Linnets Legends - Gary Brabin
No series on Linnets Legends could be complete without one of the club’s characters. Occasionally in a club’s history, a player arrives who captures the hearts of the fans and Gary Brabin was one such player. Brabs holds a special place in the hearts of the Runcorn fans, not because he was necessarily one of the best players we ever had, but because he was a character and all teams need players like him.
Gary joined the Linnets from Gateshead and he had also had a spell at Stockport County. In programme notes, he was always described as extrovert and enthusiastic. He was a runner up twice with the Linnets in FA Trophy finals at Wembley in 1993, when we were defeated by Martin O’Neill’s Wycombe Wanderers and the following year when we were desperately unlucky to lose 2 – 1 to Woking.
Although he started life as a midfield player, Brabs was equally at home as a centre back, especially as he was so good in the air. He was the type of player who would always attack the ball and never knew when he was beaten. Inevitably with players like Gary he had his fair share of cards, yellow and red. He had joined us as a 21 year old from the North East team in 1991/92 season, although Gary was actually from the Liverpool area, a typical Scouser, larger than life and utterly likeable. I remember him scoring a goal at Witton from some preposterous distance and the celebration that went with it. Gary was born in Liverpool in December 1970 and was at one time a night club bouncer!
Gary kept us going at a time when the fates seemed to be against us in what was probably the worst period in the club’s history with the Hull fans wrecking a perimeter wall and then the main stand burning down, forcing us to move away from our beloved Canal Street ground. The semi final home leg against Guiseley in 1994 had to be played at Chester and Gary was unfortunately sent off in that match for two bookable offences. But despite that the Linnets came through with a magnificent header from Kenny McKenna in the final minute of extra time at Guiseley in the second leg. Gary moved on after the second Wembley appearance and only recently has he had to give up playing due to a heart condition after a spell at TNS. He represented the England non league team and played for a host of League teams when he left the Linnets, including Torquay, Hull (!), Blackpool and Bury amongst others. Gary was a true Linnets Legend and we wish him luck in the future.
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