Mike Bacon: 'Kieron Dyer is in reception... Yes, he's on crutches'
- Credit: Page Pix
Football writer MIKE BACON has been supporting Ipswich Town for many decades. Over the summer, he'll bring you some of his memories, on and off the pitch of a life supporting the Blues... Enjoy this one of a young Kieron Dyer, one broken leg and one Green'Un column.
It wasn't a good message to hear over the PA.
'Would Kieron Dyer's mum please come to the dressing room', the announcer boomed over the Portman Road system at half-time in the match between the Blues and Watford.
It was Tuesday, March 2, 1999 and George Burley's Town side were getting up a head of steam in Division One in their attempt to get back into the Premiership. It was an attempt that was to sadly fall, once more, at the play-off stage.
However, back to that Watford game. And I was sitting in the Green' Un executive box in the East Stand - yes we had an executive box - eating prawn sandwiches (well, probably ham, but I wouldn't want to disappoint Roy Keane!), sausage rolls and fancy cakes, as I watched the match.
As editor of the Green' Un at the time, I was hosting some of our best advertisers and friends of the newspaper and all was going swimmingly.
Town were in good shape and my Green' Un columnist of that season (a bit more about that in a minute), Kieron Dyer was running the early show against the Hornets, with his silky smooth skills in the middle of the park. And the men from Hertfordshire knew it.
- 1 Go-ahead for 1,000 new homes on controversial site
- 2 Mystery of container ships at anchor off Suffolk coast solved
- 3 Wooden fence panels stolen from front garden of home
- 4 'We're going to push back!' - Ashton's message to Norwich City
- 5 Town keen on Leeds left-back Davis
- 6 Family left homeless after bungalow destroyed in fire
- 7 Police release CCTV images after man suffers broken nose in attack
- 8 Man in 40s stabbed at town centre multi-storey car park
- 9 New grazing restaurant opening on Suffolk high street this week
- 10 'The Piggy Tail Trail' is Mid Suffolk town's fourth art event
Dyer had just been called up to the England squad that week and was in fine form. But that Tuesday night the 20-year-old was on the receiving end of some unpleasant early challenges, none more so than a late tackle by Micah Hyde in the eighth minute, leaving Dyer limping heavily for some time.
'Don't want him crying off from doing his column this week because of a little knock to the leg,' I joked to one of the guests in the executive box. 'He's a great columnist for us. Fans love him.'
Little did I know calling off from his column was the last thing Kieron would do, even if the night was to take quite a twist for him.
Still limping, Dyer put Town ahead 10 minutes after his clash with Hyde, turning on the edge of the area after Richard Naylor had back-heeled Mark Venus' through-ball.
But nine minutes later Dyer collapsed in a heap moments before the Blues won a free kick which Venus converted to make it 2-0. Dyer limped off, while Town ended up winning 3-2 to move up to second in the table.
Now, during the late 90s, early 2000s, the Green 'Un newspaper had a regular Ipswich Town player columnist.
That season, I'd asked the club if Kieron would do it. The club agreed, Kieron agreed. We were all happy.
'Special K' became the Green' Un column name for that 98/99 season as Dyer continued to make a name for himself on the pitch. I was delighted with my young Green 'Un contributor.
However, I was left rather concerned that night back in March 1999 by the PA announcement about Kieron's mum going to the changing room, as news began to spread that perhaps Kieron had a serious injury. That news was confirmed later that night - he'd broken his leg.
My Green 'Un columnist had broken his leg!
Oh, well, I was off the next day and Kieron always did his column with me on Thursday, either over the phone, or more often than not he would come into the Green 'Un offices and talk through it, signing the odd autograph and joining in the banter with the rest of the sports team. Now with a broken leg, it was likely to be the phone for a few weeks - or so I thought.
Seeing as I was off on the Wednesday, I thought I would enjoy a lie-in, when my phone at home rang.
'Hi, Michael, it's Monica at the Anglian here. Kieron Dyer is in reception to see you.'
Really? I thought.
'Monica, is he on crutches by any chance?' Is all I could think of to say.
To which she replied: 'Yes, he's on crutches. And he says he's happy to do his column now.'
Well, what was I supposed to do?
Here was an Ipswich Town and soon set to be England international hobbling into reception to do his Green 'Un column. I could hardly say I was off today, can he come back tomorrow, now could l?
'Tell him to wait, I'll be there in 20 minutes,' I told Monica. And so Kieron waited.
The soon-to-be England star, sitting in the Green 'Un reception at Lower Brook Street, with his crutches, reading the EADT and Evening Star report of the game the night before.
When I turned up 20 minutes later, he just smiled, as though everything was completely normal.
'Can I take a photo of you on your crutches... for your column?', I asked.
Of course I could. Kieron was a fun person to work with. He loved his column, he loved to talk to the fans, he loved to have a bit of fun at his team-mates' expense. He loved everything about being an Ipswich Town player.
And so we hobbled up the stairs to the sports desk to do his column, just as we had done so many times before. He sat in the office and we chatted away about the night, the result, his broken leg. He took it on the chin.
After he left Ipswich, I was thrilled to watch him progress on the footballing stage, playing in the World Cup, Champions League, Premiership and so much more. 33 England appearances, million-pound moves.
Injury derailed much of Kieron's career, which was a shame. And one of those nasty injuries occurred that night at Portman Road against Watford.
Fortunately he wasn't out for too long and he was back in the team before the season's end. Town lost to Bolton in the play-offs and Kieron was sold to Newcastle for £6m in the summer.
With that money, George Burley carefully and cleverly purchased players to continue Town's pursuit towards the Premiership, which of course they achieved a year later.
But I'll never forget the day Kieron Dyer, broken leg and all, came into the office to do his Green 'Un column.
Were you at the game? Remember it? Well, I bring you some more memories of my time supporting Ipswich Town, from the 70s to present day.