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Dick Keith

Name: Richard Matthewson Keith
Born: 15 May 1933, Belfast
Died: 28 February 1967, Bournemouth
Height: 6.00 ft
Weight: 11.09 st
Position: Right-Back

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 23 Full Caps (1957-1962), 1 ‘B’ Cap (1957), 1 Junior Cap (1950); Irish FA Representative; Irish league: 5 Caps (1955-1956); Co. Antrim FA Representative.
Club Honours: (with Linfield) Irish League Champion 1953/54, 1954/55, 1955/56; Irish Cup Winner 1952/53; Gold Cup Winner; Ulster Cup Winner; Co. Antrim Shield Winner.
Awards: Ulster Football of the Year 1956.

Club Career:
FA Cup
FL Cup
33rd Old Boys
Newcastle United
(Southern League)

The individual to most ‘benefit’ from the injuries sustained by Jackie Blanchflower at Munich, Dick Keith cemented his place in the Irish World Cup defence after the Manchester United star’s career was prematurely ended.

Keith began his senior career with Linfield in 1950, signing professionally after just seventeen games for Linfield Swifts (reserves team). He stepped into the first eleven while still just seventeen, rising to become the club vice-captain and Ulster Footballer of the Year in 1956. He began to appear regularly in representative teams, most notably for the Irish FA in a 4-3 defeat by the British Army and for the Irish League in a famous 5-2 win over the Football League.

In September 1956, after months of speculation, Keith made the move to English football. Newcastle United were seeking a replacement for regular right-back Bobby Cowell, who had been injured in a pre-season European tour. Newcastle left-back Alf McMichael, who had played alongside Keith for the IFA, had no hesitation in recommending him to the club’s management. Keith left his Shankill Road home, his engineering job and Linfield behind in an £8,000 deal, plus a later £1,000 following a set number of games.

Dick Keith and Alf McMichael were to become inseparable, they were full-back partners on the field of play for both Northern Ireland and Newcastle, and they also roomed together on trips with both club and country. Immensely popular at St James’ Park, Keith made his debut in a 1-1 home draw against Manchester United. Newcastle however were a struggling team; they escaped relegation from the First Division on goal average in 1958 before finally dropping to the Second Division in 1961. Coolness personified, Keith was appointed club captain in 1962, but was unable to lead Newcastle back to the top-flight. In February 1964 he was a victim of a player clear-out at St James' Park. Signed by Bournemouth in a £3,300 deal, that season the Cherries just missed out on promotion from the Third Division.

Previously capped at Junior level, as well as representing the Irish FA and Irish League, Keith made his next step towards full international honours when he played in Northern Ireland’s first ever ‘B’ international. In October 1957 the ‘B’ team crushed Romania 6-0 at Windsor Park, and Keith, along with several of his colleagues in that team, planted his name firmly in Peter Doherty’s mind. He deputised at right-back for Willie Cunningham through late 1957 and in April 1958, the first match without Jackie Blanchflower, stood in at centre-half. Come the World Cup Finals in Sweden, Peter Doherty had decided that Keith was best used at right-back, with Cunningham in the centre of defence - and of course Alf McMichael was at left-back.

The Northern Ireland team of 1958 performed heroics to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, before losing 4-0 to France with an injury ravaged side. The highlights thereafter were few and far between, the only win in Keith’s final fifteen internationals came against Wales in April 1959, with a 3-3 draw against England and ‘plucky’ 4-3 and 3-2 defeats by West Germany and Italy respectively being the only other results of note. With Bertie Peacock replacing Doherty as Irish manager in 1962, Keith was one of several “old-guard” players to make way for younger talent.

By 1966/67 Keith had left League football behind, and was playing for Southern League Weymouth while working for a builders’ merchant. On a cold day in February 1967, whilst dismantling an automatic garage door, he was struck on the head by a spring loaded cantilever. The blow fractured his skull and claimed his life. He was just 33 years-old.

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
06-11-1957 England....... A W 3-2 BC
04-12-1957 Italy......... H D 2-2 FR
16-04-1958 Wales......... A D 1-1 BC
08-06-1958 Czechoslovakia N W 1-0 WCF
11-06-1958 Argentina..... N L 1-3 WCF
15-06-1958 West Germany.. N D 2-2 WCF
17-06-1958 Czechoslovakia N W 2-1 WCF
19-06-1958 France........ N L 0-4 WCF
04-10-1958 England....... H D 3-3 BC
15-10-1958 Spain......... A L 2-6 FR
05-11-1958 Scotland...... A D 2-2 BC
22-04-1959 Wales......... H W 4-1 BC
03-10-1959 Scotland...... H L 0-4 BC
18-11-1959 England....... A L 1-2 BC
08-10-1960 England....... H L 2-5 BC
26-10-1960 West Germany.. H L 3-4 WCQ
09-11-1960 Scotland...... A L 2-5 BC
12-04-1961 Wales......... H L 1-5 BC
25-04-1961 Italy......... A L 2-3 FR
03-05-1961 Greece........ A L 1-2 WCQ
10-05-1961 West Germany.. A L 1-2 WCQ
11-04-1962 Wales......... A L 0-4 BC
09-05-1962 Netherlands... A L 0-4 FR

Summary: 23/0. Won 4, Drew 5, Lost 14.

Northern Ireland B Cap Details:
23-10-1957 Romania....... H W 6-0 FR

Summary: 1/0. Won 1, Drew 0, Lost 0.

Other Representative Match Details:
14-10-1953 Co Antrim FA - South Africa H W 1-0 FR
21-03-1956 Ireland..... - British Army A L 3-4 FR
24-10-1956 Ireland..... - British Army H L 1-2 FR

𝗗𝗢𝗰𝗸 π—žπ—²π—Άπ˜π—΅ Dick Keith was born on May 15, 1933 and began his footballing career with Linfield in 1950, signing...

Posted by Irish Football Memories on Wednesday, 29 April 2020


Anonymous said…
Excellent website and as a member of Castlereagh GSC have especially liked the biographies of the Ulster Footballer of the Year award winners.
jcd can you please leave a contact telephone number for Glenn at Castlereagh GSC, 8A Grand Parade, Belfast BT5, regarding above biographies.
jcd said…
Thanks for the compliments.
Not quite sure what you're asking for here.
I'll be happy to publish any relevant contact info, site links or whatever.
If you wish to contact me again, I will be more than happy to email you (just leave your email address as a comment, it won't be published).
Anonymous said…
Very Good Website.. Dick Keith Is My Grandad And It Is Nice To Read About Him.. Thanx
Anonymous said…
Dear Sir,

I am researching my family tree. My grandfather was Frederick Jamison, possibly born 1915, Bushmills. He married an Elizabeth Purcell and they had 8 children including my father, Stanley Jamison, born Ballynahinch, June 9th 1944. Freddy had a garage on 269 Shore Rd, Belfast. He died in 1972. My Uncle Donald (MacAskill) who married Stanley's sister Winifred, told me about your grandfather, Dick Keith, being a relative of Freddy's. I read about yor grandfather and he certainly was an impressive player. Uncle Donald told me about another relative of Freddy's, a Dick Creith, a motorcyclist apparently. I haven't checked him out yet. When I saw a pictre of your grandfather I couldn't believe the family resembalnce to the Jamisons! I would love to hear from you. My mobile number is (removed by admin - contact us directly and we'll pass it on).

All the best & Happy Easter,

Barbara Jamison-MacAskill.
Jim Campbell said…
Dick keith John keith and Jim Keith are my Uncles, i was 10 when this horrible accident happened, his family traveled to belfast NI for his funeral, His Mother ella was never the same after this, his family went back to bournemouth after a few days, i just happened to come across his pictures
John Harris said…
The builder's merchant where he died was Kennedys, whose owner was Secretary of and played for Lyndhurst Cricket Club. John Kennedy asked Dick to come and play at Lyndhurst on Sundays, and he was a very useful opening medium/quick bowler. He was also very interesting to talk to about his football career, a very nice man. That was the season before his accident.