Tackling dementia, depression and loneliness through the power of sport

Legendary Browns join Sporting Memories club in Scotland to share experiences of the beautiful game

By Jim Purvis

In July, our Blantyre club welcomed former Scotland manager Craig Brown to a special online session where he shared stories and memories from his 60-year association with the sport.

Craig’s connection with Sporting Memories began four years ago when Jim Purvis, Group Delivery and Practice Coordinator for our Scotland team, approached Craig at Hampden Park to speak to our Newmains club who were there for a stadium tour.

Craig spoke to the group warmly and was reminded of that conversation four years on by one of the members of the Blantyre club during the online session – which he remembered!

In another recollection, Craig was reminded of a former group member from our Bellshill club who was a Grade 1 referee in his younger days in Scotland.

When John, the group member, was about to retire from refereeing at that level, Craig in his role as manager of Clyde at the time, wrote him a personal letter to wish him well in his future endeavours and to thank him for his years of service to refereeing.

Craig was told during the session that John had kept the letter as one of his most cherished pieces of memorabilia from his time in football. This was a great example of Craig’s warmth and humanity which shone throughout the online session and memories that were shared.

As the session was coming towards a conclusion, Craig revealed one of his key values when it came to his successful management career – which was Trust.

He recalled the time he put midfielder Don Hutchinson up front for Scotland on the advice of his assistant Tommy Burns, following an earlier performance in a Scotland B international by the player. Hutchison was a midfielder to trade but Burns had employed him up front successfully and asked Craig to consider a striker’s role for him.

Based on his faith in Tommy’s judgement (and in face of press and media scepticism!) Brown did just that –and two of his first three internationals in that role produced winning goals for Don (and Scotland!) against Germany away and England at Wembley in 1999!

Jim, who joined Craig at the session with the Blantyre club, was delighted with how generous the former Preston North End, Motherwell and Aberdeen manager was - in giving so much of himself to the group.

“Craig is an absolute gentleman and he was very kind to give up so much of his time to share many of his inspirational stories.

“He was fun, humorous and very approachable with the group from Blantyre and I think that helped to make the session not only more enjoyable but give people that personal connection to him and the memories he was sharing from his career in football.

“I certainly hope Craig can join us again in the future and I think our members at Blantyre will remember the session for a long time into the future.”

Not to be outdone – just one-week later Craig’s younger brother Jock – known to Scottish football aficionados as the pre-eminent TV commentator of the 1980s and 90s - joined the Blantyre group in person at their regular Wednesday evening session.

The group were treated to a host of humorous, thought-provoking and interesting stories from his days in broadcasting and also some real “exclusive” inside stories from his time as General Manager of Celtic under Fergus McCann. The Celtic supporters in attendance were particularly delighted by those!

Again, the Brown warmth and humour was much in evidence for Jim – who enjoyed this evening as well!

Jim reflected: “We can’t thank Jock enough for so generously agreeing to visit us. It was another great night that the guys will always remember. Jock stayed and talked way over his allotted time and seemed to enjoy every minute. He was happy to answer every question put to him (even the awkward ones!) and I hope that we can maintain a connection with both brothers in the months and years ahead.

“If called upon I couldn’t really say who performed the better – so in writing to thank both Craig and Jock, I told them each that they were the best - but not to tell their sibling I had said so!”

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