Before the current U’s squad defeated Newport on Saturday, thoughts turned to a past servant of the club.
The term ‘Legend’ is bandied about too readily these days and players from previous eras rarely are remembered by the younger generations.
Vic Keeble was indeed a United Legend and a name known by Colchester fans throughout the clubs entire Football League History.
He was Colchester born and bred and he seemingly always played football even at the Rugby orientated Colchester Royal Grammar School where he was a pupil.
As a youth he played for both King George Youth Club and Colchester Casuals, before Ted Fenton signed him for United, still a non League team, for the 1947-48 season.
He scored a hat trick on his debut, he was great in the air and made the perfect target man. Scoring goals was never an issue throughout his career.
He signed for the U’s just before his 17th birthday in 1947. Colchester were at that time in the Southern League, the top tier of Non League amateur Football but they were one of the best and finally in 1950 they were promoted into the old 3rd Division South, as the Football League expanded.
Vic went on to score 78 goals in only 114 appearances for United between 1947-52. With stats like that it was only a matter of time before the bigger clubs came knocking.
Keeble signed for Newcastle United in 1952 for the sum of £15,000. Not a small sum in the day.
Yet, the step up in level did nothing to stem his goal rate. He went on to score 56 goals in 104 matches for the magpies and was part of the side that beat Manchester City 3-1 in the 1955 FA Cup Final at Wembley. Sadly, Vic was the last surviving member of that team.
There is a road in Newcastle named after him, in his honour.
By 1957 Ted Fenton had left Colchester to manage West Ham and he re signed Vic, this time to play at the Boleyn. He scored 45 goals in 76 games before his career was cut short by injury in 1960.
He returned to Colchester and took a role back at the U’s working in the Commercial Department and was a familiar and popular figure at Layer Road for many years.
Vic Keeble was an outstanding footballer, he was fundamental to the League side we have now and was a gentleman of the highest order. A lovely man.
He died on Wednesday with his family around him aged 87.
Up the U’s.
(Photo courtesy NUFC)