Like everyone else I was moved to read of Sandy Browns passing. I was also irked that he is best remembered for an own goal in a match which it is rarely mentioned was our only home loss in a Championship-winning year. The other thing that is always said is that he played in every position. A Kopite friend of mine with whom I share very good banter asked me if this was really true. When, for example, did he play inside right? Well, for someone like me, this was a challenge that could not be resisted, so I undertook an intensive trawl through the archives to find the answer.

The archives in question are the excellent website which lists the team line-ups for every game Everton have ever played. My quest was helped by the fact that in those days, players wore the number which corresponded (roughly) to the position they were going to play. There were some exceptions (our No 10 was traditionally the centre-back alongside the No 5) as football moved away from the classic 2-3-5 system, but this website would at least tell me which shirt number Sandy wore and, when he came on as substitute, who he was replacing. No guarantee that he would play in that position, but the nearest I could get to answering the question.

My memory of Sandy was basically of a specialist substitute in the days when you could only have one player on the bench to fill in for whoever got injured. That being the case, versatility would be a great asset, even if it would cost you a regular place in the starting line-up. What I discovered was quite astonishing: nothing could be further from the truth.

Lets look at Sandys starts first of all. He made 210 of them, the majority (140) in the No 3 shirt including his debut, against Burnley at home, 7 September 1963. In the 1969-70 Championship-winning season he started 35 games. Considering that Ray Wilson was also at the club during this period, this is already a remarkable feat. He made 47 starts at right-back, and wore every other shirt at least once, except goalkeeper, and No 8. Yes, even Nos 7 and 11 (once each). And as for big No 9, he wore that shirt 3 times.

He was also used as the substitute on 43 occasions. Subs were first introduced in the 1965-66 season, and he wasnt Evertons first ever sub (that honour goes to John Hurst who replaced Pickering in the 1-1 draw at Stoke, the third game of the season). In the beginning, they were only allowed for injuries, though this rule was often circumvented by players pretending to be injured in order to allow a tactical substitution, and the rule was relaxed. But over the next few years he replaced all of the outfield positions at least once.

He came on for the No 8 six times (replacing Ball 4 times, Husband and Kenny once each). Now I dont know if that means he played inside right but it does suggest that the commonly asserted fact that he played in every position is true. He was only ever subbed once himself, replaced by Roger Kenyon, having started the game at right back.

That just leaves goalkeeper... and, while most people remember him replacing Gordon West who was sent off at Newcastle in October 1967, his first spell in goal was to replace the injured Andy Rankin against Stoke at Goodison Park in December 1964. That was before the days of substitutes, and Rankin apparently finished the game on the left wing. Coming back to the Newcastle game, Sandy was a sub in that game, coming on for Johnny Morrissey: its not clear whether the switch was made at the time of the sending off in the way that these days an outfield player is taken off to allow the sub goalie on, or whether he was already on the field.

So he did play in every position, his last appearance being when he came on for Brian Labone in the fateful FA Cup Semi-Final against Liverpool at Old Trafford, 23 March 1971.

We started with an own-goal against those opponents, so lets end with a few other goals, including one in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool in August 1966, when he came on as a sub for Pickering. He scored 9 goals in all, one a penalty (not including his successful shot in the shoot-out against Mnchengladbach), and missed one penalty. He also scored another own goal, in the semi-official British Championship against Glasgow Rangers. He was sent off just once, as many have remembered, in the 4th minute against Leeds. He was great servant of Everton FC and, even if not a star player, was definitely an Everton giant.

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Reader Comments (5)

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Peter Warren
1 Posted 09/04/2014 at 19:54:25
Thanks, Harold, good read especially for someone like me who only really started watching Everton in 90s. All I had known was that he scored a famous own goal so good to learn my history a bit more.
Gerard McGregor
2 Posted 10/04/2014 at 07:37:20
Excellent report, thanks Harold.

I was at his Everton debut (lost 3-4) - my second ever game at Goodison. I remember him being hailed then for the power of his shot and him taking part in a newspaper-sponsored competition that I think Peter Lorimer won.

His famous own-goal was featured for what seemed to be several years on the intro sequence of BBC Saturday Grandstand that was when my conviction began that the football media are anti-Everton.

Graham Reed
3 Posted 10/04/2014 at 18:36:19
The one particular moment I remember Sandy Brown for was against Notts Forest in the 1967 Cup quarter final. I wasn't there and only discovered it 40 years later on You Tube. Brown was wearing No.10 and Husband No.9 as shown in the footage even though the results website Harold used shows the numbers the other way round.

Like everybody else I remember Sandy mainly for his utility role, hard tacking and fierce shot, but in the build up to Jimmy Husband's second goal, Brown is on the right wing and a deft little touch on the ball leaves the full-back in the dust and Brown crosses for Husband to score. I had to watch the footage several times to make sure it wasn't Alex Young.

Graham Reed
4 Posted 10/04/2014 at 18:56:07
Jimmy Husband's second goal is at 4mins 25 secs in this link
Paul Holden
5 Posted 12/04/2014 at 13:24:10
From the same era, just got Alex Young's autobiography (circa 1969) for me birthday signed by the great man himself! Well chuffed.

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