Graeme Stewart takes heed of how John Robertson dealt with him as a player and uses it in his own managerial career.
That the two should share a touchline today at Victoria Park in the Scottish Cup provides a nice moment for Stewart, who pits his Buckie Thistle side against Robertson’s Championship challengers Caley Thistle.
Stewart laughs when he talks about how he was as a player under Robertson, during the latter’s early days in charge of Inverness in 2002. He was a young midfielder, impetuous at his lack of first-team opportunities having scored in Robertson’s first game in charge.
With hindsight, that most beneficial of tonics, Stewart sees things from a different point of view.
“I was a nightmare to manage while I was at Inverness,” said Stewart. “I wish I stayed quiet and stayed a bit longer. I made his life a misery in the last few months because I wanted to play.
“Now, I see he was 100 per cent right. When players give me abuse for not playing I think back and say ‘I was like that’.
“I loved playing under Steve Paterson but with John and Donald Park, I learned so much about football. That was only six months; I would have loved to have worked with him for longer.”
The last of Stewart’s 38 appearances for Inverness came in 2003, before he moved on to Peterhead and Montrose and latterly the Highland League.
He finished his playing career with Buckie in 2015, before taking the reins as manager and leading them to the title in 2017. They disposed of League Two side Albion Rovers 3-0 on Boxing Day, a result which Stewart said he was not surprised by.
However, achieving a similar performance against full-time opponents from along the A96 will be a greater level of difficulty.
“It’s a great tie and I’m surprised TV didn’t want to pick it up. It’s a derby of sorts and there’s a lot of links between players and staff,” added Stewart.
“We want to get a result. We want to get a win and will do our best to do it. We know it’s against us, we’re not stupid, but we’re putting plans into place and will be giving 100 per cent to get something out of the game.”
Stewart is deprived of goalkeeper Martin MacKinnon, due to him being on loan from Inverness and competition rules not permitting him to play against his parent club. Caley Thistle had indicated they were happy for him to play for the Jags this weekend.
That will mean a start for Scotland Schoolboys international Lee Herbert between the sticks, a young stopper Stewart sees as a future club number one, with his other goalkeeper Daniel Bell working off-shore.
Buckie have not trained together in the last fortnight due to the lack of facilities available, with the latest round of government restrictions forcing a rethink of their preparations.
Instead, Hamish Munro – Buckie defender and qualified sports scientist – has given the players training programmes to follow on their own.
“I’m hands-on when it comes to coaching and a lot of it is technical and shape-orientated,” added Stewart. “But it doesn’t have to be done on a training field. It can be done on WhatsApp or on a tactics board before the game.
“The most important thing for the boys is to keep their fitness. Ten years ago if you’d got messages from your manager telling you to do these programmes, you just wouldn’t do it.
“Now these boys are posting their individual results, talking in WhatsApp groups about where to do their sessions. Gone are the days of boys being a stone overweight. It means I can trust them.”