BRIAN Owen has enjoyed a magnificent and varied career in professional football, playing for the likes of Colchester United, Watford and Wolves and later working as a coach, scout and physio for clubs such as the U's, Ipswich Town, Crystal Palace and Luton Town, along with working with the England national team.

In part two of our in-depth interview with the popular former U's favourite, he talks recalls some of the memorable moments in his long career.

BRIAN Owen has enhanced countless careers within professional football.

During his time in the game spanning 60 years, the former Colchester United favourite is the only man to have served as a player, coach, scout and physiotherapist in all four divisions of the English Football League.

Roy McDonough was one of the many players to benefit from Brian’s knowledge and expertise.

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Brian played his part in bringing the maverick to Layer Road, in 1990 and as player-manager at Colchester, the charismatic McDonough went on to lead the club to a memorable non-league double, two years later.

“I was a big admirer of him,” said Brian, as he relaxes at his home in Great Bentley.

“He wasn’t getting on too well at Southend and I went to watch him and we took him; it was great for both parties really.

“Roy was a great character.”


McDonough proved a fine signing for Colchester but around the same time, when Jonathan Crisp was U’s chairman, they missed out on an even bigger capture recommended by Brian.

“I lived just outside Stafford and Ian (Atkins) is from the Midlands, so we both knew about Stan Collymore,” he said.

“Ian had gone to Stafford Rangers and said, ‘how much?’ and they said 20 grand, so we thought ‘great’.

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“Crispy was the chairman and Ian asked him if we could buy the player for 20 grand; Crispy’s gone ‘no chance’, so the outcome was that he went to Palace.

“He didn’t quite do it at Palace but Colin Murphy, who I’d worked with at Luton, was manager at Southend and I spoke to him about getting him; he did and he’s done great.

“He had a great career and for 20 grand, we’d have had him for Colchester.”


Having represented Watford, Wolves and Colchester during his playing days, Brian went on to work for a variety of English clubs in various different roles.

“I’ve probably worked for about 30 managers,” he said.

Brian also spent many years within the England national team set-up and enjoyed long periods working at the FA from youth up to senior level, in coaching and physiotherapy roles.

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“With England, I worked with Terry Venables, Howard Wilkinson, Dave Sexton, Bobby Robson, Ron Greenwood, so I’ve seen good people work – I’ve been very lucky,” he said.

“I did my prelim under Bobby Robson and my full badge under Graham Taylor.

“I learnt a lot off Graham – I used a lot of Graham’s stuff.


“My first year with the first team at Wolves, I did a lot of stuff with Graham and we won the league.

“I worked all over Europe with England, also Australasia and places like that.

“Don Revie would have sessions where he’d have corners and one team would take it with the left foot and the other with the right foot, then you’d go to the edge of the box and hit the back of the net without a bounce with both feet and you’d go round the goalpost.

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“Don used to occupy the players all the time by taking cards, or bowls or putting, so you always had teams and it was always competitive.

“The players loved him.”

Brian looks back fondly at his time at Colchester and in particular, the period which saw them secure a historic promotion to the Championship in 2006, under Phil Parkinson.


“When Parky got the job, I’d been at Palace.

“Parky’s mate was Alan Pardew and Alan gave me a really good opinion.

“Parky came in and we got on well; we used to go to games together and I used to tell him all of my tales and things like that and we got very close.

“I still contact him every week.

“I think he’s a great manager; you can talk to him and he’d listen to you.

“He’s by far the best manager Colchester have ever had.

“Not only that, he’s a nice person as well and it was sad when we lost him.

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“It would have been nice if we’d held onto him because we were in the Championship.

“I’m not surprised at how well he’s done, because he’s top class and ticks all the boxes.

“It would have been interesting had Parky stayed and the team had stayed together, because we could have gone up to the top division.

“The fact that we got them up into the Championship was one of our greatest achievements, because I felt that I did a lot towards that.”


Parkinson assembled a team full of talent, a fact borne out by the number of players that went onto enjoy successful careers in the Premier League after leaving the U’s.

Brian played his part in the capture of George Elokobi, who impressed at Colchester before earning a big move to Wolves, in 2008.

“A guy I used to work with at Palace told me about George, so I went down to watch him at Dulwich Hamlet.

“We signed him but he could not kick the ball with his right foot.

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“I used to spend hours with him, just dropping balls in; I’d start from close in and gradually go back, just dropping balls into the goal.

“But he had power, he was brave – he was a great defender.

“We also brought Craig Fagan in from Birmingham.

“Between me and Paul (Dyer), I think we did great for the club.”


Another player to advance from Colchester to the top flight was Greg Halford, who was outstanding under Parkinson and also during Geraint Williams’ time in charge, when the club secured their highest-ever finish of 10th in the Championship.

“I worked a lot with Greg,” said Brian.

“He was always technically very good but he’d beat himself up if he did anything wrong.

“We spent a lot of time with him.”


Brian, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in November, still loves football; he takes in most games on TV, along with watching his young grandson play for Brantham.

He can reflect on a long and varied career within the professional game, one that saw him achieve so much.

“It’s been great working with good people and seeing how good people work,” adds Brian, who has been married to his wife, Carol, for more than 50 years.

“Things happen and you’re down and then you’re up again; you’ve got to be quite resilient to be in football but it’s been fantastic.

“I’ve had a great time in football.”