By Matt Badcock
ALAN DUNNE spent 23 years at Millwall honing his craft in the school of hard knocks – and he reckons Bromley can upset the odds just like he used to with the Lions.
The 35-year-old defender played nearly 400 times in League One and the Championship for the London club, helping them to two promotions into English football’s second tier.
Now he’s player-coach for Neil Smith’s National League Ravens and still going strong on the pitch.
Having taken tips from the likes of Dennis Wise, Dunne is enjoying passing on his wisdom to the Bromley charges – and still putting in the performances.
“I’m 35, I’ve still got a bit left in me,” he said, after completing 90 minutes in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Maidstone United. “I enjoy playing, I enjoy battling, I enjoy being out there. It will come to an end one day. I don’t know when, but it will come to an end.
“I enjoy coaching and there’s nothing better than the winning feeling, wherever you are. So I’m in a good place and I’m enjoying myself.
“I got kicked a few times against Maidstone when I normally get to kick them! But I’ve always loved the battle. I was at Millwall 23 years, I used to have battles every week with players and I like that, that’s my game.
“I feel alright after games. I’m in bits the next day, but I feel alright with my age. I ain’t that attacking full-back anymore, but I can hold my own for now.
“There are good players in this league, some good wingers. Every winger is going to be quick or tricky. I’ve got to use the tools I’ve got and the things I’ve got. Sometimes it might not be something you want to coach, but it’s the Millwall way I was brought up – the old school way.
“We did that against Maidstone. We upset them in parts, upset their play, we didn’t let them build up confidence because with the crowd behind them they are a strong side in this league.”
Born in Ireland, Dunne joined Millwall when he was eight years old before leaving in 2015 a club legend.
He’s written an autobiography Dunne it the Hard Way about his career at the Den – and naturally his time there still influences him today.
“It was drilled into me,” Dunne said. “The Muscats, Dennis Wises, I learnt from. I’m trying to help Bromley now. That’s my journey. We’ve got a good group and they can achieve something this year. For a little town like Bromley on a small budget, we can achieve something and that’s our goal.
“Those old school players helped me through and I want to help these other players through. They are a young squad, we will make mistakes and we’ll have to learn the hard way. But we’re on target.”
As part of his coaching role, Dunne assists boss Smith with video analysis and setting the side up for matches.
“I’m here to help Neil Smith, he’s a fantastic guy,” Dunne said. “He brought me in and put trust in me. I will do everything I can to help him get results and help the team.
“I get Mondays and Fridays off actually training! Tuesday and Thursdays I can train but on Mondays and Fridays I coach, do the set pieces, the pattern and the video analysis. So I’m learning on my journey as well. I’ll make mistakes but I’m learning.
“The professionalism I learnt at Millwall, I’m trying to bring that to this club and show how things can be achieved. We reached the FA Cup final at Millwall. Anything can be achieved in football. ‘We can reach the play-offs, we can do it’. That’s what I’m here for.”
By Matt Badcock