Saturday’s opponents, Crystal Palace, have something of a strong historical link with United, probably for the 1994/95 season more than any other. People remember the infamous game at Selhurst Park, and the controversial FA Cup semi finals, but for one of the famous Class of 92, it is the least spoke of of the fixtures from that year which is most memorable. Kevin Pilkington, the goalkeeper, came on against Palace as a substitute when Peter Schmeichel was injured.
Kevin’s been a good friend to RetroUnited.com over the years and we caught up with him for his memories of that game almost twenty years ago as well as his thoughts on David De Gea’s recent form.
Kevin, it’s coming up to twenty years since your United debut, against Crystal Palace in November 1994, ironically Saturday’s opponents. What can you remember of that day – and how nerve racking was it coming on as a sub?
I just remember preparing for the game as normal but not really expecting to get on. It was a bit surreal when Pete pulled up after six minutes and the Gaffer turned round and said ‘you’re going on’. I didn’t really have time to get nervous!
Was it any easier coming into the team because so many of the young players were getting chances?
Not really. I was coming on for the best goalkeeper in the world so the pressure was on!
And how pleasing was it to keep a clean sheet?
Very! After the game I was on top of the world and a very proud person. I enjoyed every minute.
On to the present day and many people are praising David de Gea’s form this season, some are now even saying he’s ‘world class’… is that something you agree with?
He has proved to be a very good signing. Yes I do think he is up there with the likes of Neuer, Buffon and Courtois. His performances have been very consistent but he is getting a lot of practice at the moment with United’s defence!!!
It’s been a good season for Notts County. You recently had a long unbeaten record – is promotion the aim this year?
Not really. After last season I think we would just like to get to 59 points as quick as possible and then see where it takes us. Obviously to be in and around the top for as long as possible would be great.
There’s a bit of an ex-Reds group going on at Meadow Lane with Roy Carroll and Alan Smith.. do you ever share stories from your time at United?
It’s great to have Alan and Roy around the place as they are both very good players and very good people and professionals as well. There are a few stories being swapped!!!
Last time we spoke you still hadn’t retired. It seems like your registration is still there… but do you see yourself as coach now? And when the time comes, will you make an announcement that you’ve retired – after all, you’re the last from the class of 92 to still be playing professionally…
Yep I’m still registered and fitter than ever! I love playing football but I do see myself as a coach now. But if I was asked to play I would still love to and give it my all. I’m very proud to do what I do!
Thanks to Kevin for his time. His story features in greater depth in the book ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’.