Former Gor Mahia coach Dylan Kerr who currently coaches Baroka in South Africa has opened up on his experiences playing and coaching in Africa. In a tell all interview with the Evening Post, Kerr recalled how being dumped out of Sheffield Wednesday ultimately led him to Africa.
“When I got released (from Sheffield Wednesday) at 18 my world ended,” he said.
“It was my fault, I was out with all the big boys. I thought I’d made it for life with a pro’ at 17 and when it was up, Howard (Wilkinson) thought I’d not done enough to earn another. I wrote 91 letters asking for trials and got seven replies, which I’ve still got, but from each one nothing materialised,” said Kerr.
Moving to Africa, witchcraft
According to Kerr, a youth team coach at Sheffield who had played in South Africa linked him up with a coach friend who asked him to go.
“I went against my parents’ wishes. I cried like a baby at the airport and mum gave me her wedding ring. I still wear it,” recalled the tactician who used to mingle freely with Gor Mahia fans.
Soon after arriving in SA, Kerr had his first experience with muti (voodoo).
“On my first training session, they threw me in an old fashioned bath with three chickens with their heads cut off. I stood there b*** naked, just my boots on and the blood splattered on my boots.”
“In my first game we were 2-0 down at half-time, I scored two goals and we won 3-2. The muti man came in and said there you go, it works,” he recounted.
Years later as a coach in Africa, the 53-year-old faced many challenges.
“I went to Tanzania (Simba FC) – that was out of this world, the worst stadiums and pitches you’ve ever played on, driving nine hours to play a game. Then I went to Kenya (Gor Mahia FC) for 18 months. Again, with terrible facilities and not getting paid for months, but we won the Premier League back to back,” narrated Kerr.
The Nairobian reported that during his stay in Kenya, the former left-back lived in a rented house in the affluent Kileleshwa neighbourhood in Westlands, Nairobi but had no water or electricity. The shocking expose further divulged that for some months, he was forced to swim in the morning as his only means of bathing. Kerr was reportedly so broke that he sometimes lacked bus fare to the team’s training grounds in Eastlands, Nairobi and had to jog from Kileleshwa to Camp Toyo in Jericho.
Despite winning two Kenya Premier League (KPL) championships back to back and remarkable record in continental competitions, Kerr ate food at roadside vibandas near Yaya Centre.
Soon after leaving Gor Mahia for SA, the tactician received news that his mother was ill.
“I came back to South Africa and kept the Black Leopards in the Premier League, but my mum was sick and I knew she was dying so I put family before football for the first time ever.”
After spending time grieving his mother, Kerr got a call-up to keep relegation-threatened Baroda in top-flight football. With the league currently suspended over the coronavirus, the team is currently position 13 of 16.
Reflecting on his journey, Kerr says he is happy.
“It’s been my dream. I’ve had so many knockdowns. Howard said to me I’ve got a bedspring in my back because I always bounce straight back up. I’m happy. I’ve done it my way.”