Millwall Football Club is saddened to hear of the passing of Ray Brand.
Raymond Ernest Brand was born in Islington in October 1934 and began his senior career with Hatfield Town, before becoming a professional with Millwall around his 17th birthday in 1951.
However, Ray had to bide his time in The Lions' Metropolitan League and reserve team fixtures before finally making his Football League debut in a local derby against Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve 1955. The game at Selhurst Park ended in a 2-2 draw and saw Ray appear in the next two games, a 5-0 thrashing of Gillingham at The Den and then a humbling 4-0 defeat at Bournemouth. Ray’s tally of games at the end of the 1955/6 season amounted to 16 in the League plus a first outing against Charlton Athletic in the Kent County Cup.
He began the following campaign as Millwall’s first choice at centre-half and would vie for the spot with another promising youngster, Charlie Hurley. It was in the FA Cup that season when Millwall reached the Fifth Round, in which Ray appeared in all the ties including the never-to-be-forgotten 2-1 victory against the Cup team of the 1950s, Newcastle United, which surely must have been Ray’s high point of his career.
Millwall’s last season in the old Third Division South (1957/8) saw Ray chalk up another 34 starts. By this time he was fast becoming an uncompromising defender with his masterful heading and a meaty challenge in the tackle.
The arrival of Henry Dove from Arsenal and the emergence of Dave Harper threatened Ray’s place in the team for the number five shirt, but Millwall manager Jimmy Seed made a positional switch which saw him use Ray in the centre-forward position. In just eight games up front Ray registered his first Millwall goals, six in all, including a hat-trick in the 4-0 demolition of Aldershot at The Den on 27th September 1958. The following season Ray would play in both roles, but mainly in defence, and would make a further 38 appearances, including his 100th game for The Lions in a 1-1 draw against Carlisle United in October 1960.
Despite appearing in over half of Millwall’s League fixtures, the 1960/61 season would be Ray’s last one at Cold Blow Lane before a move to Southend United in August 1961. After his time as a Lion, his stint at Roots Hall appeared to be a tad disappointing.
Ray played 166 times for Millwall in all competitions and scored eight goals, his last at Aldershot, ironically in a 2-0 success.
An affable man and a pleasure to talk to, Ray will be missed by his family and friends, to whom we offer our sincerest condolences.
Rest in peace, Ray, and thank you for your contribution to Millwall Football Club's history.