Folkestone Famous Face Keith Spurgeon

Highlighting the importance of lower league football, CommunityAd thought they would pay homage to the former Folkestone Town FC defender Keith Spurgeon, who spent his career playing for various regional division football clubs before going on to manage European giants AFC Ajax in 1961-62.

 

Born in 1933, Keith Spurgeon was a versatile player nicknamed ‘Spud’ who started his career in Tottenham Hotspur’s Youth academy, featuring twice for their B team in December 1951. The defender then joined Margate a year later becoming a regular in the reserves before making the move to Leytonstone in 1953. A return back to Margate two years later before spells with Folkestone (1956-57), Herne Bay, Snowdown Colliery and finally Clapton signalled the end of his career as a professional footballer, that was, unfortunately, blighted by knee injuries.

 

With his playing days over and Keith still in his late twenties, he decided to dedicate the next steps of his career towards football management, establishing himself as a highly respected coach and joining AFC Ajax as manager in July 1961.

 

AFC Ajax play their football in Amsterdam and at the time of Keith’s arrival, the club had established themselves as the best team in the Netherlands having won 10 Erevidisie (league) championships and three KNVB Cups. Unfortunately, Keith’s tenure at Ajax only lasted one season as he was sacked in June 1962 with the club finishing 4th in the Erevidisie, 11 points behind 1st placed Feyenoord. This wasn’t a trophy-less season, however, for Keith and Ajax who actually made history by winning the first-ever UEFA Intertoto Cup by beating their league rivals Feyenoord 4-2.

 

During his time at AFC Ajax, Keith lived with his wife in a small bungalow at Ajax’s De Meer Stadium and on occasions, they would cook meals for their cleaning lady’s teenage son who went by the name of Johan Cruyff! Cruyff went on to become AFC Ajax’s greatest ever football player who is also considered by many to be one of the best footballers in the history of the sport. The Dutchman was known for his incredible skill and elegance with the ball with one piece of skill ‘the Cruyff turn’ named after him which remains one of the most commonly used dribbling techniques in football today.

 

In the years preceding Keith’s departure, Ajax dominated the European scene winning the Champions League three times in a row in the seasons of 1970-71, 71-72 and 72-73 with their fantastic football full of skill and flair that was a pleasure to watch. This achievement has only been repeated by two other clubs (Bayern Munich from 1973-76 and Real Madrid twice from 1955-60 and most recently 2015-18).

 

Keith Spurgeon continued to coach in Holland after his departure from AFC Ajax, managing FC Blauw-Wit Amsterdam, Heracles Almelo and AGOVV Apeldoorn before going on to manage the national team of Libya.

 

An incredible resume saw Keith then go stateside where he managed the Dallas Tornado before coming back to Europe to coach in Belgium with KV Mechelen and Lierse S.K. A trip to Stockholm was next as Keith managed clubs AIK Fotboll and Landskrona BoIS with a spell in Cyprus with APOEL FC in between his time in Sweden where he, unfortunately, died in 1990 from Motor Neurone disease at the age of 57.

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