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The goal-scoring Goalkeeper.

April 29, 2013
Matt Duke, Albion's number 1 from September 2000, until summer 2004 when he left for Hull City.

Matt Duke, Albion’s number 1 from September 2000, until summer 2004 when he left for Hull City.

Most football-following people will see my title, think “well, it is end of season”, and immediately jump to the conclusion that this piece will be all about Jimmy Glass. (if you’re not familiar with Jimmy Glass, watch this –

This Thursday see’s the Albion away at Bradford in the first leg of the League 2 play-offs.

A key figure for the Bantams this season has been ex-Brewer Matt Duke, who saw himself in the national limelight after performing heroics in Bradford’s fairytale run to the League Cup final.

Dukey signed for the Albion in September 2000, then aged 23. We were competing in the Doc Martens Southern League Premier (league below the Conference) and Nigel Clough had no problem in putting Duke straight into the first XI, replacing the popular veteran ‘keeper Nick Goodwin.

I think the Burton Mail headline of “CALA-MATTY DUKE” perfectly summed up Duke’s early days with the Brewers.

2 own goals and an obvious unease with crosses had us all wondering what Cloughie had seen to replace ‘super Nicky’ Goodwin… but then it all seemed to click into place for Duke.

His confidence grew as Albion battled for promotion and also enjoyed strong FA Cup and Trophy runs, and come the end of the season he had established himself as one of the key men in Clough’s team.

So pre-season 2001 rolls around, Albion have switched to the Unibond Premier (Northern League), and Derby County are in town for popular right-back Allan Davies’ testimonial.

We’d already seen Duke produce penalty saves and numerous 1-on-1 saves, but what happened in the first half at Eton Park that night in front of a watching Fabrizio Ravanelli was pretty awesome. (And seen as it was against Derby, bloody funny.)

Duke collected the ball in his hands. He booted the ball upfield. Derby ‘keeper Lee Grant waited to collect the aimless punt at the edge of his 18-yard box. (a Dukey-kick that didn’t fly over the Popside fence!)

The ball bounced just before the 18-yard box and bounced high on the rock-hard Eton Park surface… bouncing right over a stranded Lee Grant, bouncing right into an empty net.

Dukey stood arms aloft, and the place erupted! A great moment. We went onto lose 6-2, but hey.

Alas, this game was a testimonial so the goal wouldn’t count on Duke’s official Albion career records.

The 2001-02 season came around, Duke was exceptional as we lost just twice in 44 league games, and promotion was achieved on that unforgettable night at Vauxhall Motors on Wednesday the 17th April 2002.

Nearly 2 weeks later, Tuesday 30th April (11 YEARS TOMORROW!) and Frickley Athletic were in town for a league fixture.

Goals from Dale Anderson and Christian Moore saw the Albion 2-0 up, and early in the second half we were awarded a penalty in front of the Gordon Bray end.

Matt Duke was the only Albion player without a goal to his name that season…

The Bray end started the “Duke, Duke, Duke…” chant, and after getting the all-clear from Cloughie and co. on the Albion bench, Dukey charged down towards us…

We had won the league already, and were 2-0 up in a game that mattered little. But I was still full of nerves when Duke started his run-up, desperate for him to score, desperate to witness something that doesn’t happen every season (had a ‘keeper ever scored for Albion before for that matter?)

Duke slammed the penalty in straight down the middle, straight into the back of the net, and ran off in pure delight, the 1,018 present (give or take 6 Frickley fans) absolutely loving it!

Dukey had finally got his goal for the record books.

He remained a Brewer for our first 2 Conference seasons, and his importance to the team was underlined in his final season when a broken arm forced Duke out for 3 months – 3 months that saw us drop towards the Conference relegation zone and saw us slump to comical results such as the 7-4 home defeat against Telford Utd, whilst fielding a certain 17-year old Lee Camp in goal.

Finally in summer 2004 the inevitable happened; Dukey signing for Hull City in a deal worth £60k.

He went with the Albion faithful’s blessings; an Albion favourite who will get an excellent reception as always, should he play against us.

I just hope it doesn’t go to penalties.

(Though if it does, someone tell Tommo that Dukey slams them high, straight down the middle.)

See you at Valley Parade… UTB.


From → The Albion.

One Comment
  1. Do I not like Matt Duke….!

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