Former Tranmere Rovers manager Brian Little will be in TRFC Store on Thursday 13th December from 5:30pm until 6:30pm doing a signing session for his new book!
Brian, who managed Rovers from 2003 to 2006 and reached a League One Play Off semi-final, has recently released a book about the span of his 50 year career in football including his time at TRFC.
We spoke to him about his memories of Prenton Park...
“I’d just been out of work a little while and I know they’d spoken to Dave Kelly and he didn’t think it was right for him at the time and he recommended me, I’d worked with him as manager at Leicester and I’d know he’d put in a good word in for me, and I believe that’s how it all started.”
“I had an interview a few days before they played Plymouth and they’d changed their manager by then, I think they had John McMahon in charge and the well and truly beat five or six at the weekend, and my interview had gone well before the game, so I ‘d get a call one way or another saying yes or no because obviously their results reflected that it was time to get somebody in.”
“My interview had gone well and I got a quick call after the game, I think I went back up on the Sunday and everything was sorted either on the Sunday or the Monday, it was a job that had been recommended by someone who played for me, who I know was well thought of at Tranmere, that’s the way the game is sometimes, when someone says ‘I’ve worked with him and he’s half decent’ and that’s really how I got the job more than anything else.”
“We were down the wrong end of the table and I think that first season we weren’t that far off the play-offs by the end of it, we’d done really well, I went in and changed the system, as I do most of the places that I go, I’ve always played with three centre-backs, some people think it’s a little defensive but it can work if you have the right sort of players, it took me a few games to work out who could actually play where but we worked on it on the training ground and we made little steps and progress came and we ended up fairly organised and a decent side by the end of the season.”
“We’d played so well, I did find the penalty on YouTube a while back, I don’t know why, I was probably just doing some homework on the book, just to remind myself, but I can remember going up to Hartlepool and playing so poorly, I had a plan but very quickly I realised it wasn’t right and we came away with just a two goal deficit, but we could have been beaten heavily.”
“But in the home game we were outstanding, their goalkeeper played out of skin and he saved everything, we battered them, we won 2-0 but their goalkeeper got them through on penalties.”
“The memories are there, and we’d become a decent side, we were very competitive, and the system worked, everybody enjoyed it and we ended up with a good bunch of lads together, so I definitely enjoyed it, they were great times, some good laughs, ups and downs as ever but I enjoyed it.”
“We got to the quarter-final and we were a bit unlucky against Millwall, and Tim Cahill, who went onto be a really good player, he scored the goal in the game but that year, we beat Bolton, that was one of the games we really enjoyed, it was a great time for us in the third-tier of English football and we almost got to the semi-finals, we were very close.”
“We had a really tight bunch, one or two of the young lads like young Ryan Taylor came through, Humey was at his best at the time, him and Eugene were a good partnership up front, Calvin Zola when we brought him in was a different type of player and of course Ian Goodison, who I brought with me, stayed for years and became a little bit of a legend.”
“But when I brought Ian on trial I said he’s been injured for a long time and we have to be patient, after two training sessions he was like Bambi on Ice, in fairness to him he said to me ‘gaffer, give me a bit longer I’m just not there,’ and I knew he wasn’t there, but I think anyone else who would have seen him on trial would have just sent him home, because he’d had such a long time out and he was all over the place but I had a little bit of belief in him and he turned out to be a great player for Tranmere and I’m very proud of helping them and helping him as he often calls me and says ‘thank you dad’ in his typical Jamaican way, but one of my fondest memories is introducing Ian there.”
“It’s a 50-year book of football, nothing else, it’s not going off different tangents, it’s a story of a 15-year-old kid who leaves home in the North East of England, who didn’t play for his County team, played for his East Durham side then two years later he’s in Aston Villa’s first-team and away you go, then at 25-years-old get injured and never played again, so it’s all my memories from my playing days, trying to get over my injury which I never did, then becoming a coach and a football manager which most people never thought I would do, then finishing where I am now, I’m at Aston Villa as an advisor, I’ve been at Aston Villa on and off for 26 years of my career so I have a great passion for that, but Tranmere, Hull City, Leicester City, Darlington all play a part, but the couple of setbacks I had at West Brom, it didn’t go very well for me there, at Wrexham, but there’s enough in there and I’ve got quite a story, I think I’ve done 900-odd games as a manager with 10 different clubs, there’s a few silly stories in there but I’m sure people enjoy it.”
“I came up for Ian’s testimonial, that’s the last time I was there, everyone was great with me and it was good to see him, and obviously Micky and Jacko both played for me, and they are both in charge of the team at the moment, so I’m really pleased for them, I’ve seen Micky around at a couple of games, we always say hello and have a laugh and he still calls me gaffer, but it would be great to go up again, see a few folk and say hello, and if they want my take on my time there, it’s all in the book.”