Martin Hardy: Point of principle that keeps Phil Brown on the job market

Life Beyond the Premier League

On the highwire of football management can stand a precarious principle, a belief, a bit of knowledge learned the hard way. Last Monday evening, Phil Brown was in the stands at the International Stadium in Gateshead to watch Hartlepool reserves. At that point he was the manager-in-waiting to succeed Neale Cooper at Victoria Park; 24 hours later, at what is commonly termed the 11th hour, talks broke down. Brown, who made his first foray into professional football at Hartlepool as a player in 1980, could not, he now reveals, bring in the full backroom staff he believed he required to change the club's fortunes.

Hands were shaken, and a job that had been Brown's for the taking was offered to John Hughes, the manager of Livingston. Hughes took it. Brown (right) continues his search to get back into the game that has been a major part of his life for 33 years.

"I'm unattached and I'm looking for work," Brown says. "I have worked all my life so I don't want to be out of work. I want to be known as a hard-working bloke. I was brought up to graft. I served my time on the Tyne. I worked as an electrician, getting up at six o'clock and not coming home till midnight. That is what I am. I'm a working-class lad from South Shields.

"Hartlepool interested me because you are in the third tier. The club has progressed since I was there as a player and you're in a region that is still, as far as I'm concerned, a football hotbed.

"People are saying I was too expensive. That's a load of rubbish. I was prepared to work under the constraints of the football club. I wanted to bring my backroom staff in. At the 11th hour there were one or two demands from themselves. I didn't agree with them. They were deal-breakers as opposed to deal-makers. They wouldn't back off and I was going to make a stand.

"I went into Preston and we went our separate ways because I wanted to restructure the backroom staff. That was a problem. I didn't want to see that being the problem at Hartlepool. It needs rebuilding. The club has been staring at a lot of managers over the last 10 years. I wanted to be allowed to restructure it.

"We went our separate ways amicably. I was disappointed. There was a very good opportunity to get it going."

It is just four years since Brown led Hull City from the bottom of the Championship to sixth place in the Premier League. They were supposed to go straight back down; suddenly they had 20 points from 11 games and that was enough to keep them up, by the skin of their teeth.

Brown has two more promotions on his CV, as coach at Bolton Wanderers, and as assistant manager at the same club. Preston did not work out and the road back into management is not easy.

"I got to the final process at Coventry, Bury and Gilllingham," he adds. "They were three clubs where it was very interesting meeting the chairmen, hearing about the challenge and what they had to say.

"I'm not in a position where I can turn clubs down. The average is 60 applications for every job, no matter what club. Look at the managers out of work at the minute; I have no divine right. I needed to understand why certain clubs didn't even respond to a telephone call, saying 'come in for a chat'.

"Sometimes I haven't received a telephone call. When I think about my CV, I have three promotions from the Championship to the Premier League. When you don't get a call to have a chat to see if we meet eye to eye, that has disappointed me.

"I did a bit of work for the FA pro licence. I was really pleased to be asked to help them out. One of the categories was, 'What do you want to be remembered for?' I put up pictures of me singing on the pitch and the half-time team-talk at Manchester City and I said to them all that those were not the way I wanted people to think of me. I wanted to be remembered for doing a thorough job at a football club, for making the club better and for achieving success.

"It is important how hard you work inside your football club. You need good, thorough, professional people around you and you can really take a club places. People have a perception of me but they don't see the hard graft or the long hours I put in.

"I love the game. I always have done and I want to be managing again."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot