Steve Kember
Steve
Kember

Steve Kember's fourth caretaker spell in charge at Crystal Palace was made permanent on May 23, 2003, after the club's chairman, Simon Jordan, gave him the opportunity to take the reins full time.

Steve Kember was born in Croydon in 1948. He enjoyed a marathon career as a midfielder with four clubs from the mid-1960s to the late 1970s.

He began and ended his playing career at Crystal Palace. When he retired in 1979 he had played a total of 509 games including appearances as a substitute.

Steve signed professional terms on his 17th birthday after a two-year apprenticeship. He made his debut on 1 January 1966 in an away game at Bristol City. After spending the latter half of the 1960s with Palace, he was in the Eagles team that hit the top flight for the first time in 1970.

He joined Chelsea after the season that saw the Eagles promoted, a campaign that also saw Kember capped at England under-23 level. He spent four seasons at Stamford Bridge, where he made 125 appearances for the club that had just won the European Cup Winners' Cup when he joined.

He was with Leicester City for a further three seasons, making 115 full appearances for the Foxes before a brief spell at Palace saw out his playing days.

Steve was again part of a Palace side that won the old Division Two championship when he returned to Palace and, soon after that, he played in the old North American Soccer League with Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps. He was there for two years before he rejoined Palace in 1981, when he was appointed coach to the youth team at Selhurst Park under manager Dario Gradi.

Following Dario's departure, Steve was placed in charge of the first team until the arrival of Alan Mullery in 1982.

Steve left the club again on Mullery's arrival but he was brought back one more time in 1993 when he joined Alan Smith's coaching staff and – for a third time in his life – he helped Palace to win the championship in English football's second tier.

Since then, Steve has been assistant manager to a succession of bosses in times of regular change at the South London club.

His position at Palace changed again when Alan Smith departed in the spring of 2001. It was Kember who was left with the responsibility of saving Palace from relegation to the Nationwide League Second Division. He succeeded when he took charge of the team and steered them to two away wins from their final two matches that secured their Division One status.

When Steve Bruce was appointed as Palace boss in the summer of 2001, Kember reverted to his position as assistant manager, working closely with Bruce and Terry Bullivant as The Eagles got off to a flier at the start of the 2001/2001 season.

Following Trevor Francis' dismissal from Birmingham City though, Steve Bruce was linked with a return to St. Andrews and after much speculation decided to resign as Palace boss in order to manage Birmingham. Palace chairman Simon Jordan attempted to block the move and threatened legal action against Bruce whilst appointing Kember, once again, as caretaker manager, taking charge of the first team with Terry Bullivant.

As it turned out, Francis and Bruce swapped jobs as the ex-Blues boss became the new Eagles manager, with Kember once more reverting to his role as assistant along with Bullivant.

While Bruce went on to take Birmingham into the Premiership, Francis failed to deliver promotion and was dismissed shortly before the end of the 2002-03 season, in which Palace finished 14th.

Steve took temporary charge once again, and was then appointed as the new permanent manager, with Terry Bullivant as his assistant.

Jordan, whose burning desire is to get Palace back into the Premiership, was convinced the long-serving pair were the right men for the job.

"I made the decision, not simply because it's an easy decision to make," he said. "If you make decisions that aren't necessarily the right ones, you put yourself under pressure.

"I want nothing more than achievement and I am determined to get it. I looked at where we were, my stance was that Steve Kember and Terry Bullivant must be part of the management team, they must underpin the way we go forward. I looked at the situation and said 'if I am so adamant that these guys are the mainstays of the management team, why is it I won't give Steve the job?' Why would I take a step back and start again with someone else who doesn't understand the culture and doesn't want half the players we have?''

Steve was delighted to finally be given the manager's job and added on the club's website: "I am relishing the opportunity to take the role full time. I firmly believe that the squad of players we have here will certainly be capable of achieving promotion next season. The chairman has already made his ambitions public and mine mirror his."

Their shared goal seemed achievable after three games of the 2003/04 season in which Palace had earned maximum points, but a subsequent run of just one win in 13 league games left the club in 20th place in Division One and, following a 5-0 defeat to Wigan at the JJB Stadium, Kember was sacked, along with Bullivant, ending his long association with the club.

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