Jock Stein, Matt Busby and Bill Shankly remembered on BBC

McIlvanney's recollections of writing about Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly are re-lived on BBC Radio Scotland
McIlvanney's recollections of writing about Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly are re-lived on BBC Radio Scotland

Memories of three great Scottish football managers - Jock Stein, Sir Matt Busby and Bill Shankly - were re-lived on Sunday when award-winning sports writer Hugh McIlvanney reflected on their achievements on BBC Radio Scotland.

In Part Two of "The McIlvanney Conversations", McIlvanney describes Stein as an "under-educated intellectual", Busby "a great statesman", and Shankly "a warrior poet".

He also talks about helping Sir Alex Ferguson write his autobiography, "Managing My Life", and the "miracle" of what he did at Aberdeen by "chasing the Old Firm off centre stage".

The McIlvanney Conversations
Listen to part one, broadcast on 14 June 2015 (UK only)Listen to part two, broadcast on 21 June 2015 (UK only)

The mining background of Stein, Busby and Shankly from the coalfields of Lanarkshire and Ayrshire was fundamental to their successes and McIlvanney reminds listeners that Stein was still down the mines at the age of 27.

According to McIlvanney, Stein said of his fellow miners: "I never worked with better men."

McIlvanney was also in Cardiff the night of the World Cup qualifier when Stein died. In a tribute that he admitted was difficult to pen, he wrote about the "larcenous nature of death...and for some of us, it is indeed as if our spirits, our very lives had been burglarised."

According to McIlvanney, he felt "privileged" to know Stein.

He also enjoyed time with the Liverpool manager Shankly, whom he remembers saying that you must have the Holy Trinity at a football club - "the manager, the players and the supporters but NOT the directors. They're just there to sign the cheques!"

When it comes to assessing Stein, Busby and Shankly, McIlvanney says they were "men who were capable of supervising fairly remarkable deeds...they had the capacity to make men work for them." And he adds: "I was immensely grateful that they had a bit of time for me."

He also tells the remarkable story of how Ferguson phoned him from the team hotel just hours before Manchester United's Champions League win over Bayern Munich in 1999 with some further thoughts on his autobiography.

And McIlvanney reflects on that remarkable 1960 European Cup final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt at Hampden, sometimes described as the finest game of football ever played. Hugh reported on that match and reflects that "here was the game as we had always known it could and should be played".

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