John Bond’s right-hand man Ken Brown pays tribute to former Norwich City manager
Ken Brown, a former team-mate of John Bond at West Ham and his right-hand man in management at Bournemouth and Norwich, has spoken of his sorrow at losing one of his oldest friends in football.
'It's a very sad day. It was not entirely unexpected from my point of view because John hadn't been too well for a while and there were times when he couldn't even talk to me on the phone, but of course it is still a shock when it happens,' said Brown, who had been in regular contact with his former colleague, who was living at Hale, Greater Manchester.
Centre-half Brown and full-back Bond first met in the early 1950s when both were young players at West Ham.
'John was a little bit older than me and he was in the Army doing his national service a bit before I went in,' he recalled.
'As a player he could put the ball on a sixpence. His accuracy was his greatest strength.
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'Of course we were team-mates at West Ham for years, and played together when we won the FA Cup in 1964, but we only really became close friends when we both went to Torquay as players when Frank O'Farrell was manager. We still trained at West Ham and travelled down each week.'
The two men teamed up in management after Bond became Bournemouth boss in 1970.
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'John started his coaching at Gillingham and I was at Hereford with the great John Charles, and then John was offered the Bournemouth job and asked me to go there as his assistant. Then it was on to Norwich,' he said.
'He believed in attacking football and everything we did in training was with the ball. Everything was planned to the last detail and if it didn't come off he could get very frustrated.'
The two men went their separate ways in 1980 when Bond became Manchester City manager, but – controversially at the time - did not take Brown with him as assistant. Brown stayed on to manage Norwich for seven years.
But Brown, 78, and his old team-mate remained good friends in later years.
'The last time we met was at a function at West Ham but the last time John came to Norwich was one of the reunions and we had John, Ted MacDougall and Kevin Keelan all staying at our house. That was quite a gathering,' said Brown.
'John was a great character. He said what he thought and, at times, he riled people, but he was honest and felt he had to say what he felt had to be said, you always knew where you were with him.
'As a player, he was strong and I loved playing alongside him - but my memories are not just of a great team-mate, but as a special friend. I will miss him.'