Since childhood in the shadow of the Kop and his first experience of great football at the 1966 World Cup in England, Steve Darby has remained loyal to football – and the players he coached – for five decades.
When Darby arrived in Sydney in 1980 on his way to Devonport, Tasmania, after a long and arduous flight from Liverpool, UK, wearing a suit and tie, he began 35 years of adventure, new beginnings and immersion in various cultural, linguistic and culinary experiences.
He had previously spent 12 months in Bahrain prior to the 1979 Iranian revolution.
On the side, he taught himself Arabic and Malay, dined with sultans and kings, grabbed a few medals, pissed off a few soccer and real-life politicians, and became one of the most successful and effective foreign coaches in Southeast Asia.
The Itinerant Coach’s biography is told in Fair Play Publishing’s latest book, written by author and blogger Antony Sutton.
After a time as a player-coach at Devonport, Darby moved to Canberra, where he coached the Matildas women’s national team in 1989 and missed qualifying for the first Women’s World Cup in 1991.
He spent another six years in Australia before going (briefly) to the Pacific, followed by stints with club and national teams in Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, India and Laos.
He has trained with players like Bryan Robson and Peter Reid in Southeast Asia and rates French international Nicolas Anelka as the best player he has ever worked with.
The Itinerant Coach – The Footballing Life and Times of Steve Darby is Sutton’s second book to be published by Fair Play Publishing. His previous book, Support Your Local League – A South East Asian Football Odyssey, was published in 2018.
The coach is now available from good bookshops, from Amazon and from Fair Play Verlag as a paperback or as a digital edition.
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