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25th Jun 2019

Happy birthday Scott Brown, football’s greatest showman

Kyle Picknell


Scott Brown wasn’t born in the way that human beings are born. Instead, he simply erupted out of the ground, his gleaming, bald head suddenly emerging from the neolithic turf surrounding Dunfermline Abbey like an alien out of John Hurt’s chest, quickly followed by the body of a fully grown man covered in soil. Rumour has it there was an old couple that witnessed the momentous occasion, sat aghast on a nearby bench tucking into a chicken sandwich. Rumour has it Scott Brown stood fully erect out of the dirt, patted himself down, and told them “tae mind their fucking business”.

Scott Brown was never a child, a little Scotty Brown sprinting around the gravel playground two-footing hapless old dinner ladies. Scott Brown was never an awkward teenager, leant against the bar in his dad’s boot cuts and sheuxs drinking a treble vodka Irn Bru. Scott Brown will never be an old man, either, sat on his porch in a rocking chair, whisky on the rocks, reminiscing fondly about all the times he had things – boots, balls, fists – aimed at his crotch.

Scott Brown: a living, breathing advertisement for the cricket box

He has and always will be this: a fully-formed force of pure destruction, Scottish Premiership centre midfielder. The quintessential Scottish Premiership centre midfielder. A Scottish Premiership centre midfielder who, if anything, has distorted what people even perceive Scottish football to be – maybe even Scottishness itself – through the sheer, irradiating force of his personality.

A personality that, were you to compare it to anything else in the known universe, most resembles a hungry grizzly bear that has been injected with bull shark testosterone and let loose in an American shopping mall. Possibly after being shot there out of a cannon.

He is joy and chaos and tranquility and fury all bottled up together like Mentos and Coke. He is Scott Brown. All you need to do is give him a wee shake, attach your safety goggles and get the fuck back.

The green and white light show is coming.

Scott Brown making friends

It is difficult to pick a favourite Scott Brown moment. He has given us so many of the years, treating every single game he plays – whether at home to St Mirren or away at Ibrox – the same way an abstract expressionist painter treats a blank canvas. He just wants to impose himself on it, subject it to his own overflowing, unstoppable Broon-ness. He wants to cover it in loads of fucking paint, which might be his own blood, you’re not sure, nail it to a wall and sell it for millions.

He wants to bang a left foot screamer into top bins against Rangers, stand in front of El-Hadji Diouf and stick his arms out like Jesus on the cross, dying for our sins.

He wants to get absolutely clattered by Aberdeen’s Sam Cosgrove and get the ball smashed into his head whilst he is down, just so he can jump up, tense his muscles, roar, and then strut away from the incident as though he was walking out of a day spa after a really invigorating back and scalp massage.

He wants to win the ball with a crunching tackle, attract an even more aggressive tackle from Mihael Kovacevic and then sarcastically cheer it, pump his arms and say “Well done, mate. Fucking brilliant that. Top stuff” to instigate the big Swiss defender’s squaring up to him, therefore earning a yellow card, whilst Brown himself gets off scot-free.

He wants to score a late deflected winner against Killie, jump on the advertising boards and conduct the limbs like a skinhead, Fife Mozart.

He wants to antagonise a Rangers player – Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos, whoever – during the Old Firm Derby to the extent that they literally have no choice but to lash out, to which he then wants to react by simply laughing at them, smiling and really energetically chewing his gum as if to say: “You silly fucking boy. That’s you gone. Can’t believe you fell for that.”

He wants to walk around St Petersburg in -11 degrees with a t-shirt on. He is deep-fried, Scott Brown. A concept as stupid as ‘the weather – the bitter, bone-deep cold’ just doesn’t exist for him if he chooses to ignore it.

And all that would be pointless, each and every incendiary moment of Broon-ness, were he not the driving force behind one of the greatest, most dominant sides in Scottish football history. He can play a bit, Scott Brown. He can win the ball, he can carry it and he can move it quickly and decisively. He’s not the best passer in the world, and his first touch will occasionally resemble a bowling ball landing on a trampoline, but that’s all part of the Scott Brown experience, too. The centrifugal whirlwind at the heart of the Celtic midfield who seemingly sometimes loses the ball on purpose just so he has the pleasure of haring after it, snapping into a tackle like a malevolent turtle and winning it back all over again.

One of the most overused sayings in football is that a player needs to ‘stamp their authority on the game’. Another is that they need to ‘grab it by the scruff of the neck’. That they need to ‘run it’ or ‘boss it’ or ‘dictate it’. They need to give it the daddy treatment, basically. Scott Brown does all this simply by being there. Simply by existing. He has turned it into an artform. There isn’t another player in world football that you’d least like to come up against than Scott Brown, the living, breathing death-eater that has sucked the life out of the dreams of every other team in Scotland for the last decade.

Celtic fans will tell you he has Rangers on strings. Aberdeen on strings. Hearts on strings. The entirety of Scotland on strings. The game of football itself on strings. The very concept of sporting competition on strings. The world, on strings.

It’s hyperbole but it’s just about the only way to describe the influence of Broonie. He’s a serial winner, a mischevious scoundrel and an effective, bludgeoning box-to-box footballer, but he’s also an entertainer; a shithouse ringmaster, daring gymnastic troupe and entire circus tent of performing elephants unto himself.

He is, in effect, the greatest showman of the modern game. Happy fucking birthday to him.