Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tractor Roy: The Final Chapter

I don't feel comfortable writing about football. I have neither the technical knowledge of the game nor perhaps the passion, but I admire good football writing when I see it.

One of the best pieces I have seen for some time is on a blog written by an Ipswich born Arsenal supporter, Nick Ames. Eschewing the seemingly obligatory analysis of Roy Keane's "hamartia" - a word I had to look up! - he concentrates on the footballing decisons that Roy Keane made, particularly in the transfer market ("Roy Keane’s 7.5 million fatal flaws"), which ultimately led to his downfall.

For my own part I am a little sad that Roy Keane has gone. For Ipswich Town supporters it has been a bad decade, perhaps a bad quarter century. Since Bobby Robson left in 1982 there has been little to cheer about. George Burley flattered to deceive. 5th place in the premiership and European football was swifly followed by relegation, administration and near oblivion, until the club was rescued by the mysterious Marcus Evans, who is more reclusive than Greta Garbo. So the coming of Roy Keane in 2009 seemed too good to be true, and indeed it was.

Often over the past 20 months I have reflected on the fact that the only other great player that has managed Ipswich was Jackie Milburn, and his short period as manager was far more traumatic. As far as I recall he was on the way to a nervous breakdown when relieved of his job. Roy Keane is made of sterner stuff, and is far wealthier than players of that era could ever hope to become.

I have also often reflected on the fact that the only other previous Ipswich Manager with Manchester United connections was Scott Duncan. In 1937 he left his job as Manager of Manchester United for Ipswich, who were then in the Southern League. I seem to remember reading that his wife wanted to leave the smoke of Manchester for the clean, healthy air of Suffolk! Anyway Scott Duncan took Ipswich into the Football League and remained in charge until 1955. Even then the club kept him on another three years as Secretary until he finally retired at the age of 70. Those were indeed the days.

Anyway I wish Roy Keane well. Anyone who has followed his press conferences over the past two years cannot fail to recognise his honesty, his intelligence, and his fortitude in adversity. I do not think we have heard the last of him.

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