New boys' senior keeper happy to play on at 46

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The Independent Football

When Kevin Poole made his League debut, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, the IRA had just tried to blow up the British cabinet in Brighton, Clive Lloyd's West Indies had thrashed David Gower's England 5-0 and Bob Geldof was recording Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Twenty-five years later, the 46-year-old goalkeeper is looking forward to a season between the posts for Burton Albion. Poole will not be the oldest player in League history – Neil McBain played for New Brighton at 51 in 1947 – but he will be the oldest since 47-year-old Peter Shilton appeared for Leyton Orient 13 years ago and the most regular performer for his age since Stanley Matthews retired at 50 in 1965.

Poole joined Aston Villa a year before their 1982 European Cup triumph and appeared alongside the likes of Peter Withe, Gary Shaw and Tony Morley. He subsequently played for Northampton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Leicester, Birmingham, Bolton and Derby before joining Burton three years ago. Until last season he was also on the coaching staff at Birmingham but now he is working full-time for Burton as a player and goalkeeping coach.

"The players call me grandad most days, but you get used to it," Poole said. "I just love the game. I'll see how I feel at the end of this season but this may well be my last. I do have some problems with sciatica, though it doesn't really restrict my training and I still feel fit enough to play."

What had been the highlight of his career? "Playing for Villa, the team I'd supported as a boy," Poole said. "I made my debut for Villa at Tottenham. Ray Clemence was in goal at the other end and I remember him wishing me well for the game and for the rest of my career. It was a great moment."