Family and Team-Mates at Opening of Beattie's
Thursday, 8th Aug 2019 19:23
Family and team-mates of Blues legend Kevin Beattie were at Portman Road this afternoon for the official opening of Beattie’s, the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand hospitality lounge named in the former defender's honour.
Beattie’s wife Maggie cut the ribbon to open the lounge, which was previously known as Legends.
As well as the Beattie family, the former England defender’s Town team-mates Eric Gates, John Wark, George Burley, Russell Osman and John Peddelty were also at the opening, along with Town's general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill and current midfielder Cole Skuse.
The bar features images from Beattie's career, as well as quotes from his fellow players and Sir Bobby Robson, who he still referred to as 'the boss' long after he had hung up his boots.
“I’ve just spoken to the family and they’ve walked round and seen some of the pictures. There’s one in the corner lifting the FA Cup, which was the best day in Ipswich Town’s history in my opinion,” Wark said.
“This lounge, it’s good for me as well, I work in the Sir Bobby Robson Suite underneath, so I’ll be looking up to Beat quite often, every home game.”
Reflecting on Beattie, who died last September, aged 64, the ex-Scotland international added: “I think as a person he was just a great lad, everybody loved him, the fans loved him, the lads, he was a top man, the best Ipswich Town player ever.
“I’ve seen a picture here, it was the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup when he came on for me, we were 2-0 up against Bohemians Prague.
“I came off injured and we got a freekick and Kevin just came on and with his first touch smashed it right in the top corner, he wasn’t even warmed up or anything, you know what the Beat was like. Straight, 30 yards in the top corner. He had that ability.”
Burley added: “My memories were from day one when I arrived at the club. Kevin was slightly older than me but we came much at the same time. He made his debut at Old Trafford and I did the same a year later as well.
“Kevin was one of those lads who was first into the dressing room in the morning, he used to be running about with the apprentices having a laugh and a joke, even when he was playing in the first team. He never bothered getting warmed up or anything, he just went out and played.
“Kevin was just a natural, he was so strong and powerful. We used to go into the weight room and we couldn’t lift half the weight he could with one finger. He was such a big personality, a joker, lively, he had a big heart and everybody just loved him.”
Gates travelled from his home in the North-East to attend the opening as well as Saturday’s game against another of his former clubs Sunderland and will also be making an appearance on Life’s a Pitch.
The one-time England international says Beattie would feel undeserving of the honour, which he says was typical of the Carlisle-born centre-half.
“Beat would wonder what all the fuss would about, that’s what I liked about Kevin Beattie,” Gates reflected.
“How good he was and how brilliant he was, he was a down to earth sort of lad, he’d enjoy it but he wouldn’t get carried away with it.
“But he’d expect a pint on the bar. He’d think, ‘I’m just a normal person like everybody else, what the hell are you doing this for me for? Get me a pint!”
He says Beattie didn’t realise quite how good a player he was: “That was the nice thing about Kevin Beattie, he was the greatest player I ever played with and a lot of people will say that but Kevin didn’t realise, or maybe he did realise but he didn’t want to put himself on that pedestal. I always said that the nicest thing about him was that he didn’t realise how good he was.”
Gates says he’s honoured to be asked to return to Suffolk to events paying tribute to Beattie: “I’ve been back a couple of times for him now. I’d always come back. I feel as though I am privileged to come back.
“People ask me to do this or do that, would I mind doing this, mind doing that but my attitude is that I’d mind if nobody asked me any more to do these sorts of thing.
“Football gave me a great life and if I couldn’t come down here for an afternoon for one of the greatest players I ever played with it, there’s something wrong with me, isn’t there?”
Town’s general manager of football operations Lee O’Neill also paid tribute, believing it’s important for the Blues to pay tribute to Beattie and the club’s other heroes of the past.
“He was a great icon of the club in the late seventies and early eighties,” he said. “I think when you look around the building you can see lots of pictures that we’re really proud of and I think it’s important to celebrate those times with all the fans and have a place to do that at the club.”
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