West Brom legend Derek Kevan dies aged 77

Albion were today mourning Hawthorns legend Derek Kevan, who has died at the age of 77.

Legend – Derek Kevan
Legend – Derek Kevan

Fans and ex-team-mates paid tribute to the former England striker, who passed away in hospital in Birmingham yesterday following a lengthy illness.

Kevan scored 173 goals in 291 matches for Albion from 1953-1963 and netted eight times in 14 appearances for England, including two goals in the 1958 World Cup finals. The Yorkshireman, who was nicknamed ‘The Tank’ by supporters, is the fifth highest goalscorer in Baggies history.

Albion 1968 FA Cup-winning captain Graham Williams said: “Derek was the dream centre-forward. He was big, he was strong, he could play with either foot and he could head the ball as hard as most players could kick it. He wasn’t rapid but he was mobile enough and his goals record speaks for itself.

“He was at the club when I first joined, he was an England international and he was an unbelievable player.

“And he was a Jekyll and Hyde figure, because on the pitch he was a frightening prospect to play against but off the field he was a big softy. He was a huge man and those Albion striped shirts made him look even bigger. I was lucky that I never had to play against him, because I don’t think I would have enjoyed it.”

Baggies great Bobby Hope added: “I played with ‘Kev’ for a few years when I first moved down from Scotland to join the club and he looked after me. He was like a guardian for me on the pitch, because I was just a young kid learning the game.

“He was one of the two best headers of a ball I ever saw. Him and Jeff Astle would be very hard to separate. He was part of a great team at the club when I joined. Don Howe, Bobby Robson, Johnny Nicholls, Ronnie Allen and Derek were all England internationals. Derek was a great goalscorer and he was a real old-style centre-forward – big and strong and able to look after himself. And he was a great man to have in the dressing room because he used to lift people.”

Ripon-born Kevan, who leaves a widow, Connie, became Vic Buckingham’s first signing as Albion manager when he joined from Bradford Park Avenue for £3,000 in 1953.

He scored more England goals while an Albion player than anyone else, and he remains the last Baggies player to score for England at the World Cup, having netted twice at the 1958 tournament in Sweden, against the Soviet Union and Austria.

He joined Chelsea for £50,000 in 1963 but soon moved again to Manchester City, where he set a post-war club record by scoring 36 goals in a season in 1963-64.

He also had spells with Crystal Palace, Peterborough, Luton and Stockport and, following retirement, returned to the West Midlands and worked in a pub and as a delivery driver. John Homer, chairman of West Bromwich Albion Supporters’ Club, said: “Derek is up there among the Albion greats as far as supporters are concerned.”

Albion’s players were due to wear black armbands in today’s FA Cup tie against QPR.

Leave your tributes and memories of Derek Kevan in the comments below:

Comments for: "West Brom legend Derek Kevan dies aged 77"

Baggie9

R.I.P Derick Kevan (The Tank)

Great player and a great bloke,my first football hero.

Condolances to friends and family.

Terry O' Neill

I saw Derek play many times in the laye fifties/early sixties. He was immense as a centre forward and must have been a real handfull tp play against. Albion played with 2 wingers at that time, and it was all about getting to the by-line and crossing it in for the 'tank' to get on the end of it. When the cross went in the 'Hawthorns' crowd - 40-50 thousand at that time would roar. As a young boy I worshipped him as my 1st footballing hero, and was Derek who inspired a generation of youngsters to follow the Albion. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a local social club on a few occasions and he was always willing to say hello. He was a true gent and will be immortalised at the Hawthorns. RIP you were loved by all.

Stroller

Desperately sad news of the passing of Albion legend Derek Kevan.

One of my boyhood heroes. The memories will always remain of brilliant goals with feet and head all scored in the top division

A tremendous player and and a great character.

Rest in Peace

Derek.

Rob Williams

What a player for us West Brom fans that saw him play,strong,two footed,and what a header of the ball He told me once that the biggest mistake he ever made was leaving WBA to go to Chelsea The Tank is up there among Albion greats just look at his record in football RIP Derek

ray devey

a proper centre forward a great great loss rip

Jack ♣ Hat.

Derek Kevan was my teenage football idol. His up and at 'em style was thunderous. He struck fear into most defences and made the others uncomfortable. The Russians dubbed him "Tank" and "Locomotive" during the 1958 world cup. Tank being the one that stuck.

Derek go steady up there and don,t knock to many about. Thanks for the good times mate.

Jack♣Hat.

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Tony George

Another Midland Great has left us. I saw him play many times against Wolves. I know for sure dear old Billy Wright had the greatest respect for him. We all did, when Kev came to town we knew what to expect. Wherever he is now he will get a game, possibly a few Center Halves up there with him will be shaken from their rest. R.I.P. Derek, thanks for the memories.

Tony George

Killarney Wolf

Remember Derek well when i was a young lad,

Great Centre Forward, Brave Player.

Great Albion Side.

R I P.

Mitch Pryce

Had the privilege of interviewing Derek for the official WBA history DVD Full Throstle. He was clearly unwell back then (2005) but had a fierce gleam in his eye talking about putting two past Lev Yashin the 58 World Cup. Told him "if you're looking for the ball it's behind you in the net!" On current day values he'd be worth around £20 million minimum. Though limited in pace he was a better all round player than Andy Carroll will ever be - so one can only surmise what Chelsea or Man City (both former clubs after he left Albion) would pay for him now.

Roger Webb

My first football hero his goals kept WBA in the top flight for six seasons, once saw him score five in a match against Everton what would he be worth today? Met him in 1993 when he was looking for a job after the site he was working at in Aston closed down. The great players of Derek's era sadly missed the high rewards of today. But I have great memories of those Kevan years.

sincere condolences to his wife.

Jack ♣ Hat.

Roger Webb,

I remember that game well; Derek scored three of his five goals with his head, I sure he would have scored a penalty with his head that day if we had been awarded one. Derek was at his rampaging, goal plundering best that match. Dave Burnside got the other goal in the 6-2 victory.

Condolences to his family. Great man with a big heart.

J♣H.___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Paul

Sorry to hear that another Black Country football legend has passed on. RIP. From a South Banker.

'The Class of 68'

Derek Kevan ..... the tank

I was a youngster standing on the halfway line, my first memories of the Hawthorns, the crowd (big those days) would raw whenever Kevan was in a goal scoring position, the Hawthorns crowd almost willed him on.

Yet another Albion Legend ..... He was a one off

tizza

I had the pleasure of working with Derek at Sign Specialists . A true gent loved by all his colleges. Spent many an hour hanging onto his every word. He loved the Albion with a passion . RiP big man

MontrealWolves

Scary player, great character. RIP

Cyril Randle

Fair tackles or foul tackles, they just bounced off him. The Tank in full flight was a sight no one ever forgot. My two brothers and a brother-in-law will welcome him.

R.I.P Derek.

jim

Sad news, I am a Man City fan Derek and Jimmy Murray were great together , 63 - 64 season. D K was top scorer , a really top Centre forward

Bert

I'm not a Baggies fan but that doesn't matter.

Derek was a great player and a great ambassador for the Albion and all that was good in football.

The last time I saw him, he was selling darts flights in a pub in Walsall.....some people in football should hang their heads in shame.

RIP Derek.

Brian Burdette

So sad to hear of the passing of 'Big Kevo' I saw him play several times during the late fifies and sixties and he always gave good value, Imagine my surprise when starting work for Ansells Brewery's Depot at Aldridge in the early seventies, to find my work colleague was Kevo himself! he became a good mate and we even played together for a season in one of Ansells football teams which also included ex VILLA favourite Jimmy McEwan, Kevo was nearly thirty nine by then but he was still a handfull to anyone that came near him, We had some great times together socially and one of my abiding memories is when he introduced me to George Best, at a Jeff Astle benefit match at the Hawthorns in the seventies and the three of us chatted together for the best part of an hour! Great times, Great memories, Great bloke! Rest in peace old Buddy. - Brian Burdette.

Dave Dale

As a Teessider who spent many years working in Birmingham from 1985 until 2005 I watched Albion pretty regularly and had the pleasure of meeting Derek on many occasions, particularly when I worked at W, Adams and Sons on Spon Lane.

As a kid I thought he was an awesome player, remember he faced competition from the likes of Tommy Taylor, Nat Lofthouse, Brian Clough and Bobby Charlton for a place in the England side. In later years I found him brilliant company and an absolute gent who was willing to chat about the game to anyone.

R.I.P. Derek, and thanks for the great memories.

AndyH

Evening all,

only seen him play on dvd as i'm only 38...but he was one off my dads idols! RIP Derek

regards

AndyH

Stourbaggie

My first hero saw him score 5 goals in a game on 2 occasions.Great header of a ball.

RIP The Tank

Roger Gould

Although too young to see him play can you imagine todays pansy defenders trying to play against him.

Orlando Wolves

I had the pleasure to watch Derek play on several occasions during the 50`s and 60`s. An honest player and a gentleman, he will be a sad loss to the Baggie family.

RIP Derek.

steve carr

Good to see Derek Kevan rembered by his old club Ripon City with a minute's silence before today's West Yorkshire League match.

Phil

Derek joined my club, Palace in 1965. I didn't realise he had suffered a bad injury at Man City which meant he was passed his best when he arrived. This was probably the reason why it didn't happen for him. His legendary status as an England international was well known. News of his passing appeared on the Palace website and it is always sad to receive this kind of news about former players. His family should be proud of his achievements especially playing and scoring for his country in World Cup finals.

CantelloRocket 78

Unfortunately, I didn't start watching the Baggies 'till 1964, and Derek left us the previous year.Despite this, my older Brother was a big fan of his, and often told me what a great player he was, so as a young lad I looked at pictures of Derek, and was always in awe of this Albion legend.

A few years ago, I'd often see him in The Hawthorns pub before home games, having a quiet drink, and wondered if any of the younger fans in the room had any idea we were in the presence of West Bromwich Albion Royalty.

Very sad news, but a man who was respected by genuine football fans far and wide.

Rob Law

My first baggies hero as a young lad, remember him scoring 4 goals in a game, may have been against Blackpool. A true legend and an Albion great.

alan hinton

I was a young kid growing up in Wednesbury=one week WBA=one week Wolves? Always remember Derek Kevan the TANK alongside Johnny{On the spot}Nichols & Ronnie Allen? Great goalscorer, great man, great team RIP=U will always be one of my heroes. RIP Big Man and thank you. Cheers from Seattle. Alan Hinton.

Aussie Baggie

Such very sad news. Derek truly was a great player and a real Albion legend.

I remember watching him from the terraces as a boy in the early sixties. Such great memories! You knew that every time he collected the ball he was a goal scoring chance, He was a goal scoring powerhouse who put fear into opposing defenders.

There was nothing superficial about big Kev, he was a man's man but with a heart of gold.

They do not make forwards like Derek anymore. More's the pity. It's football's loss.

R.I.P Derek. Thanks for the memories.

ivor j jelley

derek kevan...his record speaks for itself...a standard to aim for...a great player may he always be remembered and respected

joey jones

very sad to hear this. a great player & friend. it was an honour to play with kevo . & i will treasure the times we had a true gentle giant in size & heart . my condolences to all .

Jan and mike taylor

I knew Derek when we worked together and Sign Specialists in Hockley. I only knew of his footballing skills from my male colleagues but I know he was a legend. He will be sadly missed by us all at Sign Specialists. Derek, it was a privelage to know you. We also send our condolences to Connie. God bless Derek. You will be much missed.

Jan

Oh please

I was a bit too young to remember Derek Kevan. My dad often spoke of him when I was a kid. RIP Derek.

My earliest memory of an Albion player is "Krizwiki ? I think" I stand to be corrected but the name just sticks in my mind.

Had the privelige to take park in some coaching with Asa hartford, John osborne and and a few others as well as some vile players when I was a nipper at the Albion school that was across the road.

Not been on here for a while due to ill health, the lads are doing us proud.

Boing! Boing!

CantelloRocket 78

Alright mate, hope you're on the road to recovery after your illness?

I think the player you're thinking about is Dick Krzywicki, his parents were Polish, but he was born in Wales and played for the national side.

He spent about 5 years at Albion, but he never really became an 'established' first-teamer, a decent player but not much above average.

The only football coaching we had at Albion Junior School was from an overweight teacher named Mr. Jones, and he had about the same level of ability as me Granny in Lones Road.........:)

Oh please

Hello mate, hope you're well.

Mr Jones (curly dark hair if I remember correctly?) was my english teacher. I also remember Mrs Pickering, Mr Eridge?, and another Mr Jones (headmaster after Mr Fellows?)

I can't remember which VIII a players coached us but would have been around 1972-73.

Been kicking myself since those days though. I won a world cup willie football at the school raffle signed by all the Baggies players. My dad told me not to play out with it but I wanted to it show off. (It was scratched and ruined beyond recognition in the end) I wish he'd locked it away til I was a bit older :o(

Baggies doing great, one or two bad results of late but we have shown we can bounce back.

Boing! Boing!

sean yates

What a scoring record, and such a wonderful professional, words you don.'t often see associated with the modern "celebrity footballers". R.I.P.

Confidential

I never knew who this man was until I spoke to his partner/wife. It was a pleasure to have cared for this man. My love goes out to Connie, who was there for Derek day in day out. Rest in peace Derek.

'The Class of 68'

Derek Kevan .....

..... one of few Albion Greats who could stirr ones emotions, 'The Tank' on song certainly got the old adrenalin pumping.

Oh please .....

..... Interesting, you reminisce

I attended Brandwood School, Kings Heath, South B'ham.

My class mate was Bob Latchford, i played in the same school and county teams with him.

The year 1962/3, the senior school team were coached every fortnight by no less than Jock Wallace, Bobby Robson and Don Howe.

Thats what you call name dropping ..... BaggieBoyForever

Oh please

TCo68.....

Fair play mate.

Dunno if you remember Don Penn? (Walsall) He was at the Albion school. Also Steve Lynex went to Churchfields, another of my schools.

Otherwise I don't know anyone famous, now where did I put that Corgi food.....

Boing! Boing

Steve Barton (Ansells)

What sad news, had the pleasure of working & playing with Kev at Ansells Brewery, B'ham. Big Kev'o always pushing you to the limits. Coaching on the football match days, making you feel Special, saying "take the Big man on" just like he did from a young lad, WBA,Chelsea ect.ect.ect up to the Ansells FC days. Always smiling, helping & guiding you through good & not so good times. Some of the stories & memories he told, had us in bits. A true Gentle Man & Mate, thank you & Big Respect. Regards to the family. R.I.P.

George Hadley

I had the great and lasting pleasure of watching Derek Kevan score so many wonderful goals the Albion during the 50s and the early 60s be for I emigrated NZ in 1962 what a player wish we had one like him now .RIP BIG MAN.

mark Kevan

son of Derek Kevan

Thanks for all your kind words-R.I.P Dad in the skies with daughter Claire,x

Garth Pearce

Mark - I was disturbed by your reference to 'daughter Claire.' As in your sister (Derek's daughter?) or own daughter? Either way, a tragic early death. We rarely know the personal lives of our players, past or present. It would probably give us a greater understanding of both the game and the level of performances if we did.

Derek, who I met at supporter's club annual lunches, various functions and at the club itself in later life, was my own Albion hero. You have heard it all before, I am sure: the greatest header of the ball in living memory, deadly with both feet and a superb positional sense. And so exciting to watch, bustling forward, with cropped blond hair and boxer's shoulders, putting fear in to opposition defenders.

A friend of mine still recalls how he burst in to tears on that bleak day in March, 1963 when The Tank was transferred to Chelsea on the whim of our short-sighted and generally useless manager. We lost 7-0 to Wolves the following week. Half a century, but the bitter disappointment of so many of us feels so recent.

The fact that your father lived up to my hopes, as a man, was so reassuring. A giant on the pitch, as brave as you'd see, but so modest, unassuming and kindly off it. A true great. An over-used description but, in his case, absolutely true.

Kevin Johnston

Here in Liverpool the older evertonians .have never forgot the 5 goals u rattled in at Goodison. They said u was awesome that day. Albion and England legend. R.i.p top man x

WBA Former Players Association

The Association has paid its own tribute to the Big Man on it's website. A true Legend was Derek, everyone's friend and such a wonderful character. He was an idol amongst the Former Players and amongst his friends and supporters.

RIP Big Kev.

AlanT

Derek Kevan was my all time hero, not only because I saw him play many games at the Hawthorns, who could ever forget his presence on the pitch, but It was as his employer that I got to know the real Derek, he turned up one day to apply for the job, needless to say it took me all of 5 seconds to make up my mind. He was a friend, he was a great man, he was our delivery driver, proud to to his best every day, I look at the modern day game, with the overpaid and the prima donnas, and I am privilaged to have known a true geat. RIP Derek

Lesley JInks

i was to young to have seen derek play but joined the family 16 years ago when i first met him, a wonderful man always had a smile and it was a pleasure to have known him x

Matt Tisdale

I worked with Derek when he was a driver at Sign Specialists and had the privilege of going on several long distance trips with the great man. The stories he told of WBA, England and World Cups were told with such humour and wit, he often had me in tears of laughter despite there being a 30+ age gap.

He was a kind and fun loving, he always made sure the lads back at the factory got a healthy supply of beer from Calais on his driving runs! I remember a trip to Holland when he get pulled over for speeding and had to pay the fine with all the lads beer fund, he still managed to find the funny side of that situation though.

He had a real love for the Albion and we would often have Monday morning chats about how they had got on at the weekend. It was a real shock to learn of his passing and and I am just really grateful that a got to know Derek Kevan the man as well as the Baggies legend, the world is a sadder place with him gone RIP Kevo

Sue & Brian Harrison

Sad to hear of the passing of Derek, we both worked with him at Sign Specialists and have many fond memoriesof him.Our thoughts are with Connie and the family

R.I.P. Derek

Neil Tonkin

I had the privilege of working with Derek for a number of years and can say that he was a truly great bloke. There is nothing more I could possibly add that hasn’t already been said here - RIP Derek you will be sadly missed.

Kevin Johnston

Some of the older evertonians in Liverpool have never forgotten the 5 goals u scored against them at Goodson. The scousers said u were awesome that day. R.i.p Albion legend . And top man.

Sue & Brian Harrison

Sad to hear of the passing of Derek Kevan, we worked with him at Sign Specialists and have many fond memories, our thoughts are with Connie and family

R.I.P. Derek

tim lloyd

First watched him when I was 6 yrs. old and he remains my hero and inspiration. I met him and spoke with him for the one and only time in 2006. I was in awe of him. A massive man with a massive heart, a true gentleman. Can't say more as I'm too upset. A true legend will NEVER be forgotten.

I still wear his replica shirt to every game. R.I.P.

Stuart R lowe

May I offer my sympathy to all of Derek's family.

Like many fans I never knew him as a person but as an Albion player he was a hero.

I remember his great games and the generosity he had in signing autographs.

I especially remember the way he would line up for corners,charging in from the corner

of the penalty area---an awesome,powerful sight.

Later on I recall playing for Accles & Pollocks in the Works League and playing against

Derek who I believe was playing for Ansells.He must have had a great love for the game of

football.

In more recent times I have been thrilled to see memorabilia from Derek's career on display

at Walter Somers social club in Halesowen.

Thanks Derek for being part of our lives and being one of the Baggies greats.