The veteran and his club have endured the bitterest final season of a trophy-strewn 14 years at the club. But for one of the few occasions of note in this calamatious campaign, they delivered a resounding victory, with a 4-0 thumping of St Johstone providing him the desired send-off.
It just so happened that they did so against a Saints team that have been in clover in recent times through chasing the sort of cup double previously de rigueur at Parkhead in recent times, but now found themselves in the midst of a crisis.
The Perth club’s official line of an “on-going issue” with Covid-19, which had cost them four players ahead of their Scottish Cup semi-final victory over St Mirren on Sunday – two having tested positive with two more adjudged close contacts – left them shorn of four more for their visit to Glasgow. The feats of Callum Davidson’s men have been truly extraordinary this year, placing them one win away from becoming only the fourth team in the Scottish game to claim both cups in a single season. But they couldn’t pull off a miracle to upset Celtic deprived of Zander Clark, Liam Gordon, Ali McCann, Liam Craig, Stevie May, Michael O’Halloran, Murray Davidson and Elliot Parish. Those losses led to Davidson naming only five substitutes.
It was Brown’s evening, though. Celtic made sure of that. As did the man himself. His team-mates entered the field all adorned in tracksuit tops with his No.8 on them and the captain was then presented with a silver salver by similarly out-going chief executive Peter Lawwell.
Brown played his part with a raking, searching 40-yard through ball after 24 minutes that exquisitely found Odsonne Edouard, whose nutmeg on Shaun Rooney allowed him to tuck in for a second Celtic goal inside two minutes. It was Brown who was smothered in the celebrations, though.
Following an opening spell when they had Celtic firmly on the backfoot, the life then seemed to drain from the visitors. It did so because they had been undone only seconds earlier when referee Bobby Madden harshly adjudged keeper Bobby Zlamal had collected a pass-back from James Brown. They were made to pay when Ryan Christie touched the free-kick from just inside the box to David Turnbull and he lashed it with real venom.
On a night when Adam Montgomery made his first start for Celtic – blocking a Craig Conway effort on the line – Brown made his exit to rousing applause from the smattering of officials in the stand before his team added a couple of more goals. Kristoffer Ajer netted with the aid of a shot that deflected off Charlie Gilmour 79 minutes in and then another first in an encounter of lasts came with Karamoko Dembele grabbing his first senior goal. The 18-year-old sprinted free into the box and showed great composure to send an angled drive across Zlamal.
Celtic: Barkas; Kenny, Welsh, Ajer, Montgomery (Taylor 63); Christie, Brown (Soro 63), Turnbull; Forrest (Dembele 80), Edouard (Griffiths 73), Elyounoussi (Johnston 73).
St Johnstone: Zlamal; Rooney, Kerr, McCart; Brown, Bryson, Gilmour (Ferguson 83), Booth; Middleton (Melamed 83), Kane (Robertson 90+1), Conway (Wotherspoon 75).