"at the heart of the community"

  • Register
  • Sign In
  • Keith McCulloch - Part 2 

    Saturday, August 25, 2012 3:10:36 AM

    The start of season 1993/94 marked 6 years of service to Alloa from Keith McCulloch - the halfway point of his long involvement with the Wasps. The new season also marked the beginning of a new era at the Recs with Billy Lamont taking over from Hugh McCann as Alloa manager.
    Lamont was a manager who had enjoyed success elsewhere and he was well backed by the Alloa board, bringing in a number of well known players from the West of Scotland. Despite the fact that Lamont was popular with the players, his time at Alloa was ultimately something of a failure

    "I felt sorry for Billy Lamont. He brought in a lot of players - and spent a lot of money - and I felt a lot of them let him down. They were good guys and good players, but I felt a lot of them let him down, they didn't turn it on for us", said Keith McCulloch. Lamont worked his players extremely hard in training, and Keith feels perhaps some the new players could not or simply did not want to accept that.

    It was a crucial year for Alloa with the creation of the new Third Division. Alloa finished 7th in the old Division 2, unfortunately making them founder members of the new basement division. "We missed the cut and that was a really disappointing moment for us all, we really felt we should have stayed in the higher league", says Keith.

    The team failed to bounce straight back up and Lamont lost his job. What followed was an extremely disappointing season under Pat MacAulay, a season on which no Alloa fan would want to dwell.

    The board then made an ambitious move to bring in Tom Hendrie from Berwick. With Hendrie well backed by the board it was to be the beginning of a special era at the Recs. For Keith McCulloch however, the main emotion was frustration. "I had an unfortunate time with injuries, trying to get back fit again, in and out of the team. I had two achilles operations, my knee - major operations - and it was really frustrating. That kind of soured the end of my playing days with Alloa, getting injured and not getting to the level of fitness or play that I wanted". There was further frustration for Keith in that Alloa were to excel under both Tom Hendrie and Terry Christie, with Keith feeling that had he been fit he would have been a key part of the success. His long service with Alloa came to end in 1999, twelve years after signing from Cowdenbeath.

    Fittingly however, Keith's career did not end in frustration. Despite toying with the idea of retirement on leaving Alloa, he instead took up an offer from Craig Levein to return to Cowdenbeath. As such, Keith's senior career had a certain symmetry, with short spells at Cowden book-ending his long service with Alloa. Current Alloa fitness coach Tam Ritchie was with Cowden at the time and Keith attributes Ritchie's fitness regime with helping him finally overcome his injuries and return to fitness. "We were pummeled and pummeled pre-season - I've never seen training like it in my life - but it turned my body around and I got a full season with Cowden and I was quite happy to finish like that." Keith played a further year in the juniors with Newtongrange before finally hanging up his boots.

    Twelve years of service inevitably means that Alloa retain a special place in Keith's affections. "Those were great years. Looking back I still think of those times and sometimes I get quite emotional. Not just the fans but players I played with, the directors, the backroom people, the physios - I got to know the physios better than anybody else I think! It was a great time for me, those 12 years at Alloa. Every time I'm back through people talk to me about those times, I feel really grateful and humbled, and I appreciate the support I had from Alloa, the club and the supporters". It is fair to say that Keith more than earned that support from Alloa, having served the club with such distinction.

    12 years of service also means an awful a lot of teammates. Keith says there were too many to mention but one who stands out was his traveling partner, Spider Ramsay, the man coincidentally who pipped Keith in the Alloa Cult Heroes vote run by the BBC's Football Focus in 2005 a few years ago! Another was Willie Newbigging, the 'Blairhall Blooter', with Keith quick to point out that he marked Mark Hately on the day that Alloa went to Ibrox in the 1994 and held him scoreless, whereas Willie picked up Ally McCoist who scored a hat-trick!

    Unfortunately work means that Keith McCulloch's involvement in football is now limited to occasionally watching matches in the East of Scotland league. He did have an enjoyable and successful spell as a coach with Loanhead Boys Club, but work pressures meant that he could not continue to devote his time to the team. It would be football's gain if that situation was to change in the future.

     

    The start of season 1993/94 marked 6 years of service to Alloa from Keith McCulloch - the halfway point of his long involvement with the Wasps. The new season also marked the beginning of a new era at the Recs with Billy Lamont taking over from Hugh McCann as Alloa manager.
    Lamont was a manager who had enjoyed success elsewhere and he was well backed by the Alloa board, bringing in a number of well known players from the West of Scotland. Despite the fact that Lamont was popular with the players, his time at Alloa was ultimately something of a failure

    "I felt sorry for Billy Lamont. He brought in a lot of players - and spent a lot of money - and I felt a lot of them let him down. They were good guys and good players, but I felt a lot of them let him down, they didn't turn it on for us", said Keith McCulloch. Lamont worked his players extremely hard in training, and Keith feels perhaps some the new players could not or simply did not want to accept that.

    It was a crucial year for Alloa with the creation of the new Third Division. Alloa finished 7th in the old Division 2, unfortunately making them founder members of the new basement division. "We missed the cut and that was a really disappointing moment for us all, we really felt we should have stayed in the higher league", says Keith.

    The team failed to bounce straight back up and Lamont lost his job. What followed was an extremely disappointing season under Pat MacAulay, a season on which no Alloa fan would want to dwell.

    The board then made an ambitious move to bring in Tom Hendrie from Berwick. With Hendrie well backed by the board it was to be the beginning of a special era at the Recs. For Keith McCulloch however, the main emotion was frustration. "I had an unfortunate time with injuries, trying to get back fit again, in and out of the team. I had two achilles operations, my knee - major operations - and it was really frustrating. That kind of soured the end of my playing days with Alloa, getting injured and not getting to the level of fitness or play that I wanted". There was further frustration for Keith in that Alloa were to excel under both Tom Hendrie and Terry Christie, with Keith feeling that had he been fit he would have been a key part of the success. His long service with Alloa came to end in 1999, twelve years after signing from Cowdenbeath.

    Fittingly however, Keith's career did not end in frustration. Despite toying with the idea of retirement on leaving Alloa, he instead took up an offer from Craig Levein to return to Cowdenbeath. As such, Keith's senior career had a certain symmetry, with short spells at Cowden book-ending his long service with Alloa. Current Alloa fitness coach Tam Ritchie was with Cowden at the time and Keith attributes Ritchie's fitness regime with helping him finally overcome his injuries and return to fitness. "We were pummeled and pummeled pre-season - I've never seen training like it in my life - but it turned my body around and I got a full season with Cowden and I was quite happy to finish like that." Keith played a further year in the juniors with Newtongrange before finally hanging up his boots.

    Twelve years of service inevitably means that Alloa retain a special place in Keith's affections. "Those were great years. Looking back I still think of those times and sometimes I get quite emotional. Not just the fans but players I played with, the directors, the backroom people, the physios - I got to know the physios better than anybody else I think! It was a great time for me, those 12 years at Alloa. Every time I'm back through people talk to me about those times, I feel really grateful and humbled, and I appreciate the support I had from Alloa, the club and the supporters". It is fair to say that Keith more than earned that support from Alloa, having served the club with such distinction.

    12 years of service also means an awful a lot of teammates. Keith says there were too many to mention but one who stands out was his traveling partner, Spider Ramsay, the man coincidentally who pipped Keith in the Alloa Cult Heroes vote run by the BBC's Football Focus in 2005 a few years ago! Another was Willie Newbigging, the 'Blairhall Blooter', with Keith quick to point out that he marked Mark Hately on the day that Alloa went to Ibrox in the 1994 and held him scoreless, whereas Willie picked up Ally McCoist who scored a hat-trick!

    Unfortunately work means that Keith McCulloch's involvement in football is now limited to occasionally watching matches in the East of Scotland league. He did have an enjoyable and successful spell as a coach with Loanhead Boys Club, but work pressures meant that he could not continue to devote his time to the team. It would be football's gain if that situation was to change in the future.

     



    Managers Corner