How Norwich City legend Kevin Keelan’s grandson is making his mark in the city

Teenage entrepreneur, Ashley Keelan, 18, who is starting up a nightclub for 13 to 17-year-olds at the Open. Ashley's grandfather is the longest serving NCFC player, Kevin Keelan. Picture: Denise Bradley Teenage entrepreneur, Ashley Keelan, 18, who is starting up a nightclub for 13 to 17-year-olds at the Open. Ashley's grandfather is the longest serving NCFC player, Kevin Keelan. Picture: Denise Bradley

Thursday, January 30, 2014
4:18 PM

A famous Norwich name could soon be heard around the city once again, if one teenage entrepreneur has his way.

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Sport  -  Norwich City Football Club

Kevin Keelan, Norwich goalkeeper displays his athleticism during training for the Old Trafford clash. His career at Norwich City lasted from 1963 to 1980.

Dated   No date (1963 -1980)

Photograph  C7937Sport - Norwich City Football Club Kevin Keelan, Norwich goalkeeper displays his athleticism during training for the Old Trafford clash. His career at Norwich City lasted from 1963 to 1980. Dated No date (1963 -1980) Photograph C7937

While DJ Ashley Keelan is building a reputation for his talent on the decks, his grandfather, Kevin Keelan, is better known for his skills between the sticks – as Norwich City’s longest-serving player.

Now the 18-year-old is setting up an underage club night called BPM at Open on Bank Plain to give 13 to 17-year-olds something to do – and says the Canaries legend is right behind his plans.

“There aren’t a lot of things for kids to do in the city - it’s basically go to the cinema or go bowling,” he said.

“The other underage club nights are once every two months, so I hope this one will give people something to do and keep people off the streets.

NCFC Greatest Ever. Kevin Keelan.
Photo: Andy Darnell
Copy: 
For: EDP
Archant © 2008 (01603) 772434NCFC Greatest Ever. Kevin Keelan. Photo: Andy Darnell Copy: For: EDP Archant © 2008 (01603) 772434

“My grandad has been supporting me. He said he thought it would be a brilliant idea, and wants to help me given that I’m his grandson.”

Mr Keelan lives in the US, after making the move from Carrow Road at the end of his career to play for the New England Tea Men, Jacksonville Tea Men and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

He has since gone on to work as assistant manager for the Rowdies, University of Tampa and Tampa Bay Mutiny – and it seems his grandson has inherited some of his adventurous spirit.

The former Thorpe St Andrew High pupil has been DJing since the age of 14, runs his own clothing company and holds down a full-time day job – but is not daunted by the prospect of adding nightclub promoter to his CV.

Kevin Keelan was a Canary from 1963 to 1980, and is described by ex-canaries.co.uk as “undeniably one of Norwich City’s legends”.

He made 681 first-team appearances, and conceded 906 goals.

He was born in 1941 in Calcutta, India, but moved to England seven years later.

Kidderminster Harriers were his first team in 1956, and he played for their youth team as a left winger. When the team’s goalkeeper failed to turn up for a match, Keelan stepped in, and the rest is history.

After spells at Aston Villa and Wrexham he signed for Norwich City in 1963 for £6,500 in a transfer described by City manager Ron Ashman as “the bargain of the century”.

Highlights of the years that followed included being an ever-present in the City side that won promotion to the top flight for the first time, in 1972.

The following year he was voted Player of the Year, though Norwich lost the League Cup final 1-0 to Tottenham, and he won the award again in 1974.

In 1976, Keelan went into business as Kevin Keelan and Co builders, and two years later joined New England Tea Men for the summer season. The emergence of Roger Hansbury limited his opportunities, and he signed for the Tea Men permanently in 1979, with a loan-back option for the English season.

In 1980 he played his final game for the Canaries against Liverpool at Carrow Road, and later became an MBE for services to Norwich City.

Source: ex-canaries.co.uk

“When I get home I have to work on my own business and events. I put in a lot of hours, but you have to work hard if you want to get anywhere.”

Ashley, who lives with his family in Gargle Hill, Thorpe St Andrew, said his aim with the underage nights was for the music to take centre-stage.

“I want to keep the kids away from things like underage drinking, and make it about the music,” he said.

“I want them just to go out and have fun, where the music is the most important thing.”

The first BPM event will be held on February 28, and Ashley hopes to host one a month.

Tickets cost £5 and are available from Open, www.ueaticketbookings.co.uk, Soundclash Records in St Benedicts Street, or for £7 on the door.

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