Stuart McCall has many fond memories of a successful four-year spell at Motherwell – just don’t ask him about Lanarkshire derbies.
From guiding the club to the 2011 Scottish Cup final, two second place finishes in the Scottish Premiership and three consecutive seasons of European football, there’s a lot for the former Scotland international to be proud of during his reign between December 2010 and November 2014.
However, the prospect of watching his old side going into a Lanarkshire derby away to rivals Hamilton on Saturday brings back a host of bad memories.
McCall managed Motherwell in four matches against their local rivals, but came out on top just once.
A sobering 4-0 hammering at home, a penalty shootout defeat in the League Cup and a dire 0-0 draw in his first game in charge of the club all befell the ex-Rangers star.
Only a narrow 1-0 win in February 2011 at Fir Park, courtesy of a John Sutton penalty, gave him a taste of derby success.
So for McCall, who has strong family ties to Hamilton, it’s not a fixture he recalls with relish.
He told Lanarkshire Live Sport: “I had some great times at Motherwell, but I don’t think we ever scored a goal away from home against Hamilton.
“I just looked back at my record recently and I’ve got mixed feelings about these derbies.
“My mum and dad were born in Hamilton and when I used to come up to Scotland, I would go to Rangers games.
“But if Rangers were away, I would go down to Accies, get lifted over the turnstile and watch Hamilton.
“So when my first game with Motherwell was at Hamilton, I thought wow, this will be great.
“But it was probably the drabest game and derby I’ve ever been involved in.
“It was 0-0 and it was really poor fare.
“When I came in, we were on the back of losing three on the bounce – to Hearts, Celtic and Rangers – so we stopped the rot a little bit, but it was still really disappointing.
“That season we beat them 1-0 at home and they got relegated that year.
“But the other league game I was involved in a couple of years later, they came to our place and trounced us 4-0 and played fantastically well.
“Alex Neil’s team gave us a doing and Ali Crawford was terrific that day.
“Just after I left, Hamilton played us at home and won 5-0, so it shows you Alex Neil’s team were brilliant at that time.”
McCall – now back in the game after joining Bradford for a third spell at the start of the month – was somewhat envious of the conveyor belt of talent Accies produced around his time in Lanarkshire.
The likes of James McArthur, Ali Crawford and Greg Docherty all made the step up to the first team at Accies.
But he feels the roles have been reversed and it is now the Steelmen bringing on some of the best talent in Scotland, with David Turnbull and Allan Campbell coming through the youth academy more recently.
”I used to look at Hamilton when I was there and when we played them in youth games, they always seemed to be a little bit stronger and better than us at the time,” admitted McCall, who went on to manage Rangers, Bradford and Scunthorpe.
“I think if people had a choice of going to Hamilton or Motherwell back then, they’d look at your James McCarthys and James McArthurs and think they’ve got more of a chance at Hamilton because they play young kids.
“I know a lot of people went to Hamilton instead of Motherwell because they thought they’d get a first-team slot quicker.
“But that’s been spun round now. At Motherwell the young lads have come through.
“At the back end of my time, we brought through the likes of Lee Erwin and Chris Cadden.
“And now Stephen Robinson’s doing a great job.”
He added: “I think there’s been a lot of good recruitment, but there’s also been some good work done by the club bringing the young players through.
“It seems to go in cycles. A long time ago when I was playing, Dundee United were bringing a lot of kids through at one stage, Hearts had a spell and Hamilton obviously had a good spell, but recently it has been Motherwell.
“There’s been a lot of young kids, even before they’ve reached the first team, being snapped up by teams in England, so they are doing a fantastic job.”
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