Brown feels justified in excluding Gough from Scotland squad

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Former Scotland manager Craig Brown
Former Scotland manager Craig Brown

Former Scotland coach Craig Brown still believes he was right not to pick Richard Gough for the national team.

Brown, who was in charge between 1993 and 2001, will never disclose the reason behind his decision, insisting he will take it to his grave.

Gough had quit international duty under Brown's predecessor Andy Roxburgh.

Former Scotland defender Richard Gough
Richard Gough played for Scotland at Euro 92, but fell out with Andy Roxburgh the following year

Brown, though, resisted persistent media pressure to select him, and insists the decision was in the best interests of "team spirit".

Gough never added to his 61 caps following the fall out with Roxburgh after Scotland were defeated 5-0 in Portugal in 1993. Brown was assistant manager at the time, but took charge of the team three months later when Roxburgh was sacked.

Having worked closely with Roxburgh, and observed Gough at first-hand on several occasions on international duty, Brown decided not to select the defender, despite impressive form with his club Rangers, where he was captain.

Brown has never revealed why he took that decision, even when there was clamour from the media and fans to recall the centre-back. He maintains, though, that he was justified in his reasoning.

"Sometimes as the number two you learn more, or you hear more, and players confide in you because you're not the manager," Brown told BBC Radio Scotland's Managing Scotland series.

"I watched and listened to what happened with Richard Gough, who I've got to say was an outstanding player. I didn't pick him because of what I saw happening, what I heard, and I thought, '[leaving Gough out] is going to be good for the team spirit'.

"I've never disclosed the issue, and I've written three autobiographies. Everyone asks me. In fact, one of the big papers in Scotland said, 'If you tell us the Gough story, we'll give you a bigger serialisation fee'.

"I'm not going into it. Richard knows, and Walter Smith, the [Rangers] manager [at the time], and so does David Murray [the Rangers chairman at the time], because he asked me and I had a lunch with him.

"Yes [it will go to the grave], unless Richard wants [to explain it]… it's not anybody's business. I may have been wrong, and I'm not saying I'm always right.

"At the beginning, it was [the biggest dilemma I faced], but I didn't bat an eyelid. I said, 'I'm going to do this job the way that I want to do it. If it doesn't include Richard Gough, we lose a few games and the press say he should be in, then that's it. I would rather do what I thought was right rather than pander to the media or to the club'."

And Brown added: "The significant thing is that never once did the Rangers manager or chairman complain about me not picking Richard Gough.

"If my argument had been weak, they would have slaughtered me because he was captain of Glasgow Rangers and you don't leave out the captain of Glasgow Rangers unless you've got good cause to do so.

"When I've seen Richard - and I've met him I don't know how many times since - there is never any aggro between us, we respect each other."

Brown, now 73, is the longest-serving Scotland manager, and guided the national team to Euro 96 in England and the France 98 World Cup finals. However, he was branded a bigot and a love cheat by one Sunday newspaper during the course of his managerial reign, two accusations he vehemently denies.

"They look for anything they can make a story [with]," he said. "There was so much inaccurate stuff, nonsense, and I was dismissive of it because I knew it wasn't true.

"I don't know where [the bigot story] came from, the accusation was that I was favouring Rangers players over Celtic players. I got great support from Celtic and I always have had.

"Kenny Dalglish was the manager there and he invited me over, and Peter Grant called and said 'I'm a witness for you', Billy McNeill wrote, 'If Brown's a bigot, I'm a ballerina', in The Sun.

"[I am] not a love cheat either, that's not true, honestly. I just think it's horrendous that people should believe that is the case.

"I used to get a highlighter out… there was one front page they wrote about me and there were 11 factual inaccuracies in it."

Managing Scotland, Saturday 21 June, 15:00 BST, BBC Radio Scotland.