Steven Mackay hopes to never repeat the experience of managing from home after self-isolation forced him to miss Brora Rangers’ Scottish Cup victory over Camelon Juniors.
Mackay has revealed he had to watch Brora’s match on a live internet stream from home, after a colleague in his office who tested positive for Covid-19 had identified him as a close contact.
The Cattachs came from behind to win the match 2-1 at Westfield Park in Denny, setting up a second round tie at home to Championship side Hearts.
Mackay’s work colleague David Hind, who is part of Brora’s coaching team, also missed the match.
Mackay had kept news of his self-isolation under wraps ahead of the match, with assistant Craig Campbell taking the team along with coaches Richie Hart and Neil MacDonald, who was the Brora manager’s point of communication.
Mackay’s situation mirrored that of Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who had to miss Celtic’s 1-1 draw with Hibernian on Monday due to self-isolation.
Despite the Cattachs getting the result they craved, Mackay says the turbulent experience is not one he wishes to do again.
Mackay said: “I had to do virtual football management. I kept it under wraps as I didn’t want Camelon to think we would be weak or anything like that, but the boys did a great job to get through.
“It was a horrible experience watching it on the live stream. The camera kept zooming in, there were no replays and there was a lag of about 30 seconds.
“We scored on the live stream but it looked like their centre half had maybe been fouled, so I was phoning to check if the goal had stood.
“I’ve got my Garmin watch on all the time. Normally I don’t check my stress levels but I checked them out of curiosity, and they made for some reading.
“My family got a bit of a fright with the football being on. The first half was going terribly, and my language was shocking. The youngest came through and said ‘daddy’s a bit angry, we should stay through here.’
“I never want to do it again, that’s for sure. I’ve got huge gratitude to Craig Campbell, Richie Hart and Neil McDonald for taking the reins.
“They probably don’t get the praise they all deserve but they did a great job.
“That’s how much trust we’ve got in each other that ultimately it made no difference that I wasn’t there.”
Brora’s first round tie against Camelon was finally concluded at the seventh attempt, following a number of postponements and one abandonment due to weather.
It will be Brora’s final match for several weeks, after the Highland League and Scottish Cup were suspended until at least the end of January as a result of the pandemic.
Mackay expects the Hearts encounter to be one of Brora’s first following their return, which he expects to prove an even tougher challenge given the shutdown.
He added: “It’s going to throw up a little bit of a situation for us, in that we won’t be able to train as a group.
“The onus will be back on the players to make sure they keep on top of their fitness, which I’m sure they will.
“We have set them training plans to do individually within the guidance of being able to exercise outside.
“I think when we do get back playing one of the first games back will be the Scottish Cup tie, as I imagine the SFA will want to get the next round tied up as soon as possible.
“We could potentially be looking at a break of at least three weeks, and one of our first games back against Hearts.
“We need to prepare for that accordingly. We just have to train as best as we can individually, but it’s a great game for us to look forward to.”
Mackay feels the correct decision was made to suspend the Highland League, adding: “As a footballing person, I want to play and I love everything football brings to my life.
“There is a bigger play at stake here. I could tell it was coming, as there had been so much talk about it and a lot of people really against it.
“One part of me was really loving being back playing football, but I understand the boys are at work. I was impacted by the situation myself when someone at my work picked it up, which meant I wasn’t able to attend an important game.
“I totally get that. Of course it’s disappointing, but it’s the right decision.”