Joe Kinnear 1962 63 headSunday 7th April 2024 brought the sad news of the death of a former St Albans City Reserve team player, Joe Kinnear, at the age of 77.

Joe is probably better remembered for his 258 games for Tottenham Hotspur, or being Man of the Match in the 1967 F.A. Cup final win over Chelsea when he was the youngest player on the pitch, or his 26 games for Eire, or his 18 games for Brighton & Hove Albion, or his time as manager of Sharjah, Al-Shabab (assistant). India, Napal, Doncaster Rovers, Wimbledon, Luton Town, Nottingham Forest or Newcastle United. Along the way he added two League Cup winners’ medals whilst with Tottenham and in 1972 was a member of the Spurs team that won the UEFA Cup. He retired as a player at the age of 30 and the end of his playing days was marked with Tottenham and Brighton playing a Testimonial Match in his honour.

But for all of that Joe, in these parts, is known from his time with Carlton Youth (pretty much the St Albans City Youth of its day) and two appearances for the City Reserves.

Born in Dublin on 27th December 1946, he grew up in Watford, the family having moved there when he was eight. He was introduced to football in St Albans by Dick East in 1962. At this time Dick was the assistant secretary at Clarence Park and, in addition to Joe, he also brought Matt Hughes with him, the duo joining Carlton from Watford club Woodside. The duo lived on the same estate in Watford. Joe was a right-back and Matt left-back.

Joe Kinnear SAC Reserves v Letchworth Tabulators copyOne of Joe’s team mates at Carlton during the 1962-63 season was Mick Pestle. Mick’s brother Graham was also in the Carlton team at this time and their father Sid was the manager. Mick was a prolific goalscorer, “I scored 60 goals during that season and it was mainly because I had Joe playing behind me in midfield. He was well-built, couldn’t be intimidated and always had time on the ball. He was still only 15 at the start of the season, the rest of us were at least a year older. I remember one local side tried to kick him off the pitch during a game at Verulamium but he wasn’t having it. He had lots of ability and knew how to handle himself.”

 Before the season was out Joe was selected for Hertfordshire Youth where he again lined up alongside Mick as well as future St Albans City player Dave Sills who, at this time, was playing for North Watford Youth. Joe’s form convinced City to give him a run out in the Reserve team. He made his debut for the City’s second string on 25th April 1963 in an Isthmian League Reserve Section match with Wycombe Wanderers at Clarence Park . With goals from John Clements and Ken Evans the Saints won 2-1. Also in the youthful City XI that Thursday evening was Phil Wood .

Joe Kinnear Dereks copy 2In the crowd for the Wycombe game was the City Club Historian Derek Christmas and he was quick to spot Joe’s ability. Writing on his copy of the single-sheet programme, Derek enthused, ‘J.Kinnear shows real class, great promise.’

The following week saw Joe make his second and final appearance for the Reserves when he lined up in the side that won 2-0 away to Letchworth Tabulators in the Aubrey Cup, Ken Evans bagged both goals. Evans went on to be a City First teamer (56 appearances) and the side that defeated Tabulators included several others who also played for the First team; George Gascoigne (7), Dave Sills (28), Ray Batchelor (1) and Mick Pestle (1).

For the start of the 1963-64 season Carlton added Bob Murphy to their ranks. Bob went on to play 133 times for St Albans and spent just over a season as manager in the mid-1970s. He and Mick Pestle scored goals freely and Bob fancied himself making a career in the game. “I scored loads of goals; thought I was the bee’s knees. I remember being selected to play for Hertfordshire Youth and when I arrived at the ground there was this small lad sat in the corner, it was Joe. We won, I scored, but I realised that any ambition to be a professional footballer was in the bin. Joe gave one of the most cultured, skilful and brave performances I had ever seen. I knew there and then that I would never achieve that level and that Joe would be a super star, and he was.”

 Joe’s exceptional talent was already catching the attention of the professionals with Fulham attending Carlton’s ‘St Albans City Supporters Cup’ semi-final with Welwyn Garden City Youth on 1st May 1963. Fulham, though, were to rue not moving quickly for the youngster.

Joe Kinnear Carlton 2 5 WGC Youth

Joe’s career continued to flourish during 1963-64 with his appearance for Hertfordshire Youth on 16th October, against Bedfordshire, seeing him listed in the matchday programme as being with Carlton and Tottenham Hotspur. He had signed Amateur forms with Spurs in August and 18-months later signed his first professional contract with the north London club, then managed by Bill Nicholson.

Spurs handed Joe his First team debut on 8th April 1966 but it was not a memorable occasion for the 18-year-old as West Ham United won the First Division encounter at White Hart Lane 4-1 with Alan Gilzean scoring the Tottenham goal. The crowd was 50,635.

Some years after having Joe Kinnear and Matt Hughes in his Carlton team, Sid Pestle stated that he believed that Matt was the better player. He may have had a point but a cruel injury denied Matt the chance to prove it. By the end of the 1967-68 season Matt had made 148 appearances for St Albans City when he was signed by Stoke City, then in Division One, on a two-year contact. Sadly, when he was believed to be on the verge of making his First team debut, Matt suffered a cruciate knee injury when playing for the Reserve team. During a prolonged stay in hospital his visitors included Sir Matt Busby, Denis Law, Nobby Stiles and Pat Crerand.

 Complications with the injury ended any hope of making his way in the professional game and, after a year, he quit the Victoria Road club and returned to the local scene. He played for Boreham Wood and retuned for a second spell at Clarence Park where he took his tally of City games to 191. At the end of his playing days he had a spell as manager of the midweek St Albans City Youth team and also ran a pottery stall on St Albans market.

Carlton 1962 63

Carlton 1962-63:
Sid Pestle (Manager), Matt Hughes, Ian Fleming, Alan Tatham, John Lawson, Don Colebrooke, Charlie Nunn.
Andy Desmond, Joe Kinnear, Mick Pestle, Brian Winter, Peter Tyler, Graham Pestle.