From a childhood spent in the shadow of the Kop and getting his first taste of big-time football with the 1966 World Cup in England, Steve Darby has spent five decades in the game remaining true to himself – and to the players he coached.
When Darby arrived in Sydney en route to Devonport, Tasmania, in 1980 wearing a suit and tie after a long and arduous flight from Liverpool, UK, he was to begin 35 years of adventure, new beginnings, and immersion in diverse cultural, linguistic, and culinary experiences.
He had previously spent 12 months in Bahrain prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979.
Along the way, he taught himself Arabic and Malay, dined with sultans and kings, picked up a few medals, upset a few football and actual politicians, and became one of the most successful and effective foreign coaches in South East Asia.
The biography of The Itinerant Coach is told in Fair Play Publishing’s latest book, written by author and blogger Antony Sutton.
After a stint as player-coach at Devonport, Darby moved to Canberra where he became coach of the women’s national team, the Matildas, in 1989 – missing out on qualifying for the first Women’s World Cup in 1991.
He spent another six years in Australia before heading (briefly) to the Pacific followed by stints with club and national teams in Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, India, and Laos.
He has coached with the likes of Bryan Robson and Peter Reid in South East 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 published by Fair Play Publishing. His previous book, entitled Support Your Local League – A South East Asian Football Odyssey, was published in 2018.
The Itinerant Coach is available now from good bookstores, Amazon, and Fair Play Publishing in paperback or as a digital edition.