Scottish football is traditionally a working class game, followed by thousands and debated in pubs from Dingwall to Dumfries.
However in the ‘prawn sandwich’ era of inflated ticket prices and egos, football has moved on from the days when thousands would cram into creaking stands, gripped as the tackles and shots flew in on the muddy battle ground below.
Some would argue we all the better for it, and they are probably right, nevertheless one can’t help but indulge in the great Scottish pastime of nostalgia.
Working class heroes are knitted into the fabric of our game, often romanticised by tales of terraces, tackles and tashes.
As today marks what would have been Celtic’s greatest ever manager Jock Steins’ 90th birthday, I began thinking of the type of manager and man this legendary figure was.
Jock was cut from the same cloth Sir Alex Ferguson would be forged from later, a man with presence, resilience and a fiery temper, who above all lived for the game.
He was Scottish steel, forged in the cauldron of Glasgow’s industrial past, with the genius to take him and his city to the very heights of the game.
There was something unequivocally Scottish about big Jock’s character, even now in, among the glamour and pomp of the Premiership, Stein type figures make up a significant back bone of the leagues structure.
Managers such as David Moyes, Paul Lambert and of course Fergie all spring to mind, as does Joe Jordan formerly of Spurs.
In these times of pay packets with more decimals than sense, grounded, hardworking and above all driven coaches are in demand and seem just what is needed to keep players disciplined and focused.
Steins posthumous birthday has given cause to gaze back with misty eyes into the annals of history and we remember the time of manger he was. We see flickers of him in managers currently involved in the game, giving us as a nation something to be proud of. The national team may fall short of many fans expectation, but when it comes to managing in the British game, Scot’s can be found at the top table.
Sir Alex gave an interview in 2008 recalling a conversation him and Stein shared in the mid 80’s, where Stein spoke of his days a miner when he played part time football.
“You go down that pit shaft, a mile underground. You can’t see a thing. The guy next to you, you don’t know who he is. Yet he is the best friend you will ever have.”
“All of these things congeal in your character. And they never leave you.”
It would be a discredit to remember Jock Stein as manager who relied only on grit and strength of sprit to guide his teams to glory. The man was a champion of expansive attacking play which relied on ingenuity, flair and team work, perfectly displayed in his most famous of wins.
Celtic, who trailed 1-0 at half time never abandoned Jock’s attacking philosophy and eventually breeched Inter’s famed defensive system twice to seal a historic victory.
Afterwards he famously proclaimed: “We did it by playing football. Pure, beautiful, inventive football.”
Today many fans will pay tribute to Jock Stein, and rightly so, however Possible the greatest the testament to the respect big Jock commands comes from those who played under him.
Celtic and Scotland legend Danny McGrain, a man who is arguably the nation’s greatest ever fullback still to this day refers to Jock, as if in awe of his greatness as,