Monday, January 9

There's only one Kenny Brown

Nigel Morris reports on Kenny Brown's Tooting Army 

We all remember Kenny Brown for the goal he scored against Manchester United in 1992 to halt their charge towards the title – Alex Ferguson later said it was the “luckiest goal imaginable” and moaned about the Hammers’ “obscene effort”.

Stopping Man Utd could be child’s play compared with his latest task – helping to turn around the fortunes of a struggling non-league team.

I was among the 303 at the Imperial Fields, Morden, to see Kenny’s Tooting and Mitcham team – third from bottom in the Ryman Premier League – host table-topping Billericay Town on Saturday.

On paper it should have been an easy away win for the Essex boys, who have already beaten the ‘Terrors’ 5-1 this season. To borrow an old Peter Cook joke, it was a shame they were playing on grass at the weekend.

After trailing 2-1 at half time, T&M turned it round to romp home deserved 4-2 winners. And guess who scored the third goal? Bertie Brayley, a stalwart of our glorious 1999 Youth Cup winning team alongside Joe Cole and Michael Carrick.

He didn’t make it in the Premiership but, illustrating how little separates success and failure at the top level, has had a very respectable career in the non-league. Brayley, now 30 and Brown’s deputy, showed a flash of class to chip into the net for the crucial breakthrough.

Brown only went to T&M last month…and appears already to be injecting some spirit into his squad. His players went into a mass huddle after the final whistle, before sprinting off in a lap of honour. The crowd cheered the team off and chanted Kenny’s name…just like that glorious afternoon at Upton Park nearly 20 years ago.

It’s early days yet – T&M are now fourth from bottom – but Brown’s boys might just be heading in the right direction. I’m sure he would appreciate a visit from any Hammers at a loose end in south London….

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