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Dougie Imrie On Managing Morton, Scoring at Celtic Park And Future Ambitions

Dougie Imrie On Managing Morton, Scoring at Celtic Park And Future Ambitions

An interview with Dougie Imrie, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You are currently the manager of Greenock Morton having joined the club in December 2021. Your arrival has rejuvenated the club and the fanbase. How would you reflect on your time managing the club so far?  

“It has been a rollercoaster so far. When I first came into Morton as manager, we were bottom of the league on 13 points.

“Everyone was asking me why I took the job in those circumstances because I had a good job at Livingston working as first team coach and head of academy under a really good manager in David Martindale.

“However, the draw of coming into Morton and trying to turn the club around was an opportunity that excites me.

“I believe in my own ability and thankfully things have worked out well so far.

“We stayed up by getting to 40 points which is generally enough to stay in the Championship.

”We have followed that up this season by building a good team thanks to the support of our new sponsors Dalrada.

“They have helped us bring in players such as Liam Grimshaw, Calvin Miller and Robbie Crawford who have experience of playing in the Scottish Premiership.

“Recently, we have also added Ali Crawford who is another player with big game experience in Scottish and English football.

”We are trying to build a team that can compete against any side in this league and we are in a good position heading into the latter stages of the season.”

As a young manager, how important has it been to have an experienced assistant in Andy Millen working alongside you?

“Working with Andy has been massive for me. I am thankful to Andy for what he offers me on a daily basis and on a match day.

“He has an infectiously positive personality, he has my back and he is great with the players. His knowledge of the game and his contacts are invaluable to me as a young manager.

“He brings a calmness to the back room staff because I am at the start of my managerial journey and can sometimes get a little bit hot-headed but Andy is always there to bring a balance to what we do.

”I am appreciative of what he has given me as my assistant and I am enjoying working alongside him.”

You were a fan favourite at Morton as a player and are famous for scoring a winning goal against Celtic to knock them out of the Scottish League Cup at Celtic Park. What are your memories of that night? 

“The club was going through a difficult period at that time in the league so to be able to go to Celtic Park and eliminate a team such as Celtic was incredible.

“Most people in the country would have thought we would have been beaten that night but as a team, we were terrific and dug in to take the game to extra time.

”I was just fortunate that when we were awarded a penalty in extra time that I was the designated penalty taker and scored to see us take the lead and then go on to win the game.

“Our fans were incredible that night. We took over 2,500 fans and to win for them was amazing. They deserved that night because they backed us in their numbers as they always do.

“That was shown in our recent Scottish Cup tie away at Celtic when they turned out in similar numbers again.”

You started your playing career at non-League side Lanark United before moving into the professional ranks with teams such as Clyde, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hamilton, St Mirren and Morton. What are your personal highlights from your playing career? 

”I am proud of what I achieved given the fact that I did not enter the professional ranks until I was 23.

”I was told multiple times as a kid coming through that I would never make it as a player because I was too small so just to have a career in professional football meant so much to me.

“I had a desire to succeed and make the most of every opportunity and prove people wrong. I still have that desire as a manager too.

”Highlights for me would be signing my first professional contract at Clyde, making it to the top flight of Scottish football, winning trophies at clubs like Inverness and St Mirren as well as that famous goal at Celtic Park while representing Morton too.

”I wore my heart on my sleeve at each of the five clubs that I represented and gave every ounce of effort that I had.

“Of course, I would like to have achieved even more as a player but overall, I am happy with what I was able to achieve given that I was a late developer as a professional.”

You started your coaching career at Hamilton with the under-17 side that went on to win the Scottish League and play in the UEFA Youth League. What were those early days as a coach like?

“Those early days were vital in my development and it was terrific to achieve the success that we did as a staff at Hamilton. It was not only myself but people like Darian MacKinnon who is now the Hamilton Accies assistant manager at first team level.

”Some of the players in that side have went on to play first-team football at Hamilton and at other clubs which is pleasing to see.

”We went the full season unbeaten which is remarkable given the fact that we were up against Celtic, Rangers, Hearts, Hibs and Aberdeen.

”Those clubs all have much bigger budgets than we did so to achieve success given those factors was incredible.

”The club then went on to face FC Basel and defeat them in the UEFA Youth League before being eliminated by a strong FC Midtjylland side.

”Both of those sides had bigger budgets at youth level than Hamilton had at first team level, never mind youth level, so to even be competing against them was an achievement.

”It is important to say that credit for that successful period has to go to the young players  themselves, their parents for their commitment to their development and the staff at the club as it was a whole community and whole club effort.”

You mentioned earlier that you worked at Livingston under David Martindale before becoming Morton manager. How much did you learn from him?

”I did not know David well before going to Livingston but when the opportunity arose to go there, I grasped it with both hands.

”It was an invaluable learning experience for me and I learned so much from him.

”David is a top coach as was Marvin Bartley who was his assistant manager at the time before moving on to become Queen of the South manager.

“Livingston as a club perform remarkably well in the top flight of Scottish football given their budget in comparison to the teams that they are up against. That is down to David, the players and the staff at the club. They deserve immense credit.

”We had a great six months together and if it was not for the opportunity at Morton then I would still be there today.

”I hope that Morton can reach the top flight and establish themselves one day like Livingston and Hamilton have at different times over the last decade.”

Finally, Dougie, what are your future ambitions as a manager?

”I want to work at the highest level possible as a manager.

”I want to get to the very top; whether that is in Scotland, in England or even abroad.

“That being said, I am fully committed to Morton and grateful to them for giving me my first opportunity in management.

Things are going well for us at the moment but we know that we need to ensure that we work as hard as we possibly can to continually progress as a team and as a football club.”