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Roy Keane and the Gareth Southgate Stamping Incident
Roy Keane received the first of his eleven red cards in April 1995 when playing against Crystal Palace in an FA Cup semi-final replay. The first match had been a 2-2 draw. There was a shadow hanging over the tie as Eric Cantona had been sent off in the league match against the same opposition earlier in the season. As he left the pitch a Palace fan that had been taunting Cantona got more than he bargained for as the Frenchman launched himself Kung Fu-style into the crowd and at the fan. Cantona would be banned for the rest of the season and faced criminal prosecution.
A more serious cloud hung over the FA Cup tie replay as a Crystal Palace fan had been killed in fighting between Palace and Manchester United fans after the drawn match. Before the match the United manager, Alex Ferguson, had warned his players, "...to be careful. Behave yourselves. You know Palace are aggressive. Don't get involved."[Page 141].
During the first half Palace player Darren Pitcher caught Roy Keane on the ankle. Keane was injured in the tackle and he needed several stitches at half time. Keane says that he played through the pain barrier even though Sir Alex Ferguson was inclined to take the player off. Roy had insisted that he was OK to play on.
In a fair tackle, as Keane admitted, Gareth Southgate caught him on the ankle that had been stitched. Keane reacted, "F**k you. I get up and stamp on him. Pain, anger, dismay."[Page 142]. In actual fact Keane did not need to 'get up' as Southgate's tackle did not ground Roy but his description does not do the stamping proper justice. Southgate slid in under Keane. The United player immediately stamped down hard on the groin of the helpless player who was lying on the ground. Keane then stamped on Southgate's groin a second time. He left referee David Elleray with no choice but to brandish the red card and send the Irishman off.
In his book, Roy Keane: Red Man Walking, Frank Worrall who is a Keane fan, provides us with a different view by the 'Red Man' of the incident "He [Southgate] shouldn't be lying on the floor. Defenders shouldn't be on their backsides. I felt he got in the way" Worrall goes on to say, "...his defence was laughable and well out of order. The stamping was no laughing matter: it bore the imprint of a callous, ruthless, inhumane being."[Pages 257-258]. Southgate's body bore the imprint of Roy Keane's studs!
Keane said that Ferguson gave him a "b*****king" in private but stood by him publicly "...claiming that Southgate's challenge had been nasty...[Page 143]. Ferguson took this public support of Keane in this instance to extremes when he grabbed the BBC's Alan Greene by the throat because Greene had referred to Roy Keane as a lout. [Page 321 - Manchester United: The Biography by Jim White]. Subsequently Ferguson admitted in his own autobiography, Alex Ferguson: Managing My Life, "The suggestion that Keane found this one bad tackle too many from Palace did not provide a trace of an excuse for what he did...his tendency to go beyond the bounds of acceptability would have to be curbed."[Page 359]
Roy Keane was charged with bringing the game into disrepute and was fined £5,000 by the Football Association.
NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Triggs - The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
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