Bobby Brown (1931 – 2019)

It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of one of Workington’s all-time greats, Bobby Brown.

The former skipper, who played for Reds over twelve seasons during the fifties and sixties, died last Wednesday. He was 87.

Bobby – back row, extreme left

Robert Brown was born in Motherwell in 1931and started his senior football career with his hometown club. He signed for then Reds’ manager, Norman Low, in 1956, and, over the next eleven years, became Mr Reliable in a Workington team he would skipper to promotion in 1964.

Taking the field against Manchester United

After playing in just two reserve team games, Bobby made his Football League debut on 3 September, 1956 helping Reds to a 2-0 win at Hull City. Comfortable in both full-back roles, he wore the number 2 and 3 shirts for six seasons before completing a distinguished career as an accomplished centre half.

He played in the first game under floodlights at Borough Park, was a member of the Reds team who ran Manchester United close in the Third Round of the FA Cup, lined up against Chelsea in the club’s first ever League Cup tie, emerged as a key performer in the giant-killing League Cup runs of ’63-64 and 64-65, missed very few games (the famous 5-1 victory at Blackburn Rovers a notable exception), was twice an ever-present and became the first name on the team sheet under some of the club’s finest managers – Messrs Harvey, Furphy and Burkinshaw. Bobby also had a spell as player-coach in the mid-sixties.

Bobby turned out for the final time just a few weeks before his 36th birthday ending a fine association with Reds which saw him play 419 Football League games (plus a further 2 as a substitute) for the club. In addition, he turned out in 26 League Cup ties (two of which in the quarter finals), 25 FA Cup ties and a further couple of dozen matches of a non-competitive nature.

Goals were few and far between (just two, I think) but the number of scoring opportunities prevented at the other end of the pitch could never be calculated.

From his retirement in 1967 until Kyle May surpassed his number of appearances three years ago, Bobby was Workington’s record appearance holder.

Bobby Brown and Kyle May

He watched his elder son, Bobby junior, play for Reds over five seasons in the Football and Northern Premier leagues.

And for many years he was a regular on the Borough Park terraces accompanying younger son John to all Reds home games.

Bobby, senior, was last at Borough Park a couple of months ago, thanks to the staff of the Workington care home where he resided, but he wasn’t able to attend the Legends Day in May.

That was a pity because Bobby was the one player who deserved that legendary status we bestow all too easily on our heroes.

Widowed a few years ago, Bobby is survived by sons Robert and John and daughter Bet, to whom we send our condolences.

The funeral will be held early next month in Workington.

Comments (2)

  1. Chelski1957

    Thanks Paul,
    Workington Reds was not only dads love but his life. As all reds fans will know , the feeling and anticipation on a match day and the buzz of a good result would put a smile on our faces. Going to the Reds was his fix. But sadly for dad due to his illness, he could not understand what the game was all about. Match days for me are not the same without dad, but like other reds fans we still go down and support our team. Dad would have loved you’re tribute, as our family have.
    Thank you.
    John Brown

    • Paul Armstrong
      Paul Armstrong

      My daughter looked after him at Amathea.
      I occasionally took lunch up for her when she forgot hers and she would tell your dad I was coming and we would chat about the Reds and football. Lovely larl fella, was her description of him.

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