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Roughie’s View: A tribute to Jock Stein

By September 10, 2015No Comments

I’ll never forget Jock’s last ever words to me ‘You’re on in the second half you fat b****d’.

I knew he was joking as he used to call me fatty and I wasn’t even fat! It was just a nickname he used to give me.

I just laughed and he laughed. It added a bit of humour to the situation after all the shouting and fighting that had gone before.

That was his way of saying ‘all the best’.

Many people have asked me what Jock was like. He was very fearsome. He had a reputation for standing no nonsense. Everybody knew that you had to keep the right side of him.

He was very meticulous in everything he did. If the bus left at 10 o’clock and you weren’t there, you would be left behind .

It didn’t matter if it was Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness or whoever. If they weren’t on the bus, they would just drive away. It happened to a lot of us.

I think everybody felt intimidated by him. The standard he set was so high, he demanded that level of performance from everybody. If you dropped short of that you wouldn’t be in the team.

When we met up for the international before Jock died, I didn’t think he looked particularly well.

He wasn’t his usual bouncy self. He wasn’t 100 per cent but he didn’t want anyone to know that.

He warmed us up as usual – we didn’t have goalkeeping coaches back then – but I could tell something was up.

I started on the bench against Wales for that World Cup qualifier but I was soon involved.

Roughie's View: A tribute to Jock Stein PLZ Soccer

At half-time, there was all the commotion about Jim Leighton and the contact lenses and I was warming up out on the park with Davie Cooper.

The Celtic physio Brian Scott came on and pulled me aside and said, ‘you need to come into the dressing room because you’re on in the second half’.

That’s the kind of wind up that footballers do, ‘away and go and tell him he’s on in the second half’.

My immediate thought was this is a wind-up. So I said to Brian , ‘Brian pi** off no way am I coming in there and everybody starts laughing at me’.

Then I could see by his face he was really serious. By the time I got back in the dressing room everybody is ready to go out.

I had time to come in and throw off my jersey but while that was happening, Jock Stein and Sir Alex Ferguson were in the changing room shouting at each other about the contact lenses.

The game took care of itself. Davie Cooper’s penalty was enough and we are all jumping about the park because we’d qualified for the play-offs.

Roughie's View: A tribute to Jock Stein PLZ Soccer

But none of the players knew about Jock. I looked over at the dugout and could see there was a bit of commotion so assumed that everybody was congratulating each other.

It wasn’t until we got in the dressing room, we sat down and Alex Ferguson explained to us that Jock had had a stroke and he was in the room and doctors were trying to resuscitate him.

From going to the highest point you could go in football, to the lowest and we just all sat in the dressing room and waited for news.

Nobody spoke to each other we just sat there in silence, staring blankly at each other.

We were there for an hour while everybody was running back and forth we didn’t know anything until somebody told us.

Everybody was absolutely gutted. Shattered. Jock Stein was a legend in the game.

Everybody respected him and, for him not to be in the position to celebrate, I think was the worst thing because he couldn’t see what he had achieved with the squad.

He was just a legend up in Scotland. Everything he did and touched – Dunfermline, Celtic and Scotland – turned into success. He was the first manager of a British side to win a European Cup.

He was successful in everything he did. People have him up there above the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and other greats. It just shows you the measure of the guy.