Jon Brown, who represented City in the 1990’s, was a versatile defender who became a crowd favourite at St James Park.
The Yorkshireman, who is also a qualified architectural technician, played 164 times for City and found the net on four occasions for the Grecians. After leaving the club in 1995, Brown went on to play for Halifax Town where he won the Conference Championship.
He spoke to Ben Strange to discuss some of his first, best and worst moments with the Grecians.
...appearance for the club
That was at Preston North End and we were beaten 1-0. I was ecstatic to be involved for the first time with the team. Terry Cooper was the manager at the time and I thought I was travelling up with the first team squad simply for experience. I hadn’t made my debut before that day because I was already suspended whilst signing for Exeter and this was the first match I was eligible for. Some of the lads were winding me up saying: ‘He won’t bring you all this way and not play you’ but I thought there was no way I’d be playing. I then found out that I would be playing on the right-hand side of midfield. It was a tough match, at that time Preston were a good team.
...goal for the club
Well, I haven’t got many so I could talk you through all four if you like! I am proud to say that all of them came in four different competitions. My first goal came in the FA Cup away from home against Swansea City, you’re testing my memory but I think we beat them 1-0. The goal went to plan as it was from a corner and I was where I should’ve been in the box, the ball came in and I made a run to the far post and I managed to slide it in at the back post.
...memory of St James Park
That was when I came down initially on trial from non-league and we played Southend United in an evening kick-off. I think we won 2-1 and it was quite a euphoric evening, it was a great atmosphere and I can remember standing in front of the cabins which were next to the old grandstand. After the game, I was told that I was going to be offered terms, so it was a brilliant day.
...match for City
Apart from when I scored, but this one is quite a funny one! We played away from home at Elm Park against Reading, who at the time were a good outfit. John Hodge, who was a good friend of mine, was playing really well and he came to the game but he was injured and Scott Hiley filled in and played on the right wing. We beat them 3-2 and Scotty scored a hat-trick and it was brilliant! We wound John up so bad on the way back, we were saying to him: “ah, didn’t Scotty play well.’ He scored a great hat-trick, it was brilliant.
...friend at the club
Kevin Miller. I still speak to him now, we got on well. I used to go on holiday with Kevin and I’m glad we’ve kept in touch. I’ve still got some good friends even outside of football in Exeter, but the likes of Kevin, John Hodge, Dave Cooper and Mark Cooper were great.
...moment of your career
There’s two things really and it’s quite ironic. When I left Exeter I went to Halifax and we went on to win the Conference to be promoted into the Football League. But my final game with Halifax happened to be at St James Park against City when we were pushing for play-offs but we were beaten 2-1. I played sweeper that day and I was tactically withdrawn from the match and I got a great reception from the Exeter fans, though they’d been giving me some stick during the match! But I really enjoyed that moment.
...moment of your career
Tasting relegation. It was difficult but the club was going through a difficult time. I was club captain and PFA representative for the rest of the players and it seemed that I spent most of time going to meetings to see if we were going to be paid and trying to work out what was happening with the club. It was a disappointing, my final year, I wanted to stay at the club and Peter Fox had just taken over and wanted me to stay but I had to think about my longevity, not just in football but I had plans in architecture, and one of the decisions which turned out to be a good one was that I could sign for Halifax and they would help reintroduce me into the architectural business. The job that I got as part of joining Halifax is the same as I’ve got now, still 20 years later and I’m a director of the practice. City could only offer me a six-month deal, whereas Halifax could offer two years. It was desperate times, but it was fantastic to return to St James Park, despite being sad circumstances, for Eamonn Dolan’s memorial match. It was good to see some of the same faces behind the bar, the same people supporting and working for the club.
I enjoy my football but one of the longest was Hartlepool and I can remember travelling up there for a midweek game. We travelled through the day after a light training session in the morning, the weather was ok until we got to Hartlepool and they postponed the match! We’d spent seven hours getting up there only to arrive and have to turn around and drive back.
...rollicking in the dressing room
We played up at Wigan under Alan Ball and we lost the match. He came in and went ballistic, throwing his cap around and all that. It just calmed down and John Hodge’s dad poked his head around the back door to the dressing room and said: “Had your rollicking lads?’ and it took Alan Ball by surprise, he had no idea who it was!
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