Karl Fuller: ‘The Beat’ was so generous and helped me out in so many ways
- Credit: Archant
Karl Fuller dedicates his column to Kevin Beattie this week, the Ipswich legend who died last weekend. And enjoys some of his best memories of the Town legend
Please forgive me this week for not making any reference to our game against Bolton Wanderers.
I dedicate the whole of this week’s column to the wonderful Kevin Beattie.
When news broke of his passing away last Sunday, I don’t mind admitting that I shed several tears soon after the initial shock.
I wondered why I felt such sadness given that Kevin was not family or even a close friend.
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But I just took it for what it was which was the weight of such a loss to us all connected to the football club that I have grown up to love for over 40 years.
I would say that I had a small friendship with Kevin but a massive respect and gratitude for all the time he helped me out in so many ways.
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I first met Kevin in the late 1990’s.
I was a member of the Clacton-on-Sea branch of Ipswich Supporters and Kevin was our guest at our 30th anniversary dinner.
Then, in April 2001, I interviewed him for the first time for the fanzine ‘Those Were The Days’. I recall how my initial conversation with him regarding the interview occurred on a Monday morning before setting off for a family break at Center Parcs.
That night, Marcus Stewart scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win at Southampton and two days later, my now wife agreed to marry me after my proposal. It was certainly a wonderful few days.
Having met up with Kevin to conduct the interview it became abundantly clear how warm and generous he was in his time and words and our small friendship was firmly cemented.
A year later, I was involved in a Clacton-based Sunday football team and it was our 30th anniversary. At the time, Kevin was manager of an Ipswich Sunday league side called Sophtlogic and he agreed to provide the opposition for our anniversary game played at Clacton Town.
He was pleased to do this as he had a very brief spell at the Essex club in the early 80s and he said it was great to return there for the night.
The bonus for me was that his Sophtlogic side had none other than John Wark playing for them and I lined up against another of my all-time heroes.
A couple of weeks prior to the game, we met up in the offices of Sophtlogic to put the finer points of the game together which took all of five minutes. We then spent the rest of the afternoon with Kevin telling me so many wonderful stories that I could have listened to forever.
That afternoon also saw him being presented with an award for coming out on top of a poll ran by the East Anglian Daily Times in the search for Ipswich’s greatest player.
I recall that he was overwhelmed with the announcement citing names of many other deserved winners. I told him that they were all great players but none as great as him.
In 2006, Kevin answered another request of mine to return to Clacton to present the end of season awards at Clacton Town whom I was helping.
My wife Pegga was six-months pregnant with twins at the time and at the end of the evening as we said goodbye to Kevin, he gently placed his hand on Pegga’s stomach and wished her well with the remainder of her pregnancy. I joked that he had placed an Ipswich curse on the twins and hoped that at least one of them would become a big Ipswich fan and play football. My daughter Angel is now a big fan and loves playing the game.
There were so many other phone calls and interviews to remember Kevin by personally.
Hopefully we will all have something special to enjoy in his honour that such a legend deserves. I agree with many others who would like a statue erected at the ground and I would love to see the Co-op stand eventually named the ‘Kevin Beattie stand’ – the perfect complement to the other stands named after such legendary other Portman Road greats.
My heart and deepest sympathies go to Kevin’s wife Maggie and the rest of his family and friends.