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Book Review: Mud, Blood And Studs by James Brown

Published on: 18 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 18 Sep, 2022

By David Rose

The player Guildford City Football Club counts as its number one legend has to be James “Jimmy” Brown.

Between 1937 and 1940 he made 150 appearances for the club and scored 148 goals. He was a key member of the side that won for the club the Southern League Championship for the first time.

Guildford City’s team, staff and directors on the occasion of the club winning for the first time the Southern League Championship, 1937-38 season. James “Jimmy” Brown is standing to the right of the goalkeeper in the middle row.

However, his career was much more than this, as were the sporting exploits by other members of his immediate clan and extended family too over the years in both football and rugby.

James Brown is a grandson of Jimmy and has written a super book about this sporting family and the action that took place not only in the UK but also in the USA and South Africa!

The author has spent some six years of detailed research to tell these stories and he tells them well – a must if you enjoy tales of family history, sporting history, or even better, both.

The Brown brothers pictured at Troon in the mid 1930s. From left: Andrew, James (“Jimmy”), John and Tom (sitting).

Jimmy was born in Troon, near Kilmarnock, Scotland in 1908. He had three brothers and four sisters. However, there were family problems and his father, who was an alcoholic, left, emigrating to the USA.

In 1920, Jimmy also went to the USA, joining other member of the family and settled in New Jersey.

Not to give the details of his story away too much, he began playing football locally becoming a very good player, and because his father had become an American citizen, young Jimmy was eligible to play for the national team.

A colourised photo of the USA team at the 1930 World Cup. Jimmy Brown is on the far left, kneeling.

He played for the USA in the first ever World Cup, hosted by Uruguay in 1930. The team reached the semi-finals losing to Argentina 6-1, Jimmy of course scoring the USA’s consolation goal.

Although I was only six years old when England won the World Cup in 1966, I do have some memories of the England matches and I do remember asking my parents why the USA weren’t playing in it. My parents’ reply was something along the lines of: “They don’t play much football in The USA.” This comment may have had something to do with the memories still being a bit raw of the USA beating England in the 1950 World Cup, 1-0.

However, rather interestingly the book reveals the extent of USA football while Jimmy played in the States and the clubs he played for.

Playing for Brentford, Jimmy Brown sees his shot saved by Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Percy Hooper.

Jimmy was a prolific goal-scorer and returned to England to play first for Manchester United, then Brentford, followed by Tottenham Hotspur, before coming to Guildford City.

What a perfect time to play for the City in such a great team. The book charts plenty of information about his playing days for the club.

With much professional and semi-professional sport halted during the Second World War, Jimmy returned to Scotland doing his bit for the war effort working as a riveter in a shipyard.

After the war he continued to play for a while before retiring. He died in 1994.

The book then charts the careers of his two brothers, John and Tom and their playing careers in Scottish football, and then Jimmy’s son, George who made his name as a exceptional professional footballer in the USA. Lots of fascinating details here too, including him later being a director and acting president of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

George’s son, Dave (born in 1965), also became a footballer and later a referee and coach in New Jersey.

And so the family connections with sport at a high level continue. Jimmy’s brother John’s two sons chose rugby as their sport. Peter played for Scotland and Gordon represented the British & Irish Lions.

While on Jimmy’s mother’s side of the family, relatives with the surname Lambie, have Alex (born 1923), another footballer with a distinguished football career with Partick Thistle and other teams including Swindon Town and Chester.

Bringing the family story into modern times, the author writes that Patrick Lambie emerged in 2009/10 as one of the finest rugby players in South Africa. In 2015, Patrick was selected for South Africa’s squad for the World Cup in England.

The book also contains recollections and tributes to these sportsmen from friends and sports professionals, and includes one from Barry Underwood, the secretary of Guildford City Football Club, whose tribute to Jimmy Brown includes: “There will be very few people today who saw Jim play in the red and white stripes.

“He was a goalscorer supreme and his period at the club between 1937 and 1940 coincided with Guildford’s best ever side; a team that had World War Two not intervened may well have been elected to the Football League.”

And Barry’s comment that the club might have gone up to the Football League was just what my dad used to tell me!

The author of Mud, Blood And Studs, James Brown.

Mud, Blood And Studs – One Family’s Legacy in Soccer and Rugby Across Three Continents, by James Brown, is published by Pitch Publishing, based in Chichester.

It is hardback with 224 pages and plenty of black and white colour photos. The publisher’s price is £16.99.

It can also be bought as an e-book.

Click here for details about the book on the publisher’s website that gives links to other book sellers and online ordering.

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Responses to Book Review: Mud, Blood And Studs by James Brown

  1. Rob Taylor Reply

    September 19, 2022 at 4:40 pm

    My wife’s dad, George Bytheway, is front row on the left.

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