Chris Dunlavy pro­files the ca­reer of Craw­ley boss Der­mot Drummy

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

DER­MOT DRUMMY had just picked up a fare and was nav­i­gat­ing his way out of Heathrow when he took a call that would change his life.

Eight months ear­lier, in late 1996, the full-time cab­bie and for­mer Hendon winger had played in an Arse­nal char­ity match along­side leg­endary Gooner Liam Brady.

Drummy had been Brady’s boot boy at High­bury and, af­ter­wards, the pair got chat­ting about old times – and new.

“Liam was head of youth de­vel­op­ment at Arse­nal,” said Drummy. “So, I asked him if I could come in and per­haps do a bit of coach­ing – just to see how things were set up and get a few tips. He said he’d give me a call if any­thing came up.”

Drummy re­turned to the day job, as­sum­ing the plea had fallen on deaf ears. It hadn’t. And that day, as Drummy made for the M4, Brady called, of­fer­ing his old mate a part-time job coach­ing the un­der-12s.

Two decades af­ter re­jec­tion by Arse­nal, Drummy was back at High­bury. Now, nearly 20 years on, the 55-yearold is manag­ing Craw­ley Town with a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the most re­spected youth coaches in the coun­try.

The black cab is long gone. The wis­dom once dis­pensed to bored busi­ness­men in­stead ab­sorbed by fu­ture su­per­stars.

Cesc Fabre­gas, Jack Wil­shere, Fabrice Muamba: all of them count the ge­nial East Lon­doner as a pro­found in­flu­ence in

their de­vel­op­ment.

“Der­mot was a great coach and a great guy,” said Muamba, who met Drummy shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing in Eng­land from the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo as an 11-year-old.

“A lot of us came through from that Arse­nal youth sys­tem and that speaks vol­umes. He helped me so much, not just as a player but as a per­son, too. I am very grate­ful to Der­mot and I re­ally can’t speak highly enough of him.”


The ca­reers of Drummy’s il­lus­tri­ous alumni were a far cry from his own mod­est play­ing days. By his own ad­mis­sion, Drummy was a “failed pro”, a tal­ented player who lacked the self-be­lief to make the grade at Arse­nal.

Re­leased at 19, his pro­fes­sional ca­reer amounted to just five games on loan at Black­pool, be­fore a Non-League odyssey that started in Hendon and ended, 15 years later, at St Al­bans.

At Hendon, he part­nered Iain Dowie in at­tack. His flam­boy­ance – one favourite trick was to drop his hands and pre­tend to pick up the ball, only to burst into ac­tion when the de­fender in­evitably stopped – won ter­race hearts.

At Wealdstone, he was the skip­per, se­nior player and all round go-to guy. It was also where he met Gor­don Bartlett, the long-serv­ing Stones man­ager who re­mains a good friend to this day.

“When I ar­rived in 1995, he was reach­ing the end of his ca­reer,” re­calls Bartlett, who has re­mained in charge at Wealdstone ever since.

“He had a lot of re­spect, a great at­ti­tude. I would have loved to keep him around, but he wanted to keep play­ing. He left shortly af­ter­wards, but we’ve kept in con­tact ever since and it’s no sur­prise to see him do­ing so well.”

For his part, Drummy says Bartlett was “the first man­ager I’d had that used to talk to me, not at me. He didn’t go round kick­ing the doors and that’s some­thing I’ve taken on board”.

That com­pas­sion­ate ap­proach would serve Drummy well as youth foot­ball evolved from a school of hard knocks into the oft-ma­ligned academy sys­tem of to­day.

“He was very pa­tient and very un­der­stand­ing,” said An­dre Black­man, the Craw­ley left-back who first worked with Drummy at Arse­nal aged 13.

“He treats play­ers like adults, makes sure you un­der­stand what he wants with­out be­ing ag­gres­sive. As a coach, it’s the fine de­tails he opens your eyes to.”

Later, it was Chelsea’s young­sters who would ben­e­fit. Drummy joined the Blues as an un­der-16s coach in 2007, pro­gress­ing to be­come academy, re­serve and un­der-21 man­ager.

In 2010, he brought the FA Youth Cup to Stam­ford Bridge for the first time in 49 years. In 2012-13, his team reached the Nex­tGen Se­ries fi­nal, beat­ing Barcelona, Ajax, Ju­ven­tus and Arse­nal along the way.

In 2013-14, his side lifted the Un­der-21 Premier League by de­feat­ing Man­ches­ter City and Man­ches­ter United.


So es­teemed was Drummy at Stam­ford Bridge that Jose Mour­inho even trusted him to coach the first team dur­ing in­ter­na­tional breaks.

Last year, Brazil­ian side Bangu asked him to be their man­ager.

Of course, manag­ing Craw­ley is very dif­fer­ent from nur­tur­ing kids.

Sur­viv­ing in League Two is a whole new chal­lenge.

But, hav­ing once paid hardup play­ers out of his cab earn­ings as a young play­er­man­ager of Ware, Drummy is hardly wet be­hind the ears.

And, ac­cord­ing to Bartlett, those ten years spent cruis­ing the streets of Lon­don are just as vi­tal as learn­ing un­der the likes of Don Howe and Arsene Wenger.

“Man­age­ment is about per­son­al­ity,” he said. “It’s not about deal­ing with young­sters. It’s about deal­ing with peo­ple. And Der­mot is a peo­ple per­son.

“He was a cab­bie for al­most a decade and you can’t make a suc­cess of that with­out the gift of the gab.

“You have to be per­son­able, you have to know how to chat to peo­ple and judge some­one’s char­ac­ter.

“Peo­ple will want to do well for him. That is as crit­i­cal on a foot­ball pitch as it is in a fac­tory or an of­fice.

“If you’ve got that, you can suc­ceed in any walk of life – and Der­mot has it in spades.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

MR PER­SON­AL­ITY: Drummy is a real peo­ple’s per­son, say his ad­mir­ers

TEACHER: Der­mot Drummy in his Chelsea days

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