Scott Brown: The Demon Midfielder of Scottish Football

Attend the tale of Scott Brown. His skin is pale and his eyes are steely. He is Celtic’s midfield enforcer and his opponents are never thereafter heard of again. He trod a path that few have trod, Did Scott Brown, The Demon Midfielder of Scottish Football.

Following Sunday’s 2-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox, Celtic captain Scott Brown was targeted with abuse from a Rangers fan as he was boarding the team bus. Now Police have arrested and charged the 15-year-old culprit following a video going viral on social media of the incident, with the perpetrator mocking Brown over the death of his sister at the age of 21 after losing her battle with skin cancer.

According to Police Scotland’s Greater Glasgow Division, the boy has been charged and referred to the Early and Effective Interventions Co-ordinator.

This follows on from Rangers officials announcing that an individual would be ‘banned for life from Ibrox’ as a result.

But how did we get to a point in Scottish society - let alone Scottish Football - where someone’s dead sister is used as a tool to attack someone with?

The Demon Rises

The 34-year-old midfielder kicked off his senior playing career at the end of season 2002-03 at Edinburgh club Hibernian. In the four games he played at the tail end of that season, he scored three times. And the following season he would become an integral part of the Leith side until his transfer to Celtic in May 2007.

But it could have been so different for Brown if he had decided to team up with his former Hibernian teammate Kevin Thomson - who signed for Rangers in January 2007. He also had the chance to sign for the-then English Premier League side Reading, but rejected the move as he didn’t want to sign for a club that would be battling relegation.

Brown’s decision to reject Reading signalled to many that a move to Rangers would be on the cards that summer, leading to fans of the Ibrox club mocking Hibs fans at Easter Road that they were going to ‘take’ Scott Brown.

Brown instead signed for Gordon Strachan’s Celtic side that summer for £4.4 million, the highest transfer fee that was paid between two Scottish clubs. He has went on to make 533 appearances for Celtic scoring 40 goals. He has won eight Scottish championships, five Scottish Cups, and five League Cups.

He has captained Celtic to eight titles in a row since 2011-12 and the treble treble. If that was not enough, he has made more European appearances for Celtic than any other player and won 55 caps for Scotland.

As we all know Brown loves to get stuck into games. When he first signed for Celtic he was a bit reckless and immature - leading to a number of red cards. He subsequently reined his recklessness as his style of played evolved and he reinvented himself as a defensive midfielder.

Despite his advancing years and being close to retiring as a professional footballer, Brown is still at the top of his game. His desire, his will to win, his courage and determination in the heart of Celtic’s midfield has been the difference between winning games and losing games over the years under successive managers.

And it is this style of play that knocks opposition players and fans’ noses out of joint. Maybe there’s a hint of jealousy at the success he has attained, maybe it is the fact that they wish he was playing for them or just the fact they don’t like Brown getting it right up them. Either way, if Scott Brown has riled you up - that is one part of his job already done.

For Aberdeen players and fans, he is a bit of a panto villain. But for Rangers, he is seen much more than that, he is seen as the anti-christ. A demon, a devil. Someone they detest with a passion. There is a deep rooted hatred for Brown among many of the Rangers supporters that can be traced all the way back to May 2007 when he rejected the Ibrox club and signed for Celtic.

From his famous Broony celebration in front of El-Hadji Diouf at Ibrox in 2011 when he scored an equaliser to his decision not to curb his playing style against Hearts youngster Harry Cochrane - leading to Craig Levein to spit the dummy after the youngster picked up an injury. Claiming that opposition players - particularly younger players needed greater protection from referees when facing Brown. And then there was the famous incident at Pittodrie when Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove was sent off for a late tackle on Brown, before Shay Logan booted the ball at the grounded Celtic skipper. Only for Brown to jump to his feet, laughing and strutting around showing how easy it was to brush the challenge off.

He was then targeted by Ross County’s Andrew Davies near the end of the season, when he stamped on Scott Brown’s groin. Resulting in a red card for Davies. Before a similar incident occurred when former Kilmarnock and Rangers striker Steven Naismith - now at Hearts - stamped on Brown in the groin also but this time the referee took no action and it was left to the Scottish FA to ban the striker.

Last season, Brown had to drag Celtic over the finishing line to win a historic treble treble. He wasn’t at his best at times on the field of play from a footballing sense - along with many of the Celtic players - but he was still a master antagonist and knew exactly how to rile the opposition up.

None more so than when playing against Rangers in March 2019.

The game at Celtic Park was action-packed to say the least as Celtic ran out 2-1 winners and effectively handed Celtic the title as they moved 13 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership.

But the game will forever be remembered for three incidents in the game involving Scott Brown. First, he was elbowed by Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos after he had cheekily clipped the Colombian’s heel - which led to his dismissal. Morelos’ fifth red card of the season.

He was then punched by on-loan Liverpool midfielder Ryan Kent after Brown had picked up the ball and put it behind his back before dropping it as Kent approached him trying to gain possession of it. Despite looking straight at the incident, referee Bobby Madden failed to issue a booking. Kent was subsequently banned by the Scottish FA.

And the final incident happened after the full time whistle as Brown and the other Celtic players were celebrating the win - with Andy Halliday angrily confronting the Celtic captain over his celebrations. Resulting in a second bookable offence for the Rangers player.

Three Rangers players, three Red Card offences, one Scott Brown. And despite claims to the contrary by bitter pundits, red top mouthpieces and a laughable Scottish FA charge following on from it - Brown did nothing wrong.

And manager Neil Lennon subsequently defended his captain, “Scott Brown has nothing to defend himself for,. I think that his treatment on the pitch was nothing short of disgraceful.

"He's been elbowed, he's been hit in the face. But he takes it, he stands up to it and comes back for more. And that's the character of the man.

"So you get the usual nonsense and trying to put the same eggs in one basket. We're totally exempt from any blame from this whatsoever."

Fuel to the fire

This seemed to pour fuel onto the fire of those who hated Brown with a passion. Pundits, journalists and even some managers - including Rangers’ Steven Gerrard - all took aim at the Celtic captain.

It was claimed by some journalists that Brown wasn’t worthy of being Celtic captain, that he sullied the armband that he wore and mudded the legacy of his predecessors - some even name dropping the likes of Jock Stein, Billy McNeill and Paul McStay as if to make their claims more credible.

He was labelled an agent provocateur and the likes of Vinnie Jones, Ian Holloway and Steven Gerrard all said in the press that they would have ‘smashed him’, ‘knocked him out’ and ‘gone for Scott Brown myself’ respectively.

These three openly condoned violence against Scott Brown just two years on from a Rangers fan invading the pitch and trying to attack the Celtic captain at Ibrox.

Brown is treated differently to the majority of footballers in this country and beyond. He isn’t allowed to celebrate his team scoring a goal. He isn’t allowed to celebrate his team winning a game or the league or a historic treble treble. He isn’t supposed to noise up the opposition players or fans in case the latter trample over their own disabled fans to try to attack him.

And just like his manager, Neil Lennon, some have even claimed Brown brings it on himself.

This latest incident of targeting Brown over his sister’s death is not new. Ever since she died in 2008, he has been subjected to vile chants and comments about it. Be it on social media, on the street or in and around football stadiums.

And while it is heartening to see so many Rangers fans now coming out and condemning the wee fanny who abused Brown on Sunday - forgive me for saying that it is ‘too little too late’.

This is the same support that sing about the ‘Lisbon Lions not seeing ten in a row’. The same support that sing the racist ‘Famine Song’. The same support that has been on the wrong end of two recent UEFA charges for singing the sectarian ‘Billy Boys’ song about being up to their knees in fenian blood. The same support that use child abuse as a tool to attack Celtic with - all the while ignoring and refusing to believe it happened at their club despite more and more claims coming to the fore. This is the same support that has systematically targeted Brown’s manager - Neil Lennon - since he signed for Celtic as a player back in December 2000.

Forgive me for taking much of what they say with a pinch of salt.

And just like Neil Lennon, Brown has been subjected to some vile and down right disgraceful reporting over the years by the Scottish mainstream media. As they help to fuel the fires of those who openly abuse and target the likes of Brown and others.

It is this irresponsible reporting that helped fuel those who attacked Neil Lennon on the streets of Glasgow, who attacked Neil Lennon on the touchline at Tynecastle and helped fuel those who sent bullets and bombs to Lennon and other prominent Celtic players and supporters.

Yet they act all innocent and deflect the blame away to the perpetrators of said crimes rather than realising the responsibility they have to not only their industry as journalists, but also to society as a whole. Their irresponsible reporting and clickbait mentality could go too far one day.

But will they care though? After all no one challenged Holloway, Jones or Gerrard over their comments? They never challenged the aggressive actions of the Rangers support in May 2019 when they trampled over their own disabled fans to try to attack Brown - they simply painted Brown as the sole perpetrator and someone that deserved to be attacked and ‘knocked out’.

But what do you expect from our media when they did likewise with Neil Lennon in his playing and his first stint as manager of Celtic. He was the media’s villain before Scott Brown was. He was painted as the snarly, aggressive, midfield thug. Pundits and journalists lined up week in week out to blame Lennon for being attacked on the streets of Glasgow. They claimed he brought it on himself with his on field antics and comments. They claimed that he shouldn’t go about with his normal every day life because of who he is incase he is attacked on the streets. That he shouldn’t be out having a drink or two with friends after a derby match in the wake of being attacked by two Rangers fans. And one pundit - Derek Johnstone - went as far as to condemn Neil Lennon for defending himself when attacked on the touchline at Tynecastle by a Hearts fan.

And in regards to their coverage of Sunday’s incident - before the video footage was made public - the newspapers claimed that Brown got into an angry confrontation with Rangers fans, twisting the incident into something which involved Brown getting into trouble and clashing with Rangers fans. That was the way they painted the incident UNTIL the video hit social media and their tune changed to one of supporting Brown and condemning the Rangers fan.

We even had a Rangers blogger, Jamie Currie, employed by the Daily Record claim that a Rangers podcaster made a ‘good point’ - when the guy delved into the world of whataboutery when he said: “Fan who abused Brown already caught and banned. Any update on the guy who threw the lighter at Ricksen?”

An incident that happened in 2005, 14 years ago and has no relevance whatsover to Sunday’s sickening incident. Currie deleted the tweet soon after but it just goes to show the mindset that remains within the Rangers support and also calls into question who the media hire to cover our game.

So forgive me if I take what the media in this country say with a pinch of salt. Because once Scott Brown moves on from Celtic or retires as a player. They will find a new villain to target and going by recent experiences it will be another Celtic player and captain.

In the aftermath of that shameful incident on Sunday, Scott Brown was still happy to pose with fans for photographs - young Rangers fans - as he has always done during his years as a player at Celtic and with Scotland. Even then despite smiling away for the photos, you can quite clearly see the mental anguish that Brown had just suffered over the incident.

Getting on that team bus after Sunday’s match, Brown should have been elated at making the bookies, pundits and the opposition eat their words. Brown should have been celebrating a good win for his team ahead of the international break. Brown shouldn’t have been subjected to the vile and hate-filled bile from a Rangers fan - because his team lost.

Brown’s sister was taken cruelly away from her friends and family at a very young age. He has lived for 11 years with the cruel fate that his sister was dealt. He doesn’t need some jumped up wee fanny hurting at losing at a game of football using her death, using her memory to attack Brown with.

Brown’s restraint at the incident was huge, even with the Police in attendance. In his younger days, he would have probably leaped into the crowd of Rangers fans to get at the scumbag, but he bit his tongue and stared steely eyed in disbelief and in disgust instead of battering three shades of shit out of the wee wank.

It was his restraint that saw Brown eventually painted as the villain, because if he had reacted like everyone else would have, he would have been painted as the villain of the story. He would have been condemned, criticised, and potentially punished by the authorities over the incident.

But Brown made sure that the real villain of this story was outed and that no one in the media, Scottish football or the authorities could hint at him being to blame for anything that occurred in the aftermath of Sunday’s derby win.

That is the real sign of a captain, a leader and a legend.

OpinionAndy MuirheadComment