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Football Remembers: Bobby Brown's story

14 Aug 2020
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To mark 75th anniversary of VJ Day, hear from a former Scotland player and manager who shared memories of World War II with members of Man City's Academy

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, on 15 August, to mark the end of World War II, young players from Premier League Academies visited former footballers who served in the armed forces to learn about their lives and the sacrifices they made.

Bobby Brown

For former Scotland goalkeeper and manager Bobby, who sadly passed away in January this year aged 96, his fledgling football career was interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities with Germany.

“Overnight the country changed,” he said. “We were faced with the prospect that the Nazis could cross the channel at any time.

“Eight of us got together and we thought, at that time, that it would be fun to join up. We trained as pilots and I’ve never been so terrified in my life.”

Fallen friends

During the war Bobby played football for Queen’s Park in Scotland, while also featuring as a guest player for Portsmouth, Chester, Chelsea and Plymouth.

He was grateful when he was offered the chance to combine playing football with becoming a fitness instructor at the Royal Navy and Marine’s school in Portsmouth.

And his wartime matches paved the way for a 10-year playing career at Rangers, during which he represented Scotland and featured in an emotional 1-0 win over England in 1946.

“I think I was very fortunate being confined to the football and not being on the front line,” he said.

“At the end of the war, they decided to celebrate with Scotland playing England and this had a very marked effect on me.

“At the singing of the national anthem, my thoughts were very much with the friends that hadn’t come back.

“Only two of us came back, and there was I taking part in this football match. It made me think how lucky I was. I’ve had a full life.”

Beating the 'Auld Enemy'

Bobby later managed Scotland, and led his country to a famous 3-2 victory over the 'Auld Enemy' in April 1967, less than a year after England won the FIFA World Cup.

“England had just won the World Cup and people felt we had no chance,” he recalled. “I can’t describe the euphoria. It was a wonderful pick-me-up for the whole of Scotland.”

Get In Touch

The visits organised in partnership with Big Ideas are an inspiration and a tribute from the football family to all those - players and supporters - who served their country during World War II. Show your support by tweeting #FootballRemembers.

Football supporters can also join Academy players' activity to mark VJ Day 75 by folding an origami crane to be included in a commemorative wreath.

The wreath will be laid at the Children’s Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park.

For more information and details about where to post your crane go to the Big Ideas website

Football Remembers WWII is a partnership between Premier League's Education Department and Big Ideas, and pays tribute from the football family to all those - players and supporters - who served their country during World War II. The final set of films will be released in November.

See: Football Remembers WWII

Also in this series

Part 1: Football Remembers: Arthur House's story
Part 2: Football Remembers: Tony Collins' story
Part 3: Football Remembers: Josser Watling's story
Part 4: Football Remembers: Gordon Astall's story
Part 5: Football Remembers: Charles White's story
Part 6: Football Remembers: Charlie Chase's story

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