Looking back: Mick Brown

Date of birth: 11.7.39, Born: Walsall, Height: 5ft 10in, Position: Right back

City apps: League: 38, League Cup: 5, Total: 43

Mick Brown played schoolboy football in Gloucester before joining Hull City as an amateur at the age of 15, turning professional in 1958. Also a cricketer, he turned out for Gloucestershire’s Second Xl before devoting his career to football.

With Hull he made just eight Football League appearances, spending most of his time in the reserve team, latterly captaining them and playing alongside future Imps team mate Norman Corner.

At the age of 28 Brown joined City, initially on trial, in the summer of 1967 as one of several players brought in by Ron Gray as part of his building a new-look side. It was soon obvious that he was more reliable than some of his predecessors in the years of struggle, soon marking his mark as a determined full back and it was said of him that his big virtue was even if he was beaten he was quickly fighting back.

The early part of the 1967/68 season saw City’s epic League Cup run, with Brown playing in every one of the matches. In the Fourth Round replay with Derby County in front of Sincil Bank’s highest ever crowd City had fallen behind to an early goal but were pressing for an equaliser when Brown was sent off for head-butting striker Kevin Hector with six minutes to go. A minute later Hector himself was unmarked to make it 2-0 and a last-minute goal from John O’Hare rubbed it in.

It’s unfortunate that the incident against Derby will always be the one for which Mick Brown is most remembered as a City player. I was not at the game myself so didn’t witness whether he was provoked or not, but by all accounts, it was out of character for a player who would normally have had more sense than to see his side reduced to ten men when still in with a chance of forcing at least extra time.

Whatever the circumstances, there were some supporters who blamed Brown for costing City the match, and whether to appease them or to protect him from abuse he was left out of the next game which saw a 3-2 home defeat to Luton Town. After returning to the side his suspension then kicked in, and in those days this meant a period of time rather than a specific number of matches. As it included the Christmas period Brown’s suspension of one month meant a swinging six-match ban. However, on his return to the side in January he missed only one further match for the rest of the season.

Although City flirted with the re-election zone the signing of three new players in March produced a good finish to the season and a rise to mid-table with Brown playing a full part. It was then perhaps the biggest surprise among the players released in the summer of 1968 that he was one of them, although he may have expressed a desire to move into coaching and did so, joining top Southern League side Cambridge United as player-coach along with City team-mate John Gregson.

With Cambridge having won the Southern League title and started on their way to a second one that would see them elected to the Football League Brown’s coaching career really took off in November 1969 when he moved

on to Second Division Oxford United. He soon became assistant manager, and then manager in September 1975, retaining his position despite relegation to Division Three in 1976. After three further seasons he joined First Division West Bromwich Albion in July 1979 as assistant to manager Ron Atkinson who he had been with at Oxford. He followed Atkinson to Manchester United remaining as his assistant until Atkinson was sacked in November 1986.

In July 1987 he became coach/assistant manager at Bolton, newly relegated to Division Four. Managed by Phil Neal, they won immediate promotion back to Division Three and Brown remained with them until Neal was dismissed in May 1992. He then had a spell coaching in Malaysia until returning to join Coventry as chief scout under Phil Neal again. In 1997 he moved to Blackburn Rovers for a year in a similar scouting role before returning to Manchester United in the same capacity spending eight years with them before having to retire according to club policy. At the age of 66 he then had spells with West Bromwich, Sunderland and most recently Ipswich Town still performing a scouting role into his seventies.

His son Gary, also a full back, played for Manchester United’s youth team and was on the books of Blackburn Rovers and Bolton without making the first team.

2 Comments

  1. Interesting, thank you. Like so many I was amongst the 23149 fans at the bank for the game Mick was sadly best remembered. We were at the other end but there was no doubt about the head butt. Whether Hector wound him up verbally I don’t know. Good to hear he had a good career in the game with some bigger teams.

  2. another legend, another hero
    that match will also be remembered by the fact that the heavens opened and everyone was drenched to the skin, stands open air in those days huh

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