Ten Of The Best
Nine In A Row defender John Brown shares his ten of the best.
THIS season we’ll be re-publishing a much loved programme feature where various former players and staff talk about some of their favourite experiences and tales from football in 10 of the Best.
Today, John ‘Bomber’ Brown remembers his stunning New Year’s Day strike against Celtic, watching Tom Forsyth win the Scottish Cup for Gers in 1973 and the moment he joined the Light Blues.
Best Forward I Faced
During my spell at Rangers I came up against so many great strikers but I think when we played in Europe that is when we really came up against the very best.
In the 1992/93 season we, of course, beat Leeds United to get through to the group stage and in their team they had Eric Cantona who was certainly one ofthe best forwards I faced.
Later that season we went up against Marseille and Rudi Voller was also top drawer so I would pick the two of them as my toughest opponents. Voller was coming to the end of his career but he was a seasoned pro and he caused defenders all sorts of problems with Alen Boksic alongside him who wasn’t bad either!
But even before Cantona went to Manchester United you could see the class he had and he formed a good partnership with Lee Chapman back then in that Leeds side. You could see that with even better players around him he would go on to greater things and he did that when he went to Old Trafford.
Best Defender I Played With
I was lucky to play alongside a lot of top class defenders such as Terry Butcher, Graham Roberts and Dave McPherson, boys like that.
But the best defender I played with was Richard Gough, mainly because we formed a strong partnership over a number of years during the successful nine in- a-row era.
Goughie was a great captain on the park and he led by example. He was really good on the ball and magnificent in the air. There were a lot of taller centre forwards than him but he had the power and athleticism to beat them for headers more often than not.
He also had that winning mentality all great Rangers players need to have.
Even in training he would give 100 per cent every day and he was a great role model for younger players. He lived his life the right way, he ate healthy food and made sure he got the right amount of rest in between games and training.
He was super fit but he was also a great communicator who could talk you through a game. It was a pleasure playing alongside someone like that.
Best Moment At Rangers
In terms of my best moment at Rangers, that’s a tough question to answer but I would have to say scoring against Celtic at Parkhead was the highlight of my career.
We won 3-1 in that New Year fixture in 1992 and getting my goal, our third that day, was something I’ll never forget.
My dad and my brother were both in the Rangers end so to run to the fans knowing they were in there somewhere jumping up and down and celebrating was very special.
But that game aside just winning Championships and cups with Rangers was great and it’s not until you look back on your career you realise how lucky you were to be in such a great side in such a successful period of the club’s history.
Best Career Decision I Made
The best career decision I made was signing for Rangers in 1988.
Graeme Souness was the manager with Walter his assistant and it was one of the best moments of my life because I went on to enjoy so great years at the club.
At that time there was a chance I could have went down south but as soon as Graeme gave me a call there was only one decision I was going to make. 18 months before that I had actually failed a medical at Hearts because my cartilages were out and they thought it would be too much of a risk.
So when I passed the medical at Rangers I remember Graeme came up to me and said ‘X-rays don’t matter, it’s what is in your chest that matters and if you have a big heart that’s good enough for me’.
After that I signed my first Rangers contract and it was magic.
Best Thing About 9IAR
The best thing about being part of the nine-in-arow era was the family atmosphere at the club.
Everybody was tight and we worked our backsides off for each other. If a couple of boys were not playing too well all the players got behind them and tried to help them recapture their form.
That came from the management because they were able to get the best from the players. Graeme and Walter and then Walter and Archie Knox knew what to say and do at the right times and all the players looked up to them.
Don’t get me wrong, if you stepped out of line or you weren’t pulling your weight you were quickly told but there was mutual respect there.
We had a togetherness that nobody could break and I think that was the key to our success and winning nine-in-a-row.
Best Memory From My Career
One of my best memories from my playing career was actually scoring a hat-trick against Rangers in November 1985 at Dens Park.
Coisty got Rangers’ goals on that occasion and Jock Wallace was the manager at the time so I remember thinking that by getting a few goals he might want to sign me.
That never materialised but it was a still a proud moment scoring three goals against a side that had the likes of Bobby Russell, Davie Cooper, Ted McMinn and Coisty in it.
I was playing in midfield back then and in the game we had Tosh McKinlay sent off when the score was nil-nil. For about 70 minutes we were down to ten men so that made the result even more special.
For a change I got the match ball at the final whistle and Coisty never!
Best Stadium I Played At
The best stadium I played in, or the one I enjoyed playing in aside from Ibrox, was Celtic Park.
That might sound strange coming from a former Rangers player but I loved running out at Parkhead in that red-hot atmosphere.
It was incredible seeing around 20,000 Rangers fans to your right and the rest of the ground in green and white. It created a real cauldron and there was no better feeling than coming away from that ground with a victory under your belt.
Thankfully, we won more than we lost there and every victory gave me so much satisfaction.
Best Advice For A Young Player
The best advice I could give a young player is to listen to their coaches and the experienced players around them.
On top of that they have to work exceptionally hard and put in extra hours to try to become the best players they can be. If you want to make it and succeed in football these days you have to make sacrifices.
During the nine-in-a-row era we enjoyed ourselves but when we got on to the training pitches or started to prepare for games we changed and focused on what we had to do.
We played hard but worked even harder and we would never have been as successful as we were had that not been the case. The extra hours you put in will always benefit you long term.
Best Childhood Memory
My best memory from my childhood is going to Hampden and seeing Tam Forsyth roll the ball over the goal line with his studs to beat Celtic 3-2 in the Scottish Cup final of 1973.
To be in with 120,000 fans is something you never forget, especially when you are only 11. A few years later in 1978/79 I also remember being at Ibrox when Rangers beat Juventus 2-0 to progress in the European Cup.
The Italians had nine internationalists in their team but goals from Alex MacDonald and Gordon Smith took the club through to the second round and I can still remember it like it was yesterday.
Being able to see the great players who won two Trebles in the 70s was special for a young lad and it certainly was for me. It gave me the desire and hunger to play for Rangers and I was fortunate to do that and win a lot of medals.
Back then I could never have imagined I would pull on that famous blue jersey but I did and I loved every second of it.
Best Goal For Rangers
I scored a few crackers back in my playing days and one of my best goals for Rangers was against Hearts in the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup, I think it was during the 1993/94 season.
I hit a 30 yarder that day but – and sorry if I am repeating myself here – my goal against Celtic in January 1992, that can’t be topped for me.
Even to this day I get fans coming up to me and asking what it felt like when the ball hit the net via the post.
That goal means so much to so many people and to score the goal which clinched a 3-1 victory on New Year’s Day is something I had always dreamed about. I have no idea why I celebrated by jumping the advertising boards and running in front of the Rangers fans but it was the best feeling ever.
MORE RANGERS FEATURE ARTICLES
TEN OF THE BEST:
THE TOP TEN:
TOP TEN: SAVES
TOP TEN: LAST MINUTE GOALS
TOP TEN: OVERHEAD KICKS
TOP TEN: SCOTTISH CUP GOALS
TOP TEN: EURO STRIKES
TOP TEN: MOST CAPPED GERS
TOP TEN: CHEEKY GOALS
TOP TEN: GOAL CELEBRATIONS
TOP TEN: FREE KICKS