BBC BLOGS - Paul Fletcher
« Previous | Main | Next »

Keith Alexander honoured by the Black List

Post categories:

Paul Fletcher | 05:13 UK time, Thursday, 28 October 2010

Keith Alexander's son Matt fondly recalls many tales about his late father but he rates one above all others.

The Alexander family were visiting Keith in hospital as he recuperated following the first of two life-threatening brain aneurysms he suffered in 2003. Keith, then manager of Lincoln, was still very ill and the family were aghast when they realised that he had tried to unplug his heart monitor.

The Imps boss had attempted to free up the socket so that he could plug in a television and follow Lincoln's progress on Ceefax.

I think it is a story that perfectly illustrates Alexander's love of the game and the dedication that he brought to all of his managerial roles.

Keith Alexander watches his Macclesfield Town team in action.

Alexander was a respected figure with a strong work ethic. Photo: Getty Images

Alexander was in charge of Macclesfield when he collapsed at home and died on 3 March 2010 shortly after returning from his team's match at Notts County.

Alexander, who was 53, will be honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the third Black List celebratory evening at Wembley on Thursday.

The Black List highlights the influence of African Caribbean figures in British football. It was 30 strong in 2008 and 2009 but has been extended to 50 this year and comprises people who work in football from the media, commercial, community and administrative side of the game.

"It serves to recognise the black people who are making a significant contribution in football and show young black people positive role models," said Professional Footballers' Association deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes.

Alexander was on the list in both 2008 and 2009. Given that it highlights the influence of African Caribbean figures in British football, it was not a great surprise that he was included.

He was not the first black manager in the Football League - that was Tony Collins at Rochdale in the early 1960s - but he was the first of his generation when he took charge of Lincoln in 1993.

"He was a pioneer," said Barnes. "Not only was he one of the first black managers but he was a real gentleman."

Son Matt Alexander added: "He was a trailblazer and many in the black community held him in very high regard. Most people don't know half the stuff my dad had to put up with."

Alexander was the son of parents who had moved to England from the Caribbean island of St Lucia. He played for numerous non-League clubs as a powerful centre forward before joining Grimsby in 1998 at the age of 31.

He also played for Lincoln, Stockport and Mansfield before moving into management.
In a 17-year career he was the boss of the Imps, Peterborough and Macclesfield, and had spells in charge of non-League sides Ilkeston Town and Northwich Victoria.

But the increasing prominence of black players during his time as a coach was not matched by a significant increase in the number of black managers. At the time of Alexander's death he was one of just three, along with Newcastle's Chris Hughton and Paul Ince, who was still in charge of MK Dons but left his role towards the end of the season. Hughton is currently the only black manager in England's top four divisions.

"One thing Dad did want to see was more black managers and coaches in the game," added Matt.

Alexander was active in the PFA's black coaches forum, while League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan described him as "a champion of civil rights and equality issues".

"Black managers and coaches remain at a premium," added Barnes, who is on the 2010 Black List, which has backing from the Football Association, the PFA and the Kick it Out campaign. "Keith was always trying to pass on the benefit of his experience. For example, Brian Deane worked with him while he was doing his coaching badges and Paul Ince was often on the phone."

Alexander often spoke of his experiences as the only black figure in a boardroom. It only steeled his determination to succeed and prove his worth. He was a qualified referee and had a Uefa Pro Licence.

Everton manager David Moyes (left) and Keith Alexander before an FA Cup tie.

Alexander was widely respected by senior football figures. Photo: Getty Images

It is clear that he was an inspiration to aspiring black coaches, but in researching this article it became obvious how much more there was to him than his worth as a role model. More than that, he was widely respected as a hard worker and as a human being.

"Keith was held in very high regard by the top names in football," said Barnes. "He did not say all that much at meetings but when he did it made sense and people listened."

He put people at ease in his company and always tried to look after his team-mates and players. Matt Alexander recalls a homesick Matt Carbon being virtually adopted by the Alexander family as he tried to adjust to life at Lincoln.

The Imps reached the play-offs in four successive seasons under Alexander despite tight financial constraints. He and long-standing assistant Gary Simpson, now the manager of Macclesfield, would travel the length of the country trying to unearth new players.

"He was never really given much money to spend, his jobs always seemed to be as a fire-fighter," added Barnes.

The one job Alexander had that gave him the opportunity to flex his muscles a little in the transfer market came at Peterborough in 2006. Alexander signed George Boyd, Aaron McLean and Craig Mackail-Smith, all crucial players as Posh won back-to-back promotions. However, that success came under Darren Ferguson. Alexander had been sacked in January 2007 with the team eighth in League Two after a run of six straight defeats.

"When he took Lincoln to the play-off final for the first time I was earning more money as a car salesman," added Matt Alexander. "He never whinged about money but what hurts me the most is that he never got the opportunity to manage above League Two."

Alexander always wanted to test himself at a higher level but had gained something of a reputation as a long-ball manager who was a value-for-money option at League Two clubs operating on tight budgets. The long-ball tag always grated with Keith, who argued that some of his teams were not suited to playing the ball out of defence. Ultimately, he never fulfilled his ambition of managing in the top flight.

Matt paints a picture of a man who could not sit still. Keith would often visit his son for a cup of his favourite hot chocolate and ginger snap biscuits but he would be on the move before he had finished his drink.

It is obvious that Matt has the greatest of respect for his father. I enjoyed a story he told about a game of football in the back garden. As an eight or nine-year-old Matt would always end up in a goal made from two conifer trees while his dad shot with all the force he could muster. One day a poor cross from Keith, a professional footballer, went through the conservatory window. Matt and brother Paul were blamed by a slightly embarrassed father.

Matt would travel to reserve games with Keith a couple of times a week, while his old man would often look after his daughter on a Sunday. There is a rawness when Matt talks about the hole in his routine. It was even more touching when he discussed Keith's children from his second marriage, Jack and Jenny, who are nine and 13.

"That is no age to lose your dad," he said.

It reminded me that more than anything the passing of Alexander is not so much about football losing an important and respected figure, it is a family loss.

But there is no doubt that the generous tributes that followed Alexander's death, the benefit game played in his memory in May and the Black List award have given great comfort to those closest to him.

"If he was looking down and saw the reaction that followed his death and how valuable people thought he was, he would be smiling," added Matt. "He would realise that all his hard work had paid off."

You can follow me throughout the season at


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    I worked briefly with Keith, its a pity there were not more people like him in the game, who were unselfish, helpful, dedicated,instead of being mercenary and giving nothing back to the game.

  • Comment number 3.

    great blog paul. I lived in the same Lincolnshire village as Keith for many years and used to see him quite regularly. Always said hello and had time for everyone he met. His years at Lincoln were some of the most memorable at the club, and I doubt that team spirit will ever be replicated to be honest. The other thing about Keith is, he had an incredible eye for a player, as you allude to in his time at Peterborough. Keith brought Gary Taylor Fletcher (now in the premier league) for free from Leyton Orient, Gareth McCauley (now an experienced international) for pittance and Jamie McCombe. What transfer business! It was just a shame that these players were not tied on longer contracts so Lincoln got the money they should have when they left.

    And to the idiot who made the first comment- what a load of nonsense

  • Comment number 4.

    Keith was worshipped here at Lincoln and always will be...
    A true gent and man.

  • Comment number 5.

    I have been a City fan since 1986 and in my time I cannot recall a manager or individual at the club who did so much for the city. He restored pride to Imps fans with 5 years of relative success on a budget akin to that of a non league side. He was a gentleman and someone who always spoke from the heart and always made sense when he did speak.

    I had the pleasure of meeting him properly at a sportsmans dinner just five months before his passing and was grateful for the opportunity to tell him how (in my opinion) he had brought such dignity and respect to the terraces of Sincil Bank.

    Miss you big man.

  • Comment number 6.

    I've never felt the need to comment before on any of the blogs on this site, however I just want to thank the blogger for making more people aware of what Keith did for football and in particular for Lincoln City (in 2 spells). RIP Big Man.

  • Comment number 7.

    Excellent blog Paul..a fine tribute to the sad loss of Keith Alexander back in March and a timely nod of recognition of his postumous lifetime achievement award at the Black List 2010.

    I never heard of the list before, part of the 'Kick-it Out' campaign against racism in football I believe, and your piece made me look it up. It's a shame more publicity isn't given to the event and the achievements of those involved in a more wider sense outside the black community.

    People like Keith are real trail blazers in a sport where the administrative side often moves at snail pace and is very old school. It will be interesting to see the cultural effect new foreign owners at the likes of Man City and Blackburn bring about in changing the face of the boardroom and evening out the playing field on the coaching and management side.

  • Comment number 8.

    great blog. Sounds like a real gentleman. Makes me wonder why the proportion of black players - managers is so varied?

  • Comment number 9.

    Would like to echo the comments above. As a Mansfield Town fan I remember the last of his playing years (including the broken leg that I think finally ended it) and his early career in management as assistant. He was always loved at Mansfield and I know that fans of his other clubs clearly held him in high regard to. We need more like him.

  • Comment number 10.

    What a sad sad loss to the sporting world. In a time when money seems to dictate football I will never tire of hearing stories from the great unsung heroes like Keith and it's great to hear his work being honoured in any way.

    Now lets hope that in future generations there will be no need for such an event such as The Black List. The racism from ignorance in mainland Europe may be hard to erase but for (arguably) the biggest sport in the UK to still hold black managers back when our game is so enriched by black players is something that needs changing. Maybe one of the current crop of extremely talented black footballers will go beyond wishing to just make money and can aspire to become a role model as a manager...

  • Comment number 11.

    Amazing photo of Keith with Moyesie, both men look delighted to meet eachother. Fantastic

  • Comment number 12.

    Now then,

    Thanks for the comments so far. I'm really pleased that apart from a rather regrettable thought from papa shango, the thread seems to be paying a generous and deserved tribute to Keith Alexander.

    tomefccam - It is interesting that you say that. Keith's son Matt told me that Keith and Moyes had a long chat after the FA Cup tie between Macc Town and Everton (the photo is from that game). Apparently they have known each other for years. Moyes went to the funeral. I'm told that he turned up, paid his respects and discreetly left. Not after any attention, just there to say farewell to a bloke he knew and respected.

    JoC - The Black List and Kick it Out; both are undoubtedly hoping to address an inbalance and well worth a further look.

  • Comment number 13.

    BTW - if you have not heard, the number of black managers in the Premier League and Football League has doubled today with the appointment of Paul Ince at Notts County.

    I personally feel a little sorry for Craig Short, who was sacked on Sunday by Notts with the Magpies 16th in League One. He was appointed in the summer and I don't think his team had made all that bad a start.

    Ince has now managed Macclesfield, MK Dons (twice) and Blackburn. I reckon it is time for him to settle down at a club for a while and try to build something.

  • Comment number 14.

    I was lucky enough to see Keith play for Grimsby Town where he was given his chance of league football under Alan Buckley and where he became a real cult hero - he was all gangly legs and arms but could produce some genuine moments of skill.

    He had a fantastic rapport with the fans and, as everyone has already said, was a real gentleman on and off the pitch. There are many who were deeply upset at Keith's passing and who will remember him, perhaps not as black man, player or manager, but as a human being.

  • Comment number 15.

    keith was held in high regard by lots of fans in the north midlands as well as lincoln,a true gent and his death at the young age of 53 was a sad loss to football,he should be top of the black list not just in it.

  • Comment number 16.

    I don't want to come across as a party pooper and though I know nothing of Keith Alexander himself, everything suggests he was a nice man.

    However, what I want to say is about the whole idea of 'black' awards. Yes, I understand that people mean well and so on with such things, however, I always have at the back of my mind that this is some sort of divisive, almost retrograde idea that unnecessarily choses one group of people rather than another. For example, we all know that 'white' awards would be shouted down from the rooftops! I mean no offense when I say I don't understand the idea and if someone wants to explain to me why we have them, then please do.

    Also, whilst the comment from 'papa shango' has been removed and I don't know what was said, it is possible that the comment was expressing a valid opinion, whether we agree with that opinion or not?

  • Comment number 17.

    Fantastically written piece. Well done. I am afraid I hadn't heard of the guy. But I don't think after reading that, that I will ever forget him. Kudos, Chapeau, Bravo Well done. To you and him!

  • Comment number 18.

    legend will never be forgotten

  • Comment number 19.

    I remember watching Keith play in the lower leagues, and he was a 100% player and manager. It was a sad loss to the game.

    Onto some other points this blog brought up:

    If there is a genuine holding back of black managers, then this is disgraceful - but is there really?

    It's a very dodgy path to travel down, giving a black manager a job through political correctness, and not ability.

    Maybe we can have some stats of number of qualified coaches who are black and white, then this would give us greater insight into whether race really has anything to do with it.

    Managers like Chris Kamara and John Barnes have been given chances to manage at decent clubs and both failed miserably - should they be given more chances because they are black?

    Many managers are former players, so theres a big possibility that as there werent so many black players around a couple of decades ago, there are therefore less managers?

  • Comment number 20.

    MrBlueBurns - I agree with you.

  • Comment number 21.

    TBH I see where your coming from Phil.

    15 years ago there were very few black players playing in the professional leagues, where as now there are alot more, I'd imagine after this generation well and truely ends you'll see the likes of Didier Drogba, Ledley King & E'to (dependant on their desire to manage & stay in football) managing clubs at top level maybe even international level.. (i almost guarantee Drogba will manage the Ivory Coast)

    Still it is good to such a highly regarded man being recongized with what he has done, and how quietly he's gone about it.

    Congrats Big man, we do miss you.

  • Comment number 22.

    #19 Phil

    Managers like Chris Kamara and John Barnes have been given chances to manage at decent clubs and both failed miserably - should they be given more chances because they are black?

    Many managers are former players, so theres a big possibility that as there werent so many black players around a couple of decades ago, there are therefore less managers?
    You raise interesting points.

    If certain people (let's say Trevor Phillips in his role as equal opportunities commissioner or whatever it is) think there is a problem and want to get to the bottom of it, why don't they just ask outright why a certain football position has ended up in the hands of someone who is caucasian rather than someone who is in a minority (on some basis or other) or are they afraid of simply saying to someone 'are you rascist?'. Why doesn't someone look at the employees of the FA for example and then ask the recruitment person there to explain the make up of the staff?

    Also, in society, we hear talk of institutional bodies doing recruitment drives to minorities but what are the nature of these drives? Are they just letting these minorities know that there is an opportunity out there and the colour of their skin does not mean they can't take that opportunity or are they actively trying to recruit X number of a certain minority just so they can say, in a way that may prove to be nothing more than a veneer when actual ability comes into it, that there institution is representative of this, that or the other?

    Am I just being incredibly naive here or am I right to say that these issues are somewhat overplayed and are divisive in themselves only when we talk about them?

    Finally, for all the talk of black managers, there seems to be a consistent theme whereby Gullit at Chelsea is ignored and I don't understand this. He won the FA Cup and Chelsea were in great shape competitively when he left us! If you want someone to describe the game of football to you, try the black Ruud Gullit!

  • Comment number 23.

    MrBlueBurns (16) and others - rest assured your point and the manner in which it is made differs radically from comment one.

    We live in a country that holds the right to free speech as one of its core values and I think you are more than within your rights to raise the question that you do.

    I guess one counter question is whether there is a need for a white list? A disenfranchised working class list maybe.

    I think the organisers of the Black List would point out that they are not trying to snub anybody. They are seeking to highlight the achievements of black people in football (other than players). But I think that the Black List also highlights how the black community is under-represented in certain areas.

    I think Phil (20) makes a good point. Managerial appointments should be made on merit. I'm told that Keith Alexander himself was a big believer that everyone should earn what comes their way.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.


    How on earth did my post 24 break the house rules? If it did, please just remove the offending bit and put the rest back up. Please.

  • Comment number 26.

    Paul - Thanks for the response mate, it is appreciated.

  • Comment number 27.

    @16 I agree completely.
    @23 Please accept this as tongue in cheek.... Perhaps a 'White List' should be started for Olympic 100 metre races. Whites are certainly under represented there!............

  • Comment number 28.

    MrBlueBurns - the moderators have taken it down. I have to be honest and say that I am not exactly sure why, possibly the diving insinuation?

  • Comment number 29.

    Cracking blog, Paul.

    Keith's never forgotton in Peterborough. Sure, things didn't really go to plan results wise as far as MacAnthony and the club wanted, but he was a genuinely brilliant man, and no-one will ever forgot him.

    He always had time for fans, always happy to chat. Of course as you mentioned, he left us with 3 special talents, and "The Holy Trinity" as they're now fondly known by us, will always be a reminder of the talent Keith had in spotting these players.

    I went to his tribute match in Lincoln, it was a superb occasion, and it was great to see so many there, from all over the country to pay tribute to a man who deserved more from the game than he got.

    RIP Keith.

  • Comment number 30.

    Excellent blog Paul. I have been an Imps fan for 40 years, through all the ups and downs, including the Graham Taylor era, the first automatic relegation to the Conference (and immediate return) and the two Play-Off Finals at Cardiff before emigrating to Australia with my family in 2005.
    The years Keith was the gaffer at Lincoln were among the best. What he achieved there on the resources he did was an absolute miracle and I doubt many of the top rank managers could achieve the same quite frankly if they had to work with such limited resources.
    I agree with some posters on here that there should be no need to recognise a person's ability by their colour - its what they achieve as a person that is important. Unfortunately the 'system' has dictated that minority success has to be seperately recognised in order to get any recognition at all. Hopefully one day it will all be about the person and their ability instead of race and politics.

    In respect of his ability Keith was brilliant, but more than that - as everyone says, he was a true gentleman and character that will be sorely missed by many people for many reasons. Ultimate respect and RIP Big Man.

  • Comment number 31.

    If you are going to pay tribute to the great man, you should at least get the article proof-read. I'm sure the caption for the first picture should read "Alexander was a respected figure with a STRONG work ethic", not 'string' as you have it.

  • Comment number 32.

    #28 Paul

    In which case, can't they just remove the 'insinuation' (as you chose to call it. I didn't think it was insinuation at all. It is fact! Ask any football fan!).

    Anyway, it is disappointing because the thrust of that whole post was to celebrate the black Drogba and the positive, and noted and acknowlegded, good that he represents outside of football.

    p.s. #27 JamTay1 - I am also led to believe that White Men Can't Jump. :-)

  • Comment number 33.

    Forgot to also say: Cracking blog Paul. As ProudToBePosh rightly says, no-one in their right mind would remember Keith's time at the Posh with anything other than fondness and with a huge debt of thanks for unearthing the Holy Trinity, as well as others

  • Comment number 34.

    Posh Fan (31) - Sorry about that. I've tweaked it so that it reads 'strong' and not 'string' in the caption. To be fair, though, you can rest assured that the error was not some kind of deliberate attempt to besmirch Keith's fine reputation. I just hope it did not completely spoil your enjoyment of the article as you seem really quite angry.

  • Comment number 35.

    32. At 1:03pm on 28 Oct 2010, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    p.s. #27 JamTay1 - I am also led to believe that White Men Can't Jump. :-)

    There are other areas where white males apparently 'fall short' but perhaps I should leave that one alone....... :)

  • Comment number 36.

    Lovely article Paul. I met keith about ten years ago on a cold week night, playing for Margate at Ilkeston where he was manager at the time. I remember the ball bouncing out of play and me clumsily scurrying after it to take a quick throw. As i got there the ball landed in the hands of Keith, who promptly threw it over his head. I sought to complain only to look up to this giant of a man who met my eyes with a wry smile. After the game, despite a Margate win, Keith graciously strode onto the pitch to congratulate us. As he shook my hand he gave me a wink. Legend.

  • Comment number 37.

    Ah yes, "The Black List". The most stupid thing that a cpaign supposedly opposed to racism has ever done.

    Not only is it inherently racist in principle itself, but even if well intended it still casts possibly an even bigger racial shadow on those who fit neither the perceived norm (White in the UK) or Black races. How must east asian, indian, arabic, latin american or polynesian people feel about it I wonder?

    If the campaign wishes to have a list it should comprise of those who have done something to help erradicate racism in the game regardless fo the colour of their skin. A good role model like Keith Alexander would still fit well within this criteria I would say as would just about everyone else on that list.

  • Comment number 38.

    #16 and #37,

    There's no white list because all but one manager in the top four divisions are white. If you don't think that's a symptom of major, lingering institutional racism, then you may need to befriend a few people, of all colors from different backgrounds than yours.

  • Comment number 39.

    #38 49 and thats a wrap

    Perhaps you should read what I said at post 22.

    I just feel, and maybe 'hackerjack' would agree, is positive discrimination any better than negative discrimination? What does it really achieve?

    Also, in terms of the last paragraph from 'hackerjack', I like that idea. It reminds of the Prodigy winning MOBO's when almost all of the 'creation' was from the white Liam Howlett. They won, I think, because they have such a crossover appeal and are a group of mixed races.

  • Comment number 40.

    I met Keith a few times at Lincoln when I was involved at Stockport County. Really nice chap. I don't know how far black managers are held back by racism in the boardroom, but I can honestly say that I never came across racist attitudes when I was in them (plenty of other vices, mind you).

  • Comment number 41.

    I worked under Keith Alex .The man was a great person who respected players if you was a reserve/youth team or in the first team . He build friendships with the players so if you let him down (which i did a couple of times )it hurt you as if you had hurt a good friend you had knocked about with for 10 years .

    Over a cup of tea which i made... and a pack of hobnobs he dropped me no end of times as Peterborough boss but i could never get too mad with him cause he was such a nice bloke and he was right cause i was having one . I would have worked again for him anytime and always tried to keep a link with him when he moved on via Gary Simpson .Ive met Matt and what a good lad he is . Great Blog and the Man is missed in life and football .

  • Comment number 42.

    Great work again Paul.

    Keith Alexander was well respected, a real gentleman and full of class. Football will always need coaches and indeed characters of his ilk, regardless of colour.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is a racist list

  • Comment number 44.

    "If you don't think that's a symptom of major, lingering institutional racism,"

    It's a symptom of the fact that ethnic groups have been separate for thousands of years with mixing only in the last few decades. Or do you think, for example, African football teams are racist against whites because there aren't many in them

  • Comment number 45.

    I think the query raised by MrBlueburns above is a fair and logical a black person growing up in the Caribbean, I never "got" the idea of something that singled out persons of African origin, whether in the US or the UK. But as I got older, and more aware of the issues facing minority communities in those countries, the more I understood it. Really, and very simply, I think it's chiefly a means of providing encouragement and inspiration to minority kids, who, if nothing like this was done, would hardly ever see positive role models who look like them, and give them the idea that their race or ethnic origin need not hold them back. The sad truth is that for some members of the minority community, especially the Afro-Caribbean community, the only time members of that community are given prominence, seem to be when they are involved in some scandal or other negative circumstances. The Black List and so on try to chip away at the perception issue for the benefit of the minority community. Hope this sheds some light.

  • Comment number 46.

    #45 Patch_jm

    Thanks for that comment.

    As I represent Mr Average in most ways and I am not a member of a minority, I will hold my hands up and say that I do not always see the view from the other side of the fence. The only 'understanding' or exposure to minorities I have is vicariously through friends. I have been exposed to racism in that way but the one example that comes to mind was largely one that my friend just shrugged his shoulders to and looked the other way. I think he was of the opinion that if he didn't make an issue of that particular racial incident, then it wouldn't actually be an incident. Maybe, deep down, he did think of it differently, and I think the point of view that you explained very well suggests that there is a different slant that I just I just did not recognise.

    Perhaps I was cynical and was wrong to be. I don't think I will go as far as celebrate these awards, but then they are not for me, but I will, I think, think of them in a much more positive way for the people that they are intended for.

    And hope that one day there won't be minorities that feel the need to have this. Maybe, overall, if there was more representation of positive stereotypes in the media, we might all think differently.

  • Comment number 47.

    Being an African myself, I think that the Black List is the type of thing whose time has long gone. I just don't see how a community can be disadvantaged in sports. As for management, there have be a few very successful black managers: Antoine Kombouaré the PSG manager, Jean Tigana of Bordeaux and Frank Rijkaard formerly manager of Holland and Barcelona, among others. These three have always wanted to be judged by their football and have kept a very low profile on race and community issues. Ultimately, whther one is a player or manager, your success will depend on how good you are in your sport, not your heritage.

  • Comment number 48.

    Black Lawyers Association, Black Journalists Association, Black this .... Black that ....
    If any of these things had the word "White" in the title, or were open to "White" entrants only, they would be deemed "Racist" !!

    Whe are we having the White List Awards? Will you write a blog on them too ?

  • Comment number 49.

    38. At 3:00pm on 28 Oct 2010, 49 and thats a wrap wrote:
    #16 and #37,

    There's no white list because all but one manager in the top four divisions are white. If you don't think that's a symptom of major, lingering institutional racism, then you may need to befriend a few people, of all colors from different backgrounds than yours.
    Sorry mate. I never asked for a "White List", no would I want one.

    I have friends from all corners of the world who I live, work, drink and play sport with on a regular basis. They All to a man (and woman) agree with me that discrimination in any form, be it institutionalised racism, positive discrimination, quotas or whatever has no place in a modern society.

    Do I think that only 2 of 92 manager are Black is a symptom of racism? Actually no, not on it's own I do not. I don't believe that the majority of football club owners/chairmen, some of whom are distinctly non-white themselves, most of whom employ non-white people in their other businesses and all of whom are more than happy to hire non-white players from across the world are overly bothered about the skin colour of the manager they employ.

    Perhaps it's more a case of statistics, according to the admittedly out of date yet still best official source of the 2001 census, over 92% of responders identified as White British, White Irish or White Other. Only 2% of people responded as being "Black" with another 1.2% being mixed race. Event being generous and calling this 3.2% would reveal the league to be not exactly out of step with what amounts to around 2.2% of managers being "black".

    Is there still racism in football? Yeah of course there is and it needs stamping out entirely, from the minority of morons we still have in the stands at most grounds to the coach at youth level who will not treat kids equally and anywhere else it occurs. But singling out people for praise simply because of the colour of their skin is just as plain wrong as ignoring their achievements because of it.

  • Comment number 50.

    I had never heard of Keith, sounds like a role model for us all. Its a shame that a tribute to such a great man has been turned into a debate on racism. How do you think his family must feel at reading some of these comments?

    Lets just celebrate the life and work of a wonderful man and take your racism debate to a more suitable forum.

  • Comment number 51.

    Keith Alexander - Legend! Black or White.

  • Comment number 52.

    AS a Boston united I often saw Keith at York Street when he had a free Saturday. Always a really nice guy and was such a shock when i heard he had passed away. He did wonders at Lincoln City and to this day they've never managed to replace the big man.

  • Comment number 53.

    Its a shame that a tribute to such a great man has been turned into a debate on racism. How do you think his family must feel at reading some of these comments?
    I should hope they would actually feel the same way. He should be remembered as a good man, not a good black man.

  • Comment number 54.

    #50 michael Johnston

    Lets just celebrate the life and work of a wonderful man and take your racism debate to a more suitable forum.
    Reading the title and content of the blog, I think this IS a suitable forum.

  • Comment number 55.

    This is just getting tedious now.

    Please can we just respect the life of a man of football, what he achieved and the recognition that he deserves.

    End of because a long time ago in this blog it was about a man and what he's done for football and how the racial divide is finally starting to crumble.


  • Comment number 56.

    Top football man.

    Also, after reading comment no12 by Paul, it makes me think even more thank David Moyes is another, proper, football man.

  • Comment number 57.

    The fact remains that a real 'football man' passed away, and 'football people' should honour his achievements as a player, coach, manager, mentor and inspirational human being. I have no interest in the colour of his skin. What was inside his mind and heart is what counted.
    He was a legend in non-league football for many years before he entered the pro game maybe this experience gave him a greater sense of humility and understanding than is displayed by many contempory players.

  • Comment number 58.

    Hi Paul,

    I really like your blog but in case of the concept of "The Black List" I feel I need to express myself. First of all I think such concepts, while run in good faith, are having the adverse effect. Why? Because they enforce the distinction of "black guy vs white guy". For me there is no black player or white player, the only acceptable distinction in football is good player vs bad player. I am sure it is the same for the authors of "The Black list" but such actions help to keep it racial rather than otherwise.

    Regards from Spurs supporter from Poland,

  • Comment number 59.

    great respect for the man. myself been a west ham fan i can empathise with the passion keith brought to the game he was a great character he was. ill sadly miss you keith hope your well! from a west ham fan at de montfort university in leicester xxx

  • Comment number 60.

    Keith Alexander is a legend in these parts. Skin colour doesnt matter, as long as the socks were yellow.......... Football is a worse game without Keith. Much loved by the Imps.

  • Comment number 61.

    It doesn't matter what colour skin you are, being a Swindon supporter, if you're Maurice Malpas or Iffy Onuora, when all's said and done, you're still very, very average managers (and that's being kind) who will be lucky to ever work as a No.1 in the football league again.

    I agree with a growing number of posters that these 'black (only) lists' aren't the best way forward.

  • Comment number 62.

    Nice piece about a very good football manager and, clearly, a great man. Shame he ran into a form slump at Posh, as he oversaw the signings of pretty much the best strike force non-league had to offer at that time.

    There are some useful black managers in non-league. David Howells (Harrow Borough) and Johnson Hippolyte (Maidenhead Utd) spring immediately to mind; managing decent clubs on very tight budgets.

    Bearing in mind the high quantity and quality of professional non-white players playing their trade in England over the last two decades, I can't understand why more don't make their way into full time management.

    Is it a 'boys club' mentality within the sport? Or are there other reasons?

  • Comment number 63.

    First off, I would like to say that although I never specifically followed Keith's career, he always seemed to be a lovely bloke with a genuine passion for the game and people like him in this modern era are few and far between. He is missed, not just as a football manager, but as a human being.

    In regards to the debate about race, let's think about this - would a black manager be able to get any managerial position in Spain, Italy or Russia?

    We are one of the most open minded, accepting countries on the planet and that is something that makes me very proud. People of all colours and nationalities can come and play in England (and Scotland) without fear of having banana's thrown at them or monkey noises eminating from the stands. You will never see a player in England pick up the ball and go to walk off the pitch due to racist abuse!

    People like Keith have made things easier for black managers to get league managerial positions but could the lack of black managers just be down to the lack of quality or interest in taking up a managerial post?

    Jean Tigana, Paul Ince, Chris Kamara, John Barnes....all have been sacked from their positions due to doing an inadequate job. Of course, there have been successful black managers too - Keith, Chris Hughton, Leroy Rosenior, Ruud Gullit.

    British Football in 2010 should not have to justify the fact that it is probably the most race friendly league in Europe and unfortunately, while it is positive, I feel that ceremonies like the Black List only highlight a problem that no longer exists. A ceremony like the Black List would be more relevant to somewhere like Russia or Spain where there is a REAL problem with racism!

  • Comment number 64.

    Black List is racist, unless there's a White List. In the same context that the Woman's Institute is racist, because there is no Man's Institute. Don't get me started on the MOBO Awards, geez.

    How much does colour come into it? If you're good enough, you're good enough. Chairmans/fans don't care what race a manager is, aslong as they do a good job.

  • Comment number 65.

    Colour does play a part I have to admit. It is hard to imagine for instance, that had Diego Maradona been black we would all have readily forgiven all his excesses and still regard him as the best footballer ever despite the stats (number of World Cups won, goals per game ratio, number of assists, number of goals and even length of time in the game) showing that Pelé was the better of the two. Rooney is another example, just imagine if Rooney had been black...

    It is just so hard to believe there are so few competent black people to mamage teams at the highest level. Again research by a previous BBC columnist last year showed that about 250 black managers in the UK had the Uefa B coaching licence, out of these how many get offered the opportunity to manage?

    The easier route is to say topics like this are divisive etc without objectively assessing whether there really is a problem or not. For me, the figures just don't stack up. If these black guys are really not interested in coaching positions, how come so many of them have the qualifications to do so? It takes about 2 years mind, to obtain that Uefa B licence

  • Comment number 66.

    And just for the record, Pelé was not and out and out 'number 9' striker, he was an attacking midfielder indeed he was the first to make that 'number 10' jersey popular

  • Comment number 67.

    Sorry Dapsy, but you are way off target saying people think Maradona is a better player because he is white! What a crazy statement to make. Ive NEVER heard people bring race into this decision - EVER.

    Football clubs have legends who are both black and white. Leeds fans sing Radebe's name EVERY game, and the guy hasnt played for us for half a decade!

    Just because a black person gets a coaching badge, doesnt mean he can be a good manager. Most coaches have experience within the game. How many black players were playing 15-25 years ago, who went on and got their badges?

    Why are black players excepted in football, yet managers wouldnt be?

  • Comment number 68.

    I know I live 26,000 miles away in New Zealand but I honestly never thought of the colour of Keith's skin. I've been an Imps fan for more than 50 years and his tenure gave me some of my best memories. I felt devastated when he suffered his brain aneurism and was delighted he seemed to make a full recovery. I shall always be grateful to him for the good times he gave Lincoln and delighted to see so much positive response to this blog.

  • Comment number 69.

    I was an Ilkeston Town supporter till the clubs went bust earlier this year. Keith gave us at the club the best years. I feel honoured to have been associated with a club he managed, and manged well. I never saw him as black, i don't think any Ilson fan ever did he was just Keith.

    His passing was such a sad loss to all who encountered Keith and the game of Football as a whole.

    'subs on Keith'

  • Comment number 70.

    #16. I agree. I find something like a "black list" downright racist. Any list that stipulates a colour is wrong. I'm me, not the colour of my skin. So pay tribute to Keith Alexander for his abilities, not his colour

  • Comment number 71.

    stovie657 - you're missing the point. I don't doubt that such awards and honours *can* have a counter-productive effect, but in this case it's all about raising public awareness to a group of people (role models, if you like) who would normally be ignored. Whether that's down to institutionalised racism or simple laziness, I don't know, but it's necessary.

    I'm no fan of Chelsea or Ashley Cole, but he receives very little recognition in world football despite being one of the best left-backs in the world (and one of England's few competent players in the World Cup). Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but I can't help wondering if the colour of his skin plays a part there.

    Anyway, thanks for a great blog post, Paul, and it's nice to see a real footballer's tribute from Brano28 (I think I know who's behind that nickname, too!)

  • Comment number 72.

    I live in the same village as Keith's family and my youngest son goes to school with his youngest two children. As well as a committed football man he was very much a family man often seen down at the local school. Hw would always chat and was always a gentleman and very well respected

  • Comment number 73.

    I remember getting his Lincoln shirt when I was in school, it was about 10 sizes too big but you couldn't get it off me. I was gutted when it was lost when we moved house.

  • Comment number 74.

    As a Macclesfield Town fan, I was affected by Keith's premature death. Keith always had time for the fans. His son Matt was at today's game v Burton - and Matt is a credit to his dad. RIP big man

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    Ashley Cole is disliked for his personality, not because he is black. I hope that doesnt get modded! John Terry is also disliked, he is white. Again, its his personality that people dislike, not the colour of his skin.

  • Comment number 77.

    I grew up and went to school in Macclesfield and followed Macc Town. Keith was an exemplary Manager.He went about his business as a professional should.He is sadly missed.
    However i need to make a strong point ref your excellent article.
    Thankfully, the vast majority of football enthusiasts in this country dont care what colour his skin was.White, black, yellow...who cares.If a manager / player is outstanding at his trade, he should be recognised as such.
    It is my opinion, having built a career advising large companies about Teamwork, that The Black List serves only to continue the divisive attitude of some black people towards the world around them, seeking sadly to exclude others, where it suits them , of course
    Keith was a gentleman. he deserves to be included on any list of model Football Managers, NOT used as a pc weapon by anyone.

    R.I.P. Keith. You gave so many people pleasure

  • Comment number 78.

    No matter what I write it won't do justice to Keith. I will do my best however. I started supporting Lincoln city in 2003 right at the beginning of the 'play-off years'. Things were in a bad way and we looked dead cert's for relegation. Step up Keith Alexander. Five successive play-off appearances and two visits to the play-off final at the millennium Stadium. Arguably these five years also helped to save the club from going out of business, as it brought in much-needed money. Keith was a miracle worker, it's as simple as that. Not only was he a miracle worker, he was the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet. You will always be a legend at Lincoln city and held in the highest regard by everyone he met. RIP Keith

  • Comment number 79.

    A top man !!! I have a big soft spot for Lincoln City FC as I lived in the city for approx 3 years and often went to watch 'The Imps'. Keith was manager at the time and he came over as one of the most nicest, kindest & friendliest men in football. An extremely sad lose for football.

  • Comment number 80.

    I had the pleasure of captaining Keith for Stamford Town in the FA Vase final at Wembley in 1980. We won 2-0 and Keith scored a great goal. He was big,strong and very skilful, we could always find Keith out on the left when we were under pressure he would give us a breather holding the ball up for precious minutes.So calm and composed he used to take some really bad abuse but never once would he lower himself to react.We all at Stamford kept in touch with him through his great adventure in the lower leagues and he always said we were the best team he had played in for team spirit.He is greatly missed by football and all his true friends...

  • Comment number 81.

    Great blog Paul. And thanks BlishNo5 for bringing in the Stamford connection. I've been a Posh fan all my life, but I have also been a Stamford fan since mid 70's and will always remember the Vase final at Wembley in 1980, and the marvellous team of which Keith was such an important part. That match is my favourite football memory. Keith was a true gentlemen then and obviously remained so. I was saddened to hear of his passing, but gladdened to read the moving tributes above. Thanks for the memories Keith.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.