Footballer and manager;

Born October 12, 1926; Died April 20, 2011

ALLAN Brown, who has died aged 84, was an international footballer who later moved into management. Since the Second World War, Scotland has had two stellar number 10s – Billy Steel and Denis Law. But for his injury jinx, Allan Brown might have won more than 14 Scottish international caps in the years between Steel and Law and been seen as a third outstanding 10.

Born in Kennoway, Fife, he signed for East Fife from Kennoway Hearts, making his debut in a derby against Dunfermline Athletic in 1947, but national service, much of which he spent in India, delayed his breakthrough. However, when East Fife returned to the First Division in the 1948-49 season, Brown was established in the club’s greatest side.

He scored the opening goal in the legendary 2-1 defeat of holders Rangers in the 1950 League Cup semi-final, but failed to find the net in the final, in which East Fife beat Dunfermline Athletic 3-0. He also drew a blank when the Fifers returned to Hampden in April, 1950, losing 3-0 to Rangers in the Scottish Cup Final.

That East Fife team contained five current or future Scottish internationalists, left-half George Aitken, outside-left David Duncan and the three inside-forwards: Charlie Fleming, Henry Morris, who respectively scored two and three goals on their only Scotland appearances, and Brown, who had played for the Scottish League team against England a month earlier, before scoring Scotland’s third goal in a 3-1 Hampden win over Switzerland during his debut in April, 1950.

He scored again in his second international, against Portugal, in Lisbon, during an end-of-season tour, in which he took his tally to three goals in his first three internationals, with the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over France, in Paris.

He knew, as a capped player, he could make more money in England, so refused to re-sign for East Fife at the start of the 1950-51 season, holding-out for better terms, or a move, until, in December 1950, Blackpool paid £27,500, then the second-highest transfer fee in British football, and a record fee for a cross-Border transfer, to take him to Bloomfield Road.

He was to spend seven years with Blackpool, but the fact he played a mere 185 games in this period – scoring more than 70 goals – indicates how often his career was blighted by injuries. A knee injury at Huddersfield, just 10 days before the final, kept him out of the Seasiders’ 1951 FA Cup Final loss to Newcastle United, but even worse was to follow in 1953 when, in scoring a last-minute winner against Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-final, he broke his leg and thereby missed arguably the greatest of all Wembley showpieces, “the Matthews Cup Final” of that year, won 4-3 by Blackpool over Bolton Wanderers.

He sat out 11 Scottish internationals in a 23-month period before returning to the national side in April 1952, when he played in four successive games, against the US, Denmark and Sweden at the end of the 1951-52 season, plus the first game of the 1952-53 season, against Wales. During this game he scored the first Scottish goal in a 2-1 victory in Cardiff. But his injury jinx returned and kept him out of the next international, against Northern Ireland, less than three weeks later.

Then came the broken leg and, although he was back in action by the start of the 1953-54 season, he had to watch erstwhile East Fife inside-forward partner Charlie Fleming score twice in a 3-1 Belfast win over Northern Ireland, before Brown was recalled for the Hampden clash with Wales, marking his return with Scotland’s opening goal in a match which finished 3-3.

He was retained in the team which lost 4-2 to England at Hampden in April 1954, opening the scoring for Scotland, and was one of just four members of that XI to survive the usual cull which followed defeat by England.

Brown retained the number 10 jersey for two matches against Norway and one against Finland which were played between the end of the domestic season and the 1954 World Cup Final in Switzerland, and he was one of the 11 men who lost narrowly to Austria in Zurich, before that terrible 7-0 drubbing from world champions Uruguay in Basle rang down the curtain on Scotland’s first exposure to World Cup Final football.

That hammering was also Brown’s final cap, although his £8000 transfer to Luton Town in 1957 revived his career somewhat, and he was a contender for a place in the 1958 finals squad, without being able to force his way into the 22-man party who travelled to Sweden, as injuries again intervened and he had to drop out of the series of trial games arranged by the SFA.

He finally made it to Wembley with the Hatters in 1959 but, as at Hampden almost a decade earlier, he had to settle for a runners-up medal as Nottingham Forest won 2-1.

Brown moved on for a short spell with Portsmouth, before becoming player-manager of Wigan Athletic, then playing in the Cheshire League. With the Latics, he won four trophies in a season and guided them to a 52-match unbeaten run.

This persuaded former club Luton Town to appoint him manager, at a time when they had slumped to the foot of the Fourth Division. In two seasons he got them promoted as champions, but was sacked after applying for the vacant manager‘s post at Leicester City.

From Kenilworth Road he moved to Torquay, then Bury, before taking over from Dave Mackay at Nottingham Forest, where he discovered John Robertson, but was sacked and replaced by Brian Clough two years later. He returned to Lancashire to manage Southport, then returned to Blackpool as manager; but was sacked after a spectacular falling-out with the club chairman.

Brown then moved to Kuwait, but returned for a second spell as Blackpool manager, which was even more disastrous than his first. The club was relegated to the fourth division for the first time and he resigned in May 1982. It was his final managerial post.He remained in the Blackpool area in retirement, but his final years were blighted by Alzheimer’s and he had to enter a nursing home. He is survived by wife Colleen and their two daughters.

Allan Brown was the jewel in the crown of that great East Fife side and by no means out of place as one of 11 internationalists in the star-studded Blackpool ranks – he is rightly in both clubs’ Halls of Fame. He combined energy, power and a keen eye for goal with touches of artistry and the self-belief and strong will of the Fifer. Perhaps only his dreadful bad luck with injuries prevented him from being recognised as a truly great player, while an inability to suffer the foibles of directors handicapped his efforts as a manager.