Football: Molby's back and upwardly mobile

Grahame Lloyd meets the Dane getting his kicks at Kidderminster

FOUR DEFEATS in Kidderminster Harriers' first five Nationwide Conference games was hardly the most impressive way for Jan Molby to relaunch his managerial career.

Nearly two years after his sacking by Swansea City, the Dane had aroused great expectations when he arrived at Aggborough Stadium. Having been denied entry into the Football League in 1994 because of the condition of their ground, the Harriers were still chasing that solitary promotion place. August's results did not bode well, but the former Ajax, Liverpool and Denmark playmaker had seen it all before, most recently with the Swans, whom he transformed from relegation fodder into near-promotion winners via the 1997 Wembley play-offs.

"There wasn't any logic to us losing those early games," recalls Molby. "I felt it was only a matter of time before things improved, we just needed a couple of wins, and we got one of them in our sixth game, away at leaders Stevenage."

Now, with just one defeat in their last six games, Kidderminster are handily placed behind the three teams Molby considers the main title contenders: Nuneaton, Kingstonian and Rushden & Diamonds. Next Saturday, a crowd of nearly 3,000 is expected at Aggborough when the Harriers meet Kingstonian.

"After our poor start, we can't afford to lose any more ground on the top teams," says Molby. "Kingstonian have Geoff Chapple, Mr Non-League, in charge; he always produces solid sides who like to play good football, so it'll be a real yardstick to see how far we've come."

Substantial progress has been made since Kidderminster were denied in 1994. Under their retired multi-millionaire chairman Lionel Newton, Aggborough has emerged as a ground to rival several in the Second Division.

Many chairmen might have shied away from employing such a high-profile personality as Molby, but Newton says: "All of us - the board, the fans and the community - are desperate to get into the Football League. Jan is like a breath of fresh air here. He came across as honest, sincere and hard-working, with a passion for the game. I wasn't worried about him being sacked by Swansea or when we lost all those matches in August. I've given him a budget, he has to balance the books, and although he's brought in quite a few players, only one - Rene Petersen from St Truiden in Belgium - has cost us anything."

After appointing the former Barry Town player-manager Gary Barnett as his assistant, Molby began to make use of his extensive Football League contacts. The defenders Andy Brownrigg (Rotherham) and Phil King (Aston, Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton) and goalkeeper Tim Clarke (Scunthorpe) joined two Danish forwards, Petersen and Thomas Skovbjerg, from Esbjerg, while the former Liverpool striker Ian Foster arrived at Aggborough via Hereford and Barrow.

"We've only been together since early July," says the part-time manager, who travels from his Merseyside home twice a week to take training. "We're still waiting to settle down, but the squad have shown a great attitude and appetite for hard work. I'm not having to prove to anyone that Swansea were wrong to sack me. It's a case of proving to myself that I can do it."

"Jan's had a massive influence," says Paul Webb, the club captain, a former England semi-professional international and Kidderminster's longest- serving player. "He preaches the passing game but he realises that in this league you have to battle to win the right to play."

Seven years after winning his last major honour with Liverpool, Molby still retains his cult following. Kidderminster's website generates huge interest in Denmark, where one fan has even set up his own club site, and a group of Danish supporters are coming over for the Kingstonian match.

Having cashed in his pension policies, the 36-year-old Molby can never play football for a living again. But, like many former pros, he still enjoys the competitiveness of training, especially the youngsters- versus- veterans games. "The lads always think they can beat the old ones, but a recent final score was 18-6 to us, with the manager getting 11 of them, so that tells its own story, doesn't it?"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - OTE £37,000

£16000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The ideal candidate will want t...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician / Helpdesk - 2nd / 3rd Line

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Application Developer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in the centre of Glasgow,...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada