Clarets' Legends on a Midweek Wednesday - Steve Kindon.

05 April 2017 08:05

At Turf Moor, the Clarets' legends "Hero's Walls" now feature photographs and details of over 30 players by decade, including the first three players I have covered from my early time as a supporter in the 1950s and 60s, namely Ralph Coates, Jimmy McIlroy and former player and manager Harry Potts.   

Stephen Michael "Steve" or "Skippy" Kindon was born in Warrington on 17 December, 1950 and his age prevents him from being in that esteemed group of players, but he was without doubt one of the most exciting players of his generation to watch when he was firing on all cylinders and truly on song.

"Skippy" spoke with a lisp which invariably led to some teasing at school in his early years but his growth and development into a prop forward's build soon put a stop to that.  He started playing Rugby League code, a game well suited to his height and build, but he converted late to soccer and did well enough to sign for Burnley on his 17th birthday.

Steve Kindon soon found a starring role in the Burnley youth side that won the FA Youth Cup in 1968. "Skippy" Kindon played mainly on the left wing and was soon capped at junior level for England. It was his incredible speed that was his greatest asset, rather than his technical finesse on the ball. Kindon quickly made the transition to the Burnley first team, playing over 100 games and scoring 28 goals in his first spell with Burnley Football Club.

Kindon loved defences that played high up the pitch, providing him with plenty of opportunities for balls played over the top for him to chase. He invariably won, as he won the title of the fastest footballer in Britain at the annual Sprint competition at the Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh for seven years on the trot.

It really is little wonder that defenders found his pace hard to deal with. He would love to simply knock the ball past defenders, rather than try to dribble around them as he almost always won the subsequent ball chase.  

Kindon's inaugural game in the Burnley first team colours was an unmitigated disaster. Burnley lost  5-0 to West Ham at the  start of the 1968/9 season and he was immediately dropped, but came back strongly after another big loss to Liverpool to face West Ham at home in November.

He scored the second goal in a 3-1 win and that started a run of eight consecutive wins for the Clarets. Kindon then played a number of games on the bounce for the Clarets and the following season "Skippy" became an ever present, finishing the season as top scorer with 17 goals credited to his account.

Kindon, always a fans' favourite, gathered many nicknames over the years. The origins seemingly always related to his large build or immense speed. "Skippy" was captured from an Australian kangaroo TV programme, because Steve Kindon always seemed to simply skip over defender's tackles.

Another nickname was "Dobbin", because Kindon had the strength of a shire horse and the speed of a thoroughbred race horse. Kindon was also affectionately known as  the "Tank" and the "Flying Wardrobe" because he could just simply run over the opposition.  

Kindon and many of the his fellow youth players from the 1968 FA Youth Cup victory were destined to be labelled as part of Jimmy Adamson's “team of the 70s”. Sadly it didn’t work out that way, although his talent was later recognized for England at under-23's and for the England 'B' team.

Nevertheless, the excitement on the terraces when he got the ball played over the top or when he was running in on goal with a player to beat was incredible. Sometimes he could be a bit clumsy but many times he would convert his chances or create a goal for others.

He has stated on more than one occasion the move upstairs of Harry Potts from team manager to General Manager was the root cause of the team not going on to become the aspirational team of the decade.

The following season saw the Clarets relegated from the old First Division and he eventually lost his place to the Welsh wizard that was Leighton James. In the summer of 1972, he signed for Wolves in a £100,000 transfer where his bustling style made him a Molineux crowd favourite. He scored 31 goals in over 150 league and cup appearances for Wolves, helping them regain their first division status and became an iconic figure in the West Midlands.

In 1977, Harry Potts took over again with Burnley well adrift at the bottom of the second division and Kindon returned to Burnley for the then princely sum of £80,000.  Kindon scored in a 3-1 win in his first game against Notts County. He also scored the winning goals in three subsequent games and whilst the club was still in trouble in March, Kindon inspired Burnley to win five successive games and the threat of relegation evaporated.

The following season he helped the Clarets win the now defunct Anglo-Scottish Cup, scoring in both legs in the two legged semi-final victory against Glasgow Celtic,  helping to create an infamous Celtic fans' riot at Turf Moor.

In the first leg of the final against Oldham Athletic, Kindon was a major force for the Clarets and contributed largely in a magnificent 4-1 away win at Boundary Park which was ultimately enough to win the trophy for the team from Turf Moor.

Fans were getting used to the Burnley yo-yo performances in this decade and in the1979/80 season "Skippy" played in nine of the first fourteen games, which found Burnley marooned at the bottom of the league again. Sadly this time, he wasn't the player to rescue things, and his last game for the Clarets was against Leyton Orient on the 3rd November 1979. 

In December 1979 he signed for Huddersfield Town, then ensconced in the old fourth division and he helped them to win promotion that year. At the Terriers he was part of a minor piece of footballing history, being one of three goalkeepers used in an FA Cup Tie in 1981, against Shrewsbury Town. First team goalkeeper Andy Rankin got injured and Steve took his place, only to be injured himself, his place in turn being taken by Mark Lillis.

They each conceded a goal, and this remains an English record for the number of goalkeepers used in one game. A catastrophic knee injury ended Kindon's football career in 1982. 

Steve Kindon is now widely regarded as a great raconteur and tremendous after dinner speaker. Steve once found himself being asked to present awards in his teenage years by Harry Potts, not realizing this was at a dinner in front of the Lord Mayor of Burnley and not in the first team's changing room!

He found he had the talent to make an audience laugh and now has his congregation rolling with laughter with many stories of his time at both Burnley and Wolves.  One of his favourite quips is, “I am not saying Tommy Smith was tough,” he grins, “but he was born on 5 April 1945 and a month later Germany surrendered"!   

Nowadays, "Kindo" as he is also known, takes a more leisurely pace and is fondly remembered and revered at both Turf Moor and Molineux. When asked which is his favourite club, Kindon diplomatically replies, "How could he choose between a favourite son and daughter?"   

Steve Kindon certainly gave me and a lot of other Burnley fans a lot of pleasure playing in the famous old Claret and Blue colours of Burnley Football Club.

In his post footballing career, long may Steve Kindon continue to do that for others, whichever particular nickname "Skippy" chooses.

This appreciation of Steve Kindon was written by long time Burnley fan and regular contributor to Clarets Mad "Old Colner". (TEC).

Source: DSG


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