Video of The Day: Rotherham United vs Newcastle United, October 1982
There have been many treatises offered from many different angles on the varied and often unusual career of Kevin Keegan, but there is one thing about him that seems virtually certain, among the conjecture. Kevin Keegan loved, perhaps even needed, to be a Hero. He stamped his authority on the Liverpool, Hamburg and England teams whilst in his dashing pomp, but the blotter on his marker book came for England against Spain at the 1982 World Cup finals. Needing a two goal win in their final group match against Spain, England were goalless when manager Ron Greenwood threw on Trevor Brooking and Kevin Keegan in a desperate attempt to win the game. With twenty minutes to play, the ball was released to Bryan Robson on the left hand side of the penalty area. His cross fell perfectly for Keegan, who… fluffed his lines.
In Keegan’s defence, it wasn’t the easiest chance in the world and England probably wouldn’t have got the second goal they’d have needed to bring about a semi-final repeat of their opening match against France anyway, but there were mutterings, nevertheless, back at home. Meanwhile, back at home playing for Southampton, he’d had a couple of fallings out with manager Lawrie McMenemy and hadn’t been in great form. The script of Keegan’s first half of 1982 probably hadn’t been written like that in Kevin Keegan’s head. Perhaps it was time for a change of scenery. Newcastle United supporters, as much as any others and possibly more than is good for them at times, needed a Hero. The club was lodged in the Second Division and treading water after four years there. Keegan, it felt, needed to adored. It’s quite possible that there was a symbiotic co-dependency going on between the two. Kevin Keegan signed for Newcastle United for £100,000, shortly before the start of the new season.
It hung heavily in the air over St James Park over those first few weeks of the season, and things on the pitch didn’t go so well. Newcastle went into this match at Rotherham on the back of two unexpected defeats, at Shrewsbury Town and against Barnsley. The team had won its first two matches of the season, but had gone five without a win going into the trip to Millmoor, which had excited the interest of the BBC. But here’s the thing… it worked, in the end, and it started at this match away to a Rotherham United team that had gone through a similarly mixed start to the season. Kevin Keegan’s goals helped Newcastle United to promotion at the end of the 1983/84 season, at which point he hung up his boots, perhaps because he’d taken a gamble in heading to a Second Division team at the other end of the country to where he’d spent the last couple of years and wanted to retire at the top. He’d wanted to be a Hero. His star had been on the wane. And he was able to give it to them and glad to receive it from them that one more time.
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