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Saturday, 23 May 2015

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The night Roy Keane got 'clobbered' at Holker Street

ROY Keane knew he was in for a battle when he was caught by a solid tackle early in the game from one-time Glaxo player Stuart Mason.

WHEN: December 1993

WHERE: Holker Street

Reputations meant nothing for the Barrow AFC centre forward on a wild and wet December night at Holker Street in 1993.

But Republic of Ireland international Keane, known as being one of the most highly competitive midfielders in the Premier League, was to have the final say when he fired in what turned out to be the only goal of the night in the 44th minute.

United had come to Barrow as part of a fund-raising effort and the game had been organised through the friendship of president Bill McCullough and former AFC manager Brian Kidd, then the assistant manager at Old Trafford.

Certainly the Manchester giants did not let Barrow down, sending a side littered with stars, which included players like former England captain Bryan Robson, Dion Dublin and, of course, the £3m-rated Keane.

For Mason, who lives in Lindal, and the 2,056 fans who turned up despite the atrocious conditions, it was a night to remember.

Taking up the story Mason, who had joined AFC from Glaxo, said: “It was very exciting. I remember it was a wet evening, and doing a lot of running around and chasing. Early on in the game I got the opportunity to get a good tackle in on Roy Keane and five minutes later received a massive dig in the ribs!

“There was also a point when I was chasing the ball and it was going to become a 50/50 with Bryan Robson, but thankfully the ball stuck in the mud and I didn’t have to go through with it.

“It was a great evening. A massive, noisy crowd, certainly the biggest crowd I played in front of when I was at Barrow.”

The Premier League champions certainly did not let the spectators down during and after the match. When the final whistle went United players stayed on the pitch to sign autographs for hundreds of eager youngsters who raced on to grab their mementos.

As the rain pelted down before the kick-off, Mason, in the changing room with his Barrow team-mates, recalled being told that if the side went out with belief, they could match Manchester United.

Suddenly the game was moments away and, said Mason: “I was stood in the door at the changing rooms and Dion Dublin came up behind me and said: ‘We’re not going out in this are we?’.”

Asked if he was in awe of the class opposition on the night, he said: “As soon as the game kicks off all of that goes out of the window, it always has done for me.

“When I ran into that tackle early on, I clobbered Roy Keane but I didn’t think I was going in on Roy Keane here. You’ve got your eye on the ball and once the whistle has gone it is just another game.”

Afterwards the players from both teams went to the clubhouse for a pint, with Mason adding: “They were nothing other than nice lads, no edge to any of them.”

The match, Mason recalls, was one of his most memorable, as he said: “It has got to be right up there.

“It was a friendly at the end of the day, so there wasn’t anything resting on it, but it was certainly memorable because of the names you were playing against.”


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