Time Capsules: Kevin Miller's Keeper Competition (1996)

By: Watford FC Staff

In our 'Time Capsules' series, we dive into the Watford FC archives to re-publish a classic interview from an historic matchday programme.

For our latest instalment, we re-visit an interview with Kevin Miller, who made 151 appearances for the club from 1994-97.

In this interview the goalkeeper discusses competition for the number one shirt after the arrival of Alec Chamberlain from Sunderland, and the team's target of promotion to the second tier...

The Programme

  • Season: 1996/97
  • Match: Watford 1-1 Luton Town
  • Date: Tuesday October 29, 1996
  • Manager: Kenny Jackett
  • Competition: Nationwide Football League Division Two

The Article

When he joined Watford from Birmingham two years ago, goalkeeper Kevin Miller knew he was joining a club with an excellent pedigree between the posts – one that stretches back to the 'Skilly' Williams around WW1 days.

But he made an immediate impression at Vicarage Road, being voted Player of the Season at the end of his first season with the club. Since then his form has kept him in the number one slot and this season that means ahead of the more experienced Alec Chamberlain, signed from Sunderland in July.

Now that he's well into his third season with the Hornets and transfer speculation seems to have died down, does Kevin feel settled?

“Yes, I'm enjoying it, it's been good. It's a lovely club, lovely set-up and the people make you feel really welcome.”

And does he feel pressure to keep clean sheets with Chamberlain waiting in the wings?

“Everybody's under pressure. Everybody's fighting for places, which you need because people can get complacent if they've got a regular place.”

Kevin dismisses any talk of serious rivalry between himself and Alec, pointing out that they are good friends and actually travel to the training ground together. They train both with the rest of the players and alone, during two special sessions a week with Peter Bonetti, honing the new skills which modern keepers need. Last year Peter was asked to come in just once a week but now manager Kenny Jackett believes it's important for the keepers to get more intensive training to bolster confidence and quicken reactions - especially to cope with situations such as getting the ball away quickly from a hurried backpass.

“Pitches at the moment are good and you've really just got to concentrate and kick through the ball,” notes Kevin. “If I've got time I will try and pick a person out, but to be honest I'd rather get the ball away and get myself set again as quickly as I can.”

With the club's recent history of injury problems still a major factor in the squad, Kevin has found himself keeping goal with a lot of recent youth team players in front of him. With more seasoned players like Craig Ramage and Gary Porter out of contention and teenagers such as Wayne Andrews and Gifton Noel-Williams becoming prominent, does Kevin feel like an old hand at 27?

“Well, I think a lot of us do now, there's a lot of young lads coming through. The thing is at a club like Watford, especially with all the recent injuries, the young players have to make an impression. The club is rightly proud of its youth system.”

So where does Kevin see himself in 20 years? Will he be like Peter Shilton; 47 and still a goalkeeper?

“Not really, no. Housekeeper, maybe, but not goalkeeper.”

With Watford maintaining a fairly solid defensive line this season, Kevin has had fewer opportunities to shine but he still has the undying affection of the supporters. The 'Miller homage' is religiously paid each time he strolls down to the Vicarage Road End and although he keeps his mind focused on the pitch in front of him, there's sometimes a hint of a smile that tells the fans he's heard them.

Kevin has certainly proven himself as far as the Hornets' faithful are concerned - but he still has personal goals and has a realistic optimism about what he can achieve with Watford.

“Obviously we'd like to get promotion, whether we go up as champions or second. We'd like to win the championship, do it in style, but the main goal is to get promotion and everybody is geared up for that.”

Meanwhile, you can bet Kevin's immediate goal is to ensure his goal is unbreached tonight.

Everybody's under pressure. Everybody's fighting for places, which you need because people can get complacent if they've got a regular place.
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