Northwich Victoria Football Club are deeply saddened by today’s news that former manager Keith Alexander has died at the age of 53.
Keith passed away last night after returning home from managing Macclesfield Town in their Coca Cola League Two match away at Notts County.
He took charge of Vics during the 2000/01 season, a campaign that will live long in the memories of many people associated with the club – from officials, to staff, to fans.
Keith replaced Mark Gardiner at the Drill Field in October following Vics’ poor start to the 2000/01 campaign, arriving from Ilkeston Town with the aim of keeping the club in the division.
He worked wonders. That season Keith orchestrated a great escape to steer Vics away from relegation and to keep the club in the top tier of non-league football.
Yet many Vics fans will remember the year of Keith’s tenure due to a superb FA Cup run, in which the club were minutes away from bringing a Premier League club to Northwich.
After drawing 3-3 following the first leg, Vics led Leyton Orient 2-0 at Brisbane Road after just 20 minutes of the replay in the second round of the competition.
Unfortunately Orient fought back with two goals to take the match into extra time. With little more than five minutes remaining an error from goalkeeper Lance Key cost Vics a coveted victory – a win would have set up a home tie against Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur 10 days later.
Club secretary Dave Thomas was notably upset by the news of Keith’s passing, but shared his memories of the great man and his time in charge at Northwich Victoria:
“It was a pleasure working with Keith. I remember when he first arrived we were five points adrift of safety and the club was in complete disarray.
“He worked wonders to keep us up, but of course most people remember him for the FA Cup run that year.
“The replay at Leyton Orient was the first time we featured in a televised game. The game was supposed to have been played on the Wednesday, but Sunderland and Crystal Palace had a televised game in the League Cup. So they paid us a figure of around £20,000-25,000 for us to play on the Thursday night instead.
“We would have drawn Tottenham at home in the next round, it was the closest we have ever got to bringing a Premier League team to Northwich.
“Keith was gutted to have lost. Even after he left [to later manage Lincoln City, Peterborough United and most recently Macclesfield Town] he still had a soft spot for Northwich.
“He was so professional and a truly lovely gentleman.
“He was so well known and made a lot of friends, especially in the lower reaches of non-league football.”
Tonight England U21s will wear black armbands to pay tribute to Keith Alexander.
The England first team will also pay their respects as they take on Egypt in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium at 8pm, after the Football Association were earlier flooded with emails and calls from fans wanting a tribute to Keith – such was his popularity in English football.
On Tuesday night the club will pay our own respects to Keith with a minute’s silence prior to kick-off in the Blue Square North fixture at home to Corby Town.
Northwich Victoria Football Club wish to pass our condolences to Keith's immediate family, his friends and all supporters, players and officials at Macclesfield Town Football Club.
Fans can email their messages, thoughts and memories to
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"I have had many conversations with Keith, obviously with being the first black manager. He was a role model for me. After Keith, I’m probably the longest serving black manager and it’s down to him that I went for it. He’s tried to pave the way for other black managers and he’s a great loss to the game. He was a great bloke. He helped me a lot. We had many conversations over the years and there is no one with any more hunger, desire and will to win than Keith. I’m absolutely devastated because he was a guiding light, especially for me. It’s just so sad - just 53 years of age. I just can’t get over it. Our thoughts are with his family."
"NVFC Supporters Club is deeply saddened by the sudden death of Keith Alexander. Keith was a popular man who is fondly remembered and respected by everyone associated with NVFC and was one of our most successful managers in recent times. Supporters Club members extend our condolences to Keith's family, who our prayers and thoughts are with at this sad time."
Northwich Victoria FC Supporters Club