IAN MCCOLL, Scottish International Footballer

John Miller McColl, to give Ian McColl his full name, was born in Alexandria in June 1927. He was the grandson of William McColl who had been capped for Scotland in 1895 while playing for Renton.

While still at the Vale of Leven Academy he turned out for the Vale Juniors, and was signed from them by Queens Park in 1943 when he went to Glasgow University to study engineering. Rangers signed him from Queens in 1945, but even after he had turned professional he completed his university education.

With Rangers, Ian McColl had a truly prodigious career. As a classy wing-half in the old tradition, he had 526 games for them between 1945 - 1960 in a golden era for the Glasgow club. He was part of Rangers Iron Curtain defence, and when the keystone of that defence, George Young, retired, he became captain of Rangers. In his years ar Ibrox, Rangers won 6 League titles, the Scottish Cup 5 times and the League Cup twice. It was during his time that Rangers first started to play in European competitions, and the great European evenings began at Ibrox.

Given how long he was at Rangers, and how many players they supplied to the Scottish team, it is perhaps surprising that he was only capped 14 times for Scotland. It's even more surprising when you consider some of the Scottish performances from the 1950's. However, for most of that time the Scottish team was picked by a committee of “Selectors”, in comparison to whom to-day's SFA blazers seem quite competent.

Ian's very last game for Rangers was, appropriately enough, the 1960 cup final, which Rangers won, beating Kilmarnock 2-0. An appropriate high on which to end a distinguished playing career.

He was no means finished with football, however. Although he had built a garage at the foot of Bonhill Brae as a post-playing business (there is still a garage there, although it hasn't been owned by McColl for many years), he was soon drawn into football management, and not just any old club management, but right at the top managing Scotland.

He took up his appointment as Scottish manager in 1960, although there were no games until 1961, and stayed on until 1965. His tenure was a successful one; his wins : games ratio was 60% which has only been bettered by one Scottish manager, Alex McLeish, who was in post for a much shorter period than Ian McColl. He won 16 of 27 matches, including two successive British Home Championships in 1962 and 63, with wins over the Auld Enemy at Wembley and Hampden, and perhaps more improbably, his team beat Spain 6-2 in Madrid in 1963. Since then, Scotland has had the good sense to play Spain only 8 times in 45 years, and only once in 20.

Sunderland, who had been nicknamed the Bank of England Club because of their expensive dealings in the transfer market, had just returned to the First Division in season 1964-65 after having been relegated in 1958 for the first time in their history. Like many clubs with big crowds on the terraces but small brains in the boardroom, they were pretty delusional, with the usual surfeit of expectation over reality. They approached Ian McColl to become their manager, presumably because of his success in handling top-class players, of which there was a noticeable shortage at Sunderland.

He left the Scottish job for Sunderland in the summer of 1965 - joining John O'Hare, who had been there since 1963, and Bobby Kerr who had arrived in 1964. With hindsight, it was always likely that Ian McColl's time at Sunderland was going to be difficult. Under him, the team managed only 39 wins in 124 games, in spite of signing “Slim Jim” Baxter from Rangers. He left Sunderland in 1968, and dropped out of football management to resume a successful business career.

Ian McColl died at the age of 81 in October 2008. (BBC Report)

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