Published: 16:20, 05 May 2004
CHARLTON goalkeeper Dean Kiely has been named by the club’s supporters as their player of the season for the second time in three years.
And when it is remembered that the likes of Nicky Johns, John Dunn, Bob Bolder and Andy Petterson have won the award no fewer than eight times in its 33-year history, it seems clear that the Addicks value their goalkeepers more than most.
Why, even the statue proposed by the club to commemorate Charlton’s 100th anniversary next season is of a goalkeeper - record appearance holder Sam Bartram.
But the focus of a special ceremony at The Valley on Sunday night was firmly on 33-year-old Kiely, one of the most unsung - yet consistently best - goalkeepers in the Premiership.
Alan Curbishley, for whom Kiely has always been an automatic first choice, said: “You can count on the fingers of one hand how many mistakes Dean has ever made for us.”
Charlton’s first £1m goalkeeper, Kiely joined the club from Bury in 1999. He promptly justified his fee in his first season at The Valley, when he equalled Johns’ all-time club record of 19 clean sheets as Charlton won the Division 1 championship.
But he takes great pride in his lower-league education, and since then, Kiely has gone from strength to strength.
Just ten days ago, he clocked up his 200th league and cup appearance for the club, becoming only the fifth custodian to do so in Charlton’s history.
Ever-present in his last two seasons, Kiely missed just the opening game of the current campaign and it was this consistency and reliability that won him his latest accolade. It also helped, of course, that Kiely’s likeliest challenger for the award, Scott Parker, left for Chelsea in January.
Kiely collected 43 per cent of the vote, more than twice as much as defender Hermann Hreidarsson (21 per cent) and captain Matt Holland (13 per cent).
Elsewhere, 20-year-old defender Michael Turner was chosen as the club’s young player of the year by Curbishley and his management team after captaining the reserves to the championship and being named in numerous first-team squads, albeit without making his debut.