|Full name||Kenneth Joseph Birch|
|Date of birth||31 December 1933|
|Place of birth||Birkenhead, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Kenneth Joseph Birch (born 31 December 1933) is a retired English footballer who played as a right-half for Everton and Southampton, before leading Welsh club Bangor City to victory in the Welsh Cup in 1962.
His football career was interrupted during his National Service, when he joined the Royal Tank Corps and represented the Army at football. He made his Everton first-team debut in a 1–1 draw at Sheffield United on 2 April 1956. He made a further three appearances that season and was a regular at right-back in 1956–57 but fell out of favour the following year.
In March 1958, he was signed by Ted Bates of Southampton for a fee of £6,000 and went straight into the first team, making his "Saints" debut in a 3–1 victory at Northampton Town on 15 March 1958 as a replacement for Bryn Elliott. With Birch retaining his place for the last ten matches of the season, of which seven were victories, Southampton finished in sixth place in the Third Division South, thus enabling the team to qualify for the newly formed Third Division proper.
At this time, Bangor were playing in the Cheshire League and regularly finished mid-table, but in Birch's first season with the Welsh club, they reached the final of the Welsh Cup, going down 3–1 to Swansea Town. The following season, Bangor again reached the final, this time against Wrexham; after each team had won one match of the two-legged final, they met again in a play-off on 7 May 1962 at Belle Vue, Rhyl. Birch was one of the scorers as Bangor ran out 3–1 victors.
Victory in the Welsh Cup entitled Bangor to enter the European Cup Winners' Cup where they were drawn against the Italian cup-winners, Napoli in the preliminary round. The first leg was played at Bangor's Farrar Road Stadium on 5 September 1961 in front of a capacity crowd of 8,000. Part-timers Bangor City, who were lying sixth in the Cheshire League, outplayed their famous rivals. Whilst Napoli played typical Italian pass and move football, Bangor's no-nonsense more direct style of football paid off. After 43 minutes, a cross from Hunter was met by Matthews who shot home through a crowd of defenders to beat the unsighted keeper. Throughout the second half, Bangor missed numerous chances to increase their lead, hitting the bar twice, while successive Napoli attacks were repelled by the Bangor defenders. Then, after 82 minutes, Brown was fouled in the Napoli penalty area. Birch, the team captain, converted the penalty and, with no further scoring, Bangor had beaten Napoli by two goals to nil to become the first Welsh club to win in European competition.
The Second Leg was played in Naples on 26 September in front of a crowd of 80,000. Napoli were 2–0 up after 54 minutes, before Bangor scored with twenty minutes remaining, when an awkward throw-in from Birch caused havoc in the Napoli penalty-area, allowing McAllister to sneak the ball past the goalkeeper to put Bangor back ahead on goal difference. Napoli then took the match to a play-off when they scored with five minutes remaining to bring the score to 3–1, 3–3 on aggregate.
At that time, the "away goals rule" didn't apply, so a play-off was arranged at Arsenal's Highbury stadium on Wednesday 10 October. Napoli took the lead on 37 minutes when Rosa fired a 20-yard shot in off the crossbar. A tremendous display by Len Davies in goal kept City in the game, and after 25 minutes of the second half, Ellis headed the ball down into the path of McAllister who slotted the ball past Pontel in the Napoli goal. Unfortunately for Bangor, with five minutes to go, Rosa capitalised on a rebound to score his second of the night and put Napoli through.
In May 2007, Birch was a guest of honour at Farrar Road for the Bangor City Legends Reunion & Challenge Match.
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