The Football CFB view: Dick Campbell – the most underrated manager in Scottish football?

Some say he’s too ‘old school’. Some say he is just another ‘long ball manager’. Some say that is just ‘an angry man’.

However, my view is that Dick Campbell has to be the most underrated manager in Scottish football bar none. Yes at times he can be angry, yes at times he’s maybe played direct football in the past and yes he is old school – whatever that means anyway.

But most importantly, he has – at the time of writing – managed 7 clubs within Scottish football over 20 seasons and has an average win rate of 41% with 10 promotions from the lower leagues to his name so far. That win rate alone is something that most managers especially in lower league football would snap your hand off for.

Without doubt, Campbell is a very successful manager at the levels he’s worked in so far.

But for me for whatever reason he hasn’t received the credit he deserves. Although, that tide is quickly changing.

Campbell took over Arbroath in 2016 and he took over a club who had played in League Two of Scottish football far more recently than Championship football in Scotland. Arbroath aren’t a club you would call ‘a Championship club’ by nature but boy do they deserve to be a Championship club now.

In 2019/20, Campbell assembled a team that not only played attractive football but won the League 1 title by 7 points. A feat even more impressive when you consider that one of the clubs main title rivals was full time Raith Rovers who would be considered ‘a championship team’ by nature. The manner of the success raised eyebrows in a positive way as Campbell’s side led League 1 from the off and were relentless in their quest for Championship football.

After celebrating the impressive league win, Campbell appeared on Off The Ball with Tam Cowan and Stuart Cosgrove. He was asked the question – ‘How tough will the championship be for a part time team and is staying up the priority?’

As quick as a flash without needing even a moment to think, Dick Campbell responded passionately with the phrase ‘I’m tell you know we won’t be going to the championship just to make up the numbers.’ Some may have laughed at that statement and thought no chance but Campbell was serious and Arbroath have went from strength to strength in the Championship as he was adamant they would.

This season the club have well and truly held their own impressing fans of all clubs with their never say die attitude and big scalps in the division so far including beating big spending Dundee United away at Tannadice as well as defeating Inverness Caledonian Thistle home and away.

Arbroath and Campbell, now sit 4th in the Championship in the Premiership promotion play offs and only a fool would laugh at the possibility of Campbell keeping his team there.

For as Dick Campbell passionately said on Off The Ball ‘we won’t be going to the championship just to make up the numbers.’ He’s been proven correct on that front and just maybe come what May he’ll be saying the same again only this time about the Premiership.

Why shouldn’t Campbell and Arbroath dare to dream? Stranger things have happened before in football…

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Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster - Enquiries:

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