Thursday, 12 March 2009

Rage against the dying of the light. Gillespie finds another club!

There are few sounds more pleasing to the Northern Ireland fan’s ear than a stiletto ‘KEITH’ cutting through cold night air at Windsor Park, to be hammered home by an adamant ‘GILLESPIE!’. When the Green and White Army chants the name of its favourite winger, the noise is fearsome.

And a fearsome sight is what Gillespie comprises for opposition fullbacks when he is in full flight. Blistering pace, close control and a right foot which whips the ball consistently towards the danger zone are all characteristics of Keith’s game. Unfortunately ill discipline, the capacity to be easily discouraged and a red mist which occasionally makes the player look intent on acquiring yellow cards, are all additional traits which accompany his undeniable talent.

Nevertheless, it’s good news for Northern Ireland supporters that Gillespie has been signed by Bradford City. He had become a free agent earlier in the season after being released, not without a degree of acrimony, by Championship side Sheffield United.

Keith is 34 and with doubts about his match fitness remaining he is unlikely to feature in Nigel Worthington’s plans for forthcoming make or break World Cup games against Poland and Slovenia.

Although some supporters would name Gillespie in their squads if he were 70 years old and walking only with aid of a stick, I believe the manager has little choice but to omit the winger. Damien Johnson can play on the right flank and if Worthington seeks a winger to come on as an impact sub, fully fit Ivan Sproule is the safer (and quicker) option.

Certainly, Keith Gillespie has, through the years, made a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland football team. It would be marvellous to see his invigorating wing play once again illuminating Windsor Park, after sustained first team football for Bradford.

1 comment:

Hernandez said...

It's tempting to think of Keith as a poor man's Ryan Giggs. Both had searing pace down the wing in their prime, but whereas Giggs has moved infield, almost playing as a second striker, Gillespie does not have the same level of tactical discipline to perform such a role. His abysmal scoring record of just 2 goals in a green shirt is evidence of this.

Given his years of service, it would perhaps be fitting to give him one more cap in a friendly at Windsor as a final farewell, providing he regains match fitness at Bradford. However, i believe we should be building for the future so regrettably I don't think he should be selected for any future competive matches.