Try and try again proves worthwhile for Spider

Friday 19th October 2012

Queen’s Park travel across Glasgow this weekend to take on Rangers in a League match for the first time in over 54 years and for one of their players, it is a fitting way to mark the taking of a second opportunity.

Michael KeenanMidfield workhorse, Michael Keenan, is looking forward to The Spiders trip to Ibrox just a few months after playing in the Junior ranks with Arthurlie and over six years since thinking that his dream of playing at senior level had been frustratingly cut short.

The 27-year-old is loving life with the Hampden club and remains delighted to be given a second chance to crack the senior game especially as he will play in front of over 40,000 fans this weekend and he said: “I was with Queen’s when I was younger back when Billy Stark was in charge.  I joined them as a 20-year-old from Busby Boys Club, who are also based in the south side of Glasgow.  I was also a midfielder back then and I got into the first team a couple of times including a League Cup win over Hamilton.”

Stark was building the side that eventually won promotion in season 2006/07 and the Hampden midfield was packed with players who would eventually move from the amateur ranks at Queen’s to professional clubs with Stuart Kettlewell, Paul Cairney and Alan Trouten all competing with a young Keenan for places.

Keenan said: “They had a really strong squad at that time and I never really established myself in it.  It was difficult to break in to a side that would come good and get promoted.  I decided to move on and I went Junior to join Petershill.

“I was still pretty inexperienced as a player so going there was a great move for me.  It was always still at the back of my mind that I should have stuck it out for longer at Queen’s and fought more for my place but I made the most of it at Petershill.  I played in lots of games during the seasons I was there and learnt a lot.”

Neil ParryAfter his time in Glasgow’s Springburn, Keenan moved to Barrhead in 2010 and joined Arthurlie following in the footsteps of goalkeeper Neil Parry, who had made the same move 12 months before.  Ironically, Parry joined Queen’s Park from Arthurlie last summer and Keenan wryly said: “I am waiting to see what Premiership side he joins in the summer as I will be going there a year after him!”

After two seasons at Dunterlie Park, Keenan got the chance to wear black and white hoops again and he quickly agreed to it saying: “I had spent a number of years wondering if I had left too soon and thankfully, I got a second opportunity this summer from Gardner Speirs.”

Having Keenan at the club has also helped Speirs sign former Celtic midfielder Tony McParland after he impressed in training and as a trialist in reserve games.  McParland, who also starred for Barnsley, Wycombe Wanderers, Livingston and Queen of the South, has not played senior since April, 2010, however, Keenan helped 'match-make' between his new club and the player.

“Tony had come in for a short spell at Arthurlie but I have known him a lot longer than that as I was at school with him.  He was a bit disillusioned with the game but I asked the gaffer if he could come in and train with us.  He came in and things stepped up and he was involved in a reserve game before signing for us last week.”

Keenan’s own move to Hampden has worked out well as he explained: “So far, it has been great as I have played in every game and I reckon I am a better player than the one that left all those years ago.  I always wanted to come back and whilst I may have changed, the club hasn’t.  It was a great club when I was here before and it is still a great club now.

Queen's Park's Michael Keenan (centre) celebrates his goal against St. Johnstone with his team-mates“We have made a decent start to the Third Division but that is all it is, a start.  We played out a great Ramsdens Cup tie with Partick Thistle at Hampden where we lost 5-4 but emerged with a lot of credibility.  We have to try and kick on from our good start to have a good season.”

The Spiders have risen to tough challenges already this season with Keenan saying: “We have beaten Airdrie United and Dundee in The Scottish Communities League Cup and did well for 80 minutes against St. Johnstone until a sending off hurt us.”

Keenan scored with a 30 yard drive at McDiarmid Park to tie the scores and open his Queen’s Park account before the Perth side ran out 4-1 winners after youngster Andrew Robertson was dismissed.

Queen’s Park’s next game will see the hard working Keenan play against Ally McCoist’s Rangers side and he is looking forward to it as he said: “It is great that this is being billed as a Glasgow derby as I am sure that will add a lot of excitement for the fans.  I have played in a few derbies before in the Junior game and the ones between Pollok and Arthurlie were really intense affairs, especially the Cup Finals when we played each other, and whilst there would be a crowd of 2,000 at those games, Ibrox will be something totally different.

Ibrox Stadium FC“The crowds at Junior matches were right on top of you and whilst the crowd at Ibrox will be a bit further away, I am sure it will be incredibly noisy.”

Keenan added: “This Saturday’s game will be something different for all of us but things like the size of the park will not faze us as Hampden is very similar to Ibrox in that way.  The crowd will certainly be very different to anything we have seen before but once the game kicks off, we have to try and block that out.”

Despite the partisan backing Queen’s will face, Keenan reckons that they will enjoy the experience saying: “All the Third Division clubs have done themselves proud so far and I am sure we will as well.  It will be a great learning opportunity but we are not going there for a day out, we want to go there and show what we can do.

“We have a number of young players in our team that can go on and have a good career in the game and this will give them a taste for it.”

Keenan has plenty of experience of tough atmospheres from his Junior days and he will pass that on to the young Spiders as he explained: “The important thing is not to get carried away by the occasion, you cannot be frightened by it.  Some of the Junior games I have been in have been pretty intimidating for lots of reasons but I survived them.”


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