3rd July – Lee Bradbury

Lee Bradbury found his way into professional football after being an army recruit so understands about the other side of life.

Many footballers these days get criticised for not having worked a day in their life and getting too much money. But Bradbury is someone that will surely make the players of whatever clubs he manages to appreciate what they have. He currently manages Havant & Waterlooville and has just led them to promotion to the National League.

Bradbury started his playing career at Portsmouth but he first made an impact on loan at Exeter City, where he scored five league goals in 14 games in 1995. On his return to his parent club he did start getting more opportunities and really showed his potential during the 1996-97 season which led to him being linked with big money moves away. In July 1997, after 54 games for Portsmouth, Bradbury joined Manchester City for £3 million.

Bradbury Portsmouth

However, it was a tough time for the club as they suffered relegation at the end of the 1997-98 season but the striker did manage to score six times. Just three months into the following campaign he was on the move again, this time to Crystal Palace for £1.5 million. He only lasted 32 league games and was on the move once more, returning to first club Portsmouth.

His career started to recover and he played over 100 times in his second spell but as the team pushed for the First Division title in the 2002-03 season he was finding game time harder to come by and was sent out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. During this spell he scored three times in 11 games showing that he can still have an impact. But he couldn’t force his way back in to the Portsmouth side and another loan spell to Derby County followed. He didn’t manage to score for Derby.

In 2004, Bradbury joined Walsall and scored just one goal for them, coming against the team he failed to score for Derby. He never really settled at Walsall and was on the move again. Oxford United was his next destination, where he scored nine times in 63 league games. He stayed until January 2006 and moved onto Southend United.

Bradbury OU

He only stayed for one full season before making the final move of his career, joining Bournemouth. As he was now coming towards the end of his career he started having different roles, not only off the pitch but on it too, and switched position from striker to right back to cover for injuries. His performances were that good that he became first choice in that position until the club signed Stephen Purches. After playing over 100 times for the club he decided to retire in 2011 after being named caretaker manager of Bournemouth after the departure of Eddie Howe.

Bradbury Bournemouth

Bournemouth reached the playoffs in his first season but they were unfortunately beaten by Huddersfield and after a poor run of form in the following campaign, Bradbury was sacked. He has since been manager of Havant & Waterlooville since October 2012.

The final word can go to Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell. “For me it was a no brainer. Lee has progressed well, signed good players and brought in an experienced assistant. It helps bring stability to the club and that’s what we want to do.”

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6th March – Garry Monk

Garry Monk will go down as a Swansea City legend for what he did as a player but he is also doing a fantastic job as their manager and leading them to another top half finish.

When Monk first joined the club he wouldn’t have believed that they would be in the Premier League never mind being one of the best footballing sides in the top flight. Many people were surprised when the 36 year old was given the job because he didn’t have any experience and they felt that under Monk they would be battling relegation. However, he knows everything about the club and the way they want to play.

The former central defender started his career at Torquay United and was very highly rated, making five appearances for the club before he had even turned professional. This meant other clubs were looking at him and he signed for Southampton at the end of the 1995-96 season. In 1998 he would return to Torquay on loan and once again impressed so on his return he found himself in the Southampton first team and made his debut on the 28th November 1998 against Derby County. He would go on to play a further four games over the season.

Monk Soton

In September 1999 he went out on loan to Stockport County but was recalled because of an injury crisis at his parent club and he played the first two matches in January 2000 for Southampton. A year later he went out on loan to Oxford United but once again he was recalled because of injuries and would go on to play the last two home games at The Dell against Manchester United and Arsenal which were both won by Southampton.

Monk struggled once more to become a first team regular so was sent out on loan again. This time it looked as though it would be turned into a permanent move but after playing 15 times for Sheffield Wednesday and not helping them avoid relegation to Division Two, the move didn’t materialise. He did eventually leave the club permanently and joined Barnsley in February 2004. However he only lasted half a season and left for Swansea City in June.

Monk SWFC

It was a great start for him at Swansea as he helped them get promoted from League Two in his first season and then reach the League One Playoffs in his second season. In August 2006 it was announced that he would be the club captain. Unfortunately after just two games in the 2006-07 season he picked up a cruciate ligament injury and was ruled out for the rest of the campaign. Monk returned to the team and captained the club to promotion.

In their first season back they were excellent and finished 8th place but the 2009-10 season was not the best for Monk as he struggled with injuries and only played 22 times. Also during this period Monk and the manager Paulo Sousa did not see eye to eye and after the Portuguese man left the club Monk was back in the starting 11. He would then lead the Swans to the Premier League after defeating Reading in the Playoff final and he was given a new three year contract by the club.

Monk SC

Over the next two seasons he began to play less but was still able to lift his first major trophy after Swansea won the League Cup in 2013 after defeating Bradford City 5-0 in the final. Just under a year later he would be given the manager’s job and currently has a 38% win percentage as manager.

The final word can go to someone that didn’t get on well with Monk but knew his quality, Paulo Sousa. “Garry is one of the players we think is very important to our project for his experience, quality and leadership. He is an important figure in the dressing room and on the pitch. He knows the club’s philosophy.”

23rd August – Steve MacLean

Steve MacLean was already a legend at Sheffield Wednesday but when he convinced striker Stevie May to join the club he became even more of a hero to their fans.

On the day that May scored his first goal for Wednesday, MacLean was at St Johnstone also doing what he does best and scored the only goal of the game against Aberdeen. MacLean will now have to be the main striker at St Johnstone but it is something that the 32 year old is used to and at times in his career he has been prolific and helped his clubs achieve their aims.
MacLean and May
MacLean started his career at Forres Mechanics in Scotland before being signed by Rangers. He stayed at the club for two seasons but spent the whole of the 2003-04 season out on loan at Scunthorpe United and earned the nickname ‘The Loan Ranger’ as he scored 23 league goals in 42 appearances. Despite this effort and his good goal record he was deemed not good enough by Ranger manager Alex McLeish and was placed on the transfer list.

On the 7th July 2004 he joined Sheffield Wednesday on a three year deal and it would become arguably his best time of his career. He hit the ground running and in his first season he hit 20 goals, including a hatrick against Doncaster Rovers which made him the first Wednesday player to score an away hatrick for 32 years. His impressive goal return also made him the first Wednesday player to hit the 20 goal mark in one season since Mark Bright in 1994.

But his greatest moment in a Wednesday shirt was in the League One Playoff final when he held his nerve to score an equalising penalty to take the game to extra time against Hartlepool United which they then went on to win. Many believed he wouldn’t be fit for the game, but he was there when he was needed most.
MacLean Wednesday
The following season was much tougher for MacLean as he suffered a broken leg just before the start of the Championship season and only played six times, scoring twice. But the 2006-07 season was a much better year, despite a few more injuries he finished the season as joint top scorer alongside Deon Burton with 13 goals.

After 35 goals for the club he joined Cardiff City on a free transfer on the 22nd June 2007. The striker got off to the worst possible start by missing a penalty on his debut in a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City. However, he made up for this by scoring in the next game away to QPR. Unfortunately injuries and the manager going for other options meant this would be his only goal for the club.

After short spells at Plymouth Argyle, Aberdeen, Oxford United, Yeovil Town and Cheltenham Town, it seems like he has finally found a new place to call home at St Johnstone. He became a club legend at the club when he scored the second goal in the 2014 Scottish League Cup final to secure a 2-0 win, helping them win their first ever major competition in Scotland.
MacLean SJ
The final word can go to St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright. “He’s a big character in the dressing room. On and off the pitch he’s a leader for us, he’s someone that gets people going. He’s a good footballer, he’s a good number nine.”

5th August – Marian Pahars

Not many people will care who the current Latvia manager is but it just happens to be former Southampton player Marian Pahars who turns 38 today.

While Southampton are busy selling off all of their players Pahars is concentrating on his role as the national team manager but he will surely be keeping an eye on developments at his old club as one day he may want to come back and manage the club. He is still highly regarded by the fans and they definitely enjoyed his performances and will go down as one of their greatest players.

Pahars started his career at Pardaugava Riga at the age of 18 where he scored three times in 17 games before moving onto Skonto in 1995. He started out as a midfielder but then was moved upfront where he scored eight times in just nine games and then followed this up in the next season with 12 goals in 28 games which led to him being dubbed the ‘Latvian Michael Owen’. He continued developing at Skonto and after another impressive season in which he scored 19 goals in just 26 games he was linked with moves to some of the bigger clubs in Europe.
Pahars Latvia
The Southampton manager at the time Dave Jones was told about his skills by the then Latvia manager Gary Johnson and he was given a trial in which he scored a perfect hatrick (left foot, right foot and header) in a 7-1 victory over Oxford United. The clubs then agreed a fee of £800,000 for the striker and after some initial work permit problems he became the first Latvian to play in the Premier League. He made his debut on the 5th April 1999 away to Coventry City and on his home debut against Blackburn Rovers he came off the bench to score the equaliser in a 3-3 draw.

The Saints were involved in a relegation battle which went to the last day and with Southampton needing a win on the last day of the season it was Pahars that held his nerve and scored twice against Everton in a 2-0 win to keep the club in the top flight.

The 1999-00 season was one of his best as he played 33 times and ended it as the club’s top scorer with 13 goals but by this point the manager that signed him Dave Jones had been replaced by Glenn Hoddle who moved him into a wide position to utilise his dribbling skills and pace. But he started the next season as a striker and he scored six times early on but after moving back to his deeper role his form became inconsistent.
Pahars Southamp
Pahars is also a fan favourite at Southampton because he was the first home player to score a winning goal at the new St Mary’s Stadium which was one of many highlights throughout the season as he ended the campaign with 16 goals in all competitions. Afterwards he stayed at the club for four more years and because of injury problems his appearances were limited and after 156 appearances and 45 goals he left the club.

His next club was Anorthosis Famagusta in Cyprus but his injury problems remained and he did not play much for them and then rejoined Skonto before finally finishing his playing career at FK Jurmala.
Pahars AF
The final word can go to former teammate Claus Lundekvam. “Marian is a similar player to Michael Owen. They’re both fast and very good finishers. It’s very difficult for a defender to mark him because he’s on the move all the time. As long as he scores goals for us we’re happy.”

11th June – John Dreyer

John Dreyer may not be the most well known Premier League players but he played a vital role in keeping Bradford City in the league while he was there and he became a bit of an expert of helping teams avoid relegation.

Dreyer, now 51, began his career in non league football at Wallingford Town but it was not long before he got a move to the Football League in January 1985 as he joined Oxford United. He did not get first team opportunities straightaway and had to move to Torquay United on loan, playing five times, making his debut in a 1-1 draw with Cambridge United. He returned to his parent club in January 1986 but he once again could not break into the team so left the club once more on loan, this time to Fulham for the rest of the season. He played 12 times in the league for the club and impressed for them. This meant that on his return he broke into Oxford’s first team at the start of the next season and over the next two years he played 60 league games and scored twice.
Dreyer Oxford
On the 27th June 1988 he joined Luton Town for £140,000 and quickly became a fan favourite. He stayed at Kenilworth Road for six years and played 214 times. Dreyer managed 13 goals in his spell at Luton but he was unfortunately released at the end of the 1993-94 season. It did not take him long to find a new club as he was signed by Stoke City in July 1994, where he played nearly 50 times, but he was not always seen as a starter and he eventually joined Bolton Wanderers on loan in March 1995. He was a part of the squad that got promoted to the Premier League through the playoffs, although he would have loved to have played a bigger part, it was still a great achievement.
Dreyer Luton
In November 1996 he left Stoke permanently for a Bradford City who paid £25,000 for his services and scored on his debut in a 3-3 draw with Huddersfield Town. He managed to add another three goals to his tally that season but none of them were league goals as they all came in the FA Cup – two against Wycombe Wanderers and another in a cup upset when Bradford beat Everton 3-2.

In the promotion season of 1998-99 he struggled to hold down a regular place in the side however whenever he contributed they were usually important. In their final win of the season he made a vital clearance in a 3-2 win over Wolves which made sure that they would be playing Premier League football the next season. In the next season he was in and out of the side but once again popped up when he was most needed. In a must win game against Sunderland he scored the only goal which helped Bradford to stay up by just two points.
Dreyer Bradford
Despite being offered a new contract he decided to leave for Cambridge United and he played a major role in keeping the team in the Second Division in the 2000-01 season. He left the club after this season and joined non league club Stevenage, where he was first teamed up with Graham Westley. After two years at the club and a brief spell as caretaker manager he left to pursue a managerial position.

He has only managed Maidenhead United up till now but he has been assistant at a number of clubs, including Stevenage and Preston North End, where he assisted Graham Westley and the final word can go to Westley who obviously liked Dreyer from their first time together. “I feel sure that the door will open somewhere for John. He played at the top level, but he started in non league football so he knows what it is all about. I wish him well and don’t expect it to be too long before I’m giving him his first reference.”

6th June – David Connolly

David Connolly has had a remarkable career that has seen him be the highest paid player in Holland, score an international hatrick for the Republic of Ireland and score over 150 club goals.

At the age of 37 he is still playing in League Two and had a decent loan spell at Oxford United last season where he scored four times in 11 games and this just shows that he will always know where the back of the net is. Connolly began his career at Watford and he burst onto the scene in the 1995-96 season by scoring eight goals in just 11 appearances which led to him being linked with a move away from the club.

In 1997 he got a move to Dutch team Feyenoord and was the highest player in the country but after just 10 games he was loaned back to England to play for Wolves where he scored four goals in one match against Bristol City. He returned to Holland at the end of the season but was once again loaned out, this time to Excelsior and he really hit top form, scoring 29 times in just 32 matches and he followed this up the next season with 13 in 16 before returning to his parent club. He got more of a chance this time around and played 15 times and managed to get himself five goals.
Connolly AFC
But his adventure in Holland was over in 2001 as he moved to Wimbledon and became one of the most lethal strikers in the Football League. His first season was impressive enough (18 in 35) but he was even better in his second year and almost had a goal a game record as he scored 24 times in 28 games. This form convinced West Ham to pay £285,000 for his services in August 2003 and he scored on his debut against Preston North End in a 2-1 win. He only stayed for the one season as they failed to gain promotion to the Premier League after losing in the playoff final despite Connolly’s 14 goals.
Connolly Leicester
He signed for Leicester City for £500,000 and proved to be a success as he finished the season as their top scorer and then at the start of the next season he scored a hatrick against Stoke City which increased speculation he was going to be sold to a Premier League club. And on deadline day he signed for Wigan Athletic for an initial fee of £2 million and he once again scored on his debut in a 2-1 win over West Brom. However, it was a difficult season as he struggled with injuries and did not score another league goal for the club and in 2006 he left for Sunderland.

At Sunderland he played a vital part in getting them promoted by finishing the season as their top scorer and scoring the final goal of the season which made them champions of the division. However, over the next two seasons he only played five times and was then released.

His next move was to Southampton and he scored on his debut against Oldham Athletic and then followed this up with another against MK Dons. He earned a contract extension and was vital in getting Southampton promoted as he scored in crucial wins over Brighton, Brentford and Walsall. Connolly started the Championship season in fantastic form scoring four goals in the first month of the season. After the club made a few signings in the January transfer window he was pushed down the pecking order and was released at the end of the season.
Connolly Soton
Connolly decided to stay on the South Coast and signed for Portsmouth and although he scored seven times in 17 games he was unable to stop them getting relegated to League Two. At the beginning of the next season he was a starter for Portsmouth but was loaned out in January to Oxford United where he scored on his debut against AFC Wimbledon.

The final word can go to the manager that signed him for West Ham Glenn Roeder. “He is fiery and strong mentally – a tough boy and he lives for scoring goals. He is one of those lads that keeps a mental note of exactly where and how he scores.”

27th May – Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne is one of the greatest players England have ever produced and in terms of natural talent not many have even come close.

He provided so many good memories for football fans in the 90s ranging from his impressive World Cup showing at Italia 90 to that goal against Scotland at Euro 96. Although he has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons since his retirement it should not be this that he is remembered for as he was a wonderful player.

Gazza started his career at Newcastle United and was a special talent from an early age as he captained the youth team as they won the Youth Cup in 1985 with him scoring twice in the final. He was soon quickly promoted to the first team and Jack Charlton gave him his debut on the 13th April 1985 against QPR. But it was Willie McFaul that gave him his first start on the opening day of the new season. He scored his first goal a few weeks later against Oxford United and impressed for the entire season, scoring another eight goals.
Soccer - Today League Division One - Newcastle United Photocall
Newcastle struggled in the next season but Gazza still managed to score five times in 24 league games and was vital in helping the club avoid relegation. The season after though was his best personally, as he was named the PFA Young Player of the Year and was in the PFA Team of the Year and in the summer he moved to Tottenham Hotspur for a British record of £2.2 million.

In his first season he scored seven times in 37 league games and helped the club reach sixth place. They then rose to the third place the season after and he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 1990 and also Tottenham’s Player of the Year. In the 1990-91 season he played a key part in helping the club win the FA Cup as he scored six times in the competition, including one against Arsenal in the semi final. However, an injury in the final meant that he would miss the entire 1991-92 season.
Gazza Spurs
Lazio had already agreed a deal to sign the midfielder and they eventually got their man for £5.5 million. He was loved by the Lazio fans because he scored an 89th minute equaliser against fierce rivals Roma but he did have a tough time in Italy and did not settle well. Despite this he helped them qualify for Europe for the first time in 16 years. Over the next two seasons he struggled with injuries and in July 1995 he joined Rangers for £4.3 million.

And he once again became a club legend by scoring in the Old Firm Derby, it was an extraordinary goal as he ran almost the full length of the pitch before scoring. Rangers won the league that season and he scored a hatrick against Aberdeen to clinch the title. They also went on to win the Scottish Cup and Gascoigne finished the season with 19 goals.
Gazza Rangers
Rangers won the title again in the 1996-97 season and Gascoigne scored hatricks against Kilmarnock and Motherwell and finished the year with an impressive 17 goals in 34 appearances. He also scored twice in the League Cup final victory over Hearts. His last season at the club was less successful as Rangers lost their title and didn’t win their single trophy which led to the player moving back to England, this time joining Middlesbrough for £3.45 million.

It started well for him as he helped them get promotion back to the Premier League and was then even more impressive in helping them finish sixth in their first season back but unfortunately his form did not last and he eventually left the club and joined Everton.

He started well but only played 32 league games for the club, scoring one goal which turned out to be his last in England away to Bolton Wanderers. He left the club in March 2002 and ended the season at Burnley where he made six appearances but they narrowly missed out on the playoffs and he left after just two months. Gascoigne then had a short spell in China playing for Gansu Tianma and started off well by scoring twice in his first four games but troubles off the pitch meant he had to leave. His last club was League Two Boston United but after only playing five times in three months he decided to retire.

The final word can go to Sir Alex Ferguson who has admitted he wished he signed the player. “He was a fantastic footballer. He was the best player England produced since the days of Bobby Charlton. He was the best player of his era, a breath of fresh air because he played with a smile.”