What A Way To Prepare!

Beattie The Fall Guy Of Planning Madness

Andy Beattie (left) in his playing days.

Conscious as we are that the mood sometimes needs lightening these days, we are happy to bring readers a humorous fresh insight into a former Wolves manager – as provided by another ex-Molineux boss.

We will, for now, keep the identity of the writer secret, although you may soon guess who he is.

But we have a couple of tales about the man who succeeded Stan Cullis at the helm, the much briefer-reigning Andy Beattie, who had ten months in charge at Wolves.

One concerns genial Celtic and Scotland winger Jimmy Johnstone, who was part of a squad of players preparing at Kilmarnock’s Rugby Park ground under Beattie’s tutelage.

“For reasons known only to Andy,” the book text tells us, “not only did he not include Jimmy in the 22 for a full-scale practice match. He even told him to don a linesman’s uniform and run the line.

“Jimmy flatly refused and spent the entire afternoon watching the game from the empty grandstand.

“Some weeks later, Jimmy returned to Rugby Park (Beattie was a club manager as well as national boss) and Celtic wiped the floor with Kilmarnock, winning 6-0. Jimmy helped himself to a hat-trick and set up the other three goals.

“With the score at 5-0 and with two goals to his name, Jimmy set off from the half-way line and went past five players before rounding keeper Campbell Forsyth and sidefooting into an empty net. He took off again and made a bee-line for the Kilmarnock dug-out, where a forlorn Andy Beattie was seated.

“‘Hey, Andy, he shouted….not bad for a bloody linesman, heh?'”

Tale number two offers an example of the high principles of the man known as the Flying Doctor because of his penchant for being installed in short-term jobs with the aim of lifting the storm-clouds.

Such was his brief at Molineux in the wake of Cullis’s departure and, although his spell here was underwhelming and in the caretaker category, it should not be forgotten that he once led Scotland to a World Cup. Please note….he only took them, he didn’t bring them back!

Back to the text and the amazing story of how Beattie resigned after a mere one match of the tournament campaign in Switzerland in 1954.

The Scots were in turmoil over the choice of their team line-ups – a job then entrusted to the ‘suits’, or selectors as they were known.

That said, the side performed well in their opening game, a 1-0 defeat against well-fancied Austria in Zurich. But Beattie, who was the country’s first national manager, had had enough of the meddling.

“The following day, Andy announced his resignation. He had taken up the post only in February but four months in the job was obviously too much for him.

“For him to have resigned after our first World Cup match – and after a heartening performance – speaks volumes for his frustration and angst.

“He told me he was totally fed up with the way the Scottish FA ran the show. In particular, the fact we arrived for a World Cup with only 11 players and two designated as stand-bys. ‘There are more SFA officials here than players. It’s a nonsense,’ said Andy. And he was right.”

Beattie (far right) in his second spell as Scotland boss, a few years before his Molineux arrival.

This illuminating account clearly comes from the inside of the camp, which probably tells you it is from one Thomas Henderson Docherty. In other words, it’s The Doc talking about the Flying Doc in his 2006 autobiography, My Story.

As a Preston wing-half, he himself was messed around so much in that summer of 1954 that he was installed as captain and then deposed before a ball was kicked in the tournament.

Beattie died in September, 1983, aged 70 – less than a year before Docherty was appointed at Molineux.

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