I’M PROUD TO HAVE BEEN A ONE CLUB MAN
GOOD BAD & UGLY: KEVIN O’CONNOR
WHAT was the worst job in football – being Kevin O’ Connor’s agent! In 15 years as a professional, O’Connor never moved from his beloved Brentford.
In total, the local lad notched up 501 appearances to earn fourth place in the Bees’ all-time appearance chart before hanging up his boots this summer.
Now 33 and working as assistant manager of Brentford’s Under-21s, the amiable O’Connor can pass on plenty of advice to the young lads in his care.
“My dream was to play professional football and I got to an okay standard,” said the former Bees captain modestly. “I think I got the most out of my ability.
“I’m very proud to have stayed at Brentford – I think I’ve been good to them and they’ve been good to me. It’s great to see the way the club is going now.
“I remember the dark days when the club was struggling, but now it’s in the Championship and on an upward curve.
“People question if I ever came close to leaving, but there was never a stage when fees were agreed between clubs so it was never in my hands. I don’t regret that, though I would have liked to have played at a higher level.
“Maybe something could have happened, but I was always happy and content at Brentford. I knew a lot of people and they looked after me well. I just worked hard every day and tried to enjoy my career.
“There are new players and management at the club now and it will take a little time for things to settle down, but the future is definitely bright.”
Brentford. I´d been at Southampton for two years as a schoolboy, but nothing came of that. I then got a trial at Brentford and played for the Under-15s and Under16s. Just before my 18th birthday I was told the club were going to offer me a two-year contract. I made my league debut on the day I signed the contract – it was at home against Wycombe Wanderers in February 2000 and it was a 0-0 bore draw!
This is a really tough one as I had a lot of good managers over the years. It would be unfair of me to pick one, so I’m going to say it’s between Steve Coppell, Martin Allen and Mark Warburton.
Steve was quite quiet and reserved, but when he spoke you listened. He was very knowledgeable about the game.
Martin’s personality was the opposite of Steve – he was an extrovert character.
He was very loud and in your face, but in a positive way. He wanted the best for everyone and pushed you in a lot of different ways.
I was player-coach last season and gained a lot of respect for Mark. His man-management was excellent, and he knew how to motivate players and get the best out of them. When things weren’t going right, he kept calm and stuck to his plan.
Another difficult one, but I’d go for Adam Forshaw for his ability on the ball. He’s not the quickest, but over ten yards he’s very sharp and gets away from players. A couple of players who would run him close are Alan Judge and Jay Tabb. Both have got a lot of quality.
It was when we won League Two in 2008-09. I remember I was on the bench in the early part of the season and I was questioning what was going to happen. But then I got in and stayed in. The team spirit was unbelievable. We used to grind games out and someone would produce a bit of magic. We got on a roll and kept it going. Winning promotion is the best feeling – that’s what you play the game for and it was my favourite season.
Among others, we had Charlie MacDonald scoring lots of goals, Jordan Rhodes on loan, Marcus Bean was my midfield partner and Sam Wood playing his first full season.
I’ll go with David Hunt and David McCracken who liked to play the odd joke or two. One time they hid a few sardines in different places in Michael Spillane’s car and he didn’t know where the smell was coming from.
I think he eventually found a couple of them, but couldn’t find the last one. No-one knew who had done it for a long time and it wasn’t until after they’d left the club that the culprits, who were in a car school along with Craig Woodman, were discovered.
Martin Allen was quite famous for swimming in rivers and I remember the first time he did it at Hartlepool, though it was more of a stream.
He stood on the edge of the bank and then asked who would bet him that he wouldn’t swim to the other side.
He took his top off, but then he slipped – and had to swim across. I don’t know if he’d have done it if he hadn’t slipped, but that’s where the legend started and he did it at other places.We were all laughing when he ran back to the hotel dripping wet.
Winning promotion from League One to the Championship in 2013-14. I was on the bench quite a lot, but the quality of the team was top drawer and it was amazing to be part of.
You’ve got to give Uwe Rosler some of the credit for getting the
ball rolling but Mark Warburton, who had been sporting director, then came in and we kicked on again. Reaching the play-offs last season was another great achievement.
Relegation from League One in 2006-07. That was a hard season, nothing we tried seemed to work and I didn’t play well myself. It was a horrible time.
I had been there a long time and I was questioning myself, questioning whether I was good enough to be a footballer. That’s what happens when you have a season like that and it wasn’t a good summer. It was also part of the reason why promotion in 2008-09 was so special.We had put that wrong right.
TOUGHEST PLACE TO GO
Sheffield Wednesday had one of the best atmospheres. When it’s bouncing it’s difficult, but fortunately I won at Hillsbrough once or twice. MK Dons was a tough place to get a result.
I’ve made a few players look good over the years! When winger Ben Marshall was on loan at Sheffield Wednesday he gave me a real runaround. I didn’t like pacy players and Leroy Lita was another difficult opponent in his Bristol City days.
Graham Kavanagh was a tough opponent in midfield and I used to have some good battles with Alan McCormack. We used to kick lumps out of each other and we had a laugh about that when he joined Brentford.
FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO
Wycombe Wanderers. Adams Park was a lucky ground for me – I scored there two or three times and seemed to do well when I played there.
I’m assistant manager of Brentford’s Under-21s and I’m doing my coaching badges – I’m working towards my A-Licence now. I want to learn the whole coaching side, work my way up and see what happens.
I’m enjoying the coaching now, but I would like to be a manager one day. People ask me if I would like to manage Brentford and if the chance arose I would have a go, but that’s a long way off.
Joint-best manager: Steve Coppell Best team-mate: Adam Forshaw First promotion: Winning League Two in 2008-09 Toughest place to go: Hillsborough CAPTAIN MARVEL: Kevin O’Connor leads Brentford out
Funniest incident: Brentford boss Martin Allen Favourite place to go: Adams Park Toughest opponent: Ben Marshall
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