My Part in Celtic’s Hampden Year

A tale of my brief encounter with Celtic’s Fergus McCann with passing mention of Dion Dublin. First appeared in Issue 4 of Nutmeg Magazine.

A quiet Friday afternoon in April. The square, grey BT-issue phone on the corner of my desk suddenly chirped into life. I was manning – or rather womanning – the fort in our little rented office on the top floor of an elegant Edinburgh townhouse. My boss and his wife had taken the afternoon off. The two creatives were still in the pub – this was 1994, so what else would you expect from a marketing agency? We were a fledgling business, carrying out direct mail and insert campaigns for a couple of large financial organisations. Part of a UK network, we relied on sister agencies in London for media buying and Leeds for production services. I was diligently checking over the media schedule for my main client, ruler sat on top of paper, pencil comments scribbled in the margin.

Dropping the pencil on the second chirp, I grabbed the chunky phone receiver and clutched it to my ear. “Thank you for calling WWAV Scotland. Heather speaking. How may I help?” My polite introduction was met with a brusque response: “You’re a direct marketing agency, aren’t you?” I confirmed that indeed we were, as my mind whirred, struggling to identify the vaguely familiar transatlantic twang.

“This is Fergus McCann. I’ve bought Celtic Football Club. We need some direct marketing. Can you come in and see me next week?”

I replied somewhat hesitantly that of course we could, I’d just need to check with my Managing Director as he would always attend a new business meeting. “What was your name again? Are you an Account Director?” I barely had a moment to confirm before the demanding Scots-born Canadian continued: “We’ll say 2pm Tuesday at Celtic Park. You just come along on your own if necessary.”

With that he hung up.

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When Heather met Heather

Here’s an interview with Heather Alwen published in Issue 30 of The Blizzard magazine:

https://www.theblizzard.co.uk/article/chairmans-wife

The subject is another Charlton-supporting Heather, but one with a very different perspective from me: Heather Alwen, wife of erstwhile chairman Roger. Among other things, it covers the behind-the-scenes story of the return to The Valley, tips on football gardening, the treatment of directors’ wives by Stoke City and the importance of proper nutrition for youth team players.

The Truth about Gentleman Jerry

The achievements of Jerry Kerr are such that he deserves to be lauded as one of the pioneering Scottish managers alongside the likes of Jock Stein and Bill Shankly. But for decades he was not even welcome at Dundee United, the club he helped shape.

A poignant story based on interviews with the family.

First published in Nutmeg Issue Three, March 2017, and featured in Scotland and Sunday.

“As a manager, he never swore, never lost his temper, was never rude to anyone. He was respected as a gentleman and there aren’t many managers of the modern game you can say that about.” Rhona Haston, an elegant lady in her seventies, talks with warmth and passion about her late father, Jerry Kerr.

I am meeting Rhona and her son, Ross, to hear more about this intriguing man, who clearly meant the world to them. Rhona hands me several black and white photographs. Despite my keen interest in football, I am embarrassed to admit that I know next-to-nothing about the balding, well-dressed figure, sometimes sporting a trilby, nearly always puffing on a pipe, usually managing an affable smile. Yet this is a man whose achievements in transforming his club should be lauded in the Scottish Hall of Fame alongside Jock Stein’s Celtic triumphs and Bill Shankly’s galvanising of Liverpool.


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