Goalkeepers only rarely seem to go on to become managers and Gary Phillips joined their number when he took over as player-manager at Barnet in 1993 before being replaced by another goalkeeper in Ray Clemence. He subsequently managed at Aylesbury United and Hemel Hempstead Town but quit after just seventeen games. After a number of coaching roles, he was appointed as manager of Grays Athletic before returning to Hemel Hempstead Town. He has since worked as a goalkeeping coach at both Barnet and Stevenage.
Robbie Cooke often ploughed a lone furrow as a Brentford striker in the mid-80s but he thrived after retirement and had a long spell as David Moyes’s chief Scout at both Everton and Manchester United before recently being hired by Burnley.
Keith Millen remains well in the public eye given his recent spells as caretaker manager at Crystal Palace and it is good to hear that Alan Pardew will keep him on now he has taken over as the new manager. Keith is an experienced coach and also had a year managing Bristol City.
Andy Sinton was mentioned in despatches a couple of times as a possible Brentford manager, given his illustrious spell at Griffin Park as a player, but it remained a pipe dream. He became manager of Isthmian League Division One outfit Fleet Town in summer 2005, having spent the previous season as the club’s Football Development Officer and stayed there for five years before being appointed as manager of AFC Telford United in the Conference North. In his first season he won promotion to the Conference via the playoffs, and he remained in charge until January 2013, when he left after a sixteen match winless run, the worst in the club’s history.
Ian Holloway had an unhappy time at Griffin Park and was never really able to demonstrate his full ability on the pitch owing to illness but he has had a long and chequered managerial career experiencing the highs and lows of managing at all levels of the game at Bristol Rovers, Queens Park Rangers, Plymouth Argyle, Leicester City, Blackpool, Crystal Palace and Millwall. He is a bubbly, eccentric and effervescent character who is as crazy as a fox and far more astute than he is generally given credit for.
Steve Perryman could well have become a Brentford managerial legend had he not decided to quit in mysterious circumstances on the eve of the 1990/91 season, apparently when he was refused permission to sign Fulham left back Gary Elkins. Let Steve tell the story in his own words:
I’d done my homework and found out Fulham would let him go on a free. The chairman didn’t want to sign him . . . in one conversation he said one reason he didn’t want me to sign Elkins was because Terry Bullivant had told Lange that he thought the Fulham player had ‘shifty eyes’! What the chairman was inadvertently telling me was that he’d rather trust the judgement of one of his players than his manager, not based on footballing ability, but facial expression.
That was the end of his reign at Griffin Park on a point of principle, just when it appeared that he had finally built a squad that was on the verge of a promotion push. A terrible waste, although Phil Holder succeeded him and certainly put his own stamp on things, but it was a team largely made up of Perryman signings that won the league in 1992. Steve went on to manage Watford and enjoy success in Japan as well as having a brief stint back at Spurs as assistant manager before becoming director of football at Exeter City.
Ex-Brentford loanee Paul Merson (did he play for anyone else?) had an unhappy spell as manager of Walsall which ended one cold February afternoon in 2006 when his team visibly gave up on him and subsided gently to defeat to a Brentford that was not made to work very hard for their five goal victory.
Colin Lee will never be forgotten for his four goal debut for Spurs in a nine-nil victory over Bristol Rovers. He made his name as a youth coach but had managerial spells at Watford, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Walsall, Millwall and Torquay.
Graham Rix had a wonderful loan spell at Brentford and he inspired a run towards the playoff positions which tapered off after his departure. He had brief but unsuccessful spells as manager at Portsmouth, Oxford United and Hearts.
Paul Buckle started well as a manager, leading Torquay to promotion from the Conference and then to the League Two play-offs, and being touted as a man to watch. It all turned sour for him at Bristol Rovers and after getting the plum Conference job at Luton Town he quit and moved to the United States in order to accompany his wife. He is now trying to restore his managerial reputation at Cheltenham Town.
Dean Holdsworth had a very successful reign at Newport County, before having a two year stint at Aldershot Town . His team mate, Marcus Gayle, has just lost his job at Staines Town, where he at least had the consolation of taking them to a First Round FA Cup tie at Griffin Park last season.
Steve Perryman did not make one of his more inspired signings when he spent a lot of time, effort and money in bringing Maltese international John Buttigieg to the club. His obvious skill and ability to read the game as a sweeper did not fit in with the manager’s chosen style of play and he was too often left on the sidelines. He returned to his homeland with Floriana and Valletta after which his coaching career reached its zenith when he became Maltese national team head coach between 2009 and 2011.
Eddie May was another highly priced disappointment and gave the impression that he could not wait to scuttle back over the border to his native Scotland, and as soon as he did his career was miraculously resurrected. He then had a short spell as manager of Falkirk.
Brian Statham’s career was severely restricted by injury and he will best be remembered for his two red cards against Brentford, for Reading and Gillingham and for being sent off in the Wembley playoff final disaster against Crewe. He combined a career working in the City with managing Heybridge Swifts and Billericay Town.
Chris Hughton ended his long and illustrious playing career when injuring his knee in the warm-up for Brentford before the Christmas match against Derby County, which resulted in Grant Chalmers, who thought he was not going to be needed, having to sit on the bench whilst still digesting the pie he had just consumed. No wonder the substitute was substituted!
Chris led Newcastle United back into the Premiership before being surprisingly sacked just months later and becoming the boss at Birmingham City and then Norwich City, before his recent appointment at Brighton, where he led his new team to an FA Cup win at Griffin Park, costing us a plum home tie to Arsenal!
Shane Westley was a panic buy replacement for the injured Terry Evans in 1992 and never really looked the part, being agricultural in the extreme. He did well at Lincoln City, and led them to promotion before eventually leaving the game to become a personal trainer.
Tricky winger Paul Stephenson, who never made do with beating two men when he had the chance to take on a third, had a spell as caretaker manager at Hartlepool and is now First-Team Coach at Blackpool.
Nicky Forster could yet make a successful return to management, as after the sacking of Andy Scott he was Matthew Benham’s surprise choice to take over the reins. He gave the team a new impetus and confidence, aided as he was by Mark Warburton – now what on earth happened to him? He enjoyed a successful three month spell in charge and led the team out at Wembley in the JPT Final. He was not retained at the end of the season before having an unsuccessful spell at Dover Athletic.
Andy Scott is still in the game as manager of Aldershot but it might so easily have been so much better for him. He replaced Terry Butcher in 2007 and had an immediate impact, righting the ship when it was listing perilously close to the choppy waters of Conference football, before winning the title in his first full season in charge. At one time being touted for higher profile jobs, he apparently came within a whisker of being appointed at another one of his former clubs in Sheffield United before it all turned sour for him and he was sacked in February 2011. He then won a plum job at Rotherham which also ended badly before taking over the reins at Aldershot Town as the club dropped into the Conference.
Micky Adams is also one of football’s survivors and is seen now as a lower division firefighter but he has achieved much in his long career and is unfortunate not to have made a bigger name for himself. He started off well at Fulham before being unceremoniously dumped for Kevin Keegan and after a bizarre thirteen-day stint as boss at Swansea City he was appointed Brentford manager in November 1997 before leaving the club when Ron Noades took over. His managerial career continued at Nottingham Forest as caretaker, two spells at Brighton, Leicester City, Coventry City, Port Vale and his boyhood team Sheffield United. He then returned to Port Vale where he achieved the fourth promotion of his career as he led the club out of League Two. He is now trying to keep Tranmere Rovers in the Football League.
Scott Fitzgerald was handed a poisoned chalice when he took over a poor and dispirited squad from Leroy Rosenior and was peremptorily sacked as soon as the inevitable relegation was confirmed, before returning to youth team management at Gillingham and Millwall. Chris Hargreaves was an honest toiler and midfield dynamo and is currently struggling to return Torquay United to the Football League.
Steve Claridge came and went in the blink of an eye, and that was maybe too long for some people, as he was well over the hill when Martin Allen surprisingly signed him in late 1994, and he and Deon Burton formed a totally ill-matched strike duo of waxwork dummies with neither prepared to run the channels.
He eventually had a thirty-six day spell as manager of Millwall in the summer of 2005 and was sacked before a ball was kicked in earnest. He is now the media pundit we all love to hate but could well return to the dugout next season at the reformed Salisbury City.
As you can see, many former Bees have ventured into the managerial hotseat after ending their playing days, with many of them being ejected fairly quickly.
I started my review in 1970, but I would be remiss if I did not end with a brief homage to Ron Greenwood, perhaps the most successful former Bee to become a manager. He enjoyed three great years at Griffin Park as a cultured centre half and his thirteen years in charge at West Ham saw the Hammers gain a deserved reputation for style and elegance. He led his team to FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup victories in successive years and ended his career with a successful spell as England team manager before being replaced by Bobby Robson.
Let’s hope that one day another ex-Bee can emulate his success. Kevin O’Connor perhaps?