Craig Brown’s time as Preston manager didn’t quite go to plan, but he is often remembered fondly by North End fans.
Brown was picked as Preston’s new boss in the summer of 2002, replacing his compatriot David Moyes following his move to Everton.
Brown had previously served as Scotland boss, taking them to the 1998 World Cup in France, and whilst he was in his 60’s upon becoming North End manager, he was a fairly big-name acquisition.
Fans will point to the signings of players such as Ricardo Fuller, Eddie Lewis, Claude Davis and Youl Mawene to show that Brown had a real eye for talent, even though he now claims scout Clive Middlemass found most of the club’s signings in that era.
Brown left Deepdale in August 2004, having won just shy of 34% of his games in charge. The Scot ended up at Motherwell and Aberdeen before ending his managerial days in 2013.
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Now, Brown has spoken to our friends at the From The Finney podcast, and admitted that he wanted to raid Hibernian for three players back in 2002.
Brown claims that he wanted to bring in midfielder Kevin Thomson and striker Derek Riordan as they emerged at Easter Road, but the big one was midfielder Scott Brown.
Brown admitted that he phoned Hibs for talks about all three players, but especially Brown, having been advised about him by former Hibs boss Bobby Williamson.
Sadly, North End simply couldn’t afford Brown. Celtic ended up signing him in 2007, has racked up nearly 600 appearances for the Bhoys, serves as their club captain, has won 10 league titles, six Scottish Cups, seven Scottish League Cups and is a modern day Bhoys hero. As ex-Preston boss Brown puts it, he was ‘the one that got away’ for North End.
“When I signed Fuller, I phoned Hibernian about three players,” said Brown. “Scott Brown was one, he went to Celtic eventually. Another one was Kevin Thomson; they had three players, they had Thomson and Brown in midfield, and they had a boy up front, Derek Riordan. I phoned Hibs about them, but when I was told that the £400,000 I was talking about, they wouldn’t look at it, so that killed any prospect.”
“I tried to sign Scott Brown, which would have been a wonderful signing, because he has been the captain of Celtic for years. I phoned and asked how much he was costing, and Bobby Williamson had been the manager there, and Bobby advised me and had told me that these are good guys, and Brown is the one certainty. That was the one that got away, and it got away because we didn’t have the money to buy him,” he added.