I’ve been holding off on writing about this until I had seen it confirmed, but former Imps legend Kevin Austin has cancer.
All too often vicious rumours or news stories surface that can turn out to be wrong, but as much as I wished this was the case yesterday, it is not. Sadly the 45-year old, who had been part of Scunthorpe’s youth set up, has now been diagnosed with cancer.
Austin is one of my favourite City players of all time, a big and powerful defender who looked destined for a life at the very top of the game during his Lincoln spell. Sadly, just a couple of months after leaving City he suffered an injury, ironically against us for Barnsley, and despite having a good career in the lower league he never regained his sparkling form.
Austin was recently voted amongst the best six centre back Stacey West readers have seen play for the club. He made 146 appearances for Lincoln, every one of them all-action and full of effort. He was a marvellous individual, a defender of such immense promise I often wondered how he’d rocked up at Lincoln.
He made his debut in a 2-1 defeat at lowly Torquay in a season where Lincoln missed out on the play-offs by just a point. Austin had it all, pace and power with a fearsome tackle to match. He was on the pitch for the Coca Cola cup wins over Man City and he was part of the team that took Premier League Southampton back to Sincil Bank.
The following season he was a key player in our automatic promotion charge. John Beck’s team at the time was built on strength and the ability to defend as if their lives depended on it and Austin looked every inch the leader and inspiration behind the clubs rise. Whilst in the third tier he scored what turned out to be the winning goal in our 2-1 home win over Manchester City, but could not stop the Imps sliding back into the basement division.
It came as no surprise when he secured a move to Barnsley on a Bosman after three stellar years playing for Lincoln and many fans felt that he’d quickly ascend the divisions in the same way Gareth Ainsworth did. Disaster struck in only his third game for Barnsley, ironically against City in the Coca Cola cup. He suffered an Achilles tendon injury that ruled him out for the season and he never returned the same player.
He had a plethora of clubs, most notably Swansea but was never able to recapture the scintillating form that had him voted at number 56 in the Imps all-time top 100 legends.
Our thoughts are with Kevin and his family at this incredibly tough time.