Players and fans may look up to David McCracken as he marshalls the side on the park but his ‘team’ at home keep his feet firmly on the ground.
Wife Jennifer (34) has known him for his entire footballing career, the pair first meeting as 15-year-olds at Lourdes Secondary School in Glasgow. However, she is quick to admit that he has his job and she has her career in the NHS, and when they are at home with their two daughters, being a husband and dad is David’s main priority,
“David goes to work but we don’t make a big thing about his job being football,” she said. “In fact, I’m not really a big football fan. I used to go to a lot more games but now the girls are older there is so much running around taking them to things like dance classes that I can’t always manage.”
However, she was at the Hampden for the Scottish Cup semi-final and will again be in the stand this Saturday cheering on the Bairns with daughters, Rachel (12) and three-year-old Erin.
But, whisper it, she had to double-check who the opposition was going to be!
She added: “I know on the day I will be dead nervous. We’re going with my brother, who will be trying to keep my calm, and other family members.
“At the semi-final someone pointed out I was so nervous I had started biting the corner of my programme. When Falkirk scored Erin was jumping up and down shouting ‘Falkirk’ then promptly fell asleep.”
When the couple first got together Jennifer never envisaged that David’s job would take them around the country.
In fact, when he was signed by Dundee United in 2000 she admits to being distinctly unimpressed.
“When he said about going to Dundee, I couldn’t quite believe it. But we were both young and at that point didn’t know what the future would hold. But we both decided the best thing to do was take it as it comes – and that’s what we’ve always done.”
When he signed for Wycombe Wanderers in 2007, Rachel was about to start school and finding her a good school was the couple’s priority when they moved south. However, they were also keen not to uproot the family when he moved to Milton Keynes Dons, Brentford and Bristol Rovers, which meant David sometimes having to stay away and come home after matches.
“It was certainly a big move going to England. I had my job up here and it was also important that I was able to transfer. I’ve always believed that you should keep your own independence.”
Team McCracken headed back north in 2011 when David signed for St Johnston, but that also marked a frightening experience when he received a nasty facial injury – and brought home to Jennifer just how risky competitive sport can be.
“I remember getting a phone call telling me to make my way to the Southern General. I was trying to stay calm but it wasn’t easy when I discovered he had a triple fracture to his cheekbone. Ever since then I’ve been nervous about him getting injured.”
Although this weekend’s pre-match preparations are slightly different from the norm with the team staying at Mar Hall in the build-up to the final, David’s family are used to his usual routine prior to games.
“On the Friday night he always has to have pasta then he will usually sit and watch a movie so we just leave him to it. The Saturday morning routine is porridge when he gets up, then three eggs scrambled, a tin of beans and two slices of toast before the game. It’s always the same.”
Although this has been a successful season for the club he joined almost two years ago, when results haven’t gone their way, David is not allowed to dwell on it. His daughters quickly get him out of any mood.
Jennifer added: “He’s very good and doesn’t tend to bring it home with him. His philosophy has always been to be positive and move on when results haven’t gone the team’s way.”
She laughs when asked if she considers herself to be a WAG and replies with a vehement no. But always the diplomat she said: “I met a few, particularly when we were down south, and they were very nice girls but I’ve always thought it’s important to be yourself and remain grounded.”
Although he has recently signed a one year extension to his contract, at 33 David knows his career is entering its twilight years. However, he remains one of the fittest players in the team thanks to his love of exercise which he regularly involves the whole family in. “He’ll try any new craze or thing that comes along, usually encouraging us to take part too,” said Jennifer.
Looking towards Saturday, she said: “Anytime the cup final is mentioned, he always says they are going there to win.”
And with such a strong team yelling him on from the home corner, David and his teammates already have an advantage.