JAMES McDonaugh has been hailed by the whole of Scottish football for his stunning start to the season with Edinburgh City.
But one man’s pride in his achievements stands out.
McDonaugh’s grandfather, John, was bowled over when his grandson handed him the Ladbrokes Manager of the Month award he collected for leading City to the top of League Two.
Under the former Hibs youth coach and Falkirk assistant, City are flying.
Unsurprisingly, their meticulous young manager is relishing every second.
“The award is on my mantelpiece, pride of place – the kids’ pictures have moved over a wee bit!” he said.
“I’m really pleased with it, really proud. I think some other managers lie when they say it doesn’t matter. I think it does, to recognise everyone at the club.
“It’s just a pity only one person has his name on it. I remember Peter Houston getting eight of them at Falkirk and winning Manager of the Year and thinking I wouldn’t mind one myself!
“But it’s more for my family. My grandad is 90, I took it with me to see him on Saturday and it’s the first time in my life I’ve known him to ask to have his photo taken.
“My dad said he’d never known that, either. So it’s things like that make it worthwhile.”
McDonaugh enjoyed success at Falkirk as assistant to Houston. The pair coached the Bairns to a Scottish Cup Final in 2015, and came within a game of winning promotion through the play-offs in 2016.
It was a fruitful partnership.
But McDonaugh always wanted to go it alone – even if it meant sharpening his thoughtful persona.
“I have changed, but the ability to be a manager was always in me,” he said.
“I was always a bad loser and my mum will tell you she remembers me smashing up board games as a kid because I wasn’t winning.
“I suppose that’s something you can’t really teach folk.
“My journey has been different. People might say that because I never played or managed at the top level I can’t do it.
“But I was 10 years with a finance company, and in the last five years I took steps toward being a football manager.
“I was a team leader at 24, managing people who had been at the company for 25 years.
“There were conscious steps, managing people, addressing holidays, productivity. Inside, I knew the right time would come.”
City, second bottom of the SPFL when they came calling, looked a huge risk.
Now, having saved them from relegation last season, and with his side flying high, it is well on the way to paying off.
“A couple of people I know put money on us to win the league in the summer, but the bookies are never really wrong,” said McDonaugh of his side’s title chances.
“If they get this one wrong they’ll be majorly wrong because we were about 20/1!
“Peterhead are still favourites. It’s a hard one because you don’t want to say we’re not wanting to win it – we do – but you have to keep a lid on it.
“If we were to do it, it can’t be underplayed, the achievement.
“To go from ninth one season to winning a league the next, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
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