Scott Brown

on the pain of los­ing his sis­ter and why he’s been happy to stay at Celtic

Daily Record - - FRONT PAGE -

IT’S some­thing you don’t see of­ten – Scott Brown’s pen­sive, solemn side.

Yes, there’s that 100-yard stare be­fore ev­ery big match as the TV cam­eras zoom in and he zones out into his own lit­tle world. It’s be­come his trade­mark over the years.

He’s a fe­ro­cious com­peti­tor too. Some­times a feisty, prickly one at that.

But, when not en­gaged in the heat of bat­tle, Celtic’s cap­tain is as laid back as they come. A no­to­ri­ous joker and mas­ter of self-dep­re­ca­tion who takes very lit­tle se­ri­ously and, most cer­tainly, not him­self.

In fact, as he re­counts his life story, there is per­haps only one episode which wipes the smile from his face for any sig­nif­i­cant length of time.

He draws a hand across his mouth as he pauses for a mo­ment’s thought. Ten years on, this is still a dif­fi­cult ex­er­cise. “I prob­a­bly didn’t deal with it very well over the first cou­ple of sea­sons,” Brown con­fesses when asked how he man­aged to cope with the ill­ness which would even­tu­ally rob him of his beloved lit­tle sis­ter Fiona, dur­ing his early days as a Celtic player.

“But Gor­don Strachan was al­ways there for me, no mat­ter what. Not that many peo­ple knew what was go­ing on be­cause we had kept things very quiet af­ter the ini­tial di­ag­no­sis.

“Then one day I got a phone call from my wee sis­ter.

“She was in tears telling me she had some­one from the press bang­ing on her door.

“It was a re­porter from the News of the World.

“So I asked her where she was. She told me she was in the dorms at her univer­sity in Dundee. I told her to stay in­side and not move un­til I got there. I left Ed­in­burgh driv­ing like a ma­niac. I was rally driv­ing all the way up to Dundee.

“I think I phoned Peter Lawwell to tell him what was go­ing on. I mean, we all knew it would get out even­tu­ally.

“At that time we were still hop­ing that the can­cer could be cured and that ev­ery­thing was go­ing to be fine. So this was the last thing any­one needed.

“Peter was telling me to calm down. Not to do any­thing stupid. But it was go­ing in one ear and out of the other. Fiona was phon­ing me in tears, telling me she didn’t want to go out­side. And I was get­ting an­grier and an­grier.

“To be fair, the guy was lucky that he left be­fore I got there.

“And I’m prob­a­bly lucky too be­cause I would have done some­thing I would have re­gret­ted for the rest of my life. I was stuck in traf­fic go­ing over the Forth Road Bridge. I can re­mem­ber it as clear as day.

“Fiona was on the phone say­ing, ‘What do I do?’

“I just told her, ‘Fi, close the door. Don’t do noth­ing. I’ll be up there as quick as I can’.

“My mum and dad wanted to drive up but I told them, ‘No, I’ll deal with this’. I never did

find out who the guy was that went to the door. I’m glad about that for both our sakes.

“I would have lost the plot be­cause I was just a young boy and this was my fam­ily he was mess­ing around with.

“At that time, the News of the World would have done any­thing to get a story like that. So I picked her up and took her back down the road. Things be­came hard from that point on be­cause we now knew that other peo­ple knew about her ill­ness and that it was be­ing talked about. Un­til then, it had been kept very quiet.

“But we knew now that it was start­ing to leak out. Some­one had told some­one else at univer­sity and now peo­ple knew where she lived.

“So she didn’t want to go back up there af­ter that.

“To be fair to her, she still qual­i­fied with a de­gree even af­ter all of that. But it wasn’t a great time for her, for me or for the fam­ily.”

Fiona lost her year-long strug­gle with skin can­cer in May 2008. She was just 21.

How would her dot­ing big brother ever fully re­cover from the trauma?

“In some ways, foot­ball was

In some ways, foot­ball was what kept me go­ing SCOTT BROWN ON DEAL­ING WITH SIS­TER’S DEATH

what kept me go­ing,” Brown says but with­out look­ing too con­vinced.

It’s al­most as if, all th­ese years on, the man him­self is not too sure how he got through the tragedy with his own ca­reer in­tact.

Brown goes on: “It’s good be­cause you are in there ev­ery day and you try to switch off for as long as pos­si­ble.

“But when she was go­ing through it, I felt as if there was noth­ing I could do to help her.

“Then, even­tu­ally, you get the phone call to say its in­cur­able. That there’s noth­ing they can do. How are you sup­posed to deal with words like that?

“I’ll be hon­est, I was like, ‘F ****** foot­ball man, f*** this!’

“It was com­ing to­wards the end of the season and I had had in­jury prob­lems. I wasn’t mo­ti­vated to get back play­ing.

“Stra­cho told me he was go­ing to keep me out of the team for a while. We ended up win­ning the league that season with Paul Hart­ley and Barry Rob­son in the mid­dle of mid­field, where I should have been.

“The man­ager just told me I’d be on the bench and I’d come on if and when I was needed.

“He un­der­stood the sit­u­a­tion I was in. He was prob­a­bly a wee bit wor­ried that if I was out there and there was a ball to be won, that I might have smashed some­one or did some­thing I would re­gret for a long time. He was good that way.

“Peter Lawwell was also on the phone dur­ing that time mak­ing sure I was all right.”

Th­ese bonds that were be­ing forged in the dark­est of cir­cum­stances were to prove pow­er­ful and long last­ing.

Brown nods: “It’s prob­a­bly why I have stayed here so many years be­cause I have had of­fers to go else­where. But Peter and Gor­don re­ally helped me through a dif­fi­cult time. I can’t praise Gor­don enough for what he did for me.

“He was the daft b ****** who signed me in the first place and Celtic have been stuck with me now for 11 years.

“But that was Gor­don all over. He ended up stay­ing for a year longer than he wanted to at Celtic be­cause of what was go­ing on with Tommy Burns. He stayed one last season for Tommy – to help him out and to help his fam­ily out dur­ing a time of need. That tells you all about his loy­al­ties as a hu­man be­ing.”

On May 15, 2008, Burns passed away. In a last act of kind­ness, he ar­ranged for flow­ers to be sent to Fiona. Two weeks later, her life was taken too.

Both gone way too soon. But never for­got­ten.

CLOSE Scott Brown with tragic sis­ter Fiona and Un­cle Ron. Right, Gor­don Strachan of­fered great sup­port CAP­TAIN MAR­VEL Cel­e­brat­ing an Old Firm vic­tory TRIB­UTE Wear­ing Tommy Burns T-shirt in 2008 and, left, that Broonie stare

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