One former player reckoned that he was the best stitcher in the game.
And in rugby league, where so many are protective of their good looks, that’s quite a compliment.
He was Doctor Roger Brown, formerly club doctor for Halifax at both Thrum Hall and the Shay who sadly passed away last month. And like so many club doctors, he had plenty of practise at stitching.
“Doc” took over from Dr Stephen Thornber in the summer of 1994 and stayed in the position until he moved to Bradford in the same capacity in 2002.
But he was more than merely a member of the club medical staff, in many cases GP as well to many players and a good friend as well.
The club doctor is always a player’s best mate when there are insurance and other claims forms to be completed! He is also at times the best buddy of the coach when he gets a player available for a big game, often with the help of a painkilling injection before the match or at halftime, a practice more widespread than many people believe.
On many an occasion patients at his surgeries were surprised to find themselves sitting next to household names in the queue! It became an expensive business sometimes though when he was seeking sponsorship for his charity participation in events like the London and New York marathons or his walk up Mount Kilimanjaro last year.
He popped up at many other games as well when a doctor was needed. He was the bloke who spent much of the second half stitching Dave Larder’s face in the Don Valley dressing room during a match versus Sheffield the other year.
Dr Brown was a keen allround sportsman himself and used to like pitting his wits against various Fax players like Wayne Parker on the tennis courts at Queens Sports Club.
It was a mark of the respect and esteem in which he was held that former notables such as Fereti Tuilagi, Mike Umaga and Gary Mercer took time out to travel to his funeral last week. There was a moving eulogy as well from Damian Gibson who took time out from his duties with the Welsh team who were preparing for their match versus Australia.
Others, lads like David Bouveng, were unable to get around the world in time. Dr Brown had been David and Nirelle Bouveng’s GP when their baby was born over here and they went to Australia to see “Boomer” the other year. Perhaps part of the attraction of the hospitality over there though was the fact that Bouveng had become a worker at the Fosters Lager brewery and used to arrive home every evening with a crate of tinnies in the boot of his car........
Australia had been part of his rugby education with Halifax in 1997 of course when Halifax had been Down Under for three weeks in the World Club Championship.
Dr Brown wasn’t just the doctor on that trip but also physio, masseur and, at times, psychiatrist.