Bristol City saved my career after jail, says Blackburn Rovers defender
ROVERS defender Bradley Orr has credited Bristol City with saving his career after the club stuck by him following a jail sentence in September 2006.
The full back returns to Ashton Gate for the first time since leaving for QPR in July 2010 for this afternoon’s Championship clash, with Rovers co-owners Balaji and Venkatesh Rao expected to be present for the game.
Orr has fond memories of his time with Bristol City after helping the Robins to promotion to the Championship and then to within 90 minutes of the Premier League during his six-year spell.
But the 29-year-old admits it was the loyalty showed to him by the club that will stick with him forever.
Orr was sentenced to 28 days in jail after a nightclub incident two years into his time at City and the defender admits his career was on a knife edge.
He said: “The club stuck by me in so far as I had the jail incident.
“To this day I don’t think I deserved that, but that is a different matter.
“I certainly became a man at Bristol City. I went there maybe a boy and I left a man.
“That is credit to the football club because there were so many situations and good times that I drew upon and look back on with great fondness.
“I will always have a soft spot for Bristol City and they will always be close to my heart.
“I am forever grateful. I have never really spoken about the situation but I certainly didn’t deserve what I got.
“The club knew that and they stuck by me. To be fair they were absolutely fantastic through the whole situation.
“I will always be indebted to Bristol City as a club and I have nothing but good words to say about them.
“I went to jail on the Friday and there was a message on the Saturday morning saying ‘Don’t worry, your job is safe’. That was such a massive relief at the time.
“I was pretty young in League One, trying to find my way in the game, trying to forge a career for myself, and even though I don’t think I deserved what I got, I was still at a point where I didn’t know which way it was going to go.
“Full credit to the chairman and the manager Gary Johnson. They got that message to me pretty quickly and it gave me a massive sense of relief.”
Since defeat in the Championship play-off final for Bristol City against Hull in 2010, Orr has helped QPR into the top flight and played for them and Rovers at the highest level.
He is now bidding to play a part in helping Rovers to an instant Premier return but admits he will always hold good memories of his Ashton Gate career.
He said: “If you had never been in a situation like that, you don’t know what to expect and it was pretty daunting. It is something I wouldn’t change in a strange sort of way.
“As I said before, I arrived at Bristol City a boy and left a man. It is a life experience I wouldn’t change because I have gone on to achieve things that maybe I wouldn’t have done if that hadn’t have happened.
“Without a doubt if the club hadn’t backed me, my career might have gone the other way.
“You see it quite a bit with players getting in trouble and the reality is you can go one way or the other.
“You can either knuckle down and have a club that back you or it could have gone the other way. I could have got the sack and downed tools.
“I am just grateful the club gave me that opportunity and grateful I have taken it and progressed.
“I had some fantastic days at Ashton Gate. A lot of good memories on and off the pitch and it is the fixture I have been looking forward to most since they came out.”
Rovers boss Steve Kean has missed out on the Championship’s manager of the month award, after being nominated earlier this week.
Blackpool manager Ian Holloway took the honour.