Watty Keay

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Watty Keay
Watty Keay.jpg
Personal information
Full nameWalter Keay
Date of birth(1871-01-16)16 January 1871
Place of birth Whiteinch, Glasgow, Scotland
Date of death 16 January 1943(1943-01-16) (aged 72)
Place of death Winchester, England
Playing position Inside Forward
Youth career
Senior career*
Partick Thistle
1893–1895 Derby County 24 (7)
1895–1900 Southampton 60 (22)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Walter "Watty" Keay (16 January 1871 – 16 January 1943) [1] was a Scottish professional footballer who played as an inside forward for various clubs, including Partick Thistle in Scotland and Derby County and Southampton in England. His main claim to fame was scoring the first goal at The Dell stadium on its opening on 3 September 1898.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Partick Thistle F.C. Scottish football club

Partick Thistle Football Club are a professional football club from Glasgow, Scotland. Despite their name, the club are based at Firhill Stadium in the Maryhill area of the city, and have not played in Partick since 1908. The club have been members of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) since its formation in 2013. Thistle currently compete in the Scottish Championship, the second tier of the SPFL structure, following relegation via play-offs from the Scottish Premiership in the 2017–18 season.

Derby County F.C. Association football club

Derby County Football Club is a professional association football club based in Derby, Derbyshire, England. The club currently competes in the EFL Championship, the second tier of English football, and has played its home matches at Pride Park Stadium since 1997.


Football career

Early career

Keay was born in Whiteinch, Scotland and played as a youth for various local sides before starting his professional career at nearby Partick Thistle. He later moved south to Darlington to seek fame and fortune before signing for Derby County in July 1893.


Whiteinch is a district in the Scottish city of Glasgow. It is situated north of the River Clyde between the Partick and Scotstoun areas of the city. Whiteinch was at one stage part of the burgh of Partick, until that burgh's absorption into the expanding city of Glasgow in 1912, and part of the Parish of Govan.

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Darlington F.C. association football club

Darlington Football Club is an English football club based in Darlington, County Durham. They are members of the National League North, the sixth tier of English football, and play at Blackwell Meadows.

Derby County

He spent two seasons with the Midlands club, supplying the crosses for Steve Bloomer, John McMillan and John Goodall to score. Derby finished third in Division 1 in 1893–94, scoring 73 goals in 30 games, but in the following season they finished fifteenth and had to play-off against Liverpool, who were relegated.

Steve Bloomer English footballer and manager

StephenBloomer was an England international footballer and manager who played for Derby County - becoming their record goalscorer - and Middlesbrough. The anthem Steve Bloomer's Watchin' is played at every Derby home game and there is a bust of him at the Pride Park Stadium. He is also listed in the Football League 100 Legends and English Football Hall of Fame.

John Goodall was a footballer who rose to fame as a centre forward for England and for Preston North End at the time of the development of the Football League, and also became Watford's first manager in 1903. He also played cricket in the County Championship for Derbyshire in 1895 and 1896, being one of 19 players to achieve the Derbyshire Double of playing cricket for Derbyshire and football for Derby County.

Liverpool F.C. Association football club in England

Liverpool Football Club is a professional football club in Liverpool, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. The club has won 5 European Cups, more than any other English club, 3 UEFA Cups, 3 UEFA Super Cups, 18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, a record 8 League Cups, and 15 FA Community Shields.


In the spring of 1895, Charles Robson, the newly appointed secretary/manager of Southampton St. Mary's, and Alfred McMinn, one of the club committee, visited the Midlands in search of new players to strengthen the team ready for their second season in the Southern League. McMinn was a native of Staffordshire and was "most persuasive on his home turf". [2] On this trip, Robson and McMinn signed six players: Keay, Joe Turner, Jack Farrell, Samuel Meston and Willie Naughton from Stoke and Alf Wood from Burslem Port Vale, as well as recruiting Stoke's long-serving trainer, Bill Dawson. The Saints committee were anxious to secure their services and signed then before the Football League season was over. Port Vale and Stoke lodged a complaint with The Football Association about "poaching", and an emergency FA meeting was held at Sheffield, resulting in the Saints being severely censured for negligence. St Mary's were ordered to pay their own costs, plus £4 6s 3d to Stoke and £1 13s to Port Vale. McMinn was suspended for a year and Dawson for a month. Wood's registration with St Mary's was cancelled (shortly afterwards he moved to Stoke). [2] [3]

Charles Robson (cricketer) English cricketer

Charles Robson was an English first-class cricketer, who played as a wicket-keeper for Middlesex between 1881 and 1883, and for Hampshire from 1891 to 1906, for whom he served as captain for three years from 1900 to 1902.

Alfred McMinn, was an English manager for Southampton F.C. from August 1896 to May 1897.

The 1895–96 season was the eleventh since the foundation of Southampton St. Mary's F.C. and their second in league football, as members of the Southern League. They finished the league season in third place behind the previous season's champions, Millwall Athletic, and Luton Town. In the FA Cup they reached the First Round Proper for the second consecutive season, where they were defeated by Sheffield Wednesday, of the Football League.

In the next four seasons, Keay featured regularly as Southampton won the League for three consecutive seasons from 1896–97 to 1898–99. Keay was the catalyst that helped knit the forward line together and he formed a useful partnership with Joe Turner, with Keay creating the chances for Turner to convert. [4]

Joseph Turner was a professional footballer who played in the 1902 FA Cup final for Southampton. Southampton were a Southern League club at the time, and their feat was all the more remarkable in that they had already been losing finalists two years earlier. Turner missed the 1900 final and had also previously missed a crucial penalty when Southampton lost a semi final to Nottingham Forest in 1898.

In his first season with Southampton St. Mary's (who were then playing at the Antelope Ground) the club finished third in the Southern League. In the summer of 1896, the club moved to the County Cricket Ground. The Saints forward line was boosted by the signing of Bob Buchanan from Woolwich Arsenal, with the defence being strengthened by the signing of George Clawley from Tottenham Hotspur. Southampton exceeded the achievements of the two previous seasons, winning the Southern League title without losing a match, as well as reaching the Second Round Proper of the FA Cup, where they went out to Newton Heath in a replay. [5]

Southampton F.C. Association football club

Southampton Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southampton, Hampshire, England, which plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English football.

Antelope Ground

The Antelope Ground, Southampton was a sports ground that was the first home of both Hampshire County Cricket Club, who played there prior to 1884, and of Southampton, who played there from 1887 to 1896 as "Southampton St. Mary's F.C."

Southern Football League English football league

The Southern League, currently known as the Evo-Stik League South under the terms of a sponsorship agreement with Bostik Ltd, is a men's football competition featuring semi-professional clubs from the South West, 'South Central' and Midlands of England and South Wales. Together with the Isthmian League and the Northern Premier League it forms levels seven and eight of the English football league system.

The 1897–98 season followed a similar pattern, with Southampton retaining their league title, and advancing to the semi-final of the FA Cup, losing to Nottingham Forest in a controversial replay. [6]

After two years in their temporary home at the County Ground in Northlands Road, in 1898 Southampton found a permanent home close by in Archers Road. The Dell ground was officially opened on 3 September with a match against Brighton United. Saints took an early lead, with Keay scoring the opening goal following "a little finessing" from Tom Smith, [7] and Southampton went on to secure a 4–1 victory.

Joe Turner had moved to Stoke in the summer of 1898 and The "Saints" struggled to find an adequate replacement at outside-right, with neither Jim McKenzie nor George Seeley holding down the position for long. As a consequence, Keay's form started to decline and he was in and out of the side, with only one league appearance from January onwards. [8]

He made one further appearance in November 1899 and retired in the 1900 close season. On his retirement in 1900, Southampton's grateful fans presented Keay with an inscribed pocket-watch. [4]

In all he made 83 league and FA cup appearances for the "Saints", scoring 28 goals.

After retirement

After retiring from professional football (aged 28) he remained in the Southampton area and became a local publican for several years. He later became a shipwright for Camper and Nicholsons at Shamrock Quay and in 1923 he also coached Southampton's reserves. [4]

In 1923, he returned to the Dell as a reserve team coach and in the 1930s he scouted for Southampton FC. [1]



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  1. 1 2 Chalk, Gary; Holley, Duncan; Bull, David (2013). All the Saints: A Complete Players' Who's Who of Southampton FC. Southampton: Hagiology Publishing. p. 107. ISBN   978-0-9926-8640-6.
  2. 1 2 Juson, Dave; Bull, David (2001). Full-Time at The Dell. Hagiology Publishing. pp. 36–37. ISBN   0-9534474-2-1.
  3. Chalk, Gary; Holley, Duncan (1987). Saints – A complete record. Breedon Books. pp. 18–19. ISBN   0-907969-22-4.
  4. 1 2 3 Holley, Duncan; Chalk, Gary (1992). The Alphabet of the Saints. ACL & Polar Publishing. p. 191. ISBN   0-9514862-3-3.
  5. Saints – A complete record. pp. 20–21.
  6. Saints – A complete record. pp. 22–23.
  7. Bull, David; Brunskell, Bob (2000). Match of the Millennium. Hagiology Publishing. pp. 20–. ISBN   0-9534474-1-3.21
  8. Saints – A complete record. pp. 24–25.