Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Keegan, Dalglish and a podcast with Matt Williams

I remember it like it were yesterday.

Broadcaster Matt Williams – Lancashire-born, I believe, and reared near Liverpool – is the man who expertly handles the sport on the Simon Mayo Radio 2 Drivetime programme, and who, moreover, does a great service to those of us who write books about sport by hosting a regular Sports Book Podcast in which he crafts a really considered platform for an author to explore with him the themes of the work in question.

Late last month Matt kindly gave me a slot in which to talk about Keegan and Dalglish: how their playing and managing careers intertwined, why both players at times stood apart from their teammates, the famous debate of whether Dalglish's talent was innate while Keegan had to work at his – it’s all there, man. You can listen to it here.

Matt was particularly amused by an anecdote in the book related to Gateshead’s own Lawrie McMenemy, who is, by all accounts and evidence, quite a witty man. Here’s the text in question – it relates to Kevin Keegan’s desire, circa early 1980, to move from Hamburg, back home...:

Keegan was thinking seriously of England again, above all for family reasons, but also thanks to a cheeky punt in his direction ventured by Lawrie McMenemy, affable manager of Southampton, who called Keegan in Hamburg with a friendly enquiry about a special German variety of light fitting. McMenemy, in truth, was merely fishing for a way to sound Keegan out about moving to the Saints. They had won the FA Cup in 1976, had been finishing decently in the league, and McMenemy was assembling a squad of young bucks and veterans who could still do a job: Mick Channon, Alan Ball, Dave Watson, Charlie George. McMenemy let Keegan know all of this fascinating stuff in hope that he might appreciate the special challenge of a ‘smaller club.’

In fact, for reasons McMenemy could only have half-guessed at, his offer ticked most of Keegan’s boxes. Keegan agreed to take a meeting in London at the loaned house of a Saints supporter; McMenemy’s finance director Guy Askham also attended and brought a contract along just in case. To their amazement, Keegan signed it. McMenemy stayed on in London to watch Keegan run out for England at Wembley against Ireland, tickled by his private knowledge that the England captain was now a Southampton player. Keegan scored both goals, superbly, as England won 2-0. McMenemy continued to keep his £420,000 signing completely secret until the following week when he invited press to a conference suite at the Potters Heron Hotel in Romsey, on the enticement that they would get to meet someone with ‘a big part in the club’s future.’ Into the suite strode Keegan, fresh off the plane, and well pleased by the matinee performance McMenemy had made of it all.

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