Defender Keith signed for the Hornets in the spring of 1994 and helped the club avoid relegation to the third tier. He went on to spend five years at the club, making over 150 appearances and was involved in two promotion winning teams. He left for Bristol City in 1999.
He has since moved into coaching including managing at Bristol City and Crystal Palace and is currently coaching at Tottenham Hotspur. Keith spoke to Watford Legends while at City in 2010.
I was about to sign for CrystalPalace to be honest but that fell through at the last minute. Glenn Roeder had rung me but I had already agreed everything with Palace and was very happy with the move but when it fell through I met with Glenn and Jack Petchey and agreed the deal pretty quickly, and so signed there and then.
We were struggling a bit when I came into the team and morale wasn’t good. Colin Foster signed at the same time as me and we made a decent start and went on a good run towards the end of season and got ourselves clear of trouble. I ended up playing about ten games that season and really enjoyed it.
How did you settle in?
It was no problem at all. A few of us used to drive in from round the M25; Hessy, Mooney, Dublin – that helps just by having a bit of warm up banter in the car first. I got close to quite a few of the lads and overall there was a really good team spirit and that makes it a lot easier as a new player.
I enjoyed it straight away. There was the famous Wednesday afternoon club which I think Tommy mentioned to you in his interview! That always helped with team spirit and was done the right way. It was a very special team spirit, and when we did socialise with a beer we knew there was a time and a place and we were very aware of that.
As time went on, GT took over and we all got even closer as he really pushed how vital team spirit was. Pagey was coming through as well I remember and he often joined us for any social events. There were loads of us that stayed at the club for a long, long time because it was so good. KJ was there as well and was great. GT kept us all together and knew what buttons to press. We would run through walls for him, everyone would, so all he had to do was every now and then add the odd player and it kept the good times going.
Are there any particular games that stand out for you?
Fulham away game when we won the league, I remember it clearly! It was a great day. We took the title away from Bristol City who lost up at Preston. When I joined City I made sure I rubbed it in a bit! It was a great way to win it.
Because we had such a good group of lads it made for very good celebrations. There were quite a few after parties that seemed to go on for days! We all went out together that night and then on the Sunday we did the bus and then went on somewhere to continue celebrating.
I remember I played the first 15 games of next season and then done my knee in, at first I didn’t think it was too bad and would keep me out for six weeks tops. In the end they found I had a damaged cartilage that hadn’t been picked up initially and that cost me the rest of that season.
I had just got myself fit as we got to Wembley for the Play Off final. It was the first real injury of my career and the timing was awful. I still had a year left when we got to the Premiership and GT wanted me to stay and wait for my chance. I got myself fully fit and made the squad for four or five games but I was itching to get a start.
There were a few clubs after me and I didn’t want to sit my contract out and pick up my money without playing. GT was happy for me to stay but I needed a new challenge if I’m honest. I was disappointed not to start more in the Premiership but the boys in front of me were doing well.
Millwall and a few other London clubs were after me but I chose Bristol City in the end. I had been in and around London my whole life so it was a huge move especially with a one year old but it felt like a great challenge, albeit a tough decision.
It was Tony Pulis that sold the move to me. He told me he wanted me to go down there and be the skipper and really begin to lead the team and club. That was what made my mind up as that suited me down to the ground.
What was Pulis like to play for?
I like Tony; I got on very well with him. He knows how he wants things doing and that’s it. He has his own beliefs and he has been successful with it so you can’t really argue. He is very black and white with his beliefs, very straightforward – and you have to go with it or get out. You only have to look at Stoke to see how successful he is.
How are you enjoying things now down at Bristol City?
I’m really enjoying it and always have done. The time has gone so quickly though, can you believe I have been here for 11 years now? I played for the first couple of years but then got injured again in the same knee. I wanted to carry on but my knee was proving too much so I had to give up playing.
I was lucky enough to get the academy job here initially and then worked my way up. I have always fancied management and it was GT that got me into it. I started doing a bit of coaching with the academy at Watford when I was about 27 so that gave me a good start. I started to pursue it and got my badges early on and GT always told me to pursue so I’m pleased I listened! I’ve done five odd years now as an assistant and I am fully qualified. Gary Johnson was a great guy to work for and really knew his stuff. We still talk and get on well.
When Gary left and I was put in charge it was great. We knew we were in danger of getting dragged into trouble but we managed to put a few results together and get ourselves clear.
It was in at the deep end in a way, much like Malky was this season at Watford. It was a big year for him and he has done well. The form was a bit up and down at times but that is the nature of the Championship really. Some of the football played at times by Watford was really good. It is a difficult league though as everyone knows. Top can beat bottom no problem, that isn’t the case in the Premiership.
Thanks for your time Keith, best of luck with whatever happens next at City.
Quick Fire Round
|Favourite Ground (apart from the Vic)|
|St James Park|
|Ian Rush and Peter Beardsley|
|Best Ever Player|
|Team you supported as a boy|
|Favourite Holiday Destination|
|Favourite TV Show|
|The Shawshank Redemption|
|Desert Island Woman|
|Pamela Anderson in her prime|