‘Colossus’ Mark Campbell is latest Raith Hall of Fame inductee

Mark Campbell was a commanding presence in the Raith defence between 2006 and 2011. Pic: Neil Doig
Mark Campbell was a commanding presence in the Raith defence between 2006 and 2011. Pic: Neil Doig

Some players leave a lasting impression on a football club, and Mark Campbell certainly managed that in his five years at Raith Rovers.

The defender was a commanding presence in the Rovers backline between 2006 and 2011, helping the club to a Second Division title and runners-up finish in the old First Division.

It is a tribute in itself that fans still long for a ‘Mark Campbell-type centre-half’, and that enduring affinity will result in his induction into the Raith Hall of Fame this November.

His former manager John McGlynn, now in his second spell at Stark’s Park, described his former captain as a “colossus”, adding: “He was a beast of a boy.

“He trained like every session was his last. He put so much into it, and that’s how you get into the Hall of Fame at the Rovers.

“You will always get respect, praise and honours from the paying fans if you’re going out there every week and giving 100 per cent and going through brick walls.

“That’s what we had in Mark Campbell.

“Whenever the opposition would send balls up to the strikers, and you heard the shout, ‘Mark’s ball’, you knew they were going to get clattered.

“He was great in the dressing room - an absolute winner - and it’s thoroughly deserved.”

Campbell made 159 appearances for Raith, chipping in with 19 goals, all while racking up countless miles travelling to and from his home in Ayrshire.

He also had spells at Stranraer, Ayr United, Falkirk, St Johnstone and Queen of the South before making the move into the juniors.

Now aged 41 and retired from playing, he has recently started a new job as a fireman based at Prestwick Airport.

He is still active in the game as assistant manager at junior side Kilbirnie Ladeside, but his time at Raith remains the highlight of his career.

“It was my favourite time as a footballer and it was a great place to be,” Campbell said.

“Raith and Ayr were the two clubs I spent five years at, but Raith edge it in terms of how much I enjoyed my time there.

“The travel was a lot for me but it never felt like a chore.

“It was Gordon Dalziel who initially asked me to come in, and then it was Craig Levein for a time before John McGlynn arrived.

“For me, he was my number one in football, not only as a manager but as a person.”

Campbell puts his success at Raith down to his no-nonsense approach to defending.

“As centre-halves go, I don’t think there’s a lot like myself going about,” he said.

“Guys who just win their headers, win their challenges, and do their job.

“A lot of them now are too nice and want to be football players, rather than concentrating on wanting to be defenders first and foremost.”

While at Raith, Campbell suffered serious injuries in a car crash in February 2010, and the support he received from both the manager and the club left a lasting impression.

“The one that sticks in my mind was after my car crash, it must’ve only been three or four hours after it happened and John was there in the hospital,” he said.

“It goes a long way to show what he was like as a person and the way he treated the players, and that’s how he got the best out of them because they wanted to play for him.

“It was a great club to be around and I was well looked after.

“On top of that we had a good bit of success as well, winning the Second Division and then going so close to winning the First Division, although I missed the majority of that season due to the crash.

“I’d have liked to have stayed a bit longer, but as one of the higher paid players, it wasn’t financially viable for them to keep hold of me.

“I’d have stayed on for a number of years but that’s just the way football goes.”

Campbell’s affection for Rovers is reflected in his willingness to travel long distances in order to attend Hall of Fame nights, reunion dinners and club golf days.

“I love being about the club and doing things to give something back,” he said.

“They stuck by me after my car crash, and there was a couple of operations they did for me.

“I then got another contract on top of that after being out so long.

“It’s not just that - it’s because I want to go back as well. I enjoy the Hall of Fame nights, the golf days, the dinners, where I get to meet all the boys again.

“It’s not an effort to come up. I always look forward to coming back.”

Campbell even admits he would love to return as part of McGlynn’s backroom staff.

“I’d even go in and be the kit man just to be involved again on a Saturday!” he said.

“I’d love to be back involved with John and Smudger in some capacity. They can make up a job for me if they want!

“There’s nothing better than being about a dressing room, especially one that’s got great memories for me. I’ll plant that seed if I see them at the Hall of Fame.”

Campbell is looking forward to taking to the stage at the Adam Smith Theatre to accept his induction this November.

“It’s definitely a privilege to be inducted,” he said.

“It doesn’t happen to everybody and you need to have done well at a club to be recognised in that manner.

“But you’re only going to do well if the team is doing well, you can’t get in as an individual, and it just shows the team I was involved in was a good one.

“I do feel I played well at Raith and contributed a fair bit, but the boys I played with all had great ability and they were good team mates.”

Campbell is the second confirmed 2019 inductee following the recent announcement of long-serving former director Mario Caira.

This year’s Raith Hall of Fame show, which has sold out for the eight year running since its inception in 2012, takes place at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy on Monday, November 11.