Robert Brownett 1952-2024

Robert Brownett 1952-2024

Written by Richard Parsons

There can’t be many long-standing supporters who didn’t know Robbie, whose death, at the age of 72, was announced this week. 

During more than a half-century of service to the club, he held several positions and did many jobs, particularly on match days. 

He died at home in Sunbury last week. He had been in declining health  for some time and, in recent months, was unable to attend home matches. That would have been a cause of concern to him as his life was inter-twined with the history of our club since the 60s, when he began attending as a young supporter. 

I first met him when I began to cover games on a regular basis as the sports editor of the Surrey Comet newspaper. We were in a social group that stayed long after the final whistle to chew over the game and swap stories about football in general.  

Others in that group included our esteemed late president, Alan Simpson, kitman Malcolm Taylor, who was still playing for the reserves, and former chairman Graham Wood. 

Robbie and his brother also shared a passion for Sheffield  United, from where the family originated. 

As a committee man, he proposed me as club chairman in 1976 and we worked together in various roles in the succeeding years. In fact, he became the club’s first full-time club steward after giving up his Civil Service job. 

Robbie later returned to the Civil Service (he was a taxman, but we can forgive him for that!) but undertook a wide range of duties for the supporters’ club – now the trust – as turnstile operator, car park attendant and fund-raiser. 

How many of you reading this will have been waylaid by him at matches and forcibly reminded that you owed money to the 200 Club? I was no different. I could swear I was only a month in arrears, but he would produce a folder that showed I was in debt to a ridiculous amount. There was no alternative but to pay up. 

Even at the start of the season just finished, Robbie was taking the gate at Under-18 matches here at The Bev and paying the match officials from the cash he’d collected. It was a thankless task as most people don’t even consider turning out for a youth match. 

However, it was clear that things weren’t well with him as he felt unable to make the bus journey from his home. In fact, his attendance at first-team matches depended very much on the goodwill of fellow supporter Eric Levy and family to drive him to the ground, while I would often drop him off on my way home. 

Robbie was one of the few remaining people to pay for things with a cheque as he didn’t embrace anything digital. Not for him a bank transfer, even a debit card. And, as for mobile phones and the internet, forget it! He even watched old black and white films on his TV, which of course was free of any satellite intervention. 

Perhaps it’s ironic that these memories – along with some lovely tributes on the fans’ forum – have appeared on the world-wide web. Robbie would have far rather preferred an old-style newspaper cutting! 

At the time of writing, there are no funeral details, but we will publish them when we hear more. It is hoped to hold the wake in the Beveree clubhouse. 

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