Sunday, November 06, 2011

1964: Jock Stein Speaks

Jock Stein speaks to GOAL! magazine in November 1964.


Master Tactician

By Alun Cameron


That is the sum Hibs are reputed to be asking for their "return" friendly against Real Madrid. Hibs earned the right to command this fee on that night a few weeks ago when they not only defeated but thoroughly outclasses the team which is generally considered to be one of the world's greatest.

But the eleven heroes who thrilled the crowd that night gave all their praise to one man - manager Jock Stein.

After a long and illustrious career as a player with Celtic, including a league cap against England, he could say there was still a lot to learn: he proved his point by going to Milan to study the methods of the great Helenio Herrera. He took notes, asked questions and came home determined to put the lessons he had learned into practice. Managing Dunfermline at the time, he soon transformed them into a team to be respected - in Europe as well as at home. Moving to Hibs last season at time when their fortunes were at a dangerously low ebb, he soon transformed them, too, into a team to be feared.


"There's no magic in it, though," said Jock Stein, as we discussed the change in Hibs' fortunes in an Easter Road boardroom dominated by the symbol of their first success in a long time - the Summer Cup. "It's only hard work and practice. It takes time to build a good team, and unfortunately the football fan demands immediate results - overnight miracles. It can't be done."


Some officials are still living in the immediate post-war period, a boom time for football. Now there's competition from such things as television.

"Football realises the danger, but the sad thing is that it's done absolutely nothing to combat it," said Stein. "The only answer is the Super League. They must come some time, so why not now? Even a 'part time' basis would be a step in the right direction. The top dozen or so British clubs could meet in one or two games each month, in addition to their usual or perhaps slightly reduced League commitments."

Big names + Big games = Big gates. Fair enough, but could Scotland justifiably claim a half-representation in a British League? Are there enough Scottish clubs which could compete at that standard? Jock Stein thinks so. "At least the top half dozen Scottish clubs could hold their own against their southern counterparts - given regular games at this level of competitiveness."


But how would the amateur fare in this "brave new world?" Would he survive?

"There will always be amateurs," says Stein. "I believe that the difference between senior and minor football will become more pronounced, with many of the in-between grades disappearing entirely. On the Continent they have a system where a club like Real Madrid may have something like a dozen teams ranging down to the equivalent of our schoolboy teams. The benefits of this are obvious. The senior team has a constant supply of good youngsters, while they in turn have the benefit of professional coaching and training while still young."


"Training would be enjoyable and not a chore, as it is to many of the boys in this country. If youngsters were attached to a senior club, they would realise that football, glamorous though it may be, is their job and they to work at it hard.

Good advice from a man who really knows. Let's hope that more players take it. And let's hope that Jock Stein's predictions for a bright and shiny football future come true.

Donate to the Scottish Football Blog Blogathon, 19 November 2011

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