From Dons' penalty hero to rehab clinic - Drewe Broughton opens up in new book

Drewe Broughton spent a year at MK Dons
Drewe Broughton spent a year at MK Dons

He scored arguably one of the most important goals ever seen at Stadium MK, but few could have predicted what would happen next for Drewe Broughton.

Bankrupcy, addiction and mental health issues have all played their part in the former striker’s life story, but he is only now beginning to see the silver-lining of a 17-year playing career. And last week, Broughton released his book 'And then what?' telling his story.

Fans familiar with Broughton will know him as the man who scored the winning penalty against Swansea City to send Dons to Wembley for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final - a goal, and indeed a name, which should be revered along with Gareth Edds and Jon Ostemobor. However, his name is seldom ever mentioned.

Broughton arrived at MK Dons in 2007 after a decent return at Boston the previous season, adding to Paul Ince’s front line.

But after a promising showing in a pre-season friendly against West Ham, things began to take a turn. Injury a week before the season opener against Bury ruled him out for eight weeks, and though the team were flying in League 2, his own self-doubts were telling him there was no way he could cut it.

He said: “It wasn’t long before the voices started again – the team was winning, I wasn’t playing. They were saying ‘You’re not good enough, you’re finished.’

Drewe Broughton

Drewe Broughton

“It was hard. Struggling with such depression every day, it was dark.

“It was an amazing year to be a part of because we blew the league away, we had a good team of course. I didn’t get many games, I didn’t take my opportunities when they came along and put too much pressure on myself.

“Aaron Wilbraham was playing well, Kevin Gallen was there at the time as well and we were playing one up front. I learned a lot from that year.”

Sent out on loan to Wrexham, Broughton made more appearances for the Dragons than he did for the Dons. But a 24 hour recall on his loan deal allowed him to make a comeback for his parent club in the second leg of the JPT semi-final. With the match tied, it went to penalties.

Broughton recalls: “When we were in the centre circle and Ray Mathias was asking who wanted a penalty, I put my hand up and told him I’d take one, but I wanted the last one. It was almost involuntary.”

And in slotting the penalty coolly past Dorus De Vries, Broughton wrote himself into Dons folklore.

He continued: “That night, I was on cloud nine. It was amazing, and I drove back to Wales everyone was ringing me because I was the story, heading back to Wrexham to be their captain. I had good moments.”

Mental health issues would follow Broughton throughout his career as he hung up his boots in 2012, and into life after football too.

From checking into rehab, dealing with his addictions, sleeping in his car and on his brother’s sofa, Broughton has been able to overcome the stigma of mental health, and now encourages people to speak out, working with professional sports stars as well as those outside the game.

“I don’t measure life by money,” he said. “It’s just a reflection of how well you’re doing. I’m finally doing what I should have done as a player – being honest, being myself and believing in myself.

“Thirty days in rehab in the middle of a forest when you have nothing to do but look at yourself, I realised where that 16-year-old had gone wrong.”