Thursday, 23 December 2010
232 Lance Key
Position : Goalkeeper
Played : 1995-96 (on loan from Sheffield Wednesday) ; 1997-98 to 1998-99
Appearances : (first spell) 14 ; (second spell) 19
Goals : 0
Lance probably holds the record amongst all the players here for having played for the most clubs - fifteen - and he hasn't retired yet. Mick Docherty took him on loan in March 1996 in preference to extending Kevin Pilkington's stay. He was originally signed by Wednesday from Histon in 1990 for £10,000. He made a substitute appearance in the FA Cup but as third choice keeper he seemed to be perpetually available for loan moves and so he had appeared for Oldham, Oxford, Lincoln and Hartlepool before arriving at Spotland.
Lance was handed a tough debut away to Preston and the omens didn't look good early in the first half when he pushed the ball out to Andy Saville who promptly lobbed him for the opening goal. I remember an old guy nearby saying "Where do we get these keepers from ?" . However Lance redeemed himself with some smart saves in the second half as we turned the match around to win 2-1 for our first win since December (a day made doubly sweet by a good session in a pub in Whalley beforehand where Mr P lost every game of pool he played) . We won 4 more of the games Lance played in which was enough to keep us out of trouble. Although he made a bad blunder at home to Wigan where he air-kicked at an innocuous back pass from Jason Peake which then rolled into the net his blushes were shared with Steve Whitehall who twice missed penalties in the game to consign us to a 2-0 defeat. Apart from that he looked pretty sound with good handling and lines of communication with the defence.
He was released by Wednesday at the end of the season but we had Ian Gray fit to resume so he went north to Dundee United making 3 appearances in the SPL before returning to England in March 1997 for a short spell at Sheffield United where he wasn't called upon to play. He was back on the market in the summer when Ian Gray moved on to Stockport and Barrow signed him, seemingly on the recommendation of others at the club.
Lance played the in the first 15 games and seemed to be doing OK with 4 clean sheets but after the 4-0 defeat at Chester, Barrow went out and bought a new keeper in Neil Edwards. If Barrow based the decision on the Chester game then the whole team should have been replaced; there's no way Lance in particular was to blame. Edwards killed any incipient controversy off by being unarguably the better keeper and Lance was just his understudy for the remainder of his League career. The odd game he did play in, Barrow seemed to be looking for reasons to knock him , making him a scapegoat for a 3-0 defeat at Mansfield in January 1998. The only appearance he made the following season was in an FA Cup game against Rotherham when Neil Edwards was caught up in traffic. Lance started the game but rather cruelly was taken off as soon as Edwards finished warming up.
That seemed to be the last straw as he went on loan to Northwich immediately afterwards and the move was made permanent in February 1999. Lance was at Northwich until 2001 making 51 appearances plus 15 on loan to Altrincham in 2000. He then moved south with Kingstonian making 136 appearances up to September 2004 when he rejoined Histon. His four years there saw two promotions so the later of his 124 games were back in the Conference. He joined Wivenhoe Town briefly then dropped out of the game before re-registering with Rushden & Diamonds this July when he became their goalkeeping coach.