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Ex-Luton, Preston, Rochdale, Stevenage player joins 11th tier club

An ex-Luton, Preston, Rochdale, Stevenage player surprises fans online as he joins an 11th tier club ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The former professional midfielder Keith Keane is putting his boots back after agreeing to turn out for Spartan South Midlands League Division Two side The 61 FC (Luton).

The 34-year-old is listed 26th on the Hatters’ all-time appearances, playing 285 games for the club between 2003-12, getting on the scoresheet eight times, and was also part of the side that won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy back in 2009.

After departing from the Hatters, he went on to play for many other clubs, last turning out in a senior match during January 2018, when he was part of the Rochdale team who won 1-0 in the FA Cup at Doncaster Rovers.

However, after three years out of the game, the time has come for Keane to get himself back on the pitch again, this time to play for The 61 FC as one of a number of new signings, with the club tweeting: “Hes been and done it and got the t shirt.

“Please to announce keith keane. Great addition and ok banter.”


The Luton born lad made his first-team debut for Luton Town under manager Mike Newell at the age of 16, in a Football League Trophy victory against Rushden & Diamonds early in the 2003–04 season.

He played well and stayed in the side for a further 16 games that season, his league debut coming in a 0–0 draw at Wycombe Wanderers in February 2004.

Newell predominantly played Keane at right-back as cover for Kevin Foley, but he also played in midfield, and scored his first goal for Luton on the 17th of April as a last minute winner in a 3–2 win over Bristol City.

During the 2004–05 season, Keane became a regular squad member, placed at centre-back, full-back and in midfield, and made 19 appearances in all competitions. Luton went on to win the League One title that season with 98 points, rewarding Keane with a winner’s medal.

As a Championship player, he was utilised at right-back, left-back, in central defence and in right midfield during the course of the 2005–06 season, which saw him make 12 appearances, scoring once. He was awarded the Young Player of the Season award that season for his performances, and was handed with a new two-year contract. In 2006–07, Keane made 19 league appearances, scoring one goal, as Luton were relegated to League One.

The next season, after Newell left the club, Keane was frozen out of the first-team by new manager Kevin Blackwell, who preferred to play his own new signing Richard Jackson. Though, Keane was eventually brought back into the team to replace Jackson, and later made the position his own when Mick Harford replaced Blackwell as manager in January 2008. Harford made Keane the club captain, but the price of administration condemned Luton to another relegation, League Two this time. Keane won the Player of the Season award at the end of the season, as well as the Players’ Player of the Year and Internet Player of the Season award.

Luton were given a 30 point deduction for financial irregularities at the beginning of the 2008–09 season, and although Keane made 40 league appearances, primarily in midfield, he couldn’t stop the inevitable as his side were relegated from the Football League for the first time in 89 years.

Some solace could be found as Luton beat Scunthorpe United 3–2 in the 2009 Football League Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium, with Keane producing a superb performance in midfield. His displays earned Keane the Player of the Season and Internet Player of the Season awards for the second year in a row.

On the 15th of January 2010, Keane was placed on the transfer list at Luton and he refused to sign a new contract, which would expire in June 2010 and effectively mean he would be leaving on a free transfer. However, the January transfer window closed with no bids for the player received and then-Luton manager Richard Money stated the club was in negotiations with Keane over a new contract regardless of his transfer status, calling him a “talisman” to Luton.

On the 9th of February 2010, Keane scored direct from a corner kick in the last minute of the game, his first goal in over two years, to earn Luton a dramatic 2–1 win against then-league leaders Oxford United. He was subsequently shown a red card for a second bookable offence after celebrating the goal with the his own fans. This goal later won Luton Town’s Goal of the Season award as voted for by fans.

Keane rubbished any speculation as to his Luton future by signing a new two-year contract with the club on the 9th of June 2010. He played the full 120 minutes of the 2011 Conference Premier playoff final against AFC Wimbledon in May 2011; a game that saw Luton miss out on a return to the EFL by losing the penalty shoot-out.

League One club Stevenage, then managed by Graham Westley, made two bids for Keane in August 2011, though both were turned down. Defensive injuries meant Keane was moved back into defence at the beginning of the 2011–12 season, with two performances described by manager Gary Brabin as “outstanding” and he went on to make 42 appearances on what turned out to be his final season at Kenilworth Road.

In June 2012, it was announced that he was to join then-League One club Preston North End, then managed by Graham Westley, once his Luton contract had finished. He scored his first goal for the club on the 29th of March 2013 in a 1–1 draw at home to Portsmouth. On the 17th of December, Keane signed a new contract with Preston for a further twelve months, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2015.

On the 9th of September 2014, Keane joined League One club Crawley Town on a three-month loan deal and made a successful debut on the 13th of September when Crawley earned a 1–0 win at home to Fleetwood Town, in which he was named the man of the match. He returned to Preston having made 15 appearances in all competitions for Crawley.

On the 5th of March 2015, Keane was loaned to League Two club Stevenage on a one-month loan deal, making his debut for the club two days later as a 59th-minute substitute for Chris Beardsley in a 2–1 win at home to Newport County. Keane made seven appearances for Stevenage during his loan spell, which was cut short due to a shoulder injury and returned to Preston on the 26th of April. He was released by the club at the end of the season.

In May 2015, it was announced that Keane had signed a two-year contract with League Two club Cambridge United, linking up with former Luton manager Richard Money, making his Cambridge debut on the opening day of the 2015–16 season in a 3–0 win at home to Newport County.

However, injuries again restricted Keane’s playing time and he rejoined Stevenage on loan on the 14th of January 2016 until the 20th of February. He made five appearances, scoring one goal during his initial loan spell, before returning on another one-month loan deal on 25 March.

On the 31st of August 2016, Keane joined League One club Rochdale on loan until the 2nd of January 2017. He made his debut as a 76th-minute substitute for Callum Camps in a 2–2 draw away to Bristol Rovers on the 10th of September.

Keane finished his loan spell with 17 appearances, before joining Rochdale permanently on a one-and-a-half-year contract a day later, after leaving Cambridge by mutual consent.

He was released by Rochdale at the end of the 2017–18 season.

Fans reacted as the ex-Luton, Preston, Rochdale, Stevenage player joins an 11th tier club, see what was said below…

@LJReyn9: Ha ha hope you got medical insurance.

@RGDavehatter: Great player for the Town. Good lad.

@ActualOllieKay: Massive signing!

@wearelutontown: Sell on fee?!

@ZarBeck26: Wow, didn’t even realise 61FC were still going – now there’s a blast from the past !!

@Phlebot17672928: Biggest signing of the transfer window so far.

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