Memories of former Grimsby Town player Keith Alexander chronicled in new book
A NEW book has charted the life of one of the most universally-liked figures in not only the history of Grimsby Town, but football as a whole.
'There or Thereabouts' tells the story of Keith Alexander – a man whose death in March 2010 was mourned from the lower leagues, where he plied most of his trade, right through to the upper echelons of the game.
Alexander, who initially suffered a brain aneurysm in November 2003, passed away aged 53 after arriving home from his Macclesfield Town side's game at Notts County.
Written by former Lincoln City chairman Rob Bradley, the book charts the former centre-forward's remarkable career, with special mention to his "important" two-year spell at Blundell Park.
Alan Buckley brought Alexander to Cleethorpes in 1988 after seeing him play for Barnet, signing him for £11,500.
After making his debut against Torquay United, he went on to make over 80 appearances for the Mariners, becoming a cult figure in the process.
He then had playing spells at clubs such as Stockport, Lincoln City and Mansfield before managing the likes of the Imps, Peterborough United and Macclesfield Town, where he was in charge at the time of his death.
Speaking about the book, Bradley said: "There are a huge amount of biographies about people in football and I just thought that, having known Keith for quite some time, he deserved to have one written about him.
"The things that he did for football, albeit at a lower level, were fantastic and he was such a good bloke that I thought he deserved it and thankfully, a publisher agreed.
"It's the first 'proper' book that I've written and I am proud of it – it's a nice way of remembering Keith.
"Wherever he played or managed, he was always such a popular bloke and I know Grimsby is no different.
"Keith's time with the Mariners coincided with that of Alan Buckley – who is also a legend to Grimsby fans.
"With a team including Keith, Garry Birtles, Tony Rees and players like that, they had a successful cup run and got promotion.
"It was a good time in the club's history and one where Grimsby started to recover after a couple of relegations.
"Keith's time at Grimsby was a very important part of his career and one that I knew he looked back on with fondness."
As a lifelong Lincoln City fan, Bradley admits that he probably wasn't the person best placed to write solely about Alexander's time at Town, and so enlisted the help of those who knew 'Big Keith' best during his time at Blundell Park.
"The book gives a real insight into his life at Grimsby at that time" he said.
"I don't really have a connection with the club but I spoke to a lot of people who did.
"I had long conversations with John Cockerill – who was Keith's best friend both in and outside of the game – and others who were at Grimsby at the time.
"Keith lived with John and John's parents for a while and there are some nice stories in the book about that time.
"John eventually invested wisely in a house and because they were best friends, he and Keith moved in together, so there are also some tales about them living together in there as well."
In tribute, he added: "I remember Keith as someone who was really good at his job.
"He was brilliant with people and that helped him to be a very good football manager.
"Some people say that you can't be both, but with Keith, being a football manager never stopped him from being a nice bloke.
"He was always laughing and joking to put people at ease and he had a great sense of humour.
"Quite simply, he was one of the nicest people in the game."
'There or Thereabouts – The Keith Alexander Story is available from Amazon.co.uk from £14.99.
To read an extract from the book, visit www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk/sport.