The day England star Kevin Keegan scored a double for Claudelands Rovers

posted in: Heritage, News

By Max Fletcher

It’s become one of New Zealand football’s best trivia questions — who played 63 full internationals for England but only played once for Claudelands Rovers?

The answer? Former Liverpool, Newcastle United and Southampton star Kevin Keegan.

No, it’s not April 1. This really happened.

On April 8, 1985, a 34-year-old Keegan visited Hamilton to captain a Claudelands Rovers Invitational XI in an exhibition match against a New Zealand selection.

An estimated 4,500 spectators packed into Porritt Stadium on Easter Monday to see an entertaining game won 5-3 by the New Zealand side, packed with All Whites.

Keegan scored twice, both goals from the penalty spot.

Main photo: Kevin Keegan playing for Liverpool in 1977. Photo credit: Creative Commons from Wikipedia.

The match was refereed by Auckland’s Bill Munro.

How it came about

Keegan’s appearance was made possible by Rovers chairman Terry Finlay who had hired Roger Wilkinson as the club’s head coach, the first full-time club coach in New Zealand.

Wilkinson said Finlay was ambitious and wanted to “make an impact”.

Finlay had been tipped off that Keegan might be willing to visit New Zealand, and he followed up the lead, and the England star agreed.

Wilkinson said as well as agreeing to play for Claudelands Rovers’ invitation team, he spent 4-5 days in the Waikato, making himself available for coaching sessions at different clubs.

“When you consider that he was such a star at the time, he was a lovely man, very humble,” Wilkinson recalls.

Wilkinson said the exhibition match was competitive and no one went soft on Keegan, who took the game seriously.

Claudelands Rovers Invitation XI

Jim Barry
Terry Milligan
Philip Alexander
Paul Wilkinson
Ian Taylor (Martin Gorry)
Terry Emms
Kevin Keegan (captain)
David King
Billy McClure
Leighton Edwards (Jim Doherty)
Paul Nixon

Coach: Roger Wilkinson

New Zealand XI

Frank van Hattum
Ken Cresswell
Ceri Evans
Malcolm Dunford
Alex Metzger (Richard Mulligan)
Duncan Cole (captain)
Steve Sumner (Michael Groom)
Allan Boath
Peter Henry (Kevin Birch)
Greg Little
Kevin Hagan (Colin Walker)

Coach: Kevin Fallon.


Game played on Monday April 8, 1985

Claudelands Rovers Invitational XI 3 (Leighton Edwards, Kevin Keegan (2 pens))
New Zealand XI 5 (Greg Little (2), Ceri Evans (2), Richard Mulligan)

Why Keegan was a big deal

Keegan started his career at Scunthorpe United in 1968 when he was just 17.

He transferred to Liverpool in 1971 where he scored 68 goals in 230 games between 1971 and 1977.

He then ventured overseas for three years, playing at Hamburg FC from 1977 to 1980, scoring 32 goals in 90 games. He returned back to England and joined Southampton from 1980 to 1982, scoring 37 goals in 68 games.

Keegan moved to Newcastle United from 1982 to 1984 and played 78 games and scored 48 goals and in 1985 he had a brief stint at Blacktown City, playing two games and scoring once.

Keegan had a successful international career from 1972 until 1982 for England, playing 63 games and scoring 21 goals.

Kevin Keegan ran a coaching session for youngsters at Cambridge, one of several Waikato clubs he visited.

What happened to his Claudelands teammates?

Jim Barry

Goalkeeper Barry was a popular player in Waikato football, playing for several clubs, including Cambridge FC. Barry died in his 30s but he is remembered at Cambridge where the club’s Player of the Year trophy is named after him.

Paul Nixon

Former Bristol Rovers professional Nixon, a recent arrival in New Zealand when he played beside Keegan, became an All White in 1988, playing four games for his adopted country. Nixon moved into coaching and has coached club and school teams, including Melville United (who he led to the 2003 Chatham Cup final) and Hamilton Boys’ High, where he is now a relief teacher.

What happened to some of the New Zealand players?

Colin Walker

Former Gisborne City player Walker, who played 15 games for the All Whites, returned to his native England in the late 1980s. He became a youth coach at Barnsley, helping a number of New Zealand players get into pro football, and became the manager at York City in 2007.

Frank Van Huttum

Goalkeeper Van Huttum had a great New Zealand career playing 28 internationals and winning the Chatham Cup with Manurewa in 1978. His nephew Oskar Van Huttum plays for the Wellington Phoenix.

Steve Sumner

Sumner remains one of New Zealand’s greatest players, making 58 appearances for the All Whites and scoring 22 goals between 1976 and 1988.

He died in 2017, aged 61. He is remembered at every National League grand final where the Player of the Match is awarded the Steve Sumner Trophy.

Keegan receives a souvenir of his visit to Cambridge.

Coach Kevin Fallon

Kevin Fallon became the All Whites head coach in 1985, after previously working with John Adshead with the national side.

After leaving the national role in 1989, he coached a series of clubs. He’s the father of former All White Rory Fallon, now a member of the Wellington Phoenix coaching staff.

Ceri Evans

Former Oxford United player Ceri Evans was an outstanding centre-half. He is now a published author.

Claudelands Rovers

The club celebrates its centenary in June 2023.

READ MORE: Claudelands Rovers to celebrate 100th birthday in June >>>>

The following is a match programme published by Claudelands Rovers for its Country Foods Soccer League Division Two match against Auckland club Kelston.

The cover takes full advantage of the club’s association with Keegan.

Click on the image to read the digital version of the programme:

Kevin Keegan

After his visit to New Zealand, Keegan turned to football management.

He managed Newcastle United, Fulham, Manchester City and the England national team.

Now 72, Keegan is retired.

Max Fletcher

Max Fletcher is a football-loving volunteer writer for Friends of Football, who lives in the Waikato.

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