Bobby Brown backs Rangers renaissance after kind draw in League Cup
BOBBY BROWN briefly held the short-term fate of Rangers in his hands yesterday as he helped conduct the quarter-final draw of the League Cup.
Those same hands kept goal for the Ibrox club with distinction for more than ten years, his achievements including a clean sheet when Rangers won the inaugural League Cup final with a 4-0 triumph over Aberdeen in 1947.
Back at Hampden yesterday, where his career began as a 16-year-old with Queen’s Park, the remarkable Brown was in cogent and forthright form as he reflected on Rangers’ current status as a Third Division club.
Just five months shy of his 90th birthday, Brown revealed that Rangers’ startling decline has infused him with a fresh incentive to maintain the longevity which still sees him enjoy a full and active life.
“I’ve nothing but praise for the Rangers I knew and I can’t get my head around what has happened to the club,” said Brown. “My hope is that I will still be on the planet when they get back to where they belong, which is the upper echelons of our game, not only in Scotland but in Europe.
“Can I just say they are already being sorely missed in the SPL. Celtic did a wonderful service for Scottish football this week with their win in Moscow, make no mistake about it, but a few weeks ago they lost to a St Johnstone team which almost called the game off because of a virus.
“Celtic need Rangers because the others are so inconsistent. There is nobody there to challenge them, not Motherwell or Dundee United who were supposed to do it. The SPL definitely needs Rangers.”
Brown admitted to a degree of relief that he did not pull Celtic out of the draw to face Rangers, a test he feels that Ally McCoist’s reconstituted team are not yet ready to face. But he remains optimistic about the future under both McCoist and the club’s outspoken chief executive Charles Green.
“It’s maybe a wee bit early for them to face Celtic,” added Brown. “I’m not going to say they’ll win the League Cup, they’re not at that stage yet, but they showed promise in beating Motherwell in the last round which was a real shot in the arm for the supporters who have always been so loyal down the years.
“I’m very happy with what Charles Green is doing. I don’t know him, but I think he is sincere in what he is trying to do. I have the highest regard for Ally McCoist, and also Sandy Jardine at the club. They are two pillars, real Rangers people trying to turn the club around.”
Aside from his decorated playing career at Rangers, Brown earned an indelible place in Scottish football history as manager of the national team in 1967 when they defeated reigning world champions England 3-2 at Wembley.
He remains a keen observer of Scotland’s fortunes and is gratified to see the return to the squad of Steven Fletcher for the forthcoming World Cup qualifying double-header against Wales and Belgium. Brown regards the Sunderland striker as one of the few genuinely top-class players currently available to manager Craig Levein.
“I’m not really familiar with what happened between the manager and the player,” said Brown. “But, in the first two games at home to Serbia and Macedonia, everyone expected Scotland to win or get at least four points out of six and I felt the players were under pressure to do that.
“The fact they didn’t, they were severely criticised and I feel the addition now of the two Fletchers – Steven and Darren – gives the manager two household names in his team.
“It will lift the confidence. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Craig Levein in his situation, blooding new players a lot of the time who have been playing in the lower divisions in England.
“I was fortunate when I was manager to be able to pick a team who were all household names – players like Tommy Gemmell, John Greig, Ronnie McKinnon, Denis Law, Jim Baxter, Jimmy Johnstone and Willie Henderson. There’s a big difference now.
“The international team now, as opposed to the ones I had to pick, have always lacked players with household names. There are a number of players who are new to Scotland and are probably just making their way with their own clubs, therefore it’s been very difficult for the manager to integrate them into a team.
“But I’m very confident the fact the players now have the pressure off them and are playing away from home in the next two games, with the addition of two players with household names, will reflect very favourably and I would confidently predict we’ll have two good results in Wales and Belgium.”
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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