Friday, February 05, 2010

Craigie Frown no more

This time of year is commonly known as the "awards season." It seems each February and March it's almost impossible to avoid getting some kind of tacky gong.

Football, of course, is happy to fire out cheap plastic baubles throughout the season. But, as Oscar season approaches, it's fitting that our very own elder statesman, the Morgan Freeman of the fitba', should pick up the SPL's Manager of the Month Award.

Ask yourself how you'd have reacted if somebody told you in December that Craig Brown would be voted the SPL's best performing manager for January. I'm guessing you'd have come over all Victor Meldrew-esque in your protestations of disbelief.

Yet here we are and here he is. Back and award winning.

Moreover he's been given an even more tangible reward than a bit of Clydesdale Bank emblazoned perspex. Such has been his impact at Fir Park so far that Brown's contract has been extended to take in the whole of next season.

It still seems an unlikely turn of events, given an even more surreal air when Broonie did the whole Gwyneth Paltrow act and gushed his thanks to all and sundry on accepting his award. I hope the Fir Park tea lady doesn't feel left out.

Is the resurrection of Brown proof that there's no substitute for experience? Or is it proof of the lack of inspiration in SPL boardrooms? I've already come down on the side of the latter.

Despite that you've got to tip your hat to Craig Brown. Clearly he's lost none of his desire or enthusiasm and even at his somewhat advanced age he seems to be on the verge of delivering the stability that Motherwell crave.

Brown never really became loved as manager of Scotland and few would argue that he clung to the role for too long. He gave us some memorable moments (including but not ending with his unlikely outing as a successful lothario) and he gave us some dire moments.

The scrapbook of my own memory still glows with the thought of the crucial 1995 win over Sweden at Ibrox. I'm still haunted by a dire win over Estonia at Tynecastle in 1998 and that World Cup match against Morocco.

Looking back though Brown, in his quiet, methodical way, delivered something of a golden period. We may qualify for major tournaments again but will we ever manage it with the regularity that Brown achieved as manager and coach?

So if Brown gets the chance to enjoy one last, successful hurrah at club level then good luck to him. And, like many a respected sportsman enjoying an Indian summer, he might even find himself achieving an affection that eluded him when he was giving the country a level of success that now seems a million miles away.