Return to Managers | Return to Staff


Year(s) 2015 - 18th September 2016


Gary Brabin (born 9 December 1970) is the manager of Tranmere Rovers and a former footballer.
Playing career
Brabin began his career as an apprentice with Stockport County, signing professional on 14 December 1989. After only 2 appearances for the Stockport first team he was released. He joined Gateshead on loan, playing 12 times in the Conference National, before moving to Runcorn.Brabin returned to league football in 1994, soon after playing in his second successive FA Trophy final for the Linnets (both of which they lost), signing for Doncaster Rovers on 26 July for a fee of £45,000.

The same year he had played 3 times for the England Semi-

Professional side in games against Wales, Finland and Norway. He played 59 league games for Doncaster, scoring 11 times before moving to Bury for £125,000 on 29 March 1996. He played only 5 league games for Bury, moving on in the summer, joining Blackpool for £200,000 on 30 July 1996. At the end of his loan spell he returned to Blackpool, but just 2 days later, on 8 January 1999 he signed for Hull City. He had played 50 league games for Blackpool, scoring twice. Brabin fitted in quickly to a struggling Hull side and played a major role in keeping them in the Football League. The following season he struggled on with a neck injury, but returned to full fitness to help Hull reach the play-offs in 2000–01. As Hull regrouped after the financial battle that almost finished them, Brian Little began a massive overhaul of the side, and Brabin did not fit into these plans. By the end of July, he had been advised not to attend training at Boothferry Park any longer and to find himself a new club. On 14 August 2001, he agreed a compensation package with Hull City and left the club with a year remaining on his contract, having played 95 league games and scored 9 goals for the Tigers. Prior to this, he had already been linked with moves to Darlington, Rochdale, Lincoln City and Halifax Town, but by 3 September he was still without a club, though training with St Johnstone, and joined Plymouth Argyle on trial. A day later he joined Torquay United on trial, playing in a training game at Plainmoor, after having talks with manager Roy McFarland the previous week. The following day he travelled to Scotland for further trials, firstly with Dundee and then with Dundee United, playing for United in a reserve match against Aberdeen on 10 September 2001.
On 23 September 2001, Brabin signed for Conference side Boston United on non-contract terms. However, McFarland's perseverance paid off and Brabin signed a 2-year contract with Torquay United on 4 October, his debut coming the following day in the 2–1 win against David Webb's Southend United at Plainmoor. His contract was terminated by mutual consent on 30 November 2001 after he failed to settle at the club and in the South Devon area.

In December 2001, Brabin joined Chester City on trial, signing a contract with them the following month. Despite only spending half a season with the club, he was named as Chester's player of the season, with his presence and leadership having helped the club avoid relegation from the Football Conference. In July 2002 he joined Welsh League side TNS, playing in European games for the Welsh champions. After suffering a bout of breathlessness at Connah's Quay in February 2004 he decided to retire from the game on medical advice.

Brabin joined Northern Premier League side Witton Albion as assistant manager in November 2004 and surprisingly resurrected his playing career in summer 2005 with a move to Conference National side Halifax Town. After just 4 games for Halifax, he moved to fellow Conference side Southport in January 2006.
In November 2006 he signed for Northern Premier League side Burscough where he has assisted with coaching in addition to his playing duties. Brabin was a key member of the Burscough squad that clinched the Unibond League title in April 2007, securing the Lancashire team automatic promotion to the Conference North.

Managerial career
In June 2007, Brabin was appointed as assistant manager of The New Saints.

In April 2008 Brabin re-joined Southport as manager until the end of the 2007–08 season, replacing Peter Davenport. Despite guiding the team into the play-offs, Brabin left Southport to sign as manager of Cambridge United on 23 June 2008.

Cambridge United
Brabin won his first home game as manager of Cambridge United in July 2008, leading Cambridge United to a 4–2 victory over Everton Football Club in a pre-season friendly. The match was a product of John Ruddy, former Cambridge United turned Everton goalkeeper, transferring up to Merseyside. David Moyes fielded a near-full first team side. During the subsequent 2008–09 season, Brabin guided Cambridge United to the club's second successive play-off final at Wembley, for promotion to the fourth tier of English League football. They were beaten 2–0 by Torquay United.
In June 2009 he was named the Conference Premier Manager of the Year. Brabin was relieved of his duties as manager on 13 July 2009 by the board following a series of disputes.

Three-and-a-half months later, Brabin returned to football with Luton Town in the capacity of chief scout. Following the end of the 2009–10 season, Brabin was named as Luton's assistant manager, taking over from Alan Neilson. He was promoted to manager until the end of the season on 28 March 2011 after Richard Money left the club. Brabin secured Luton's place in the Conference Premier play-offs, leading them to a 5–1 aggregate victory overWrexham in the semi-finals. However, Luton then drew 0–0 after extra time with fellow finalists AFC Wimbledon, eventually losing 4–3 in a penalty shootout that left the club facing a third year at non-league level. Brabin received the full support from the Luton board despite the disappointment of the defeat and, one week later, he signed a new two-year contract to stay as permanent manager. Despite this, he was sacked before the end of the following season after the team fell out of the play-off positions with seven games remaining.

Return to Southport
Brabin returned to Southport for the third time in October 2014 replacing Martin Foyle. His first match in charge was against Lincoln City where he saw his team recover from 2-0 to draw 3-3. His first victory came in the very next game away at Braintree Town, winning 2-0 with his first signing Amadou Bakayoko scoring one of the goals. On 19th January 2015 Brabin left Southport to take up a post at Everton FC to be part of the coaching set up to Under 21 level.

Tranmere Rovers
On Tuesday 5th May 2015, Brabin was appointed as the manager of Tranmere Rovers following their relegation to the Conference.

The 44-year-old ex-midfielder started his managerial career with Southport in 2008, achieving immediate success by guiding them into the play-offs, before joining Cambridge.  At Cambridge he got the club to the play-off finals in his first season in charge before being voted Conference Manager of the Year in 2009.

The following season he joined Luton Town initially as Chief Scout, then as assistant manager and in 2011 was appointed manager following the departure of Richard Money.  In his first year in charge at Luton, they achieved the play-off final, but were defeated on penalties.  He left Luton the following season, with the Hatters just outside the play-off places with seven games to go.

In 2014 he re-joined Southport, but was tempted away by Everton FC in January 2015 to take up a coaching role in the Academy. We are grateful to Everton for allowing Gary to move across the river to further his career. 

Tranmere Rovers chairman Mark Palios said: “Gary was my main target for this role for a number of reasons, although I knew it would be very difficult to tempt him out of an Everton role he was clearly enjoying.  Firstly, he is a manager with a strong win rate (over 48%) and a fantastic track record of getting his clubs into the Conference play offs. He achieved this feat in all 3 of his full seasons as manager in the Conference, and left Luton when they were still in a very strong position.  Importantly, the job requires a strong character and someone who knows what the weight of expectation of managing a larger club in the Conference feels like. Gary has done this at both Cambridge and Luton. 

“But he is not someone who relies on playing ugly football to win matches; he is a young progressive manager who has taken the time to study other successful managers both in this country and abroad, and who is very keen to use the best that sports science can offer to ensure that players are at peak fitness and continue to develop throughout their careers.    

“Finally, he is a local man.  Although that wasn’t a pre-requisite for the job, I do think it means he has both a natural affinity for and understanding of the area and more importantly what Tranmere Rovers means. He also has an excellent knowledge of local born players at all levels and, through his role at Everton, the ability and respect to rebuild links with Everton which have proved so valuable in the past.”

Gary said, “I have gone on record in the past as saying that the role I was doing at Everton was my dream job, and I did not think that anything would tempt me into leaving there.  I have had approaches from other Clubs and declined them, but the Tranmere job is special.  The chance to lead one of the three famous old Merseyside Clubs back to where it belongs in the League is a fantastic challenge that is hard to resist.  The decision was also partly down to the Chairman: it is unusual to be able to work with a Chairman who is a football man through and through and Mark and I have a shared vision of what was needed to get the foundations right for the future.  

“I know that the Club and its fans are hurting right now because of relegation, but I am confident that we can restore the Club to its former glory and play some football that will put a smile back on the fans’ faces.”

Mark Palios concluded, “It was important not to be rushed into an appointment, as it is a critical decision to get right.  But appointing Gary now means he will have time to shape a squad of his own over the summer, and have a full pre-season to work with them.  

Return to Top

MOTTO: UBI FIDES IBI LUX ET ROBUR which means "Where there is faith, there is light and strength."

Designed by Ned O'Toole, Paul Harmon and Oisín Ronan.
Special thanks to Tranmere Rovers Football club for the information.