Not when, across 14 years that have yielded 22 honours, 618 appearances and countless moments forever enshrined in the club’s history, the footballing field marshal’s contribution would warrant a capacity crowd giving him the vocal equivalent of a 21-gun salute. And yet, the hosting of St Johnstone this evening could also be considered fitting in its own hollowness. The blitz of Celtic’s authority in a wasteland of a season perhaps makes the emptiness necessitated by the pandemic for the 35-year-old’s home bow somehow apt. It comes at the end of a campaign in which age undoubtedly eroded his previous unerring ability to command his team through the most exacting challenges.
Celtic interim manager John Kennedy has certainly provided a fond, long goodbye for the captain colossus. The decision to start Brown consistently since he signed a pre-contract with Aberdeen six weeks ago – and so deny Ismaila Soro vital game-time – has made little sense, but Brown deserves to be front and centre this week. Kennedy considers he deserves a proper send-off too – in the the form of a display and result from a team that have won only three of their past nine. On a night wherein the finalities of his Celtic’s farewell will be palpable.
“It will be a poignant moment for him and I think it’ll probably start to hit home for him now, in terms of these being his final couple of games for the club [this week],” said Kennedy, the temporary manager of the final chapters of a horrible campaign that concludes away to Hibs on Saturday. “The club has been a huge part of his life and he’s been a huge part of Celtic and the most disappointing thing is that our supporters don’t have the chance to give him the send-off he deserves with the situation we find ourselves in. It is to be hoped, though, the players can rise to the occasion and put in the kind of performance which will see him off on a high. When you think of what he’s given the club and the success he’s brought to it, he’s been absolutely terrific and we need to respect that. It’s just disappointing it’s ending in the way it is.”
Brown’s loss will be felt as much off behind the scene as front of house, the Fifer deploying his huge personality to unify successive squads through humour and unstinting support. As David Turnbull has experienced since his £3.5million move from Motherwell last summer.
“He’s been massive for me since I came in, on and off the pitch,” said . “He’s always having a laugh off the pitch and always talking to you on it, just giving me wee tips on what to do and where to be. It’s great to learn off a guy like Broony, because he’s been there and done it. He’s massive around the training ground and the squad - bringing everyone together, always sorting everything out. He helps all the foreign boys as well. He’s a great captain and a good lad. He will be a big miss, and would be for anybody.”