‘I’d have loved to manage Raith Rovers’ – ex-PM Brown

Venue: East End Park, Dunfermline Date: Friday, 24 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC Scotland, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website & app

Many clubs can boast having a famous fan, but few (and certainly very few in Scotland) can count a former prime minister among their ranks.

It is no secret that Gordon Brown, who led the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010, has had a long association with Raith Rovers.

But did you know that a political commitment prevented the former Labour Party leader from witnessing one of Raith’s most famous wins?

It was 1994 and Raith Rovers were playing favourites Celtic in the Scottish League Cup final at Ibrox, during Hampden Park’s renovation, and claimed a famous win on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

“I had to do this interview because I was shadow chancellor – it was on the same day as the match with Celtic and you didn’t get feed from Scotland into London at that time,” Brown told BBC Scotland from inside the home dressing room at Stark’s Park.

“There was no way I could see the pictures or get to the match. I was actually listening to the match with my brother playing it over the telephone!

“It was a bad diversion – I would’ve preferred to be at the football match!”

Brown has followed the Kirkcaldy club and the national side through many ups and downs, and when asked who the best player he ever saw was, his answer is quick: “Jim Baxter.

“I was able to watch him when he played for Raith Rovers. I was shocked when he went to Rangers. [but] he played brilliantly for them.

“He was just such a skilful player. Everybody in Fife is proud of Jim Baxter.

“When you’re a kid, you dream of playing for your local team. I’ve been a shareholder and I started off here as a programme seller.

“I’d love to have been manager of Raith Rovers, [but] I’m not the expert that other people are.”

Friday’s Scottish Cup opponents and Fife rivals Dunfermline Athletic also have political connections, with their famed former player and manager Jim Leishman the current provost of Fife.

“Jim’s an incredible guy,” Brown says. “Jim was incredibly popular as a player. Great manager.

“He’s a hero across the whole of Fife. As provost, he represents everyone.”

While Raith get their Scottish Cup campaign under way on Friday night live on BBC Scotland, they have already made a strong start to the Championship season.

So, with Ian Murray’s side second in the division after a third of their games played, is this the year they return to the top flight after 26 years?

“I think Raith Rovers have got a very good chance this season,” says Brown.

Gordon Brown was speaking to BBC Scotland’s Brian McLauchlin

Watch an interview with Gordon Brown on Sportscene on BBC Scotland on Friday from 19:30 GMT