The Stacey West XI – Midfielders (Pt1)

(Courtesy of Graham Burrell)

The response to our appeal for nominations for midfielders has been incredible, with at least 15 names being put forward for the final pairing.

If there was a clear winner from the early 1980s in defence, I can’t help but feel the same is going to happen this time around. However, the field is strong, rich with such high quality players, that it is going to be incredibly close. Even if Glenn Cockerill does, rightly, take up one of the spaces, the field is wide open for his partner.

With that in mind, it does seem only fair to preview each and every one of the candidates, rather than just the top three or four. I won’t do it all in one day, that would be far too much to take in, so over the next couple of days I’ll be doing articles introducing the candidates. That will be followed by a vote next weekend, by which time we should be approaching play-off security!

Without further ado, here are today’s four nominated midfielders. Shall we start with a nice easy one?

Dean Keates

I was glad to see a nomination for current Walsall manager Keates, arguably one of the finest midfielder’s to grace the Sincil Bank turf. His impact was minimal, his stay short and troubled but on his day, he was as good as it got for Lincoln City post-Butcher and Gain.

Keates arrived at Sincil Bank after our play-off defeat by Southend as we looked to kick on and win automatic promotion the season after. We had seen plenty of him from his time at Hull and Kidderminster where he’d always shown himself to be a cultured and combative midfielder despite his 5’5 stature.

In a Lincoln shirt, he didn’t disappoint showing his dead ball ability and his tigerish devotion to proper tackling. In his 21 starts he became a firm fan favourite always amongst the goals or the bookings. Two red cards in November and December kept him out of a couple of games, and he made his last Imps appearance in a 4-1 win at Sincil Bank against Barnet in January of 2007.

His reluctance to relocate to Lincolnshire got the better of him and he moved to Walsall much closer to his family in the transfer window. Fans were gutted that such a talent couldn’t be persuaded to stay at Sincil Bank. He moved to struggling Walsall who suffered relegation at the end of the season, and re-appeared at Lincoln as a visitor with The Saddlers a few months later.

Less than a year afterwards his decision to relocate for ‘personal reasons’ took a bit of a hit as he moved to Peterborough United, not that much closer to home than Lincoln. I suppose pay cheques have a bearing on where you play as well.

Regained some respect from me when, upon arriving as manager of Wrexham in the National League, he made getting rid of Sean Newton his first job. He may not have had sound judgement to stay with City, but his judge of character is spot on.