Ath­let­ics aces in­spire Marathon bid

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

HE’S 55 with knack­ered knees and has never run more than 13 miles in his life.

But con­sid­er­ing he was schooled by Bren­dan Foster and learned the tricks of the trade from Steve Cram, to­day’s Vir­gin Money Lon­don Marathon should be a dod­dle for Southend boss Phil Brown.

The for­mer Hull and Pre­ston boss was a pupil at St Joseph’s School in Heb­burn where Foster, now 67 and a BBC com­men­ta­tor, taught chem­istry in be­tween win­ning Olympic and Euro­pean medals for Bri­tain.

And dur­ing his play­ing days at Hartle­pool, Brown would make the short trip across South Ty­ne­side to see his good mate and triple world record breaker Cram, pic­tured right, work on his speed.


“Yeah, I’ve had some pretty good in­flu­ences,” laughs Brown. “I was in Bren­dan’s class and it was dur­ing that time in the 1970s and ’80s when he was right at the top of the tree.

“He did 5,000 me­tres, 10,000 me­tres. And he used to ab­so­lutely dec­i­mate world class fields with four or five quick laps.

“Peo­ple used to say ‘He won’t beat him, he won’t beat this guy’ but he did – he al­ways found a tac­tic to de­stroy in­ter­na­tional class run­ners. Watch­ing him pull out th­ese 60-sec­ond laps right in the mid­dle of a race was bril­liant to watch.

“He had an in­cred­i­bly strong mind and I think he passed a lit­tle bit of that on to me. He taught cross coun­try which I did three or four times a week, fol­lowed by a race at the week­end. That’s prob­a­bly the rea­son I’m still go­ing at 55!

“With Crammy, I used to watch in awe at the way he trained. He’d belt out 12-20 200m sprints, then 12-20 100m sprints. And he’d do them in 22 sec­onds and 11 sec­onds, one af­ter the other.

“Aer­o­bi­cally, he had the ca­pac­ity to run 800m to an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard the same as ev­ery­one else. But he knew he could work on the fin­ish and that’s what he did. Like Bren­dan, it was un­be­liev­able to see the way he could break a race down.”

So will Brown be do­ing the same to­day?

“I’m just more likely to break down,” he chuck­les. “I’ve done a lot of beach train­ing, a lot of swim­ming and work in the gym – any­thing that will im­prove me aer­o­bi­cally and keep the weight off my knack­ered knees. I’ve not been pound­ing the streets but I’ve done enough.

“I don’t want to let any­body down. I’ve got a lot of spon­sor­ship money com­ing in and, by hook or by crook, I will be cross­ing that line.”

Brown is rais­ing cash for two char­i­ties which are close to his heart. One is Sparks, which raises money for chil­dren born with ter­mi­nal or life-long con­di­tions.

The other is the Amy May Trust, a char­ity to fund the treat­ment of Amy May Shead, the niece of Southend chair­man Ron Martin who was left fight­ing for life when her nut al­lergy caused a car­diac ar­rest.

“She was in a restau­rant in Bu­dapest and handed the chef a trans­la­tion of her al­lergy,” ex­plains Brown. “But the first bite she took, she went into ana­phy­lac­tic shock. She had a heart attack and had to be re­vived but the blood sup­ply to her brain was cut off.


“She was air­lifted back to Eng­land but now she is es­sen­tially paral­ysed. She can’t move, she can only com­mu­ni­cate by blink­ing – it’s like locked in syn­drome. She was such a bub­bly char­ac­ter and to see her now is aw­ful for the fam­ily.”

And Brown, whose Southend side re­main in the hunt for au­to­matic pro­mo­tion from League Two, can count on more than just the Martin fam­ily for ‘sup­port’.

“I think quite a few of the lads are com­ing down,” he says. “And it won’t be sup­port they’ll be giv­ing me – it’ll be stick. But I’ll get them back in pre-sea­son.” To do­nate go to: http://uk.vir­gin­money­giv­

KEEP ON RUN­NING: Southend manager Phil Brown puts in some train­ing ahead of his big day

TOP CLASS TEACHER: Bren­dan Foster in his hey­day

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