There is no truth in the rumour that Terry Butcher was lured away to Australia by its wine rather than the football. The bon viveur former England captain is closer to his New World vineyards now that he has swapped Motherwell for Sydney, but he will be watching closely on satellite television today to check on his two Old World favourites.
Little old wine-drinking Tel was made for Fir Park, where claret (and amber) is part of the club colours. Yet Rangers, where Butcher spent five successful seasons as a player, represented the vintage part of his career.
His two former club sides meet in their opening Scottish Premier League fixture of the season. Butcher's decision to leave Motherwell after four years as manager means he will miss out on sharing his post-match glass of red with a true connoisseur: the Frenchman Paul Le Guen.
The new Rangers manager will be initiated into the managerial club that sees all adversaries share a drink after the dust has settled. Butcher's place will be taken by Maurice Malpas, who resisted joining Butcher to continue the toil they shared for three seasons together. "I always went in for a glass of wine or beer with Terry, we were treated as equals," notes Malpas.
At 42, Malpas is the same age as Le Guen, but the fact that this is his first managerial job, whereas his adversary has taken Lyon to three French titles, underlines how long the former Scotland full-back held himself back, with a playing career that ran for 21 years at Dundee United until he hung up his boots in 2000.
"So far, it has felt the same as any other pre-season," Malpas reflects. "The biggest difference is that I am not involved in training, because now my assistant, Paul Hegarty, takes a lot of it. I find that difficult, because Terry let me do everything in terms of training.
"I am finding it a wee bit harder to take a step back and watch training as opposed to taking it. However, Terry used to be away a lot with his BBC radio and television work, so this is just a natural progression.
"I see Terry got off to a winning start in the Australian league with Sydney last week, so that puts me under a wee bit of pressure right away," he adds. "He says he will watch the game on Sunday, so he must have found a pub which has a television and a wine cellar."
Malpas knows what it takes for a provincial club to stand up to the Old Firm. He was part of the Dundee United side who won the title in 1983 and reached the Uefa Cup final in 1987. The Fir Park squad have enjoyed continuity thanks to Butcher recommending him for the vacancy.
However, there is one thing from the Butcher era that the Motherwell dressing room does not miss. "The good news about Terry leaving was that he took his photograph of Bobby Moore holding the World Cup," says the Motherwell defender Martyn Corrigan. "That hung in his office, and we're glad to see the back of that."Reuse content