A Footballer's view of the Turf

8th September 2017

A Footballer’s view of the Turf with Glenn Roeder, the former International defender and Premier League Manager

glenn-2 Glenn with Frank in the tack room

Glenn Roeder visited the National Heritage Centre at the end of July fresh from a training session at his current club, Stevenage.

A personal friend of the National Heritage Centre employee Frank Conlon, who works in the Pivotal simulator gallery, the three of us enjoyed a relaxing drink in the tack room where we discussed Glenn’s love of the turf.

A highly regarded defender of the 1980’s Glenn made over 150 appearances for both Queens Park Rangers and Newcastle.  Whilst at Queens Park Rangers he captained them in the 1981 FA Cup Final at Wembley against Tottenham Hotspur.  In total, Glenn made over 500 professional league appearances. After retiring as a player he then managed both West Ham and Newcastle to highly creditable 7th placed finishes in the English Premier League.

glenn-1 Glenn (far left) playing for Queens Park Ranges against Wolves

For the past 18 months Glenn has worked at Division 2 side Stevenage where he undertakes the role of Managerial Advisor to their young manager Darren Sarll.  Last season Stevenage finished 10th, missing out on the play offs by 3 points on the last day of the season.

I soon discovered through our Q & A below about Glenn’s long standing passion for Horseracing and the thoroughbred.

How long have you been a horse racing fan and who introduced you to the sport?

I am 61 now and my father first took me National Hunt racing when I was around five years old. I can remember National Hunt trips in the winter when we got stuck in the mud and needed a tractor to get us out.   I can fondly recall early trips to Fontwell, Folkestone, Wye (closed in 1975) and Plumpton.  At the latter course I remember an incident when we were watching in the middle of the course and my father shouted out to John Lawrence (Lord Oaksey) to check all was well with the odds on favourite he was riding, which my father had backed.  Well clear at the time John gave my father the thumbs up.

I came to Newmarket for the first time when I was 18 and got introduced to Alastair Veitch, Head Lad to Robert Armstrong and remained close friends with Alastair until he died.

What attracted you to the sport?

Being a professional sportsman myself the sheer brilliance and athleticism of the thoroughbred was a huge draw.     I liked horses from a young age and rode ponies.

Anything which has speed, I also bred Greyhounds for 25 years, except cars I am interested in.

How often have you been able to go racing considering your long term playing and management career?

Football has never got in the way of me going racing if I wanted to.  Obviously, it was easier in the close season but I would go National Hunt racing in the winter when I fancied it.

Do you prefer the flat or the jumps and can you explain why?

I like all racing whether it’s watching Frankel winning the 2000 Guineas or Best Mate winning his three Cheltenham Gold Cups.  I go to the Cheltenham Festival most years, at least one day.

What’s been your best-ever day’s racing - and what made it so special?

I can’t pin it to one, any day at the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot or the Guineas meeting.

glenn-4 Glenn on the ball for Newcastle

Have you ever owned/part owned a horse and what was your experience?

I have only ever part owned a horse.

The first one was when I played for Newcastle, when I was a partner, in a 50% share with Kevin Keegan and Terry McDermott in a horse called Asturias trained by Malcolm Jefferson.  He won for us at 25/1 on the opening day of the flat season at Doncaster.

I had a 50% share in a two year old with Jeremy Noseda.  By Invincible Spirit he ran twice and was unplaced both times.

I had a quarter share in a two year colt trained by Peter Chapple Hyam, which one won a maiden race at Southwell by 7 lengths.

Have you got well known friends who work in the racing industry?

My daughter is Robert Cowell’s Racing Secretary and has been for the last eight seasons.

Have you ever ridden a horse

I rode ponies between 7 and 14 at local riding schools before Football took over.  I have rosettes at home.

Although Frank joked “ he did well to stay on”, when reffering to his ride on our racehorse simulator!

 Are there any transferable skills similar to Football?

Balance, distance and judgement.  Knowing how far someone is away from you is vital in both sports.

Do you like to have flutter?

Yes, I like a flutter but I can go racing and not have a bet.  I don’t go racing to have a bet, I go for the enjoyment.

I am not allowed to have a bet on Football.

Who is your favourite ever jockey and horse, and why?

I like Frankie Dettori.  Frankie, to my amateur eyes is poetry in motion, when he is riding well.


Frankel would be my best horse in any generation.  I saw him three or four times, maybe more, but I never saw him lose!

I also loved the filly Boshra Sham, who won the 1996 1,000 Guineas.

Explain your current footballing role?

I am the advisor to the young manager at Stevenage. It’s a lovely small League 2 club which has great people working for it.

What are your hopes for the new season?

Promotion to League 1 in the current season.  Every season you must want to achieve promotion.  We also have to produce our own players from our academy, players that have a value for the transfer market.  We have to survive on 2,500 gates.

What do you think of the new Heritage Centre?

I think it’s brilliant.  It is a great renovation to a historic derelict property and a wonderful addition to Newmarket.  The new site has preserved the history of Newmarket whilst moving forward to modern times.  We love to visit often as a family.

We would like to thank Glenn for his time and help with the interview,  and to his wife Faith and Frank for organising it.


Stephen Wallis