Higgy! – 22/7/14

higgy3Amongst all the euphoria and optimism surrounding Brentford FC, today is tinged with a little sadness.

It is the second anniversary of the death of Tom Higginson or Higgy, as he was universally known or referred to with genuine affection.

You don’t find too many like Higgy anymore.

He gave Brentford eleven years of committed service and is regarded as a true Bees legend.

Signed by Manager Malcolm MacDonald from Kilmarnock in 1959, Higgy forced his way into what was a settled team firstly as an inside forward and then as a wing half.

For Brentford to make any signing at that time was a rarity as through parsimony and policy the club relied on a constant conveyor belt of local talent from the Juniors.

When the supply ran dry, MacDonald went back to his Scottish stamping grounds and brought in youngsters such as John Docherty, John Hales and Tom Higginson.

Some sank without trace, others flourished and Higgy kept hold of his shirt and fought off the competition from many players more technically gifted than him.

Why?

Because he was a winner who gave everything for the cause and never knew when he was beaten.

He was a true hardman, impervious to pain who gave and took tough knocks without complaint or recrimination.

higgy4The key to his game was to win the ball off an opponent and then play a simple pass to a player in a red and white shirt who was more capable of doing something positive with it.

No frills, nothing fancy, just pure effort and commitment and nonstop running and tackling for the entire ninety minutes.

Tough but fair, apart from one day when he and Shrewsbury’s hard man Eric Brodie went head to head and took things too far and were both dismissed – Brentford’s first sending off since the War.

It certainly was a different game in those days!

He played his role so well that opponents actively avoided him on the pitch and he blotted out many International forwards who went missing against Brentford.

I don’t want to sell him short though, as a couple of times each season Higgy would unleash a twenty yard screamer into the net, or score following a lung bursting box to box run.

No histrionics, no over celebrating, he would trot back to the centre circle with a shy grin on his face as if embarrassed that the spotlight had fallen on him.

In all Higgy played 433 times for Brentford and was second only to Ken Coote when he left the club and he is now fifth in line after Coote, Peter Gelson, Jamie Bates and Kevin O’Connor.

Even at thirty three his legs had enough left in them to inspire Hillingdon Borough, the elephant’s graveyard for ex-Bees, to reach a Wembley FA Trophy Final.

Higgy won a Fourth Division Championship medal in 1963 but more than that he won the admiration, respect and affection of every Brentford supporter.

In the dark days of 1967 when the very future of the club hung on a precipice, it was Higgy, a former Powderhall sprinter, who led a Brighton to London fundraising walk from start to finish, despite getting lost and losing his way and covering several extra miles.

higgy 2That was Higgy in a nutshell. He gave everything for the cause. After retiring from football he became a butcher, a career choice not without its sense of irony and he played local football well into his fifties.

He died far too young after Alzheimer’s took its toll.

I wonder if he is another to add to that ever growing list of former footballers who suffered the fatal consequence of repeated heading of what was more akin to a cannonball on wet days?

Higgy, today and everyday we salute you.

RIP.

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4 thoughts on “Higgy! – 22/7/14

  1. Dear Greville,
    A very fine and well-written tribute to one of the true Brentford greats. And a very good point about headers in the olden days – as we experienced briefly although fortunately not very often at Castlebar Road.
    Best wishes,
    Stephen O’Brien

    Like

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