Where are they now? Paul Brayson
Have you ever wondered what a former Swans player has been up to since hanging up his boots?
As part of a regular feature, we look at what former Swansea City players have been up to since retiring from playing.
This week we focus on former striker Paul Brayson, who scored five goals in 11 appearances during a loan spell for Swansea City in 1997.
Brayson is now joint player-manager of Newcastle Benfield.
Striker Paul Brayson arrived on loan from Newcastle United midway through the 1996-97 season to assist Swansea City’s push for promotion from the fourth tier.
He made an instant impression, scoring on his debut for the club in a 3-1 victory over Cambridge United at Vetch Field in January 1997.
“I signed on the Wednesday, trained on Thursday and then played on the Friday night,” remembers Brayson.
“You can’t ask for anything more as a striker than to score in a win on your debut.
“It was the start of a good run for me too as I scored in the next match I played for Swansea - a 2-1 win at Northampton.
“My goal at Northampton was the best goal I scored for Swansea. The ball came to me with my back to goal just inside the 18-yard box and I touched it over a defender and then volleyed it into the far corner. It was a big result for us as we were challenging Northampton for a play-off spot at the time.”
After those goals, Brayson also netted in victories over Exeter City and Rochdale as well as in a 3-2 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion on February 22, 1997.
His 11th and final appearance for the Swans came in a 2-1 home win over Chester in March 1997. He sustained an ankle ligament injury in that game that saw him ruled out until the following season.
“After I played a match for Swansea, I’d usually travel back to Newcastle to train with them,” explains Brayson.
“After I’d played that match (against Chester) I felt fine, but it was only when I trained the following day that I noticed some swelling and I was in pain.
“I had a scan and that revealed the extent of the injury.
“Swansea went on to the Division Three play-off final that season of course. I can remember camping in the Lake District on the day of that game (May 24, 1997).
“It was a case of what could have been in respect of my lost opportunity to play in such a huge match. I was gutted.”
Brayson spent the rest of the year with Newcastle, featuring in a 2-0 League Cup victory over Hull City in October 1997.
That was one of just two first-team matches the striker would play for the Tyneside club, along with his debut against Bristol City in October 1995.
“It was always going to be hard for me to become a first-team regular at Newcastle as the club was spending lots of money on top-class attacking players at the time,” reflects Brayson on his time at St James’ Park.
“Making my first-team debut for my hometown club was a dream come true though. That is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Brayson was sold to Reading in 1998 and went on to play for the likes of Cardiff City, Cheltenham Town, Northwich Victoria, Gateshead (loan), York City, Newcastle Blue Star and Durham City during his career.
Now approaching the age of 40, the striker is still performing at non-league level as joint player-manager of Newcastle Benfield.
“I had been playing for Newcastle Benfield for a little while and then about two years ago I became joint player-manager,” says Brayson.
“As I’m still playing, Mark Convey shares the managerial responsibilities with me.
“We had a decent season last year, finishing ninth (in the Northern League Division One) and, having made some good signings over the summer, we’re looking to push on this campaign.”
Away from football, Brayson – who lives just 10 minutes away from St James’ Park – is married with two sons, aged six and 10.
He ran a taxi leasing company between 2007 and 2014 and has recently completed a personal training course with a view to that being a possible future career.
The former Magpie remains a keen supporter of Newcastle and is revelling in their return to the top flight.
“The city has a different feel to it with Newcastle back in the Premier League,” smiles Brayson.
“Staying in the division will obviously be the club’s first aim, but there have been some decent signings and hopefully we’ll be able to set our sights a bit higher.”