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HJC BROWN at NORTHAMPTON ‘SAINTS’

 

HJC’s mother Elizabeth always had been ambitious for her son and wrote to the then England Captain, Don White to tell him about her rugby playing son. Don found a job for him as a Production Management Trainee with Barratts of Northampton, the shoe maker, which he took up in September 1953 living in digs away from home, and joined the ‘Saints’. Before his 18th birthday HJC was in the Saints ¾ line with Jeff Butterfield and Lewis Cannell (England Centres), John Hyde ( England Wing), Niall Bailey ( Ireland Wing) and Tommy Gray ( Scotland Full back). He shared the fly half position with Ray Williams who subsequently became the Welsh RFU coaching supremo and Secretary. At half back they partnered Dickie Jeeps the England scrum half. With Don White and Ron Jacobs in the scrum the backs were given plenty of ball to show their paces. 
   

THE NORTHAMPTON “SCOUT “ v Richmond


“ We saw the advent of a rising young star in John Brown, the 17 year old from Yeovil. Already a schoolboy international , his first class debut left no doubt that he was the natural successor to Bob Leslie”


Dickie Jeeps was a tough scrum half who took on anyone on the field. In the course of time, he made England scrum-half position his own gaining 24 caps and toured three times with the Lions. HJC remembers that earlier Dickie had been travelling reserve for the England team for a whole season. He went to Paris with the team v France in 1954 as understudy to the incumbent player Gordon Rimmer. During training on the Friday, Rimmer was injured and, instead of playing Jeeps who was there, the selectors called for Johnny Williams, the old Millhillians scrum half to fly out to play.
  

 


Saints v Coventry

" John Brown had quite a mauling but he stood up to it well and contrived to open out play on his own side. He was poorly backed up "

 

‘I just had to learn quickly amongst such great players’ he said.
He soon learned what senior rugby was all about experiencing local derby’s versus Coventry, Leicester and Bedford. At this time he was selected for the Somerset Senior County team. It was during this period that HJC met his first wife Pat Russell. Only daughter of Ernie Russell, a local butcher whose home and shop was in St James’ ‘Jimmys End’ less than ½ mile from Franklin's Gardens, the home of the Saints. Staunch Saints supporters even her Grandmother had a season ticket in the stand until she died at the age of 84!
Ernie used to cook up his spare sausages, chicken and pies and take them on a baker's tray to the Saints Club House every Saturday night for the teams. 

HJC's first wife - Pat Russell 

HJC AS A PLACE KICKER

Through out his career he was usually one of the players given the kicking responsibility. In those days the rugby ball was heavy, being made of real leather with laces and it was placed on a ‘heel mark’ in the turf – no tees as today. ‘Despite this we still kicked goals from the touchline’ he said.

HJC slots another one over for the Saints at Franklin's Gardens


This photo was taken by a Cardiff supporter in the stand who sent it to HJC afterwards. Recently he looked at that photo and noticed that he had No.6 on his back. This reminded him that , in those days, the team was numbered Full Back No 1 down to Prop No 15. This changed in 1967 when the IRB decreed that the Full Back should be No. 15 down to Prop No 1. HJC recalled that he played v Leicester Tigers wearing LETTERS on their backs and Bristol wearing letters of a different format to Leicester.

 

THE NORTHAMPTON SCOUT v Bristol


“ Brown too was in excellent form and his clever bursts, allied to his long touch kicking, were a tremendous asset “

 

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