Malcolm Brown has played with, against and for, some of the biggest names to ever grace a football pitch in this country. However his greatest memories are winning promotion with Huddersfield Town.
Having played over 500 Football League fixtures, Malcolm was one of the best-known players in the lower divisions. He played for clubs like Newcastle United and Rochdale and, of course, the Terriers.
Born in Manchester in 1956, Malcolm was a keen Manchester United fan. Visiting Old Trafford with his dad, he used to watch the famous United trio of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best.
A young Malcolm could have only dreamt of meeting his heroes whilst sat in the stands. However that dream would become reality in a pre-season game at Bury where Malcolm had just signed as a professional.
He recalled: “When you were a kid you ended up supporting the team your dad did and so I became a Manchester United fan. I grew up watching Best, Charlton and Law. I didn’t realise at the time how lucky I was.
“George Best was just incredible, the things he could do with a ball were just ridiculous. I managed to play against him twice. The first time was at Bury, I was only 17 at the time and he was playing in a testimonial game.
“He made my day because I actually got to tackle him, I can’t remember who won the challenge though! Then when I was at Newcastle we went to play in a pre-season friendly at Hibs in Scotland.
“George had come up to play in the game for a mate of his. George would have been about 36 at the time and that was when he liked a tipple.
“The story went around the dressing room that he was coming to play. However at that time you didn’t know if he’d show up or not. Anyway, he did and so to play against him even at 36, what he could do with the ball was quite incredible really.”
Malcolm, now 64, played for a total of five clubs across a near 20-year career. However it was at Newcastle United where he played at his highest level, having recovered from a snapped Achilles tendon the season the Magpies won promotion to the top flight in 1983/84. It was in the 1984/85 campaign where he enjoyed playing in England’s top flight for the first and only time in his career
Malcolm said: “It’s my one regret in football that I didn’t show my best at the top level because it took me so long to recover from the injury.
“I just felt something go in training and knew it wasn’t good. It was in pre-season and I was told basically I was out for a long time. I missed Newcastle’s whole promotion and Kevin Keegan’s last season as a player. I was gutted.
“Kevin was brilliant with me though, he used to come and see me in the hospital. Everyone would be asking him for pictures and autographs but he was just there to see me. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him for that.”
Whilst at Newcastle Malcolm played under Jack Charlton who was then the manager. In the Division One season Malcolm played 39 out of 42 fixtures, which looking back was an unbelievable effort seeing as he’d just recovered from a serious injury.
Malcolm said: “Jack was Jack, we didn’t always agree. He used to turn up at training with his fishing coat on and stand there in his wellington boots. I was pleased to play so many games that year but after the season finished Jack told me I wasn’t in his plans and so that’s how I ended up back at Huddersfield.”
Malcolm returned to Huddersfield in 1985. However it was his first spell at the club that was his most successful as the Terriers had won two promotions in that period.
After the highs of the 1969/70 promotion Town ended the decade in the Fourth Division a league they hadn’t seen in their entire history up to that point. Malcolm signed for Town in 1977 and the club was is a sorry state.
On signing for the club, Malcolm said: “I signed for Huddersfield and manager Tom Johnstone. He then left and eventually Mick Buxton took over. The club was in a bad way, things just weren’t professional. Mick changed everything and brought in some new players.”
Within two years of Malcolm joining the club, the Terriers won promotion to the Third Division. They clinched promotion with a 2-1 victory over Scunthorpe United to win the title by two points on the final day with victory at home to Hartlepool.
It would be the last league title Town would win and it’s the only season they have scored 100 goals. Malcolm was selected in the Division Four Team of the Year alongside teammate and striker Ian Robins.
On that campaign Malcolm added: “It was unbelievable that season, to do what we did and to come from nothing really was just fantastic. I was very proud to play for the club in that season. Huddersfield Town being in the Fourth Division? What nonsense.”
Town stepped up to the Third Division with confidence and Malcolm wasn’t surprised when they won promotion to the second tier.
He said: “It was a step up, yes, but we were so confident as a group. We knew we could go to places and win games. So to get that second promotion was just fantastic.”
Malcolm left for Newcastle at the end of the 1982/83 season in a deal worth £100,000. He returned to the Terriers two years later and played at Leeds Road for another four seasons eventually departing for Rochdale in 1989.
Malcolm played for Stockport County and Rochdale again before retiring in 1992.
With playing in an era where most footballers still had to have day jobs, Malcolm needed to earn a living. He became a driving instructor and still does that to this day.
He said: “When I was still playing I took a course to learn to be an instructor. I then retired from football and went straight into that. I have now done it for 30 years, I enjoy it. I think I’ll carry on with it for a few years yet but maybe drop off a few days.”
Looking back on his career, Malcolm is immensely proud and insists the two promotions he got with the Terriers were the best.
He said: “I’ve been lucky really to enjoy the kind of career I had. I played at the highest level bar internationally, I won a few trophies and I enjoy the job I do now. I’d say I enjoyed my time at Huddersfield the most and those two promotion seasons in particular.”