Kevan Brown: From Southampton to Woking via Brighton and Aldershot

Image courtesy of Sky Sports Archives

You stated your career as a trainee at Southampton. What are your memories of the club?

I signed for the club at the age of 13 and I spent a lot of time in the development side. They wanted to keep me as an apprentice but I wanted to stay on at school so I went to college for a year to finish my studies. I did that then joined the club as a full time apprentice.

Who were the big characters when you were coming through your apprenticeship?

We had Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer coming through in the year below me. Chris Wilder was at the club at the time too. Another high profile apprentice was Dennis Wise.

Then in the first team you had Mark Wright and Tim Flowers who were signed from Wolves and Oxford Utd respectively as young players and were nurtured at the flub but didn’t go through the schoolboy/apprenticeship system at Saints. The club had a very talented squad and I played over 100 reserve team games but I was unable to force my way into the first team in a competitive game.

I played in numerous friendlies and end of season games but never for the first team. I was very close under Lawrie McMenimy to breaking in.

The closest I came to playing a league game for the Saints was when I travelled with the first team to Watford and was due to play if David Armstrong didn’t pass a fitness test. Sadly for me he passed. So I watched the game from the stands.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen in the end because we only had one sub unfortunately which made it hard to break in.

Overall, I loved my time at the club because my love of football was due to my dad Peter Brown who played for the Saints in the 50’s later to player for Wrexham. He took me to watch the Saints and we were at Wembley when Saints won the FA Cup in 76. I was 10 years old and only a few years later I was training with the likes of Nick Holmes who I had supported as a boy.

From Southampton to Brighton. You join the club on an initial loan before making the move permanent. how do you reflect on your time at Brighton?

“Hove: The Goldstone Ground” by Nigel Cox is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

It was great to play first team football each week and playing in what would now be called the championship was a good learning curve.

I played on loan initially although the side were relegated which was frustrating. However, I joined permanently and helped the club earn promotion in the following year.

It’s a great club and I really enjoyed every minute of my time there.

The promotion season was such a memorable year for us and I played alongside Doug Rougvie who joined the club from Chelsea. He was a great character and I learned a lot from him. We also had players such as Dean Wilkins, Alan Curbishley and Kevin Bremner who were very talented too.

Barry Lloyd wanted to okay attractive football which we did but we could also mix it up and be physical too. He signed players capable of playing at a higher level and as such he created a perfect mix.

The only downside for me was at the end of the promotion winning season. I played every league game, I think something like 36 and then picked up an injury just before the end of the transfer window. That’s when Gary Chivers was signed and despite starting in the side at the start of the following season my first team opportunities became limited. This led to me being out of the team and being desperate to play football it led me to leaving for Aldershot.

You make the move to Aldershot. What are your memories of your time at the club?

“Aldershot” by fsf.images is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

We had a lot of good characters in the squad in a time of adversity really. We weren’t always being paid and there were issues around the stadium at the time due to a dispute between the club and the council. It was an up and down time really.

Brian Talbot came in and the training was fantastic. We started that year very well but he stated that if the wages weren’t paid that he would leave the club and he left in December of that season.

Up until March we weren’t paid and the club was sadly wound up. We tried to stay around and save the club but it went to the wall sadly.

Following a tough time at Aldershot, success with Woking followed. You led the cup to three FA Trophy successes at Wembley as captain. How do you reflect on the your success at the club?

“File:Kingfield Stadium, Home of Woking FC – – 416016.jpg” by Colin Smith is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I had many options to stay within the football league from clubs such as Torquay, Stockport and Hereford. However, once I had spoken to Woking it was clear that the club were ambitious and it allowed me to start a new career in teaching in addition to play football.

We had a good squad and looked to play football the right way. We surprised a lot of sides in the FA Cup with our style and I had a great rapport with the fans. At times, we were selling out the ground with 6,000 fans behind us.

“Dulwich Hamlet v Fulham” by nicksarebi is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

We had players like Scot Steele and Clive Walker who could turn a game in any instant and by allowing me to start a new career in addition to my football, it was the best move I ever made.

Your partnership with Steve Foster during your time at the club is still spoke about. What was he like to play alongside?

First and foremost, he is a great character. He was a very good player too and he arrived at the club from Telford. He was elegant as a player and went on to do very well for himself within the game too.

Your testimonial match was against West Ham United. How special was it to be respected with a testimonial to mark your service at the club?

It was fantastic. I owe John McGovern a lot for that as he spoke to Harry Redknapp and helped arrange it for me. It coincided with the Premier League starting a week later than usual so for them it was great to have a friendly and as such they brought a very strong team.

“Ian Wright & Lee Dixon interview 2” by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The likes of Ian Wright, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand played in my testimonial which was great especially when I look back now. It was a lovely send off.

I loved my time at Woking and to play at Wembley was so special and to do it 3 times (winning & captain) was incredible and something that I will always be very proud.

From Woking to Huish Park with Yeovil. What was it like playing for the Glovers?

“The Ernie Cooksey Flag, Huish Park, Yeovil” by Diego Sideburns is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I enjoyed it. Once my days were up at Woking, it was an obvious move for me. They needed experience in the side and we managed to stay in the league. The club was well run and I couldn’t have picked a better club after Woking.

I live in Andover so it was also very good location wise for me.

Incredibly, you finish your career back at Woking during a time that the club needed support. Was that the perfect way to end your career?

It was surreal. I wasn’t looking to go full time which Yeovil were so when I had the chance to return to Woking, I was delighted. The club were in a tough position at the wrong end of the table and we were able to turn it around which was nice.

Who would you say are the best players you played with were?

It’s a very tough question but I have to mention Steve Williams. He was superb on the ball and played with Arsenal and England.

At Woking, there were many players who I felt should have played in the football league such as Mark Biggins and Tim Buzaglo. Clive Walker and Andy Ellis were superb footballers too.

In terms of opponents, who were your toughest opponents?

We played Arsenal when I was at Brighton and they had wonderful side and so many top players. At non-league level, David Leeworthy was a very good player. He was a top goal scorer and a handful to play against in each game.

Ian Wright was one of my toughest opponents when he was at Crystal Palace. We played them when I was at Aldershot and he was scarily good.

Finally, which coaches helped you on your way in your career as a footballer?

Credit: Pexels

One coach always stands out for me and that is Ian Branfoot. He wasn’t popular at Southampton but he was very helpful for me. He had time for me to give advice and guidance when I was at Southampton. Similarly, I have to mention Colin Lippiatt the former Woking coach who took me to Yeovil and then back to Woking for my last spell there.

Barry Lloyd is another I have to mention as well as Martin Hinshelwood. Geoff Chapel has to be mentioned too because he was always able to mould talented sides and get the very best out of them. He always made sure we enjoyed our football and played in the right way.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

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