McGinn's family loyalties undivided as grandsons meet

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Former SFA President and Celtic chairman Jack McGinn
Former SFA President and Celtic chairman Jack McGinn

Jack McGinn will face mixed emotions as he takes in his regular game of football this weekend.

The former SFA president will watch St Mirren against Dundee, and two of his grandsons will be in either side.

It is the first time that John McGinn and Paul McGinn have played against each other.

Their grandfather attends as many of their games as he can, and his hope is that they both perform well regardless of the scoreline.

"It's the first time they've played each other in any grade of football, except in bounce games," said the former Celtic chairman.

St Mirren's John McGinn
St Mirren midfielder John McGinn

"I've spoken to them both this week. What I said was that I hoped they both had a really good game and then the score would take care of itself. A 2-2 draw, and they score two goals each, would be the perfect scenario."

Football runs deep in the family, with John and Paul's elder brother Stephen being a midfielder at Sheffield United, while their grandfather played a long-time role in the administration of the game.

Jack McGinn still attends every Celtic home game, but otherwise spends his Saturday afternoons following the progress of his grandsons. He turns 82 later this month, but will often go to games in England to watch Stephen.

Having committed much of his working life to the game, McGinn could provide wise counsel, but he is careful not to interfere in their careers.

"When I finished my SFA presidency, I made a decision and told Celtic that I wouldn't any longer go to away games," McGinn said.

"In the back of my mind was a ticket situation, where I would rather stop doing that than have somebody say some time, 'listen… [we can't provide tickets any more]'.

"So when Celtic are away from home, I'm clear and depending who plays where, I'll go to see them at home or away. Occasionally, I go down to Sheffield, and I've seen [Stephen McGinn] at other grounds. In fact, I was at the game when he got his cruciate injury in Doncaster. When I can, I go.

"Just as importantly, they're three nice lads. You'll be hard put to find somebody to say a bad word against them, so I'm as proud of that as I am any football ability.

Dundee defender Paul McGinn
Dundee defender Paul McGinn

"I don't hand out advice. Talking in general terms, you can make an observation here or there, but I don't go down the round of saying you should have or you shouldn't have.

"Now and again in conversation they'll ask me things, and I'm a great believer in football and life that I'm happy to give somebody advice, but whether they take it or not is very much up to them.

"I don't think it's been all that common. Immediately springing to mind is the three McStays, Paul, Willie and Raymond, who played at the one time.

"They're [level-headed], they play their own games and then want to know how the other two got on. They're all the same, they're happy if they don't well and won, and unhappy if they've not done well."

Even approaching his 80th birthday, McGinn still chaired various meetings for the SFA, but he admits that the pace of change within the game has increased from his time at the centre of its administration in Scotland.

"I put in a pretty long stint, and maybe more than I thought it was time to hang up the boots," he said.

"It changed dramatically even in my time. From my very first involvement, which goes away back to Willie Allan, and in that time the changes in football have been dramatic. They probably changed a little bit slower in my time, but they change at a faster rate nowadays.

"I still go to all home Scotland games. I hope they can get off to a good start, although it will be very difficult in Germany.

"I've seen Stephen and John in under-21 Scotland jerseys. It would be marvellous if they ended up playing for Scotland. Whatever will be, will be. You never know."