St Johnstone owner Geoff Brown has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours List in recognition of his services to football and the community.
The Perthshire housebuilder rescued his ailing local football club from the brink of bankruptcy in 1986.
He engineered the business deal which saw Saints swap a dilapidated Muirton Park for the ground-breaking all-seated McDiarmid Park.
The GS Brown Construction chairman and horseracing enthusiast also created the Kinfauns Stables Riding for the Disabled facilities on the outskirts of the Fair City, with hundreds of youngsters enjoying free access to an indoor complex officially opened in 2016 by RDA president, the Princess Royal.
“It’s an honour and I am delighted to receive an OBE,” said Mr Brown, who has savoured three major trophy wins for the Perth club in recent years with son Steve at the helm.
“If this is for the work I have done for St Johnstone or Riding for the Disabled, it is also recognition for the many volunteers who have helped with both down the years.
“These were never a one-man band. A lot of loyal people have done their bit for the football club and the RDA along the way.
“But I have never taken a wage out of St Johnstone, neither has Steve. So effectively that’s 35 years of the Brown family putting in the hours for their local club.
“In football, people tend to have short memories but it was fantastic seeing the club win two cups last season.
“Looking back on my time as chairman, I enjoyed the promotions, especially when Paul Sturrock was manager. The downsides were the relegations and a 4-1 defeat at Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup.
“I am probably most proud of steering through the deal for McDiarmid Park. That was massive for the football club.
“No one thought I had a hope in hell of achieving a deal which saw Asda build us a new all-seater stadium, especially as we were the only club in Britain to manage it at the time.
“It was all a far cry from the debt-laden club I took on.”
Mr Brown (78) admits the Riding for the Disabled facility is also a source of immense pride.
“We have faced huge challenges since the start of the pandemic because the schools aren’t getting kids out during the day,” he explained.
“We have been trying to maintain the classes for the youngsters who need us most.
“Around 80% of RDAs have to close down when the clocks change but we are fortunate to have the indoor facility.
“We were doing 500 lessons a month before the pandemic hit. It’s still around 100 at the minute but hopefully we can pick things up again in 2022.
“We have a lot of very good volunteers supporting the work being done by my son Stuart and his wife Karen.
“I still get great delight seeing these youngsters coming off a horse for the first time with a big smile on their face. For me, that’s what it is all about.”