History Boys | The Best of the Rest

Dan Long takes a brief glance at the players on the periphery during Brentford’s 2008/09 League Two winning season…

Moses Ademola

Signed by the club from non-league Croydon using funds raised by former Brentford fanzine Thorne in the Side, the striker, now known as Moses Emmanuel, made his only Football League appearances during the Bees’ League Two-winning campaign. Since those 11 games, he’s played almost exclusively in the Conference South and made a name for himself during three seasons at Woking.

From 2014 to 2016, he was a key part of the Bromley squad that was promoted from that division and his 17 goals in 14/15 reportedly saw him courted by the likes of Leeds, Charlton and linked with a return to Griffin Park. A trial at Gillingham proved unsuccessful and the 29-year-old spent the last two seasons with Dover and Sutton, as well as a loan spell at Maidenhead last term. He joined Billericay Town last summer and, as of 7 February 2019, has scored 15 goals in all competitions for the Blues.

Embed from Getty Images

Lloyd Anderson

It’s safe to say that Lloyd Anderson won’t ever forget his professional debut. Having progressed through the youth ranks at Griffin Park, he was named on the bench for the FA Cup second round tie away at non-league Barrow in in November 2008 and was called into action after just 37 minutes when Ben Hamer was sent off for a professional foul on Jason Walker. He was brought on in place of Craig Pead and his first task was to face the resulting penalty. David Brown netted from 12 yards and though Charlie MacDonald levelled the tie five minutes after the break, Lloyd couldn’t prevent Matt Henney scoring the winner after 71 minutes.

After his release, he turned out for more than 10 non-league clubs including Margate, Whitehawk, Aveley and Bognor Regis and he started this season playing for Grays in the Isthmian Division North.

Embed from Getty Images

Seb Brown

Another youth prospect who made his debut in the 2008/09 season was Seb, though in contrast to Lloyd, he was on the winning side in his first outing, having saved a penalty from Andre McCollin as the Bees beat Yeovil 4-2 in the shootout following a 2-2 draw. This was his first and only senior appearance in red and white and he subsequently became one of three players who went on to play for AFC Wimbledon as they completed their meteoric rise through the non-league pyramid to reach League Two in 2011.

Embed from Getty Images

For the best part of five years, he established himself as the Dons’ number one, making almost 150 appearances, while also achieving a first class honours degree in Sports Science and Coaching from the University of Roehampton in 2012 and gaining two caps for the England C team. He dropped into non-league thereafter, turning out for the likes of Bromley, Whitehawk and Hampton & Richmond while working as a recruitment consultant, but now the 29-year-old juggles a role as academy goalkeeper coach at AFC Wimbledon, with a playing and first team goalkeeper coaching role at Sutton United.

Simon Brown

Signed from Hibernian by Terry Butcher, thanks to his vast knowledge of Scottish football, Simon came to the club as a highly-experienced pro, having made over 200 appearances with the Edinburgh-based outfit and, before that, Colchester United. During the 2007/08 season, he jostled with Ben Hamer for the number one shirt and made 28 appearances, keeping five clean sheets, in a campaign disrupted by injury.

Embed from Getty Images

The following season he was transfer listed, but instead joined Darlington on-loan for five months and, ironically, made his only appearance for the Bees in 08/09 against the Quakers, when he replaced Hamer after 62 minutes on the day promotion was secured. Though offered a new deal, Simon left that summer and joined Northampton, but signed for Cambridge after making just two appearances for the Cobblers. He played the final game of his career for Welling, during a 5-1 Conference South win over Truro City in January 2012.

Darius Charles

Having started his career in Brentford’s Centre of Excellence in 1998 at the age of 10, with over 400 career appearances to his name Darius’ journey is one that offers hope to any youngsters who’ve been released at an early age. Though the Bees faced sheer misery when they were relegated from League One in 2007, he was in fact enjoying a run of games in the first eleven and even managed to score his first professional goal, in a 4-3 thriller against Port Vale on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

Darius spent the 2008/09 season out on loan at Ebbsfleet and joined permanently at the end of the season, with Andy Scott deciding he wasn’t part of his plans as he reshaped his squad. Longevity has been crucial to his ongoing success, though. He signed for newly-promoted League Two side Stevenage in 2010 and, arguably spent the best six years of his career at Broadhall Way, helping Boro to victory in the play-off final at the end of his first season there. He moved closer to his Ealing roots next and spent the best part of three seasons at AFC Wimbledon, before signing a one-year deal with Wycombe last July.

Alan Connell

The Enfield-born striker was brought to TW8 in the summer of 2007 after rejecting a new contract with Hereford, where he’d finished the season with 10 goals in 50 appearances as The Bulls finished 16th in League Two. His stay at Griffin Park lasted just over a season, however. He returned to Bournemouth – where he’d made his professional debut – after just two fixtures of the 2008/09 season, due to the acquisition of Charlie MacDonald, though Alan’s goalscoring exploits – 12 goals in 47 games – during Brentford’s first season back in League Two were a certain highlight as the club looked to stabilise.

Embed from Getty Images

Never one to settle, he became something of a journeyman and played for Grimsby, Swindon, Bradford, Northampton and Poole Town, racking up enviable honours along the way, including a League Two winners medal, as well as runners-up medals from the League Cup and Football League Trophy. Having dropped into the Conference with Poole, in July 2016, aged 33 he decided to retire from playing early to take up coaching at Bournemouth on a full-time basis, which he told BBC Radio Solent that he “enjoyed much more”. As such, he now occupies the position of Under-18s head coach at the Canford Park Arena.

Craig Dobson

Any fan who checked out Craig Dobson’s Wikipedia page after he signed for Brentford in March 2009 would have been filled with optimism; a renowned ‘football freestyler’, it looked as though he’d bring some flair, as well as experience, having already won the Conference with Barnet and the FA Trophy with Stevenage.

Embed from Getty Images

The optimism was unfounded, though, as he was never seen in a Bees shirt and appeared on the bench just once, in the 1-1 draw away at Bradford on 4 April. He failed to settle at numerous non-league clubs – though looked to have rediscovered his form after seven goals in 18 games for Woking in 2011 – but the one-time Jamaica international suffered rotten luck by rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in his first game for Kettering. It appears that was the end of his career as a footballer, with no further data available, and he now runs London’s Knight Security Management.

Fraser Franks

The trajectory of Fraser’s career is very similar to Darius Charles’ in that he’s done his fair share of grafting to become an experienced player in the Football League. That said, before he’d even signed professional terms, he was twice named on the substitutes bench for games against Swansea in the League Cup and Barrow in the FA Cup during the 2008/09 season. And, despite being given a contract in 2009, he never managed to make a first team appearance, before joining the historic AFC Wimbledon squad of 2010/11.

Embed from Getty Images

A cruciate ligament injury caused him to miss the beginning of the following campaign and he was sent on loan to Hayes & Yeading and Newport, yet failed to stake a claim on his return to Kingsmeadow, having initially left to increase his match fitness. Fraser then won the Conference South with Welling, before helping Luton to regain their Football League status in 2014, during which time he captained the England C team during four of his five caps. In 2015, he joined Stevenage and made 120 appearances over the course of three seasons, before signing for former loan employers Newport last summer, where he was part of the squad that beat Leicester in the FA Cup third round early last month.

**UPDATE** Fraser Franks was sadly forced to retire due to a heart condition in March 2018, aged 28.

Brett Johnson

It’s not only recent History Boys interviewee Adam Newton that has found a career behind the wheel of a black cab off the back of a career as a professional footballer. Brett retired in 2017 having the spent the last five years of his career playing part-time and during that time, the 33-year-old passed ‘The Knowledge’, meaning he is now qualified to drive in the capital.

Embed from Getty Images

But one has to wonder what path the defender’s career could have taken had he not been hampered by so many unfortunate injuries during his time on the pitch. His first break at the Football League came at Northampton, before he signed for Brentford – the club he supported – on a one-year deal in August 2008. He made just 12 appearances during an injury-ravaged season with the Bees, though the best was yet to come as he, alongside Fraser Franks and Seb Brown, was as part of the aforementioned historic AFC Wimbledon squad. Two years later, he joined Woking, but in February 2017, effectively called time on his playing career after a severe knee and leg injury sustained after a clash with his own goalkeeper, when playing for Margate in the National League South.

Ross Montague

Another Centre of Excellence graduate in TW8, the striker was one of the prospects fast-tracked to the first team by Barry Quin when he took over from Scott Fitzgerald at the helm and made his debut on 14 April 2007, in a 4-2 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest. As is common practice for youngsters at the club, he was loaned to Sutton, Welling and Basingstoke, before returning for 2008/09 and playing in successive 2-2 draws in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Yeovil and Luton.

He then suffered a cruciate ligament injury that put paid to any further development, though after his initial release, he trained with the club and was offered a short-term deal. He turned down the chance to stay with the club he supported as he admitted he “might’ve even struggled to start for the reserves”. Sadly, he suffered the same injury on two further occasions, with AFC Wimbledon and Basingstoke, which prematurely brought the curtain down on his career at the tender age of 21. However, he studied for a Primary Education degree at St Mary’s University, Twickenham and has worked at Broomfield House School in Kew since 2010, rising through the ranks from teaching assistant to teaching both Key Stage 1 and 2, as well as a three-year term as Head of Sport.

Embed from Getty Images

Lewis Ochoa

A product of the Brentford youth academy, Lewis spent seven years at the club in total and made his debut aged 17 as a late substitute in the penalty shootout win versus Yeovil in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. He was named in Andy Scott’s matchday squad on five occasions throughout the season before being released in the summer.

For four years, he coupled his job as a full-time personal trainer at Virgin Active in Ealing with doing the rounds on the non-league circuit, turning out for the likes of Maidenhead, Bedfont, Chalfont St Peter and Northwood, but now lives in Australia, working as a certified pre and post-natal personal trainer.

Craig Pead

Plagued by a knee injury suffered in his teenage years, which reportedly required 90 per cent of his cartilage to be removed, after his spell at Brentford came to an end, Craig called time on his playing career aged 27. Though he’d been named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year in 2007/08, Andy Scott placed him on the transfer list at Griffin Park, but after failing a medical at Port Vale and an unsuccessful trial at Cheltenham, he remained in west London and opted to undergo exploratory surgery in December 2008 after just eight starts in the first three months of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

The decision wasn’t in vain as he returned to full fitness towards the end of the season, yet he retired nonetheless after being told he could suffer serious complications in later life should he continue. From there, he set up his own soccer school, while also temporarily re-lacing his boots to play for Coventry Sphinx and Conference North side Redditch United and has since taken on various business management roles, including his current role as Business Healthcare consultant at Vitality UK.

Darren Powell

When Darren Powell returned to Brentford after a seven-year absence, it was like the fairy-tale homecoming that every footballer dreams of. Having been plucked from non-league neighbours Hampton (now Hampton & Richmond) in 1998, the centre-back – along with manager and former team-mate Andy Scott – starred during the 1998/99 season, when the Bees became Third Division champions.

Embed from Getty Images

For three further seasons, his presence in defence was almost guaranteed, before he was sold to Crystal Palace in a £400k deal in August 2002. Two years later Palace were promoted to the Premiership, but his career stuttered at Selhurst Park and later Southampton, who released him after three years of infrequent appearances. In March 2009, that move to Brentford came to fruition, but his spell was limited to just four appearances, the last of which came on Easter Monday, when he scored the winner against Bournemouth, only to be later sent off for an altercation with team-mate Karleigh Osborne. He finished his playing career with another homecoming at Hampton & Richmond from 2012-14 – after a short spell with MK Dons – and briefly managed the team during that time, before moving on to working within the academy infrastructure at Crystal Palace, where he has been since February 2015.

Gary Smith

Infamously known as the player who ended Manchester United starlet Ben Collett’s professional career after a leg-breaking challenge during a reserve game between United and Middlesbrough, there are few signs on the internet of which industry Gary entered into after his release by Darlington at the end of the 2010/11 season.

Embed from Getty Images

In terms of his Brentford career, however, he was signed by Terry Butcher in 2007 off the back of a spell at MK Dons in which he’d made almost 100 appearances over three seasons. His form suffered under the former England captain, but Andy Scott managed to unlocked his midfield qualities and he was subsequently rewarded with a fresh 18-month deal after Butcher’s departure. However, he made just four appearances in 2008/09 having been bugged by an ankle injury sustained in pre-season, owing to his departure following the title triumph. He returned north and became integral to Darlington’s first season in the Conference in 2010/11, but suffered a knee injury in the FA Trophy final, of all places, which proved to be his final game in professional football.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s