Tributes to a legend
Hamilton legend John Lambie dies at age of 77
Tributes were this week paid to former Hamilton Accies manager John Lambie, who sadly passed away on Tuesday, aged 77. One of the true characters of Scottish football, he was described as a‘gem’.
John Lambie peers at me either side of a smouldering cigar and asks: “Have you ever been to Fuengirola?” as I walk into his office at Partick Thistle’s Firhill Stadium.
He has never met me before but when I say that I haven’t, he says ‘You should go, son, the beach is marvellous’.
That’s John Lambie to a tee. A total character, a real football man and despite his accomplishments in the game – which include twice taking Hamilton Accies to the Premier League and beating Rangers at Ibrox in THAT Scottish Cup game in 1987 – he was incredibly down to earth.
It was with a massive amount of sadness that I heard on Tuesday of his death at just 77. I met the man once and spoke to him on the phone on another occasion but his character left a mark.
On the ‘Fuengirola’ occasion I was compiling a special on then-second Division side Accies being paired with Premier League team Thistle at Firhill in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup in season 2003/04.
Thistle won 5-1 on the day but I had travelled to Maryhill to speak to John on a day off. He had me in stitches several times – he was a funny man.
Fast-forward to January of last year and I called John to get his take on the 30th anniversary of Hamilton’s Scottish Cup win at Ibrox.
He didn’t recognise the number but picked up immediately and started talking away about his times at old Douglas Park.
Lambie won the First Division with Hamilton in 1986 and 1988, with their only other title win in that division coming under Billy Reid in 2007/08.
Many felt the win over Graeme Souness’s starstudded Rangers side at Ibrox would have been a stand-out but Lambie felt those title wins were the best of his career in Lanarkshire.
Lambie, then 75, remembered it like it were yesterday, saying: “That was a right good result, considering the team they had out.
“Guys like Terry Butcher, Graham Roberts and Chris Woods. We beat a very good team that day, one that was worth millions and was full of internationalists – it was unbelievable that we won.
“We were very disciplined on the day and Kevin Mckee had Terry Butcher in his back pocket, which was no mean feat. Those were good times and everybody was on a high.
“It’s fair to say that is the best result in Hamilton’s history and it was a great day – but we got put out by Motherwell in the next round.”
Despite the enormity of that result – which was the last time Hamilton had defeated Rangers in Govan until earlier this season – John said it wasn’t his pinnacle.
“Beating Rangers isn’t my favourite memory from my time at Hamilton though, I would say you have to look at it over the years,” he said.
“When I went to Hamilton in 1984 it was a shambles and needed to be cleared out from top to bottom. Where we were, what happened and getting into the Premier League twice was an amazing achievement. It’s what you do over the years that counts.
“I count clearing the place out and winning promotion twice as better achievements than beating Rangers.
“There were good times. The old Accies was a nightmare but they gave me a start in life and I appreciate it.”
John Lambie, a full-back, was born in Whitburn on March 19, 1941 and died on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
When I went to Hamilton in 1984 it was a shambles
Sad loss John Lambie
Big welcome back John Lambie greets Hamilton’s players upon his return in 1989, before leading them back up to the First Division that season
Triumph John Lambie roars with delight after steering Hamilton to a famous Scottish Cup win over Rangers at Ibrox in 1987
The boss John Lambie enjoyed two successful stints as Hamilton manager at Douglas Park