You’ve worked in football for many years as well as being a passionate football fan. How would you sum up your love of the game?
That’s a brilliant opening question. Football is all consuming for me. People have passions for many things in life and I joke with my wife that football was my first love even before her (laughs).
If all else fails in life then I know there will always be football. It’s engrained in you from a young age and I inherited my passion from my father. I’m still immersed in that passion to this day.
I was very fortunate to work in football media and follow my passion and dream for so long. I’m still involved in it today and in many ways my love of football (as you’ll know yourself) can be indescribable in many ways. I’d be lost without it really. It’s a comfort blanket almost.
You’ve written the book – “Gonnae Gi’es A Kick O’ Yer Ba’ Mister?”: A Tale Of Family And Football By A Fan With A Typewriter. I’ve read the book and it’s a fantastic read that really resonated with me as a football fan.
You talk about footballing heroes, memories and sharing those with family and friends alike. What was it that inspired you to write the book?
I have to give thanks to Cliff Pike who works for Hibs TV because he challenged me to do it in lockdown. He asked me to name my top ten footballing heroes and I think he expected me to do this in picture form as so many others were doing. However, I wrote stories to explain my choices instead and so many people asked me to collate them and write a book based on those stories that I had shared.
So when the first lockdown came, I collated the stories. I thought of even more personal and professional stories and went from there. It’s a book of 90 or so pages that you can read quickly.
I started it in March and finished it in the summer. My wife told me about self publication on Amazon so we went ahead with it and the feedback has been phenomenal.
It’s not a book for a supporter of a particular football club. It’s a book for football fans.
I’ve had people asking if there will be a follow up book which is humbling. The success of the book has surpassed all of my expectations.
You are pictured with Diego Maradona on the front cover of the book. What is the story behind that photo opportunity?
It’s one of those surreal moments in life. I first watched Maradona when he played against Scotland at Hampden in 1979. They destroyed Scotland that night and since then I was in awe of his talent and followed his career from there.
Diego then became manager of the Argentina national team and one of his first games was to be against Scotland in a friendly.
The team were to train at Celtic Park and the Daily Record bought a glass trophy of a footballer cupping a ball with his hand which they wanted me to present to Maradona. The trophy was inscribed “To Diego Armando Maradona. Thank you for your goals against England. From the people of Scotland.”
I was set the challenge getting the trophy to Maradona and for him to be photographed with it. I was driving up to Celtic Park and I phoned my friend James Quinn about it. He was as passionate about Diego as I was. I was unsure what to do as I was sure that I would get nowhere near Maradona on the night as the security was insane.
James without doubt told me to go for it because you’ll regret it forever if you don’t try. That gave me the confidence I needed to go and try it.
I was sitting in the press box as the team trained then I made my way towards the tunnel area as the session was coming to a close.
I position myself in the middle of the tunnel – which lies on a slope – and Maradona walks past everyone including me. I did not give up. I shouted “Diego! Diego! A gift from the people of Scotland for dos goal against Angleterre, Mexico ‘86”
Incredibly, he turned back and looked at me and he took the trophy. I handed it to him and while I’m sloped down, I put my hand around Maradona and we got the shot.
Afterwards, the stewards and police came running to the tunnel area and Maradona cleared off because they didn’t want us getting close to him.
I’m delighted that the photo is the way it is on the front cover because it tells a unique story. I’m just a wee guy from East Kilbride and there I was standing next to arguably the greatest footballer in the history of the game.