The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Joshua Peck

BRIAN Lit­tle al­ways semed des­tined for a suc­ces­sul ca­reer as a man­ager once he fin­ished his dis­tin­guished play­ing days with As­ton Villa.

A spell as care­taker man­ager of Wolves showed his po­ten­tial and two pro­mo­tions in two years with Dar­ling­ton con­firmed it.

More pro­mo­tions fol­lowed with Le­ices­ter be­fore the for­mer striker re­turned to his spir­i­tual home at Villa Park.

A Wem­b­ley win and ven­tures into Europe fol­lowed be­fore he had other man­age­rial spells at Stoke, West Brom and Hull.

Now di­rec­tor of foot­ball for Jersey FA, the 61-year-old was loved ev­ery­where. Un­til he re­turned to Le­ices­ter that is...


I was care­taker man­ager at Wolves in the mid-80s. I had been coach­ing at As­ton Villa for three years and left and Sammy Chap­man, who was care­taker him­self at Wolves, asked me to go and help him.

It was prob­a­bly the dark­est times Wolves had. The in­fa­mous Bhatti brothers owned the club at the time and the club was pen­ni­less.

Sammy ended up leav­ing so I took charge for around seven games. I won three in a row but the club de­cided it was time to look for a more ex­pe­ri­enced man­ager.

Gra­ham Turner ended up go­ing in and he did a great job.


I man­aged to sign Ally Robert­son from West Bromwich Al­bion in that short spell at Wolves. He was a cen­tre back and he stayed there for some time.

I’d played against him a few times and he cer­tainly sorted me out. He was very ex­pe­ri­enced, ex­actly what we needed in the dress­ing room.

He knew Wolves were in trou­ble but he also knew somebody would take them out of their prob­lems. He was bril­liant for me in those few games.


There are dif­fer­ent de­grees of sign­ing. At the very top end, Gareth South­gate was my best. We signed him at Villa from Palace.

At the time, Gareth was a right-back or played the sit­ting cen­tral mid­field role. I’m not say­ing he had never played cen­tre-back be­fore but that’s where we put him.

We were play­ing with three cen­tre backs and we put Gareth at the back be­tween Paul McGrath and Ugo Ehiogu, and within two months he was an Eng­land in­ter­na­tional.

He just set­tled into the role the way we played and he was phe­nom­e­nal. His read­ing of the game was bril­liant and he mopped up tremen­dously well for us.

At Dar­ling­ton I signed a lad called Mick Tait and he dropped into cen­tre-back for us. He was in­cred­i­ble and the ex­pe­ri­ence he gave us was fan­tas­tic.


This was with Dar­ling­ton. I went there to­wards the end of the sea­son and they were bot­tom of what was the Fourth Di­vi­sion hav­ing not won a game.

We got rel­e­gated but on the back of try­ing to sort them out and do­ing rea­son­ably well, I was given a twoyear con­tract.

I took them straight back up, win­ning the Con­fer­ence in 1990 and then Di­vi­sion Four straight away.

I won the Con­fer­ence man­ager of the year and then the Di­vi­sion Four man­ager of the year, so I got off to a de­cent start and I loved my two years at the club.


I had a trio of co­me­di­ans at As­ton Villa. Mark Draper, Tommy John­son and Ian Tay­lor were three bril­liant lads in the dress­ing room.

They never did any­thing re­ally, they just laughed and kept every­body in the dress­ing room happy. They had a great rap­port in the dress­ing room and were great lads.

There are funny foot­ballers in dif­fer­ent ways. I can think of lads who told jokes but Tay­lor, Draper and John­son were just a mag­nif­i­cent three to have around.

I could see Ian Tay­lor on a foot­ball field some­times laugh­ing at Mark Draper be­cause he said some­thing stupid in games.


Prob­a­bly Mark Bos­nich run­ning away from Derby when I told him he wasn’t play­ing in the game for Villa! It wasn’t funny at the time though.

Bos­nich had been out in­jured for a while and Michael Oakes had come in and played re­ally well.

Bozzie thought he was com­ing back in for the game at Derby but we didn’t name the team un­til we were all in the dress­ing room. We were sat down and as I named the team Bozzie just ran out the dress­ing room. Paul Bar­ron, who was my goal­keep­ing coach, was chas­ing him through the crowd all around the old Base­ball Ground.

Look­ing back at it now it was the most com­i­cal thing, but at

the time it wasn’t! Best Sign­ing: Gareth South­gate


I look at Villa and win­ning the League Cup was mag­nif­i­cent but my favourite achieve­ment was win­ning my first cham­pi­onship with Dar­ling­ton. With­out that I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have done any­thing that I’ve done to­day. I can see it now. Gary Coatsworth scor­ing with a loop­ing header at Welling to win the game 1-0 and win the Con­fer­ence. It was a header from the edge of the box.

With­out that, all of the other mem­o­ries might not have hap­pened. I al­ways look at that and think it was the start of a very en­joy­able ca­reer.


Go­ing back to Le­ices­ter with As­ton Villa and hav­ing 24,000 peo­ple put Ju­das plac­ards in front of me. It hurt like hell be­cause I took Le­ices­ter to three play-off fi­nals and got them pro­moted to the Premier League.

I go back to Le­ices­ter a lot now and they’ve done a great job to get back in the Premier League. One club man: Brian

Lit­tle scor­ing for As­ton


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.