Former Rangers youth director, Jimmy Sinclair, returned to football this week, seven months after leaving Murray Park when he started work as the head of youth at Queen’s Park. Whilst Ally McCoist had a high-profile departure last December, Sinclair’s leaving was lower key and this move completes a 40-year career circle.
Full of energy at having a first love rekindled, Sinclair harbours no bitterness to his previous employers and is ready to call on the Spiders’ old boys network, including Sir Alex Ferguson, to help them overcome SFA bureaucracy.
Sinclair said: I worked with some fantastic people at Rangers and at a fantastic facility. The prince among them was Sandy Jardine, who was a fantastic help to me.
“Walter Smith was also a terrific help, as were a number of people who had a passion for the club.
“I was close to Ally and Kenny McDowall and they had a set of circumstances laid in front of them over recent years that would have been difficult for anyone to deal with. They did all that could have been done in the circumstances that they faced.
“My last contractual day with Rangers was 31 December last year and I have kept in touch with the game since then.
“I have recharged my batteries and I could not be any more energised for coming back to the club where I started my career back in 1975.”
Despite time passing, Sinclair has found that the spirit of Ludere Causa Ludendi – to play for the sake of playing – remains, as he explained: “I am delighted as not a lot of opportunities came up during the past few months, and the irony is that the job I would have wanted would have been the Queen’s Park one.
“I loved the place as a player and had success in winning a league title. Being at Queen’s gave me a great grounding.
“To come back and be amongst so many friendly faces is terrific. This is only my first week and I feel that I have been here for years already. That spirit is testimony to the way Queen’s go about things. The pillars this club are built on have not moved in those 40 years. I would look in and see that Queen’s continued to stand for what it always has done and my admiration for the club remained.”
On the field, work at the Hampden youth department was also admired. Sinclair added: “Their youth squads always had quality and that is a testimony to the work my predecessor, David McCallum, carried out. They were always tough opponents for Rangers, whether it was in Glasgow Cup ties or at an under-11 level.”
The new job, however, will not be plain sailing, as there is a hurdle to be overcome, with the SFA denying Queen’s a place at the top level of youth football playing against the likes of Rangers and Celtic, as they do not fit set criteria, which include providing a pathway to full-time football. The decision was ironically announced on the day that their most famous recent youth graduate, Andrew Robertson, joined Hull City for £3 million. With Queen’s sticking steadfastly to their amateur status, it is a hurdle that cannot be overcome without an acceptance that they provide players for full-time football, albeit with other clubs.
Sinclair said: “It is a hurdle that I want to knock down. The club’s history of producing players is outstanding and rivals anyone.
“I was not fully aware of how the SFA strategy was established and, whilst I know it was not done to single Queen’s Park out, we have been the unfortunate victims of a broad stroke when it was applied.”
The loyalty that former players feel to the club could be called upon to help them return to the top level. Sinclair said: “There are enough friends of the club who would join in with a strategy to help on this issue. Former players have a strong belief that Queen’s Park does a great job.
“That is not just an emotional reaction because there is a list of players that it has helped develop for full-time football.
“I was not fully aware of the situation as I was doing a fairly intense job at Rangers and I am sure that guys I played with, such as Alan Irvine and John McGregor, are the same. Players that were here before us, such as Sir Alex, or indeed the ones that came after, may also not know.”
New SFA president Alan McRae has talked of creating a role for Ferguson in football but he may find that the one-time Queen’s Park striker may ask him to look at one of the governing body’s own rules.
Sinclair explained: “Sir Alex has reached the status of being the Godfather of the game and it would take a brave or a stupid man to question him. If he could be recruited to highlight this issue then that would be fantastic.
“I will meet with the committee here and it could be that we need to start making phone calls to lobby people. The Board have plenty of contacts and, if they see that as part of a plan to help with this situation, then I will join in.”