A LEGENDARY football manager who oversaw the transition of a factory works team to an established side in the Scottish football league has recently died aged 96.
John Bain left the navy in 1952 to become a planning engineer with Edinburgh’s high-tech engineering company Ferranti. It wasn’t long before he established himself as the regular left-back for Ferranti Thistle, the company’s football team.
When he made his debut, on public parks, his coach was Lawrie Glasson, an engineer with Ferranti who had debuted for Thistle in 1961 and would serve the club for 30 years
Mr Bain stuck with the club through the years, 66 of them in fact, from Ferranti to Meadowbank Thistle and then Livingston.
In 2014 he told the Scotsman: “I was a left-back with Ferranti in the Welfare League, which is quite different from today’s left-backs. I loved my time there but I never really considered that the club in its different forms would have such a bearing on my life because in those days it was just a hobby for me, and there was certainly no money involved.”
Mr Bain took over as manager when Ferranti scored a place in the East of Scotland League and oversaw the team winning the Scottish Qualifying Cup in 1963.
In 1974 he was heading up the team when they were trying to be officially admitted into the Scottish League, and when it later became Meadowbank Thistle.
Ferranti’s admittance to the League was confirmed after they secured a new ground and, as sponsorship wasn’t permitted, a swift name change.
Edinburgh council supplied Meadowbank Stadium and insisted that the name of the stadium be incorporated into the club’s name.
Throughout the process, Mr Bain had been trying to recruit new players capable of handling the club’s new status, with little success.
As a result, Meadowbank’s debut season in the league was played with much the same side that had played in the East of Scotland League.
To him, this was just as it should have been as these were the players who had been instrumental in the club’s progress.
After retirement in 1980, Mr Bain was awarded a British Empire Medal for his involvement in Scottish football and described being included in the Queen’s Honours List as “certainly quite thrilling.”
Bill remained involved with his beloved team, which relocated to Almondvale Stadium in Livingston with a name change in 1995, as the team’s honorary vice-president.
Honorary Vice President and Club Ambassador of Livingston Football Club, Gordon Ford OBE said in a statement: “I’d like to acknowledge John Bain’s remarkable contribution to Scottish Football, and to say that for all of us at Livingston FC, John is undoubtedly the greatest servant any club could ever hope for, and we will miss him greatly.
“He’d seen it all from works team ... to the Livingston FC we love today. He saw more ups and downs than anyone should have to cope with. But he never lost faith. A new era is about to start without John. I hope we can continue to do him proud.”