Q&A with Stan Brown

Stan Brown. Credit: Fulham FC

Stan Brown, “the player’s player” as he is referred to such was his selflessness and ability to put the team before himself is the perfect addition to the Fulham Focus Q&A series. Sadly for health reasons Stan was unable to answer our questions himself but his son Darren has kindly offered to speak to our very own Daniel Smith (Dannyboi) to answer our questions as best he can. We wish Stan & his family the best in the future.

DS – Stan started as an apprentice at Fulham in the mid-late 1950s. Did he ever talk about this part of his career, cleaning first team players boots etc and how he was treated in general at this age?

DB – I think Dad joined the ground staff in 1957, he would have been 16. He always spoke fondly of these times. He was happy to clean the numerous pairs of boots; it was an indoor job which he preferred to sweep the terraces! He took special pride in getting Johnny’s boots gleaming. His one criticism of Johnny’s statue was that his boots weren’t pristine! He said that the players used to take the mickey out of the apprentices but that it was all in good fun. He lived in digs in Weiss Road just over the Putney Bridge at this time.

DS – Did he ever explain how he got the opportunity to become an apprentice and his journey progressing to the first team. Did he break through quickly?

DB – I’m not 100% sure on this. He was captain of Sussex schoolboys and I’ve heard that he was scouted while playing. Another version is that a Lewes man Mr West recommended him to the club and that resulted in a trial. I’ve also heard that Jim Langley was involved somehow? He got his chance in the team in 1961 when Johnny Haynes was injured. His debut didn’t go well though, Fulham lost 6v1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday! It was not until the 1962/63 season that he got his next chance but from then on he was pretty much a fixture in the team.

DS – I’ve heard many stories that Johnny Haynes was a perfectionist, which caused a few heated ruckus in training with team mates. Did your Dad ever talk about his relationship with the maestro and were there any times Stan was on the end of a moan?

DB – The stories are true but Dad never had any problems with Johnny. I think Johnny appreciated Dad’s wholehearted commitment to his team mates. He recognised that Dad always gave 100% He was less forgiving with some of the others!

DS – Obviously making his debut must have been a proud moment, taking this game aside was there a particular game that he spoke of very fondly as his favourite

DB – Yes, I definitely know the answer to this one. It was when he scored the only goal when Fulham beat Everton who were unbeaten at the time and went on to win the league that year. It was Dad’s first goal.

DS – Who did he regard as the best manager he played for and or who was the hardest to please?

DB – I’m not sure who Dad would regard as the best manager. I know that he liked Beddy and Bill Dodgin. He said that he found Vic Buckingham a bit ‘odd’ at times. Bobby Robson wasn’t in charge long. Wasn’t too keen on Alec Stock as he transfer listed him! Dad spoke very highly of Dave Sexton who was brought in as a coach in the season we miraculously escaped relegation. He said Sexton played a big part in this.

DS – Your Dad is known as the players’ player because he was the ultimate team player. He wasn’t a big time Charlie, just an honest pro who gave his very best in every game he played and that’s why he’s so popular with the fans. But did a part of your Dad regret not leaving Fulham earlier for a new challenge? Maybe somewhere he would get more recognition and possibly a few caps for England or was he happy how his career panned out?

DB – No, he never regretted not leaving Fulham. He loved Fulham and never wanted to leave. Yes, overall he was very happy with the career he had.

DS – What team and or player did Stan hate playing against and why?

DB – I wouldn’t say that Dad hated playing against any particular team or player. He did tell a good story about Jimmy Greaves though. He had been given the job of man marking Greaves and told that he must follow him everywhere even if it meant going to the toilet with him. [I’ve toned the language down there!] Dad took on this role enthusiastically and Greaves didn’t get a kick for most of the game. Then for a split second he had to leave Greaves to stop another player from bearing down on goal. In that moment the ball was slipped to Greaves and of course he scored! Dad was gutted… He hadn’t given Greaves a kick but he still got the headlines the next morning!

DS – Did Stan ever say how the team reacted to the sudden sale of Alan Mullery?

DB – Not specifically but I know Dad would have been very disappointed as he rated Mullery very highly. His best Fulham midfield three was Haynes/ Mullery/ Brown!

DS – One of our members is interested to know what Stan made of Malcolm MacDonald in his short career with us. Did he ever talk about him as being a big talent

DB – Again not specifically that I can recall but I know Dad recognised his talent. Said he was a tough nut too! I know that the striker that Dad rated most highly was Allan Clarke.

DS – When the time came for Stan to leave Fulham on loan to Brighton and then sign for Colchester how hard was it to say goodbye to the club? And why did he leave?

DB – It was incredibly hard for Dad to say goodbye to Fulham. He didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t his choice, he was transfer listed. He didn’t enjoy his loan spell at Brighton; he just wanted to play for Fulham.

DS – Who was the most skilful/player he played with and against?

DB – This one I do know, the most skilful player he played with was Rodney Marsh. Most skilful player he played against was either George Best or maybe Eusebio.

DS – Who was the best team he faced?

DB – Difficult to say but the Everton side that Dad scored the winner against were brilliant at that time and then there was the Man Utd side with Best, Charlton and Law …..

DS – Other than the Maestro, who did he think was the best player he played with at Fulham?

DB – Johnny Haynes was the man for sure but other than him it would be George and Alan Mullery.

DS – Which players was he closest to and why?

DB – I think Freddie Callaghan, Jimmy Conway and Steve Earle too. Dad lived in Burgess Hill and travelled back after games so didn’t do a lot of London socialising! He always described Fulham as a big happy family.

DS – Stan played in every position possible during his career? He must have had a favourite though?

DB – His preference was midfield so that he was in the thick of the action. He was happy to play in any position though as long as he was in that team!

DS – Did he keep in touch with any players and is there anyone he’s still in contact with?

DB – He would see Freddie when we came up to the Cottage for games and he also saw George, Les Barrett and Alan Mulley on similar visits. He had a long chat on the phone with Tony Macedo a while back as well.

DS – What was his mood like when he was at home after Fulham had lost a game?

DB – Mum says that Dad tended to take everything in his stride so didn’t get too dejected after losing. Obviously, happier after a win though!

DS – Did Stan always support Fulham or are your family all supporters because of his time here as a player?

DB – Dad supported Fulham because Johnny Haynes was his favourite player. I and my two boys support Fulham because of Dad.

DS – Did you ever get to see your Dad play for Fulham?

DB – Not 100% sure on this, I’d like to think so but Mum can’t remember me going to a game. I was born in 1967 so I was only 5 years old when Dad finished playing for Fulham. I watched him every week when he dropped down to play in non league football.

DS – What was his favourite goal that he scored?

DB – Definitely the Everton winner. It was his first and got him on the back pages of all the newspapers! There was also a headed goal in the FA Cup against West Brom that he enjoyed. (Out jumped a giant centre back he said!) Plus he also enjoyed scoring goals against Chelsea and Gordon Banks.

DS – Thank you for giving us your time Darren. We wish your Dad the very best. It’s not often I will get this opportunity to ask questions about such a popular player from that era and I’m very grateful for all your help.

Mr. Stan Brown, Fulham Legend