Monday, June 18, 2007

Nostalgia - Bobby Keetch

Article written by Gordon Mills.

Here’s another nostalgia article about a player from Fulham’s spell in the top flight in the 60s. For a couple of seasons the centre of the defence was manned by one Robert Keetch, a character by anyone’s estimation. Keetch was a man of contrasts: he was an imposing figure with a shock of shiny blonde hair and an aristocratic bearing yet he played in a swashbuckling, physical style that often bordered on the filthy. He was once sent off in reserve game after five minutes for persistent dirty play! He was a connoisseur of fine art and antiques yet he had a two year long vendetta with Burnley striker, Willie Irvine, which culminated in a wild kick to the Burnley man’s knee on a freezing night at the Cottage and saw our Bob given his marching orders.

He was one of the friendliest of players, always ready to chat with us fans yet he once climbed the railings around the pitch at the Den to attack a Millwall supporter who accused him of being a “bottle blonde” during another reserve game. (We used to go to away reserve games in those days.) He has been nicknamed “Killer” but not by Fulham supporters. He was not a particularly skillful player but he stuck close to opposing strikers and always let his presence be felt. He had a good record against players such as Derek Dougan, Peter Osgood and Dennis Law and he always seemed to play his best against better players.

My fondest memory of him was in a game against the Everton of Alex Young, Alex Scott, Jimmy Gabriel and Brian Labone who came to town one November Saturday and proceeded to play Fulham off the park for an hour while they built up a two goal lead. They then sat back and waited for the final whistle but Fulham hit back for 1 – 2 and then, in the dying minutes, Everton failed to clear a corner and the ball came bouncing across the Everton goal. Keetch, still up from the corner, launched himself feet first in a sort of twisted karate kick, made contact with the ball when it was just under the crossbar and deflected it over Gordon West and into the net. The Cottage erupted – we had equalized with the Merseyside aristocrats. Keetch disappeared under the congratulations of his teammates. He was a good mate of Johnny Haynes who he followed to South Africa after a spell at QPR and many nights in clubs along the Kings Road but he died prematurely not too long ago – at least I think it was not too long ago.

Next, Tosh Chamberlain.

Anyone who remembers this era is welcome to reminisce with Gordon at

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