Gerry joined South Liverpool in early 1957 and association that would last unbroken until April 1972. He became our longest serving player in that time (15 years) a record only recently beaten in 2017. He remains unbeaten on the number of first team appearances an incredible 545.
When Gerry joined the club, it was managed by Jimmy Cookson and Len Foxley, both long standing South servants. Gerry joined South having represented Lancashire FA Youth side, the 17 year old had been at Everton FC as a youth. He turned down a professional contract at Wolverhampton Wanderers when he was on trial there. Having made his debut in our reserves in April 1957 he was quickly in the first team’s final three games of the season, first a home win against Wigan Athletic and a closely contested two-leg County FA Final against league runners up New Brighton.
His National Service during 1958 & 1959 saw his games limited. There is mention in programmes that his army service was initially based in Worcestershire but he played at South whenever he could get back, he also served in Africa. By 1960 he was back playing regularly for South. Gerry would then be a steadying fixture at the heart of South’s defence over the coming years
1960 saw the arrival of player coach Allen Hampson, a former professional footballer at Everton, Bradford City & Halifax Town. Allen first helped manager Paddy Guerin but the Manchester based Guerin left and in October 1960 Allen took the sole reins and one of his most coveted assets was the centre half lynchpin, Gerry Keegan. It would be an association that would last for their entire time at South and continue on at other clubs after South. 1960 saw Gerry signed by South as a part time professional, as Hampson sought to keep his best players at the club.
Over the next several seasons Gerry would only miss a handful of games alongside his defensive partner Arthur Goldstein who like Gerry would notch up over 500 appearances between 1959 & 1972. He was an ever present in two seasons 64/65 & 67/68. In our 80 years of playing only 21 players have been an ever present and he is one of only two who have done it more than once!
In 1965/66 South won the Lancashire Combination bringing a league title to Holly Park for the first time since 1939. The above picture is of the team with the Lancashire Combination Trophy. (Gerry back row third from left)
Gerry worked at the Standard Triumph factory and Plessey on Edge Lane. His club nicknames were listed as “Kong” or “The Rook”.
In 1968 South moved into the new Northern Premier League and he played in our first ever game in the Northern Premier League up in Gateshead (August 1968) which saw the team travel by train. He would be the first ever player in 1969/70 to break the 500 appearances barrier for South. In January 1970 he played in the opening of South new floodlights when Liverpool FC were the visitors.
in teh above picture Gerry centre is flanked in 1970 by other South stalwarts of the day (Dave Watson, Eric Shreeve, Gerry, Peter Eales, Arghur Goldstein & Albie Nieman)
Gerry was approached by South’s local rivals Runcorn to join them as South’s new defensive, partnership of Nieman & Harrison were taking the place of Keegan & Goldstein. He became the coach of the reserve side in the prestigious Lancashire League, facing professional leagues team’s junior outfits. In late 1970 he became Assistant Manager, Allen Hampson’s right-hand man.
As coach of South reserves in the Lancashire League, Gerry was in charge of a young Jimmy Case prior to his promotion to first team and then onto Liverpool FC.
1971/72 saw South struggle after an excellent 1970/71 season and sadly the club parted ways with Allen & Gerry. They were quickly snapped up by NPL rivals, Chorley. Later on, they were in charge at Saint Helens Town and this was the last time they met South. In later years Gerry had turned out for the Radio Merseyside Charity Football team.
Interestingly Gerry had coached the young Paul Mariner when at Chorley, Mariner went on to play at Plymouth Argyle then Ipswich where he earned full England honours and Paul invited Gerry to watch him play for the national team.
In his time at South, highlights were South being promoted back up from the doldrums of the Second Division of the Lancashire Combination in 1962. The FA Cup run to the Second Round of the FA Cup in 1963/64 (the furthest South have got in the FA Cup). A 2 – 2 draw at Halifax Town was followed by a midweek Wednesday replay at Holly Park, which South won 4-2 in front of 5,000 fans. The 2nd round game against Workington was lost 0 – 2 on a muddy Saturday with another 5,000 in attendance. He would play the next season in our 1st round proper defeat at Wrexham, although South had taken an early lead.
For South fans of that era our Lancashire Combination title winning team in 1965/66 was a true highlight. The first senior league title since 1939 and the last we would win until 2015, a gap of 39 years. South fans remember the successful moments Gerry contributed so much to, from his mighty defensive berth keeping marauding forwards at bay!