Final whistle blows for football legend Brooksie – Tributes for former Spurs, Stevenage and Knebworth star Johnny Brooks who has died aged 84

Johnny Brooks

Johnny Brooks - Credit: Archant

Stevenage’s footballing fraternity has been paying tribute to former England and Spurs legend Johnny Brooks – known affectionately as Brooksie – who has passed away at the age of 84.

Known as a brilliant dribbler of the ball who could mesmerise defences, Johnny was a prominent member of the high-flying Spurs sides of the 1950s, scoring 51 goals in 179 appearances for the North London side between 1953 and 1959.

He was also capped three times for England, netting twice for the national team.

He narrowly missed out on winning the title with Spurs, and his ‘nice guy’ mentality meant he didn’t always get stuck into the no-holds-barred game that dominated his era in the way some managers wanted.

He played for Chelsea, Brentford, Crystal Palace and in North America before signing for Stevenage Town in 1964.

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He was later player-manager at Knebworth – where he became a firm favourite with players and fans alike, and helped the club to the Herts County League championship.

John Stevens, who played under Johnny at Knebworth, remembers how he was idolised and protected by the other players around him.

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“If someone tried to take Brooksie out, then heaven help them,” he said.

“All the players would protect him. I remember one of his team-mates going in knee high on a player who had just taken Brooksie out and walking off the pitch even before the ref showed him the red card.

“He was a very popular player and manager and made a wonderful lot of friends in the Knebworth area.

“He had a fantastic six years for us and was always well respected by everyone at the club. They were great days and he got together a fantastic group of players.”

Even in his later years Johnny could still play more than a bit.

John said: “His ball control and his passing and skills were incredible.

“The players all wanted to play for him, rallying round him and protecting him on the pitch.

“His death is a huge huge loss to me and the local footballing world.”

Johnny moved to Bournemouth with his wife Maureen in his latter years, and five years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

A group of former players now gets together in Knebworth each year to play a round of golf for the Johnny Brooks trophy, which raises funds for dementia research.

Jim Murray, who played with Johnny in the very late stages of his career at Walkern Vets, said: “He was a very sincere and honest guy, and I was very pleased to know him.”

The funeral is set to take place at Bournemouth Crematorium next Wednesday, June 22.

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