Horsham sporting community in mourning for Keith

A former Horsham goalkeeper who ended up as a centre-forward has died aged 76.

Keith Etheridge was a familiar face at Horsham FC and Mannings Heath Golf
Keith Etheridge was a familiar face at Horsham FC and Mannings Heath Golf

Keith Etheridge was well-known to everyone connected with Horsham FC and more recently had become part of the fixtures and fittings at Mannings Heath Golf Club.

A heratfelt tribute was paid by the Hornets, who said: "We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of our former goalkeeper Keith Etheridge, who has passed away at the age of 76, following a short illness.

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"Having spent some time in the reserves, Keith made the first of 157 first team appearances for Horsham by keeping a clean sheet in a goalless draw at Wembley FC in the opening match of the 1963/64 campaign, a season in which he went on to play every match. In fact Keith, whose son Darren is the Hornets’ long-serving kitman, missed just two competitive fixtures over three seasons only to lose his place to Ian Page at the start of 1966/67.

"Returning to the reserve side, Keith quickly forged a reputation as a goalscoring centre-forward and finished the season as the reserves’ top scorer, even conspiring to hit a hat-trick in a 5-0 demolition of Epsom in 1967! At the start of the 1967/68 campaign, Keith was restored to the senior side and donned the goalkeeping gloves for 20 of the first 22 matches in all competitions until illness saw him ousted from the number one spot by new signing Dai Mason.

"His final Horsham first team appearance came on 25th November 1967, a 6-1 Athenian League thrashing of Eastbourne, and after making a handful of appearances back with the reserves, he opted to join County League side Arundel.

"Keith later signed for Horsham YMCA and had the unwanted statistic of keeping goal in YM’s 10-1 home loss to the Hornets in an FA Amateur Cup replay in 1971. Subsequent spells at Worthing and Horsham Olympic followed, as well as managerial stints with Storrington (along with former Horsham teammate Mick Streeter) and YMCA’s U16s.

"A keen golfer, and member of Mannings Heath Golf Club, Keith was an enthusiastic and popular follower of the Hornets over the years and his was a regular face on the sidelines, both at home and away matches, before the onset of dementia limited his visits."

Hornets Chairman Kevin Borrett said: "“Keith was one of those rare individuals who you couldn’t help but liking from the first time you met him. His friendly grin and sometimes cheeky smile, his genuine interest in others in the club, and his general manner were both attractive and addictive qualities.

"He often claimed 'to be keeping Darren company to away games' but this was also part of his conscientious interest in following the club. Keith had a shrewd sense of judgement on football-related matters and I was one of many who benefitted from the insights he shared as well as his encouragement. He will be very sadly missed by all who knew him.”

All at Horsham FC extend their sympathies to Keith’s widow, Pat, sons Darren and Mark and their extended family and friends at this very sad time.

Ian Jaggard, club president at Mannings Heath Golf, paid tribute to Keith in a message to members. He said: "It is with great sadness that I’m writing to let you know that last Friday, Keith Etheridge passed away. Keith had been a member of Mannings Heath Golf Club for many years and had been a strong supporter of all club activities including mixed golf with his wife, Pat.

"In 2006, Keith was Vice Captain during my stint as Club Captain and in 2007 he followed on as an excellent Club Captain. His good humour and generous personality will be greatly missed.

"I’m sure all members would want to send their condolences and best wishes to Pat and the family. It is a shame that current Covid-19 restrictions will prevent so many people attending his funeral - I hope the club can be represented but obviously priority will rightly be given to the family.

"Pat has requested no flowers but should you wish to mark Keith’s memory, she has respectfully asked that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Society either direct or via the Club."