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Posted Monday, July 2, 2007
A Portrait of Kevin Randall: - (Tom Bates 2003 interview).
`Godlike status among the Saltergate faithful'
July 1966 saw the most remarkable event in the entire history of English football when England beat West Germany 4 - 2 at Wembley to win the World Cup. Perhaps more significantly for Chesterfield fans, it also marked the arrival at Saltergate of a young player who went on to achieve almost God-like status among the Saltergate faithful over the next four decades; firstly as a player, and then severally as coach, physio, assistant manager and manager.
Now, thirty-seven years later Kevin Randall is being honoured for his outstanding service with a testimonial game at Saltergate on July 29th when the current Chesterfield side take on first division local rivals, Sheffield United. Kevin is expecting `a competitive game played in a friendly, family atmosphere’; The `family atmosphere’ is compounded by the friendly inter-club rivalry and the fact that Kevin is currently Chief Scout at Bramhall Lane, and the Blades are managed by former Spireite Neil Warnock, who played alongside Kevin during his early days at Saltergate.
“It’s the first game of an exciting new season for both clubs, said Kevin - and will provide a yardstick for the coming season”.
To mark Kevin’s testimonial year a portrait of the dedicated Spireite has been commissioned and painted by his friend and celebrated local artist David Charlesworth, who has a growing international reputation. From the portrait, a stunning fine art action print of Kevin which captures the very essence of him at his mercurial best during the Blues glorious Fourth Division Championship season of 1969-70 has been produced.
The 12”x8” prints which are signed by both the artist and his subject are available at £5 each and all proceeds are to go to Kevin’s Testimonial Fund.
What may seem an unlikely alliance between the footballer and the artist was forged twenty years ago when Kevin’s passion for steam engines led him to David’s first public exhibition at the Peacock Centre, Chesterfield in 1984.
Kevin, who was born just across the Pennines at Ashton-under-Lyne admitted “I was a train-spotter as a boy and have always had a fondness for steam engines. I loved David’s work so much that I bought a couple of pencil sketches and David and I have been friends ever since”.
The admiration is mutual, for as David says of Kevin, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to paint his (Kevin’s) portrait, - we’ve been friends for a long time and although I know very little about football, I know a bit about people, and Kevin is an exceptionally nice bloke, very modest and admired for his personable character, not least his honesty and personal integrity”.
Those who do know about football echo those sentiments whilst adding a few of their own.
Former Spireites boss John Duncan says of Kevin, “I really enjoyed working with him. He’s a true ambassador of all that’s good in football; a consummate professional with vast experience and a phenomenal knowledge of the game”.
“In fact, adds John, I would say that Kevin was the reason behind whatever success we achieved together at Chesterfield”.
That success, with Duncan as manager and Randall as his assistant, included the Fourth Division Title in 1984-85, promotion to Division Two in 1994-95 as the Spireites beat Bury in the Division Three play-off final at Wembley. Then came the glory of that incredible cup run which held the nation in thrall as the pair guided the club to the F.A.Cup semi-finals in 1997, and two televised games against Premiership club Middlesborough.
Moss & Randall.
“The stature of a professional footballer is measured by his performances on the pitch” says Blues legend Ernie Moss, currently manager of nearby Matlock Town. Together Moss and Randall formed a lethal goal-scoring partnership at Saltergate between 1968 and 1972 which helped win the Blues their first silverware for 35 years when they won the Fourth Division title in 1969 –70 under Jimmy McGuigan. The formidable striking duo teamed up again at Mansfield Town and helped take the Stags to promotion in 1978.
“Kevin was almost telepathic, said Big Ern, “the best crosser of a ball I’ve ever known, and I had the best understanding with him than anyone I’ve ever played with. He’s a good friend and I wish him every success in his testimonial. He deserves it”.
Kev's Potted Biography:
Football, it seems is in Kevin Randall’s blood. Remarkably he followed in his Uncle Maurices footsteps – or bootprints – playing as a youngster for non-league Droylsden before signing professional forms with a football league club. Maurice Randall went from Droylsden to Crewe Alexandra, whilst nephew Kevin, who began his illustrious career playing alongside soccer legend George Best and England International Colin Bell at Old Trafford in the Manchester United youth team, gave up his job at a law stationery firm in 1965 to become a professional footballer, moving from Droylsden to Bury for a fee of £750!
After just four games alongside Colin Bell at Gigg Lane, Kevin was released and signed by Blues manager Tony McShane, making his debut on his 21st birthday, August 20th 1966. He scored his first league goal against Barnsley in a 3-0 win the following week and went on to score an amazing 104 more, making him the third highest goalscorer in the club’s history.
“I earned £20 a week in those days, said Kevin, and we got an extra £1 for every 1000 supporters above a gate of 8,000”. (todays average gate in Div. Two is around 4,000).
Kevin was transferred to Notts County for £20,000 in 1972, and went on to play for Mansfield Town and York City.
Many older Blues fans will remember what they consider to be his greatest game – as six thousand of them travelled to watch the match against Stoke City at the Victoria Ground in the 3rd round of the FA Cup in January 1972.
Though the Blues undeservedly lost 1-2 in front of a crowd of 26,589 Stoke boss Tony Waddington said of the performance, “that’s the best football we’ve seen here all season”.
Football writer Stuart Hall wrote in the Sunday paper;-
“The impressive fleet-footed Randall gave the experienced international Stoke defence a torrid time all afternoon…leaving them trailing in his wake as he flitted down the right wing like a blue-shirted phantom…. frequently bemusing England full-back Mike Pejic with his tantalising footwork….and scoring the goal-of-the-game with a clever chip over the Stoke keeper from a narrow angle”.
The ‘keeper that day was none other than Gordon Banks!
An all round sportsman and athlete, Kevin played Lancashire League cricket and starred for Chesterfield Taverners for twenty years between 1970 and 1990. But such is his passion for football that he played his last game for Chesterfield against his first club Droylsden at the age of 49 – and scored a penalty in a narrow 3-2 win! He also turned out for Pilsley Star in the Chesterfield Sunday League when he was over 50 years old, and he jokingly admits that if you cut him in half, then like a stick of rock, you will probably find lettering through the middle reading `football’!
Outside the game Kevin is a dedicated family man who has been married to his second wife Eileen, a local Staveley lass and former model, for almost thirty years. And it may come as a surprise - for those like me who once chanted from the Saltergate terraces, “One Kevin Randall, there’s only one Kevin Randall, one Kevin Ran-dall…..” - to know that they were wrong - there are two Kevin Randalls! Kevin and Eileen have a son, also named Kevin, and two grandchildren, Ellice (7) and Dayna (6).
Kevin senior also has two children and four grandchildren from his first marriage, and as he says, “At my age (57) the gardening and the six grandchildren keep me fit enough to enjoy my involvement with football”.
Kevin Randall’s `involvement with football’ has been enjoyably and gloriously long and has been largely dedicated to the benefit of Chesterfield Football Club and its loyal supporters, both of which he admits, “have become close to my heart over the last five decades”.
Kevin’s testimonial game is a fitting tribute and reward for his loyal service as a `consummate professional’ and a `true ambassador for the game of football’. Loyal Blues fans past and present can show their respect and appreciation at Saltergate on July 29th, when perhaps for one final time the Saltergate terraces will ring to the sound of his name, “One Kevin Randall, there’s only one Kevin Randall, one Kevin Ran-dall……” but of course, you and I know different………..