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Growing Up

Stan the man

I was born a Brummie on the 25th August 1982 with both my Mum; Debra and my Dad; Stanford also from Birmingham. My sister Laura completes my immediate family – she’s presently at college studying for her ‘A’ levels. In a city where you’re either blue or claret and blue, I was a Blue!
My family plays a big part in my life and both parents used to support me as I grew up and started playing the game.
I went to Heathlands Primary school and in addition to playing for the school, Leon Wilson, who I’m still best of friends with today, took me to train with Audley Rangers. I ended up playing and by the end of the season we were league champions. Audley were a small club and initially started with just two age group teams. The club grew and became successful, many of the boys I played with ended up representing the area. The team became great friends – helped by the fact that we all lived close together and most of us went to Heathlands school.

After Heathlands, I did well in my exams and was accepted for City Technology College at Kingshurst in Birmingham. At this age football was becoming an even bigger part of my life. Although the family were all Blues fans, I also took an interest in Notts Forest. At the time they were managed by Brian Clough and had players such as Des Walker, Nigel Clough and Stan Collymore in their line up.

St.Andrews – home of the Blues

But when Birmingham asked me to join them at the age of 14, I had no hesitation in signing. It was a popular move within the family because as well as joining the club everyone supported I also became the source of a quite a few free tickets!!

I felt at home at St.Andrews, a few of the Audley Rangers boys had also made it through and it just felt that it was meant to be. Having said that, I’d been advised to consider other clubs, and as a result I also had trials and visited Forest, Port Vale, and a few others. But in addition to the fact that Birmingham were the natural club for me, it was difficult even getting to visit other clubs. I was relying on my father driving me to these clubs – he worked long hours and then having to spend hours more on the motorway wasn’t fair on him.

I was happy at Birmingham who were at the time managed by Barry Fry. As a youth team player I played under Bob Latchford and later on Mick Murray. But when it came to signing the three year Academy contract, the club seemed uncertain as to whether they wanted me or not. Derby however were very positive and left me in no doubt that I was firmly in their plans.

It was a wrench to leave Birmingham, but Derby had shown greater faith in me and also had a few boys playing for them that I knew – Adam Murray, Ian Evatt, and Amrit Sidhu who became one of my best friends.


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