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Bobby Brennan

Like many Northern Ireland internationals, Bobby Brennan’s footballing career was spent in the English lower Leagues, but he will be long remembered for one spectacular season…

Name: Robert Anderson Brennan
Born: 14 March 1925, Belfast
Died: 1 January 2002, Norwich
Height: 5.08½ ft
Weight: 10.07 st
Position: Forward

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 5 Full Caps/1 Goal (1949-1950); Regional “War-Time” League: 1 Cap.
Club Honours: (with Distillery) Irish Cup Runner-Up 1945/46; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1945/46; Gold Cup Runner-Up 1947/48; (with Norwich) Football League Division Three Runner-Up 1959/60.

Club Career:
FA Cup
49th Scouts
Bloomfield Utd
(East Belfast Summer League)
*108/ 58
Luton Town
69/ 22
Birmingham City
39/  7
1/ 0
73/ 13
7/ 3
Norwich City
117/ 30
10/ 2
Great.Yarmouth T.
(Eastern Counties League)
Norwich City
108/ 14
15/ 6
King's Lynn
(Midlands League)
* all games

Bobby Brennan made his debut for Distillery as an outside-right on 18th March 1944, and scored. The following season he established himself at inside-forward, and over the following three seasons made 108 appearances, scoring 58 goals – including six in one match with Cliftonville in January 1947.

Fast, clever and creative, Brennan moved to England to join Second Division side Luton Town for £2,000 in October 1947 - he spent the next thirteen years plying his trade in the Football League. A big money £20,000 move in the summer of 1949 took him to First Division Birmingham City, but they were relegated in his first season. Brennan did however stay in the top flight when he joined a struggling Fulham side for a £19,500 fee. They too were relegated in 195
2, and with his place coming under pressure from a young Johnny Haynes, he joined Division Three (South) side Norwich for £15,000. It was at Carrow Road where he was to become a legend.

In total Brennan made 250 first-team appearances for City, scoring 52 goals. Four of those goals came when he was a key part of Archie Macaulay's FA Cup giant-killing team of 1958/59, for which he will be best remembered, when his dazzling ball skills as outside-left helped take City to the brink of a Wembley final. He scored twice in the 3-2 quarter-final replay win against Sheffield United and remains the only player to have scored for City in an FA Cup semi-final, against his former club, Luton at White Hart Lane, on his 34th birthday, but Norwich where destined to lose.

Brennan had left Norwich in 1956 over a contract dispute and spent a year playing with Kings Lynn. After a year he returned to play under former Fulham team-mate Macauley, and made his final League appearance in 1960, as Norwich won promotion to Division Two.

More usually a winger or inside-forward at club level, two of Brennan’s five caps came as centre-forward, including in a game against England at Maine Road in November 1949 when he scored his only international goal as Northern Ireland slumped to a 9-2 defeat. His debut had came in March that year, playing in his more usual inside-left role, in a 2-0 defeat by Wales at Windsor Park, and his final cap came at Windsor Park against England in October 1950 with Northern Ireland again being defeated heavily, this time 4-1.

After retiring as a player in April 1960, Brennan coached King's Lynn of the Southern League. Highly thought of by his Norwich City team-mates, his fellow ‘59ers’ dubbed him ‘Sir Robert’. He remained in the Norwich area until his death, following a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, on New Year’s Day 2002.

Northern Ireland Cap Details:

09-03-1949 Wales... H L 0-2 BC
01-10-1949 Scotland H L 2-8 BC/WCQ
06-11-1949 England. A L 2-9 BC/WCQ 1 goal

08-03-1950 Wales... A D 0-0 BC/WCQ
07-10-1950 England. H L 1-4 BC

5/1. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 4.


john powley said…

An artist with a football,strategist,play maker and goal scorer.Essentially an inside left but switched to the wing during the famous Norwich City Cup run of 1958/59 where the Press dubbed him the Stanley Matthews of the left wing.Also called "the Governor" by his team mates.
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