Cod Almighty | Article
by Sam Metcalf
11 December 2003
Of all the stars of Alan Buckley's early nineties side, perhaps the most unsung was Keith Alexander, the great big loping bastard of a striker, who arrived at Blundell Park from Barnet in July 1988. Indeed, he was among the first influx of Buckley buys. He stayed with Town for just two short years, but it seemed like longer. (In fact that whole period of the first flush of Buckley success seemed like it lasted forever, didn't it?)
Keith left BP in September 1990 - presumably no longer able to keep up with Tony Rees' ever more ridiculous backheels, but then Michael Johnson would've had to have legged it sometimes. However, it remains that Keith was an integral part of that first, dead exciting Buckley side. Little Alan had obviously seen something in Keith at Barnet that he thought could translate to the fourth division. So, he was a big bustling striker then? Good in the air? Strong? Hmmm... not really. There was much more to him than that.
Playing alongside Rees was enough to drive most men to delirium, so the fact that Keith stayed at Blundell Park for as long as he did is a testament to his patience and his intelligence of a footballer. Not even a seasoned cartographer could plan where most of Rees' flicks were gonna end up, yet Keith managed to score a more than reasonable 26 goals in 64 starts. Which makes Livvo look like a snail pulling a carthorse. Oh, hang on...
Keith's oeuvre was either getting his head down and running at people - something he wasn't so great at, to be honest, despite scoring a cracking goal from the corner of the 18-yard box to secure a 2-1 win against Doncaster - or taking it to the bye-line and trying to get a corner. Which he usually did. In a team full of flash harrys and tigerish midfielders, Keith was something of an oddity. One minute he was Zidane, the next Zebedee. But we, well, I at least loved him.
Indeed, Keith brought his skills to me first hand when he came and coached the Gainsborough Boys team I played for in the late 80s (for a day). He asked me who my favourite player was. Like an idiot I said: "Alan Hansen." Why didn't I say "Keith Alexander"?
Keith finally left Town to be replaced by... sigh... Neil Woods. Who had, of course, played for Rangers and Ipswich and was, therefore, ace. He wasn't. Neil Woods always looked like he was about to cry, and if I was as useless as he was, I would've cried too. In fact, I was probably as useless as he was, but you know what I mean.
Rees would go on to play for West Brom - stop laughing at the back - while Woods came back to Town in the late 90s and I last glimpsed him 'in the hole' when Town walloped Norwich 3-0 in the FA Cup third round in 1998. He played far too many games for Town, and if I had my way, would be made to stand towards the open seating betwixt the Smiths and Osmond stands, facing the wind every match. Then he'd be bealing. Keith? He went to Stockport. Typical really.
His recent illness has come at a time when his Lincoln side were putting a run together that would hopefully end in them hammering Hull in the play-off final while simultaneously ensuring that Scunny finish eighth. Again. The signs are that he's making a recovery, though whether he'll return to managing Lincoln is another matter. But I wish it were 1988 again, so that this time I could tell him that my favourite player is Keith Alexander.