John calls it a day after 38 years in Mid-Ulster League

John Brown.
John Brown.

Distinguished football administrator John Brown – who has served the game from Mid-Ulster to international level – has retired from the organisational side of soccer.

Well, not entirely retired. He retains his seat on the Dungannon Swifts board at Stangmore Park – “to retain my contacts with the game, with the Swifts people among the best friends I’ve ever had.”

This week, he made the final break, stepping down as a member of the Mid Ulster Football Association after 38 years.

Before that he was secretary of the Mid Ulster League, having succeeded the dedicated Roy Marshall.

“At 75, I decided it was time to call it a day,” said John. “But I’m delighted to stay with Dungannon, who asked me to join the board back in 1993.”

John began life his football life as manager in his home-town Lisburn when he ran junior side Lisnagarvey Strollers.

But when he moved to Portadown and married the former Gladys Robinson in 1964 (sadly Gladys died at the young age of 53) he turned to off-field activities.

He qualified as a Grade Two referee (in control of B Division matches and running the line in senior matches) and then moved to administration in the mid-1970s.

The Irish Football Association (IFA) spotted his talents, and invited him to join them. He initially travelled with the junior teams to places like Norway, France, Italy Iceland and the Azores.

Later on, was invited onto the international committee, where one of his first duties was the appointment of Laurie Sanchez as Northern Ireland team manage. His favourite memory in that era is the David Healy goal that beat England 1-0 in the 2005 World Cup qualifier.

John was also in Spain in the 1982 World Cup Finals when Gerry Armstrong hammered famous home the goal against the home nation.

John is a retired technician with DoE Roads Service and has a daughter and son - Janet Compston and Gary - and loves spending time with his grandchildren.