Northampton born inside left Harry Brown began his early football career playing for St Sepulchre’s of Northampton and started his professional career with hometown Southern League club Northampton Town in 1902, from where he was signed by First Division West Bromwich Albion in November 1903, making his Football League debut against Everton the same month. However he couldn’t prevent The Baggies being relegated at the end of the season, Brown spending one more season with Albion in the Second Division before moving back to the Southern League when he joined Southampton in April 1905 after 5 goals in 36 appearances for West Bromwich.
Brown made his Southampton debut on 23rd September 1905, when he replaced George Harris at inside left in a 2-1 victory at Northampton. For the rest of the season, the No. 10 shirt would alternate between Brown and Harris. Described as “a clever ball player”, Brown had a “deceptive style which often disconcerted his opponents” thus giving his team-mates goalscoring opportunities. He was also a goalscorer in his own right and in his first season at The Dell he scored 10 league and 4 FA Cup goals from a total of 23 appearances, thus making him the club’s top goal-corer (with Fred Harrison) for the 1905-06 season. Included in his goal tally were a brace against local rivals, Portsmouth, in a 5-1 victory in an FA Cup tie on 13th January and a hat-trick in a 9-1 victory over his hometown club, Northampton Town, on 27th January 1906.
His goalscoring talents were noticed by Newcastle United and in May 1906 he accepted the “tempting terms” offered to him and moved to St James’ Park for a fee of £380, together with his Southampton team mate Jimmy Soye. He made an immediate impact on Tyneside, scoring a hat-trick on his debut in a 4-2 victory at Birmingham City on 8th September 1906. His spell at Newcastle was brief but highly successful, as they claimed the League Championship at the end of the 1906-07 season by three points over Bristol City. Brown also scored twice on 9th March 1907 in the Charity Shield Final in a 5-2 victory over top amateur club Corinthians. Although Brown made two appearances at the start of the following season, he lost his place at inside left to Finlay Speedie and after 10 goals in 25 appearances for The Toon he moved to Bradford Park Avenue for £250 in October 1907.
Bradford had previously been a rugby union team and had only started playing football in 1907 and, despite their geographical situation, were playing their inaugural season in the Southern League. After six months with Bradford, Brown returned to the Football League when he joined Fulham in March 1908. He remained with Fulham for two full seasons in the Second Division (finishing in the upper part of the table) before returning to Southampton in September 1910 after 21 goals in 55 appearances for The Cottagers.
The Saints had made a poor start to the 1910-11 Southern League season having won only once in their first six games, and Brown was persuaded to re-join the club, replacing Bill Buckenham who returned to the Army. With Brown playing alongside Frank Jefferis and new signings Sid Kimpton and Martin Dunne, the team started to turn the season round and in the six weeks from the start of November 1910 they won six out of seven games with Brown scoring six goals, including a hat-trick in a 5-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle. From January onwards, however, the season took a turn for the worse and the team only managed two more victories narrowly avoiding relegation at the end of the season, with Brown only scoring twice more. Nonetheless, Brown’s tally of 9 League and Cup goals made him the club’s top goalscorer for the season, jointly with Dunne.
By now, Brown had begun to slow but his “clever touches … served the club well” for two further seasons, in both of which The Saints continued to struggle at the lower end of the table finishing a few places above the relegation zone. In 1911-12, Brown shared the inside left duties with Archie Small, scoring 7 goals from 29 League appearances, but in 1912-13 he only made six appearances and his final match came on 23rd November 1912 (a 2-0 home victory over Plymouth Argyle), a week after the team had suffered their worst ever defeat in a competitive match, losing 8-0 at Crystal Palace. In his two spells for Southampton, Brown made a total of 81 appearances in all competitions, scoring 31 goals. In the summer of 1913, Brown retired from professional football although he did turn out for local club Woolston until the outbreak of the First World War.
NB This photograph is grafted from the 1907-08 Newcastle United team photograph, please see the linked image.