Often Partisan

Sub Keepers

With the Football League voting to reduce the subs bench back down to five from seven from this season, there is more pressure than ever on managers to pick the right players as substitutes in order to change a game. It’s my opinion that there is a possible way to circumvent this a little – and that’s not to name a sub keeper.

One football manager who agrees with me on this is QPR manager Neil Warnock. Whilst manager of Sheffield United, Warnock regularly named a squad without a sub keeper because he liked an extra forward on the bench. He was lucky in that when he was caught out, Phil Jagielka donned the gloves and kept a clean sheet – which then justified his position further.

In the last ten seasons, I can only find six occasions when Blues have sent on a sub keeper. Colin Doyle leads the way with three sub appearances – Soccerbase erroneously says four but Doyle never came on for Muamba against Huddersfield in the FA Cup, despite what the BBC says. Doyle did however come on last season as a replacement for the injured Foster in the Liverpool away game in the Premiership; he also came on when Maik Taylor was wrongly sent off by Michael Oliver against Plymouth in the Championship in April 2009 and when Richard Kingson came off with a neck injury in the League Cup game against Blackburn in September 2007.

Of the other three occasions, two were in the 03/04 season where Maik Taylor got sent off – against Manchester United and Portsmouth where in both matches Ian Bennett came on. The other one I found was in September 2001, where Nico Vaesen came on after on-loan keeper Alan Kelly got injured against Preston NE. I’ve been racking my brains of when an outfield player has had to go in goal because of injury or sending off to the keeper, and I can only recall two occasions straight off – both involving Nico Vaesen. Firstly, the famous 2-0 away win on 03 March 2003 against Aston Villa when Horsfield went in goal for the last few minutes, and then in 2005 when Stephen Clemence emulated his dad by replacing Vaesen who had received his marching orders against Manchester City. I have vague memories of Darren Purse playing between the sticks for us once in an emergency situation but I can’t remember when or where that might have happened. If you can think of any more, please tell me in the comments.

Thus for me the evidence is there that a sub keeper isn’t required more often than not. I agree it would suck if we played a game, our keeper got injured/red carded after a few minutes and we had to put an outfield player in goal but I can’t see it happening that often that it makes it a stupid risk not to have a sub goalie. It’s a big call to make though and one that can leave a manager with egg on his face which is why I suspect most don’t make it. However, it must be annoying to only have four slots for outfield players on the bench and I know that Blues were one of the teams to vote against the proposal to drop the numbers of subs back down to five.

Of course, at the moment the primary loser in the situation if we did go without a sub keeper at this moment in time would be Colin Doyle. Despite his missus being angry on Facebook back in August that Colin wasn’t number one with arrival of Boaz Myhill, players get appearance fee payments for being unused subs and if Doyle isn’t on the bench it’s a regular chunk of money he ain’t going to be getting. I’ve heard a story of one keeper building an extension on his house purely based on being on the bench each week – so clearly it isn’t just pin money for getting splinters in your arse as a sub keeper. However, I’d much prefer we paid out appearance money to an outfield player who is more likely to get on.

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15 Responses to “Sub Keepers”

  • BowThai says:

    ive been saying the same for some time to my mates.The only problem is that it seems keepers are sent off a lot easier these days with the last player law.Would a manager forgive himself if the team lost thier keeper and lost by an easy goal thereafter?Still,i agree and i would do it(now only five subs),as you pointed out,how often does it occur.

  • BlueSurvivor says:

    Nigel Gleghorn appeared in goal for us on occasion(s) too – i recall him playing most of the game away at Chester City (when they played at Macclesfields ground) in the early 90’s and he was quite accomplished and di not concede. I can’t recall if his appearance was due to an injury or sending off though

  • prewarblue says:

    Can remember Bob Latchford replacing his brother Dave in the days before subs,,,,,there is a vague memory that Dave stayed on the field as well,,,,exchange being because of a hand injury to Dave,,,,and he scored as well as brother Bob in the 2nd half

  • alexjhurley says:

    I seem to recall gleghorn ending up in goal away v Chester in the early 90s when they played at macclesfields ground. Those were the days ! Could be my memory playing tricks though. He definitely did do a brief stint in nets during that era though. Some stato out there will verify I hope !

  • Glynn says:

    You are right alexhurley I was there and he came on and made some great saves!! open end at Macc & we all had to have buses from the train station (it was a football special) to the ground as they wouldn’t let us walk . I think Hoppy played and scored…. Ahhh I wish I could remember.

    • alexjhurley says:

      that’s right about it being train only – i had totally forgotten that bit !!! I can’t believe the lengths we went to to follow such a rubbish team, but it was such a laugh – better crack than we get these days (altohugh that might be my rose tinted spectacles kicking in).

      • Bluehobba says:

        Those were the days when loads of Blues went on the train to most away games. It was easy to get on the trains with no tickets. We were much younger then. Im sure everyone haa a story to tell from those days.

  • rckd says:

    Did the match report for Rotherham vs Aldershot at the weekend. Aldershot’s goalie was sent off for doing a Schumacher – they took off a striker and put on midfielder Jamie Collins, who went in goal.

    He was unorthodox but did what he needed to do. Rotherham’s strikers couldn’t suddenly fashion loads of chances and he held any shots that came at him. He didn’t concede in the 40 minutes or so that he played.

    Over the course of a season, I can see good value in having five outfield substitutes on the bench.

  • oldburyblue says:

    Why take ANY risk by not naming a goalie as sub? If there were only 3 players allowed on the bench it might be different, but as it is at least 2 players never get on each game. Cover for keeper, defence, midfield & attack plus 1 other should be adequate in any game.

  • liamblue123 says:

    I remember Wolves at home one Sunday about 20 years ago when the goose (Gosney) played the whole first half with an injured arm. He got took off at half time 4.0 down and replaced by Gleghorn, who kept a clean sheet in the second half.
    Also I seem to remember the horse in goal at old trafford.

  • Glynn says:

    alexjhurley. No I agree they were brilliant times. The same people went away as went to the home games, the club was run like **** but unlike today we didnt really care as it was just about the team.

  • Nick says:

    Why not have a mandatory sub keeper then alter the outfield players accordingly so even if you have used 3 outfield subs you can change keeper at any time

  • Bluenose Pete says:

    Could you see ‘getting their goalie sent off’ being adopted as a tactic if it was seen that there was no specialist replacement on the bench? With the amount of diving that goes on and some fairly (putting it kindly) erratic refereeing, I’m for having a gk sub.

  • BowThai says:

    Glenn/alexjhurley,anyone remember the train to Halifax when it couldnt get up the bloody hill into the Town?Happy days as you say.I have memories following those blues that will stay with me the rest of my life.I made friends for life on those football specials.KRO

  • raggedmike says:

    Andy Kennedy had to play as keeper at Middlesboro away. Blues fans chant of Englands Number One, quickly changed to Scotlands Number One …easy mistake


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