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Doncaster News and Features: Exclusive Interview: Peter Kitchen

Welcome to the latest in our exclusive series of interviews with Doncaster personalities. This week Peter Kitchen joined me to answer a few questions about his scoring exploits for the Rovers in the Seventies and what he's up to now.
Q. Does everyone call you Kitch?

Yes, Its a name that has been with me since I was a teenager and has stuck ever since.

I have always been called Kitch by close friends and the players at every club I played for although it was always a shortening of my surname rather than a reference to bad taste!! (which it tends to mean in France although spelt `Kitsch`).

When I started travelling around Europe in my late 20`s I became aware that in France to be `Kitsch` refers to bad taste but fortunately most footballers at that time weren`t aware of this connotation.

Q. Fourth top Doncaster Rovers League goalscorer of all time sounds pretty good doesn't it?

I am very proud and feel honoured to have this milestone associated with my time at Doncaster Rovers. After a wonderful introduction to the First team by Lawrie Macmenemy, at 18 in my first season, I had a period when I had to re-establish myself because Lawrie was sacked and replaced by Maurice Setters. The change in management put the brakes on my development and there was a lack of opportunities for nearly 3 years or I am sure I could have scored far more for the club. When Stan Anderson took over, I had a tremendous period of 3 or 4 seasons when I was able to score 20+ goals consistently for the club because he had a different management style and was able to give me (and my team mates) far more confidence and belief.

I can still recall the Rovers supporters chanting my name and singing There`s only 1 Peter Kitchen and Peter Kitchen walks on water and winning the player of the year award in 1976 is a wonderful memory of my time at Rovers which I will always treasure.

Q. What do you remember about growing up in Mexborough?

I had a wonderful childhood in Mexborough even though as a family we weren`t particularly well off. Although the area was very industrialised with Coal Mines and Steel works there was plenty of open fields and pastures to develop safely as a child and with the influence of my older brother and sister I had opportunities to grow up quickly.

My parents were a very positive influence on me because they had a strong work ethic and a code of conduct which although not too disciplined did give me a framework to develop in all aspects of my life.

My Dad was a Coal Miner for over 42 years (plus 4 years in Burma during the 2nd World war) and my Mother did a number of odd jobs to help support us. I played football for all my school teams starting at about 7 years old at Roman Terrace Juniors, then Mexborough Secondary school and then going to the 6th form College at Mexborough Grammar school before signing for Doncaster when I was 18 years old. I played for Don and Dearne schools at U11`s and U15`s and also for Yorkshire and England Grammar schools.

Q. How did you sign for the Rovers?

Whilst playing for Yorkshire Schools I played a couple of times at Belle Vue (once against the Rovers Youth team) scoring a hat trick in both games which obviously impressed Lawrie Macmenemy enough to invite me to play for the Youth team and also to attend a coaching course at Lilleshall with the youth team. I had a good week and impressed a lot of the coaches there who were very interested to know that I wasn`t signed with anyone and so I was invited to sign as a Professional by Lawrie on the bus coming home.

I had completed my A Levels and with no obvious career path chosen decided to give it a try. On the night I put pen to paper a scout from Leeds United arrived at my home to ask me if I wanted to sign for them (but I had already signed the contract!!).

Q. There were some great haircuts in the Seventies wasn't there?

It wasn`t just haircuts (and there were some interesting ones) because there were also a lot of Long Mexican style moustaches. It was the fashion to have long hair and also with Long sideburns as well.

Eventually it progressed to the long haired perm (examples of this were Kevin Keegan and Glen Hoddle) although fortunately I never succumbed although there is quite a funny story about this in my recently published Biography by Neil Kaufman

Q. Who did you enjoy playing with the most?

I played with some very good players over the years at Doncaster many who were unsung heroes and often underrated. In my early days there were players like Lawrie Sheffield , Bob Gilfillan and Stuart Robertson.

In the Setters era there were good young players like Micky Elwis, Terry Curran and Steve Uzelac, all of whom went onto have good careers.

Later we had Chris Balderstone who was a very elegant and creative midfield player and Joe Laidlaw a very combatative midfielder but the two players who I would regard as exceptional players both as individuals and for the team were Brendan O`Callaghan and Ian Miller. Brendan was deservedly transferred to Stoke city and recognised by the Republic of Ireland at International level whilst Ian should have played at the highest level in the game. He had pace, skill and he was unselfish whilst also scoring goals from the wing. He had a number of clubs and has made a successful career as a coach and is currently first team coach at Leicester City.

The only other player I would single out would be Joe Mayo, my striking partner at Leyton Orient, a terrific team player who worked so hard for his team mates, he was also brave and skilful for a big man.

Q. That Liverpool game, eh, is that a special memory?

It is still clear in my mind and showed that we had a lot of good young players at the club even though we were bottom of the old fourth division at the time.

We gave Liverpool (top of Div 1) a real fright and Kevin Keegan said that the game at Anfield was by far the hardest they had on route to winning the cup final v Newcastle 3-1.

If only my last minute effort had gone in instead of hitting the cross bar!

Scoring at Anfield is something I treasure to this day.

Q. You had the chance to resign for the Rovers later, what did Hong Kong have to offer than Doncaster didn't?

I didn`t re-sign for Rovers because the Financial package offered to me by Billy Bremner was just too little and at that time I had some financial difficulties and needed to earn more money than what was being offered. There was no transfer fee involved yet 2 years before I had moved to Cardiff for 120 000 yet despite this Rovers refused to give me a signing on fee and the weekly wage was well below anything offered at the time.

I offered the club a financial compromise so I could sign for them but they refused to budge and so, to my disappointment I never returned to Doncaster.

Q. What do you keep yourself busy with now?

I work as Operations Director for a Leisure Management Company based in Sevenoaks, in Kent which is very demanding and takes up a lot of my time.

I also used to coach at Wimbledon FC in their Youth development programme when they were in the Premiership and managed the U 13`s 15`s for approx 8 years before leaving the club in 2000.

I also played for many years for the Corinthian Casuals vets football team, involving several tours around the world until I retired in 2004 so I have always tried to maintain a fitness regime.

I do a lot of travelling whenever I can and spend several weeks in Spain with my girlfriend who owns a property there.

I am a Grandfather with 2 grandsons, Alfie and Tommy who with my son Michael, live in Japan with Yoko and I try to visit them at least every year.

Q. What do you think of Dave Penney's recent departure from the club?

It was a real surprise when I heard about Dave leaving has he as done a fantastic job at Rovers over the last 6/7 years but I am sure that he had his own reasons for moving on.

In these circumstances you can only wish him the best with any new job and thank him for what he did accomplish in his time at Doncaster which was exceptional.

Q. What do you miss most about not playing football professionally week in week out?

There are lots of things that I miss, from the smell of rubbing oils to the large hot baths after training or a match but probably the thing I miss most is scoring a goal. There isn`t a better feeling than scoring a very important goal in front of thousands of fans, it is a sublime moment of ecstasy when you look at an adoring crowd who are cheering and chanting your name and your team mates jump all over you. Even better when you win.

Q. In our online top trumps game, we give players marks out of 100 for 5 attributes, which for you are as follows (and we apologise in advance):

Natural Skill 88
Guts & Spirit 94
Physique 76
Legend Status 87
Success? 91

Do you think this is accurate?

Difficult one because everyone see`s you differently than you do yourself. They are probably about right although I would maybe have reversed the top two marks.

Thanks to Peter for his time and the pleasure he's given in a Rovers shirt. We'll correct your trump scores and wish you all the best for the future.

You can buy Peter's book The Goal Gourmet at all good bookshops, or order it here at Amazon.

You can leave a tribute to Peter Kitchen in our Donny Rovers Top Trumps game, here.

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