On behalf of India Spurs I nominated Bill Brown to the Scottish Hall of Fame in December 2013. Bill was indeed inducted into the Hall the following October. This profile is based upon the nomination paper.
Bill Brown was one of the greatest Scottish goalkeepers of the post-war period and is a legendary figure at both Dundee and Tottenham Hotspur Football Clubs. At Dundee he was a member of the League Cup winning team in 1951-52. He went on to be a member of the Tottenham Hotspur team that was the first team in the modern age to win the English League and Cup Double in 1960-61. This was followed by another FA Cup win in 1962. They then became the first British team to win an European Trophy. The European Cup Winners Cup in 1963.
He won 28 full Scottish caps and represented the country at the World Cup Finals in Sweden in 1958. He was his countries most capped goalkeeper. A record which only fell in 1979. He also represented his country by playing at Scotland Schoolboys, Youth and ‘B’ levels as well as playing for the Scottish League XI.
William Dallas Fyfe Brown was born an only child in Arbroath on October 8th 1931. He had a trial for Scottish Schoolboys playing at Outside left. Only later switching to goalkeeper when the Arbroath High School’s regular goalkeeper was injured. After leaving school he started an apprenticeship as an electrician, whilst on the pitch he progressed from juvenile sides Arbroath Cliffburn and Carnoustie Juveniles to junior club Carnoustie Panmure. Bill played for Scotland Schoolboys V Wales in 1947. He joined Dundee shortly before his 18th birthday after being pursued by a number of clubs from both sides of the border. At Dundee he gained future international honours at Youth level. His Dundee first team debut came in January 1950 against Clyde but it took him several seasons before he became a regular in the side. In 1951-52 he was a member of the Dundee team that won its first trophy in 41 years when they won the League Cup beating Rangers in the final. He may well have won more domestic honours, missing two Cup finals due to National Service which was spent in the Royal Air Force Police.
He made a total of 274 appearances for Dundee, including 62 clean sheets. The Dundee Club describe him thus “As a keeper who was elastically agile, endowed with remarkably sharp reflexes and was never less than impeccable for Dundee“.
He transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in June 1959 for a fee of sixteen and a half thousand pounds. A hefty fee in those days which Dundee used in the installing of floodlights at Dens Park.
He became a key member of the team alongside two other great Scottish legends, John White and Dave Mackay, both of whom have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. His manager Bill Nicholson later described him as “One of his best signings”. The Tottenham team would became the first team in the twentieth century to win the English League and Cup Double in 1960/61. The following season they retained the FA Cup. Then in 1962 /63 they were the first British team to win an European Trophy. Defeating the holders Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the Final of the European Cup Winners Cup. This success included two titanic battles with Glasgow Rangers. At Tottenham he became one of the first goalkeepers to develop the quick accurate throw to his own team rather than the traditional long punt downfield. Bill made a total of 222 League appearances for Tottenham as well as 23 FA Cup matches and 17 in European competition. Such was his consistency during those glory years, from 1960 to 1963, Bill missed just a dozen games out of a possible 204. Tottenham’s obituary contains the following tribute.
“Has strong claims to being the finest Scottish ‘keeper of the post-war era. Consistently brilliant, of willowy build, Bill’s acrobatics brought off many an ‘impossible’ save.”
He made his last appearance for Spurs in May 1966 and transferred to Northampton Town FC the following October. He spent a season at Northampton Town where he played a total of 21 games.
In April 1967 he signed for the Canadian club Toronto Falcons. He played another 16 games for them before retiring from the game.
After retiring he was a property developer for a short period before being employed by the Ontario Government Land Department for 20 years retiring in 1995. A keen sportsman all his life having played Basketball as a youth in retirement he enjoyed a game of Curling. His passion however was Golf which he played up to a few months before his passing and at one time had a handicap of two.
Bill did return to White Hart Lane in 1984 to pay tribute to his former manager Bill Nicholson. In March 2004 he was too ill to return when he was inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame. He sadly passed away in November of the same year.
Throughout his career Bill was known for being ‘a safe pair of hands’. He is described as processing a good positional sense and great concentration which allowed him to carry out his duties without fuss in a characteristically calm manner. There was no hint of a showman about him. Yet when called upon was quick, agile and breathtakingly acrobatic with immaculate handling. He inspired confidence throughout his own team.
As a youngest I had the pleasure of watching him play a number of times. I also had the privilege of speaking to him several times at the training ground and I remember a kind friendly man who always had time to stop and speak to the schoolboys.
2014 will mark the tenth anniversary of his passing. I believe there is no better time or manner to honour his memory and pay tribute to a fine ambassador to the game, his clubs and his country than to induct him into The Scottish Hall of Fame. A honour I feel is long overdue.
I wish to thank for their kind assistance in preparing this nomination Dundee FC, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Northampton Town FC.
PLEASE - if you haven't already done so support this nomination by emailing <Colin.Lobban@scottishfootballmuseum.org.uk>
About the author:
Keith Harrison, Nilgiris, TN
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12/12/2013 06:48:25 am
Its a fantastic initiative Keith! A legend who would thoroughly deserve his place in the HoF. It will be good if you can us updated with the latest feedback from the club and association. #COYS
dave brown (cousin of bill)
14/2/2014 10:56:26 am
i remember Bill very well and will always be grateful to him for having me down to London in 1961 for the cup final. I stayed with him for 10 days and will always remember going to training with him and John White everyday before the cup final. Iwas 17 and in awe of meeting the Spurs team and going to Wembley for the final.He should definitly be nominated for the Hall of Fame and i will do that right now
28/10/2014 03:22:04 am
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