The day big Jock paid a visit to the Burgh

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

It was not ev­ery day a Euro­pean Cup­win­ning man­ager vis­ited Ruther­glen, but that is ex­actly what hap­pened 40 years ago.

Jock Stein was al­ready es­tab­lished as one of Scot­tish foot­ball’s great­est fig­ures in 1977, but that did not stop him drop­ping in at St Colum­bkille’s Church boys’ club pre­sen­ta­tion night.

Not only did he show up to con­grat­u­late the boys, he even stayed to an­swer ques­tions from those in at­ten­dance.

Mem­o­ries of that night came flood­ing back to Ed­die McCal­lum, who was co-man­ager of the un­der-18 team along­side Brian Kelly.

He was clear­ing out his old pho­tos when he came across a snap of Jock with mem­bers of the team.

Look­ing back on the night, he said: “Some­one said Jock Stein was go­ing to come and we all just thought, ‘aye, right’.

“But sure enough, big Jock turned up and sat for an hour an­swer­ing ques­tions.

“He made quite a big im­pres­sion on me be­cause he was such a big per­son­al­ity.

“Sir Robert Kelly lived in Burn­side at the time and was a big in­flu­ence on Jock Stein so maybe he had some­thing to do with it.

“He was great. You hear peo­ple say he could be quite in­tim­i­dat­ing but that wasn’t the im­pres­sion that night.

“He had a charisma about him. He walked in the hall and even if you didn’t know any­thing about foot­ball you would know he was some­one.

“What I re­mem­ber the most is his hu­mil­ity, which re­ally came across. He stayed un­til ev­ery last ques­tion was asked and he did not hold back. He was very hon­est gave an hon­est as­sess­ment about the play­ers.”

Ed­die, who was 22 at the time, grew up in Fern­hill.

A mem­ber at St Mark’s Church, he be­came in­volved at St Colum­bkille’s through his school friends Brian Gal­lagher and John Lang, who helped out with the un­der-16 and -14 foot­ball teams.

Al­though his brother went on to play se­nior foot­ball for Dum­bar­ton, Ed­die, who now lives in Stir­ling, be­came a ref­eree at am­a­teur level.

Re­call­ing his time at St Colum­bkille’s, he said: “We were not a top team in the league to be hon­est. We were quite non­de­script. That was what made it so spe­cial for Jock to come down.

“Hope­fully some of the guys in the pic­ture recog­nise them­selves. It was a real priv­i­lege to meet him.”

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