Raith’s loss will be Hearts’ gain
THE apathy among the Raith Rovers faithful that greeted the announcement of John McGlynn as the club’s new manager in November 2006 wasn’t attributable to his perceived ability, writes Raith Rovers fan Donald Ramsay.
At that time, the mood around Stark’s Park was grim. The club, still reeling from the embarrassing – and almost ruinous – flirtation with Claude Anelka, languished near the bottom of the Second Division as Rovers lurched towards the wilderness.
For some of us, McGlynn’s appointment as successor to Craig Levein smacked of a Hearts old boys’ act. For others, given the perilous state of Rovers’ finances, it was simply the cheap option. However, such feelings were quickly forgotten as the new man went about his work.
His fabled work ethic was immediately evident. Rovers’ fortunes soon took a progressive upturn. We made it to the play-offs that season and the next and, the following season, McGlynn led the team to the Second Division title. The season after that, Rovers consolidated their position in the First Division, and savoured the bonus of a Scottish Cup semi-final appearance, the club’s first since 1963. A year later, McGlynn came within a whisker of taking Rovers into the SPL despite a relatively modest budget, and a squad containing many part-time players (this led to his being crowned PFA manager of the year). He also managed to preserve First Division football for Rovers last season, despite drastic cost-cutting measures that saw no fewer than 15 players released the previous summer.
The Tynecastle connection was once more to the fore last season, with Jamie Mole and Denys Prychynenko popping across the Forth to weigh in with crucial goals. The campaign was also boosted by loan deals for a trio of precociously talented Hearts youngsters. David Smith, Jason Holt and Jamie Walker galvanised the team at a point when the threadbare squad, weakened by injuries, looked vulnerable.
Given the manner in which he transformed Rovers – including involvement in the development of a promising youth academy – it was surprising how seldom McGlynn’s name cropped up whenever SPL managerial vacancies arose.
So, sad though we undoubtedly are to see McGlynn depart Stark’s Park, nobody connected with Raith Rovers would deny him this opportunity. Rovers’ loss will be Hearts’ gain, but we are consoled by the knowledge that the legacy of one man is the sense of pride firmly restored to our club. Good luck, John. Thanks for the memories.
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