Ian McColl: Rangers stalwart and successful Scotland manager

When Ian McColl left school, he headed for the gothic tower of Glasgow University. It is a measure of how well he embraced one extra-curricular activity while there that his life would eventually be better known for his achievements under the rather different Twin Towers of Wembley Stadium. For any Scot, playing against England is the stuff of dreams. To manage a Scotland side that beats the auld enemy in their spiritual home, however, is rare indeed. McColl oversaw a 2-1 triumph over England at Wembley in 1963 which made Scotland the British champions.

Wembley was not the only citadel stormed that year. McColl's men went to Madrid's Bernabeu and thrashed Spain 6-2. The rich talent at McColl's disposal was indicated by the fact that two of his men, Denis Law of Manchester United and Jim Baxter of Rangers, were back at Wembley a few months later to play for the Rest of the World against England in celebration of the centenary of the Football Association.

McColl's four-year tenure, between 1961 and 1965, saw him establish the second-best record of any Scotland manager, losing only eight of his 28 matches. He failed to deliver qualification for a World Cup, but that was partly the result of wretched luck. In 1962 an injury-hit side lost a play-off to Czechoslovakia, who went on to reach the final in Chile, losing to Brazil.

What made McColl's managerial career all the more remarkable was that running the national team was his first job and that he acquired it at the age of just 34. He had, however, spent 16 years in a Rangers side which won six Scottish League championships.

Learning was McColl's speciality. The Vale of Leven Academy pupil left his Dunbartonshire home in 1943, when he was accepted by Glasgow University to study civil engineering. Once he got there, the teenager's talent for football saw him recruited by Queen's Park, the Glasgow club who were the pioneers of the British game but remain amateur to this day.

McColl swiftly earned a place in the Queen's Park team, at right-half, playing 57 games. Two years later, in June 1945, he turned professional, with Rangers. However, McColl had continued his degree and he was a part-time player during his long career at Ibrox, working for Rangers and FJC Lilley, civil engineering contractors.

Ian McColl (christened John Miller McColl – Ian being a Scots form of John) was the grandson of William McColl, who played for the Dunbartonshire side Renton in the 1895 Scottish Cup final and was capped by Scotland. Ian made his Rangers début on 16 August 1945, in a 4-2 win over Partick Thistle and went on to make 647 appearances, 538 of them in competitive matches. He won six League titles, five Scottish Cups and two Scottish League Cups.

McColl was an elegant player, yet his fame was established in the unglamorous trade of defending. He was part of a unit that was dubbed "The Iron Curtain" by the press as they kept out opposition forwards with such ease that Rangers conceded less than a goal a game en route to the title in 1949. This group of men – the goalkeeper Bobby Brown and the full-backs George Young and Jock Shaw, with McColl, Willie Woodburn and Sammy Cox in front of them – played 353 out of 360 League games between 1948 and 1950.

McColl scored 15 times for the club and was a member of the first Rangers side to participate in the European Cup, in 1956-57. He went out on a high in 1960 when he played in a Scottish Cup final win over Kilmarnock. He then took charge of the Rangers reserves before replacing Andy Beattie as Scotland manager.

The appointment reflected McColl's international experience – he won 14 caps over eight years, three against England – but also the fact that he helped out, as a player-assistant, in the successful 1958 World Cup qualifying campaign. However, in those days the role of national manager was merely to suggest players for inclusion – the final selection was made by a committee at the Scottish Football Association.

McColl's advice was good enough to set up wins over England in the Home International Tournament for three successive seasons between 1962 and 1964 and a 2-2 draw at Wembley in 1965, a few weeks before he resigned to be replaced by Jock Stein, who combined the role with his job at Celtic.

McColl, though, was still in demand. A month later he took charge of Sunderland, a club then nicknamed "The Bank of England", for their spending prowess. His first large cheque was issued to Rangers for the talented but wayward Baxter. The player, however, never hit the heights at Roker Park that he had at Ibrox and he left the club before McColl did, in 1968.

At 41, McColl returned to Scotland and went into business as a civil engineer. He then became a coal merchant and, latterly, ran a guest house in Milngavie near Glasgow.

John Miller McColl (Ian McColl), footballer and manager: born Alexandria, Dunbartonshire 7 June 1927; married (one son, one daughter); died Glasgow 24 October 2008.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits