Away From The Numbers



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Willie Brown. Not sent off yet.
Football needs characters. Whether it's skillful players with a lot of flair, or colourful players who can strike up a banter with the fans, football would be pretty dull without them.

Willie Brown was a player who fell into the latter category.

Willie's decision to leave East Fife at the end of 91/92 season for the then, over-ambitious Junior team Dundee St Josephs was probably the best thing to happen at that time for both East Fife and the player himself.

Willie Brown signed for East Fife near the end of the 88/89 season and was an instant hit with the fans, scoring one goal on his Fife debut against Albion Rovers in a 2-1 win at Cliftonhill. Molly went on to make 141 appearances for the Fife in his four and a bit season spell at Bayview, scoring 35 goals in the process.

Always a player who could score goals (as he proved with previous clubs St Johnstone and Forfar), Willie's main fault lay in his discipline. Okay, a bit of an understatement there!

There can't have been a referee in the country who didn't take his name at some point during his career. I wouldn't even like to guess the number of red cards, never mind yellow ones, that he received over the course of his career.

Yes, he was a hard tackler and a player who sometimes let his temper rule his head, but he also enjoyed a laugh, whether with his own fans or opposing ones.

Highlights from Willie during his time at Bayview included leaping over the advertising boards to square up to a couple of Cowden fans after sending a Cowden player crashing against the said boards; visually telling opposing fans what the score was when they asked; his sometimes brilliant over the top goal celebrations; and managing to go the whole of the 90/91 season without getting sent off, then managing to get himself red-carded in the last game of the season against Berwick.

The Fife fans loved him for most of his time at Bayview and he loved the adoration. Unfortunately, as became very much evident in his last season with the Fife, this tide of opinion was slowly starting to turn amongst the Bayview faithful, with poor performances in a poor side leading to Molly becoming the victim of a lot of verbal abuse, with Willie unfortunately responding by giving verbals back.

Willie's last game for the Fife saw him being announced over the P.A. as the "East Fife Mail" Player of the Year. The chorus of boos that followed ended with Willie flicking the V's to the Fife faithful and promptly getting booked and meriting a mention in "When Saturday Comes". That though was just pure Willie Brown - a showman to the end.

I prefer to remember Willie's good times at the Club. He was a good player when played in his proper position as an out and out striker, but his time at Bayview saw him played in the middle and even in the centre of defence. He always took time out to speak with the fans and he seemed to really enjoy that, a skill obviously put to good use in his other job as a bar manager. He was also a big fan of "AFTN", so a man of impeccable reading taste too! His love-hate relationship with the fans will be remembered for many things, but his main legacy was the piece of grafitti sprayed outside of old Bayview which simply read "Willie Brown Is God". I wouldn't go that far, but his presence was missed at Bayview and I don't think we've seen a character quite like him ever since.

Willie added to his legendary status in 2008 when he turned up at the East Fife All Time Greats dinner. He hadn't won. He hadn't been nominated. He hadn't even been given a free ticket. No, Willie bought the ticket himself to come along and pay tribute to his fellow players. Maybe he is god after all.