Keith Ripley: Footballer who played alongside John Charles

 

Tottenham Hotspur were indisputably the outstanding team of the 1960-61 campaign in English football, winning the first Football League and FA Cup double of the 20th century in style. In almost any other season, Peterborough United, with Keith Ripley a towering presence at wing-half, would have had a strong claim to the title.

After being voted in at the expense of Gateshead, the Midland League champions brought a touch of the glory game to the Fourth Division. They won 28 and lost only eight of their 46 fixtures while amassing a League-record 134 goals, with Terry Bly, once a colleague of Ripley's at Norwich City, scoring 52 of them. In the FA Cup, First Division Aston Villa were relieved to squeeze through 2-1 in a replay before 64,531 spectators.

Ripley was a versatile performer who could operate across the midfield, in central defence or as a target man. He had been a key signing by the Peterborough manager, Jimmy Hagan, as he prepared to lead the Posh into the full-time ranks in the summer of 1960. The newcomer from Mansfield Town made his first appearance away to Crystal Palace, the eventual runners-up, which drew an astonishing 36,478 spectators to Selhurst Park. Indeed, the Posh proved an attraction at home and away that season, drawing two 20,000 attendances to their London Road ground.

The 6ft 1in Yorkshireman was one of the few members of Hagan's side to whom such crowds were not a novelty. As a schoolboy centre-half in the town where he was born and died, Normanton, near Wakefield, he had attracted the interest of Leeds United, Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion. Going on to play for Altofts YMCA, he committed himself to Leeds in April 1952 and made his debut at right-half in the Second Division against Stoke City just over two years later.

Later that season, which saw him become a colleague of John Charles some two years before the great Welshman joined Juventus for a world-record £65,000, Ripley's place came under threat from Archie Gibson. He was striving to juggle life as a professional sportsman with national service in the Royal Signals, and in 1955 represented the Army against a Scotland XI at Glasgow's Ibrox Park.

That spring, after Gibson took over the No 4 shirt, Ripley played inside-forward alongside Charles and joined him among the scorers in the defeat of Port Vale. A year later, having played in only 15 of Leeds' first 38 matches, he came in for the last four, all of which were won as Raich Carter's team sealed promotion to the top tier.

Over the next two seasons, Ripley made 23 First Division appearances, his opportunities diminished by the purchase of two Irishmen, Wilbur Cush and Noel Peyton, and the emergence of players such as the future England internationals Jack Charlton and Chris Crowe. When, in August 1958, the chance came to relocate to Norwich City, he seized it, despite his new employers' Third Division status.

The 1958-59 season is still discussed in awed tones in Norfolk because of the FA Cup run which led Norwich from round one to a semi-final replay. Ripley was brought in to lead the line while Bly was injured, which he did impressively, his six goals in 12 starts including two match-winners. Three months later, with Bly fit and gearing up to net seven times on the Wembley trail, he was on his way again, watching the Canaries' cup exploits from the security of Mansfield's dressing-room.

At Peterborough, for whom he scored 12 goals in 81 games over two years, he achieved the second promotion of his career, providing a vital counter-balance to more flamboyant talents in a team who scored seven goals on two occasions when he was in the line-up, six goals in a further five matches and five goals on six occasions. There was another FA Cup adventure in 1961-62, Ripley helping the now-Third Division team win at Newcastle before 42,781 fans, but in August 1962 he returned to Yorkshire to join Doncaster Rovers.

He stayed at Belle Vue for four seasons. In 1964 he was among the scorers in Doncaster's record victory, 10-0 over Darlington. The following year, having started the Sheffield County Cup semi-final derby against Rotherham United in defence, he scored a hat-trick as Rovers came from 2-0 down to win and was carried off on the shoulders of excited fans. Then, after becoming Doncaster's first-ever used substitute at the start of 1965-66, he collected a second Fourth Division championship medal before retiring with 320 League games and 45 goals to his name.

One of his sons, also called Keith, played five times each for Huddersfield Town and Doncaster in the late 1970s. Ripley Snr remained active, enjoying golf and gardening until his final years, when he suffered from myasthenia gravis, a neuro-muscular disorder.

Phil Shaw

Stanley Keith Ripley, footballer: born Normanton, Yorkshire 29 March 1935; married (four sons, three daughters); died Normanton 5 November 2012.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
fashion
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Chemistry Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

English Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

English Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: [ Megan Smith 22/09/2014 17:00:...

Foundation and KS1 Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Foundation and Key Stage 1...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments