Salford stand-off Kevin Brown enters the 19th season of his Super League career in 2021 and admits it could well be his last.
Brown, 36, played for England in the 2017 World Cup final defeat to Australia and has represented Wigan, Huddersfield, Widnes and Warrington, as well as brief spell at Leigh, with distinction through his long career.
He was granted a testimonial by the RFL for 2021, which has unfortunately been impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
And while he is yet to make a decision as to what he will do beyond this season, he is desperate to get playing in front of fans again.
He said: “The fans are everything in the game, and this situation probably highlights it more than ever. Even copping grief off fans, I miss that! Because I often copped a bit of grief whether we were playing well or not so well, I even missed that as weird as that sounds.
“Playing in front of empty crowds is not something I dreamt of doing, it’s not part of my dream and not something I ever thought I’d do, and I get why we had to do it, but from a completely selfish point of view I really hope fans are let in to feel that buzz again because that’s why we train and play so hard.
“I’d just really like a few big games, those big games like against Wigan away, Saints away all the big clubs where I grew up to feel that atmosphere.
“I’m still going in to training and enjoying it. Last year when there were no fans I still enjoyed playing rugby, played in a Challenge Cup final and most were on TV so my family could watch, but I’d absolutely love it if they were back. It’ll break my heart if I’m not able to play in front of them again.
“I don’t know whether this is going to be my last season. There’s a good possibility that it could be. I’m going to make a decision about six months in to the year and how the body’s feeling.”
LISTEN: Kevin Brown opens up about his controversial exit from Widnes (from 17:00 below)
It’s unfortunate that trophy success has evaded Brown. He played in Salford’s 2020 Challenge Cup final loss, the fourth time he has been on the losing side in a final, having previously tasted defeat with Wigan (2004), Huddersfield (2009) and Warrington (2018).
In leading Widnes to the play-offs in 2014, he was named in the Super League Dream Team.
Brown’s testimonial will partly be in aid of State of Mind, something he arranged through long-time friend Danny Sculthorpe, who is heavily involved in the mental health charity’s work.
He added: “It would be great to raise some money. Mental health is so important and I think everyone knows someone who is struggling with what’s going on.
“I just feel really lucky that I’ve played for so long and yeah, it would have been great to have a testimonial game and to do this and that, but it’s not just me that’s been affected, everyone has.”
For more information or to support Brown’s testimonial, visit www.kevinbrowntestimonial.co.uk