Kevin Blackwell had a long career as a player, keeping goal in the
lower divisions for Barnet, Scarborough, Notts County, Torquay,
Huddersfield, Plymouth, Bury, Sheffield United and Boston - for whom
he saved a penalty in the FA Trophy Final.
As a coach he worked with Neil Warnock who he first encountered at
Scarborough, making his reputation at Bramall Lane as an
under-resourced team of apparent journeymen and young players showed
their fitness and superior tactics both in the league and the cup,
with two notable victories over Terry Venables' Leeds United side.
Peter Reid invited him to come to Elland Road in summer 2003, and
he worked as a coach first under Reid, then under caretaker boss Eddie
Gray as the club slid down the Premier League and into the drop zone
with a demoralised and unfit squad inherited from Venables and which
Reid failed to reshape with an influx of loan signings. When
relegation was finally confirmed, Gray stepped down and Blackwell
picked up the reigns for the final game of the 2003-04 season at
He looked set to be offered the job in May, but with the club
apparently on the brink of a takeover, he was humiliatingly told to
wait and see when the press had been briefed and were ready to see him
unveiled as the new boss. But when the takeover attempt became the
latest of many to stumble at the final hurdle, Blackwell's appointment
was rushed through to try to get some positive spin on the news on the
day that Alan Smith was sold to Manchester United.