Wigan Athletic send 'Keith the duck' off in style

Wigan Athletic's 1-0 victory over Portsmouth was the perfect send-off for a very special duck called Keith.

Sunday, 29th August 2021, 12:05 pm
The emotional scenes at half-time at the DW Stadium

The local bird became a Latics legend this week after an unfortunate case of mistaken identity catapulted him into the spotlight.

A Latics supporter, 'Rob', tweeted his sorrow on the understanding a fellow fan had passed away - before realising he'd made a terrible error.

"There have been wires crossed," he tweeted. "A friend said Keith was dead, I assumed it was Keith Valentine. It was Daryl's pet duck, also called Keith. I am highly embarrassed, I hope this hasn't caused any offence. Sorry again."

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Thankfully, the Latics fan in question, although battling cancer, is still very much alive - and, to his huge credit, was quick to see the funny side.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone for all your messages of sympathy and condolences," he wrote on Facebook. "It's nice to know how much you all miss me. But I can assure you that I've not popped my clogs just yet, and my fight against lung cancer continues. I must be the first person in history to get their messages of sympathy before I've even died. I blame Daryl Ravden, only he could have a pet duck called Keith."

Rob and Keith (Valentine) met up for a few pints before Saturday's game, to have a chat - and a laugh - about the remarkable story.

Daryl also tweeted: "This is my duck and I didn't expect it to go this far. Keith (Valentine) is fine with it, he thinks it's funny, although I do wish him all the best with his illness."

After taking over the Latics social media channels for 48 hours, club staff including Dr Jonathan Tobin and even chairman Talal Al Hammad became involved.

"Dear @LaticsOfficial," tweeted Dr Tobin on the morning of the game. "I know it’s important that people hear about tickets and club news, but it’s been less than 24 hours since Keith uttered his final, sad quack. We know as people, as a club and as a town we need to move on, but it’s still so raw. Please be respectful today."

Hours later, Dr Tobin - who helped to save the life of Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba in 2012 - followed up: "So I’ve had a fair number of nicknames in football. But @Talalalhammad32 amusing himself by calling me 'duck' instead of 'Doc' all night in honour of Keith takes some beating (and explaining)."

The story reached a national audience shortly after 3.45pm, when the fans inside the DW Stadium were invited to pay their respects to Keith the duck - whose image was shown on the big screen - during the half-time interval.

The tale also found its way into the Latics dressing room.

"That was for Keith," tweeted Latics striker Stephen Humphrys, following the 1-0 victory which sends Latics up to fourth in League One.

It didn't even end there, with Latics later confirming they would be inviting Keith and a guest for a hospitality package at the next home game against Doncaster next month.

"Don't serve duck," implored the Mudhutter fanzine by Twitter.

"That would be be quackers," replied the club's admin.