Brian McDermott: Then and Now

Former Gunner Brian McDermott, now manager of Reading and amateur Matt Lucas-alike, is interviewed in the London Evening Standard today. The interview is by Mihir Bose, who is not only a Spurs fan but normally dimmer than a three watt bulb. On this occasion he has started his piece with the important stuff, though: McDermott’s time at Arsenal.

Apparently McDermott ‘did not enjoy the experience’ of being an Arsenal player. Which seems an unlikely summary of events. “The dressing room was a tough environment,” says Brian. “There were fantastic players: Tony Woodcock, Charlie Nicholas, Pat Jennings, Graham Rix, David O’Leary, Liam Brady. But I didn’t really have enough confidence to play with them. I never played the amount of games I should have. I have this confidence now and I look back and wish I could put this brain into that 19-year-old boy. It is never easy coming out of the youth team in a massive club like Arsenal.

“I’d have loved to play under Arsène Wenger. The club are run the right way, they play really good football. I’ve got the utmost respect for Wenger and the Arsenal crowd.”

Asked if he would like to manage Arsenal, he replies: “At the moment I’m enjoying managing Reading and everything that that entails in the Premier League. So I don’t think about too much else.”

Yeah, but he would like it really.

Wikipedia claims McDermott played 61 times for the Arsenal first team. Mihir Bose says it was 72, and he probably copied that from One of them is probably right.

By way of pictorial comparison, here’s a report from the Arsenal programme in December 1983, a year where McDermott had already been loaned out to Fulham and IFK Norrkoping of Sweden after losing his first team place. A more hirsute Brian is pictured alongside Raphael Meade (Raph giving Gervinho a good run in the forehead department) after scoring both Arsenal goals in a reserve match against West Ham. Brian has borrowed that hair from Charlie Nicholas, I think. The Arsenal reserve team for the West Ham match also featured John Lukic, Martin Keown, Tony Adams and Ian Allinson, among others. Meanwhile the youth team the same week featured Michael Thomas, David Rocastle and Gus Caesar.

And here’s a picture of Matt Lucas, also an Arsenal supporter of course, and former Junior Gunner and Highbury ball-boy. Dead ringer, I’m telling ya.

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