The recent news of Chris Hughton’s appointment as Brighton manager and the realisation that there would now be a familiar face in the opposition dugout on Saturday sent me scurrying to the record books in search of the answer to the question that I am sure is on all of your lips, namely, how many other former Brentford players have become managers in recent times?
Before I start I wonder if anyone would like to hazard a guess?
No, I thought not.
I did and I found that I was miles out with my answer.
I didn’t have too long to spare for my research so I decided to make the arbitrary choice of 1970 as my start date, and I hit pay dirt straight away.
John Docherty had an incredible five spells at Brentford, three as a player, one as manager and finally, as assistant to Frank McLintock.
His most successful times as a manager came away from Griffin Park, firstly at Cambridge United where he performed near miracles on a shoestring budget and, after leaving Brentford for the final time, he and McLintock bizarrely swapped roles with Doc taking over as manager at Millwall with Frank as his number two, and together they led Millwall into the top flight for the first time in their history.
A truly remarkable achievement given their resources.
Docherty’s next stop was at Bradford City, in March 1990.
He was neither popular or successful there and I remember murmurings against him after Brentford won there with a late Neil Smillie goal in 1991, and he eventually returned for a second spell at Millwall before leaving the game for good.
Brian Turner is best remembered for hitting the post late on in that FA Cup match at Hull in 1971, but there was far more to him than that as he earned over one hundred caps for New Zealand and later became national team manager.
I can still picture Roger Cross, resplendent in his white boots, and the elegant striker had a long and distinguished career within the game as youth team manager at Millwall and as a coach at Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur, where he was also assistant manager to Gerry Francis, and then back where he started, at West Ham, as coach and chief scout.
Other stalwarts from the 70s in Paul Bence, Jackie Graham and Terry Scales managed in non-league at Wycombe Wanderers, Staines Town and Hoddesden Town respectively.
Stewart Houston was perhaps one of the biggest managerial names that Brentford have produced.
He coached at Plymouth Argyle before becoming George Graham’s assistant during Arsenal’s successful spell in the early 90s and he twice held the caretaker reigns at Highbury, leading the club to the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup, where the Gunners lost to a last-minute freak goal – “Nayim from the halfway line!”
Perhaps unfairly, he became known as the “Cone Man,” a title apparently dreamed up by Ian Wright but QPR were impressed enough with his credentials to name him as their manager in 1996.
I got to know him at that point as I worked closely with the club managing Ericsson’s sponsorship.
To call him dour might perhaps be a tad harsh but I certainly did not find him the most expansive of personalities and any conversation beyond football was strictly limited, until one day, stuck for something to say to him and with the silence lengthening, I somehow started burbling on about a show I had just seen, and suddenly Stewart came alive.
He was passionate about musicals and from that day on we had something in common and a point of contact!
His time at Loftus Road was not a success and after the inevitable parting of the ways he had further spells coaching at Ipswich Town, Tottenham Hotspur, where he was re-united with George Graham, and finally at Walsall, before returning to Arsenal as a scout.
Alan Murray came and went quickly at Griffin Park, ending up as top scorer with a miserly total of seven goals from midfield in our dreadful 1972/73 relegation season, testimony indeed to the folly of the Board of Directors’ decision to sell John O’Mara without allowing the manager to bring in an adequate replacement.
Murray began his management career at Hartlepool United in 1991 when, with boss Cyril Knowles battling against a brain tumour, Murray made the unusual shift from chief executive to manager.
He then moved to Darlington before working for Graeme Souness at Southampton, and then as assistant manager at Newcastle.
David Court was also long past his peak and came and went in a blink of an eye, but lasted for years back at Arsenal as Assistant Academy Director and Assistant Head of Youth Development.
Keith Pritchett also had a short stay at Griffin Park before impressing at Watford under Graham Taylor.
Eventually he emigrated to New Zealand where he managed the New Zealand national team, taking charge for the first time in June 1996. New Zealand won two, drew one and lost eight of his eleven games in charge.
Ironically the player with almost the shortest playing record for Brentford has had one of the longest and most successful managerial careers!
Harry Redknapp lasted a mere thirty-eight minutes as a triallist at Aldershot before suffering an injury and leaving the club following the arrival of Bill Dodgin as manager a few days later.
He cut his managerial teeth at Bournemouth and survived a nine-nil trouncing in his first match as caretaker manager at Lincoln in December 1982.
It was an icy day, and Bournemouth could not afford AstroTurf boots, so they could barely stand up and Lincoln slalomed past them at will.
After the game Harry was asked if he was disappointed and apparently complained bitterly that the seventh goal was offside.
Things could only get better after that and Redknapp has now been in the hot seat for over thirty years at West Ham United, Portsmouth (twice) where he won the FA Cup, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers as well as being widely touted at one time as England national team manager.
His record certainly bears scrutiny as he has achieved a creditable forty per cent success rate in over thirteen hundred matches in charge.
Tony Burns had a decent loan spell at Brentford in 1977 and the former Arsenal keeper went on to manage Tonbridge three times as well as Gravesend & Northfleet.
He was Millwall’s goalkeeping coach for fourteen years and was appointed joint caretaker manager of Millwall for a month in April 2006.
Remarkably, at the age of seventy he joined Gillingham in July 2014 as senior goalkeeping coach where he works with Stuart Nelson, still impressing in the Gills goal.
Neil Smillie finished his long career with two years at Gillingham as player/coach, including a spell as caretaker manager, before moving on to Wycombe Wanderers as youth team coach and later becoming first team manager.
He always struck me as being far too nice and decent a man to succeed as a manager in the cut-throat world of professional football!
Barry Lloyd is also a survivor as after managing at Yeovil and Worthing, he took over at Brighton as long ago as January 1987.
He guided them to promotion in his first full season and they also reached the Second Division playoff final in 1991 before money got tight and he eventually resigned in 1994 just before the roof fell in.
He took the well-trodden path into scouting and has been at the club for the past seven years as chief scout.
Bob Booker is a rarity as he has become a folk hero at no fewer than three clubs, Brentford, Sheffield United and finally Brighton where he became assistant manager and continued to serve the Seagulls in a variety of roles for over a decade, including two spells as caretaker manager.
Ron Harris parlayed his experience of playing over seven hundred games, predominantly for Chelsea, into a brief term as player-manager at Aldershot but he soon tired of football management and turned to property development and after dinner speaking.
Maybe Gary knew what he was doing as he managed to score sixty-three goals for the Bees, including a hat trick scored in four amazing minutes against Newport.
He has combined his new career as a policeman with over eleven years as a successful manager at Cambridge City where he remains today.
Chris Kamara led Bradford City to promotion before not doing as well at Stoke City and correctly coming to the conclusion that television punditry was a better and more secure way to spend his time.
Striker David Kemp only played a handful of games for the Bees as a loanee before injury struck and he has managed and coached for nearly thirty years as the number one at Plymouth Argyle, Slough Town and Oxford United as well as having a plethora of jobs as assistant manager, including spells at Wimbledon, Millwall, Portsmouth, Stoke City and then back at Crystal Palace where he became technical coach in 2014.
He has worked extensively with Tony Pulis and will doubtless be following him to West Bromwich Albion.
Full back Les Strong was far too sensible to enter the dog-eat-dog life as a manager in England, but instead spent three years as manager of the Anguilla national team in the West Indies.
I spent my honeymoon there and it is simply paradise on earth.
Midfielder Terry Bullivant took charge at Barnet and Reading, where he signed Carl Asaba from us, before he returned to Griffin Park in 1998 as a member of Ron Noades title-winning coaching staff and he stayed for almost three seasons before quitting in April 2001 and having spells at Crystal Palace, Watford and Birmingham City.
In March 2008 he made a third return to West London as assistant manager to Andy Scott and once again helped the team to a championship success before teaming up with Scott again at Aldershot Town where he remains today, and I watched his team give Conference leaders Barnet a tough match yesterday afternoon.
His autobiography is well worth reading and reveals much about life at the bottom of the football league.
I will end this article with the amazing tale of Rowan Alexander, whose underwhelming stay at Griffin Park soon came to an end and he returned to Scotland with Greenock Morton where, ironically, he rediscovered his shooting boots, before moving into management with his first club Queen of the South.
He then moved to Gretna where he benefited from the largesse of Brooks Mileson and enjoyed huge success and led the tiny club to the promised land of the Scottish Cup Final and the Premier League before the money ran out.
So many former Bees who became managers in recent years, and yet, I have barely scratched the surface, as will be revealed tomorrow.