'A wonderful man': Football says goodbye to Craig Brown as SPFL figures attend funeral in Ayr
Brown died at the age of 82 in hospital last month after a short illness and the remembrance service took place at Ayr Racecourse, following a private family funeral.
Brown was the last man to lead Scotland to a World Cup finals, taking charge of the team in France 25 years ago. Some of the Scotland players who played under him such as Jim Leighton, Tom Boyd, Gary McAllister, Murdo MacLeod, Tosh McKinlay, John Collins, Colin Hendry and Darren Jackson were in attendance along with former national team managers Andy Roxburgh and Alex McLeish.
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster and chairman Murdoch MacLennan were joined by SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell. Derek McInnes of Kilmarnock, Aberdeen’s Barry Robson and Tony Docherty of Dundee were among current Scottish club managers present along with West Ham manager David Moyes. Other well-known figures from Scottish football such as Willie Miller, James McFadden, Archie Knox, Jim Jefferies, Billy Stark, Jimmy Bone, Jocky Scott and Dick Campbell attended the service.
Brown is survived by his two sons, Hugh and John, and his daughter, Val, all of whom spoke eloquently about their father. In an emotional eulogy, Val catalogued her father’s life and football career and his love of quoting statistics. She also recalled his brief foray into the world of pop music when he was a player at Dundee in the 1960s.
With tongue in cheek, she said: “Strangely, dad was very proud of having a hit single as one of five Dundee FC players who formed the famous pop group Hammy and the Hamsters. With their hits ‘She Was Mine’ and ‘My Dream Came True’ I am told they were the best boy band this side of Broughty Ferry.”
Son Hugh thanked the audience for “the incredible love and support, it is overwhelming and heart-warming” before he spoke with some humour about his father’s “tough love”. He said: “I think it would be fair to say we endured old-school discipline at home so in all honesty we were absolutely delighted when he decanted to his beloved Largs for the summer (for SFA coaching courses) leaving mum and the three of us to get on with it.
“We didn’t have fancy holidays as kids but we had good manners drummed into us – John has forgot some. Good grammar was very important but we had the best sports equipment. He was a football fanatic who couldn’t cook, wash, iron or do anything domestically and he struggled to relax really until later in life – but a wonderful man. We were all so proud of him.”
Son John spoke about his father’s love of entertaining an audience: “Dad didn’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story. He would far rather tell a beautiful lie than a boring truth.”
Brown, a former schoolteacher, also led Scotland to the European Championship in 1996 and was involved in a coaching capacity at three other major tournaments. The Glasgow-born former Rangers and Dundee player managed Clyde before his international coaching career, which also included leading Scotland Under-16s to a World Cup final and the under-21s to a European semi-final. Brown was manager of Scotland from 1993 until 2001. He later managed Preston, Motherwell and Aberdeen before becoming a director at Pittodrie.