Sport Comment: Hail Frank McKeown, football’s true hero

John Inverdale
ON A weekend when Aaron Ramsey made headlines, the outstanding contribution to the sport was surely made by a player who probably no-one reading this article had ever heard of before this weekend.

Frank McKeown is the captain of Stranraer in the Scottish third tier. On Saturday he played in a 1-1 draw against Clyde in the Scottish Cup watched by 681 people, all of whom were witnessing a true hero.

Because in Frank’s other life he is a firefighter, and his pre-match routine involved spending the night trying to save lives from the debris and destruction of the helicopter crash in Glasgow.

Describing it as “not the ideal preparation for a game”, he deflected all suggestions of heroism, preferring to reflect on the enormity of the tragedy, and how it has shocked the whole country.

Reading about Frank was like turning the clock back decades, to an era when the Aaron Ramseys of the time sometimes did other jobs and then got the bus to the game with the same fans who were about to worship and idolise them.

It was a football story that in the most abnormal and horrific way screamed “normal” at us all. It wasn’t strutting peacocks; it was a man doing a job, and then just playing the game that he loves, for the enjoyment of those who cared to go and watch.

At the end of the season garlands will be presented to those who dominate the beautiful game. Hopefully an honorary mention will be made of Frank. He was glad he played on Saturday and so should we be. Because he reminds us that, no matter how frustrated we have been with refereeing decisions, bad tackles, missed chances and feigned injuries, it really is only a game.