Often Partisan

Which Keeper to Keep?

Birmingham City will be in the unique position this summer of having all five professionally contracted goalkeepers come to the end of their deals. Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle, Nick Townsend, Callum Preston and Connal Trueman are all out of contact come June 2015 and Gary Rowett will have to work out who stays and who goes.

Of the five, Connal Trueman has already been told that his contract will not be renewed, meaning he will definitely go through the exit door. For the other four though, there is a question of whether Blues want to keep them on – and in Darren Randolph’s case at least can Blues keep him in the squad.

Blues have been blessed with goalkeeping talent for as long as I can remember – although I’ll choose to ignore Andy Marriott and his horror show against Spurs, we’ve had England internationals in Jack Butland, Ben Foster and Joe Hart; Northern Irish international Maik Taylor, Norwegian international Thomas Myhre (whose penalty save against Wolves on debut I will remember for ever), Nico Vaesen, Ian Bennett… the list goes on. This isn’t even taking into consideration Randolph who has been one of Blues’ most consistent players over the last two years or Colin Doyle who had a magical penalty save against Wolves of his own.

I think this plethora of talent has made us expect more from our keepers; Randolph for example gets a lot of stick for the goals he has let in at the near post and as much as I think he has got a weak spot there he also makes some outstanding saves – for example the two point-blank blocks he made on Wednesday night. Doyle has never been seen as the greatest of keepers but I don’t know another keeper so good at saving penalties as Doyle – although he’s not had the career that maybe he could or should have had, he’s had some big games for us.

I think the first key is whether Randolph wants to stay or not. I don’t think he’s good enough for the Premier League, and he should know that he has the #1 shirt sewn up for now if he stays with us so he’d probably be best off in doing so – however money talks and currently at least Blues aren’t in the position to offer much. If Randolph goes – then I think Blues need to consider if they should promote Doyle to #1 or release him and bring in someone else entirely.

If Randolph stays, I would release Doyle. I know that he’s stayed with Blues not just out of loyalty but because his young family are settled here in the Midlands; without going into much detail it’s public knowledge that he’s been through a lot and I can understand why people would offer him a deal out of sentimentality. However, I think for his own career he needs to play for someone else as a #1 – even if it means dropping a division.

That would mean promoting Nick Townsend to the backup slot. Townsend reminds me a lot of Bennett; not the tallest of keepers but a great shotstopper who can pull off some great reflex saves. First team football out on loan at Lincoln has helped his footballing education and I think he is ready to sit on the bench at least week in, week out – and if needed to come on as keeper. Townsend is a bluenose through and through and I hope he does make it; I know he is rated highly by the club and although he’s now 20 time is on his side to become a first teamer.

Callum Preston would then step up to become the main reserve keeper with Jacob Weaver of the u18s becoming his understudy. I’d look to loan both out on youth loans as we did with Townsend to give them football; Preston has been at AFC Telford of late which will help him no end but as youth loans they can train with Blues part of the week still and play in development squad and reserve games.

As the weeks tick on we’ll get a better idea of what they think at the club; with a bit of luck we’ll be able to continue the tradition of having fine keepers at the club and maybe even produce the next star of the future.

edit 09:45 6/3/15: I have been reminded that I remembered it wrong; Callum Preston is to be released and Connal Trueman kept. In which case, substitute Trueman to be main reserve keeper, and loan him out…

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49 Responses to “Which Keeper to Keep?”

  • Dave Mitch says:

    Dave Latchford was a special keeper. And David Seaman was not too bad ;)

  • Brad says:

    I was under the impression that Preston was to leave at the end of the season which surprised me as i always thought he was HIGHLY rated.

    ” Meanwhile, Blues have informed goalkeeper Callum Preston and striker Luke Armstrong that their contracts will not be renewed at the season’s end. “

  • John Ramsay says:

    As you say interesting times ahead. i agree Randolph is a decent keeper but not Premier League standard. I think we should release Doyle, he seems to lack ambition, a perennial No.2 and seems happy to sit on the bench when he could probably drop a league and be a No 1.

  • ROBIN says:

    I like Randolph & it can’t have been easy with the swaping and changing (LC) earlier in the season in front of him,i for one hope he stays, but i am a little concerned its gone quiet regarding the on going contract talks with him .

  • Dave Mann says:

    Randolph and Townsend for me with Neuer and Courtoius as back up and who remembers Gary sparkes debut!! Kro

  • DaveP says:

    Tony Coton saved a penalty on his debut my old man reminded me the other day. Even Nigel Gleghorn and Geoff Horsfield weren’t too bad between the sticks when called upon!

    • Paul Knight says:

      Not only did he save a penalty on his debut, he saved a penalty with his first touch :) The God that is Frank Worthington scored two that day if memory serves – 2-0 win against Sunderland (?)


      • Squatnose says:

        Almost right – it was December 1980 and we beat Sunderland 3-2. It was indeed Coton’s first touch in senior football in the first minute of the game. This marked the beginning of the end for another fine keeper in Jeff Wealands as Coton soon became Jim Smith’s preferred no 1. A week later we met Sunderland at home again in the cup and drew 1-1 before winning the replay at Roker Park.

    • Klingon says:

      That was my first ever game watching the Blues as a nine year old and have been a bluenose ever since. Remember it vividly to this day, yes Tony Coton first touch penalty save on debut and Frank Worthington what a player he was. Managed to pick up the match programme some years later on eBay.

    • TR7 says:

      I was there that day , 1st minute , his first touch I seem to remember , an excellent keeper.

  • StaffsBlue says:

    For me, keep Townsend and Trueman and, if Townsend isn’t good enough for the No.1 slot yet, bring in another quality keeper. I’m not a fan of Randolph or Doyle. Far too many unforced errors for me.

  • steve says:

    Agree with comments on good goalkeepers, we have had some good ones and a lot of people would say its because they get more practise during a game when playing for Blues than other keepers. Someone said the other day they thought Blues, over the years, Blues must have had more capped (before, after and during their Blues career) keepers than any other club. If you go back to Robb, Hauser, Bailey, Hibbs, Merrick, thru’ to Montgomery, Herriott, Sprake, thru’ to Doyle, Myhill, Foster etc etc (and I know I have missed quite a few out) there does seem quite a few. can any one confirm that fact.
    One other thing, my Dad, a huge Blues supporter, used to refer to them as the ”rags”, as did a lot of his friends. Does anyone know where this expression came from.

  • rhees says:

    Never been overly impressed with Randolf myself and Doyle is at best goog reserve.
    I would let them both go and bring in new

  • Quintonbluenose says:

    lee Novak can also provide cover if required (he also saved a penalty on his blues debut bew tween the sticks)

  • StaffsBlue says:

    Randolph is a good shot-stopper when the shot is from 4 or 5 yards away… but his faults outweigh his good points for me. He doesn’t command his area very well, he flaps at too many crosses, he’s weak on his near post, gets beaten by shots over his head and from free kicks around the edge of the box. Tbh, he worries me every time the ball goes near him. Just my opinion of course.

  • ROBIN says:

    I remember my hero Bob Latchford goin between the sticks i think it was against Wolves @ home 2-1 ????

  • Blue Steve says:

    I would keep Randolph providing his demands aren’t to excessive. I do think we should look to purchase a keeper who commands his box and is a bit different to Randolph. Doyle is a loyal servant but I would release him. A quick scan of the squad list shows that 12 players are out of contract this summer (some have options) This will give GR the opportunity to inject some quality rather than quantity in to the squad.

  • Roy Smith says:

    Bring back Jim Herriot.
    The only goalkeeper to have had a literary vet named after him.

  • Jack McCracken says:

    Isnt it callum preston who has been released?

  • asif says:

    keep doyle and townsend as his back up. also whn we mathmaticaly safe give the youngsters a first team run

  • Richard Granfield says:

    I would bow to Kevin Poole’s judgement as he sees them in training.
    Preston has been told his contract is not being renewed. That leaves a choice between Townsend and Trueman. Weaver who has done well for the under 18’s has to be considered too.
    I would more than content for Randolph and Doyle to continue to contest the first team position next season.

  • Squatnose says:

    Nobody has yet mentioned Trevor Matthewson’s magnificent penalty save at Reading in the FA Cup in 1992. Martin Thomas was harshly sent off but Matthewson dived full length to his left to keep the spot kick out. Like Coton, this was his first touch as a Blues goalkeeper.

  • ChrisG says:

    I think both Randolph & Doyle should be offered contracts, if they accept it’s 1 or 2 less players for GR to look for in the summer, I think he’s gonna be relatively busy enough this summer. Mind you that said GR may already have an idea who he wants between the sticks next season.

    • Ian Ambrose says:

      I agree with you comment…Good heart to Colin Doyle has respect stay at Blues!!..What about bring back young player keeper Jack Butland at blues He never thinking twice damger by stoke not 1st team waste time of him sort life He should stay at BLUES!!

      • ChrisG says:

        I think if Butland was to come back it would have to be on loan with Stoke paying the majority of his wages cos I don’t think we could match what he’s on there

  • Dave Mann says:

    Geoff Horsefield in goal against the vile and they still couldn’t score … Legend!! Kro

  • AlfredTanner says:

    Don’t forget Wheeler ,Schoefield,Merrick,Withers….

  • Dan says:

    I remember Wolves 2-3 Blues. Colin Doyle saving an injury time penalty and we went up a few weeks later. We should give him a full season again as he can be a good keeper

    • TR7 says:

      The article refers to that save , he then started the next season and cost us an unlikely opening day win at the Bridge , I think it was 3 – 2 . After a couple more lack lustre performances he was sat on the bench, to date.

  • Eric says:

    How about Gil Merrick….KRO

  • Dave Mann says:

    Already mentioned and respected Eric.. Keep tabs ! Kro

  • Goodie says:

    I think Jeff wealands was very underrated

  • gerard says:

    you forget the best of all on par with the GREAT GIL MERRICK THE ONE AND ONLY HARRY HIBBS, at the time of Hibbs we had 2 England goalies Hibbs and his understudy Dan Tremelling well before my time ( I am 64 in my 57th year at St. Andrews ) but my uncles told me all about them- those were the days were you played for the badge first-money second -and Hibbs, Merrick would have turned out for nothing just to wear the badge with pride not like the lot that around today- Hibbs and Merrick they put pride before greed .

  • bluenose08 says:

    correct me if I am wrong paul coopers debut against pompey 0-3 down and won 6-3.!! paul cooper was also noted for his penalty saves. I am a big fan of colin doyles after his penalty save at wolves and other important one like in the cup against Chelsea.

    • StaffsBlue says:

      I was there that night. It was Cooper’s debut IIRC. For the one goal, he went down to collect a rolling ball… but it rolled up his arm, over his shoulder and into the net. He went on to become a cracking keeper though. I think Bob Latchford scored a hat-trick that night and it was either the first, or second hat-trick in consecutive games (unless my memory deceives me.)

  • andy says:

    What about Andy Gosney!

  • Raymondo says:

    I thought Johnny Scoofield was pretty good and had to be a reserve to Gil Merrick for far too long, including, I think, in the days when they didn’t have a subs bench.

  • Tony says:

    Schofield played with a metal plate in his head an injury from the pit if i recall.
    Regards Merrick I dont think he would even get a place on the bench now a days very overated, if you look at those old films he never moved much at all but he was a big man. Thats the problem with the kids we have all too small you need to be 6-3 these days at least

    • Art says:


      If my memory is correct Schofield fractured his scull while going for a 50/50 ball against a Man United player at St.Andews.I was at the back of the goal that day and sad to say he never made a full recovery.He was a great understudy to Merrick and was doing really well until the accident.

  • Lee carpenter says:

    Roger Hansberry quality

  • gerard says:

    Tony-you been at the meths? I saw Merrick play- given todays facilities- and advances , etc Merrick would have been up there with the best, suggest Tony a brain transplant or are you a vile fan in disguise ? either way I trust you are old enough to know enough or have seen Merrick play if not- then please keep your comments to yourself do not insult a great brummie such as Merrrick or a bluenose like myself

    • Tony says:

      Gerard I am old enough to have seen Merrick play and I stand my opinion that he was not a great keeper..You suffer from the rose colored glasses syndrome I’m afraid.Tony cotton was a better keeper.
      You will be telling me Mathews was a great winger next .when he was not.

  • WAYNE says:

    Gil Merrick a quality keeper . We also have to remember back then the ball was made of pig skin and was over a pound in weight you had to be some keeper to stop shots + there was no cloves just a raping on the hands. As We are on the subject of keepers as anyone seen this Rogerio Ceni as he scores his 120th goal for Sao Paulo, spanning a 22 year career in the senior squad.

    The worst Keeper we had has to be David Lucas .

  • swissjonny says:

    What about Jim Montgomery.What a goalie,what a goalie-as the chant went.Kevin Poole was probably the greatest cover fielder that I had the pleasure to play Cricket with.I remember one saturday afternoon at Bromsgrove bowling one of the worst balls of my cricketing career and seeing the batsmenn smash it into the covers.Kev dived high and to his left and plucked the fizzing ball out of the air.We all just looked on in awe.Top bloke too.

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