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Gone but not forgotten:
Kevin Miller
Position: Goalkeeper
From: Birmingham City - £260,000 - August 1994
Record: Played: 150 Scored: 0
To: Crystal Palace - £1,250,000 + Chris Day - July 1997
Career stats: Soccerbase
He was: Brilliant

'Player of the Season' twice in a three year stay at Vicarage Road says it all, really, and the manner of his departure (getting Dave Bassett all hot and bothered by going to Palace after signing a conditional contract at Forest, thus netting a large wad of lolly and a replacement 'keeper for us) will only add to his popularity.

If there's a criticism of Glenn Roeder's purchases, it's a feeling of unfulfilled promise. Too few of his cheap-rate signings made a significant impact over a sustained period of time - Ramage went all wonky, Foster slowed down to a halt, Phillips got injured, Moralee tried hard to little effect, Beadle and Pitcher were obviously rubbish, Payne was Hessenthaler without the refinements. Some of the bargain buys that we celebrated so much (I remember singing "Thankyou very much for selling us Ramage" at the Derby fans a couple of seasons ago) turned out to be more realistic valuations than we first thought.

Just as some transfers were the equivalent of finding a huge parcel underneath the Christmas tree then unwrapping it to discover a pair of BHS socks inside, so others were simply miraculous. Despite his injuries, Kevin Phillips is one example - Kevin Miller is another. That fee from Birmingham, which seemed like a fairly hefty sum of money at the time, looks utterly ridiculous in the light of subsequent events.

Kevin Miller is an excellent goalkeeper. No more, no less. His kicking might be as wayward as a bat with a Walkman on but the rest of his play has frequently been outstanding. Some things to remember: the way he dealt with crosses, the 'Save of the Season' at home to Notts County last Christmas, the fact that he'd nearly always acknowledge the fans after the game (even if he was far too professional to give us a wave during it), the record-breaking nine games we went without conceding a goal at the start of 1994 (Perry Digweed played in one of them, mind), the number of times that opposition strikers have had the ball grabbed from their toes as they've attempted to round Miller to score.

It's too easy to underestimate the role he's played in recent periods of defensive efficiency. Personally, I don't believe for a second that we'd have achieved such a high defensive standard last season without Miller's presence. He might not have been called upon to make that many saves (although there were numerous occasions when he won points that we didn't deserve with saves that we couldn't believe) but his confident, almost arrogant air spread through the back four. He won't be easy to replace, in that respect.

But let's not pretend that it's all been sweetness and light. Kevin Miller's role in the relegation season of 1995/96 was considerable - he was out of form and error-prone, even if there were still frequent goalkeeping miracles to make amends. Ironically, the last time he was at Selhurst Park, we conceded four goals and Miller allowed two tame shots from Bruce Dyer to elude his grasp. He did at least have the grace to admit his failings and stick around to see out his contract for another season, though.

So I'll leave the final words to Richard Mortimer, who sums it up far better than I ever could...

You're a keeper we'll always rate,
Even though you couldn't kick straight.

And even though our hearts are broken,
You weren't as good as Tony Coton.

© RM Enterprises 1997