The Beat had a tear in his eye - he reckoned it was grit from the wind
PUBLISHED: 13:53 26 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:51 26 October 2018
Mark Murphy says the bond his friend Kevin Beattie had with the Ipswich Town supporters was extraordinary
It’s been an incredibly difficult few weeks for all of us who knew Kevin Beattie, especially for his wife Maggie and his family. We were all shocked by his untimely death at just 64.
We all know Kevin had more than his fair share of health problems over the years but he always bounced back, saying to me, “You can’t keep me down, pal, I’m the Beat!”
Like his former team mates and Town fans, I thought he was indestructible. I thought he’d be here forever.
I’ve personally known Beat for 20 plus years but for the past seven years he was my BBC Radio Suffolk co-host on Life’s a Pitch.
When I started the programme all those years ago, his was the first name on my team sheet and I never regretted it.
We’ve had great fun together and I know the rest of the team on the show would say the same.
He told us some brilliant stories about his time playing for Town but the best ones were the ones he saved for when the microphones weren’t live!
My favourite story was on the day of the FA Cup Final in 1978, he got chatting to a police officer about his BMW motorbike and ended up riding it around the team hotel.
Can you imagine what Sir Bobby would have said if he knew?
Another favourite story of his was beating Sylvester Stallone at arm wrestling whilst filming Escape to Victory. He was always keen to point out it was both arms, left and right!
We played proper music on the show. Roy Orbison, Freda Payne and 10cc were his favourites.
We always ended the show with a prediction which was always a 3-1 win for Ipswich Town but sadly of late those predictions have been way off the mark.
When we hosted the programme from the fanzone at Portman Road, he would be mobbed by the supporters who loved him so much and he loved them with equal measure. He’d be endlessly signing autographs and posing for selfies.
In all the time I spent with him there, he never had to buy his own pint; there’d always be a fan more than willing to buy it for him.
You see, he always had time for people, nothing was ever too much trouble and I’d often have to drag him back to the microphone to carry on the show! One programme from the Dove I lost him for the whole show! He was under a sea of Town fans from around the world all wanting to talk to him and buy him a pint!
I asked him once why he spent so long with fans and he told me that when he was a young lad he approached a footballer for an autograph and was told, “Not now, son,” and he swore then that if he ever made it as footballer, he would never let a fan down. And do you know what? He never did.
One moment I’ll never forget is Beat’s 60th birthday. He wasn’t well at all that day but he came in as he didn’t want to let the fans down.
Dozens of them piled into the BBC Radio Suffolk studio and we really made a fuss of him.
Later, at Portman Road, I sat next to him in the front row of the director’s box and on the 60th minute of the match the fans burst in to 60 seconds of applause for his 60th birthday. He turned round to me and said, “Murph, what are the fans doing?” I said, “Beat, it’s for you, you’d better stand up,” and he did, with a tear in his eye which he reckoned was grit from the wind! That showed to me the extraordinary bond he had and will always have with the supporters.
The Beat always had a nickname for the ex-players who guested on the show. Brian Talbot was Noddy, Mick Mills was Bomber, Terry Butcher was Basil, George Burley was Spanner, Allan Hunter was Big Al and Trevor Whymark was Skid!
In return, they called him Monster! It was great to witness that camaraderie and banter.
He was such a strong, gifted player with natural ability.
Not only was he strong, but he could leap like a Salmon to head the ball. It’s said he could jump so high he could read the time on the town hall clock.
He was fast too.
Sir Bobby Robson labelled him one of the best footballers he ever worked with. The two of them had a very, very special bond.
Kevin Beattie was, without any doubt, the most naturally talented footballer to pull on an Ipswich Town shirt.
The term legend is bandied around too much these days but Beat certainly deserved that tag.
His family have told me what a comfort it’s been to see and hear all the tributes paid to him from fans and the world of football.
There will certainly never be another Kevin Beattie. He was a one off, he was Sir Bobby Robson’s “diamond” and I’m proud to say he was my friend.
I’d like to think he’s now where the pitch is always green and he’s gone straight into Bobby’s starting line-up.
God Bless you, Beat, and here’s hoping for a 3-1 win for Town on Saturday.