How Glenn Keeley helped Vale sign a legend

How Glenn Keeley helped Vale sign a legend

This is the story of how a disastrous derby debut helped pave the way for Port Vale to sign a legendary goalkeeper.

In 1982, Everton were in disarray. The club were set to face neighbours Liverpool, then dominant in the league, but were suffering a defensive crisis. Toffees boss Howard Kendall promptly signed defender Glenn Keeley on loan from Blackburn and the 28 year-old was plunged straight into the starting line-up for the Anfield game.

So far, so what… we admit this story has precious little to do with Port Vale, but stick with us. Keeley’s move proved to be less than inspired. His sending-off on 37 minutes precipitated an Everton collapse and they lost 5-0.

One of the repercussions of the defeat was wholesale changes by Kendall…

However, one of the repercussions of the defeat was wholesale changes by Kendall. Out went the suspended Keeley, Brian Borrows and young goalkeeper Neville Southall. Ironically, Southall was replaced by the more experienced Jim Arnold who would join the Valiants three years later.

As luck (or bad luck) would have it, Port Vale, riding high in Division 4 were suffering a crisis of their own. Regular keeper Barry Siddall was injured and the Valiants, with only rookie Neil McAdam in reserve, needed a replacement.

To some surprise, the Valiants were allowed to sign Southall, then a lean 24 year-old, on loan. It was something of a coup for John McGrath’s side as Southall had cost Everton a hefty £150,000 fee from Bury just a year before.

Southall’s arrival inspired a ten game unbeaten spell for the Vale…

However, Southall’s arrival inspired a ten game unbeaten spell for the Vale before he was recalled by the Toffees. Southall had looked majestic in goal, with a performance against former club Bury living long in the memories of those who were there.

Soon after returning to Everton, Southall was capped for the first time by Wales. He went on to win two league championships, two FA Cup finals, break Everton’s all-time appearance record and win a record total of 92 Wales caps.

It was a different story for Keeley. After his calamitous sending-off, he never played for the club again.

Acknowledgement: The story of Glenn Keeley’s disastrous debut first appeared in this article in the Guardian

Image: Neville Southall (right) taking part in a Vale in the community event during his loan spell with Vale

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