EX-SCOTLAND boss talks exclusively to the Courier about Clyde’s big move, his teaching career and Berti Vogts’ ‘mind-boggling’ decisions
By Stuart Findlay
SCOTLAND are on course to qualify for a major championship under Craig Levein’s leadership, according to the last man to lead the country to the World Cup.
Aberdeen manager Craig Brown, who led Scotland between 1993 and 2001, believes the current squad have the quality required to end the country’s 13-year wait for a major finals appearance.
The 71-year-old said: “Levein knows the players, he knows the market and he has a good team spirit. He’s not going to get an infinite amount of time but the team is getting better.”
Under Brown the Scottish national team qualified for two major championships, Euro ’96 and France ’98, but his successors have been unable to replicate that success.
Bert Vogts’ tenure as manager was unsuccessful, with the Scots limping to an embarrassing 2-2 draw against the Faroe Islands and a 1-0 defeat in Lithuania during his first qualification campaign and suffering a number of heavy defeats in friendlies against some less than illustrious nations.
The German’s reign as boss was ended just three matches into his second qualifying group, after dropping points against Slovenia, Moldova and losing at home to Norway.
Scotland enjoyed a brief revival of fortunes under Walter Smith and Alex McLeish, but a qualification spot was still not delivered despite the pair each securing a memorable win against France.
Now Brown believes that Levein could be the man to end the tournament drought for Scotland.
“He is managing to get a consistency of selection, and that was one of Berti Vogts’ problems,” Brown said. “To get consistent performances you need consistent selection and Berti was trying everybody, because he didn’t know the players well enough.”
“From what I gathered he didn’t listen to Tommy [Burns, Vogts’ assistant] as much as he should have. For instance, to play Dougie Freedman as a wide right player against France in his first game was mind-boggling.”
Brown was speaking after addressing Cardonald graduates at the college’s annual graduation and awards ceremony. He was born in Corkerhill and his long association with education made him a great choice to speak at the ceremony.
His teaching career began after he studied for a physical education qualification at Jordanhill College, and after that he moved into teaching English and then primary teaching.
“I had a bit of knee trouble early on in my career, so I was advised to get a degree. In those days they called the PE teacher ‘the ignorant acrobat’, so to get a bit of academic respectability I took a degree in English and geography.”
The Corkerhill native then divided his time between teaching PE and English part-time and playing football full-time for Dundee, who were competing in Europe at the time.
Brown then moved into primary teaching and began his ascent in the teaching ranks as his playing career was coming to an end.
“After I did the PE course it was another year to get into primary teaching, so I was a student for all these years and just got into the habit. I loved studying and that got me into teaching.
“When I finished playing full-time I was 28, at that point I was teaching part-time. I transferred to Falkirk and began teaching full-time and playing part-time.”
He quickly moved up the ranks in primary teaching, becoming a headteacher and then a lecturer in primary education at the now-defunct Craigie College of Education. During this time he was the manager at Clyde FC, guiding the club to two second division league titles in 1977 and 1983.
Brown returned to full-time football in 1986 as assistant manager to Andy Roxburgh in the Scotland setup, before taking on the main job himself in 1993 and enjoying eight years at the helm.
His time at Clyde has left the club as one that is still very close to his heart. The club are currently in the basement of the Scottish Football League, battling to stay afloat and facing an uncertain future at their current ground in Cumbernauld.
Plans to move the club to a redeveloped ground in East Kilbride have been discussed publicly by the club’s board and Brown is in favour of the proposals.
Brown said of the possibility of Clyde coming to East Kilbride: “I think it’s a great idea. The pity is that they didn’t move there years ago when it was first mooted.
“More of the support came from the area, whereas Cumbernauld was a camel ride away. I think the club would get a great support if they were doing well in East Kilbride.”
The 71-year-old laughs at the suggestion of having a long-term future in football, but insists he still has a great desire to succeed and has high hopes for his Aberdeen side.
“I’ve signed a contract for the next 18 months at Aberdeen, and I intend to honour it. We want to get into the top six this season and I think we are capable of doing that.”