Open Eye: Opening Up - Craig Brown

There's another side to life for Scotland's football manager
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The Independent Online
For years OU graduate Craig Brown combined football coaching with his job as a lecturer in primary education - until the chance came to give it all up for Scotland's World Cup squad. He's been team manager for five years.

What was your family background?

I was born in Glasgow in Corkerhill, the railwayman's district, during the war. My grandfather drove one of the engines. My father was in the RAF.

What was your earliest ambition?

When you're a young Scottish boy you want to be either a very good footballer, or a very good golfer. I did a great deal of physical education - football, golf, gymnastics, swimming. I would say I was moderately talented.

How were your school years?

Reasonable. My secondary school was Hamilton Academy - one of the best schools in Scotland, academically. I came away with four Highers, and two Lowers. To give some idea of what that means, the minimum requirement for university entrance is three Highers and two Lowers.

At the same time I was a schoolboy and youth international - I played football as a schoolboy for Scotland and golf for the West of Scotland - I had a four handicap.

What was your first job and how much did you earn?

I signed for Glasgow Rangers for pounds 12 a week (in 1958). At the same time, I had the opportunity to go to university but I thought physical education would fit in better with my footballing ambitions, so I did four years at Jordanhill Scottish School of Physical Education and became a PE teacher. I taught part-time and played football full time.

What made you start studying with the OU?

I wanted to improve my professional knowledge in the education field. I had been advised to go into primary school teaching, which was the second string to my bow, after I developed knee problems playing football in my late 20s. I became a head teacher and then a College of Education lecturer in primary teaching methods.

I did my OU courses while I was lecturing and doing football coaching, so I was invariably behind with my assignments. With the credits from my earlier study, I got my OU degree in about four years, in 1980.

What difference has the OU made?

It helped my professional career, and gave me academic respectability. I have two academic brothers, and had thought of myself as the 'ignorant acrobat' of the family and the OU degree helped me shake off that tag.

But to be honest it was no help to my career in football. It's not appropriate for a football manager to have a business card with 'BA' on it. There's an inverted snobbery in English and Scottish football about academic qualifications. If you have any, you keep quiet about it, or you may be seen as a bit of a weirdo.

What does your current job involve?

Coaching, teaching coaches and selection of all the players for the Scottish international teams. I'm technical director of the Scottish Football Association and team manager of the international team. The World Cup is only a small part of it, the bulk of the work is running courses and bringing on talented youngsters.

I'm also on various committees of European coaching groups, including vice chair of the Union of European Football Trainers, which takes me all over Europe for meetings and courses.

How did you get the job?

I was lecturing at Craigie College of Education and at the same time part-time manager of Clyde Football Club, when I was asked by Alex Ferguson to assist with coaching in the World Cup in 1986.

It was a career change, one that would allow me to see the world and get paid for my hobby. I hesitated, but not much...

What do you enjoy most about it?

Working with a team, trying to get the best out of out them.

Dealing with the media. I get on quite well with the media, but I'd rather be working very well with the team.

Would you do more OU study? If so, what?

I would recommend the OU to anyone. I would certainly like to do another course - but as a hobby, for my own benefit. But it's not possible with the workload I have now.

To what do your attribute your success?

I don't know if you would call it success, though I suppose I have one of the best jobs in football. It's down to good luck, and hard work.

What (if anything) do you most regret?

Not going to university straight from school. I had to start studying again in my 30s, which was very demanding, on top of two jobs.

I'd get home at 10pm and do my study, then have to get up at six.

What are your goals for the future?

To establish Scotland as a top-quality footballing nation. It's difficult because there are so many competing interests, especially golf and fishing,

How would you like to be remembered?

As a good football instructor, and a hard working, honest, good teacher. Also for giving Scotland first class status in world football.