Alex Smith, the man known as the Godfather of Scottish football, is to retire from the game at the end of the current season.
Falkirk confirmed yesterday that former Aberdeen and Ross County manager Smith, who is the Bairns’ technical director, will emigrate to Australia to join his family.
Falkirk will honour the 78-year-old by dedicating their final league match of the season – against St Mirren, the club for which Smith won the Scottish Cup in 1987 – to his career.
Smith said: “It is something that we have planned for a long time.
“We have two grandchildren in Australia, aged six and four, and my wife Janice and I want to be part of their lives as they grow up.
“It is 50 years since I went into management so it seems like the right time to call it a day.
“I didn’t want somebody to have to tap me on the shoulder and tell me they thought it was time I took a backseat.
“I don’t think that would have ever happened at Falkirk but I didn’t want that to be the case.
“My wife has been great with me with all the time I have spent on football over the years.
“She has never complained.
“I didn’t want to leave it any longer.”
The former Aberdeen manager added: “I didn’t want to move to Australia when I was at a stage when I wasn’t able to get about and chase around after the grandkids.
“I want to be able to spend some quality time with them.”
During Smith’s five decades in management he won the Scottish Cup on two occasions – firstly with St Mirren 31 years ago and again three years later in 1990 as manager of the Dons.
Aberdeen also won the League Cup during a memorable 1989-90 campaign under Smith and his co-manager Jocky Scott.
Smith also enjoyed spells at Dundee United, Ross County, Clyde, Stirling Albion and Stenhousemuir.
He was recently named the oldest manager in Europe after he took interim charge of Falkirk during their victories over Greenock Morton and Dunfermline Athletic earlier this season before Paul Hartley’s appointment as first-team manager. In 2016, Smith was inducted into the Scottish football hall of fame at Hampden.
He also holds the feat of managing every Scottish national team age group up to and including the former B Team.
Smith added: “It was in the 1968-69 season that I started managing at Stenhousemuir so it has been a good stretch.
“It is very appropriate that my last match will be against St Mirren.
“I have had a great relationship with the St Mirren fans as I do with the Falkirk fans.
“It will be a special day for me. I will miss being involved with football on a daily basis but it feels like the right time to say goodbye.”