TK: How did you find the transition from player to coach to manager?
DC: I think as a player I was helpful to the people around me, I’ve always seen football very clearly in my head, I may have shown it as a player as frustration barking at people and arguing, but that’s because I had that vision. Then I became a coach at Dagenham’s academy teaching kids and you have to change your vocabulary and then when you get into senior coaching I think it’s all the information I have in my head, it’s how you deliver it, again this is another thing that Junior is very good at which is why I think we work well together. I say to the players don’t think everything I say is 100% right all of the time because it’s not, but somewhere when we have these individual meetings and sessions in training they’re very entitled to their opinion, it’s open, so I show a level of understanding but ultimately try and give them as much as I can of whats in my head which relates to their individual qualities.
For example, if they are quick players why do you not want to run in behind or if you are a Boucard you’ve got to create scenarios to get him on the ball a lot. If you’re good at crossing or passing create that scenario. It’s me trying to give them my game understanding and how we deliver it to them so there’s plenty of analysis and conversation, it’s my love for the game and I wanna see people smile and be happy and maximise their abilities and that’s how I try to transfer it into them, sometimes we get it spot on, other times they frustrate me and they know they frustrate me and I let them know they have, but it’s because I want the best for them.
TK: How would you describe the influence of John Still on your career?
DC: I enjoyed playing under John, when I was playing under him at Barnet he allowed me to play the way I needed to play and the shape and system benefitted my attributes, obviously I had my best mate (Sam) Stockley behind me who did all my running, I look after him now for all he did for me with those legs! Funnily enough when I went to Wycombe (Dan) Senda was my little runner as well, but it worked well because it was something that they were good at, getting up and down which allowed me to do what I could do, and John allowed me to do that.
What you learn from him as a manager, coach or assistant is his day to day dealings with people, his man management skills how he recruits people, listen he’ll tell you he doesn’t always get it right but it was always very interesting to watch him, listen to him, how he speaks with agents, with other clubs etc but I’ve taken little chunks from all the managers I’ve played under, even the bad ones, ones I didn’t on with at all, doesn’t mean they didn’t have qualities I’ve tried to use myself. You take a little bit of everyone and blend it together, what you are and what you think and hopefully have a successful 15-20 year career as a manager.
TK: What do you think it is that draws people into Barnet? As I said to you earlier, I’ve been coming for 22 years now, built up some good friendships in that time. To me there is something that draws you in, you come once and then think I’ll come again.
DC: I think non-league football does that anyway doesn’t it! There’s a real loyalty around non-league football I know that from watching my dad play for his various non-league sides, a big family feel about it. Barnet really had that when I played for them and I always believe that fans come in hope week in week out that we will get on this run that will see us climb the league and head for the heights.
Barnet’s been good as being a family club, I just believe they come in good hope to see good football, good attacking football, climb the leagues and come back to that word again, continuity, instead of being that yo-yo club and we’ll turn that big corner one day.
TK: Do you think the comparison to your uncle Tony helped or hampered your early career?
DC: Well I thought I was better than him to be honest! Better hair anyway! I’ve stated a million times before for 2-3 years in my career I didn’t have a name, I wasn’t Darren I was nephew of, but it didn’t matter I was proud of him, he was an unbelievable player forgetting we’re blood related. He was a big help to me when I was younger and while the name might have been a weight around my neck to begin with, there’s worse players I could have been compared to!
TK: Final question, whats your favourite memories of Underhill?
DC: Hmm, I think I got a hat-trick in Cottee’s first game didn’t I!?
TK: Yes you did, 7-0 vs Blackpool
DC: I thought it was 7-1?
TK: Nope they didn’t score.
DC: Yeh, 7-0, I’ve still got that ball at home. That was memorable very much so.
TK: Do you remember Lincoln at home 4-3 after being 3-0 down before Tony Richards got the winner?
DC: I don’t remember that no (scorer of the equalising goal was a certain Mr Currie). I scored early on when I signed, a League Cup game against Wolves, I remember that. I don’t recall too many bullet header’s, so we’ll move on from that! I’ll be honest, I don’t remember too much of the finer detail but as a general memory I used to love playing at Underhill because I felt and all you wanted to feel as a player is you go out there and see the ball as a beach ball as your confidence is through the roof and you feel like you can do anything.
And then when you’re not confident there’s a little bit of tension in the crowd and the ball gets smaller, like you’re playing with a marble, but I always liked it, it was home when I played at Underhill and I could just go and do whatever I wanted and even when I made mistakes, like everyone else, I always felt everyone was on my side and it really helped me grow up as a player because I’d been to Shrewsbury and I did ok there, then on loan to Plymouth but I felt my time at Barnet was when my career began which led to my move to Wycombe and on goes the story.
My memories there are really bad hairstyles, really bad, Rod Stewart like, I’ve so many other nicknames, but you know what we had a real togetherness in that group, I’m still in touch with all of them, Warren Goodhind, Dooley, Ken Charlery I spoke to the other day, Warren Hackett’s a very good friend, Stockley, Lee Harrison, so unbelievable memories of playing at Underhill and I suppose I’d better mention so people don’t think I’ve deliberately left it out, I do remember missing a penalty against Torquay, I accept responsibility for that. But yeh, great memories that helped me grow and improve my career.
My great thanks to Darren Currie for taking time out of a busy Friday afternoon to chat to me.