Everyone at Nairn County Football Club has been saddened to learn of the passing of our championship-winning winger, former Chairman and Team of the Century member, Stan Brown.
Secretary and Vice-Chairman Ian Finlayson said on behalf of the club:
“Stan’s status as a Nairn County legend is without question.
“He played a massive part in our only championship-winning season to date and returned in the 90s to play a huge role in saving the club from financial ruin.
“Without the contribution of Stan, there would not be a Nairn County Football Club today. He is held in the highest esteem, not only for his footballing exploits but as Chair of the club through a very trying period. His memory will be a blessing and inspiration to everyone at Station Park.”
Stan Brown debuted for Nairn County while still a schoolboy during the 1969/70 season under the tutelage of coach Eric Geddes.
He began to establish himself as a regular in the team two seasons later, when a strike on the opening day against Clachnacuddin contributed to a 3-0 home win on Saturday August 14th.
Later that season, Stan was a part of the team which played out a goalless North of Scotland Cup final with Ross County at Telford Street before featuring in the replay where we were edged out by two goals to one in extra time.
In season 1974/75 following the arrival of Innes MacDonald as manager and George Welsh as assistant, the building of a team with championship-winning potential started to take shape and Stan was front and centre.
He scored in a 4-2 win away at Peterhead on October 12th 1974 to send us to the top of the league table before finding the target in a 4-0 win over Inverness Thistle in the North of Scotland Cup on February 26th 1975.
We eventually finished that season in sixth place but momentum was growing and the ultimate prize was to arrive at the end of the 1975/76 campaign.
Brown was on target as reigning champions Clachnacuddin were defeated 2-0 in just the second game of the season as Nairn set down a marker for the rest of the campaign.
He then played his part in the slaying of another Inverness club as Caledonian were defeated 5-3 on October 18th with Brown in among the goals again.
The revived Inverness Cup saw Nairn meet Clachnacuddin in the semi-finals on November 18th and Brown scored from the penalty spot in a 2-0 win.
And in the final against Inverness Thistle at Telford Street, Brown put County ahead although the Jags ran out 3-2 winners in extra time.
County bounced back on league business though as we won the top-of-the-table clash at Fraserburgh as 1975 reached its conclusion with Brown among the goals in a 4-0 success which took Nairn to the summit with a one-point advantage and two games in hand.
Stan was also on target in the 3-0 win over Forres Mechanics as 1976 started on the front foot but the championship, of course, went down to a nail-biting finale with a playoff against Fraserburgh on May 18th 1976 after the two clubs finished tied on points at the top.
Brown continued his significant contribution to our success that season as his cross was headed home by Alex Gordon for the opening goal and although Fraserburgh were to equalise, Stan was again involved in the winner as he teed up Peter Robertson to grab the extra time goal which took the championship crown to Nairn for the first and so far, only, time.
Reflecting in 2014 on that league-winning season, Stan said:
“It was not just the play-off which was memorable about that season. We beat Caley 6-1 and Ross County 5-1 both at home and won 5-1 at Elgin as well. In the Elgin game, we were 5-0 up and coasting and even though the game was over as a contest when they scored, we felt it was a foul on our goalkeeper, Richard Konczak in the lead up to the goal and we were gutted about it!”
The following season, we travelled by air to Wick for a Qualifying Cup tie on September 18th 1976 and Brown was on target in a 4-1 success.
We went 2-0 down at Fraserburgh in a league match later that season but battled back to 2-2 before Brown grabbed a dramatic winner.
The team then reached the final of the 1977 Inverness Cup and Brown’s cross found Brian Derby, who headed in the opener to give us the lead over Clachnacuddin at Kingsmills on March 16th.
We went on to lift the trophy with a 3-1 victory giving Stan the second winners’ medal of his County career. Stan retired at the end of the 1978/79 season aged 26 to concentrate on his business commitments at the Westerlea Hotel.
He did return to the club soon after though and was able to play as an overaged player in the youth team, where he also lifted a league championship.
When those successes at Station Park are added to his 1982 league championship medal with Nairn St Ninian and his league winners’ medal from his time as a cricketer with Nairn County Cricket Club, it cements Stan’s status as one of Nairn’s all-time sporting greats.
His love affair with Nairn County was far from over though and when the club was struggling with financial troubles in 1995 and needed someone with the appropriate business acumen coupled with a love for the club who could rally the community, there only really was one man for the job.
Stan was appointed Chairman and was the figurehead of a campaign which saved the club from liquidation before standing down two years later. Stan’s contribution to the club was recognised by the fans and public of Nairn as he was voted into the Team of the Century in 2014.
Looking back on his playing career, Stan said in 2014:
“I would have paid to play for Nairn County under Innes and George. When I was approached to sign, I told Innes that I did not want any wages. They both made sure it was fun and although it was hard work, it definitely was fun.”
Everyone at Nairn County Football Club extends their condolences to Stan Brown’s family and friends at this sad time.