It was very sad to hear the recent news of the death of Mike Keen, a great QPR Club servant and true legend. Mike played over 400 first team games for the R’s during his spell at Loftus Road covering the period from June 1958 to January 1969 and scored 44 league and Cup goals from a wing half/midfield position. He was captain of the QPR team that won the League Cup and Division 3 Championship in 1967 and was also skipper again the following season when Rangers were promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history.
Those of us who had the honour of seeing him play throughout his entire career will agree that he was a class act. ‘Cool, Calm, Collected, Cultured’ summed up his qualities out on the pitch. I saw him take over the number 4 shirt from George Petchey in the late 1950’s and for the next ten years he made that position his own. However, some supporters did not appreciate Mike’s strolling, stylish sophistication compared to George Petchey’s hard man ‘gung ho’ image but it did not take long though for Mike to win over his critics.
My first personal encounter with Mike was at the final whistle of a thrilling Division 3 promotion battle at Loftus Road against Grimsby Town on Saturday 10th March 1962, which Rangers won 3-2 after being 2-0 down. When the referee blew for full time, it was the one and only occasion in my life I jumped over the Boys Pen together with a multitude of others and ran on to the pitch to congratulate the players. A muddy, beaming and triumphant Mike Keen strode past and patted me on the head as he made his way towards the dressing room. That surely must be preferable to a clip round the ear from Brian Clough eh ?
Mike was a really likeable person off the pitch as well. I remember on Saturday 17th February 1968, on the platform of Derby Station following a 4-0 defeat at the Baseball Ground, Mike approached our downcast group (not the other way round !) and with words of encouragement said: “Don’t worry lads, keep supporting us. We WILL go up.” Yes, take a look at the record books folks, he was proved right.
Mike Keen would have probably played many more games for the R’s instead of finishing his career at Luton and Watford were it not for Manager Tommy Docherty’s ageist attitude towards senior QPR FC playing staff…but that’s a debate for another time and place.
Thanks for the memories Mike.God bless you.