15 great long-serving Scottish football managers

Jim McInally is now the longest serving manager currently in Scottish football after Dick Campbell was sacked by Forfar Athletic.

Jim McLean was at Tannadice as manager for over 20 years. Picture: TSPL

Campbell was the previous leader by quite some distance having taken charge of the Angus club in May 2008.

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Seven-and-a-half years in charge makes him one of football management’s great survival stories in the modern era. As the game’s expanded, the shelf-life of a head coach has reduced drastically. Because as well as Campbell did to stay in his job for so long, he comes nowhere close to some of these guys:

Former Hibernian manager Hugh Shaw. Picture: TSPL

Craig Brown (Scotland - 1993-2001)

The former school teacher, distinguished after dinner speaker and noted ladies’ man is the longest serving head coach in the history of the Scottish national team. He remains the last man to guide Scotland to a major tournament when the nation qualified for the 1998 World Cup, before quitting after narrow failures to repeat the feat at Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup. Had we known what we know now, we might have tried to convince him to stay on a bit longer.

Alex Ferguson (Aberdeen - 1978-1986)

Arguably the greatest football manager of them all built his reputation at Pittodrie with eight success filled years. Three Scottish Premier Division titles, four Scottish Cups, one League Cup, one European Cup Winners’ Cup and a European Super Cup. He would go on to be pretty decent at Manchester United as well.

Legendary Hearts manager Tommy Walker. Picture: TSPL

John ‘Sailor’ Hunter (Motherwell - 1911–1946)

Some time ago a supporter with quite a lot of spare time on his/her hands worked out where every Scottish major trophy would have gone had Rangers or Celtic never existed. Of course, in such a universe things would not have played exactly as they have in this world, minus the results of two teams, though it was a good bit of fun to read over.

The most noteworthy aspect of this hypothesis was that Motherwell would hold the record for most consecutive titles with eight-in-a-row secured between the late 1920s and early 30s. In the end they only managed one, which was still quite an achievement for the club and their manager at the time.

Willie Maley (Celtic - 1897–1940)

Jock Stein - long serving manager of both Celtic and Scotland. Picture: PA

FORTY-THREE years! Just let that sink in a for a second.

Over that almost imaginable stretch of time in charge of one team, Maley won 30 trophies (16 league titles and 14 Scottish Cups). He would have won more but the idea of a League Cup hadn’t yet been conceived when he retired.

Willie McCartney (Hearts - 1919–1935 | Hibernian - 1936–1948)

Not much is known of the man who spent over a decade at both sides of the Edinburgh divide. McCartney had to rebuild the Hearts squad after numerous players were killed in the Great War, and although the 1920s were not a happy time for the club, they would eventually become of the more entertaining teams after the signing of club goalscoring legend Barney Battles - owner of one of the best names in sports’ history.

After leaving Hearts he took over at Hibernian the next year. He would recruit four of the five attackers who would make up the Famous Five and was on his way to winning his first league title when he sadly died of a heart attack following a Scottish Cup match in early 1948.

Allan McGraw (Morton - 1985-1997)

One of the longest serving managers in the modern era, McGraw took the job at Cappielow after being a noted goalscorer for the club during his playing days, including an astounding 51 league goals in the 1963–64 season. During his time in charge he would help nuture current Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes and would win two lower league titles.

Jimmy McGrory (Celtic - 1945-1965)

The legendary goalscorer (seriously, look those figures up - they’re insane) turned his hand to management after the Second World War.

Unlike some of the other names on this list, there’s no doubt McGrory wouldn’t have remained in the job for quite so long had his time come in the modern era. Celtic won only one league title and four domestic cups in his 19 years. Not a bad record, but not the kind of success that Celtic crave.

Jim McLean (Dundee United - 1971-1993)

There isn’t much to say about the Tannadice legend that hasn’t already been stated.

Looking over his career, however, the most noteworthy fact is that he only won three trophies during his 21 years. That’s because United unfortunately lost nine cup finals, including the 1987 Uefa Cup. Regardless, he remains, undoubtedly, the club’s greatest ever manager, and likely always will be.

Tommy McLean (Motherwell - 1984-1994)

Jim’s younger brother would make it in a list of the shortest ever appointments after being in charge of Raith Rovers for only six days. Earlier in his career he made a more significant impact with Motherwell, managing the club for 10 years and securing the 1991 Scottish Cup after winning the final against his older sibling.

Alex Miller (Hibernian - 1986-1996)

The interim boss at St Mirren has enjoyed a nomadic career in football after spells in China, Japan, Sweden, Russia and as a member of the backroom staff on Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League winning side. He did, however, stay on at Easter Road for close to ten years from the mid-80s, helping the club through some real off-the-field struggles and winning the 1991 League Cup.

Hugh Shaw (Hibernian - 1948-1961)

Shaw was McCartney’s successor at Easter Road after the former boss sadly passed away. He would ensure a seamless transition by securing the league title in his first half-season before capturing the crown again twice more. He would also put the finishing touches on the Famous Five forward line by signing Bobby Johnstone in 1949.

Jock Stein (Celtic - 1965-1978)

Another about whom there isn’t much that hasn’t already been said. Led the club to nine-in-a-row and won the European Cup; the only ever manager to do so with a Scottish club - a record that’s likely to remain for quite some time.

Bill Struth (Rangers - 1920-1954)

You know someone’s had a terrific career when they get a stand named after them. Struth took over in 1920 after William Wilton, who enjoyed a period of over 20 years in charge himself, was tragically killed in a boating accident. Struth, assistant at the time, took up the reins and went onto to secure 30 trophies before becoming a club director in 1954.

Scot Symon (Rangers - 1954-1967)

Symon took over from Struth, who as we’ve already mentioned, took over from Wilton. That’s three managers in 68 years. Rangers had that many last season!

He left the club in controversial circumstances with the team top of the table. The reason behind the dismissal was that the board wanted a younger man in charge. They got their wish and Rangers won only three league titles in the next 19 years.

Tommy Walker (Hearts - 1951-1966)

The most impressive aspect of Walker’s time at Hearts was that he built two terrific sides. The Terrible Trio forward line of Willie Bauld, Alfie Conn and Jimmy Wardhaugh led the side to their early successes with a League Cup win in 1954 and a Scottish Cup triumph 18 months later. However, only Bauld played a significant role when the club secured its second (and last to date) title win of the era in 1960.