Keith Houchen was Hartlepool's top scorer for four consecutive seasons and made a scoring debut for Hibs against Hearts in 1989.
Debut: Hearts (2) vs Hibernian (1) - Scottish Premier League - 01/04/1989
Keith Houchen was born in Middlesbrough in 1960 and began his career as an apprentice at Chesterfield in 1977.
Keith was not offered a professional contract at Chesterfield and left the club without making a senior appearance, however, he was soon spotted playing amateur football by Hartlepool United manager Billy Horner and he soon joined the club on non-contract terms.
He turned professional in 1978 after signing a one-year contract and made his debut in a 1–1 home draw with Crewe Alexandra. He played regular first-team football in the 1978/79 season and scored 13 goals in 42 games to become the club's top scorer. His goalscoring record attracted the attention of bigger clubs, however, club chairman Vince Barker told them that even if Keith was available they would not be able to afford him. Keith's exploits continued into the following season, and the club rejected bids from Plymouth Argyle and Cardiff City. He scored 17 goals in 48 appearances in 1980/81, yet again becoming the club's top scorer, as Hartlepool were in the promotion hunt until a late spell of bad form sent them down the table to ninth.
After four consecutive seasons of being the club's top-scorer and having scored 65 goals in 170 league appearances, Keith wanted a move to a bigger club at a higher division and he regularly handed in transfer requests, but all were ignored by the club. By March 1982, Hartlepool were in financial difficulty and were £60,000 in debt. This meant that Keith left the club to join Leyton Orient for a bargain price of £25,000 on a four-year-contract.
Keith Houchen in action for Hibs against Aberdeen.
He scored one goal in 14 appearances, as the side finished in last place and were relegated out of the Second Division in 1982. Injury caused him to miss the start of the 1982/83 season but on his return, he scored ten goals in 38 games including one against Sheffield United on the last day of the season, in a win which kept Orient from another relegation. The next season, Keith fell out of favour with new boss Frank Clark and his transfer request was accepted.
He went onto play for York City, Scunthorpe and Coventry City before he moved north of the border to sign for Hibernian in 1989. Keith made a scoring debut in 2-1 defeat to city rivals Hearts and a further goal against Aberdeen gave him two goals in eight games at the end of the 1988/89 campaign. He scored 12 goals in 39 games to become the club's top scorer in the next season, including two in wins over Rangers at Easter Road and Ibrox, and one in Europe against Hungarian side Videoton.
Following the exit from the UEFA Cup after a defeat to Belgian club Liège and having been riled by a telling off from manager Alex Miller, Keith had a run-in with his own supporters following a defeat to Raith Rovers which led to him being singled out for abuse at Easter Road. Over a three-season stay with the club, Keith made 72 appearances and scored 17 times before returning to England to sign for Port Vale at the start of the 1991/92 season. He later said that he liked Scotland but did not enjoy Scottish football and was particularly critical of the standard of refereeing.
Keith returned to Hartlepool for a second spell in 1993 but injury meant he did not play for the man who signed him, Viv Busby, and instead he made his second debut for the club under John MacPhail. Hartlepool were relegated into the bottom tier of the Football League in the 1993/94 season, finishing a massive 17 points behind Blackpool, who were one point above the relegation zone.
John MacPhail was quickly sacked and replaced by David McCreery but McCreery resigned in April 1995 and chairman Harold Hornsey appointed Keith, who at the time was a player-coach, as his replacement and he became the 23rd manager of the club in 38 years. The 1995/96 season was to be his only full season as a manager but he remained at the club until he retired due to a persistent knee injury.
After retiring as a player, Keith spent his time coaching at schools and the Middlesbrough Academy, collecting football statistics for the Press Association, and renting out properties.
Full Name: Keith Morton Houchen
Date of Birth: 25th July 1960
Place of Birth: Middlesbrough, England