Holwell Sports manager and chairman thank Keasty

Graham Keast encourages his team-mates during a league match in 2009 EMN-150320-124259002

Graham Keast encourages his team-mates during a league match in 2009 EMN-150320-124259002

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Having faced Graham Keast as an opponent on the pitch, Simon Daws knew what a talent he had at his disposal when taking over as Holwell boss.

As a defender Daws had to try and contain Keast on several occasions as player-manager at Cottesmore Amateurs.

He would go on to become a pivotal player in his Holwell sides and one of the first names on the teamsheet.

He said: “I played against a lot of ex-professionals like Frank Worthington and John Robertson, and Graham has got to be in my top five of footballers I’ve played against and managed.

“I had many a game against him and we had a few battles.

“Graham Keast’s name was known all across Leicestershire as one of the great players in the Senior League.

“He has kept himself fit and even today at 37 he can influence a game at a good level of football.

“We played more football when he was in the side; he has left a big hole.”

Apart from a short spell at higher league football at Rothwell, Keast played his entire career at Holwell, much to the club’s good fortune.

“For a player of his ability to stay at one club is incredible,” Daws added.

“He’s an honest footballer who works hard and sets an example to any player of how to conduct yourself on and off the pitch.

“He could have played anywhere and been paid money for it, but stayed loyal to us. He has been a fantastic servant for Holwell.”

Chairman Graham Lewin watched Keast develop from youth team level all the way through to the first team.

He is helping to arrange a testimonial match at the end of the season to formally thank him for his years of service.

Lewin said: “We will be looking to arrange that during the next few weeks to give him a fitting send-off, but not from the club.

“He has been a brilliant ambassador in terms of his commitment, his ability and his experience, and been a really big asset and help for Simon.

“Even when I ran the reserves he was always willing to pull on a shirt and help out. He is a Holwell lad through and through.”

Keast has already agreed to help run the first team during Daws’ six-match suspension.

Lewin hopes it will one day develop into a more formal arrangement.

“We would like to keep him here in some capacity,” he added.

“If we could get him involved in management or coaching we would be over the moon, but we don’t want to push him.

“He is a quality player who can pass on a lot of ideas to the other players.

“He always had that skill and trickery, good with crosses and free kicks and was our penalty king for a while.

“Let’s hope in the next generation we have another Graham Keast coming through.”