Emotional John Hughes recalls happy days with Chris Mitchell

The tragic death of former Scotland under-21 midfielder Chris Mitchell last weekend at the age of just 27 sent shock waves through football.

Chris Mitchell: Popular. Picture: SNS

Mitchell, who was hit and killed by a train at a level crossing near his home in Stirling, quit Clyde in mid-season for work-related reasons.

While the exact circumstances leading up to his death are not yet clear, there is no doubting his popularity among former colleagues.

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Those who knew Mitchell have been deeply affected, not least John Hughes, the Inverness manager. Indeed, Hughes found it extremely difficult to keep his emotions in check yesterday when recalling that he had signed the player for Falkirk. “It’s absolutely tragic and all our thoughts are with the family,” he said.

“I signed the kid from Livingston and I’m starting to get emotional thinking about him. He always had a smile on his face. We had great laughs with him, too. One story that really makes me laugh concerns a pre-season trip to Holland when he and Scott Arfield, one of his best mates, were part 
of a group of young lads with the squad I said to them on the last night that they could have an evening out and I told Russell Latapy to keep an eye on them, though I suppose, on reflection, he was the worst one I could have asked!

“They all ended up in a club and got blootered. Then Mitch decided go outside and start climbing on cars.

“But, unbeknown to him, one of the cars belonged to the club owner and the bouncers grabbed him and he was arrested. I was woken at 3am to tell me that Chris had been arrested. But as some of us had a drink earlier, we had to wake the waiter to drive us to the police station to pick Chris up.

“But when we went to get him, the police breathalysed the waiter as he’d been drinking, too, and he ended up being chucked in jail.

“The police decided not to charge Chris. But the waiter was done for drunk-driving! Every time I saw Chris after that I reminded him of what had happened.

“You can try to put your 
finger on it – and this doesn’t just go for footballers – but when they’ve not got that get-up-and-go in the morning, it affects them.”