By Will Bradley
Kane O’Keefe, 27, was unsure he would be playing football this season, but is revelling in the role of captain of the newly-formed Salisbury FC. With nine goals in all competitions, he has propelled the Wessex League club to the top of the table and in pole position for promotion.
“I’m taking the role of captain as it comes. The opportunity came up after playing at Laverstock and Ford last season. I was made captain and I’m so honoured. I want to help drive this club to where it belongs and start pushing up the leagues,” O’Keefe said.
Salisbury FC currently sit seven points clear at the top of the Wessex League, as they aim to gain promotion at the first opportunity.
“Promotion is the key aim. Steve Claridge – Salisbury FC manager – knows his stuff, he’s been there and done it and he’s great to work with,” O’Keefe added.
With financial backing from the newly formed Salisbury FC board and Steve Claridge, O’Keefe is quick to dismiss suggestions that the club is buying the league, and insists a strong start to the season is due to hard work and commitment.
“From personal experience, this is the hardest I have worked at any football club. The commitment from everyone is incredible – everyone is giving their all. We are 100% in this all together. Rivals are quick to mention money when other clubs are doing well,” O’Keefe said.
Kane has played at Wessex League level since he was 18, and is looking forward to the visit of his old club and Salisbury rivals, Bemerton Heath Harlequins, on December 28.
“I am and will be massively focused on the game against Bemerton. I still know a few of the players but I’m always confident going into a game with this Salisbury team. This is the best squad I have ever played in. Bemerton are looking good though, this season, and it will be a tough game. Andover are also not dropping many points; AFC Portchester look strong and Sholing are in the mix at the top of the table,” O’Keefe pointed out.
Kane works full-time at Lloyds Bank, Andover, and juggles a full-time job with the responsibilities of being Salisbury captain.
“Sometimes, getting off work on a Tuesday afternoon is tricky! I like playing this league, and I personally really want to win it. There are a lot of players in the squad who could play in the leagues above. The players are still getting to know each other, as everyone is coming from different footballing backgrounds, but we are all in this together to secure promotion.
“I want to be at Salisbury for the next couple of years and help them secure that promotion. To stay here, you have to be committed to play. Players that have not been willing to fight for their position have moved on pretty quickly.
“We have a big squad and the beauty of this is the ability to strongly compete in league and cup competitions. We are taking every competition seriously. The lads played fantastic in the First Round of the Wilts Senior Cup on October 10, with fringe players playing themselves into contention with the first team squad.
“I also want to do well in the FA Vase. Getting to the final of the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium would be incredible: it is somewhere, as a footballer, that you dream of playing at.”
Kane has scored five league goals so far, but is aiming for 20, because, as Salisbury captain, he hopes to achieve that vital promotion.
“I like to think of myself as a bit of a goal-scorer! I’m aiming for 20 this season, especially with the quality players around me – players like Tom Whelan – there are so many quality players in the side to assist me.
“Promotion as Salisbury captain would stand as a high achievement in my footballing career. The Salisbury fans have been immensely supportive from the start, with superb regular attendances at matches. I want to thank them for their support,” O’Keefe added.