Former Premier League defender Darren Peacock played at the very top. ADAM LORD met him as he geared up to start his coaching career in more humble surroundings with Lancaster City.
Most of the names Darren Peacock worked with during his 16 years as a professional need no introduction.
The new Lancaster City head coach has played under Kevin Keegan, Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish and with the likes of Alan Shearer and Faustino Asprilla.
And now the softly-spoken Bristolian is hoping to pass on some of what he learned from his experiences at the top to the Dolly Blues.
“With the coaches I’ve played under and the players I’ve played with, hopefully that will stand me in good stead and I can pass that on to the players here,” he said, speaking from the main stand at Giant Axe, somewhat more humble than the stadiums he was used to during his mid-to-late 1990s Premier League heyday.
“I would hope to generate something from the players because of the standard I’ve played at.
“We want to raise our expectations, ability and fitness. Everything really.”
The pony tail has gone but there is still a hint of the long hair that he became synonymous with before a serious neck injury picked up while on loan at Wolves ended his career in December 2000.
The 45-year-old has been out of the public eye since then concentrating on his young family and setting up a property business that took him to Portugal.
He has been back in the Garstang area for three years, his home on and off since he left Newcastle United for Blackburn in the late 1990s.
Having resumed his coaching badges, postponed when his business took off, Peacock says the decision to join City hasn’t been taken lightly.
“I have been thinking about getting back into the game,” said the central defender who once cost nearly £3 million.
“It’s not just a spur of the moment thing because it’s Lancaster City, or because it’s close.
“I want to get back into football but it just seems to coincide nicely with what I want to do and hopefully what Lancaster City want to do.”
Peacock has no managerial experience but has been in contact with former team mates and managers for advice.
Perhaps the most notable is former England boss Keegan who with a slip of the tongue, Peacock still refers to on a couple of occasions as “gaffer”.
It was to Keegan that the new Dolly Blues chief turned for a reference after emailing his CV into Giant Axe to apply for the post.
So will Peacock adopt his former boss’ gung-ho playing style?
He said: “Kevin was just fantastic at attacking.
“That was really the philosophy, just attack, attack, attack. ‘The best way of defending is attacking’.
“More often than not it came up trumps.
“But there’s other managers I’ve played under that were great at organisation defensively and that’s what I’ll be looking at, it all starts from defence for me.”
It is to another former manager that Peacock turns to for defensive inspiration; ex-Queens Park Rangers boss Gerry Francis.
“The hours and hours that Gerry Francis spent on defence at QPR was relentless,” he said.
“That’s what I want to get into the mind-set of the lads from the beginning. That base, a good defensive unit.
“I really want to play as a good attacking side as well, everyone wants that.
“It won’t be for want of trying on the training pitch.”
Not only is Peacock new to management but also the Evo-Stik First Division North, and he will be working hard in the coming weeks to get up to speed.
“What we plan to do over the next couple of weeks and months is have a good scout around of this level and lower and just have a look at all the leagues, universities, colleges, in the local area,” he said.
“I’ll be doing a lot of homework, with help from Mick (Hoyle, director of football) and everyone else at the club, hopefully get a good database up and good young players coming through and add that to what we’ve got already.”
He has already taken in a handful of Giant Axe games and is impressed with what he’s seen.
“What I see is a good fighting spirit amongst the lads and that they’re willing to learn,” he said.
“On Saturday (against Goole) there were glimpses of the football they can play given the chance and the opportunity and the encouragement.
“That is my job, to draw that out of them with the help of everyone else here and make them become better players.”
His time in the stands comes to and end this Tuesday when he takes training ahead of the final game of the season at Salford City on May 4.
“I’m excited,” said Peacock.
“I’m going to be giving it everything. Since it has been agreed there’s really nothing that’s taken over that apart from my family.
“All I’m thinking about is getting things right for the Salford game and pre-season.
“This has got my 100 per cent focus.”