Richard Dryden

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Richard Dryden is a former English central defender who was born in Stroud on 14th June 1969. Dryden began his career at Bristol Rovers as a trainee, before signing professional terms in 1987. He made just 20 appearances for The Pirates before joining Exeter. Dryden initially moved to St James' Park on loan, before penning a permanent contract in March 1989. He had two and a half highly successful years with Exeter under the guidance of Terry Cooper.

Dryden had a spell on loan at Manchester City in 1991, but failed to make a single appearance before leaving Maine Road. He signed for Notts County in August 1991. Dryden was a semi-regular at Meadow Lane during a two year spell which saw the club relegated from the top flight. He had a brief loan stint with Plymouth during 1992/93. In March 1993 Dryden signed for Birmingham, who were managed by his former Exeter boss Cooper. The Stopper suffered another disappointing relegation in 1993/94. In December 1994 he moved to Bristol City, where he was a steady performer for just over 18 months.

Dryden linked up with Cooper yet again in August 1996, signing for Southampton for £150,000. The defender enjoyed a solid start at The Dell, keeping a clean sheet in his debut, a 0-0 draw with Chelsea. Dryden was nicknamed 'trigger' by his Saints teammates after the dim-witted Only Fools and Horses character. He once reported his car stolen, before realising he had driven it to a phone box and left it there. Dryden found the net in the Premier League for the first time on 4th September 1996 in a 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest. He also scored three goals in the League Cup against Peterborough and Oxford. On the final day of the 1996/97 season Saints needed a draw to ensure Premier League survival, against an Aston Villa side who also needed a point to qualify for Europe. Many thought the two teams would play out a 0-0 draw, but Dryden didn't read the script, putting through his own net to hand Villa a 1-0 win. It didn't matter in the end. Saints still stayed up. Pundit Mark Lawrenson had promised to appear naked on live television if Dryden was still in the team at the end of the 1996/97 season. Thankfully for everyone's sake he failed to live up to his promise.

When Graeme Souness left Saints in the 1997/98 close season, Dryden slipped down the pecking order at The Dell. He was used sparingly under Dave Jones, but never gave anything less than 100% on those rare occasions he was included. Dryden put in a fine defensive display in a memorable 3-2 win at Liverpool on 7th February 1998. He spent most of 1998/99 in the reserves, notching just four first team appearances. Dryden had a three game loan spell at Stoke in November 1999. He then returned to Southampton, where he made one final appearance at Newcastle on 16th January 2000. Unfortunately it wasn't the glorious finale Dryden would have hoped for. He put in a disastrous showing in a humiliating 5-0 defeat. He returned to Stoke in March 2000 for the remainder of the 1999/2000. He helped the Potters to a Football League Trophy Final win. Dryden came on as a 62nd minute substitute against former club Bristol City at Wembley.

In September 2000 Dryden joined Division Two outfit Northampton on loan for two months. In November 2000 he moved to Swindon in another temporary deal. Dryden finally left Saints for good in February 2001, signing for Luton on a free transfer. He could do nothing to stop the Hatters from dropping to the fourth tier at the end of 2000/01.

Dryden struggled for playing time at Luton in 2001/02. He was loaned out to Scarborough in November 2001, where he scored on his debut in a 2-2 draw at Forest Green. He returned to Luton in 2002, where he made one final appearance in a 3-2 defeat at Darlington on 26th January 2002. Dryden returned to Scarborough on a permanent basis during 2002/03. He had a short spell with Worksop Town, before joining Tamworth, where he stayed until 2007. Dryden closed out his career with Shepshed Dynamo in 2007.

In November 2007 Dryden became manager of Worchester City. He helped the club to a mid-table Conference North finish in 2007/08. The following season the club moved to the Conference South as part of a league restructuring. Dryden's charges were in relegation danger prior to his January 2010 dismissal. (Worchester would go on to finish third bottom, but avoided the drop due to other teams folding) He was given the boot after a 1-1 FA Trophy draw with Carshalton Athletic. Dryden then linked up with Mark Cooper, becoming assistant manager at Darlington. The pair guided the Quakers to FA Trophy glory, but were then sacked in October 2011 when the financially stricken club suffered a poor run of form in the Conference. In July 2012 Dryden became head of youth coaching at York City.