Heading East: How Music Helped An Ex-Goalkeeper

Football is in the blood for some families. Generations of players have followed in the footsteps of their parents and played the game at different levels. The Lampards, Nevilles and Zidanes are just some of those names.

One family name that is less well-known is Branagan. Keith Branagan is the father in this family tree, and he is a familiar face in Bolton Wanderers’ history. He played 214 games for the Trotters as a goalkeeper, wearing the team’s colours from 1992 to 2000. He earned one cap for the Republic of Ireland.

His son, Ritchie, aimed to be the next Branagan to play in goal for Bolton. He joined Bolton’s academy as a teenager, but he was released in 2009. His next stop was not far away; he signed for Bury as a back-up goalkeeper. He made two appearances for Bury and won promotion to League One in 2011.

The younger Branagan left Bury in 2012 and stayed fairly local for the next few years. He played for Salford City, Macclesfield Town, Chorley and Droylsden. His career soon took a new approach after he moved to Japan in 2017, where he later found work as a goalkeeping coach. The move allowed him to pursue another lifelong hobby - music.

Branagan grew up listening to bands such as My Chemical Romance, Angels and Airwaves and Blink-182. This inspired him to form his own musical project, The Ever After, and he began making music on GarageBand. He remixed Angels and Airwaves songs and shared them on YouTube, which slowly gave him attention. He also made a compilation of remixes and put them into an album that could be streamed online.

Branagan decided to formalize The Ever After in 2019 in order to give it a more personal meaning. He released the songs “Does Anybody Feel The Way That I Do?” and “Let Down”, songs that detail living with depression and mental health problems. He planned to use donations for a mental health charity and uploaded the songs to Spotify. His debut LP, Multicoloured Afterlife, came out shortly after.

The channel gained more attention as Branagan released previews for upcoming projects and The Ever After’s debut album. The album - You, Me & The Galaxy - was finally released in June 2020. Branagan thanked his followers on YouTube for their support and encouragement due to the toll it took on him.

“It has been difficult sometimes, especially during this time, to write about mental health. Finishing the album was the hardest part. The reason I was able to do that was absolutely because of all of you,” he wrote.

“An extreme amount of thought, probably too much at times, went into how this album was even going to come alive in this way. I’ve pushed limits and had to improvise in a lot of ways to give the sound and imagery that I wanted this to be.”

The Ever After is expected to release its second and final album, Life After Death. The first single, “I Don’t Know How To Say Goodbye” was released on all streaming platforms on October 30th, 2020.

Branagan’s career as a footballer may have ended for now, but he has found new opportunities through making music. The success of his work has been a pleasant surprise; The Ever After has over 4,000 subscribers and over 1,200,000 channel views as of November 2020. The audience keeps growing, and the album’s anticipated release is bound to be worth the wait.