History Bhoy: Scott Brown

A Tim in time

Name – Scott Brown

Born – 25th June 1985, Dunfermline, Scotland

Height – 5’10” (depending on current haircut)

Nicknames – Broony

Position – Centre-Mid

Scotland international – 55 caps / 4 goals

Scottish Premiership Titles – 10

Scottish Cup winner medals – 6

Scottish League Cup winner medals – 7

Premiership Team of the Year – Six times (06-07, 08-09, 14-15, 16-17, 17-18, 18-19)

Football Writers Young Player of the Year – Once (06-07)

Player’s Player of the Year – Twice (08-09, 17-18)

Football Writers Player of the Year – Once (17-18)

Early Days

Scott Brown grew up in the Fife village, ‘Hill of Beath’ with a statue of Rangers* legend Jim Baxter just across the road from his house. He struggled with dyslexia while he attended Beath High School but didn’t let it get in the way of his football ambitions. His mum reported that he was a dedicated trainer at a young age, and from the age of 12 he would travel far and wide to train with the ‘pro-youth’ setups at various teams.

Whilst he was training simultaneously with Falkirk and Rangers*, he was passed up by the Ibrox club due to his diminutive stature – an opportunity which was pounced upon by a team from Leith, despite the hardship endured by his mother with the long commutes for training three nights a week, where sunshine was scarcely experienced, as the song goes.

Leith Days

Scott signed professional forms with Hibernian FC in 2002 and was given his debut for the Leith side by Bobby Williamson in May 2003 coming on as a sub in a 3-1 win over Aberdeen – where he was deployed as a striker! Despite coming close to scoring when he hit the bar with a header in that game his time up front was short-lived.

“After about 10 games I realised that I couldn’t play up front. I slowly got moved out wide and then they realised I couldn’t really cross the ball. They realised positional sense wasn’t my thing at 17.

“So they just said, ‘Aye, wee man, go and run about and tackle people’. That is what I did.”

Over the next four years, he made 134 appearances for Hibs and scored 20 goals under Williamson, Tony Mowbray and John Collins – who he would both later be reunited with at Celtic.

On the 18th March 2007, Scott won his first major honour when Hibs beat Kilmarnock 5-1 at a sleety Hampden to lift the Scottish League Cup. 21-year-old Brown was preferred to Michael Stewart in CM and played the full 90 minutes prophetically wearing the green and white number 7 jersey. Scott lay huddled in the net after an hour when he put a half-volley over the bar from 4 yards out but made amends minutes later when he set-up Steven Fletcher for the crucial third goal with a beautifully-weighted through ball.

The Arrival

Scott signed for Celtic on 16th May 2007 from Hibernian FC for 4.4m GBP (Author’s note – my Australian keyboard doesn’t have a pound symbol) one month before his 22nd birthday, setting a transfer record between two Scottish clubs which still stands today.

He was linked with Rangers* after his close friend Kevin Thomson moved to Mordor in January 2007 and this potential move was even reported as a ‘done deal’ by ex-Rangers heartthrob Derek Johnstone on national radio.

EPL sides Everton, Tottenham and Middlesbrough were also linked, and it was even reported that Scott held talks with Middlesbrough, who finished the Premier League season in 12th place that season with Mark Viduka as top scorer.

On joining his new long-term paramour Scott commented, “Everyone knows Celtic are one of the biggest names in football and the opportunity to join a club of Celtic’s stature was one I had to take.

“The club has a magnificent support and I will be doing all I can to make sure I play my part in delivering more and more success to these fans.”

Early days at Celtic

Brown made his competitive debut for Celtic on 7th August 2007 in a 0-0 draw at home to Kilmarnock, playing alongside Celtic legends Aiden McGeady, Shunsuke Nakamura and Chris Killen. His future manager John Kennedy also played and kept a clean sheet that day.

He scored his first goal for the club in a 5-0 win at home to his former rivals Hearts at the end of this month.

Scott finished his debut season as a Champion, helping manager Gordon Strachan to his third title as Celtic manager.

Unfortunately, however, for Broony this season will be probably be remembered more for the tragedy as he lost his sister and Tommy Burns within two weeks of each other in May 2008.

Captaincy

In the following season – Strachan’s last – he was voted the Player’s Player of the Year by his fellow pros, but was unable to help retain the title after ill-discipline and the beginning of a persistent ankle injury which would seriously curtail his 2009.

When he returned to fitness in February 2010, he immediately succeeded the departing Stephen McManus as captain. This move, by under pressure Tony Mowbray, was an apparent attempt to channel his aggressions productively.

“At this stage in his career, the responsibility will be good for him. He has the potential for flare-ups; that’s his personality. Since the day I walked into Hibs I could understand his personality.

‘When Scott plays, he’ll lead the team. He wants to win and push himself to win. That needs tempering, of course, but you shouldn’t be criticising him for the fire in his belly.”

Pantomine villain

Due to his combative style of play Scott was often portrayed as the antagonist of the Celtic team and Scottish football. This led to him being on the target of some unfair treatment.

That said, Brown has never displayed the tendencies of a shrinking violet and enforced his own brand of justice on opponents when the circumstances called for it:

Barren Days

In the 3 years after Strachan, a financially doped Rangers* EBT team won the title by narrow margins of 4, 6 and 1 points meaning that Brown had a very inauspicious start to life as a Celtic captain. The trophyless 2009/10 season was the first for Celtic since 2003 and ushered in the first era of Neil Lennon’s management.

Neil Lennon opted to retain Scott Brown as captain in the aftermath of the Mowbray disaster after he helped Lennon secure the job in the first place. The pair brought the thunder back but couldn’t deliver the league on the final day of 2010/11 as Rangers* FC won their last ever title in their penultimate season of existence.

Salad Days

In hindsight, that stolen title should have been the first of ten in a row, with Celtic being put forward for Champions League football regardless (see ‘Resolution 12’) but the wave of emotions from that unjust outcome became a tidal wave of success over the following decade with Scott surfing on the crest.

Some might bookmark the infamous Broony goal celebration of February 2011 as Scott curled in a left-footer from 20 yards to help the ten men of Celtic hold the twelve men of Rangers* as the starting point.

Even though Celtic weren’t successful in the league that year against EBT FC and the Scottish Freemason’s Association, they finished with 92 points and Brown lifted his first trophy as captain of Celtic.

Scott then went on to captain Celtic to no less than a further 19 trophies by the end of 2020 including our historic second run of nine league titles in a row and an unprecedented Quadruple Treble.

2011-12 – League

2012-13 – League & Scottish Cup Double

2013-14 – League

2014-15 – League & League Cup Double

2015-16 – League

2016-17 – Treble

2017-18 – Treble

2018-19 – Treble

2019-20 – Treble

European Nights

Scott Brown helped Celtic into the knockout stages of the Champions League on two occasions. First in his debut season of 2007/08, before he replicated this feat under Neil Lennon in 2012/13, despite missing the famous 2-1 victory over Lionel Messi’s Barcelona due to food poisoning.

Brown has laid down a marker for any aspiring Celtic heroes of the future by setting a club record of 127 European appearances, which is also a record for any Scottish player by quite a distance. The next closest is James Forrest with 98 appearances in Europe.

Some of Brown’s most notable results in European competition include:

  • 3-Oct 2007: Celtic 2 AC Milan 1 – Late McDonald winner and Dida assassination attempt. First win against Italian opposition since 1967.
  • 28-Nov 2007: Celtic 2 Shakhtar Donetsk 1 – Late winner by Donati. Secured progress to knockout stage of Champions League for first time.
  • 2-Oct 2012: Spartak Moscow 2 Celtic 3 – Celtic’s first ever away win in Champions League.
  • 28-Aug 2013: Celtic 3 Shakhter Karagandy 0 – Late Forrest winner to reach Champions League group stage.
  • 18-Aug 2016: Celtic 5 Hapoel Beer Sheva 2 – Scott scored the decisive final goal in the first leg of a 5-4 aggregate win in the ECL qualifiers.
  • 29-Sept 2016: Celtic 3 Man City 3 – The first team to take a point from Guardiola’s Man City after they came into the match on the back of ten straight wins.
  • 27-Sept 2017: Anderlecht 0 Celtic 3 – Biggest away win in Champions League group stage.
  • 25-Feb 2018: Celtic 1 Zenit 0 – First leg victory against Russian giants in Europa League.
  • 7-Nov 2019: Lazio 1 Celtic 2 – First ever win for Celtic on Italian soil.

Last minute winners

Brown is certainly not renowned for his goalscoring. In his career, he has averaged 3.68 goals per season. The most goals he scored in one season was the 8 he scored in his final season at Hibs, which secured him his move to Celtic.

Indeed, he fell one day short of two full years without a goal when he scored a Scottish Cup piledriver against St. Johnstone in February 2019.

Something that most Celtic fans will remember vividly about Scott Brown was his penchant for popping up with critical late goals. Just over 28% of his 46 goals for Celtic arrived in the final ten minutes of games.

He scored late goals against Hibernian (25-Oct 2008), Berwick Rangers (9-Jan 2011), St. Mirren (21-Jan 2012) and Hibs again (2-Mar 2019) in ties where Celtic held a single-goal lead and needed that crucial second to seal the win.

The fifth and final goal against Hapoel Beer Sheva in August 2016 proved crucial to winning the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

This strength of will and drive late in games bore real fruit later in pivotal games to secure the Eighth and Ninth titles of our historic Nine-in-a-row run.

One week after breaking his two-year goal drought , his late winner against Kilmarnock on 17 Feb 2019 arrived. This goal is often referred to as the goal which won the league that year as it was a crucial 3 points at a time when the team was under pressure. This was exemplified by Scott releasing his pressure by running into the crowd to celebrate and walking straight off the pitch thereafter in the shadow of his second yellow card.

Ten months later, Brown did it again when by sheer force of will he undid a late Hamilton Accies equaliser, on a night when our nearest challengers dropped points, to deal a psychological blow which carried us on to winning the historic Ninth.

International Weeks

Scott made his Scotland debut in November 2005 as a substitute in a 1-1 friendly draw at home against the United States.

His second cap came in his competitive debut, as a sub, in March 2007 in a 2-1 win at home to Georgia. He was rewarded with his first start away to Italy 4 days later, where Scotland were defeated by a Luca Toni double.

Scott only scored 4 goals for Scotland but he saved them for crucial moments, scoring the only goal in 1-0 wins against Czech Republic (3-Mar 2010), Norway (19-Nov 2013) and Poland (5-Mar 2014), as well as the opening goal in a 2-0 win against Macedonia (5-Sept 2009).

Brown won his 50th cap – and ensured his place in the Scotland Hall of Fame – when he captained Scotland to a 1-0 win over Denmark in March 2016.

After turning 31 years old in the summer of 2016, Scott announced his retirement from international football. He would reverse this decision 3 months later to help out former manager Gordon Strachan take on England in a heartbreaking double header for World Cup Qualifying.

Brown retired for a second time after picking up his 55th (and final?) cap in a 2-0 win against Malta in September 2017.

Contract Tango

The media have often portrayed a brinksmanship between Celtic and Scott Brown when it comes to contract negotiations. Having signed contracts five times with the club (May 2007, Dec 2011, Nov 2014, Nov 2017 & Feb 2019) it seems that these reports have been exaggerated and assumed rather than sourced.

In December 2011, Brown was free to talk to other teams before promptly re-signing and in February 2019, Scott held negotiations around moving to sunnier climes in Melbourne, Australia before deciding to extend his stay.

“I’m glad I stayed here instead of going away to Australia. Looking at it now I have ticked off all the boxes.

“I could have been rash and gone to England to a team that’s maybe fighting relegation or been really rash and gone to Australia to play the last two or three seasons and actually seen the sun and improved my golf. You have to realise the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

It seems that at the sixth attempt at signing, either or both of Scott and the Club blinked, and he has decided that the best move for him now is to move into the management structure at Aberdeen rather than lay the foundation of a new rebuild at Celtic and fade away in the same manner that Tom Boyd and Paul Lambert did.

In an interview with Celtic TV ahead of his final game at an empty Celtic Park he reflected:

“I have enjoyed it, and it’s emotional it’s coming to the end. I will be sad but it’s the right time to go.

“I’m going to be 36 in the summer and, whether it’s John or a new manager that comes in, I don’t want to start again at 36, running about the park saying ‘gaffer, I swear I can still run about and can still play’.

“So being assistant coach at Aberdeen, it’s a great start for me and it’s a good club as well.”

Legacy

With 23 top-flight trophies under his belt Scott Brown has won more top-flight honours than any other extant Scottish team notwithstanding Celtic.

When he leaves to join Aberdeen this summer he will have clocked up over 800 games for Hibs, Celtic and Scotland with more than 600 of those in a Celtic jersey.

Scott departs, after 14 seasons of unprecedented success, with the best wishes of the Celtic faithful to take the first steps in his coaching career. I personally hope he will return one day as a successful member of the Celtic backroom team.

Over the next two years, I hope he plays poorly for Aberdeen against Celtic, but will be tuning in gleefully to see him terrorise Sevco and reignite his familiar relationship with their minions.

Based on conversations I’ve had there are two popular choices for the next statue on The Celtic Way – ‘The Bunnet’ and ‘The Broony’.

Written by Sean (@Sean_Down_Under)

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