All good things come to those who wait, a statement certainly vindicated by John Clark’s protracted attempts to sign Keith Knox from Stranraer. In the summer of 1986, when John Clark moved from the manager’s post at Stranraer to take up the same position with The Bully Wee, one of his first actions was to return to his former club and attempt to persuade Keith to ply his trade in Glasgow. By the time negotiations finally came to a successful conclusion it was March 1988! However, it led on to over nine years of a relationship between the player and the club, during which Keith became an automatic choice for the three managers he played under whilst at the club; John Clark, Alex Smith and Gardner Spiers.
Not surprisingly after the efforts John went to get his signature, Keith went straight into the first team after signing, making his debut came against Raith Rovers at Firhill on the 19th of March 1988, unfortunately the match ended in a 1-2 defeat. His playing time with The Bully Wee finally came to an end against Queen of the South at Palmerston on the 10th of May 1997, a match we won 1-0.
With the changing face of football and the relative fortunes of our club, Keith may not have won the same honours over those nine years as someone of his abilities, say thirty or forty years previous might have been expected to. His on-the-field honours (as opposed to supporter and sponsor awards) with Clyde amounted to a single Division Two Championship medal from the 92-93 season, a season where Keith was Club Captain and where at least two of his three goals could be legitimately claimed to have been vital to our success that season!
- Clyde 5 East Stirling 1, 2nd of January 1993, Keith scores our final goal
- Clyde 2 Queen of the South 1, 16th February 1993, Keith pops in the winning goal
- Clyde 2 East Stirling 1, 27th March 1993, Keith again scores our winner
In those days it was two points for a win, so the two points that Keith’s goals won for us could be argued to have been the difference between success and failure:
That season Keith made 37 out of 39 appearances in the league and that sort of consistency was the norm throughout not only Keith’s Clyde career, but also his time with other clubs. With Clyde, out of 404 possible appearances, Keith made 356 appearances, almost an average of 40 appearances per season!
It should also be noted that Keith scooped all the club awards that season (with the probable exception of top scorer) and that – not for the first time in his career – Keith was very nearly involved in doing to Celtic what we finally managed to do some 13 years later – put them out the Scottish Cup. Following our match at Douglas Park, a journalist started his match report thus…
“A daring dive by Pat Bonner into a muddy porridge at Hamilton saved Celtic from their greatest indignity in 105 years.”
Over the nine-plus years Keith was with Clyde he played 356 games for The Bully Wee, a total good enough to put him into twelfth place in our overall appearance chart. His goal tally of 17 over that period can of course be put down to the fact that Keith was generally a midfielder, or a defender, or a sweeper and even on one occasion – for the second half of a match against Albion Rovers – a goalkeeper! It’s a measure of the man that he kept a clean sheet during his time between the sticks.
Over his 23-year career, Keith’s League appearances make historic reading. Looking at Scottish football overall, Graham Armstrong is way out in front, former Clyde player Andy Millen is sitting second, then in third place comes Keith – and remember this is statistics compiled from the very first season of league football in Scotland!
The actual figures are:
- Graham Armstrong: 910 (inc 32 as sub)
- Andy Millen: 758 (inc 12 as sub)
- Keith Knox: 717 (inc 26 as sub)
If we include, for instance, Scottish Cup and League Cup matches, Keith’s senior appearance total is over 800 games!
Now, by virtue of his continuing to live in Stranraer, the amount of travelling Keith undertook to play for The Bully Wee, never mind all those other matches, is the stuff of legends (as were some of his car journeys apparently)!
From a purely Clyde perspective, assuming that we played all our matches in Glasgow and that Keith either travelled up once every midweek for training or a match, it equates to an incredible 110664 miles – a journey of four-and-a-half times around the world.
Goalscoring and October 1994
Keith, as we have seen, was never a noted goalscorer. However, in October 1994 something inexplicable happened…
|1st October 1994||Clyde 2 Meadowbank Thistle 1||Keith scores 2|
|8th October 1994||Morton 0 Clyde 1||Keith scores again|
|15th October 1994||Clyde 4 Brechin City 0||Keith scores our second goal|
|22nd October 1994||Clyde 0 Stenhousemuir 0|
|29th October 1994||Stirling Albion 0 Clyde 1||Keith gets a last-minute winner!|
So five of Keith’s seventeen Clyde goals came in a single month – this will probably remain one of life’s great mysteries!
All these stats are well and good and are provided for a purpose, but perhaps the greatest measure of the respect Keith had amongst supporters was that after he left The Bully Wee to re-join Stranraer a testimonial was organised by the club and the supporters.
There were several events, the culmination of which was a match against Rangers at Broadwood in October 1997, the first testimonial match the club had played for any Clyde-related person since 1945 and Mattha Gemmell (Brian Ahern was due to have a testimonial in 1987 but this match was cancelled and ever played).
The match itself, on the 13th of October 1997, ended in a very narrow 1-5 defeat for The Bully Wee against Rangers at Broadwood.
Tom McGuire, Clyde fan and Chairman of the Organising Committee, noted in his programme notes that day:-
“Although Keith returned… to Stranraer during the Summer, such is the esteem in which he is held by Clyde FC and their fans, that this match goes ahead.”
Club Chairman, Billy Carmichael also noted:-
“His commitment…was unmatched at this club and this is undoubtedly the kind of player testimonial matches were designed to benefit.”