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[20 SEP 98] NUNEATON BOROUGH FEATURE
Brendan Phillips - Top Man
BY MIKE DALE

Jamaican born Brendan Phillips is the top man - for the moment.

The Nuneaton Borough manager has inspired and guided his Nuneaton Borough team to the top spot in the Dr Martens League Premier Division, but he knows all that could change very quickly in the volatile world of soccer.

Phillips' team has won seven of its first eight matches to sit four points clear at the top, but he says:

"I might be getting all the pats on the back at the moment, but if we lose the next seven I could be out."

It is a perilous life being manager of a soccer team, but Phillips has shown that he has what it takes and he admits he would love to be offered the post at a Football League club.

"I think that every non-league club manager would love to show what he can do at Football League level, but it seems those days have gone," he says.

"Ron Atkinson started his managerial career at Kettering and a few others learned the ropes at this level in days gone by, but now it seems directors go either for former top players or they look to the continent of Europe."

There was a time when Phillipps hoped to become a top player. His parents settled in Coventry when he was five years old and he spent his formative years in the city. He played soccer through his school team and local districts and eventually was signed by Leicester City, whose manager then was Frank O'Farrell.

"I spent four years at Filbert Street, playing mostly in the reserves," he recalls. "I did have one brief moment of glory. I was included in a first team squad, but sadly only to pack the kit and load it on the team bus."

In those days competition for places was fierce at Leicester. The first team boasted such luminaries as Keith Weller (famous for wearing thermal leggings in matches), Peter Shilton, Frank Worthington, Alan Birchenall, Lenny Glover and others who combined to make it the club's 'golden era'.

"I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, but I decided to try my luck elsewhere and I went to play for Noel Cantwell at Peterborough United and we won the Fourth Division.

"After that I moved into non-league playing for Burton Albion and had my first association with Nuneaton Borough. We had some terrific players there - people like Trevor Peake and Kirk Stephens who both went on to play professional football at the highest level.

"I then moved on to play for Kettering where Roy Barry, Coventry City's former centre-half was the manager, and then went back to Nuneaton where Graham Carr was manager. It's a small world because Carr is now on the scouting staff at Coventry City and we talk occasionally."

It was at this stage of his playing career than Brendan won eight caps for the England Non-League XI under the managership of Howard Wilkinson.

"Trevor Peake and I made our England debuts together. He went on to be selected for the England B professional side when he was a Coventry City player. I progressed into non-league manager and Trevor is a coach at City."

A man who played a big part in Brendan's development is also at Coventry City.

"I first went into soccer management at Aylesbury Town as assistant to Trevor Gould and together we helped the club to win promotion to the Conference. I had eighteen months learning the ropes of managing a non-league club under Trevor, who is now the deputy director of Coventry City's Soccer Academy."

Brendan has now had ten years as a manager. He began at Bedworth United where he spent three years, he had the same period at Stafford Rangers and roughly the same length of time at Nuneaton.

"I am learning about the job every single day and I am enjoying life at the Borough. They really are one of the bigger non-league clubs. We get over 2,000 supporters to every home match and we play some first-rate football.

"Our immediate ambition is to win promotion to the Conference. There is only one promotion place and we are going to do our best to fill it.

"When we get our new stadium built we shall have the perfect place to show Nuneaton people that they have a football club to be proud of."
 

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