SPECIAL FEATURE: David Kemp talks technical coaching, Crystal Palace survival and Roy of the Rovers
Forget the brightly coloured title, because Crystal Palace’s new technical coach David Kemp will be doing the same thing he has done for almost 30 years.
With the Eagles bottom of the Premier League, Tony Pulis and Kemp have reunited to bring about yet another footballing resurrection.
The duo first began working together at Portsmouth in December 1999, where their magic touch lifted the south coast club out of the relegation zone and ensured survival in the old Division One.
Now Kemp is hoping he and Pulis can do the same at Selhurst Park, and he sees no reason why it should not be so.
“Palace were cut adrift at the bottom of the table when Tony came in, and they have done very well to get themselves back into a position where they have a fighting chance,” he said.
“The group of players there have worked brilliantly hard, but it would be great if we can bring in some faces in to strengthen the squad, give everyone a boost.
Welcome: Results have improved since Palace appointed Tony Pulis as the head honcho
“If that happens, we’ll be in a great position to stay in the Premier League, and once you have done that, you can start building the club up from there.”
The 60-year-old added: “As for Tony and me, we had been a successful partnership at Portsmouth.
“They were in a lot of trouble when we went there and we got them out of that.
“We went to Plymouth when they were in relegation trouble and we got them out of that. We succeeded at Stoke City, and hopefully we can keep that going here.”
Kemp’s role at the Palace training ground will be all encompassing, and while he admits the title is a new one on him, it makes little difference to his day-to-day job.
He said: “I had never heard of the job title before, but it is just a title. I will be doing for Tony exactly what I have done for him in the past.
“Tony does a lot of his own coaching. Some managers do, some don’t, Tony is definitely one that does. He is very hands on.
“But I’ll do some of the stuff he does not want to do or cannot do because he is too busy.
“I’ll take some training sessions, or work on something special with a player or on an aspect of the team – whatever is required really.”
He added: “I have been a manager myself and I know how difficult it can be in this day and age, it is an enormous responsibility and an enormous workload. If he needs help and I am there to give.”
Kemp’s experience is not restricted to coaching as he has more than 340 first team appearances under his belt.
In a career that lasted more than a decade, the striker hit 126 goals, including 10 in 35 appearances for the Eagles in the mid 1970s.
“I have good memories of playing for Palace, we had a great FA Cup run in 1976 to the quarter-finals, including a win at Chelsea.
FA Cup run: Crystal Palace v Chelsea in 1976
“I also had a stint as assistant manager under Alan Smith in the 90s and that was a time full of bright moments such as promotion and semi-final appearances in the League Cup and FA Cup.”
He added: “I have been coaching for almost 30 years in the top flight, managed and coached more than 1,000 games so I have the experience.
“But that counts for nothing in this business, because you always have to win the next game, that’s what football is all about.
“Anyone in football loves a challenge, they are all enjoyable but the best one is the next one, you’re always onto the next one.”
And Kemp, who had his first taste of Palace action in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Spurs, has already seen enough to know the challenge of keeping Palace in the Premier League is achievable.
Encouraging signs: Palace's first half showing at Spurs last weekend gave David Kemp hope for the future
He said: “If we can play like we did in the first half against Tottenham, it would be a fantastic start.
“We played ever so well, but did not get the reward – by our own fault, not anyone else.
“The performance was very encouraging, but we have to maintain that level of play over 90 minutes and close the deal.
“We created lots of opportunities and did not take them, and you cannot afford to drop the standard as we did in the second half because that will cost you the game.
“We have Stoke next, and we need a good solid performance for the whole game.”
Should all else fail for Kemp, he could fall back on his famous team-mate from the pages of the Roy of the Rovers comic.
Such was Kemp’s popularity while at Portsmouth, he and his team-mates featured with the famous Roy Race as part of a comic strip story, and he even got to have his photo with the legend.
“There was a story line based on me, and I ended up having my photograph taken with Roy Race,” he said.
“It was a great honour obviously, and I was in the centre spread of the comic, with me and Roy. There are not many people who can claim that.”
Legends: David Kemp (second right, front row) lines up with his Pompey team-mates and Roy Race in the mid 1970s
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