Brown's playing career included spells at Huddersfield Town, Burnley and Notts County.
However, he is best known for his managerial career. Beginning in Burnley in 1954, Brown developed a new training centre and youth development set-up.
In 1957 Brown moved from Burnley to Sunderland. In that first season with the club Brown was unable to stop the club being relegated. However, he achieved promotion back to the First Division in 1963/64 season. He shocked the club by resigning at the end of that season.
During the close season Brown was appointed manager at Sheffield Wednesday. In 1966 Brown led the club to the FA Cup Final, losing 3-2 to Everton at Wembley.
Brown rejoined Sunderland in February 1968, before leaving in 1972.
Alan Brown died in 1996.