WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Number 3 - 30 August 2009
More than a decade and a half has passed since Kenny Brown made the headlines with his match-winning goal against Manchester United in April 1992. Now living and coaching in Spain, he retains a close connection with the claret and blues.
Fans watching the London Masters football tournament in July will have been delighted to see West Ham United come out on top. Among the successful Hammers contingent was Kenny Brown, the former right-back who proved hugely popular with the Boleyn Ground crowd between 1991 and 1996.
Now living with his family on the Costa Blanca in Spain, the 41-year-old remains involved in football on a daily basis as the coach of regional league side CD Javea. Yet he was thrilled to return to action in a claret and blue shirt this summer alongside other former players like Martin Allen, Rufus Brevett and current first-team coach Kevin Keen. "I think it was my seventh or eighth time doing the masters and it was the first time I have been on the winning side," said Brown, who can now look forward to the national final in Birmingham on Sunday week.
"Over the past few years we have probably let ourselves down, but this year we have come through. We had a few younger lads in there and I think it helped and it showed. It was good to win it. Let's see what we can do in the final. It is always good to meet up with the ex-players and players you haven't seen - especially as I am based in Spain at the moment. I don't get to see as much as I would like to of some of the players who I know."
Brown is due to start the new Spanish season with Javea on the weekend of the Masters final but thankfully the fixtures have fallen in his favour. "I am lucky because our first game of the season was due on 7 September but it has been brought forward to the sixth. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to make it. I think the same players will be involved.
"It is funny pulling on the shirt again - this year they reproduced an old shirt with the flashes across the chest in sky blue. It was nice to wear it. Obviously it is always good to represent West Ham in whatever form."
While looking forward to playing again for the Hammers veterans, Brown is presently hard at work leading his own players through their pre-season programme. "We are a month behind the English fixtures. It has gone alright so far - everyone is fit which is the main thing. We have steered clear of injuries with the first team so we are looking forward to a successful season."
"The positive mood can also be put down to the Spanish sunshine, with Brown relishing the expat lifestyle. "The weather is beautiful here," he said. "I miss Upton Park but I don't miss the weather. It is difficult to get back for games with my schedule but I got back a couple of times last season watching games and enjoyed it. When I do come back I literally fly in, watch the game and then I tend to fly straight back out again. I am sure I will be getting over this season as well because I like to have a look at what's going on with the club."
Son of the legendary Ken Brown, who starred for the club in the 1950s and 1960s, Brown is now father to two boys himself - raising the prospect of a third generation of Browns at the Boleyn Ground. His elder son, Harvey, is nine and already a "big West Ham fan", he admits. "He came over to watch the first game of the season with a friend. He went and they won so he is itching to get back again. My dad is doing well and was eager for the season to get back up and running again so he can go and watch some games."
Back in Spain, he still hears from Hammers fans who head over to see Javea in action, or stop him in the street to talk - usually about that goal at the end of the 1991/92 season that dashed Manchester United's title hopes. "People look us up all the time. West Ham are big all over the world so it is very rare you go somewhere and don't bump into one."