Alex Smith recalls Scott Booth as a player and coach

Alex Smith
Alex Smith
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News of Scott Booth’s arrival at Stenhousemuir took Alex Smith back to his days at Aberdeen.

There, the present Falkirk FC technical director handed Booth his first professional contract and debut after the youngster signed S-forms at Pittodrie under Ian Porterfield.

Since then they’ve stayed in touch - and Smith knows that will continue given their history.

“Once you’re attached to a young player and been influential somewhere particularly at the start - you always get respect from them thorughout their career -they always relate to you as the boss, they relate to the first one and that is great satisfaction.

“That’s the same as me with Scott, Eoin Jess and Stephen Wright. When the years go on and they achieve so much in other places - they still listen to you with the same respect. That’s one of the great things about young footballers.”

Booth progressed under Smith’s tutelage alongside Jess, Wright (now at Dunfermline) and goalkeeper Michael Watt.

“Eoin Jess and Scott were both emerging at the same time,” Smith recalls. “Jess was ahead of him in terms of months and age and was a different type. He was more reserved and not as effervescent as Boothy, he was the quieter of the two.

“But Scott wasn’t happy in the reserves once he got there. He wanted to be in the first team squad or a sub there. Then he came into it and Eoin played in the final of the Skol Cup against Rangers when we won in extra time - Boothy wasn’t far behind.

“The two of them trained with Jocky Scott and Drew Jarvie so they got tuition of the highest level. The pair of them blossomed.

“Infact the last time Rangers lost to Aberdeen at Ibrox that was the strikeforce and Boothy was just 17 or 18 and Jess was 18 and a half. We won 2-0 at Ibrox. They were looking like a promising partnership. The two of them played with Jocky Scott and Drew Jarvie so they got tuition of the highest level. They blossomed.

“I left Aberdeen a while later and Willie Miller brought in two experienced players in Duncan Shearer and Mixu Paatelainen so the two had to push wide on the park or play behind, but Scott always had the ambition.

“Boothy got chances with Hans Gillhaus or Charlie Nicholas so he had that quality around him for the experience and development and he went on to play a lot of games and did really well.

“He got into the Scotland under-21 team with Eoin, Michael Watt, Gary Smith (who I’d signed from Falkirk) and Stephen Wright, which did well under Craig Brown.”

But Booth’s drive is what stood out for Smith: “He was the kind of laddie who was ambitious. He knew he had certain attributes. “He was quick, alert, sharp around the goal and had a style as a player, but he had a burning ambition.

“When he was his S-form and came in full-time he was on the bench for the reserve games on the Monday night we’d play on the East of Scotland.

He wasn’t happy until he was getting off the bench, then he wasn’t happy until he was getting selected for that team. Then he wasn’t long in that team then he was pushing to get selected for the Saturday’s actual reserve team. And he wasnt happy just being on the bench there until he was in the reserve team. Then, he wasn’t interested in going back down the teams again to the Monday night league though he was asked to do that for game-time and experience.

“Him and Eoin Jess, Stephen Wright - they were all in the first team at 17 and we were chasing rangers with the two young boys and another three from the youth sides popping in and out the team. He did always have that kind of willingness to work and push on and that’ll stand him in good stead as a coach and manager.

“Like Paul Hartley and Steven Pressley – it’s a time of his life where it's a chance to move forward - the same as Gary Holt. Once you have that it’s important to get a job that’ll allow you to do that and drive it through. That drive will stand him in good stead.

“But he always had this thing, the ambition, ‘what’s the next move’ - he was keen to succeed.”

That next move from playing in Holland - where he met Mark Wotte - took him on to take his coaching badges with the Scottish Football Association where Smith is heavily involved.

“He was at Hamilton for a while, we tried to bring him to Falkirk’s Academy but there wasn’t the opportunity then the SFA job came up and he did the SFA licence with me, and he worked there with the development side.

“He had a good knowledge of the game, he had a good way with him and I knew he’d be able to deal with players and he had that ambition that you need as a manager, the drive you need to be successful and I’ll be interested to see working with a part-time club because he hasn’t done that. He’ll have to adjust a bit but nowadays he’ll be full-time hours but working with players at night. He’ll be in during the day getting things ready for the night.

“He’s at a good club - co-incidentally I started there in 1969, but they’re different now. Then it was a week-to-week survival club, there was some development there but not on the scale of now, so it’ll be an atmosphere and environemnt where he can develop.

“When I was at Stenhousemuir the commitee was vociferous and opinionated but they were supportive - I had a good chairman who allowed me to make mistakes as a young manager.

“He’ll get the time and work within their system to bring Stenhousemuir forward - in partnership with Falkirk - and he’ll have that grounding already. I’ll help him, because that’s part of my remit within the Forth Valley Academy.

“I’ll alert Stenhousemuir of the players with potential to play in their team, so I’ll work with them and the coaching team up there and if he needs help from there, or advice on boardroom handling or handling players I’ll be on tap for him - he knows that.

“I’d like to see him successful as a manager.”