Ex-Hearts and Hibs man Billy Brown aims for the play-offs with East Fife

Billy Brown is adapting to life at a lower level after a career in the top flight
Billy Brown is adapting to life at a lower level after a career in the top flight
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BILLY BROWN always wanted to be a manager in his own right. Now in the Scottish Second Division, he reckons he has found the perfect place to test himself.

Brown is just over six weeks into his first manager’s assignment in senior football after being appointed boss of East Fife.

Having spent more than 20 years as assistant to Jim Jefferies at Berwick, Falkirk, Hearts (twice), Bradford and Kilmarnock, Brown spent ten months at Hibs working under 
Colin Calderwood and latterly Pat Fenlon.

After his application to manage Hibs before Fenlon’s arrival was rejected, Brown finally got the chance to go it alone when the Fifers came calling last month.

It hasn’t taken him long to prove his credentials, the Methil side having won their last three matches to move into contention for a play-off spot, although their charge took a slight knock after last night’s 1-0 defeat by Stranraer.

Brown admitted: “I’ve got great ambitions and I want to make a good go of this for myself and for everyone connected with the club.

“The one great thing about the Second Division is that it is so tight. There’s not much between the teams and it’s very, very competitive.

“I get the same buzz out of winning a game with East Fife as I did with any other team, no matter what division.

“And I put the same demands on my de

fenders as I did with the likes of David Weir when he was at Hearts with me, so I expect a lot from my players.

“We’ve won a few games of late and, for a team that was sitting bottom of the league, I think that’s not bad going.

“It was what we needed. I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy, but the players have responded really well to what we’re trying to do and hopefully it can continue from there.”

Brown admits that it has been a bit of a culture shock working in the Second Division after a career that has seen him work within the SPL and English Premier League.

While conceding that part-time football has taken some getting used to, he insisted: “As far as being a manager or an assistant manager goes, I don’t really find much of a difference.

“Here I take training anyway and that is what I was always used to doing.

“In all the years that I worked with Jim, we were a real team and we took responsibility 
for different things. It’s all about what happens over a period of time, it’s about consistency – particularly when you are a part-time club.

“If you’re full-time and you lose a game or don’t play particularly well then you can come in on the Monday and get whatever problems there have been ironed out.

“With a part-time club you’re probably waiting until the Tuesday night and then the Thursday night, but that’s what it’s all about.

“It’s how you deal with it that counts and, if we can get some consistency, then we’ll be 
halfway there.

“East Fife is a great club and the people who work there are second to none. It’s a good wee set-up. It is different from what I have been used to, there’s no getting away from that.

“For the last 20 years or so I have worked with clubs in the top leagues so it has taken a bit of getting used to.

“I chose to come here, I wanted this job and I will do it to the best of my ability.

“Hopefully, it will be an exciting season.”

This Sunday, two of Brown’s former clubs, Hibs and 
Kilmarnock, will do battle in the lunchtime kick-off at Rugby Park.

And he fears that Hibs, who have lost out to Motherwell and Inverness over the last fortnight, could be up against it again when they travel to 
Ayrshire this weekend. He said: “I was with Kilmarnock for a long time and I know what a good club they are. I also worked with Hibs, although 
not for such a long time and it is a game that interests me greatly. Kilmarnock are a good side and I think that they will make it difficult for Hibs this weekend. Hibs have lost their last two league games and the 
defeat by Motherwell last weekend would have been a hard one for them to take.

“I think they have maybe struggled to find their form a bit over the last month or so.

“I know that they have had a few injuries to contend with in recent weeks but that seems to be easing, although 
James McPake will miss out this weekend through 
suspension. Hibs have got a lot of good players and Leigh Griffiths has been scoring a lot of goals but, if Kilmarnock play well, Hibs could have a job on their hands.”

Despite his move to the Second Division, Brown still keeps in touch with the SPL and tries to get along to a game whenever he can. He won’t make it to Rugby Park this Sunday but he continued: “I still keep a close eye on what’s happening in the SPL and I have been to 
both Easter Road and 
Tynecastle a couple of times since I left.

“It (the SPL) is the place to be when it comes to Scottish football and I try to get along to a game when I can, usually the Sunday match.”