Jerry Kerr

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Jerry Kerr
Personal information
Full name Jasper Jerald Kerr
Date of birth (1912-06-01)1 June 1912
Place of birth Armadale, Scotland
Date of death 8 November 1999(1999-11-08) (aged 87)
Place of death Dundee, Scotland
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Left back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Armadale
Motherwell
–1937 Alloa
1937–1939 St Bernards
1939–1947 Dundee United
Rangers
Berwick Rangers
Teams managed
Peebles Rovers
1953–54 Berwick Rangers
1955–59 Alloa
1959–71 Dundee United F.C.
1974–76 Forfar Athletic
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only. † Appearances (Goals).

Jasper Jerald 'Jerry' Kerr (1 June 1912 - 8 November 1999) was a Scottish football player and manager, best known as manager of Dundee United from 1959 to 1971. He is credited with taking the club from relative obscurity to being mainstays in what is now the Scottish Premier League.

Playing career[edit]

A native of West Lothian, Kerr was a full back in a playing career which began at Armadale and took him to Motherwell and Alloa Athletic before joining St Bernards in 1937. He captained the Edinburgh side to the Scottish Cup semi-finals in his first season at the Gymnasium, where they eventually lost to fellow Second Division side East Fife in a second replay. He became one of new Dundee United manager Bobby McKay’s first signings during the close season of 1939 and again was made club captain but only four League matches of season 1939-40 were played before the competition was abandoned. Kerr was one of only three players who remained with United after the outbreak of war, and played as his team progressed to the final of the Emergency War Cup (effectively the Scottish Cup, but with relaxed registration rules due to the Second World War). He was, however, unlucky to sustain a shoulder injury in the semi-final which kept him out of the final against Rangers, at Hampden. Kerr briefly played for Rangers after the war before moving towards a coaching career.

Move into Management[edit]

It was in the field of football management where Kerr's true strengths began to emerge. His first post was as player/manager with the East of Scotland League club Peebles Rovers, followed by a spell at Berwick Rangers before being appointed manager of Alloa Athletic in 1955, a club where he had spent time as a player. He became known as having an eye for a good player, also having a theory that the bigger the club, the worse the talent-spotting. When at Alloa he assembled a partnership of inside forwards Dennis Gillespie (who he would later take to Tannadice) and John White. Two years after Kerr had sold White to Falkirk, Tottenham Hotspur spent £20,000 to lure him to North London, an indication of the talent Kerr had for finding good young players.

In 1959 United manager Andy McCall – their fifth in less than five years – had just resigned after leading the part-time club to third bottom place in Division Two and there was little expectation that fortunes would improve significantly. Dundee United advertised for a new manager; Jerry Kerr was the man given the apparently thankless task of reviving the club in April that year.

Success in the '60s[edit]

Kerr first policy upon joining United was his insistence that his players be full-time. A gamble that could have cost the club dearly. He also insisted that there had to be a properly constituted reserve side and an end to the previous policy of buying in over-the-hill First Division players. In the summer of 1960 the gamble paid off, after beating his former club Berwick Rangers at Tannadice, Kerr's United had secured second place in Division Two and promotion to Scotland's top flight. The records show that Kerr had more than doubled attendances at Tannadice in his first season in charge.

They doubled again the following season as United retained their place, and with players like Ron Yeats and the striking partnership Dennis Gillespie (who Kerr had brought with him from Alloa) and Jim Irvine scoring 21 and 23 goals respectively not only did United finish a highly creditable ninth, but they topped their city rivals by a point.

Kerr was also imaginative and inspired with some of his signings. With Hal Stewart of Morton, he was the first to see the possibility of tapping Scandinavia for cultured players at an affordable price.[1] And by 1964, Lennart Wing, Finn Døssing, Mogens Berg and Örjan Persson were Tannadice stalwarts.[1]

Off the field, Kerr was just as remarkable. He had been greatly taken by the success of Warwickshire County Cricket Club in raising money for the rebuilding of Edgbaston through the medium of a football pool. The English county made hundreds of thousands of pounds from this idea and a conversation with their secretary, Les Deakin led Kerr to set up Taypools, which, for about a decade, brought money cascading into the club. Using his great capacity for lateral thinking and an ability to adapt and even improve the ideas of others he helped secure the finance of the growing club. As well as raising money to invest in the squad Kerr's Taypools helped rebuild some of Tannadice, building the new West ("The Shed") and North stands and the opening of, what was at the time the state-of-the-art, Main Stand which was later, fittingly, renamed The Jerry Kerr Stand.

Kerr is also credited with another landmark moment in the club's history, as he led United into their first ever European tie in 1966. This produced an astonishing 4-1 aggregate victory over FC Barcelona in the Fairs Cup, which included a 2–1 win at the Nou Camp.[1]

Retirement[edit]

By 1971, Kerr (then aged 59) had taken Dundee United as far as he reasonably could. In November of that year he assumed the post of general manager, the job which he had transformed into one of the most sought-after in Scottish football going to Jim McLean who would build upon Kerr's successful base over the following seasons. It seems Kerr was never comfortable with his new duties and he left the club, with the minimum of publicity, at the end of season 1972-73 with a legacy hard to exaggerate. He is remembered for taking a small club, third from the bottom in Scottish League Football to a secure place in the top division, consistently finishing above clubs with larger reputations at the time like Hibernian, Hearts and Aberdeen. He later managed Forfar Athletic from 1974 to 1976 before retiring from football completely.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Archie MacPherson (11 November 1999). "Obituary: Jerry Kerr". The Independent. Retrieved 25 July 2010.