Dean’s life at Rangers started at the tender age of eight. He was already at a Development Centre but this was the big one.A TRIAL AT THE ACADEMY ! We all arrived at Twyford to be met by Bobby Ross and Terry Springett who took everyone’s name and their positions of play. Parents and kids all with nervous excitement ! The boys played small sided games but Dean took a kick to the head which motivated him to score a tremendous goal. From then on, all the Coaches remembered him. The boys were given a hot meal and we were told to wait for a letter. It seemed to take a lifetime to arrive and when it did it was good news. Dean’s Dad rang his old school mate, Paul Thomas an R’s fan, who was well made up, as we all were.
Bobby Ross signed Dean at Barclays (Hanger Lane) Training Ground and Terry Springett did the paper work. I remember Bobby giving Dean a pound coin and saying, “Dean, this is your first signing on fee.” We still have that coin safely put away in a ring box. Dean played under numerous Coaches who all had their own style but all taught him something about the game and improved him as a player. From June to July, we waited for the fixture list. The R’s playing the likes of West Ham, Arsenal and Spurs etc.what a buzz ! That first Season was fantastic, beating Chelsea 3-2 with Dean scoring the winner, 5-3 at Upton Park, Dean running out as captain and losing 13-9 to Arsenal.
He started off for two years with a Coach called Mick. You either loved him or hated him but luckily for us we loved him and so did Dean. He was a ‘shouter’ but for all the right reasons. One of our favourite memories was when he arranged a tour to Scotland. All the parents paid for themselves because we’ve always been a Club short of cash but we didn’t mind as it was well worth it. We drank the Holiday Inn dry and the boys and parents bonded so well. We played Hibernian, Rangers and Dundee and although they have the least amount of money, Hibs were the best hosts. They gave the kids goody bags and took them all out to McDonalds for something to eat. Rangers had one of the best Training Grounds that I have ever seen, it was beautiful, the only problem was that every time we wanted a smoke, we had to leave the Ground through the automated gates and stand outside which was terrible for me ! Terry Springett made sure that Easter wasn’t forgotten as she made sure everybody had an Easter egg and arranged a wicked quiz. I’m afraid the Parents cheated on phoning a friend which was not allowed !
During the first two years we began as an Academy, David Davies and Co. decided we could no longer afford it so we reverted back to being a Centre of Excellence. At this point, boys could of left as this was a change of contract but most of us remained because we loved it !!! What followed was the cutting of the Satellite Centre in Kent and a lot of boys were released. This was a really sad time as we said goodbye to lots of friends and Coaches. Luckily we were not there the day that it happened as we were on holiday but grown men were crying. Again we survived and soldiered on.
Dean’s next Coach was Andy Evans (U11’s) Yes, the same one still at Rangers running the Community scheme. He was a smashing Coach, definitely not a ‘shouter’ but much calmer and approachable to everyone. As you know, an all round great guy. He needed more time to run the scheme and has made such a success of it.
(Part Two will follow in the near future)