Extra Time with Brian Horton
With a playing and managerial career spanning over 50 years, the former Manchester City Manager discusses his lengthy career and his involvement with the NWFA.
Who inspired you to pursue your career in football?
My inspiration as a schoolboy was my Coach Ron Bullas who ran Cannock Athletic on a Saturday morning. Ron was also my school teacher at Blake High School, football crazy, and way ahead of his time in terms of his training.
I broke into Walsall Football Club’s Reserve Team at 17, but by the end of the season was surprisingly given a free transfer and then let go. From there I began working in the building trade while continuing my playing career at Hednesford Town F.C part-time. This ended up working well for my career, as my body grew and became fitter, making me realise I had to work harder to become a professional footballer. In 1971 I had the opportunity to move to Port Vale to work under Gordon Lee (who went on to manage Blackburn and Newcastle), and he became a great inspiration to me as a Manager.
What would you say were your career highlights?
My highlight as a player would be achieving two promotions with Brighton and captaining Luton to the top league. As a Manager, my time at Manchester City was obviously a career highlight, as was achieving promotion in my first year at Hull while I was player-Manager. I was lucky that I had 5-year stints at three different clubs (Hull City, Oxford, Port Vale) all with great Chairmen who trusted me and never interfered in the running of the club. That’s a rarity now. I’ve had over 1000 games as a Manager if I include my games as a player that number would rise to over 2000.
How did you become involved in the NWFA?
Each year the NWFA is one of the best football events I go to, a brilliant night out with faces from the TV and radio. I’ve been attending the dinner with my wife for many years, and one year the organisers approached me to join the panel of judges which I was more than happy to do.
What is your favourite part of the event?
Personally, my favourite part of the night is the opportunity to present an award. I also like having the opportunity to meet up with ex-players and Managers that I don’t get to see throughout the year. It’s a big reunion, a fantastic football night.
What do you think are the NWFA’s main achievements?
I think the main achievements of the awards is their promotion of The Offside Trust organisation which was set up following the revelation of historic child sexual abuse. The Trust is led by ex-footballer Steve Walters and former professional golfer Chris Unsworth, and they support survivors of abuse and work to ensure that children involved in sport are kept safe. The evening helps to raise awareness and funds for the organisation.
Who do you support?
That’s a tough question but I’d have to say growing up in Cannock (in the Midlands) it would have to be Wolverhampton Wanderers. My Dad was a Wolves fan, and as a kid, I had a season ticket, so I went to every home game. They were one of the best teams in the league at the time, and my favourite player was Ron Flowers who was a wing-half, which in today’s game would be a midfield player.
Who would you choose to be in your Fantasy Football team, including manager?
As Manager I would choose the following team;
Goalkeeper- Tony Coton (Manchester City)
Right Back- George Cohen (Fulham, England World Cup Winner)
Centre Back- Mike Lawrenson (Brighton)
Centre Half- Bobby Moore (West Ham, England World Cup Winning Captain)
Left Back- Ray Wilson (Everton, England World Cup Winner)
Right Wing- George Best (Manchester United)
Midfield- Bryan Robson (Manchester United)
Midfield- Glenn Hoddle (Tottenham Hotspur)
Left Wing- Bobby Charlton (Manchester United, England World Cup Winner)
Forward- Pelé (Santos, 3-time Brazil World Cup Winner)
Forward- Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
QUICK FIRE 5
Suit or Jeans? - Suit. I’ve never worn a pair of jeans in my life
Beer or wine? - Lager
Entertaining at home or dining out? - Dining out, San Carlo in Hale is my favourite restaurant
SUV or sports car? - Sports car, I once treated myself to a Porsche
Beach or city? - Beach- Le Royal Meridien hotel in Dubai