Bobby Brown, a former manager of Scotland and a former Rangers goalkeeper, died at the age of 96.
During his game days, Brown was a member of the Light Blues’ famous Iron Curtain defense and later went on to manage the national team towards their biggest ever victory: the 1967 Wembley victory over world champions in England.
Brown joined Bill Struth’s team from Queen’s Park in 1946 and continued to make 296 appearances, while keeping 109 clean games, in his decade at Ibrox.
In fact, for six years – between 10 August 1946 and 16 April 1952 – he did not lose a championship game, playing in 179 consecutive games.
He won three league titles, three Scottish Cups and two League Cups and was always present during the 1948-49 season when the Rangers became the first team in Scotland to win the highs.
He was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Rangers President Dave King said: “All of us connected with the Rangers are deeply saddened to hear that Mr. Brown, a true legend of the Rangers and Scotland, is dead. Our thoughts are right now with the family by Mr. Brown.
“He was a wonderful servant of our club and we will remember him with great affection. He was a gentleman of the game and set the standards that characterize what the Rangers talk about.”
A minute’s silence in memory of Brown will take place before the Rangers Scottish Cup draw with Stranraer at Ibrox on Friday.
The man who made Scotland “unofficial world champions”
When Scotland needed a pair of sure hands to become her first full-time boss, Bobby Brown was the man the Hampden leaders turned to.
The hope was that Brown, who had died Wednesday at the age of 96, would have produced a team as difficult to beat as he himself during his game days, when he was part of the famous defense of the Ranger’s iron curtain.
But, as it turned out, Brown’s reign of the Scots began not only with probably the biggest win ever in the country, but a reckless performance that went down in national folklore.
The 3-2 triumph over Alf Ramsey’s World Cup winners in April 1967 may not have dethroned England, but it was enough for the Scottish army to crown the “unofficial world champions”.
During the summer of love, Scotland was seen riding on Wembley meadow as thousands of Scots who had headed south watched in amazement.
No one had ever exerted so much power when it came to distributing Scottish hats like Brown so far, with the national team previously chosen by a committee.
He made his debut with veteran Celtic goalkeeper Ronnie Simpson – his former Queen’s Park replacement – and also threw teenage Jim McCalliog for his first hat. His reward was to see the young Sheffield Wednesday winner.
Jim Baxter, whose career was in crisis after leaving the Rangers, brought back the clocks with an imperious display covered by his brazen juggling.
“We should have had five or six,” said Brown in a book on his career published in 2017. “Without a doubt, it was the best managerial debut I could have made.”
Not that his great success earned him instant fame. As his team celebrated the night after the game, he left their London hotel for a breath of fresh air where he ran into a rather lubricated member of the Scottish army.
“See you, Scotland 3 England 2 – we beat you easily today and never forget it,” said the fan off guard that he was pushing his finger into the chest of the man who had conceived the whole thing.
Brown was born in the small village of Dunipace in Stirlingshire in March 1923. His journey to football success began when he joined the men of his village for “challenge” matches against neighboring parishes. Being the youngest at only 11 years old, he was put on goal, but the pint-sized cap wasn’t a weak link.
At school, his talents were shaped by his physical education teacher Hugh Brown – whose son Craig would follow in Bobby’s footsteps to become a Scottish manager.
It was in 1939, at the age of 17, that he got a “lightning bolt” after helping his Falkirk High school get a 3-1 victory over St Aloysius. At the full-time whistle, two strangers ran to the field and announced that he had been requested by Queen’s Park in the afternoon to face Celtic in Parkhead.
The pair turned out to be scouts for the Spiders and so it was that Brown, a few hours after leaving for his school, made his senior debut in a 4-4 against the Hoops.
He would continue to represent Queen’s Park during the war despite being sent to Portsmouth after joining the RAF, while he was also a guest of the likes of Chelsea and Plymouth Argyle.
Even his shows in the games between the various services brought him to the fore and, after being returned to Scotland at the end of the hostilities, he was given his first Scottish hat in a friendly with Belgium in January 1946, with Brown who remained the last amateur to play for Scotland.
It was his move to Ibrox later that year that saw him in contact with defenders George Young, Jock Shaw, Willie Woodburn, Ian McColl and Sammy Cox as they formed the notoriously stingy rear of the Gers.
Together, their efforts to fend off rivals helped Brown win three league titles and three Scottish Cups in the following decade before ending his playing career at his Falkirk boys’ club.
A move in management followed in 1958 when he took over from St Johnstone, with his constant leadership of the Perth club seeing them twice promoted to the top flight during a nine-year term in office.
It was that reliable record that convinced the Scottish Football Association to hand over the kingdom of the national team.
However, having achieved so much in his first game in office, it would always have been difficult for Brown to achieve that result.
In all, he managed to manage Scotland 28 times before his frustrations with repeated calls led him to resign in 1971. He would only follow eight more wins after Wembley’s success.
After a short stint as chief Hull and a scouting assignment with Plymouth, Brown spent his final years in Helensburgh with his late wife Ruth, where they ran a restaurant and a number of gift shops.