Dino Zoff, Peter Shilton, John Burridge. Keepers never die, they simply stop coming off their line for crosses. Age doesn’t seem to apply to the shot-stoppers as they mature like fine wines whilst still being able to tip a forty yarder around the post. Interestingly enough, the more-mature keeper is less common in Non-League football, with clubs normally putting their faith in youth. With budgets always under pressure, most clubs will only have one keeper on their books at a time, so they go with a younger, fitter option. But sometimes life throws up a great story, one that still gives us all who are approaching the latter years of our playing career (ahem) hope.
Lewes 3 Redhill 2 – Wednesday 4th December 2013 – The Dripping Pan
Games are coming thick and fast at the moment as The Rooks fight on three fronts for silverware. Alas this means we have games in midweek through the whole of November and December. After a win against Corinthian Casual in round 2 of the Robert Dyas League Cup our prize was a home tie with Redhill. With so many injuries and a few suspensions in the past few weeks, manager Garry Wilson chose to field a strong starting XI for the tie against the Lobsters. However, in between the sticks he went with youth, bringing in Dan Hutchins for his first team debut.
Things were going swimmingly against a second string Redhill team, with Lewes taking a two goal lead with barely 15 minutes on the clock. It looked like a long evening for the Redhill keeper as shots continued to rain down on his goal. But just as I mentioned “how mature Jack Walder looked at centre-back” he kicked a Redhill player in the air and from the resulting free-kick they pulled a goal back. Then in the fortieth minute they scored again. Somehow the score was 2-2. But more worryingly the young keeper Hutchins was laying on the floor, injured.
Despite lengthy treatment to a hand injury it became apparent that he couldn’t continue. As luck would have it Wilson had named a spare keeper on the bench, as if he knew there would be a problem.
And so history was made in the 41st minute of the game when First Team Coach, 40 something (Wikipedia suggests he is 41, ClubSec Kev says he is older than that) pulled on the gloves and in the process set a record. Dean’s last game in goal for The Rooks was on the 8th November 1994, when Lewes lost 1-0 to Leighton Town in a Diadora League Three game. A mere 6,966 days between appearances for the Rooks.
Despite his lack of match practice, Dean rolled back the years, pulling off a number of excellent saves to keep Redhill at bay. Fortunately at the other end, the Lobsters were undone by the Crabbs as Sam beat a defender, pulled it back to Matt and he squared it to Nathan who put Lewes into Round 4 with a well taken finish. But all the terrace chants were for “Super Deano” who proved that age is no barrier to being a match winner.