Sammy Cox: Bobby Brown’s tribute to Rangers legend

Sammy Cox, back row right, and Bobby Brown, back row third from right, line up in the famous Rangers team of the late 1940s. Picture: TSPL
Sammy Cox, back row right, and Bobby Brown, back row third from right, line up in the famous Rangers team of the late 1940s. Picture: TSPL
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BOBBY Brown may shed a tear on Friday night when Sammy Cox is honoured by Rangers – but he always remembers how his team-mate and friend made him laugh.

Brown, 92, is now the last surviving member of the treble-winning team of 1948-49 following the passing of Cox last Saturday and he will be a special guest at the Championship opener against St Mirren.

There is no doubt Sammy was a major influence on the team at that time

Bobby Brown

Brown and Cox were the final components in what became known as the Iron Curtain defence in the famous Rangers team in the immediate post-Second World War era that enjoyed a fantastic rivalry with Hibs.

He rates the tough-tackling midfielder as one of the most influential Rangers players since the war.

Brown, who was the goalkeeper in that Rangers side, said: “Sammy was full of good humour. He was an effervescent chap and always had a smile on his face.

“It used to be great coming into training because if you were feeling a bit down in the dumps then Sammy would cheer you up.

“The other great trait he had was that he was never critical of his colleagues. He was a true Ranger.

“Sammy and I signed at the same time in 1946 and made our debuts on the same day against Airdrieonians at Broomfield Park. It was the Victory Cup first round and we won 4-0.

“Sammy was a terrier in the tackle but he was also a beautiful passer of a ball.

“He was a very lithe figure and his great forte was going forward. There is no doubt he was a major influence on the team at that time.

“Although he was the left-half of our team, we effectively played a 4-2-4 system whereby George Young and Jock Shaw were the full-backs and Ian McColl and Willie Woodburn played in the centre.

“This allowed Sammy to get forward more often to help link the play to the front players.

“It was a great period for the club and, of course, the highlight was the 1948-49 season when we won all of the trophies and became the first team to do so.

“We had a great rivalry with Hibs at that time. We had fantastic games against them in that 1940s and 1950s period.

“They had the Famous Five forward line and we had the Iron Curtain defence.

“Of course, we had brilliant forward players then too, like Willie Waddell, Willie Thornton and Jimmy Duncanson as well as Jimmy Caskie.

“But there was something special about the Iron Curtain defence. We all seemed to click perfectly and we got on well together. It seemed natural to us.”

Brown will never forget a remarkable incident when he and Cox – along with Waddell and Thornton – were summoned to the office of strict disciplinarian boss Bill Struth and they feared they were in major trouble.

However, instead of being lambasted by the manager they were all given new cars!

Brown said: “Jimmy Smith, our trainer, came in to the dressing room to say that Bill Struth wanted to see Sammy, Waddell, Thornton and myself.

“We all wondered what we had done wrong because when you were called to go up the marble staircase to his office you knew it would be something serious that he wanted to talk to you about.

“We got to his room and as ever Struth was immaculately dressed. He was pacing about his room and we were standing there like soldiers to attention, fearful of what he might say.

“The next minute he told us all to sit down and asked us all individually if we wanted to have a car.

“The other three immediately said yes. I told Struth I hadn’t learned to drive and he told me it was high time I did.

“You have to remember that the waiting time for a car in 1946 was five years.

“People nowadays probably can’t believe that but that was the situation then. Prior to that everything had been geared towards the war effort and the manufacture of munitions and the country was just getting back to peacetime living.

“There was a huge backlog in terms of producing new cars, but here we were being offered one each.

“It was a company called Carlaws of Glasgow who were supplying the cars and the other three went there to collect theirs and they all got Austin A40s.

“I had to wait to pass my test first before I could get mine but I duly did and I still remember the registration – JTA 92.

“It just shows you the contacts that Bill Struth had in these days.”