Charlie Christie could not turn down the call to help Caley Thistle in their hour of need – even if it meant missing his son Ryan’s first Scotland goal.
Inverness academy director Christie, who previously managed the Highlanders between 2006 and 2007, stepped back into the dugout to assist coaches Barry Wilson and Ryan Esson for Saturday’s Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup against Clyde, with manager John Robertson and assistant Scott Kellacher absent through illness.
Christie was not due to be at the quarter final encounter with the Bully Wee, having made plans to watch Ryan play in the Scots’ Euro 2020 qualifying match away to Cyprus.
A plea for help from chief executive Scot Gardiner on the eve of the game rerouted Christie to Caledonian Stadium however, with the 53-year-old only learning of his son’s maiden international breakthrough shortly before Inverness’ game kicked off.
Christie said: “It was very strange in the way it came about. There was the illness with Scott Kellacher who got a right fright early last week, while John didn’t look good at all.
“In football stadiums it’s vital you stay away because it can spread like wildfire. There were as many as half a dozen of the players who weren’t feeling 100%.
“I actually wasn’t going to be at the game, I had plans to watch the game with friends knowing that Ryan was playing.
“The CEO phoned me on Friday evening to say there was no way John was going to make the game, could I give Barry Wilson and Ryan Esson a hand?
“I said I could, of course. I would do anything to help out.
“On the day of the game I went back through to the office after speaking to the boys who had just gone out for their warm-up, and I was in the corridor when the kitman Jack mentioned Ryan’s goal to me.
“I hoped it would be the start of a really positive day, which results-wise it was.
“I watched it afterwards, my wife had taped the match. Once I got finished after the match I managed to watch it. I was delighted, it was a heck of a strike and a good way to get his national scoring off and running.
“I think he has been quite conscious of getting his first goal. I know it means a lot to him to score.”
Although Inverness required penalties to defeat League 1 Clyde on Saturday, Christie was pleased to contribute towards the Highlanders’ progression, which sets up a semi final tie at home to Rangers colts in February.
Christie added: “It was a bit surreal. I have stepped in on a couple of occasions when managers have left, including when Craig Brewster left, but it was different because I was actually out on the training ground during the week.
“This time I was coming in a bit from the cold, but I put my point across to the boys. I just stressed that we had been playing some really good stuff earlier in the season, before a couple of disappointing results against Dundee United and Arbroath, but I felt it was a good opportunity to get things back on track. We played relatively well in the first half, but in the second half I felt we dropped off the pace.”