WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S football family would like to pass on many congratulations to Football Hall of Fame WA inductee Bob Brown, who will celebrate the magnificent milestone of his 90th birthday on August 9.
To mark the occasion, Football Hall of Fame Committee chairman Louis Prospero made a special presentation of a framed Certificate of Appreciation to Bob.
The Certificate read, in part: “In recognition of Bob Brown’s outstanding service of over 60 years to football in WA – and of his continued commitment to support the history of the game in Western Australia.”
Prospero said when making the presentation: “Bob has made a wonderful contribution to football in this State over many decades, and in many roles. Also, his work as an inaugural member of the Hall of Fame Committee was invaluable. So, on behalf of the Committee and all inductees of the Football Hall of Fame WA, we are delighted to mark this special milestone with this award – and wish him a very happy birthday.”
Former World Cup referee Eddie Lennie was also on hand to offer his congratulations to the milestone man.
Bob. who was born in Scotland in 1930 and emigrated to Western Australia in 1958, was involved in the game in many capacities – as a player, club secretary, referee, coach, major sponsor, administration board member and State team manager. He was also a member of the original Hall of Fame Committee, which was set up in 1996 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the official foundation of football in this State by honouring the greats of the game in WA.
He stepped down from an active role in the organisation five years ago – but still maintains a commitment to the aims and ambitions of what was Australia’s first Football Hall of Fame.
Bob’s contribution to the game was officially acknowledged when he was inducted into the Hall of Recognition at a lavish Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Crown Casino in 2016 when former Perth Glory coach Bernd Stange and SBS’s football commentator and analyst, the late Les Murray, were present to pass on their congratulations.
In a wonderful lifetime in football, Dumfries-born Bob moved with his family to Carlisle when he was 12 and then to London, where he became involved with Crystal Palace as an amateur in 1947. He seriously injured a knee while playing for Palace, but still managed to turn out a few times for the forces team when he was in the RAF.
He came to Australia in 1958 and initially joined up with North Perth, who were the the big team in WA at the time. He moved on to Perth City, playing several times before the old injury flared again. That was when he became Perth City’s secretary in 1961.
Along with Frank Schaper and John Birighitti, he helped establish the coaches association in the mid-1960s. He joined Bayswater United, the forerunner to Bayswater Inter, as a coach in 1969. He was also an independent member of the Soccer Federation of WA’s management board.
Bob was also involved in youth team coaching, so it was a natural progression when he was asked to sponsor the junior game through his sporting goods business Sports Forum, which was the first store of its kind to be set up in the centre of Perth.
At the time Bob’s shop was unique in Australia and, through his network of contacts in the United Kingdom, he managed to be a major supplier of football equipment to shops in New Zealand, Fiji and the Cocos Islands.
Many famous football personalities graced Sports Forum on visits to Perth, including Trevor Brooking and Jimmy Case, and Bob also became friendly with former Manchester City manager Joe Mercer. He also met Pele through his business links, and struck up a brief friendship with England great Tom Finney.
He was the major sponsor of Junior Country Week for many years, and he was appointed team manager of the WA State senior side at an exciting time in the mid-1960s.
He was team manager when WA took on the mighty AS Roma in the first international football game to be played at Perry Lakes Stadium in 1966, and filled the same role when Manchester United came to Perth in 1967 for a challenge game at the WACA Ground. “What an occasion,” recalled Bob. “United’s team included George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. They whipped us 7-0, but it was still a game to treasure.”
When WA accepted an invitation to become the first Australian team to compete in Asia in the prestigious Merdeka Cup tournament in Kuala Lumpur in 1967, Bob was there as team manager.
Football West formally acknowledged Bob’s contribution to the game when he was made a Life Member of the organisation in 2017.
BOB’S PICTURE GALLERY: Louis Prospero presents Certificate of Appreciation; Eddie Lennie’s congratulations; Receiving Hall of Fame induction award from Hall of Legend Sandra Brentnall; with Trevor Brooking at Sports Forum; Pele and company; with Joe Mercer; Man United’s Francis Burns makes a presentation; Bob as team manager with the WA side that played Man United.