In memory of Derek Brown

We are sad to announce the passing of Derek Brown. Here is a summary of the huge contribution he made to Barming Youth FC.

DEREK BROWN: BYFC history and tribute.

Like most of us who have become involved in the Barming Youth family, Derek started with the club when his son, Neil, wanted to trial for the Under-10s. It was 1988.

To set the scene, at the time that was the youngest age group that the Invicta League ran. Then, the Club ran under 10’s, under-11s, under 12’s, under 14’s and under -16s – one side per age-group, so there were actual trials particularly for the younger age-groups and unfortunately if a player didn’t get picked for the squad he would have to find a different club.

The following season, again like most of us, Derek volunteered to help the running of Under-11s and before he knew it he was assistant manager to Dick Venamore (who’s son, Lee, incidentally, became a Football League referee). Richard Sinden, who went on to play for numerous Kent League sides including Maidstone, was also in the side then. Derek spent many hours marking the lines, putting up goalposts, taking the subs, being the first-aid man etc, etc, etc.

From that season, Derek became involved in the Club and from then on was totally committed to BYFC, so much so that he gave up his first love, scouting. I was then also caught up in the “family”, running the Under 12’s. At the time Derek lived opposite me, and we’d spent several evenings talking about our teams, the Club and the next game, and of course our other big interest, Arsenal FC.

After a couple of seasons Neil decided that he didn’t want to play football any more. In many, many cases that would also would mean Dad deciding to step down as well but not Derek – if anything he became more immersed in the Club.

Derek volunteered for sub-committees as the Club started to grow. Presentation evenings, famously the first one we became involved in was opened by Steve Coppell, then the Crystal Palace manager, Xmas raffles, but most special of all at the time was the organising and setting-up for the Club’s first summer tournament in the early 1990’s. There were 6 of us who volunteered to start it off, and all of us had been totally fed-up with going to other club’s tournaments and spending all day there with about 2 hours between each game. Derek came up with the idea of 6-a-side, which then was unique, and the group also went for age-groups per session - a format that has lasted to this day. The first tournament was at the school, over a weekend, with 8 teams per age-group in driving rain.

In 1992, Derek was approached by the Primary League as to whether he’d like to join the Committee and from then on his association with League started which lasted the rest of his life. Just after that his team folded which put the Club in a difficult position as on the face of it there was no position for him on the Committee. The Club certainly didn’t want to lose his involvement and dedication, so a new position was created - Committee Assistant. I think he may have taken his responsibilities too far when on one particular occasion he knocked another manager’s front door, demanding subs that he hadn’t paid in.

The Club was growing very quickly through the 1990’s which the huge increase in popularity in boy’s football – Under -13s and Under -15’s football were introduced by the Invicta league, under 8’s and Under-9s introduced by the Invicta league – BYFC were very reluctant to start Under-8s, they thought it was too young – I remember Derek being very opposed to this. Barming entered a team in the very first Under-18s League in 1995. The Club was also starting to enter 2 sides per age-group. In all this Derek was becoming more involved for both the Club and the League.

In 1996, the Club organised an Olympic day, as it was an Olympic year, Derek was the MC and he really went to town—he borrowed loads of items from his scouting mates, so there was tug-of-war, obstacle race, sack race, high jump, circuit races and loads more. He virtually organised it all and he was so proud of it. It was such a success.

Derek went for and was elected to the post of vice-Chairman in 1997, and about the same time became the Registration Secretary of the Primary League, a post he held for many years and woe betide you if your registration was late. The Club certainly benefited greatly from Derek’s link to the Primary League particularly further along the line where he could give an experienced view of any issues that the Club had.

In late 1990’s the Club fielded a senior side in the Maidstone and Mid-Kent Sunday League for the first time, Derek had to be persuaded that this was a good thing as he thought that the club was a youth club only.

Derek was initially sceptical about projects that the Club had initiated, for example, F.A. Charter Club and girl’s football, but once persuaded, he was totally committed to them and couldn’t have been more supportive.

When I left the Club about 8 years ago, Derek was still going strong, as fiercely driven as ever.

Without doubt Barming Youth owes so much to Derek Brown—every Club needs a stalwart, a clubman, someone who is extra-reliable and prepared to do anything—but Derek went above and beyond that. I am proud to have known him, enjoyed his company and have him as a good friend.

Steve Ansell