HIGHLY respected coach Hugh McCann has been given a job at Raith Rovers – almost 30 years after first applying for one!
The former East Stirling, Queen’s Park and Alloa manager was appointed the club’s new youth academy director last week.
But he revealed that he could have been a Stark’s Park employee as far back as 1983.
“When I finished playing football this was the first place I applied for a job in management,” he told the Press.
“If I recall right it was Bobby Wilson who got the job, so you’ll know how long ago that was!
“I got a nice letter back from Raith saying I hadn’t been successful, and I got the Alloa job soon afterwards.”
McCann brings with him a rich football CV.
First signed by Celtic as a 14-year-old, his hopes of playing at the highest level were curtailed by a serious knee injury.
After leaving Parkhead, he was snapped up by Alloa, before being transferred to Berwick Rangers, where he spent eight years, and played alongside a certain John McGlynn.
He then embarked on a coaching career and as well as his managerial jobs he has also worked on the backroom staff at Hearts, Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Dundee.
His latest role was at Alloa where he spent nine years building the club’s youth academy, before handing in his resignation at the end of last season.
“I started with a totally blank canvas at Alloa and built it up from scratch – so nothing phases me,” Hugh said.
“They wanted to go in a direction that I didn’t believe in with respect to the pathway for young boys so it was time to move on.
“In football you can be out the game for a while, but fortunately I’ve landed on my feet and secured a job at Raith, and I’m delighted to be here.
“There’s a lot of work to be done here on the youth side, and we’ll certainly be putting ourselves into that.
“My first impressions of the club is that people are very open, honest and helpful - and if you’ve got that you’re off to a good start.
“The club is very much pushing to get the academy up to a good standard, and hopefully I can help move that standard on.”
Hugh will bring with him the same plan that has served him well throughout his years as a coach.
“My philosophy is very simple,” he explained. “I’m into the TIPS model – technical, intelligence, personality and speed.
“If you can marry that into awareness and confidence, hopefully we can produce young players of a good standard that can go into the Raith first team.”
McCann will be working closely with Rovers manager Grant Murray to help build a homegrown Rovers side.
“Even when I was a manager I was very much into youth,” Hugh said.
“My teams were very youthful, and when I was manager at Alloa I started up an under 18 team long before anyone else had one.
“Experience is good but football is becoming a younger game.
“The more tools you can give players at an early age, the more chance he’ll have of a career.
“But that’s not to say you exclude late developers - you’re always a better player when you finish you’re career than when you start.”
McCann is now looking forward to beginning the latest chapter in his long football career.
“I’ve been 43 years in football and it’s not a game I ever lose any enthusiasm for,” he said.
“Football’s been my life. I’ve been asked a few times when I will retire but I don’t think that’s an option.
“As long as you keep up with new ideas any continually develop yourself, you can stay in the game forever.”