“I want to take them up to the Scottish Premiership,” said Arbroath manager Dick Campbell.
“Anyone who thinks I’m an idiot better tell me to my face.”
Dick Campbell is the most successful manager in Arbroath’s 143-year history.
He has won two of the three titles the club have claimed since they were formed in 1878 and has just secured a third successive season in the Championship.
All of this has happened in the space of just five years.
He’ll turn 68 in November but is in no mood to hang up his manager’s bunnet yet.
The Campbell family are going absolutely nowhere. They are heavily invested in the Arbroath project.
They are, literally, in with the bricks.
Dick and brother Ian’s names will be engraved on the walls of Gayfield long after they’ve moved on after they spent £1,000 on four £250 gold bricks in the ‘Arbroath Supporters Wall.’
The heavily-supported lockdown fundraiser was backed in numbers by the Angus club’s fans, providing a vital £100,000 cash injection.
The Avenue Scotland company owned by Ian and his wife and co-run by Dick also sponsor the back of the club’s new Macron kits.
His pal George Rowe has been main club sponsor via his Megatech firm for several years.
The Campbells are regular speakers at hospitality but also buy a table several times a season.
Dick is committed to the cause and fiercely ambitious for Arbroath.
“I’ve got no intentions of giving it up,” said Campbell. “I’ll be back in there fighting again.
“How do I better this year? I said that to the chairman Mike Caird last week.
“What do we have to do? Get into the play-offs? As long as we stay in the league it’s success.
“My inner-self? That tells me I want to take them all the way. I do. I genuinely believe in what we are doing.
“I don’t think it’s impossible. Why would it be impossible?
“I want to do it. I want to take them up to the Scottish Premiership.
“Anyone who thinks I’m an idiot better tell me that to my face but I need to have players. I need to have quality players.”
The 12th man
The role of the supporters in Dicks’ ambitions can never be underplayed.
The bond between the club and the local community has never been as strong.
Commercially, there’s barely an advertising board space to be had at Gayfield and season ticket sales were very positive last term.
The recently-formed Arbroath FC Community Trust attracted over 400 sign-ups to its’ football academy in the space of eight weeks.
“The people at this club are absolutely magnificent. I’m a people person and I thrive when I work with and for people I trust.”
“Our 12th player is out there, the people,” added Campbell.
“I will never forget going round Arbroath when we won the championship two years ago.
“I was absolutely radio rental by half past 10. I was mortal. What a great day it was and everyone and their dog was there.
“The people at this club are absolutely magnificent. I’m a people person and I thrive when I work with and for people I trust.
“Our chairman Mike is a personal friend of mine. I have respect for him and the directors but I also have respect and faith in our supporters.
“Take the supporters’ wall. That will be there for a long time after I’ve gone. It’s a fascinating thing but if you take time to read it then it will blow you away.
“We’ve got four bricks. One for my sister, one for my brother, one for John Ritchie and one for my family along with Ian.
“I cry sometimes when I read the names on the wall.
“I think of my sister and I know she’d be proud of me and Iain putting her name up on the wall.
“It’s the same with my brother Peter who was a captain in the army – he’d be proud that his wee brothers are doing so well at the fitba.”
The secret to success
Campbell has been in the dugout since taking charge of his local club Cowdenbeath in 1987.
Since then has managed at Dunfermline, Brechin, Partick Thistle, Ross County and Forfar before moving to Arbroath in 2016.
He is edging towards the 1500 mark for games as a coach, assistant and manager and is by far and away the longest-standing manager in Scottish football.
His Fife home is full of Manager of the Month awards. He has taken part in over ten promotions and title wins during his time.
“You can’t coach a winning mentality,” added Campbell. “It’s impossible to put that into somebody. They must already have it.
“It’s up to you as a coach to try and develop it. The difference between potential and reality is realising the potential.
“When I talk to players about bringing them in I look in their eyes and ask myself: ‘Is this boy going to give me grief or is he going to be a player for me?’
“I can tell in two minutes whether or not I’ll like a player and I’ve not been wrong very often.
“When I was a player you got hit in the mouth from a senior player if you talked back to the manager.
“That can’t happen now. You can’t say to a player: ‘You’ll never effin’ play in my team again.’ It’s not PC nowadays.
“So the biggest tool I have at my disposal is the power of selection.
“No-one talks back to me. My dad always said: “Richard, only listen to opinions if they are offered and not given.’
“All my players know not to give me opinions. If I’m in my dugout and I ask them to do something and they don’t do it then it’s simple.
“They come off and I get someone else on. I don’t argue with them.
“Then when it comes to the next team selection I’ll say: ‘Ewan, son, you’re not playing this week and do you know why?’
“You were actually crap last week and I’ve got someone who can do better.
“There’s no big secret. Sign good players and other players look at your squad and realise they have a good chance of getting a win bonus.
“I can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear but I can make a unit.
“Every single bit of success we’ve had has come when we’ve had good, seasoned professionals at our club.
“We’re proud of what we have done at Arbroath but the story isn’t over yet.
“We can walk away with our heads held high, knowing that it will be very difficult for anyone to repeat what we’ve done this century.”