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Posted on: Wed 25 Jul 2012

In Brentford's match day programme over the course of the 2011/12 season, Nick Bruzon found out what happened to some former Brentford stars. reproduces Nick's article on Paddy Roche below - click here to read part 1.


"We played Blackburn, who were in the second division then but we beat them 3-2 at home (in the first leg)," continued Paddy.

"I remember the ball came off Stan Bowles and went over the line at one point.

"There was a picture later on in the programme that shows me scooping the ball back from behind the line!

"Stan turned to me afterwards and said 'Thanks, you've saved my record of never scoring an o.g.'.

"In the second match we drew 0-0 away and they were battering us.

"Somebody had a shot and me and Jim McNichol dived at the same time.

"It went past me; Jim was behind me and handled it on the line.

"Everyone thought I'd handled it and it wasn't given."

In Jim's own words, he described the same moment last season, telling WATN: "I made a great save! Turned the ball around the corner with my left hand but the referee missed it. Should have given a penalty against us…."

Paddy concurred: "It was one of those things where it seemed we were due to go through, no matter what."

Paddy Roche

Next up for round three were Swansea City.

A packed house at Griffin Park had seen us hold the First Division (now Premiership) side 1-1.

A replay beckoned at their then Vetch Field ground.

"To go to Swansea and win 2-1 was something else," said Paddy. 

"It was a great game and we played brilliantly that night.

"John Toshack was their manager, they were a first division side and had actually been leading the league for the first ten games."

It was a match that Gary Roberts had also talked about when WATN caught up with him earlier this season, describing one particular game saving moment: "In the end it took a fantastic save by Paddy Roche from Bob Latchford, about five yards out, to stop it going into extra time."

Paddy describes this moment from his perspective.

"I made a double save," he said.

"First in one corner, it went out to him and he knocked it back in from five or six yards.

"I got across to the other corner and tipped it around the post."

"It was a fantastic feeling", he confirmed, as well as modestly adding, "and it was nice of Gary to remember it."

The next round saw the trip to Nottingham Forest, recently back-to-back winners of the European Cup.

Paddy cites the entire cup run itself as his defining moment.

Putting this to one side, I ask Paddy which other games and moments really stood out for him?

"That cup run was a big thing but there were a lot of league games where we played some really great stuff and looked like world-beaters, especially at home," he said.

"We won a couple heavily, especially early in the season where we started quite well.

"I remember a 5-1 (the curtain raiser against Bristol Rovers).

"We played Wimbledon a couple of times and they had just come into the league.

"They were really hard games and obviously a derby although for me, not being from London, it was just Wimbledon against Brentford.

"I remember playing against Millwall and that was one of the most frightening things I ever did.

"There was a fellow behind the goal with a kid in his arms, who can't have been more than one or two.

"This fellow was just calling me 'You f***ing, Irish t**t' and stuff like that for the whole game, with this kid in his arms!!

"It was fairly intimidating then."

Paddy Roche

If Millwall was a hard game then it wasn't alone, as Paddy also recalls.

"Playing against Portsmouth, and there were golf balls being thrown at us," he said.

"You'd certainly have some strange things going on behind the goal."

At a place like Griffin Park, the goalkeeper is only a matter of yards from opposition fans.

Certainly something the likes of the visiting Scott Flinders and Tony Roberts have been party to in recent seasons.

Paddy was definitely in the latter camp when it came to how he treated the opposing fans.

"I used to enjoy it and try to have a bit of a laugh with them," he said.

"Some of them, you couldn't have a laugh with but most you could and there was a lot of banter.

"I always got it, especially being an ex-United player, but I didn't mind it at all.

"I used to enjoy it actually and give them a bit of stick as well.

"I wasn't quiet that I wouldn't say anything back to them.

"You could do it in those days but now, I suppose, you can't.

"The FA would probably do you for inciting a riot or whatever but as far as I was concerned, if they said something to me then I was quite entitled to say something back to them.

"Unfortunately, these days you couldn't - the media's gone mad!"

This banter with rival fans, or lack of, is one element of the game Paddy sees as having changed from his day.

Another key area he highlights being the style of play.

"It has changed completely," he said.

"It`s not exactly something I think is brilliant.

"It`s getting a lot like the continental football and, whether you want to watch that type or not, I prefer the old style with the helter-skelter of it.

"Keep attacking, keep attacking whilst now its keep possession, keep possession.

"It all depends on what you want to watch."

Football aside, one other incident of note during Paddy's time at Griffin was the night the Braemar Road stand caught fire.

It is something he recalls, as only quick thinking from the most unlikely of sources saved the life of groundsman Alec Banks.

"Stan Bowles and his wife Jane actually found the fella, who slept there," said Paddy.

"Every football club used to have someone like him in those days, who'd do the washing and everything like that.

"It was strange to hear about it.

"Jane saw the smoke coming out and more-or-less rescued him.

"It was a strange thing and, whilst it didn't affect you on the pitch, it was a weird set of circumstances.

"Every football club on those days had somebody like him who just did it for the love of it.

"It was the same at Halifax.

"There were people there who were always around and always will be. "

Perhaps it is this sort of person who actually helped shape Paddy' post playing career.

It was one that saw him remain firmly involved in the game although in a slightly different capacity to some of the more traditional routes.

Having played almost 200 games for Halifax Town, he stayed with The Shaymen where he began a new line of work, as he explained.

"I did the football in the community there, going round the schools," he said.

"It was full time after I finished playing.

"The manager was Billy Ayre who, unfortunately has passed away now.

"The fella who took over from him, Jim McCalliog, was the Football in the Community Officer and he insisted I get interviewed for the job.

"I got on well with all the people at Halifax and it turned out to be a great thing.

"I ended up doing it for about ten years.

"We'd go round the schools to do coaching with them, a bit of fitness and some training.

"All that sort of thing.

"We'd also bring some players from the club to have a talk with the kids and chat about their lives."

I can only imagine this sort of visit would have been very well received?

"It was very enjoyable but the only problem was you had to start making them pay to pay your wages," he said.

"That's not easy, not around Halifax and places like that.

"There's a lot of rugby league around there and so it was difficult but I enjoyed it.

"It's why I did it."

Part three of Nick Bruzon's interview with Paddy Roche will be on the Official Site tomorrow.

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