One of the most interesting, and speculated on, transfer stories in the history of Scottish football was the one that saw Scott Brown end up at Celtic Park and Kevin Thomson end up at Ibrox. They were best mates.
They were both exceptionally talented kids at Hibs, and all the talk was that if they left they’d go together.
They never did.
So many myths – so many outright lies – have surrounded that story over the years.
I remember hearing about Scott Brown’s famous Rangers tattoo. I remember Derek Johnstone, after Thomson was a Rangers player, saying that Brown was headed for Ibrox with him, and that so set on the move was he that Hibs would turn down a higher offer than the one from Ibrox.
I also remember hearing from a cast iron source that Peter Lawwell was so bullish about the Brown deal that he told a group of Celtic fans that the ball was in our court and if it came to a bidding war that we would win. He was the one we wanted most. That was as good as done.
When Rangers fans sang “Scott Brown, we’re gonnae get Scott Brown …” to Hibs fans at Easter Road many in the media believed just that. The Rangers tattoo story was only one part of it. There were also the glib assurances from the media that where one went the other was bound to go too, and that was given weight by an astonishing Keith Jackson headline, that Kevin Thomson was so up for the move that he “would walk over broken glass to get to Ibrox.”
And you know what?
All of it was bollocks.
Kevin Thomson gave an incredible interview, to Si Ferry of Open Goal, which along with Brown’s own statements on this subject obliterates the “official story” and sets the record straight once and for all, unequivocally, whether the media likes it or not.
Thomson says there was a deal on the table for both he and Brown … but it came from Celtic and not from Rangers.
And he was up for it.
He makes that abundantly clear.
He makes it plain that his first love was Hibs but that he realised, early in his career, that he would not fulfil his footballing ambitions at the club he’d followed his whole life … and which he follows today, along with his sons. Hibs is in his blood; that’s the be-all-and-end-all of it.
When the decision came to move, he says that as far as Scotland came he had two huge options. He confesses freely that his relationship with Hibs had gotten to the point where he was willing to leave just to end the tension. When the club appeared to accept a £5 million bid for both players he was keen to get the deal over the line.
Thomson had agreed to sign for us … and not reluctantly.
He had given his consent to a five year deal.
But Rangers made a separate offer, just for him. And the club accepted it.
Thomson appears to have waited for Celtic before making up his mind; he tells the interviewer that he always assumed it was him, and not so much Brown, that the club was interested in most.
Talk about a misjudgement!
I’ve heard that the interest in Thomson was real at Celtic, but that as much as his skills as a player the major factor was that it was seen as a nice card to have to hand in terms of convincing Brown to sign; don’t forget, we later paid near enough that £5 million just to get our hands on the current club captain.
I suspect that Rangers also believed it was useful as leverage. They couldn’t afford the £5 million, but they might well have calculated that signing Thomson might have put pressure on Hibs to sell Brown to them at a deep discount. Another major misjudgement.
Neither Thomson nor Brown let such considerations concern them, and Hibs managed to get a hefty sum from us for Scott and another chunk of change from Rangers for him, so it looks to all like everyone got a reasonably good deal out of it, right?
Well, yes, except for Thomson himself, whose enjoyment of a move to a huge club was soured, forever, by the lies written about him by The Daily Record’s resident hack Jackson.
Thomson tells the story of how, exhausted, he was in the back of a cab when he got a call from the “journalist” and asked to supply some quotes about the story. Thomson told Jackson he was not up for any more interviews that day; he’d done a bunch of them already.
Jackson asked him if he could simply write something himself.
And whilst you ponder that, and the doe-eyed innocence Thomson revealed in agreeing to that, think on the kind of journalist who thinks it’s kosher to make up quotes when he can’t get any … and then basically sinks someone with pure bullshit.
Thomson woke up to a story so toxic that just a few weeks later he returned to Easter Road and was booed by the whole stadium.
He says it caused him problems for years.
Jackson and his noxious reporting have doubtless caused similar problems for others over the timeframe.
They know no shame.
You can watch the interview here.
It’s eye-opening alright.