By Neil Fissler
DEAN HOLDSWORTH joined Brentford when they were near the bottom of the Third Division – three years later he scored 24 goals to fire them to promotion.
Holdsworth admits he rolled the dice because he went into the promotion-winning season with only 12 months on his contract and nothing on the table.
But, like himself, the Bees progressed in his three seasons, finishing 13th, sixth and losing in the play-offs to Tranmere before eventually winning the title.
Holdsworth’s 41-goal partnership with Gary Blissett was the cornerstone of their success which was crowned by a last-day victory at Peterborough.
The Bees overcame a rocky spell in in the closing stages of the season when they went without a win in five games in March to fall to fifth place. Phil Holder’s side won their last six games to claim the title but also earn Holdsworth a move to Premier League Wimbledon.
“I was a greedy striker and my contract was up but I wanted to see the season out with a medal,” said Holdsworth.
“Although I didn’t have one on offer I didn’t push it, but I think the club wanted to sell me to get the money. We thought we had blown the championship in March when we didn’t win a game but every player took responsibility.
“Gary Blissett and myself were a great partnership for that division and we knew we had a massive responsibility to score the goals to get us there.
“But once we got over that little spell the confidence was so high, and we had some very experienced players to help.
“We beat Fulham 4-0 to get promoted but we wanted to go up as champions and we had to beat Peterborough away to create history for the club. I think the party lasted a couple of weeks after the last game.”
1. Dean Holdsworth: Dean has managed Redbridge, Newport , Aldershot and Chelmsford City and is the managing director of XPro and owner of Education Through Sport.
2. Jamie Bates: A member of two Championship winning sides at Griffin Park, he became a courier driver for a printing company in London.
3. Keith Millen: Became Bristol City’s under-17’s manager, assistant manager and then manager prior to moving on to Blackpool and now Crystal Palace.
4. Ashley Bayes: He also went into coaching and became a goalkeeping coach at a number of soccer schools, then Aldershot and now AFC Wimbledon.
5. Graham Benstead: Goalkeeping coach at Farnborough, then became assistant manager of Stevenage and now lives in Woking where he works as a self-employed painter and decorator.
6. Terry Evans: After qualifying as a physio he worked for Wycombe where he was also fitness coach. He switched sports to London Wasps where he is a senior physiotherapist.
7. Gary Blissett: Lived in Germany and was assistant, then reserve team boss at Elversberg. He’s now living in Philadelphia running a coaching company.
8. Kevin Godfrey: After becoming a taxi driver in the West London area he was last known to be working for a security delivery company.
9. Joe Gadston: The youth team coach ran a holiday apartment business and became general manager of Swanage Town & Herston. Has also been a director of Exeter City.
10. Paul Buckle: After coaching at Exeter he managed Torquay, Bristol Rovers and Luton but is now living in the USA where he is technical director with Metropolitan Oval.
11. Robert Peters: He is now believed to be living and working in Australia.
12. Simon Line: Managed Market Drayton Town three times and had a spell at Hednesford Town. He works as a school teacher in Blurton, Stoke.
13. Simon Ratcliffe: After working for Gillingham as youth development officer he returned to Norfolk and has been a prison officer for 14 years.
14. Marcus Gayle: Managed AFC Wimbledon reserves for three years and took over as manager of Staines Town. Hasalso owned a designer clothes shop in Fulham.
15. Andy Driscoll: Qualified as a personal trainer, he worked under Buckle at Torquay, Luton and Bristol Rovers and now works as a golf performance coach.
16. Roy Clare: A former carpenter who became a fitness instructor in the Navy, he was physio at Watford, The Bees and Crystal Palace and was Watford’s kitman when he died in March 1998.
17. Billy Manuel: Following a spell living in the US he is now back in Hackney where he is running a pub.
18. Richard Cadette: After a spell managing Tooting & Mitcham, he ran a hair and cosmetic products company in Slough.
19. Wilf Rostron: Returned to his native North East as Gateshead’s assistant manager then managed Sunderland Ryhope CW while working for a furniture firm. Now has his own import business
20. Phil Holder: Was assistant manager of Watford, Southend, Shimizu S-Pulse, then coached at Reading. Now works in a flower delivery business in West London.
21. Neil Smillie: Is now head of Nike Talent ID after managing Gillingham and Wycombe, where he was also youth team manager.
22. Keith Jones: Now lives in Arizona in the US where he has held a number of coaching posts.
23. Mark Turner: Mark is continuing to live and work in London.