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With players and fans currently left kicking their heels while the game is on ice, there has been very little for Peter and me to chew the fat over while we await the all-clear for Leyton Orient, and indeed all the other clubs covered by Yellow Sport, to pull on their boots again.
Of course, it is a privilege to talk about the beautiful game with a footballer who racked up so many games, netting a barrow load of goals along the way in a career which took him from Doncaster Rovers to Orient, then Cardiff City and Fulham – ventures to Hong Kong and Las Vagas via another spell at Brisbane Road – before netting his final Football League goal during a short stint at Chester. But who are the players that stood out to him? The talent he shared the greenery with during a sixteen-year career? Over to you, Peter…
Selecting an All-time XI from the many players I’ve lined-up with over my sixteen seasons and five hundred first-team matches as well as, friendly, charity and veterans games, was quite a challenge.
I’ve raided the memory bank, excluding myself. I was lucky enough to share a pitch with so many superb footballers – not all necessarily famous. The Ipswich Town team that ran Liverpool so close under Bobby Robson – John Barnes, Steve Coppell, Andy Gray and Frank Lampard Senior to name but a few.
However, I didn’t think to line up with them for one or two matches was enough to include them. Another factor to consider was footballers who were young, still developing and yet to reach if at all, their potential – Those who had been at the very top but were coming to the end of their playing careers, some that were exceptionally talented individuals, but not necessarily good team players – there was so much to evaluate.
I played with some very good individuals, but most of my career was with teams that were constantly struggling. It’s in these circumstances that you get a true understanding of their abilities, strengths, weaknesses and characters.
So here it is – Peter Kitchen’s All-time XI in a 4-4-2 formation. How many do you remember?
Goalkeeper: John Jackson (Orient)
Jacko was a very experienced keeper who was always a calming presence even under pressure .Tall and slim, very agile, excellent reflexes and a great shot-stopper.
Right Back: Pat Rice (Arsenal/Watford)
I played with Pat many times for the TV Commentators XI. A hard-tackling full-back and a good reader of the game. Pat constantly organised those around him – a great captain, notably at Arsenal. He had a good engine and was, effectively getting forward and back. Very decent with the ball.
Left Back: Bill Roffey (Orient)
A no-nonsense full-back, strong and aggressive, mobile up and down the flank. A great left peg. Very popular at Orient.
Centre Back: Phil Hoadley (Orient)
Quick, strong tackling, combative and aggressive player. A leader on the pitch and a character off it. Had a fierce shot on him, one of the hardest in football.
Centre Back: Glenn Roeder (Orient)
A stylish footballer who was always calm and composed at the back – very comfortable on the ball. Glenn often played out from the back and could play further forward as necessary.
Right Wing/Midfield: Ian Miller (Doncaster Rovers)
Ian arrived at Belle Vue from Nottingham Forest in part exchange for Terry Curran. The quickest player I ever played with – A Scottish National sprint champion. Ian was a proper winger, direct and a very good crosser of the ball. He also chipped in with 10-12 goals a season from the flanks, yet worked very hard defensively. He was selected along with myself in the PFA Division Four team two seasons in succession.
As well as Rovers, Ian played for Swindon Town and Blackburn Rovers in the Second Division (Championship. Undoubtedly, he should have played in the top league.
Midfield: Trever Brooking (West Ham United)
Another player I lined-up with a number of time for the TV Commentators XI.
Trevor needs no introduction. A fantastic footballer. He had grace, composure and spacial awareness. Witnessing his creativity at close quarters – even in charity matches – made me realise the type of footballer I missed playing with during my own career and how many more goals I might have scored as a result. The timing and weight of his passes were unbelievable.
Midfield: Ralph Coates (Orient)
Ralph arrived at Orient after a glittering career with Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur. He had also gleaned four caps for England and was a classy footballer. He had a great engine and worked extremely hard for the team. Great link-up play and an excellent passer of the ball. Ralph would have been a perfect partner, complimenting Trevor in the middle of my XI.
Left Winger/Midfield: Terry Curran (Doncaster Rovers)
TC was an enigma of a footballer with awesome talent.
A brilliant dribbler, quick and could take on players as well as score goals. Brian Clough took him to Nottingham Forest. But after a bad injury, he was sold on to several top clubs including Southampton, Derby County and Everton.
He played for both Sheffield clubs, becoming a cult figure at Wednesday, helping them to promotion under the management of Jack Charlton. Like I said, injuries blighted his career. With a little more luck he could have played for England.
Forward: Joe Mayo (Orient)
Big Joe was the perfect foil to play alongside. An honest, hard-working footballer who was very mobile for a big man.
Joe was very brave, terrific in the air and a great target man. A good finisher who would have scored more goals in a more attack-minded team.
Forward: Tony Woodcock (Doncaster Rovers – loan)
Tony came on loan to Doncaster for two months but played wide on the left as myself and Brendan O’Callagnah were the main strikers.
He was quick and could take players on, held the ball well and knew where the goal was. Doncaster could have signed him for £15,000 but could only offer £10,000 – He returned to Nottingham Forest and the rest is history.
He subsequently partnered Peter Withe at the City Ground and had a great career, winning the First Division, League Cup and, of course, the European Cup. He was also named PFA Young Player of the Year in 1978.
Later, Tony moved to Arsenal and then in the Bundesliga with 1FC Koln.
So that is my All-time XI. There is one more I would like to add, but I only lined up with him in training and practice matches during my time with Fulham.
George Best was in his thirties, living near-by in Putney and travelling back and forth from the United States where he was still playing.
Even in a kickabout, he had an incredible change of pace and ability to dribble past players with ease. An amazing talent. Perhaps I’m allowed to name him as a substitute?