Bobby Brown (footballer, born 1923)

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Bobby Brown
Personal information
Full name Robert Brown[1]
Date of birth (1923-03-19)19 March 1923
Place of birth Dunipace, Scotland
Date of death 15 January 2020(2020-01-15) (aged 96)
Playing position(s) Goalkeeper
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1939–1946 Queen's Park
1946–1956 Rangers 211 (0)
1956–1958 Falkirk 23 (0)
National team
1946–1952 Scotland 5 (0)
1949–1952 Scottish League 8 (0)
Teams managed
1958–1967 St Johnstone
1967–1971 Scotland
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Robert Brown (19 March 1923 – 15 January 2020) was a Scottish international football player and manager. He played as a goalkeeper for Queen's Park, Rangers and Falkirk and made five international appearances for Scotland. He managed St Johnstone at club level and the Scottish national team from 1967 to 1971. Brown was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2015.

Football career[edit]

Playing career[edit]

Brown was born in Dunipace, Stirlingshire.[2] He made his debut as a goalkeeper for Queen's Park in 1939, when he was still attending school.[2] After leaving school, Brown attended Jordanhill College with the intention of becoming a physical education teacher.[2] He went on to establish himself as the first-choice goalkeeper for Queen's Park in the next two seasons, but like many others at this time, his football career was interrupted by the Second World War. Brown joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy, and he initially trained to be a navigator on a Fairey Swordfish torpedo plane.[2] He was then transferred to the Navy's physical training department, where he worked as an instructor.[2] This posting allowed him to play as a guest in the wartime leagues for Portsmouth, Chester, Chelsea and Plymouth Argyle.[1] Brown considered himself fortunate, as five of the six Jordanhill students who had joined the Fleet Air Arm with him died during the war.[2] He continued his teaching studies at Portsmouth College.[2]

Brown played in five wartime internationals for Scotland, with his first appearance coming at Villa Park in February 1945.[2] In his last season with Queen's Park, in 1945–46, he shared the Queen's Park goalkeeper's jersey with another future Scottish international Ronnie Simpson. His form was rewarded with a full international call up and, in January 1946, he made his Scotland debut in a friendly against Belgium.[2] Brown remains the last amateur player to earn a full international cap for Scotland and is also the last player to earn a full Scotland cap whilst still a Queen's Park player.[2] This was the first of five full international appearances for Brown, who also appeared eight times for the Scottish League between 1949 and 1952.[2][3]

At the end of the 1945–46 season Brown left Queen's Park for Rangers,[2] where he played for ten years. During his time at Rangers he played on a part-time basis, while working as a teacher.[2] Brown won five Scottish league championships, four Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups with Rangers, including a domestic treble in 1948–49.[2] He played in 296 first-team matches for Rangers, including 179 in succession.[2] Brown's status as a part-time player subsequently caused difficulty with the Rangers manager Bill Struth, who wanted Brown to leave teaching and play football full-time.[2] He was replaced by George Niven as first-choice goalkeeper in 1952, and only made a few appearances before leaving Rangers in 1956.[2] Brown then moved to Falkirk, where he played for two years before he retired from playing.[2]

Managerial career[edit]

After retiring as a player and leaving his teaching job in 1958, Brown became manager of St Johnstone.[2] The Perth club had finished 11th in the old Second Division in the 1957–58 season.[2] Brown guided them to 6th place in his first season, and then promotion as champions in 1960.[2] Saints were relegated in 1962, but Brown stayed on as manager and won promotion back to the top division in 1963.[2] Brown then established Saints as a top-division club, finishing in mid-table in the next few seasons.[2] In total he managed 393 games for St Johnstone.[2]

Brown became the first full-time Scotland manager in 1967.[2] He was also the first manager to be given full authority to pick the team, which had previously been controlled by a Scottish Football Association committee.[2] His first international match as manager was a 3–2 victory over the 1966 world champions England at Wembley, which led to Scots declaring themselves as "unofficial world champions".[2] This game also saw Brown give his goalkeeping understudy from his Hampden days, Ronnie Simpson, his international debut. Brown continued as Scotland manager until 1971, but often found his Scotland squads depleted by club demands and results suffered accordingly.[2] He won 9 of 28 games played, and the team did not qualify for either the 1968 European Championships or the 1970 FIFA World Cup.[2]

Brown's only active involvement in football after leaving the Scotland job was to scout for Plymouth Argyle.[2]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of 28 March 2015

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Scotland Scotland 1967 1971 28 9 8 11 032.14

Later life[edit]

After finishing with Scotland in 1971 he turned to his business interests outside football.[2][1] Brown and his wife Ruth settled in Helensburgh, where they ran a gift and coffee shop.[2] Ruth died in 1983, aged 59, due to blood cancer.[2] In 2017[4] Brown was retired and still lived in Helensburgh. He was inducted into the Rangers FC Hall of Fame[5] and into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2015.[6] Brown was featured in Episode 4 A Better World of the BBC Two documentary Britain's Greatest Generation broadcast in May 2015.[7]

Brown died on 15 January 2020 at the age of 96.[8] He was survived by three daughters, Carolyn, Alison and Gillian.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Bobby Brown". Greens on Screen. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah "Obituary: Bobby Brown, Scottish football legend". The Times. 18 January 2020. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Bobby Brown". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  4. ^ Lappin, Danielle (27 July 2017). "Eye on Millig: New book recalls Bobby Brown's great days". Helensburgh Advertiser. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 17 December 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Mullen, Scott (18 October 2015). "Ally MacLeod one of five inducted into Scottish Football Hall of Fame". Evening Times. Herald & Times Group. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  7. ^ Britain's Greatest Generation Retrieved 2 June 2015
  8. ^ Bobby Brown 1923–2020

External links[edit]