THE scoring chance that Scott Brown squandered shortly after taking to the field to make his debut in senior football as a makeshift striker gave onlookers an early indication that finishing might not be his forte.

But that miss, which came in a Hibernian league match against Aberdeen at Easter Road towards the end of the 2002/03 season, and that one weakness in his otherwise formidable armoury haven't prevented Brown from enjoying a lengthy and hugely successful career.

The central midfielder made his 700th appearance at club level in the 4-1 triumph over Ladbrokes Premiership strugglers Hamilton at New Douglas Park on Sunday afternoon – almost 17 years after he made his bow.


The combative, industrious, ball-winning player’s spells as a centre forward and then a winger, Brown recalled yesterday with a smile and a shake of his head, were both to prove somewhat short-lived.

“Garry O’Connor and Tam McManus both got injured,” he said. “Gary has done his hammy, Tam has done his calf. Deeks (Derek Riordan) and I both came on as strikers.

“I played the first game in that baggy, one size fits all, Le Coq Sportif strip. It was lovely! It fit Mixu Paatelainen and it fit me! You can imagine how skinny I was as a 17-year-old boy.


“I hit the bar with a header that game. I caused Russell Anderson all sorts of problems. I played Livvy and scored two goals in the next game. So I don’t know what happened there.

“But after that they realised I couldn’t hit the back of the net. After about 10 games they realised that I couldn’t play up front. I slowly got moved out wide. Then they realised that I couldn’t really cross the ball. I slowly got moved back. Then they realised positional sense was not my thing at 17.

“So they just said: ‘Aye, wee man, go and run about and tackle people’. That is what I did. I think that worked out for the best.

“It was a great opportunity to play at Hibs and I owe a lot of thanks to Bobby Williamson who gave me my first game and put together such a young team. It was good. I have fond memories of that time.

“It is a privileged position to have played 700. I didn’t actually know, but it is a great milestone ticked off. Hopefully I have a few seasons left. We will keep pushing it and see how far we can go. There is still a lot left in the tank.”


Brown, who will turn 35 in the summer, will need to draw on all of his renowned reserves of strength and stamina in the weeks ahead if Celtic are to achieve their objective of winning a ninth consecutive Scottish title and possibly even racking up a fourth straight domestic treble this term.

Games, in the Premiership, William Hill Scottish Cup and Europa League, are coming thick and fast for the Scottish champions. They have no fewer than eight in 26 days this month alone.

However, the skipper feels the winter break and Dubai training camp have both been beneficial to the Parkhead club – by recharging their batteries and allowing them to work on new systems – and will stand them in good stead.

“We worked on 3-5-2, we worked on 4-4-2 as well," he said. "Dubai is always good for us because it’s hard to get that full week’s training here when it seems like there’s a game every three days which means we can’t get full sessions. It’s hard to get the fluency into training which we can build into games.”


Brown is certainly determined to add to his haul of trophies this season and beyond. The man from Hill o’ Beath in Fife still has the exact same hunger and work ethic as he did when he was starting out at Hibs. But if his playing days ended tomorrow the Celtic captain would have no regrets.

“I don’t think I would change anything,” he said. “I had great times at Hibs and I made the right decision coming here. I’m glad I stayed here. I could have been rash and gone to England to a team that’s maybe fighting relegation or been really rash and gone to Australia to play in the last two or three seasons, seen the sun and improved my golf.

“You have to realise the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. For a few people who leave here there’s always going to be some who hit the highs, but I have ticked off everything I wanted.

“I enjoy the drive, the peace and quiet, coming out to training. I get to listen to my tunes. I don’t get to play them in the changing room any more. I’m devastated by that. They don’t appreciate Annie Lennox!”