Derek kevan

Leg­endary West Bromwich PETER NASH ex­plains how the Al­bion striker cap­tured his heart…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Re­call­ing a West Brom leg­end

ON MARCH 19, 1960, Derek Kevan scored five goals for West Bromwich Al­bion in a stun­ning 6-2 home win against Ever­ton. The fact that one per­son could score five goals in a sin­gle game, es­pe­cially for my team, left a mas­sive im­pres­sion on me that’s lasted all my life.

I was ten years old and, al­though a keen sup­porter of the club, I had never been to a West Bromwich Al­bion foot­ball match.

“You’re much too young for the big crowds,” my fa­ther would say.

It did cross my mind that he didn’t want to pay my en­trance fee in or­der to fund his own plea­sures, like smok­ing and his three-pints-anight rit­ual down the lo­cal pub.

Then again, maybe that’s too harsh be­cause it was true that dur­ing those times the num­ber of fans pass­ing through the Hawthorns gates were far higher than to­day.

How­ever, my in­ner pas­sion for West Bromwich Al­bion and Derek Kevan had just been kick-started and I was des­per­ate to see them.

After fur­ther re­quests and fur­ther refusals, I was very sur­prised just six months later, on Septem­ber 5, 1960, when my sor­row turned to joy.

“OK son,” my fa­ther said, look­ing down at me.“You can come to the match tonight. It’s an evening game and since we’re bot­tom of the league I don’t ex­pect a big crowd, about 25,000 at the most.”

I was thrilled: a mo­ment I never for­got. Even though West Bromwich Al­bion had lost all of their open­ing five games of the new sea­son, I couldn’t wait to see Derek Kevan in his Al­bion shirt.

Wear­ing my woolly blue and white hat and scarf and proudly dis­play­ing my Derek Kevan pin badge on my lapel, I was to­tally over­whelmed when I faced the inside of the ground.

The pitch was a vi­brant green, il­lu­mi­nated by the rays shin­ing down from the tall flood­lights and I have to ad­mit that a few tears slipped down my cheeks when the Bag­gies ran out of the tun­nel and onto the pitch.

The match was a very one-sided af­fair (I’m glad to say). Not only did I see the great DK, but I wit­nessed West Bromwich Al­bion beat New­cas­tle United 6-0 in front of a crowd of 22,548 with goals from Alec Jack­son (three), Dave Burn­side, Bobby Rob­son and… Derek Kevan.

What a night and what a re­sult for my first game!

“Right,” beamed my fa­ther,“you’re com­ing to ev­ery game now.” And I did. Derek Kevan joined WBA from Brad­ford Park Av­enue in 1953 but had to wait for an in­jury to the great Ron­nie Allen be­fore he could wear the No.9 shirt for his league de­but.

This was in Au­gust 1955 and he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Ever­ton. His Al­bion ca­reer had be­gun. He con­tin­ued to score many goals for West Bromwich Al­bion, where he spent the ma­jor­ity of his il­lus­tri­ous play­ing ca­reer, scor­ing 173 times in 291 ap­pear­ances.

This pro­lific scor­ing achieve­ment, in ad­di­tion to his pow­er­ful style of play, earned him the nick­name of ‘The Tank’.

He was also re­warded with 14 caps for Eng­land, from which he scored eight goals, in­clud­ing a de­but goal against Scot­land in 1957.

Dur­ing the 1961/62 sea­son, he net­ted 33 goals and, prob­a­bly as a re­sult of that suc­cess, he left West Bromwich Al­bion in March 1963, much to my ut­most dis­tress and dis­ap­point­ment.

I could not be­lieve that he would leave my beloved club. He did and Chelsea paid £50,000 for his ser­vices.

Down­hearted, I still con­tin­ued to mon­i­tor his progress.

After Chelsea, where he failed to achieve the same heights, he joined Pre­ston North End, fol­lowed by a se­ries of lower league teams and Non-League foot­ball, where his goals once again flowed in abun­dance, be­fore he fi­nally re­tired from foot­ball to be­come a land­lord of a pub in Mac­cles­field.

Sadly, Derek Kevan died on Jan­uary 4, 2013, aged 77 and, as a mark of re­spect, the Bag­gies team wore black arm­bands the very next day for their FA Cup match.

Whilst sup­port­ing West Bromwich Al­bion all my life, I have seen many won­der­ful goals and un­for­get­table mo­ments, but none as mem­o­rable and emo­tional as hear­ing about those five in 1960 from my boy­hood hero: Derek Kevan.

Hot-shot: West Brom striker Derek Kevan

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