Billy Brown today insisted he still has the enthusiasm and desire for football, despite the craziest year of his career ending in him being axed by Hibs.
The Easter Road No. 2 admitted he believed he’d be offered a new deal when his current contract expired today, only to learn he was being shown the door due to cash cuts at the club.
Revealing he was disappointed at only being given a few days’ notice, the 61-year-old said: “I’d spent the whole season under the impression I was going to be offered a new contract and, as far as Pat Fenlon was concerned, I was staying.”
Only this week, Hibs revealed they expected ‘collateral financial damage’ from their decision, along with Hearts, Dundee United, Aberdeen, St Johnstone and Inverness Caley to oppose a newco Rangers being admitted to the SPL, with, it would seem, Brown an unwitting victim of the collapse of the Ibrox giants.
He said: “I don’t know if the Rangers saga has had any influence, but it would have been easier if I’d been told at the end of last season, then I could have spent the summer investigating other avenues.
“Things change in football and I was told that, because of financial reasons, the club could not afford to keep me. I can understand that. If the club doesn’t have the money, it doesn’t have the money.”
“It’s been a bit of a knock for me, but I’ll pick myself up quickly and get on with it.”
Brown will undoubtedly be linked with the vacant post at First Division Raith Rovers after John McGlynn moved to take the reins at Tynecastle this week but he would only say: “I’m not going to rule anything out. I still have a lot of enthusiasm for the game, an enthusiasm and desire to continue and be successful.”
The bombshell news will no doubt give Brown time to reflect on a season unparalleled in Scottish football, one which began with him alongside Jim Jefferies in Gorgie and ended with Hibs being hammered in the first all-Edinburgh derby in 116 years by their Capital rivals.
In between, Brown was hired last September to assist Hibs boss Colin Calderwood only to see the former Scotland defender sacked a few weeks later, a move which saw him take temporary charge of the team and be interviewed as a candidate for the post on a permanent basis.
Instead, the club opted for Irishman Fenlon, who brought countryman Liam O’Brien to Edinburgh as first-team coach while Brown remained as assistant through what proved to be a difficult season as Hibs battled to avoid relegation, a feat achieved only in the second last game of the SPL season. Brown said: “There won’t be many who will have had the season I had in football. For a start, being with Hibs and Hearts in the same season is probably some sort of record. It started with such great hopes at Hearts only to be sacked after two games and then coming to Hibs, fighting relegation and ending up in the Cup final only for that to prove to be one of the biggest disappointments I have ever had.
“What a disaster it turned out to be. I think it was widely acknowledged Hearts had the better players and team but no-one expected Hibs to play as poorly as they did that day, it will take a long time for Hibs people to get over it.”
Brown, however, insisted that despite the disappointments, he had no regrets, saying: “Coming to Hibs was a great job for me and I can only thank the club for giving me the opportunity. I did think I had a chance of getting the manager’s job myself and was disappointed not to get it. I wish times had been better and I feel I could have contributed a lot more but unfortunately it did not work out that way.
“I thought I was going to be a bigger influence but I’m not bitter about anything. Being at Hibs is something I will always remember and cherish.”