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George Caulkin

 

I love Kevin Keegan, love him. I don’t love him because he has been attempting to wrest compensation from Newcastle United and I certainly don’t love him because I’ve got a Messiah complex (and it would be greatly appreciated if somebody, anybody, took notice of that). I don’t love him because he left the club at a difficult moment a year ago, nor do I love him because he has held his tongue since doing so.

 

Before anyone gets any funny ideas, I love other football people, too.

 

In no particular order, I love Niall Quinn, Steve Gibson and I ****ing love Peter Reid. I desperately love Sir Bobby Robson, I love Alan Shearer and I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to love Steve Bruce and Darren Bent. I’m pretty damn keen on Steve Harper and Gareth Southgate. I love Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. I love my home.

 

But this is a column about Keegan, who has been thrust back into the headlines recently. I loved him as a player, the belief that everything begins with hard work, the (Mag)Pied Piper qualities he demonstrated at St James’ Park. I love him because of his approach to football, the freedom he nurtured in his teams, the self-respect. When he returned as manager, I love it that the first thing he did was fumigate the dressing-rooms.

 

After he dragged Newcastle off their knees, I loved 1992-93, when the side shimmered with neat, quick, triangular football and were promoted as champions. I loved it because Keegan urged supporters to gaze at the stars and believe anything was possible. I love it even more now, because so much of football feels hemmed in. I loved it that the glorious mania prompted rogue sightings of Roberto Baggio in Wallsend chipshops.

 

I loved it when Keegan opened Newcastle’s training ground to fans and hundreds of them turned up. From a professional point of view, I loved it that he welcomed reporters to Maiden Castle every day, where they could tap players on the shoulder and, if they agreed, talk to them. From a personal point of view, I loved it because one of those players became my best man, even if our friendship lasted longer than my marriage.

 

I loved hearing about Keegan’s powers of persuasion, convincing Robert Lee that Newcastle was closer to London than Middlesbrough and then moulding him into an England international. I didn’t care that his tactical prowess was mocked, because he made players feel like gods and somehow prompted them to overachieve. I loved his unshakeable faith in attacking football.

 

I loved the headlong tilts at the title, the acquisitions of Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Shearer. I wish that Newcastle had grasped the championship ahead of Manchester United, although I loved that season anyway and never winning anything but singing regardless is now ingrained as a defining feature of those born with a black-and-white lifetime sentence.

 

I didn’t love it when he took his leave of Tyneside in 1997, although I understood it. In the space of five years, the club had been transformed beyond all recognition and in the rush to embrace the City, they would be transformed further. I never loved the Hall or Shepherd families, although like many people, I was blindsided by the ambition, the changes to the ground and convinced myself that the shares, dividends and salaries were forgivable.

 

In the face of widespread bewilderment - including my own - I loved it when Keegan came back to Gallowgate in January 2008. Anybody who was present in the city on that heady day will have felt something similar; a veil lifting, eyes opening, hearts beating. It had not been that way for a very long time and this was a reminder that football could be fun, impetuous, beautiful, mad.

 

For similar reasons, I loved it when Keegan said the following in an interview with this newspaper: “I want people to dream about their football club. They should, we should all be dreamers at heart. Some people are the opposite and say ‘we can’t do that’, but when you ask them why, they can’t give a reason. Well, I say, ‘Why not?’”. He talked about “unfinished business” and I think he believed he could charm and cajole Mike Ashley.

 

I detested the way Keegan was treated. Having embraced Geordie sentimentality and appointed a man who dealt in dreams, Ashley strapped his manager into a straitjacket. He brought in Dennis Wise as executive director (football), roles were not defined with any clarity, Keegan was slapped down in public and ultimately left when - allegedly - players were signed without his approval. It was nonsensical and, this time, not in a good way.

 

The last 12 months have not been kind to Keegan, but that is not his fault. When Sam Allardyce was sacked as manager, his contract was settled within days, but a dispute over whether Keegan resigned or was pushed has meant a long, bitter process. As Newcastle struggled and then suffered relegation, it was natural that some sympathy would swing against him, although he has not been able to speak out. He remained silent in the face of briefings against him.

 

Keegan stood up for principle; managers should manage. The man Ashley hired might have been weathered by his experiences with England - I would term his decision to step down as honest, not weak - but he had always used his power as a bargaining chip (Freddy Shepherd claims to have letters of resignation from him framed on his toilet wall). For better or worse, he then stood up for what he thinks he is owed.

 

What I hate is that a day before the Premier League arbitration panel which has been hearing Keegan’s case was due to break up and consider their verdict, a story leaked that Newcastle would be threatened with administration should their former employer win. Derek Llambias, the managing director, had already stated publicly that such a measure was not being considered and the timing felt both risible and transparent.

 

A source close to the takeover saga at Newcastle (some doubt the veracity of ‘sources’ or ‘insiders’, but there are people who will only speak to journalists on the basis of anonymity - honest), insists that Keegan’s claim is not a concern within Seymour Pierce, the bank charged with handling the club’s sale, and that Barry Moat’s bid is ongoing. But 12 months on - four after their demotion - and suddenly administration is an issue!

 

For all their heartening success on the field since August, Newcastle is still a club being run by men asleep at the wheel, full of contradiction and questions; a club where ‘Malaysian’ businessmen, who Seymour Pierce said had made no contact with them, can be shown around the ground, where Ashley and Llambias can heap praise on Shearer and then let him dangle. And too many other things, whether before or afterwards.

 

I will love Kevin Keegan whatever result the independent panel come to. I will love him for reasons which Ashley and Llambias could never understand, because he gave uplift to Newcastle, hope and inspiration, he made a region sparkle and people smile. I do not, for a single moment, suggest that he is perfect, but his team came close to perfection. If circumstances ever allow it, I would love to think he’ll discuss it all.

 

I love him because of something Robson once wrote. “What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses or the marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.”

 

He has human flaws. He might, indeed, have material interests. But Keegan always dealt in love.

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George Caulkin

 

I love Kevin Keegan, love him. I don’t love him because he has been attempting to wrest compensation from Newcastle United and I certainly don’t love him because I’ve got a Messiah complex (and it would be greatly appreciated if somebody, anybody, took notice of that). I don’t love him because he left the club at a difficult moment a year ago, nor do I love him because he has held his tongue since doing so.

 

Before anyone gets any funny ideas, I love other football people, too.

 

In no particular order, I love Niall Quinn, Steve Gibson and I ****ing love Peter Reid. I desperately love Sir Bobby Robson, I love Alan Shearer and I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to love Steve Bruce and Darren Bent. I’m pretty damn keen on Steve Harper and Gareth Southgate. I love Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. I love my home.

 

But this is a column about Keegan, who has been thrust back into the headlines recently. I loved him as a player, the belief that everything begins with hard work, the (Mag)Pied Piper qualities he demonstrated at St James’ Park. I love him because of his approach to football, the freedom he nurtured in his teams, the self-respect. When he returned as manager, I love it that the first thing he did was fumigate the dressing-rooms.

 

After he dragged Newcastle off their knees, I loved 1992-93, when the side shimmered with neat, quick, triangular football and were promoted as champions. I loved it because Keegan urged supporters to gaze at the stars and believe anything was possible. I love it even more now, because so much of football feels hemmed in. I loved it that the glorious mania prompted rogue sightings of Roberto Baggio in Wallsend chipshops.

 

I loved it when Keegan opened Newcastle’s training ground to fans and hundreds of them turned up. From a professional point of view, I loved it that he welcomed reporters to Maiden Castle every day, where they could tap players on the shoulder and, if they agreed, talk to them. From a personal point of view, I loved it because one of those players became my best man, even if our friendship lasted longer than my marriage.

 

I loved hearing about Keegan’s powers of persuasion, convincing Robert Lee that Newcastle was closer to London than Middlesbrough and then moulding him into an England international. I didn’t care that his tactical prowess was mocked, because he made players feel like gods and somehow prompted them to overachieve. I loved his unshakeable faith in attacking football.

 

I loved the headlong tilts at the title, the acquisitions of Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Shearer. I wish that Newcastle had grasped the championship ahead of Manchester United, although I loved that season anyway and never winning anything but singing regardless is now ingrained as a defining feature of those born with a black-and-white lifetime sentence.

 

I didn’t love it when he took his leave of Tyneside in 1997, although I understood it. In the space of five years, the club had been transformed beyond all recognition and in the rush to embrace the City, they would be transformed further. I never loved the Hall or Shepherd families, although like many people, I was blindsided by the ambition, the changes to the ground and convinced myself that the shares, dividends and salaries were forgivable.

 

In the face of widespread bewilderment - including my own - I loved it when Keegan came back to Gallowgate in January 2008. Anybody who was present in the city on that heady day will have felt something similar; a veil lifting, eyes opening, hearts beating. It had not been that way for a very long time and this was a reminder that football could be fun, impetuous, beautiful, mad.

 

For similar reasons, I loved it when Keegan said the following in an interview with this newspaper: “I want people to dream about their football club. They should, we should all be dreamers at heart. Some people are the opposite and say ‘we can’t do that’, but when you ask them why, they can’t give a reason. Well, I say, ‘Why not?’”. He talked about “unfinished business” and I think he believed he could charm and cajole Mike Ashley.

 

I detested the way Keegan was treated. Having embraced Geordie sentimentality and appointed a man who dealt in dreams, Ashley strapped his manager into a straitjacket. He brought in Dennis Wise as executive director (football), roles were not defined with any clarity, Keegan was slapped down in public and ultimately left when - allegedly - players were signed without his approval. It was nonsensical and, this time, not in a good way.

 

The last 12 months have not been kind to Keegan, but that is not his fault. When Sam Allardyce was sacked as manager, his contract was settled within days, but a dispute over whether Keegan resigned or was pushed has meant a long, bitter process. As Newcastle struggled and then suffered relegation, it was natural that some sympathy would swing against him, although he has not been able to speak out. He remained silent in the face of briefings against him.

 

Keegan stood up for principle; managers should manage. The man Ashley hired might have been weathered by his experiences with England - I would term his decision to step down as honest, not weak - but he had always used his power as a bargaining chip (Freddy Shepherd claims to have letters of resignation from him framed on his toilet wall). For better or worse, he then stood up for what he thinks he is owed.

 

What I hate is that a day before the Premier League arbitration panel which has been hearing Keegan’s case was due to break up and consider their verdict, a story leaked that Newcastle would be threatened with administration should their former employer win. Derek Llambias, the managing director, had already stated publicly that such a measure was not being considered and the timing felt both risible and transparent.

 

A source close to the takeover saga at Newcastle (some doubt the veracity of ‘sources’ or ‘insiders’, but there are people who will only speak to journalists on the basis of anonymity - honest), insists that Keegan’s claim is not a concern within Seymour Pierce, the bank charged with handling the club’s sale, and that Barry Moat’s bid is ongoing. But 12 months on - four after their demotion - and suddenly administration is an issue!

 

For all their heartening success on the field since August, Newcastle is still a club being run by men asleep at the wheel, full of contradiction and questions; a club where ‘Malaysian’ businessmen, who Seymour Pierce said had made no contact with them, can be shown around the ground, where Ashley and Llambias can heap praise on Shearer and then let him dangle. And too many other things, whether before or afterwards.

 

I will love Kevin Keegan whatever result the independent panel come to. I will love him for reasons which Ashley and Llambias could never understand, because he gave uplift to Newcastle, hope and inspiration, he made a region sparkle and people smile. I do not, for a single moment, suggest that he is perfect, but his team came close to perfection. If circumstances ever allow it, I would love to think he’ll discuss it all.

 

I love him because of something Robson once wrote. “What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses or the marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.”

 

He has human flaws. He might, indeed, have material interests. But Keegan always dealt in love. And that Hova is a cunt.

 

You must have missed that bit off the end.

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Going down not too well on Numpties-Online :lol:

 

Seriously, how blinkered can some people be?

 

I seem to spend quite a bit of time arguing with people on Newcastle online. The trouble is when you read posts on there calling Keegan a cunt, or a bigger cunt then Ashley, its hard to keep calm and ignore it

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Going down not too well on Numpties-Online :lol:

 

Seriously, how blinkered can some people be?

 

I can only assume they're younger fans and don't understand what he's done for us as a player and manager. I knew a mackem in corporate recovery who nearly handled the receivership of the club in those days.

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Going down not too well on Numpties-Online :lol:

Quelle surprise. That place makes me sick.

 

The link i have to there is dead and i'm not bothering to change that fact as anything i read on their related to Keegan defies belief, i actually can't believe they can call themselves toon fans and say those things about him.

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Going down not too well on Numpties-Online :lol:

 

Seriously, how blinkered can some people be?

 

I can only assume they're younger fans and don't understand what he's done for us as a player and manager. I knew a mackem in corporate recovery who nearly handled the receivership of the club in those days.

 

how young though? I'm 20, do not remember him as a player at all but I still love KK

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Without Keegan in his time as a player - and his first time as a manager fuck knows where we would be.

 

As I said, I was told by this mackem - a partner in a corporate recovery firm - that the club would have gone into receivership if we'd gone down to the old third division. No way of knowing if that's true but he had no reason to lie.

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