In profile: New Falkirk boss John McGlynn’s story so far

New Falkirk manager John McGlynn will bring a wealth of experience to the club as they look to return to the Scottish Championship at the fourth time of asking.

By Paul McCabe
Friday, 6th May 2022, 1:52 pm
Then Livingston manager John McGlynn at the Falkirk Stadium in March 2014 for a Scottish Championship match against his new club (Photo: Andrew West/SNS Group)

The 60-year-old Bairns boss has enjoyed a career spanning quarter of a century in coaching and management, most recently at Championship side Raith Rovers.

East Lothian-born McGlynn began his playing career as a youth with Bolton Wanderers before he was signed at the age of 19 by future Raith boss Frank Connor at Berwick Rangers.

“He was a great manager,” McGlynn said. “He was a great football man. He got the best out of his players and was a great motivator.”

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John McGlynn getting on the ball at Stark's Park in Kirkcaldy last October (Photo by Bruce White/SNS Group)

McGlynn left Berwick and saw out his career in junior football, including two stints at home-town club Musselburgh Athletic, starting coaching towards the end of his playing days before being offered the chance to join the club he supported when Jim Jefferies asked him to join the youth set-up at Hearts in 1996.

Among those McGlynn worked with in his early days at Tynecastle were current Hearts and Scotland No 1 Craig Gordon and 41-times-capped Christophe Berra.

He made his way up to first-team coach, twice taking over as interim first-team manager, before, on the recommendation of Craig Levein, being offered the boss’s job at Raith Rovers in 2006. That was an offer he accepted, with Paul Smith joining him as his assistant.

The Fife club were languishing in the old Second Division at the time and it was only at the third time of asking that McGlynn finally led them to the title in 2009.

Then Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn celebrating winning the SPFL Trust Trophy at Airdrie's Penny Cars Stadium last month (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group)

A tilt at the First Division title in 2011 saw McGlynn named as Professional Footballers’ Association Scotland’s manager of the year and, after further impressing the year after, he left Raith to become Hearts boss in 2012.

It would prove to be an unsuccessful stint, the highlight coming in the UEFA Cup when the Jambos were a last-minute Luis Suarez goal away from taking Liverpool to extra time at Anfield.

Despite leading the club to the 2013 League Cup final, McGlynn was sacked before the game was played and later that year took over the reins at Livingston.

However, just over a year later, and losing out on another chance at silverware, having seen the Lions through to the Challenge Cup final, McGlynn and the club parted ways.

Then Livingston manager John McGlynn watching his side playing the Bairns at the Falkirk Stadium in October 2014 (Photo: Craig Watson/SNS Group)

His next job would see him working as a scout under Brendan Rogers at Celtic, a spell McGlynn says had a huge influence on changing his approach to the game.

Despite the glamour of scouting missions to places such as Barcelona’s Nou Camp and Real Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium for the Hoops, when the chance came to return to Stark’s Park in September 2018 – including a pay cut he admitted his wife wasn’t too pleased about – McGlynn jumped at the chance, saying they were “the only club that could have tempted me back to management”.

As before, the club were in the third tier and McGlynn, reunited with Smith, led the club back to League One at the expense of Falkirk at the end of the truncated 2019/20 season and they were also named joint winners of the Challenge Cup along with Inverness, the final being scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Raith’s first season back in the Championship was a success, with McGlynn saying that they had perhaps overachieved.

John McGlynn being unveiled as Hearts' new manager in June 2012 (Photo: Craig Williamson/SNS Group)

In a tough league including Hearts and Dundee, Raith finished in third place, with highlights including a win over the Jambos at Tynecastle for the first time in almost 30 years.

They made it through to the semi-finals of the Premiership play-offs, knocking out Fife rivals Dunfermline in the quarters.

Unfortunately for McGlynn, he was unable to repeat last season’s success this time around. Despite spending the majority of the first half of the season comfortably in the top four, a poor run of form after Christmas, including an 11-game run without a win, not helped by a lengthy injury list, saw Raith slip to fifth, and despite a late rally, that’s where they would stay as the season came to an end.

There was also a storm of protest over McGlynn’s attempt to sign David Goodwillie during the January transfer window, forcing the club into an embarrassing U-turn and causing many of the Raith faithful to question his judgement.

On a more positive note, it was third time lucky in terms of silverware and an undoubted career high for McGlynn when Raith won the SPFL Trust Trophy, beating Queen of the South 3-1 last month.

“It's a great feeling, an amazing feeling,” he said.

“You're trying to create memories for your fans.”

Falkirk fans will be hoping McGlynn and Smith can do the same for them as they prepare for new era at Grangemouth.

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