Legend of Our Time - Keith MacRae.
Recently we have featured players from recent times as Legends of our Time, but I want to take some of our readers from my generation back to the early 70s to someone who is still my top goalkeeper in my time watching the Well - Keith MacRae.
Keith was a fairly local lad hailing from Lanark who split his football duties while training as a journalist with the Scottish Daily Express. He signed for us in the late 60s as understudy to Peter McCloy. While he waited for his opportunity to play for the first team in goal he took the opportunity to make his debut as an Outside left and also played at Right back!
But when the Girvan Lighthouse moved to Rangers, manager Bobby Howitt had no hesitation in giving the # 1 jersey (almost said gloves, but they didn't wear them in those days) to the Red Head. Within a short space of time he was selected for the Scotland Under 23 (no its not a typo, that's what it was then!) squad, and even the full squad.
In fact I remember going to Wembley for the Scotland v. England game in 1971, which was my first International game, and Keith was a sub. When the subs made their way round the edge of the field to the dug out I was so thrilled to sea him and was probably the only person in the crowd shouting his name! Then during the game desperately hoping that Bobby Clark of Aberdeen would get injured to let my hero on to the pitch. Unfortunately he didn't and sadly Keith never made it into the full team at any time in his career.
The most memorable game I remember him having for Motherwell was against Spurs in the Texaco Cup in 1971. He ensured that we managed to bet a team laden with Internationalists over two legs. In the second leg he showed everything that he was good at, confidently clutching crosses, and easily saving shots as they rained in. One save I remember in particular was from a header by Alan Gilzean which looked as though it would loop over him and into the net BUT he got up to tip the ball over to ensure that we won the game 3-1.
Within a matter of months he was being linked with clubs in England, including Man City, I became a bit panicky one Saturday when I was waiting for the bus home after playing for the School one morning. As I waited I saw a face I recognised, it dawned on me it was Tony Book who was the manager at Maine Rd at the time. Sadly the £100000 transfer fee they offered was too good to turn down and my goalie hero moved south.
At City he was a regular until he broke his wrist one week and allowed Joe Corrigan back into the City side. Corrigan never looked back, including playing for England, and MacRae disappeared from football to return to journalism, and all I have are my memories.
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