Keane out: Roy’s roller coaster ride included laughs

CARL Marston attended nearly every press conference that Roy Keane gave as Ipswich Town boss during the Irishman’s 20 months at Portman Road. He loved every minute of them.

LIFE will never be quite the same again, in the Portman Road press lounge, following Roy Keane’s departure.

The end of Keane’s reign as Ipswich Town boss, after a rollercoaster 20 months, spells the end of a succession of entertaining, never-dull press conferences which saw national journalists and even media men from his native Ireland flock to this sleepy Suffolk town.

Keane may have failed to get his team going on the pitch, but off it he was always giving the media what they wanted – honest answers, sometimes controversial, but always worth their weight in column inches.

He could be moody – famously when a journalist’s phone went off during a press conference – but was also never short of a joke or two.

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And there was that dreaded stare, with steely eyes, that could unsettle even the most hard-nosed of journalists.

I recall an incident in the tunnel at Oakwell last season, after Town had just leaked another injury-time goal to lose 2-1 to hosts Barnsley, when a TV reporter asked Keane whether he was still prepared to carry on as Town boss.

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I feared for the reporter, I really did! It was probably the scariest moment of his professional career.

There were other times, after a soul-destroying defeat, when Keane would take what seemed like an eternity to turn up to the obligatory post-match press conference, like one dismal night at Watford last March, when he finally rolled up to the Vicarage Road media lounge at 10.55pm – my deadline was 11pm!

But there was much laughter along the way as well, especially during his weekly press conferences at Portman Road.

He would regularly refer to the perils that every young footballer faced – “the Bentley and the Blond” – and was always telling us journalists not to worry about his own plight.

“Don’t lose any sleep over me” – said Keane at what now looks to have been his final Portman Road press conference as Town boss, following Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest.

“I don’t expect any phone calls from you, if I lose my job,” he added.

Well, no journalists will have been ringing him up last night, or this morning. Not because they don’t want to, or are too scared to, but because he never gave out his phone number.

Keane will be hurting, of that there is no doubt.

But I’m sure he will return.

Football needs Roy Keane, and Roy Keane needs football.

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