake-up call that this was my only chance and I just had to get on with it. At that time, City were a successful side and you knew that you had to be at a certain level to be in the first team squad so I worked as hard as I could.

“With only one sub allowed back then, there were less players around the first team so the reserve sides were really strong and the likes of Liverpool, City, United and Everton probably could have competed near the top of the Second Division.

“The reserves were made up of senior players who weren’t playing first team football or regulars who were making their way back from injury - plus the kids coming through trying to make their way. It was completely different.”

Keegan eventually started to get opportunities and his senior debut was a friendly that would rank highly on any footballer’s wish-list – plus he left with an incredible memento.

He explained: “My first game for City’s senior side was away to Barcelona in the Nou Camp and I remember Willie Donachie speaking with Johan Cruyff before the game. Afterwards, Willie – a fantastic bloke - came across in the dressing room and gave me Cruyff’s shirt – something that I still have to this day, though I’ve given it to my nephew’s City-mad son who was poorly for a while and he’s still got it framed in his house.”

And during the 1975/76 season, Keegan’s career highlight came as he was included in the City team that beat Newcastle 2-1 in the League Cup final – not that he recalls much of the day!

“I was on the bench against Middlesbrough in the semi-final first leg and in the return game, I played up front and scored one and created another.

“Come the final, I didn’t think I would be involved, but when the team was announced on Thursday, I was in - but playing at right-back.

“The day passed so quickly I can hardly remember anything about, but it was it still an incredible memory.

“It was a huge compliment that one of our greatest right-backs in Tony Book trusted me enough to play in that position.

“I played a few more games at right back but I was up against QPR winger Dave Thomas in one game and he turned me inside out so I was glad when I got taken off and I didn’t play much after that.”

Despite the torment of the Thomas duel - he did that to many full-backs in his career - Keegan might have expected to kick on, thereafter, it didn’t really happen for him and gradually, his chances became fewer.

“I played 22 times in 75/76 and was then out with a long-term injury, but I thought I’d go back in the side when I came back - but I didn’t," he said.

“Instead, I skippered the reserve team and in 1977/78, we won the Central League for the first time in our history. Liverpool had won it something like 12 times in a row, so it was quite something  and we had a really strong side.

“I think we beat them and away and they had players like Alan Hansen and Terry McDermott playing in those games as they came back from injury.

“But after that, I was getting to the age where I was 24 or 25 and needed to play senior football so when Oldham Athletic came in for me, I thought, ‘why not?’ and left City.”

He stayed with the Latics for four seasons, before ending his career with spells at Mansfield Town and finally Rochdale before moving into non-League football with Altrincham.

Of course, City as a Club haven't forgotten Ged Keegan, but just like many players before and after him, they fade from memory, if not from importance.

The big question was, of course this: did he ever meet Kevin Keegan?

He smiles at the mention.

“I did get asked if I was related to Kevin Keegan quite often – we were both born in Yorkshire, so who knows?” he said.

“I only played against him once for City against Liverpool and we lost 4-0 at Maine Road and I shook his hand afterwards and he just said: ‘Keep going and working hard.’

“He was every bit the superstar but didn’t play up to it – he was a good bloke.”

Maybe they were related after all…

 

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