He’s an experienced goalkeeper with over 500 games under his belt – but Scott Brown says one of his biggest challenges was two years at Aberdeen.
The 35-year-old has been with Port Vale since 2018, where he has played every game in the current English League Two season. His career started with Cheltenham Town in 2005, spending nine years with the Robins before jumping out of his comfort zone with Aberdeen in 2014.
In a season of no fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Brown has told NTOF it’s been one of the strangest terms of his career: “It doesn’t feel like I have played over 500 career games. When you look back to your debut, it feels like yesterday.
“But I have been fortunate enough to play for some great teams and meet some great people along the way. I’m at about 530 games now and I want to keep getting as many as I can before I get too old!
“I was at Cheltenham, where I was on the bench for about 100 games before I got my debut. At the time, I was 20 or 21 and was happy to stay in football. Eventually my chance came in the FA Cup against Chester and it was a massive game as we knew we’d play Newcastle United in the next round.
“I’m still playing. touchwood, and I’m in the gym before training every day to try and keep myself going as people keep saying you are a long time retired. This season doesn’t feel like a football game, it feels like a reserve game.
“When you win, you don’t have that same buzz. When you lose, you don’t have that same anger, that disappointment when the fans are there. It’s been easier for the younger players to adapt as they are used to playing reserve football.
“But the senior lads who have played 300 or 400 games, to go from that to not having anyone there has been really hard. It’s been easier for the younger lads to adapt but it’s been really hard for the senior ones.”
While this term has been strange, Brown was tested more than ever during two seasons at Pittodrie between the 2014/15 season and 15/16 term. He was part of Derek McInnes’ side which kept eight clean sheets in succession but it was a demanding spell.
Coming from a smaller club in England, it was a culture shock adapting to the size of Aberdeen, but help came for Brown from another Dons keeper: “I knew that Aberdeen were interested for a while and I went to meet Derek McInnes. I came away from that meeting and wanted to join and experience something different.
“I didn’t want to be known as the Cheltenham goalkeeper who spent 20 years there, I wanted to test myself at a different club and in a different city. The day I signed, I spoke to Jamie Langfield. People say bad things about him but he texted me straight away.
“I have nothing but good things to say about him as he was absolutely brilliant with me. I spoke to Vaclav Hladky (former St Mirren goalkeeper where Langfield is now goalkeeper coach) and he said to me about how great a person he was too.
“That’s one of the things I really struggled with. I was playing at Cheltenham Town in front of 2,500 fans and went to Pittodrie, walking down the street and people spoke to you. That expectation, if you were drawing 0-0 at half-time, you would get booed off some weeks as expectation was that high.
“Playing in front of 15,000 people every week was something I hadn’t done before. It’s something I really struggled with as goalkeeper is a lonely place. You kick one out for a throw-in and the crowd are on your back straight away.
“But while I struggled with that, coming back from Aberdeen to League One and Two, it was a lot easier to cope with after being at a club like Aberdeen. It was a fantastic experience for me playing there.”
While Brown did keep 20 clean sheets in 42 games for Aberdeen, mistakes in bigger matches ultimately are still remembered, such is the ruthless nature of goalkeeping. It’s something Brown himself acknowledges.
He explained: “I felt I did ok for the majority of the time I was up there but I thought I let people down in the big games. The League Cup semi-final against Dundee United, I let people down in that game. I came for a cross and didn’t get it.
“Two minutes later and a shot bounces over me and we’re out the cup. Then at Celtic Park, I was bullied from a corner, and we went 1-0 down. I felt my clean sheet record was good but I let the team down in the big moments.
“That’s something I will probably be remembered for. In the big games I wasn’t good enough and that’s what you are remembered for as a goalkeeper.”
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