John “Bomber” Brown (Clyde)

In an extraordinary season full of extraordinary highlights, the man who was last seen “howling at the moon outside Ibrox” has inadvertently provided its most outrageous moments. In July, John “Bomber” Brown stood in front of Rangers’ stadium, demanding to see the title deeds; and last week, he was given the role of interim manager of Dundee.

Brown’s appointment has been a spectacularly poor piece of PR from the Dens Park side, with chief executive Scot Gardiner badly misjudging the mood of his club’s support. Still hurting over the dismissal of the popular Barry Smith, the decision to replace him with a manager who boobed so badly whilst in charge of Clyde was met with near-universal derision – Brown may have been the “obvious” candidate in Gardiner’s eyes but supporters, opposition fans and neutral observers were stunned by his appointment. While Brown may claim the criticism is driven solely by jealousy, the truth is that managing a football club appears to be beyond his capabilities.

After leaving Dundee in 1988, Brown enjoyed a distinguished 18-year association with Rangers, winning six league championships and three Scottish Cups before retiring from playing in 1997 to coach their youth and reserve teams. He left the club in June 2006, just weeks after the installation of new manager Paul Le Guen. After almost 18 months out of football, Brown had agreed to join Dumbarton as manager but an 11th hour volte-face saw him decline the position, citing “the most personal and private reasons”. The role was eventually awarded to Jim Chapman, who would go on to lead the Sons to the Third Division championship in 2008-09.

Eight weeks later, Brown was ushered in as Clyde’s new manager on 26 January 2008. The preceding months had been testing for the Bully Wee support: the amiable Joe Miller had suddenly left the club at the end of the 2006-07 season and his replacement Colin Hendry had toiled badly. Working with a callow but talented group of players including Stevie Masterton and Neil McGregor, Hendry had failed to get the best from them and incurred the displeasure of the Broadwood support. Resigning after his wife had taken ill, he left them in ninth place in the First Division with the club both safe from automatic relegation and within touching distance of the clubs immediately above them. Coach Gary Bollan took charge of the club on an interim basis for two games before Brown’s eventual ascent to manager.

Some Clyde fans were sceptical of Brown’s appointment, with many believing a more experienced coach was required to guide the club away from the foot of the table, but an impassioned performance from the new manager at a supporters’ assembly seemed to placate any dissenters. Although his oratory was impressive, it did not necessarily translate to on-field improvement – Brown’s first match in charge was a dismal 1-3 home surrender to bottom side Stirling Albion, and his team would only win once in his first eight matches.

Results would begin to slightly improve, but the club still finished the season in the relegation play-off position, losing out on eighth place by virtue of a poorer goal difference than Greenock Morton. Midway through the second leg of their play-off semi-final with Alloa Athletic, Clyde appeared to be slipping irrevocably into the Second Division, losing 2-5 on aggregate with 44 minutes of the contest remaining. It took an astonishing individual performance from substitute Gary McSwegan (who had joined alongside former Rangers full-back Jorge Albertz in mid-March) to drag his team-mates through the match. Clyde would eventually win the tie 6-5 before easily dismissing Airdrie United in the final to consolidate their status in the second tier.

This would be as good as it would get for Clyde and John Brown.

Craig G Telfer

Craig G Telfer

Craig is a keen supporter of Stenhousemuir and still harbours romantic notions towards the club's infamous 2005-06 season. His fictional heroes include Daniel Plainview, John Marston and Pat Mustard.

11 Comments

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Adam McKechnie

    An excellent read, bravo! Appointing Brown as our manager will surely go down as one of the worst moves in Clyde’s recent history. An absolute disaster. Makes Jim Duffy look like Guardiola in comparison.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    David Callander

    Excellent article. John Brown was an utter embarrassment, lacking in all footballing attributes and basic human decency. Something stinks about his appointment at Dundee, clearly something else going on there.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Chris Dewar

    Nice of you to stick this on yer fucking website

    • John A Maxwell
      Reply February 27, 2013

      John A Maxwell

      The irony is delicious.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Zander

    Great article, Craig, and appropriate use of the old term ‘dreck’ when commenting on anything at all connected to John Brown.

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Swampy

    Epic!

  • Reply February 27, 2013

    Pete

    A very well written piece.

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Gman

    A small minded article and completely overlooking other problems at Clyde at the time of bombers reign. I am certainly not saying he will be a good appointment at Dundee but he should not be dismissed purely on the farce of Clyde as everyone including awful home support played its part in their demise.

    • Craig G Telfer
      Reply February 28, 2013

      Craig G Telfer

      Hi Gman, can you please enlighten me as to what the “other problems” at Clyde were?

    • Reply February 28, 2013

      David Callander

      The only other problem at Clyde would have been financial (partly due to the low crowds you mention), but Brown’s “backers” made sure he had a more than adequate playing budget.

  • Reply March 13, 2013

    DAVID BEATTIE

    John Brown’s talents as a coach/manager are obviously not high.
    His biggest problem was his attitude to players and fans. Even at his beloved Rangers he was known for telling colleagues and supporters to “f*ck right off”. A friend, who for some reason supported Rangers had a 10 year old nephew who asked John Brown for his autograph at a pre-season friendly. The charming Mr Brown told him to “f*ck right off, ya wee c*nt” and waved sarcastically as the wee boy walked away almost in tears.

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