John McGlynn admits devotion to game meant his family life came second

John McGlynn is desperate to lead Hearts to back-to-back final appearances at Hampden. Picture: SNS
John McGlynn is desperate to lead Hearts to back-to-back final appearances at Hampden. Picture: SNS
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JOHN McGLYNN has every right to be proud of the progress he has made in coaching.

Having initially joined Hearts to take charge of the under-16s, he has steadily progressed to his present post as manager of the club he supported as a boy.

Diligence, hard work and dedication have all paid off for a man who in the early years of his career had to fit his coaching in with his day job as a plumber. But there is one aspect of his life in football which does not fill McGlynn with pride. His 
devotion to football came at the 
expense of his family life.

“The football was always kind of the priority, unfortunately,” McGlynn said yesterday as he looked forward to tomorrow’s League Cup semi-final against Inverness. “Everything revolved around having to get away from work in time for the football.

“There were many Tuesday and Thursday nights spent travelling through to Scotstoun, and Wishaw after that. For many years, that was the case.

“I was driving the bus, putting the kit in myself, everything, until Darren Murray – the youth team coach now – came in to help. The family thing wasn’t great. My daughter Mandy is now 27 and I would have to say that I didn’t spend enough time with her. My football was Saturdays, Sundays, at least two nights during the week, maybe more. I’m not proud about that because I was just caught up in what I wanted to do and gave everything to it.”

Fortunately for McGlynn, neither his daughter nor his wife have held his dedication against him. Indeed, far from reacting against her father’s interests, Mandy has followed in his path, and now coaches part-time as well. “She’s a big Hearts fan. She actually started working in the shop here when she left school on a part-time basis. She gets involved in the coaching side as well, so she is taking something from myself. She’s going with her mother on Saturday – her mother’s going because that’s the only place she sees me as well. Even during the winter break I took her down to Bolton-Sunderland. Four days away and she managed to get to the Trafford centre on the Sunday. That was her.

“I have always been in love with football. I’ve always been involved in football. You start at primary school and work your way through. Unfortunately, my lack of pace was never going to let me play at the top level. I could pass the ball for fun right enough, and I was very two-footed, but snails don’t go very far in football.

“So I never really made it big. I had three seasons at Berwick Rangers. I was down at Bolton as a young boy. I had 18 months there and came back. Berwick were in the First Division at the time.”

After getting involved as a coach at junior level, McGlynn graduated to Hearts thanks to Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown, who both, like him, come from Wallyford. “I’ve had a long 
apprenticeship to get here,” he continued. “The five and a half years at Raith Rovers [where he was manager] also stood me in good stead.

“I learned from many, many managers here – they’re all different, all great to work with. 
But going out and doing it for myself at Raith was a big thing.

“If you can’t make it as a full-time football player, when that’s all you’ve ever wanted to do since you were a wee boy, the next best thing is going down the coaching route and being involved at a high level. I’ve achieved quite a lot and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped me on the way. It would be nice to take Hearts to Hampden, that’s for sure.”

McGlynn’s career path is certainly very different from that of Caley Thistle boss Terry Butcher, who played at the highest level before turning to management. But the Inverness club themselves have followed a similar route through the ranks to the Hearts boss, and, being second in the SPL at present, will be confident of winning tomorrow to reach their first major final.

“I’d imagine for most people in Scotland, the fact that they’re sitting second top of the table is quite a surprise,” McGlynn added. “You would probably half expect them to float around the bottom six and maybe fight relegation every other year, so for them to be doing so well, it’s great credit to them. You have to give massive, massive credit to Terry Butcher, [assistant manager] Maurice Malpas and a lot of other people at Inverness. Terry must be in line for manager of the year. So, yes, I’m surprised where they’re sitting right now. But they’re there on merit.”

Asked if their lofty position made Inverness favourites, McGlynn would not commit himself, suggesting that his side could rise to the occasion as they did in last season’s Scottish Cup. “It is an awkward one, isn’t it? Hearts are the bigger football club but, at the minute, Inverness Caley are the ones who are doing particularly well. We will rise to the 
occasion. Big team, big games. Wee cup, but not to worry.”