St Mirren: Tommy Craig changing with the times

ST Mirren manager Tommy Craig has 48 pre-seasons in football under his belt but reveals he no longer goes commando.

St Mirren manager Tommy Craig. Picture: SNS
St Mirren manager Tommy Craig. Picture: SNS

The 63-year-old Glaswegian started out at Aberdeen and enjoyed a fine career as a midfielder, mostly in England, at clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle and Aston Villa, winning one Scotland cap.

After he finished playing at Hibernian he coached at the Easter Road club, Celtic and Newcastle, among others, and was assistant to Danny Lennon at the Buddies before taking over at the end of the season.

Looking forward to the start of another new campaign in the Premiership with a trip to Motherwell on Saturday, Craig looked back at his army-style first pre-season and contrasted it with this summer’s preparations.

“I remember when I was at Aberdeen in my first pre-season, it was in the summer of 1966 and Scotland had a heat wave,” he said.

“I remember running in between trees, over ropes, under ropes, up ladders and crawling under bushes.

“It was the old commando-type training which Eddie Turnbull, God bless him, was a pioneer of.

“He was also a great tactician so he married the ugly side of the game and the beautiful side of the game.

“Much has changed.

“When we reported back five weeks ago, the balls were out, the bibs were out, the pitch was lovely, the nets were up - it is a totally different from what it was all those years ago.

“I have been very fortunate. I have been at some very good clubs; Newcastle, Aston Villa, Celtic, Hibs, Aberdeen, so I have been around a fair bit and I have picked up bits and pieces from all of those clubs and I am putting it into practise now.”

The former Scotland Under-21 coach insists he is primarily looking for his side to entertain, starting against last season’s runners-up.

“I don’t want to set any targets,” he said.

“I am aware that it is results that count but it is important to me that people enjoy watching my team play.

“I want us to be effective but I want us to be attractive with it.

“I am very passionate about the game as most people know but I am really looking forward to seeing if we produce performances that I enjoy watching.

“Okay, there is pressure on every manager, but I don’t feel too pressurised.

“I have laid down to the players what I want to do and how I want us to play and it will be interesting to see if we produce enough performances to be competitive in the Premier League because it is a very competitive league.

“Stuart McCall has done a great job at Motherwell. They don’t change too much, they firmly believe in the way they want to play and so we know how hard is going to be.”

Saints will be without striker Steven Thompson who is out with a groin injury.

Craig said: “It is a blow. He will be missed but hopefully we will cope with that.

“We don’t know when he is going to be back.

“Initially we thought four weeks but we haven’t put a timescale on it, but you are looking at two or three weeks ahead.”