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Sandy Brown

Footballer.

Born: 14 March 14, 1939; Died: April 8, 2014.

SANDY Brown, who has died aged 75 after a final decade blighted by Alzheimer's, was one of those journeymen Scottish professionals who were for so-long the backbone of the English League's top-flight.

The Grangemeouth-born Brown earned his stripes in the juniors with Broxburn Athletic, before going senior with Partick Thistle in 1958. He made his debut at Celtic Park in March, 1959 and in his subsequent 150-odd games for the Maryhill Magyrs, he proved to be yet another of that great club's eccentric talents.

He was a good enough player to earn Scottish League honours, at a time when such a selection was worth more than some of today's full caps in "international challenge games". That Scottish League appearance came in a 4-1 win over the Irish League, at Windsor Park, Belfast, on 4 September, 1964, and, the victorious Scots were roundly condemned for "only" winning by three goals.

Not that Brown spent too-long dwelling on the criticism. He had no sooner arrived back in Glasgow than he was on his way to Liverpool. Everton paid the Jags £38,000 for his signature and he made his debut, at Goodison, on the Saturday in a 4-3 loss to Burnley.

Moving to Everton, whose first-choice full-backs were Scotland's own Alex Parker and future England World Cup winner Ray Wilson, might have seemed a strange choice, particularly since another England full-back cap in Tommy Wright was also there but Brown prospered.

Some long-standing Evertonians feel Brown suffered in comparison to the other three but he had a hard core that added to a side which, with the "golden vision", former Hearts man Alex Young, former Dundee star Jimmy Gabriel and ex-Ranger Alex Scott in the side, had all the skill but perhaps lacked steel.

Maybe Brown, whose versatility saw him fill all 11 Everton jerseys (even going into the goals after England cap Gordon West was red-carded at Newcastle), was something of an "enforcer", he certainly sorted out Johnny Giles in one Everton v Leeds encounter in his first season, memorable for the wrong reasons,

Giles was knocked out by a single Brown punch. The Evertonian, who had the imprint of Giles's studs on his chest, was red-carded and the referee had to take the players off the park to cool down in the aftermath.

Brown could shoot as hard as he punched, finishing a close second to Peter Lorimer in a competition to find the hardest shot in English football.

He played a huge role in getting Everton to the FA Cup final in 1966, not least from his late goal-line clearance against Manchester United in the semi-final at Bolton's Burnden Park but Wright and Wilson were the full backs for a memorable Wembley clash in which, on the back of two goals from another of their journeyman, Cornishman Mike Trebilcock, the Toffees gave Sheffield Wednesday a two-goal start and won 3-2; Derek Temple's winner bringing Everton fan Eddie Kavanagh onto the park for a one-man pitch invasion that was ended by a classic rugby tackle from one of his Metropolitan Police pursuers.

Brown, watching from the stands, didn't get a medal but he did get a presentation set of silver cutlery from grateful Everton chairman John Moores and was on the club-paid-for Spanish holidayfor players and wives, during which he left a permanent impression on Alex Young by swimming the length of the hotel swimming pool with a lighted candle fixed to his head - to win a bet.

This win got Everton into the Cup-Winner's Cup, where emergency centre forward Brown scored the winner against Real Zaragoza in Spain, one of two memorable contributions he made to Everton's European campaigns. The other was scoring the winner in a penalty shoot-out, against the Germans of Borussia Munchengladbach.

Goodison legend has it Brown scored to make it 4-3, picked the ball out of the net and banged it down on the spot, as if to dare the next German penalty-taker to match his goal.

He couldn't and Everton were through, a rare English shoot-out win over the Germans.

If he missed the 1966 glory, Brown was very much involved when the School of Soccer Science won the English League in 1969-70. The golden midfield trio of Colin Harvey, Howard Kendall and Alan Ball got all the kudos but Brown played in 36 of the 42 league games, in spite of competition from Wright and another England international full-back in Keith Newton.

He also came-up with a goal of the season contender that year. His spectacular diving header past West is considered to be "the own goal against which all other own goals are measured". Bad enough to score one but to score it, in a Liverpool Derby, at Goodison Park and help the Reds of Liverpool to a 3-0 win; well, it takes a special kind of player to be forgiven but Brown was.

After more than 250 games with Everton, he wound down his career with a season each at Shrewsbury and Southport.

He then chose to remain in Lancashire, settling in Blackpool and happily working out his life until retirement in a biscuit factory, with frequent trips to Liverpool to continue to support the Toffees.

His retirement years were blighted by Alzheimer's and he spent his final decade in a Blackpool nursing home. He was pre-deceased by his wife Margaret, last year, but is survived by son Paul, daughters Carole and Elaine and grand-daughters Mollie and Mercedes.

Sandy Brown's funeral will be held on Friday, April 25 at Carlton Crematorium, Blackpool.

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