Alexander never played or managed at the top level. As a player he plied his trade as an unremarkable striker for a series of lower league clubs including Barnet, Grimsby, Stockport, Lincoln and Mansfield. In this way his career resembled hundreds, if not thousands of unheralded professional footballers through the years. As a manager at Lincoln, Peterborough and Macclesfield he spent nearly all his career in the bottom division. Noted for a particularly direct form of play, his teams did not play beautiful football. Yet, operating on the Football League’s lowest budget, he managed to guide Lincoln to four successive play-off finishes between 2003-6. After being the victim of Darragh MacAnthony’s revolution at Peterborough, he has successfully kept Macclesfield above the League 2 relegation zone since taking over in 2008. With a particular talent for revitalising the careers of those, like Simon Yeo and Terry Dunfield, who had fallen out of the game, or for nurturing young stars like Lee Frecklington and John Rooney, Alexander was, in the words of Macclesfield chairman Mike Rance: ‘ the perfect manager for a club like ours. He was totally pragmatic about managing in League Two and the constraints involved.’
Unflashy and committed, Alexander is singled out as a ‘gentleman’ by those who worked closely with him. His dedication, passion and belief that hard work, teamwork and organisation could compensate for a lack of financial clout are an important example to everyone who feels football is about more than the glitz of the top division. Put simply, Alexander was one of the good guys, and in this way represents the soul of our game in a way that the peroxided WAGs, flash cars and million-pound gambling sprees of your average Premiership footballer can never do. England play a friendly tonight against Egypt. There should be a minute’s silence for Keith, a true servant of our game. I’m not exactly holding my breath, but it would be nice for the FA to remember – for once – that English football does not start and end with the Big League.