'My ball boy pal was once trampled on by Crawford Baptie' - Falkirk boss Martin Rennie reveals Brockville tales from 1980s
Little could the then 12-year-old Falkirk FC ball boy Martin Rennie know back in season 1987-88 that 34 years later he’d be managing the Bairns’ first team.
Rennie, 46, a lifelong Falkirk fan, has fond memories of being pitchside as a young lad collecting stray footballs at the Bairns’ former home of Brockville Stadium.
When asked if back then he could ever have thought that one day he’d manage his heroes, Rennie, a Church of Scotland minister’s son who has previously managed in the US, Canada and South Korea, answers decisively.
“I think when you’re young you maybe envisage playing for the team,” Rennie said.
"You’re not necessarily thinking about managing the team. But I think I definitely thought about being some kind of part of it.
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"When I was a ball boy Falkirk had players like Alex Rae – one of my favourites – John Gallacher who went on to Newcastle, Crawford Baptie, Stuart Burgess, Roddy Manley, Gordon Marshall.
"Alex was quite a young player breaking into the team.
"Crawford was a big guy who played in different positions. In one my first ever games, my friend – who was also a ball boy – was trying to catch the ball and he got smashed by Crawford!
"Crawford was jumping for the ball and he landed on my friend. His foot was on his chest basically, crumpled him. But my friend was fine.
"His pride was hurt a wee bit but it was pretty funny.
"I think I was a ball boy for at least one season. We used to do all the home games and home reserve games as well so we were around all the time. It was good fun.”
Reports in the national press this week linked Falkirk with a stunning transfer swoop for Leigh Griffiths after the striker became available on a free transfer upon leaving Dundee.
St Johnstone are reportedly also interested in signing the former Celtic ace and the Falkirk Herald understands that the Bairns are also in the chase.
But Rennie didn’t wish to comment on what he described as “speculation”.
Rennie is happy with how he has strengthened the squad this month, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair coming in from Livingston, Paul Watson arriving from Dunfermline Athletic and Jaze Kabia (Livingston), Jevon Mills and Keaghan Jacobs all signed on loan.
"In this window we’ve added a few players and we feel we’ve improved the squad,” he said.
"Now we’re looking at that loan window, that there may be a possibility that we would add someone through that.
"But overall we feel we’ve made quite a few adjustments and quite a few changes so we don’t want to just keep making more and more. There comes a point where you’ve got to try and get the team settled and on the same page.”
Defender Ben Hall exited Falkirk last week and has subsequently joined Linfield.
On this move, Rennie added: “It's just one of those ones where he wasn’t playing in the last game that we played and we had talked about our squad getting stronger, we’ve signed quite a lot of defenders.
"Ben had said if he did have a team that was wanting him could we talk about it and I said yes.
"He let me know just before the window closed that Linfield had given him quite a good offer.
"That’s the area where he's from and I didn’t want to stand in his way, especially when I couldn’t guarantee him first team football every week.”
Rennie’s sixth placed team host fellow League 1 play-off hopefuls, fourth placed Queen’s Park, this Saturday and the Falkirk boss stressed the game’s importance.
He said: “I think it’s a key game in the sense that for me personally I’ve been here for just a few weeks and I’ve really tried to get the team up and running.
"I’ve made a few changes to the line-up just because we’ve brought in some new players.
"So we need to try and get the team settled and get players up to match fitness and get them playing.
"Sometimes you have to put them in a bit earlier than you would normally. We are in that position a little bit at the moment but we feel that it’s coming together pretty well.
"This is an important game. I think they all are for us really.
"We need to get ourselves on a positive run and Saturday is a game against a team that’s close to us in the table so it’s definitely a significant game for us.”