A Salute to Bob - One of the Original Builders
BOB Brown, one of the original Football Hall of Fame Committee members, has stepped down after nearly 20 years of dedication to preserving the history of the game in WA.
Along with John O'Connell, David Andrews, Julius Re, the late Alan Beale and the late Frank Miller, Bob was part of the Committee that came together to establish what was Australian football's first Hall of Fame in 1996.
It was intended to be a one-off salute to the greats of the game in the State - players, referees and administrators - to coincide with the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the official birth of the game in Western Australia.
But it was decided to revive the Hall of Fame concept in 2002 with another group of worthy inductees - and there have since been further induction ceremonies in 2005, 2008 and 2012.
The next Hall of Fame WA induction ceremony will be a lavish affair in November, 2016, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the initial ground-breaking event.
Bob, who was born in Scotland, played briefly as an amateur for London club Crystal Palace. A bad injury interrupted his playing ambitions and he decided to qualify as a referee, taking charge of a few games before heading Down Under in 1958, where he became a prominent player, coach, administrator and sponsor of the game in WA.
He played for North Perth and then Perth City, his last game being in 1963 when an old nagging knee injury finally ended his playing career. But he went on to fill an administrative role with the club as secretary/manager and then was instrumental in helping set up the Coaches Association. He was State team manager on several occasions - including the memorable game against Manchester United at the WACA in 1967 - and was a major sponsor of the WA Junior Association for many years through his popular shop Sports Forum.
When his shop relocated in the centre of Perth, Bob got Trevor Brooking - who was a guest player with Kelmscott at the time - to officially open the premises.
"Brooking was a real gentleman," recalled Bob. "He chatted quite freely with the customers and was very affable.
"Another visitor who I found to be charming was the Manchester City manager Joe Mercer, who came to Perth when his club played the State team in 1970 (it was a 1-1 draw). He was terrific company. I also met Pele at an Umbro function in Sydney, and that was a real thrill.
"The Manchester United game in 1967 was another memorable event when George Best and Denis Law turned on a terrifc show. Even Law being sent off didn't take away from the occasion."
Bob was also involved in what was one of WA's greatest achievements - becoming the first Australian team to take part in an Asian tournament when the State side featured in the Merdeka Cup in Malaysia in 1967.
"I was the team manager and we were treated superbly, being invited to the home of the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, for lunch," said Bob.
"We were the first Western team to take part in a tournament in Malaysia so were something of a curiosity."
Bob is particularly proud to have been associated with the WA Hall of Fame.
"I think the establishment of the Hall of Fame was a real positive for the game here," he said.
"So many fine players and others have had their place in the history of WA football acknowledged and secured.
"But it would be great to now go one step further and have a Football Museum to display the wonderful array of memorabilia which has been gathered over the years and to further honour those who have given so much to the game in WA."
At a farewell lunch, Peter Hugg, the Chief Executive of Football West, made a presentation to Bob and thanked him for his service to the sport in general and in particular his dedication to the Hall of Fame and his contribution to the Committee.
PIC ONE: Peter Hugg (left) congratulates Bob Brown. PIC TWO: Bob and Pele with friends. PIC THREE: Bob with Manchester City manager Joe Mercer