Should Graeme Murty this afternoon guide Rangers to a first league derby victory over their greatest rivals in six years it would leave one Celtic man partly responsible and, no doubt, partly conflicted.
The Ibrox manager cites his father Eddie as his earliest, and most enduring influence. He coached him when he played for juvenile team Marton, just outside of Middlesbrough. And he still coaches him now says the 43-year-old of a guiding figure whose allegiances are well-known to lie with the team from the east end of Glasgow. More than that, when Murty was merely an observer from afar as Rangers were liquidated and required to start again in the fourth tier in 2012, the Ibrox manager admits that his father was one of those who kept him “abreast” of the shambolic events that his fourth-month period in charge has allowed the club to put more distance from than any period since then.
Eddie Murty ribbed his son when he was appointed as the club’s under-20 coach in the summer of 2016 but is “keeping a low profile” now that the former Scotland international is in the frontline at Ibrox.
“He is a Graeme Murty fan first and foremost,” the Rangers manager, pictured, said. “Should we win on Sunday he will be the first one on the phone offering me congratulations – no doubt to annoyance of his family.
“As I’m sure is the case with everyone’s father, he still critiques everything that I do wrong on a weekly basis. He tells me about my team selection and how my team plays and he still thinks he knows better than me. He’s a fantastically supportive guy and I have to say he’s allowed me to find my own path and not try to put too many constraints on me. He has just been a fantastic support in everything I have tried to do.
“As one of my very first coaches, he was one of the worst referees I have ever had to play under, but he has always been really clear in his values as a football guy and the way he likes the game to be played and the skills he likes footballers to have. The understanding that he has really fed into how I like to study the game. He worked in youth football and could have had a career, but decided to have a proper trade, as he put it.”
Murty senior will not be at the game through being keen to retain his low profile. In the event of Rangers closing the gap on Brendan Rodgers’ men to three points – having played a game more – he would miss out on a high point of a football journey that brought him four caps and a testimonial for his decade-long service at Reading. “I would think a win in this game would be one of the best moments of my career,” said Murty. His dad might struggle to concur.