John Brown recalls his bust-ups as a Rangers player

There has scarcely been a more passionate player in the Scottish game in recent times than John Brown '“ especially in the heat of the Old Firm battle.

John Brown recalls his own bust-up with Ray Wilkins, among many others. Picture: SNS.
John Brown recalls his own bust-up with Ray Wilkins, among many others. Picture: SNS.

He was usually stomping up and down the dressing room, fully dressed, boots and all, with kick-off 90 minutes away.

Fire, desire, a will to win – call it what you like, Brown had it in abundance and while he does not condone the behaviour of St Johnstone pair Richard Foster and Danny Swanson for their dust-up at Hamilton on Saturday, he feels that it shows they care.

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Brown used to see punch-ups all the time on the Rangers training field when some of the top stars of the nine-in-a-row era went at each other with some ferocity. And he revealed that he came close to a full-blown spat with Ray Wilkins in front of 60,000 at Parkhead on April Fool’s Day 28 years ago. Rangers had been comfortably leading 2-0 when Brown lost possession, allowing Celtic to break and pull a goal back through Andy Walker – and that is when it all kicked off.

Brown said: “Ray Wilkins and me were at it at Parkhead. I passed a ball which ultimately led to Andy Walker scoring – although we held on to win the game.

“The pair of us were at it and Ally McCoist was going to take his head off. He was annoyed because the game was still going on. If he was wanting to have a dig at me he should have waited until the end of the game. I did speak to Ray at the end of the match and told him if he spoke to me like that again I would cut what hair he had left off.

“On another occasion, we also had Nigel Spackman and Andy Goram fighting in the dressing room at half-time.

“Walter Smith and Archie Knox would just stand to the side, have their cup of tea and wait until it calmed down.

“They would let the steam get out of the situation and then deal with the team afterwards.

“McCoist and Richard Gough were at it all the time in training. That’s just because they were winners.

“They would battle with each other all the time, as would Mark Hateley and Steven Pressley.

“We all had our run-ins with each other. But, you shook hands at the end of it and got on with it. It is all about what happens on a Saturday. It’s about getting the points at the end of the game.”

Brown does not want to see Foster and Swanson lose their jobs at St Johnstone, but he knows they badly let down their team by being sent off for fighting.

He said: “You obviously have players who have gone overboard and been punished. But ultimately the team was punished.

“You need to keep a lid on it and that was something we were always taught.

“I think in my first season at Rangers Graeme Souness would always say there was no point being suspended. He always said he needed us on the park, not in the stand.

“It is something the St Johnstone players should know better. St Johnstone will punish them but I wouldn’t be thinking sackings or anything like that.

“At least they have shown passion. I wish I had seen that a number of times with teams I played with. If you are a winner you want to win. And if you feel like someone is not pulling their weight then you let them know.”

Brown, meanwhile, admitted he would love to join new Ibrox manager Pedro Caixinha’s coaching team, having been one of five candidates who have local knowledge and a Rangers connection.

He said: “I think everyone who has been interviewed has had a history at the club. I think everybody involved would love that opportunity.

“If you look back to Paul Le Guen he didn’t have a Scotsman in his camp and ultimately he didn’t last very long.

“So it’s crucial he gets somebody who knows the Scottish scene and who can tell him that every game is a cup final.

“I was impressed with him. He’s obviously just come in and will be assessing his squad between now and the end of the season. I think he’ll have a rough idea where he needs to work on and hopefully the board can find the finance to make that happen for him.

“Good players cost money. He might know the market and have good contacts to bring in Portuguese players.

“There are a few decent young players in Scotland so it might not be a bad thing to have a look at them.”

l John Brown was speaking at the opening of Broxi’s Den, a facility that will allow supporters with learning difficulties and sensory challenges such as autism to enjoy matches at Ibrox.