24th July – Martin Keown

Martin Keown might be known more as a commentator to younger football fans but he was an imposing centre back that was very solid and dependable.

The defender now works for the BBC and has commentated on some of the biggest games in world football and the main reason for this is because he has played in huge games throughout his playing career.

Keown started his career at Arsenal, but made his first team debut on loan at Brighton in 1984 and played 23 times for the club. After returning to his parent club he made his Arsenal debut on the 23rd November 1985 against West Brom. He would go on to play 22 games through the season but when new manager George Graham came in he was not seen as part of the future and left for Aston Villa on the 9th June 1986.

Keown AV

His first season was a little bit of a disaster as Villa finished bottom of Division One and were relegated but when Graham Taylor came in as manager there was an upturn in form for both club and player. Keown missed just two league games as they gained promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt and then helped them stay in the top flight in the following campaign.

On the 7th August 1989, the centre back signed for Everton and after an incredible start which saw Everton top of the table they faded in the second half of the season and Keown’s form dipped slightly. He recaptured his great form during the 1991-92 season and after 96 league games for the club he returned to first club Arsenal.

Keown Everton

In his first four seasons back at Arsenal he barely missed a game and was part of the double winning side of the 1997-98 campaign and would also be an integral part of the 2001-02 double winning side. He remained a key player until the end of the 2002-03 season, lifting the FA Cup at the end of it.

The following season Keown played a small role in the Invincible season, playing 10 games, just enough to earn a third Premier League winners medal. But this would be his final season as he was released at the end of his contract and he signed for Leicester City. He only stayed at the club for less than six months, playing 17 league games before joining Reading.

Keown Arsenal

His time at Reading was even shorter and after five games he announced his retirement. He did briefly come back to play for Wembley FC with a number of other ex professionals but this only lasted three FA Cup qualifying games.

Keown won 43 England caps and scored twice for his country before retiring in 2002.

The final word can go to former Leicester City manager Micky Adams. “In Martin Keown we’ve signed a born leader, not just on the field but off the field as well. I believe we’re two people who can learn things from each other.”

19th June – Brian McBride

Brian McBride is a Fulham legend and one that will always be remembered fondly by their fans and has a sports bar at Craven Cottage named after him.

The former striker is 42 today and is one of the greatest ever players to come from America and had a very good career that began Milwaukee Rampage where he played for a short time but was very successful. He only played 18 times for the club but he managed to score 17 goals and assisted another 18 which alerted the attention of clubs in Europe and in 1994 he got his move to Germany.

McBride joined Wolfsburg who were playing in the second division at the time and his move encouraged a number of American to take up the sport as they seen that a player could make it in Europe. However, it was not a great time for him personally as he did not play as much as he would have wanted and also struggled to find the back of the net when the opportunities came. He did score twice in the DFB-Pokal quarter finals as the club went on to reach the final of the competition. After just 18 games he was released and returned to the United States.

He was drafted to Columbus Crew in 1996 and played in the inaugural Major League Soccer season. He ended up staying at the club for eight years and scored 62 times in 161 league games as well as providing 45 assists. During his time at the club he did have a few loan spells away from the club to England. Firstly he joined Preston North End in 2000 and although he played well, he only managed one goal in nine games, however this was partly down to the fact that he needed to have a blood clot surgically removed from his arm, which consisted of having a rib removed.
Mcbride CC
Two years later he once again linked up with David Moyes but this time at Everton. He only spent three months at the club but scored on his debut against Tottenham Hotspur in a 4-3 defeat and continued his good form in the country by scoring a further three times in seven games. Everton were interested in extending the loan but the MLS rejected it.

In January 2004 he eventually moved to England permanently by joining Fulham. In his first half a season he played 18 times and got five goals. Over the next few seasons he was a very good player for Fulham and even though he did not break any goalscoring records, he always contributed a lot to the team and they were certainly better when he was in the starting lineup.
Mcbride Fulham
After 140 Premier League games and 33 goals McBride returned to the MLS but many of his admirers, including Chris Coleman wished that the striker would stay and that he would have been brought over a lot earlier and had more years in England. But it wasn’t to be and in 2008 he joined Chicago Fire where he scored 18 times including one in the final game of his career.
McBride Chicago
He did return briefly to play for Wembley FC who had grouped together former internationals Ray Parlou, Martin Keown, Claudio Caniggia and Graeme Le Saux. However they did reach their target of making it into the FA Cup proper and he has not played competitively since.

The final word can got to former Fulham manager Roy Hodgson. “Brian McBride has been a fine ambassador for Fulham Football Club. As my captain last season Brian was truly respected in the dressing room and led by example on the pitch. His attitude is second to none – Brian is a true pro in every sense of the word.”