Former player programme article - Lindsay McKeown

Posted : 4th July 2020

During this period of enforced football inactivity has provided weekly programme articles on some of our former players.

The series commenced 14 weeks ago with an article on Jim Lemon and has continued over the past 13 weeks with features on Tommy MacDonald, Stephen McKee, Eric Bowyer, Tony Gorman, Lindsay Curry, Damien Curran, Colin McCurdy, Martin McGaughey, Roy Walsh, Frankie Parkes, Warren Feeney senior, George O'Boyle and Noel Bailie MBE.

In this week’s article reproduces an article from December 2018 in which the spotlight was focused on popular former sweeper Lindsay McKeown.


by James Kennedy

Most players would be happy to score in one Irish Cup final. Then there’s Lindsay McKeown – he managed to score in four of them!

Lindsay, a classy defender/midfielder in the dominant Linfield side of the 1980s, says “I was privileged to play in a Linfield team packed with great players like Peter Rafferty, Davy Nixon, George Dunlop and Martin McGaughey, and eight League titles and two Irish Cups was no mean feat. It’s a pity that we lost to Glentoran in two Cup final replays or the medal count would have been higher”.

Born and bred in South Belfast, Lindsay played for Fane Street Secondary School and Linfield Rangers before coming to the attention of the legendary Bob Bishop, and a dream move to Manchester Utd followed. “I spent three years at Old Trafford as an apprentice, playing in the A and B teams as well as the Reserves, and in 1976 I played in the first team in a testimonial against Plymouth Argyle. After this I was brought along as ‘13th man’ for the senior squad to games at West Ham and Wolves, and I was rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Greenhoff brothers, Martin Buchan and Jim Holt”.

United manager then was Tommy Docherty, and he took Lindsay aside on one of these trips. “As ‘13th man’ I wasn’t entitled to win bonuses like the senior players, but Tommy handed me £100 which he said I wasn’t to tell anybody about. On the way back to Manchester the lads played cards and I won about £300. The boss heard about this, and as I was getting off the bus he stopped me and took the original £100 back and advised me against gambling!”

His time at Old Trafford up, Lindsay headed for Haarlem in The Netherlands. “I spent a week in Holland, playing three times, and they told me I had done enough to earn a contract. I went on holiday and they promised to have the documentation with me within days. It never came - they signed somebody else”.

After a month at Blackpool, Lindsay signed for Sheffield Wednesday, managed by Len Ashurst, and things were going well until Jack Charlton took over in the hot seat. “I was a regular at right back for Wednesday until the new manager decided he preferred another Northern Ireland lad, Hugh Dowd, to me so I dropped down into the reserves. In a game against Manchester Utd I came up against Jimmy Nicholl and suffered an injury that kept me on the side lines for three months, and that was just about the end of me in English football”.

By the summer of 1979 Lindsay had decided to return home, and while Glentoran manager Ronnie McFall made him a great offer, there was only one outcome when he was approached to sign for Linfield. “Being from the area, it had to be The Blues. Roy Coyle promised me regular European football and, besides, my family would have disowned me if I’d gone to The Oval!”

After a success-packed 1980s, Lindsay hung up his boots early in the new decade and after helping out with Linfield Swifts, he served as Assistant Manager to both Eric Bowyer and Trevor Anderson. “We had a great side in the mid-90s, winning two Leagues and two Irish Cups, with a side packed with great players like Gary Peebles, Pat Fenlon, and a young lad by the name of Noel Bailie. I have the greatest of respect for Noel, having played over 1000 games for his only club, a feat that will never be repeated”.

Nowadays, Lindsay keeps up to date with local football as a commentator for Radio Ulster, and follows the national side along with his daughter Nicci. And he still keeps in touch with some of his old mates. “The Raff is due home from Spain over Christmas and I expect we’ll spend Boxing Day together at Windsor Park. I like the look of this current Linfield team, and hope David Healy can continue to bring success to Linfield”

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