WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

We catch up with Brent­ford’s 1971-72 pro­mo­tion-win­ners

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Neil Fissler

JOHN O’MARA scored 39 goals in the Foot­ball League and 25 of them came in one sea­son, help­ing Brent­ford win pro­mo­tion from Divi­sion Four.

O’Mara, a tow­er­ing, phys­i­cal striker and a £250 bargain sign­ing from Wim­ble­don, walked off with the Bees’ Player of the Year award and that for the Fourth Divi­sion.

Not long af­ter win­ning pro­mo­tion, O’Mara was sold to Black­burn Rovers for £50,000, and Bees leg­end Jackie Gra­ham ad­mits they won pro­mo­tion af­ter play­ing to his strengths.

Gra­ham says he used to stay be­hind af­ter train­ing pump­ing balls into the box as O’Mara, un­der the tute­lage of man­ager Frank Blun­stone, worked on his game.

“When he came to Brent­ford, he could hardly run. He didn’t know where to run into the box or time his head­ers,” he said. “Frank Blun­stone and my­self used to go back in with him.

“I would cross balls in for him and Frank would hold him up and tell him where to run.

“We did that for a long time and it paid off. He was tremen­dous that sea­son.

“Frank taught him ev­ery­thing he knew. When he came to us, he was as raw as you like but Frank turned him into a good goalscorer.

“He then went to Black­burn but wasn’t nearly as pro­lific. We played to his strengths at Brent­ford. We knew where he was run­ning to and it paid off for us.

“John Docherty was very ex­pe­ri­enced if you needed a break. He would take the ball for a run and he was a good out­let for us. He supplied a lot of the goals for Big Ted with his crosses.

“We knew that, with Big Ted, goals were com­ing. It was a great feel­ing. We were very con­fi­dent go­ing into games. We had a lot of play­ers who should have played at a higher level.”

Re­turned

The Bees used only 18 play­ers. Alan Nelmes and Gor­don Phillips were ever-presents, while Gra­ham and Bobby Ross missed just one game each and John Docherty two.

Terry Scales played 43 times while O’Mara missed just six games as the Bees im­proved on the pre­vi­ous cam­paign, in which they fin­ished 14th.

Apart from a mid-win­ter dip, in which they dropped to fifth when O’Mara was banned, the goals started to flow when he re­turned and they fin­ished four points be­hind cham­pi­ons Grimsby Town in third place.

“It was amaz­ing to achieve what we achieved with so few play­ers,” said Gra­ham. “It was un­be­liev­able. There were a lot of times when we played with in­juries. You would get in­jected be­fore games.

“You got through the games and then you had treat­ment for two or three days af­ter­wards. But you knew you were go­ing to get picked ev­ery Satur­day.

“I have al­ways be­lieved that Frank never got the back­ing from the board.

“They thought if he got pro­mo­tion with 18 play­ers, he could do the same ev­ery year. It was not the case.

“They sold O’Mara and, if any­body came in for some­one else, they couldn’t hold on to him. I think Frank got cheesed off. As soon as he got an of­fer, he was off.” an­ces. He later worked for Wat­ney then owned a cou­ple of shops in Bog­nor Regis, be­fore spend­ing 20 years work­ing at Gatwick Air­port. 5. Gor­don Phillips: Goal­keeper who coached at Staines Town and the Bees. He spent more than 30 years work­ing for Bri­tish Air­ways as a bag­gage han­dler at Heathrow un­til re­tir­ing. 6. John O’Mara: Pro­lific scorer in Non-League foot­ball who set­tled in Mar­gate and was a fit­ter in a mine. He also owned a plant hire com­pany and then drove a car trans­porter. 7. Mike Allen: Full back who won two pro­mo­tions with Brent­ford. He re­turned to his na­tive North­East, liv­ing at Mar­ton-in-Cleve­land near Mid­dles­brough, and worked at ICI Wil­ton. 8. Alan Haw­ley: Full-back who twice helped Brent­ford win pro­mo­tion from Divi­sion Four. He was a teacher at Lon­don Ora­tory School, then worked at Heathrow and owned a fish and chip shop. 9. Gor­don Neil­son: Right-winger and FA Youth Cup fi­nal­ist with Arse­nal who be­came a com­puter pro­gram­mer and went into bank­ing in the City of Lon­don work­ing for the Bank of Tokyo Mit­subishi. 10. John Docherty: Mid­fielder, who went into man­age­ment with the Bees. He had a suc­cess­ful spell at Mill­wall and also man­aged Cam­bridge United and Brad­ford City. Now liv­ing in re­tire­ment in Wilt­shire. 11. Steve Tom: Cen­tral de­fender now liv­ing in Cheshunt, Herts. Spent more than 40 years work­ing as black cab driver in Lon­don af­ter do­ing ‘the knowl­edge’ while at Barnet. 12. Bobby Ross: Mid­fielder who was twice Bees’ Player of the Year. He man­aged Hayes and then be­came a youth devel­op­ment coach in 1978, re­main­ing at the club in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties un­til re­tir­ing in 2008. 13. Terry Scales: Full-back who made more than 200 ap­pear­ances for the Bees. H has been a driver in­struc­tor, as well as work­ing in the City as a clerk and of­fice man­ager and then as a labourer. 14. Jackie Gra­ham: Mid­fielder who twice won pro­mo­tion with the Bees af­ter work­ing as a se­cu­rity guard for Amer­i­can Air­ways at Heathrow. He ran his own clean­ing busi­ness in Guild­ford. NOT PIC­TURED Roger Cross: For­ward who went into coach­ing at Mill­wall, QPR and Tot­ten­ham. He was a coach at West Ham and also served as chief scout. He has also scouted for Charl­ton. Trevor Dawkins: Mid­fielder who moved to the United States, where he coached a num­ber of clubs in the US In­door League. He is now liv­ing in Texas. Ste­wart Hous­ton: Scot­tish in­ter­na­tional left-back who won pro­mo­tions at Man United and Sh­effield United. He man­aged Arse­nal (care­taker twice) and QPR and now scouts for the Gun­ners. Kenny Wal­lace: Winger who scored Here­ford’s first League goal. He set­tled in Bex­ley­heath and has worked lo­cally for the last 25 years.

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