It was a cold October night back in 2014 that I came across one of England’s most respected ex-captains plying his trade in the dugouts of a Danish Superliga match, After a taking my old man to Brondby stadium when he came over to visit, he happened to recognize the frantic manager barking out orders in English to his Randers FC players, one glimpse of the programme confirmed it was indeed Colin Todd.
As a handful of British coaches ply their trade overseas, not many match the credentials of former England captain Colin Todd. The Chester-Le-Street born defender carved up an impressive playing career back in the 1970’s that included 2 title winning seasons at Derby County, the 1st famously under Brian Clough, he also received the PFA player of the year award and won 27 caps for England. Todd’s management pedigree hit its peak in the mid 90’s when he managed Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League, further roles followed at Derby & Bradford before he made his move across the North Sea to Randers FC in 2007.
Randers is a small town in northern Jutland, with a population of 60,000, the club Randers FC formed as recently as 2003 from a merge with other local sides, it’s not a place your likely to of heard of, the nearest ‘big city’ is Aarhus and the town is known in Denmark for its Tropical Zoo, quite a strange choice for Todd indeed but with the influx of Scandinavians Todd brought to Bolton Wanderers as a manager it seemed there was an affiliation early on.
After quickly establishing themselves in the Danish top tier under Euro 92 captain Lars Olsen, Randers appointed Todd at the start of the 2007/2008 season, following a 6th place finish out of 12 in his first attempt, the highest the club had ever reached, his relationship then turned sour, the Englishman confirmed he would leave his post at the end of his second season to be replaced by ex-Arsenal man John Jensen, this sadly was cut short 6 months and Todd left Randers in December 2008. What many people may not remember is that Bruce Rioch, Todd’s former team-mate and fellow managerial coach at Middlesbrough & Bolton was also in Denmark up at neighbours Aalborg, he too would not stay long in Denmark.
Returning back to his native North East, Todd briefly was at the helm of Darlington, this role would only last 9 games as administration, lack of players and a bad start to the 2009/10 League 2 campaign took their toll. So 3 years later in 2012 Colin Todd found himself back in Denmark, again at Randers FC, in his first season back he led them to the Danish Cup final and a 3rd place league finish, the Europa league journey ended abruptly the following season with Randers suffering a defeat in the 3rd qualifying round but lots of progress had been made.
Todd’s presence in Denmark became more apparent at the start of the 2013/14 season due to his health. As an ex England captain, the outpouring of support and well wishes overflowed in the UK after Todd successfully completed a heart bypass, after a short stint away he was back at work and in good health. Following a 4th place league finish in 2014/15 another crack at the Europa League was abruptly ended this season in the qualifying rounds.
In his 4 years back in Denmark, Colin Todd has made Randers into a steady mid table side, not bad for a small rural Jutland town, At 67 years old, retirement possibly looms, the rural Jutland lifestyle is not a bad place to finish a memorable career, plus the modern day pressures of football management in England, working intensely under the microscope will be something Todd surely doesn’t jump back into, If he does indeed stay at Randers I’m sure more visits to the Tropical Zoo will follow!