theyflysohigh : Steve Marsh

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Banner Hammers Logo theyflysohigh Match Score Congratulations 10 Congratulations 06 Congratulations 02 Ken gets that cap Call in Mr Reliable Three changes BROWN Ken action v. Ireland at Wembley 01 Defence Sounder England 1959

There is no rhyme or reason as to how a player’s international career will evolve. For example the serial accumulator of international caps, Bobby Moore, by the age of 25 years and 7 months had gathered 50 full England caps. At the other end of this spectrum, the international career of West Ham United's stalwart centre half, Ken Brown, started when he was 25 years and 9 months old. In fact Ken’s time on the international stage lasted for a single England appearance.


Seven months prior to his England game, Ken had been voted “Hammer of the Year” in recognition of his sterling performances at the heart of West Ham United’s defence as the Hammers achieved the club’s highest Football League finish of 6th position in Division One in 1958-59. Plus consistent performances in the previous season’s Second Division Championship win, helped Ken catch England manager Walter Winterbottom’s eye.


Ken joined claret and blue teammates Phil Woosnam (Wales), Noel Dwyer and Noel Cantwell (Republic of Ireland) and John Dick (Scotland) on the international stage when his England call-up papers duly arrived for the Home International against Northern Ireland at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday November 18, 1959.

Ken Brown's England Cap ...

by Roger Hillier

Celebrating England call up,

chaired by Noel Cantwell and Bobby Moore

In the modest list of Hammers to have represented England, Ken was the 12th. The previous addition to the list was winger John Morton. Morton’s sole England cap was awarded for his appearance in the Three Lions’ 5-4 win over Czechoslovakia at White Hart Lane on December 1, 1937. A memorable game for John as he made it a scoring international debut.

First Hammer to Receive England Cap in 20 years

Four England Debutants

Following the Three Lions' disappointing results in and soon after the 1958 Swedish World Cup Finals, the national side was undergoing much change. For the upcoming November 1959 Home Championship match against Northern Ireland manager Walter Winterbottom introduced four new caps to the side. In addition to Ken, the debutants were: goalkeeper Ron Springett (Sheffield Wednesday), inside forward Ray Parry (Bolton Wanderers) and centre-forward Joe Baker (Hibernian).


The Northern Ireland side included star names of the time: captain Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur), goalkeeper Harry Gregg (Manchester United) and half back, and future Northern Ireland manager, Billy Bingham (Everton).    

John Smith – England’s 12th Man

In a time before substitutes became a regular feature of the game, sides included a 12th man or team reserve. West Ham’s inside forward, John Smith, was Winterbottom's reserve for this international against Northern Ireland. He had also been 12th man for England’s previous Home International against Wales a month earlier. Unfortunately, John never quite made the step up into the full England starting line-up.


A week before the Northern Ireland international Smith wore a Three Lions’ shirt in the England Under 23s game against the French Under 23s.  

Home International Championship

England v. Northern Ireland

Wembley Stadium November 18, 1959

The history books list the match result as a 2-1 home win for England. Reading match reports, it was not the most inspiring performance by the Three Lions but nevertheless it was a win. And a close one at that! After debutant Joe Baker had put England in front with a 16th minute goal, Northern Ireland equalised in the 89th minute through Billy Bingham. With the 60,000 crowd resigned to a draw, England’s debutant Ray Parry scored a 90th minute winner.

The other notable match incident was Northern Ireland’s Jimmy McIlroy missing a first half penalty. After reviewing the YouTube clip of the penalty incident, it looks as though Ken may have been the culprit!


On reflection, if VAR (Video Assistant Referee) had been available in 1959, Ken may have requested a review of the penalty decision.

337 IRELAND Brown & Baker

Mentioned in Despatches

Despite the Wembley win, the team’s performance did not attract rave reviews. Though Ken did receive favourable mentions in the Daily Telegraph and Evening Standard.


Under the heading Ken Brown is steady under pressure, the Standard’s report explained Brown was quickly under pressure, and his clearances were made confidently and competently.


While The Daily Telegraph’s account ran a sub-heading Defence Sounder – Brown a Success and reported The defence, with Brown bringing much-needed stability to the middle, looked sounder.  


Front Page News

West Ham’s first full England cap since 1939 was big local news at the time. Twice Ken grabbed front page headlines in the Stratford Express. First with the announcement of his England selection and then two days after the international, with the lead article covering his reflections on the game.

Post-Match Presentation – Pathe News Film

To mark the occasion Ken was presented with a Pathe News film of his Wembley international. Arranged and hosted by the manager of Stratford’s Rex Cinema, West Ham’s manager Ted Fenton presented Ken with a film of his international 90 minutes. Len Goulden was originally due to make the presentation, but in his absence Ted stepped in.  

Hat-Trick of Wembley Wins

Unfortunately, despite the winning performance and favourable mentions, Ken did not retain his place for the next England international. His time on the international stage lasted 90 minutes. While it was his first visit to Wembley, he was destined to return to the twin towers on two more occasions with the Hammers.  


The FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup final wins in 1964 and 1965 respectively, gave Ken a hat-trick of Wembley victories and ensured he never appeared on the losing side.  

Ken’s Two Uniteds - West Ham and Torquay

Ken’s claret and blue career ran for 16 years. After signing for the Hammers in October 1951, he made his first team bow a season later and donned the shirt for a final time in 1967. In total Ken clocked up 474 first team appearances, scoring four goals.


After his league debut away to Rotherham United in February 1953 he had to wait a few more seasons before gaining a regular first team place. When Ken took over from Malcolm Allison as a main stay in the Hammers’ defence he held that position for many seasons.


For six seasons, from 1957-58 to 1962-63, Ken’s name would have been one of the first to be added to the team sheet. In these six seasons, out of a possible 252 league games he only missed nine.


Ken's Testimonial Match feature includes more details on his first team career. Please click the picture link button on the right to view the article.

In May 1967 and days before his testimonial game, Ken signed for Division Three side Torquay United. In two seasons with The Gulls he played 42 league games scoring a single goal. In the late 1960s several Hammers moved west and Ken’s new team mates included fellow ex-Hammers John Bond, Bill Kitchener, Tony Scott and John Smith.  

Manages Norwich City to Wembley Victory

After hanging up his boots he embarked on a successful managerial career where his most notable achievement was steering Norwich City to winning the Football League Cup at Wembley in 1985. The Canaries beat The Black Cats, Sunderland, 1-0.

Is Ken the only Hammer to have achieved an undefeated Wembley record, as a player and manager?

Ken Steady

Evening Standard

Daily Telegraph

Torquay United Ken Brown

Torquay United

John Smith

John Bond

Tony Scott

Ken Brown

408 BROWN Ken - England

West Ham United Lifetime Achievement Awards are not handed out like confetti. At the end of the 2017-18 season the Hammers will be presenting this award to a former player who played a key part in the club’s success in the late 1950s and 1960s. The richly deserved recipient will be former centre-half Ken Brown.


On the West Ham team front Ken’s list of achievements includes FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup final winners’ medals, and on the bigger stage he also received international recognition.    

BROWN Ken call up to England squad 02 BROWN Ken call up to England squad 03 BROWN Ken England cap

West Ham United internationals, Phil Woosnam,

Noel Dwyer, Noel Cantwell, John Dick and Ken Brown


Back row: Johnny Haynes, Ron Flowers, Tony Allen, Ron Springett, Ken Brown, Don Howe

Front row: John Connelly, Joe Baker, Ron Clayton, Ray Parry, Eddie Holliday

Brown Filmstrip

Debateable Penalty Decision

Ken Brown line-up One of 4 Evening News Genial Giant

Headline News - Ken Brown for England

Photographs courtesy of Ken Brown's private collection

Caricature Talking Points

While John was the 11th Hammer to have gained England international honours, the 10th was centre-forward Len Goulden whose England career straddled John’s. Len Goulden was the last Hammer to have played for England when he picked up his 14th and final cap for the friendly international against Romania at the Stadionul ANEF in Bucharest on May 24, 1939. Goulden also netted in the 2-0 win.  


The club was so proud of Ken’s achievement it was reported that the entire playing and ground staff of about 40, would be attending the match at Wembley to cheer him on.

Ken Brown and Joe Baker

Sketch arrow

Video Assistant Referee

Click the Picture Link to decide ...

Walter Winterbottom team talk.

Ken Brown stands next to the manager.

Four England debutants

Ken shakes hands with

Field Marshal Montgomery

Ken Brown net minding


Congratulations Ken!

Congratulations 03 Congratulations 08 Congratulations 04 Congratulations 01 Congratulations 07 Congratulations 05

Below is a selection of the congratulatory telegrams, cards and letters Ken received from well-wishers, sports colleagues, family and friends after the announcement of his inclusion to the England side.

Frank O’Farrell – former West Ham team mate

Charlie Paynter former

West Ham United manager

Victor Railton

Sports Journalist for the Evening News

Congratulations 09 copy Caricature Ken Brown My First Game for England Caricature BROWN Ken with Ted Fenton 02 Ken Brown Canned Ken Brown Call up mEMENTO

1967-68 Team Group

Articles Myths and Legends Next Article being Prepared Ken Brown Norwich City

Ken Brown and Ted Fenton take a look at the

Pathe News film of the game

England cap

Pathe News

Norwich City manager

England cap

England clearing a Northern Ireland threat:

left to right Goalkeeper Ron Springett, Ken and full back Don Howe.