A huge loss for a generation of cricket and rugby fans alike. Frank Keating was an erudite observer of both sports and had a alliterative flair for words that captured its essence. Here is his article praising the Sourav Ganguly led Indian cricket team for their fighting spirit and rejuvenating the 2002 one day and test series that England had decided would be won with one arm tied. It did not turn out as planned for Nasser Husain and his men.
A long way from the days of Freddie Trueman terrorising the silly putty Indians at Manchester in 1952 as they collapsed to 58 all out or at Lords when they tumbled to 42 all out. As Keating points out that parade of painful nadirs was gradually mitigated by Sunil Gavaskar's brilliant double century at the Oval in 1979 with India chasing an improbable 423 runs for victory and falling short by just nine runs. And completely obliterated by the swashbuckling display of Ganguly and the Indian team 23 years later in a thorough cleansing of the psyche.
But did you know he knew a thing or two about football. And if you're an Arsenal fan, this is what he had to say about the 2003 team that made Man Utd quake in their boots. Ah, those were the days when the Battle of Old Trafford made all other endeavours look pussyfooting by comparison. Keating:
" Arsenal's siege paranoia is now breathtaking. Their red-card record, slyboots conniving and scowling boorishness are the first reason kids keenly turn on to watch. Arsenal's sometimes beguiling football is being obliterated by the pot's hysterical need to see the kettle black. Not so much FA disciplinary committees, a panel of psychotherapists should be summoned."
Arsenal are but a pale shadow of themselves now, long swallowed by a Man Utd team that just needs to show up and watch their mentally fragile opponents implode. A long, excruciatingly long way from the days that Keating describes. Now the club needs psychotherapists, in an opposite coin, to allay the anxiety disorder that permeates this side. It is Arsenal that suffers the broken ankles, the defenders that lack inches, or the psychological shortcomings that gift the first half from which there is no return.
If you want more Keating, here is his last football related post which gives the scoop on a tenterhooks FA kept waiting for Sir Alf Ramsey's owner who had disappeared on a bender to approve his appointment as England manager. 50 years later, no England manager has come close to what he accomplished. Yes, and Jock Stein was refereed to as the mightiest of "tartan touchline totems."
The encomiums flow >>