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Talking To Chris Kirk
Talking To Chris Kirk

Exclusive Interview: Kevin Drinkell (Part Three)

By: Chris Kirk
Date: 10/01/2008

THE third and final part of Chris Kirk's interview with Kevin Drinkell, which first featured in BAWC Issue Nine.

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You scored on your Coventry debut against Town in a League Cup game but after that things didn't work out for you there. Why was that?

At that time I had no reason to suspect things wouldn't work out. I had been top scorer wherever I had played, and the fans had always liked me. There was no reason to think they wouldn't love me. Coventry had not had anyone score a few goals for a few years. Unfortunately, with their system and the players around me, it never happened there. My goal against Grimsby helped them through to the next round, and I thought, here we go again, and thought I would be a success. Throughout my career I had always relied on quality of service. At Grimsby I had Tony Ford on one wing and Mike Brolly on the other supplying crosses. At Rangers I had Mark Walters. My job had always been to hold the ball up, lay it off, and get in the box and get on the end of a cross. Unfortunately it was not like that at Coventry. They knocked it long, and they wanted me to get in behind like a Michael Owen. It never suited me, and after a year I didn't want to stay, and they didn't want me. Norwich would have had me and Man City were in for me, but Coventry wanted nearly £1m for me and they were not going to get it. A year went by, someone offered £300,000, and they turn it down, so I'm still there. I went to Birmingham on loan and scored the winner against West Brom. They wanted me for longer but Coventry wanted more money, and it all went a bit sour. Someone needed to move me on. I talked to the manager at Falkirk. It wasn't too far from where I had lived before in Scotland. They were in the SPL. I went up there and had lunch with some friends. I had to tell the wife we were moving again. I had done it before. I rang her and said I was talking to Rangers, and she thought I meant Queen's Park Rangers, and we were off to live in London.

Falkirk had a good mix of boys and were unlucky to get relegated. We won the league the next year and went back up again. It went well there. I won another medal and made some friends. One of the reasons I had joined was because there was an opportunity to coach the reserves. I made sure it wasn't just lip service. I asked the team to play the way I wanted and in the systems I wanted.

At that time I lived in Stirling and their chairman lived over the road from me, and he could see where I had taken this team. In my first year at Stirling I played a little bit, but I then retired fully. The next year we won the league by 22 points which brought me some plaudits and saw me linked with other jobs.

People said I would be getting this job and getting that job but it didn't happen. We got relegated the last game of the season, by which time a prominent first division team had offered me a job. I left my job to take up this post but it never materialised.

I took on the Montrose job as a favour really. A friend had gone back to them to help them out financially. He said if I was doing bugger all else, would I take on the manager's job? It didn't do me any favours. We could only pay someone £30 a week and we was up in the north. It just didn't interest people. it was originally for six months but he begged me to stay, but I didn't see a future, so I came away and went on a new path?

How did you get into sports management?

I did some media stuff for a year but the people at 110 Sport Management had been friends for a while and were based in Stirling. They were originally set up to manage Stephen Hendry who I see now and again for a game?

Are you any good at snooker? What's your top break?

My best is 72, but that's not enough when you're playing guys like Hendry!

Anyway, Ian Doyle had been running the company for years but wanted to take a back seat, and his son, Lee, had taken over. They wanted me to help them go into different areas. We look after most of the top snooker players including Hendry, O'Sullivan, Williams, Docherty. We also have a golf department, but I head up the football department. We mainly manage Scottish players people down south have never heard of, but we also look after rugby players, skaters, skiiers, cyclists, boxers etc. It's really good fun. We are looking to open offices in Liverpool and Birmingham.

Could you aver see yourself as a manager again?

Well, I'm not sure going back into management is an option. I don't want to sit there with a chip on my shoulder. My only option would be to go back to the lower levels, like at Stirling, to prove to myself that I can still do it, but I don't think I need to do that.

Has the Town job ever interested you?

The experience I gained, year after year, with Falkirk meant I indicated that I would be interested in the Grimsby job, I think around 2001. At the time I think I should have got the job, they gave it to Lennie Lawrence. When I heard that, I just thought, 'Er, no', and why should I sit here trying to worry about the club when they are going to make strange decisions like that. I know I could have done a good job. It might sound cocky but I could have brought some kind of pride, and tried to instil that in playing for the team. I could have maybe generated more interest and reinvigorated the supporters, if you like. I just think I could have brought a lot to it. In reality, I have not done it for a while, but I still know how to set up a training session, and I have the contacts. It would be hard to go back and play after ten years, but in coaching it is not something you are going to lose.

Do you look out for Town's results?

I am kept informed. My mum still lives in Grimsby. I know exactly what's going on. My brothers go now and again, then come away disillusioned and don't go back for another two years.

Many managers are happy finishing tenth but if you're not trying to win something, why bother? I didn't want my teams to go away and get a 0-0 draw, and be happy with it. Consolidation is fine for a year but then you have to be ambitious and try and win stuff.

Finally, Town have many young players currently, like early in your career? Can we get succeed with all this youth?

Just ask Alex Ferguson if you can be successful with young players. A lot of managers won't go that way because they are worried about their own position. You have more chance of finishing halfway up the league with seasoned pros who can grind out draws away from home and kill games off, but not everyone likes to do that. John Newman knew he was looking at the long term and George Kerr came in and ran with it. At Stirling I never signed anyone over 23 years of age. Older players won't take you forward.

This interview first appeared in BAWC issue eight…for more information on the only current Mariners paper based fanzine email

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