Dirty Leeds, a name we have been pinned with since the 70’s now, a combination of jealousy and anger at how good Don Revie’s team were way back then but also how ‘combative’ they could be. Now it just seems to have stuck, despite hardly anyone being jealous of our current squad and hard to argue that our team has got ‘stuck in’ much. However, one man who continues to do his part for the tag is our very own warhorse Michael Brown.
Tomorrow could see Brown pull on the famous White jersey for the last time against Derby County and it must be said, his performances over the past month or so may possibly have been his most consistent in his time at Leeds United. Not the match winner he once was (believe me, in his day he couldn’t half play) Brown has put some steady performances in at the heart of the midfield, often breaking up play and allowing other midfielders like Luke Murphy and Michael Tonge to run beyond him and have a little bit more freedom.
Now stating the obvious, Brown-eh has had some ‘critics’ to put it politely during his time at Leeds, whether it be his often reckless challenges, keeping Ross Barkley out of the side or merely the fact that he has a ‘special’ relationship with Neil Warnock. Originally signed by Simon Grayson, our experienced centre mid has been at Elland Road since 2011 now, making him ironically, one of our longest serving players!
So, with his contract up at the end of June, here at RITGK we thought we’d run through the highs a lows of Michael Robert Brown’s Leeds United career.
Signed on the 11th of July, 2011 Grayson brought in our big money signing (a free obviously) but we had lured Michael to Elland Road on a pretty lucrative deal in hope he could be the man who would battle the White’s into the top flight! In truth, his first season was an injury hit one meaning he was in and out of the side but was part of the team who recorded back to back wins against Notthingham Forest and Millwall, games that will be remembered after the death of Gary Speed.
His first goal surprisingly came before his first red card in a White shirt, a screamer against Forest at Elland Road which drew Leeds level at 3-3 from 3-1 down! You could sense something special had happened and that Brown could inspire Leeds to a great comeback victory. Leeds went onto lose 7-3… Not quite.
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Next month normality was restored, Brown-eh was sent for an early bath in the home game against, ironically, today’s opponents, Derby. In fairness to Brown he did try to play the ball (Theo Robinsons balls) with a debatable high foot which was enough for the referee to produce a red card. Leeds inevitably went on to lose, it is Derby after all. Just days before against Reading, current Leeds manager Brian McDermott saw first-hand how Brown can influence games; lunging in late on Jem Karacan and breaking his ankle. The referee failed to spot a problem with the foul as Brown went on to finish the game without a yellow card.
Clearly impressed, Brown had done enough to convince Warnock to offer him a new deal, another one year deal on reduced terms with the option of a further extension. During the season, Brown found himself in and out of the side, struggling to settle, even having the number 8 shirt stolen away from him by Rudy Austin!
Brown carried on clocking up some minutes on the pitch, even chipping in with the odd goal, a well taken goal against Brighton which Luciano Becchio inexplicably tried to steal off Michael, the Argentinean clearly not happy with his already impressive goal tally. No one however, could deny Brown his goal.
Arguably, the best time of his Leeds career came when Leeds signed the highly rated Ross Barkley. Impressive during his loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, Barkley came full of promise but ultimately arrived at the wrong time as Brown was in inspired form at the heart of the Leeds midfield. Brown-eh could not be moved and Warnock sent Barkley packing, experience over youth any day!
Whilst Warnock’s days were numbered, Brown’s appeared to be too but then came the news that Brown would be staying another season due to a clause which meant if he played a certain amount of games it would trigger a one year extension. Nice one Neil. So Brown stayed on and found himself now part of the McDermott reign (and another number change, now to 17).
Brown started the season with a bang, a serious bang. A 25 yard screamer against Chesterfield booked Leeds’ place in the second round of the Capital One Cup, a sweet moment for Brown as he stated after the game that he especially enjoyed the goal as ‘you never know when it’s your last’. However, whilst Leeds built up a head of steam and pushed towards the play-offs, Brown was struggling to make the starting line-up.
Credit where credit is due though, Brown came back from seemingly the dead alongside Danny Pugh (see other article) in an away game against Charlton where, inevitably Ross McCormack took the praise for four well taken goals but Brown put in the shift on a difficult Valley pitch! Now Brown has come back into the side when it appeared that it was again, over for the veteran.
Some fans may be reluctant to appreciate Michael Brown whilst he’s at the club, supposedly keeping out the youth but during a tough period, he has done himself no harm and actually been one of Leeds’ most consistent players in recent times! For this, Brown does deserve actual praise. At his age with no guarantee of a contract next year; it would be easy to switch off and look at plans for next season or retirement. Whilst some of our team have appeared to have been playing like they have started their holidays early, Brown has at least showed the fight it takes to win games when you are struggling.
Of course, there have been many Michael Brown memories to enjoy during his three years at Elland Road and we’d love to hear yours. Who could forget his 40 yard raking cross field ball which plonked right on ESPN star pundit Martin Keown’s head or turning up late to Lorimer’s bar one season and then politely telling some fans to ‘f*ck off’ the good and the bad of Michael Brown.
Love him or loathe him, in this transitional period at the club, Leeds United and Michael Brown have been a perfect match.
Reporter – Daniel Howard