“I’m no’ a Dobbies man or a fisherman,” said Dick Campbell as his Arbroath side clinched the League One title in 2019. “Saturday’s fitba day.”
The Covid-19 pandemic hit Campbell hard as the world of football ground to a halt for seven months.
He freely admits to being so football-daft that he’ll watch any game, any place at any time.
But Saturday is considered to be The Holy Grail when it comes to the beautiful game.
“See last year with the pandemic? You are kidding me on.” Said Campbell.
“A Saturday? Going walks with the wife? Shopping? Oh naw…it’s not for me at all.
“Saturday is a ritual. There’s nothing that motivates me more than a Saturday.
“Saturday morning is sorted. I get up and maybe go in the hot tub for a bit, relaxing for quarter of an hour.
“Then it’s in, showered, poached eggs on toast.
“Then it’s time to get ready. Now we are wearing tracksuits to the games, it always used to be suits and collar and tie but that’s the ritual.
“Saturday is all about the fitba.’”
It’s a mantra that Arbroath manager Dick Campbell swears by while continuing to live life to the max following a battle with cancer ten years ago.
The smile is never far from the face of a man who has coached and managed in almost 1500 games since his first managerial post at Cowdenbeath in 1987.
His mind is constantly whirring with thoughts of which witty one-liner he’ll come away with next.
“I went to pick him up. I drove into his place. Pink has got a big posh place and I saw this magnificent black sports Mercedes.”
He loves nothing more than cutting someone down with his banter or holding court in a room full of people with a tale of yesteryear.
A larger than life character, Campbell is the elder statesman of Scottish football and Courier Sport will tell his story – “Saturday’s Fitba Day” – this week.
Over the course of the next three days, Dick will entertain you with some of his one-liners.
He opens his heart on his cancer battle from ten years ago and outlines the football ambitions that are driving him to push back retirement for at least another ten.
“When I was 60, our Ian – Pink – phoned me up,” said Campbell. “He said: ‘Can you pick me up this morning? My car is going in for a service.’
“I went to pick him up. I drove into his place. Pink has got a big posh place and I saw this magnificent black sports Mercedes.
“I looked at it and was wondering why it was there.
“I’d taken his birthday present along because his birthday’s the same as mine – because we are twins!
“As I stepped up to his house I said: ‘By the way, you’ve not been getting yourself a new motor have you?’
“He said: ‘No, it’s yours. Happy birthday!’
“He gave me a Mercedes! I didnae ken whit to do with the gloves and scarf I gave him!”
While Campbell graciously accepted his brother’s generous gift, he’s also just as happy taking money off him on the golf course.
“Golf is not about how good you are,” said Campbell. “It’s a handicap section to make you as good as who you are playing against.
“I make full use of that. I could scoot about and have fun but see when the money’s down? I’m a player.
“You could call me a bandit and I would agree with you!
“I’m not kidding you, I am a bandit. I LOVE taking money off my brother.
“We’ll have a fiver on the first nine, fiver on the game and fiver on the back nine.
“He’s got to give me shots because he’s a better player than me – or so he thinks – he plays off eight and I’m off of 17.
“Eight from 17 is nine so on every second hole I get a shot. I love that.
“We are members of Gleneagles. Would you believe me and my brother – working class guys from a family of seven in Hill of Beath – are members of Gleneagles?
“It’s £15 for a burger!”
As a hugely successful manager, Campbell has enjoyed a dozen promotions and led Arbroath to two of the three titles in their 143-year history.
The Dunfermline-born manager once put Newcastle United and England legend Alan Shearer through one of his coaching badges with the SFA.
But he freely admits his achievements on the touchline far exceed any success he had on the pitch.
As a player, Campbell came through the youth ranks at Dundee United alongside former Rangers and Scotland manager Walter Smith.
He never made the breakthrough at Tannadice but made his biggest impact as a player at Brechin where he played 157 games over six years between 1977-1983.
His 13-year playing career came to a halt at East Stirlingshire and he freely admits he has enjoyed more glory in his post-playing days.
“I’ve been far more successful as a coach than I ever was as a player,” said Campbell.
“I wasn’t a great player.
“I never treated the game with respect. I smoked – i.e. that’s why I had my cancer ten years ago and a bad, bad time in my life.
“I used to have a pint and I used to like a wee bit of smell of the perfume!”
The secret to marriage
Dick’s endless supply of stories helped him became an internet sensation earlier this year after a Sky Sports interview went viral across Twitter and Instagram.
“Over one million people have seen my interview. My wife’s not one of them!” Joked Campbell.
He has been happily married to Ann-Marie for 44 years.
There’s no mistaking the boss at Gayfield, nor at brother Ian’s care and recruitment company Avenue Scotland.
But it is quite clear who calls the shots at home.
Spoiler: It’s not Dick!
Ann-Marie does not share Dick’s passion for football.
She hasn’t been to a single game at Gayfield since Campbell tookover as manager of Arbroath in March 2016, choosing instead to focus on her grandchildren, gardening and her love of the church.
“My wife is magnificent,” said Campbell. “The reason why we have been happily married for 44 years is because she has absolutely no interest in football and I have no interest in anything she does.
“It’s 44 years but it’s very unlikely it will be 45 if this pandemic carries on because I can’t be bothered with sitting in the house on a Saturday.
“My wife is the same. She used to say the reason why we get on well is because when Richard came in the front door I’d go out of the back door!
“She can bring me down to earth with one sentence.
“My wife will say to me: ‘Hey, you’re not the manager in here. Get that dishtowel out and sort the kitchen!’
“She loves the garden, she loves the church.
“That’s life. It takes two to tango but I suppose indirectly she’s very proud of what we’ve achieved in the game.
“All her attention is on the family and she loves the grandchildren.
“My sons, my brother Ian and his two sons, my young brother Duncan and his family are all very proud of our achievements.”