David Martindale was surprised to get Scottish Football Association approval to continue as Livingston manager after finding his previous Hampden hearing more daunting than sitting in the dock at the High Court.
The 46-year-old has been swiftly passed as a “fit and proper person” to be included in Livingston’s list of officials following talks with representatives of the SFA professional game board.
The West Lothian club’s former assistant manager and head of football operations led Livi to the Betfred Cup final on Sunday to make it nine wins and two draws in 11 matches since succeeding Gary Holt in late November.
But he faced questions over his criminal past, having been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in jail in 2006 over drugs and money laundering charges.
He said: “I’m delighted, it’s wee bit of a weight off my shoulders and I don’t need to worry about it now, I can focus on being the manager of the football club now.
“I’m delighted at the SFA to be honest because I wouldn’t say I was overly positive before. I wasn’t worried about the decision but I didn’t think it was going to go in my favour.
“I have been sitting in the dock at the High Court and I found the experience I went through last year in front of the panel quite daunting to be honest.
“I remember sitting there absolutely sweating and looking round the room thinking ‘I didn’t expect this’.
“So the experience I had previously and the exchanges of emails leading up to today, I probably took a lot of it very negatively. I found this meeting very positive, it wasn’t what I was expecting.
“Hats off to the SFA because I honestly do think it’s the correct decision. It sends the right message to society.
“From a personal point of view, from 2004 right up to January 2021, it’s been a long process, but I feel as if I have climbed my last wall and people will maybe take me at face value for who I am today and not who I was previously.”
Despite bouncing back from his low point by doing a university degree and getting involved in football coaching, Martindale refused to express pride in his transformation.
“I have turned my life around but you have got to remember where this came from. This came from a massive negative,” said Martindale, whose side host Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership on Wednesday.
“If I didn’t have that in the background I would be sitting more proud of myself.
“It’s still a massive regret. I put a lot of people through a massive negative experience – my wife, my son. I will always remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done because I think that’s important.”
To that end, Martindale is keen to speak to offenders to help with their rehabilitation process and the local Addiewell Prison has already invited him to do so.
He has experienced help himself this week from politicians and criminologists who lobbied the SFA.
“It’s been massive,” he said. “It’s unbelievable what football can do. It just shows it can get out there to the masses and the different genres of society that have contacted the club is absolutely incredible.
“I can’t thank everybody enough and even the media have been extremely positive. There has really been no negativity and that just shows how open-minded society is becoming.
“It’s made my job of being the manager a little bit easier because when I get home at night my wife and daughter are sitting there dwelling on the positives because they have seen the positive reaction from the media and the fans.
“Whereas when I was in the papers previously, maybe 2017/2018, I was coming home and my wife was sitting there at the dinner table crying a lot of the time because of the articles in the paper.
“So the positivity has really helped from the family side which has allowed me to concentrate more on the job.”
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe