Footballers play the generation game

KEENAN Quansah admitted he was drawn to sign for Stalybridge Celtic because of family links to the Bower Fold club.

The versatile Keenan is not the only member to play for Celtic as 89-year-old grandfather Samuel, a former Ghana international, turned out for the club in the early 1960s.

Keenan, 24, who has also played for Glossop, Hyde and Mossley, was lured to Celtic because of his grandfather playing for them.

He said: “I saw the club advertising a trials’ day in the summer and, as my granddad had played for them, decided to go along.

Keenan Quansah playing for Stalybridge Celtic

“I had offers from other clubs, but it screamed out for me to sign for Stalybridge and, 60 years down the line, follow in his footsteps.”

And Keenan, who can play full back, centre back or midfield, is hoping one day to get the call to represent the country which he has never visited, though he admitted he will probably need to be playing at National League level if that is ever to become a possibility.

Indeed, Keenan draws comparisons to the Boateng brothers as Jerome represents Germany and Kevin-Prince Ghana.

While Keenan dreams of representing Ghana, his younger brother Jarell, 18, who plays for Liverpool Under-23s, wants to represent England.

It was back in the late 1950s that Samuel, a striker who had represented Ghana at full international level, embarked on a new life in England.

Samuel initially came to England study in 1958 before getting a job on the railways in Manchester.
Keen to pursue his football career, Samuel had a trial at Manchester United but quickly realised he was not at that level.

The Quansah family Samuel jnr Samuel snr and Keenan

Samuel said: “I have a letter from Matt Busby saying I was a good player and he recommended me to Freddie Pye who was Stalybridge manager.

“Freddie came to my house, and I received £5 a week and an extra £1 if I scored, a lot of money in those days, enough to feed my family for the week.”

It was a novelty to be paid in money as Samuel explained football in Ghana at that time was amateur and he often received bananas and plantains instead of cash.

Sadly, Samuel, who has earlier played Olympic Games qualifiers for Ghana, did not stay long at Bower Fold as transport was an issue.

Then living in Hulme, he explained: “I didn’t have a car and it took three buses to get to the ground after work and I was often late for training.

“That didn’t go down well with Freddie, so I didn’t stay long and joined Droylsden as that meant less travelling.”

Keenan added more than 60 years ago it was far from being a politically correct society.

He said: “Back in those days in was not as PC as today and, as a striker, people used to say he had black magic.

“But football is a universal sport and, as he played, it automatically gained him friends when he moved to England.”

Samuel admitted it was challenging in those days as he was the only black player in games he played.

He continued: “As I was the only black player, everyone would look at me and call me names.

“I have been called so many names and received monkey chants. People were very rude. I liked scoring goals and, when I did, it often got me into trouble.

“I remember playing for Manchester Railways at Liverpool Railways. I was the only black player and at the end of the game a woman came over and slapped me in the face.

“Happily, today, it is nowhere near as bad for black players, though there are still some problems.”

Samuel had an effective, although illegal, way of dealing with opponents who subjected him to abuse or annoyed him.

He said: “The referee would check our studs before the game.

“But I would change my boots at half time and come out with nails as studs in the second half.”

Samuel, one of Celtic’s oldest surviving players, lives in Eccles and admitted his body was battered from his football exploits as he has had two new knees and two new shoulder joints as he has been rebuilt by surgeons.

The football gene has certainly been handed down to grandsons Keenan and Jarell.

Chester-based Keenan, who prefers to play as a defender, had one year as a professional at Accrington Stanley before moving into non-league football.

And central defender Jarell, 18, was scouted by Liverpool at the age of four and he has moved up to the U23s. He recently signed a new three-year contract with the option of a fourth year.

Keenan added his father Samuel jnr also played non-league for Abbey Hey but was more interested in music than football.

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