Rampant Ballboy Interviews - craig levein
goes without saying that the natural choice for
this issue's Rampant Ballboy former player interview
is of course Craig Levein the popular appointment
as Cowden's new manager. Craig started out his senior
career with The Blue Brazil in 1981 and is delighted
to be back with the club in his managerial capacity.
Craig gladly took time out from his hectic schedule
to speak to the Rampant Ballboy.
I presume your footballing talents first came
to light at school?
Yes, coming from Aberdour I went to Inverkeithing
High School and played in the school team along
with Gordon Durie. l played juvenile for Dalgety
Bay and Leven Royals before joining Inverkeithing
Under 16's. It was when I was with lnverkeithing
at the age of 15 that I packed the game in for a
year, I just became fed up of football at that time.
What enticed you back into the game?
My brother was playing with Lochore Juniors
and got me to go to their training. I thoroughly
enjoyed the training and consequently got back in
the swing of playing football. I signed for Lochore
Juniors and during my time there I had numerous
trials with senior clubs one of which was Cowdenbeath
when Pat Stanton was manager. However it was Andy
Rolland who signed me for Cowdenbeath when I was
17. Andy was a great guy. He had the knack of keeping
part time players interested in the club and he
built up a good team spirit. I will draw on my experience
under Andy for my own managerial career.
How long did it take you to break into the first
I played a few reserve games then made my
debut playing centre back against Albion Rovers.
I did well on my debut and was a first team regular
after that. I do however remember being on the subs
bench for one game , I was really disappointed and
thought "I don't fancy this much". I was
determined that it would never happen to me again.
I was never on the subs bench after that in my entire
career so it was something that lived with me always.
What were your fondest memories of your time
at Central Park ?
I enjoyed playing alongside such players
as Grant Tierney, Stewart Williamson, Bertie Millar,
Gunner Liddle and Billy Steele to name but a few.
The most memorable game was the League Cup tie when
we went out to Hearts over 2 legs on penalties .
We had a chance to win the game in the dying minutes.
Given that Cowdenbeath were my first senior club
I will always have fond memories of my time then.
I learned a lot in my year and a half at Central
When did you sign for Hearts and what games
stick in your mind during your time at Tynecastle
l signed for Hearts from Cowdenbeath in
November 1983 at the age of 19. The Bayern Munich
UEFA Cup tie when Hearts won 1-0 was a tremendous
night the atmosphere at Tynecastle was incredible.
There was also a Rangers cup tie which Hearts won
4-2 after Rangers had pulled back to 2-2 and looked
odds on to go on and win. Talking of cup ties there
was a derby game at Easter Road which Hearts won
2- 1 with Wayne Foster scoring late on which sticks
in my mind. I'm sure young Gordon McDougall will
remember that game also!
No need to ask what the biggest disappointment
was at Hearts...
Season 1985/86, I had a flu bug and missed the last
game of the season at Dens Park which we lost 2-1.
The whole team were devastated at the way we had
lost the league. The team never recovered from that
and as a result we lost the Cup Final to Aberdeen
shortly afterwards. I've remained friends with many
of my Hearts team-mates in particular John Colquhoun,
Steven Frail, Robbo and Dave McPherson.
When did you win your first cap for Scotland
It was against Argentina at Hampden in 1990
when Stewart McKimmie scored the only goal. The
most memorable game was the 2-1 win over Sweden
in Genoa at The World Cup in 1990. The fans were
immense . Despite having lost the first game to
Costa Rica the supporters were all willing us on
with tremendous enthusiasm. It was a wonderful experience,
l gained 16 caps in all.
You've obviously been very unfortunate with
injuries during your career.
In 1986 l sustained a cruciate ligament
injury. After I recovered I played for six months
when the injury re-occurred. l was out in total
for three years returning in 1989. l then played
virtually injury free till we played Dunfermline
at Tynecastle in 1995. I felt my knee go in a tackle
and haven't played since. I have had two operations
since then but neither have been successful. I had
an operation a few days ago to get screws out of
my knee as I have been getting quite a bit of jip
What happened after your playing days were finished
I worked for a year and a half at Hearts
with Paul Hegarty and Peter Houston coaching the
youths, I gained a lot from this. The response from
the kids was great, l then spoke to Jim Leishman
who I knew from my days at Central Park, Jim arranged
for me to begin training the full timers at Livingston
which l did from the start of this season, I really
enjoyed this also. You're always learning when you
How did you come to take up the Cowdenbeath
I received a phone call from Bernard Hunter
and went in past Gordon McDougall's house on the
way back from seeing the specialist in Bradford
about my knee. Gordon asked me if I would be interested
in taking the managers job. I was a bit hesitant
at first. It is a big step. Your first job in football
management is always a yardstick that people judge
you on so it can be a huge risk. I talked things
over with my wife and Gordon McDougall amongst others
and I decided that it would be a good step coming
to a struggling club. I obviously want to help the
club given my affiliation with it, and have strong
ambitions to make the club successful. I 'm looking
forward to the challenge ahead.
What are your aims for the rest of this season
To try and make the players realise that
they are the ones who are responsible for us being
bottom of the league not Sammy Conn nor anyone else.
The attitude of the players must be right. A good
team spirit is essential. That is how teams become
successful. All the best football teams have everyone
working for each other. That is what I aim to achieve
here. Anyone who does not try will be shown the
door, l will not tolerate that. I am looking to
bring some new faces in during the course of the
season to get the team gelled together for a big
push next season.
What are your longer term aims for the rest
of the season?
To get people in through the turnstiles
to watch Cowdenbeath Football Club. Punters will
not want to come and watch us if we are crap, I
am under no illusion about that. I want a 100% commitment
from anyone who pulls on a Cowdenbeath jersey. l
am keen to get the youngsters involved also. A youth
policy is vital to a club like Cowdenbeath. It's
a long term thing but young lads are always keen
to learn and ours will be given a chance to prove
themselves in the first team if they show promise.
Lastly Craig have you noticed much change since
you were last at Central Park?
Obviously the new stand is different as
are the directors and other backroom staff with
the exception of Eric Mitchell. The club essentially
hasn't changed l'm just hoping that I can help it
achieve success. l must thank Gordon McDougall and
Joe McNamara who have gone out of their way to help
me since I arrived. A big thank you also to Gary
Kirk and the other back-room staff who have been
a great support to me in my first managerial venture.
On behalf of the entire Fanzine team, and I'm sure
all Blue Brazilians everywhere, l wish Craig and
his staff every success in bringing a welcome change
to Cowden's fortunes.
We're always on the lookout for Blue Brazilians
from yesteryear. If you should know of anyone who
is worthy of a mention, drop an email to email@example.com