CRAIG BROWN C.B.E. 1940-2023

Everyone at Falkirk Football Club was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Falkirk player and Scottish football legend Craig Brown.

All our thoughts are with Craig’s family and friends at this difficult time.

Club Historian Michael White paid tribute to Craig:

Older Falkirk fans will remember Craig as a Falkirk player long before he became the Scotland boss in 1993. He is one of seven ex-Bairns to have managed the full Scotland team.

His playing career had never really recovered from a serious knee injury and after finding chances limited at Ibrox, he had moved to Dundee in 1960.  Again, knee problems dogged him, and he made relatively few appearances in his four and a half years at Dens Park.

He had been a qualified primary teacher when he signed for Falkirk in 1965 as a part-timer.  He played 18 first team games for the club in his three seasons and the knee problems were clearly hampering his career. He was released in 1967 and was in the process of signing for Stranraer, when medical advice forced a premature retirement from the game.

He spoke fondly of his time at Brockville and recalls passing Doug Baillie in the Cooperage Lane. Doug was on his way to sign for the Bairns and Craig rolled down the window of his car and shouted across to the new player – “You’ll love it here, Doug. It’s a great wee club.”

His first managerial post was with Clyde, but he had a real talent for developing young players and it was no surprise when he was appointed as manager of the Scotland Youth team. He formed a partnership with another ex-Bairn, Andy Roxburgh, and Scotland thrived under the guidance of what became known as the “Largs Mafia”. Andy Roxburgh, Frank Coulston and Craig Brown had all been colleagues at Jordanhill College  and all three were qualified teachers. Craig was a supreme organiser and tactician, and he brought an order and discipline that had often been lacking in the national sides. Despite success in reaching the Youth World Cup Final, his appointment as national team manager to succeed Andy Roxburgh was a surprise. He soon won over the doubters with his open and honest personality and his attention to detail. He clearly loved the job and often said he was “the luckiest guy alive” to be the Scotland team boss.

He was the longest-serving Scotland manager and earned respect from fellow managers at home and abroad. After stepping down as Scotland manager, he had spells with Motherwell, Preston North End and Aberdeen, where he went on to fulfil several roles, notably as manager, director, and ambassador.

On a personal level, I met Craig several times through the Football Memories project, and he was excellent talking with those players and supporters who were living with dementia. He was the most likeable of guys and we were on a  BBC studio panel before the 2016 Euros. Without any collusion, we were asked for possible outside bets to surprise people and we both went for Wales. In typical Craig Brown style he highlighted why he had picked them. Inspiring manager, good organisation, no prima donnas, and a collective spirit – allied to national pride and passion. He could have been describing his own management style.

All who knew him will be genuinely sad to hear of his death. A great football man who will be hugely missed.

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