Gordon Brown (rugby union)
|Full name||Gordon Lamont Brown|
|Date of birth||1 November 1947|
|Place of birth||Troon, Scotland|
|Date of death||19 March 2001(aged 53)|
|Place of death||Troon, Scotland|
|Rugby union career|
|Years||Club / team|
|West of Scotland
Marr College FP
|correct as of 5 March 2007.|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
1971, 1974, 1977
British and Irish Lions
|correct as of 5 March 2007.|
Gordon Lamont Brown (1 November 1947 - 19 March 2001) was a Scottish international rugby union footballer. He was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2001. His nickname is Broon frae Troon (i.e. Brown from Troon) after his home town in west central Scotland. Brown played second row for West of Scotland, Scotland and the British Lions. He is often considered "Scotland's greatest second row." He was the younger brother of Peter Brown, the son of footballer John Brown, and the nephew of footballers Tom and Jim Brown.
Richard Bath writes of him:
- "A buoyant larger-than-life figure, Brown was an abrasive steamroller of a lock. Unmoveable in the scrum and unfailingly sure on his own ball at the line-out, he also displayed a dynamism in the loose [play] and an ability to look after himself when the going got tough. At 6ft 5in. and over 17 stone, Brown had trouble maintaining peak fitness, so it was hardly surprising his greatest moments came on tour."
Brown was from a sporting family, his elder brother Peter also played for and captained the Scottish side. His father, John played goalkeeper for the Scottish football side and also appeared in the Scottish Open at Royal Troon alongside golfing greats such as Arnold Palmer.
Speaking of the brothers Brown, he thinks their skill was in their genes, but that Peter and Gordon were very different:
- "They inherited sporting ability, for their father was an international goalkeeper. They were both big, the young Gordon, being at 6 feet 5 inches a couple of inches the taller, and they were both natural ball-players. There the resemblance stopped: Gordon's play could have been recorded on film and used to educate any aspirant lock-forward. He was exemplary in his orthodoxy. Peter was an individualist, eccentric, surprising and brilliant. Not surprisingly he was a great Sevens player: I don't think Gordon shone at the short game. I doubt if it could rouse him sufficiently."
A product of Marr College and West of Scotland, he won the first of 30 caps for Scotland at the age of 22 on 6 December 1969 against South Africa, winning 6-3. He retained his place for the Five Nations opener against France but was dropped for the Wales match for his brother Peter. Gordon Brown then went on to replace Peter Brown at half-time due to injury, and this was the first time a brother replaced a brother in an international match.
Winning 5 caps, and partnered Willie John McBride in the engine room of the scrum in the 1974 Lions tour to South Africa, during which he scored a remarkable eight tries and won a further 3 caps. He also played in a non-cap match against Fiji at the end of the 1977 tour to New Zealand.
A major criticism of Brown was that he played better for the British Lions than his own country:
- "He was what is often called a player's player. The average spectator, not good at seeing who wins the ball in the line-out for instance, could watch a match without being aware of Gordon Brown. Yet the fact remains that packs that contained him invariably did better than the same pack with a replacement. He was the supreme working forward, and the most important member of what may be the best front five Scotland has ever had... In contrast... it was a frequent criticism that he never played quite so well for Scotland as people had heard he had done for the Lions.'"
Unfortunately his rugby career came to a somewhat inauspicious end. In December, 1976, he was playing in a match between Glasgow and the North-Midlands, he was suspended for three months after getting into a fight with Allan Hardie, in which Brown chased Hardie, threw him to the ground and kicked him. The suspension meant that he missed three internationals, but was selected for the British Lions. Because of a string of injuries, he never played for Scotland again.
Gordon Brown died from cancer in 2001. His funeral was attended by former Scotland and Lions team mates and opponents from the whole rugby world.
- Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1)
- Massie, Allan A Portrait of Scottish Rugby (Polygon, Edinburgh; ISBN 0-904919-84-6)
- Bath, p127
- Massie, p177
- Massie, p178-9
- Massie, p 178
- Gordon Brown from Scrum.com
- Gordon Brown in The Scotsman newspaper
- Broon frae Troon by Jeff Connor (Scotsman newspaper)