Date:Thursday March 1 2007
Alan Knill was born in Eton, Slough in October 1964.
He began his career as an apprentice at Southampton before moving to Halifax in 1984. In his three years there he made 118 League Appearances before moving to Swansea and then onto Bury for, what was then the club record fee (£95, 000). It was at Bury where he first met up with Nick Daws who is currently assistant coach at Millmoor. After a loan spell at Cardiff he went to Scunthorpe in 1993 where he clocked up 130 League appearances. In the summer of 1997 he came on a free to Rotherham and was brought into the squad to add strength in the centre of defence. As a player for the Millers one of the things I remember him best for scoring was the two headed goals in three minutes against Mansfield Town when we were 2-0 down to draw us level. He hung up his boots in 1999 having played his final season with a persistent back injury.
Knilly has had two spells as Millers manager, taking over from Ronnie Moore in January 2005 of the 11 games he was in charge he won 2, drew 2 and lost 7. He then gave the reins to Mick Harford for a few months before being dragged (kicking and screaming if memory serves!) back to the dugout as boss again in December 2005. He has been at the helm for 63 games, winning 18, losing 28 and drawing 17.
While playing for Swansea he got his one and only cap for Wales and I found this story about him on jackarmy.net:
It is quite possibly the greatest footballing tale of all time. The year is 1988, Swansea are in the fourth division, the season has started well and we've just won 2-0 away at Southend. The team coach is dropping Yorath off at Heathrow as he takes charge of the Wales team for the midweek game away at Holland. It is bad news for Yorath, Wales are up against the deadliest strike force in world football and his defensive players are all pulling out of the squad (Hall, Blackmore, Philips, Aizelwood, Jackett). From the back of the bus Alan Knill, our tall, gangly, ginger haired central defender, tells Yorath he has a Welsh grandmother and before he can say 'but I haven't got my passport', he is on a plane to Amsterdam.
Just 3 months before this game, Marco Van Basten had destroyed England in the European Championship, scoring a hatrick in 15 minutes, Adams and Wright were made to look like a couple of pub team defenders time and time again.
In a press conference the day before the game a journalist cheekily asked Knill where Tony Adams went wrong. Knill meant to answer 'he gave him too much space' but it came out as 'he gave Van Basten too much respect'. Cue lots of sniggering and lots of back page tabloid mickey taking.
The nicest part of this story is the Southampton link. Alan Knill is a huge Saints fan, he played for their youth team and was a trainee there. Unfortunately, McMenemy didn't think Knill would make it and when he told Alan that he wouldn't be offered a contract, Knill stormed out of his office with the words, 'I'll prove you wrong'. When the Wales team came up on the television before the game, Lawrie almost choked on his tea. He ran upstairs to his office and faxed the stadium. With just minutes to the game a Dutch official walked into the Welsh changing room with a note for Alan, 'you've proved me wrong - Laurie McMenemy'.
Knill played the game of his life, Van Basten, the most lethal finisher football has ever known didn't get a sniff at goal. Knill stuck to him like glue. Unfortunately, a late Gullit goal won the game for the Dutch but this was hardly deserved. Alan was never picked to play for Wales again.`
Got to say if I've ever seen Alan Knill he has always come over as a charming man,always ready with a smile or a word. Sad to see him go but we must move on, so I would just like to say, 'Thanks Knilly.'
Date:Thursday March 1 2007
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