Alexander was a well-known character in the English lower leagues, having spent the majority of his playing and managerial career there. Before turning to management, he played for Stockport, Grimsby and Lincoln amongst others, swiftly making a name for himself in English football. His managerial career began with Lincoln in 1993, as he became the first black man to earn a permanent appointment in a managerial hot seat in England. Although he spent time at the helm of other clubs, including Bury and a short spell at Peterborough, it was with the Imps that he had the biggest impact during his two spells in charge. He led the Sincil Bank side to the League Two playoffs on four consecutive occasions, a feat which nobody else has achieved. Most recently of course, Keith had been the manager of Macclesfield Town in League Two.
His sudden death is a terrible tragedy and he will be sorely missed. Unfortunately, he was no stranger to health problems. He had only recently returned to work after suffering illness and he collapsed in November 2003, suffering a double aneurysm and had to be resuscitated three times. In spite of his problems, he always bounced back and such was the man that he would not let his health affect his work.
Wednesday night’s international friendly between England and Egypt saw the Three Lions wear black armbands as a mark of respect to Alexander – a touching gesture to show that he was loved throughout the English game, even if he never got to grace the dizzy heights that the England stars call home. Macclesfield have set up a book of condolence which can be signed at the ground or alternatively online at the club’s official website (www.mtfc.co.uk) for fans across the world to pay their respects. A Facebook tribute page entitled RIP Keith Alexander has also been set up and has already attracted close to 6000 members at the time of writing. It is further testament to the impact Alexander had on the game and the love and respect in which he was held within the football fraternity.
As things stand Macclesfield are a club in mourning and this is a massive wound which will take time to heal. It is one of those tragic events which put our beloved game into perspective – a moment where we all stop to think and really appreciate what a great man he was. This writer would like to offer his most sincere condolences to Keith’s family and friends, as well as all involved with Macclesfield Town and the other clubs who held him dear.
R.I.P. Keith Alexander