ROBBIE THOMSON - Shutouts & Shutdowns

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

There have been winners and losers since lockdown began. Financially. Commercially. Environmentally. But one other segment of our society that the coronavirus pandemic has impacted is the world of sport. Moreover, football. As Europe’s top leagues began to unravel as, at first Holland, and then France, null and voided their domestic seasons (albeit with the caveat of PSG being crowned champions), the pressure grew on the SFA to come up with answers on how to conclude our four leagues.

Then came the vote. The now infamous vote. I don’t want to dwell on that, or this introduction would soon turn in to an article of it’s own. But one club who did reap the benefits of it was Raith Rovers. Making it third time lucky, Rovers were crowned Champions of League 1 as a result of the SPFL ballot and Stark’s Park will play host to Championship football once again. The Raith faithful may need to wait a little longer to see it, however.

But, in a similar vein to Partick Thistle, albeit with the shoe being on the other foot, Raith’s success was seen as a bone of contention throughout Scottish football. Well, mainly in Falkirk. But that leads me nicely on to our feature.

As the country moved in to phase 1 of the lockdown restrictions, I asked Raith goalkeeper Robbie Thomson if he fancied chatting to us from the comfort of his garden. I wanted to learn about not only an interesting career but what it was like to win a title in isolation. Given we both reside in FK territory, the 5 mile rule could be adhered to. Here is what we discussed…

Let’s start from the beginning. It often seems that when goalkeepers are asked how they ended up in the sticks it’s by way of accident or emergency. Yet, you were picked up by Celtic at 8 years old. You are also the son of Scott Thomson - a former professional goalkeeper who played mainly with Raith Rovers and Forfar Athletic - was it always goalkeeping for you? For sure! You do hear other ‘keepers saying that they started off outfield but I was always a goalkeeper - I was never interested in being an outfielder! Mainly because I had my dad there - I just automatically looked up to him and wanted to follow in his footsteps. So I’ve not got that excuse that I was a failed outfield player!

You were born in Dundee, but did either your early attachment to Celtic or your father’s playing days influence which club you supported as a youngster? I always supported who my dad was at… and I got right in to it! My first memory of football is when my dad was at Raith; I remember going on to Stark’s Park and in to the players lounge - those are my earliest memories of football.

So, how did Celtic find out about you at such a young age? It was after we came home from England when my dad was at Hull. I found myself at Young Falkirk, which was essentially the early days of pro-youth. I remember we played in a tournament at Little Kerse - the Thistle Cup - and I was scouted there.

Tell us about your upbringing at The Bhoys and who you worked with as you progressed towards the first team? Stevie Woods, who is the goalkeeping coach at Celtic just now, was actually taking the young kids back then. And then, on a Thursday night, we would be trained by one of the younger goalies on the periphery of the first team - so you’re talking David Marshall, Michael McGovern, Scott Fox. To get that at such a young age was brilliant as we looked up to those guys.

But, with regards to our team, it was full of quality players. A couple of months ago the head of the Celtic Academy retired. Before he left, he done this thing which showed how many players went on to make 30+ professional appearances after being at Celtic - my team was a joke. The main ones that I came through with were James Keatings, Callum McGregor, Dylan McGeough.

Youth team days often get referred to as a players best days in football. But do the friendships you forge at youth level still stand the test of time as players forge a career for themselves at senior level? Take, for example, James Keatings who would have come up against countless times in the Championship. He always seemed to score against me - thats probably why we get on so well! But, when you’re playing against your mates, you really don’t want to lose. You probably are fired up even more. It adds to the intensity of the game as you wan’t to avoid any post-match embarrassment - you want to get the upper hand!

One thing I wanted to ask you about was your peer group when growing up. A lot of your close friends were also coming through academies at the same time as you - Callum Tapping, Jamie Clark, Graeme MacGregor - did it help having people around you that were equally as focused on becoming a professional footballer? I have always been really self-driven. We all go through that phase when your friends begin to go out drinking but I never got involved in that. Even though I am still very professional now, when I was younger I was ridiculous. With regards to the guys you mentioned, it definitely did help having them around and knowing what I was going through. I also had my dad around, so I always had that structure of being devoted and professional; I was just used to it. It never felt like I was missing out on nights out or being told I couldn’t eat certain things - and I think that rubbed off on my friends too. As it’s not often you see a friends group that go on to play that many games in senior football.

You were registered in The Hoops’ Champions League squad for the 2012/13 campaign yet you signed for Stenhousemuir on loan in September 2012. Was it your decision to go out on loan? Also, did your Champions League registration cause any stumbling blocks when trying to push through the move? Well I was basically only in the Champions League squad to be a homegrown player. But it’s still something I look back on with real pride. It feels amazing to be able to say it. I still have my Champions League shirts in the loft! I don’t blame you - I would go to sleep with them on! 100% - despite only being in the squad to make up the numbers, I will always cherish that shirt.

But the loan to Stenny was strange! So I was preparing for an away game with the Reserves to Aberdeen on the Tuesday night - the same night of the Inverness game. It was just a normal day, I hadn’t heard a thing. We came in to Celtic Park for breakfast and were leaving soon after to head up the road. So I got on the bus and it was literally pulling out of Celtic Park when I get a hand on my shoulder. I turned around. “Robbie, you’re no going to Aberdeen, son. You’re going to Stenhousemuir and you’re playing against Inverness tonight in the League Cup”. My first ever game! And it was a big game for Stenny. That was an experience! So I had to jump off the bus, drive to Ochilview, sign my loan papers for a 90-day emergency loan, have my pre-match and then it was the game!

I was actually at the game and recall you performing very well. What are your memories from the occasion? Because it had been so much of a whirlwind, I never had much time to think about the match, so I did really well. I had played a few Reserve games against senior players but that was my first game playing against a proper team - I remember Billy McKay being up front. But that Stenhousemuir team, though… Wow. They were absolutely mental! The characters in that team were incredible and it was so good for me to experience.

That leads me on nicely to my next question, would you recommend going on loan to a player in a Premier League Academy? 100%. I was playing well with the Under-19’s and the Reserves, but it doesn’t mean anything to people in Senior football. Other club’s don’t value it. But they do if you go out on loan and you can perform in a competitive environment. It was so eye opening for me. Even going back to Celtic after being at Stenhousemuir for 3 months, I played better in Reserves games because I had that extra level of experience; I found them easier. The importance that players place on games at League 1 level is incredible.

What advice would you give to them ahead of the move? Embrace the challenge. Get stuck in. You need to learn to win. You have to adapt your mentality from what they teach you in the academies - it’s not about progression and building up, it’s about getting 3 points on a Saturday.

You latterly went on loan to Airdrie in the second half of that season, who were cut adrift at the bottom of the second tier. What is it like playing for a side struggling for form as a goalkeeper? It’s hard. Although it was slightly easier for me only being on loan there; I think it’s a lot tougher when you are signed permanently at a club, which I have had as well. But I was only training one night a week and then playing on the Saturday. I was getting a mental release from it all still coming in to Celtic full-time. But it was tough going in to training on the Monday and saying we got beat again and again to my team-mates. Despite that, I was still playing well. And when you’re at a club the size of Celtic, you’re almost brainwashed in to being a winner; you buy in to the mindset of being the best, which totally rubbed off on me. So that helped me survive that tough period.

You then left Celtic at the end of that season after a decade at the club - was it your decision to move on or the club’s? The club had an option to extend my contract but they never took it up. They told me that, if I did stay, I was going to be in the same place as I had been - in the reserves or out on loan. Not moving closer to the first team. So, although it was tough to take at the time, I look back and see it as the right decision. But it hit me hard, for sure. You’re all of a sudden out of that bubble that you’ve always known. But I never got down about it; I was still very determined. I got my CV together and got my name around clubs. And, like I was saying earlier, after being almost deluded at Celtic, I was of the belief that I was the best and that I could go and play easily in a first-team somewhere. Yet, all of a sudden no-one will touch you. I had only played something like nineteen senior matches. It doesn’t stand for much.

You then had trials at Carlisle United and Oldham Athletic before signing for Rochdale. Were you particularly keen to try English football at that stage of your career? That was my mindset. But I quickly realised how difficult it was to get a club - there are so many goalkeepers out there! I had a few offers in Scotland which, financially, weren’t sustainable, so I couldn’t take them. I was hoping to get on that merry-go-round of English clubs and prolong a career down there. Unfortunately it never worked out like that but I believe you need to go with your gut.

A lot of your close friends were playing down south at that point - did that help sway your decision? It was more my own personal aspirations. I always wanted to play in England or play abroad. At least I’ve done one of them!

Have you ever had any opportunities to play overseas? I haven’t. I’ve always fancied America. When I was younger, I used to love Dutch and German football. But nothing ever cropped up. So, when the chance came for me to go to England, I thought I would go for it.

When you signed for Rochdale, you described it as the best move for your career at that stage, but you only went on to make the one league appearance for The Dale. Why do you think it never worked out for you at Spotland? It was the best move for me at that stage, I felt, because I was on the books of a club in England; I felt that it would be the starting point for me down there. I never knew much about Leagues One and Two at the time, it was just about getting in there. Looking back, Rochdale are probably one of the smaller clubs at that level with the poorest facilities. But I just wanted to try my hand at it. I also felt I had a chance of being the no.1. But the goalkeeper who was there, Josh Lillis, was about 27, had played in the Championship with Scunthorpe and… he was really good! Like, brilliant. As a 19 year-old, inexperienced goalkeeper, it was very hard for me to take his place.

The club actually gained automatic promotion to League 1 that season - did you feel that you could enjoy the celebrations as part of the squad? Not as much. It was a weird one. I never even played in the Johnstones Paint Trophy! I played one game, on Boxing Day, won 3-0, played well, kept a clean sheet… it’s on the CV!

As a goalkeeper, when you keep a clean sheet, do you believe you should be given an opportunity the following week? Possibly, yeah. As I didn’t do anything wrong. But, on the flip side, the other goalkeeper was having a great season, he was only out through illness, and probably deserved to go straight back in.

What did you learn about yourself during that period? Well, firstly, I learned that, to be a professional footballer in England, you need to be quality. Despite us being in League 2, some of the players were unreal. People don’t give the players down there enough credit.

You then returned to familiar territory with Cowdenbeath in the SPFL Championship. Cowdenbeath had just escaped relegation the season prior when they ousted local rivals Dunfermline Athletic in the play-off final. What were both your own and the club’s objectives for that season? I actually wanted to stay at Rochdale; I was looking at flats and all that! But, after the last weekend of the season, I was told I would cost the club too much money and would be let go. I was hoping to stay with the club as it would have been League One football, if I got a chance it would have been good for my profile. But, when I got released, my mindset changed and it was all about playing games. I needed to be playing. I was speaking to my dad before the season started and was saying I need to be playing over thirty games as its getting to that make-or-break point. So, I decided to sign for Cowdenbeath. Well, to be fair, I never had to decide - that was pretty much the only offer at that point! But it turned out to be brilliant. Even though it turned it to be a really, really tough time. Jimmy Nicholl was the manager, who is one of my dads close friends, he looked after me really well and gave me the chance to play.

It was a tough Championship that year with Hearts, Hibernian and Rangers all in the league at the time. The Jambos topped the pile at the end of the season and, on their way to the title, they beat your Cowdenbeath side 10-0. What can you remember from that occasion? I actually never done too badly! I had the right support network around me to get me through it. And quickly. I also had the right manager, who gave me so much confidence. It was unbelievable playing for Jimmy at that point. He played me the following week and we drew 0-0 against Rangers! The amount of confidence and self-belief he gave me was brilliant. It would have been easy for him to get straight on the phone for loan players ahead of the next match. Strangely, it almost brought us closer together as a team, because of the way he dealt with it. I respect him so much for that.

In contrast to Hearts, The Blue Brazil propped up the table after 36 games, suffering relegation on the final day of the season against relegation rivals Alloa Athletic who won 3-0 on the day to condemn Cowdenbeath to the third tier. How much of a low point in your career was that day? It should never have came down to that. Looking back, we had a really good team. I was full-time at Cowdenbeath. I remember Jimmy Nicholl telling me he had plans to invest in the squad that summer and push on in the Championship had we stayed up. Unfortunately, after that season the club have just been on a constant slide. But it was a great league to play in; every second week you were playing against a really good team.

Despite the aforementioned hardships, you performed excellently on a personal level and took home the Player Of The Year and the Young Player Of The Year awards. Were there a host of clubs interested in signing you that summer? There was. But the team who were always at me to sign was Queen of the South. Their commitment to signing me made my decision making process a lot easier. It is brilliant to feel wanted by a club.

The Doonhamers had just lost Zander Clark to parent club St Johnstone after two successful loan spells and had reached the Championship play-offs and the Scottish Cup Quarter Final the previous season. But what was the main attraction that led you to sign for Queens? Well, James Fowler had just been given the job when we battered them with Cowdenbeath one day and he just kept tabs on me from there. Kenny Arthur was the goalie coach and he was texting me pretty much every day! But they had a right good team and they were looking to push on after a successful season, so I wanted to be a part of that.

You signed a two year deal with Queens but left half way through your contract when fans’ favourite Lee Robinson returned to the club. What can you tell us about that period in the summer of 2016? That was tough. I had never experienced anything like that before as I was still under contract. I had played pretty well in my first season and felt I deserved to be the no.1 going in to my second season. But James Fowler left towards the end of the season and, during the summer, the club had no management team in place. Lee Robinson became available and the board decided to bring him in. So suddenly, I was second choice keeper at Queens’ and so, for the good of my career, I had to move on. But it was strange trying to find another club whilst still being under contract and negotiating my exit all at once.

Did you do all of that yourself or did you have an agent? A bit of both. But, for goalkeepers, it’s slightly different as we have a network amongst ourselves with goalkeeper coaches, so you know what’s going on. But nothing was coming up; and I wasn’t prepared to leave Queens unless I had something lined up. Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Hamilton. They mentioned that their two goalkeepers were out for six weeks and that they’d be signing someone else, but that they also wanted to take me. So, at that point, I got out of my contract with Queens and then off I went!

You found minutes hard to come by at Hamilton and left the club in the January transfer window. How do you look back on your spell at Accies? I actually really loved my time with Hamilton; it’s a great club to play for. They are so professional, they work really hard - all the way down to their youth teams; they just have a winning mentality installed in them. They might not have the best players but they stay there because of their mentality and how hard they work. The staff they have there are magnificent - so close knit. If you’re not pulling you’re weight, they’ll just bomb you out. They’re not interested in passengers. Which suits how I work. So I think they valued me, despite not being the no.1 goalkeeper, I worked my balls off. So I think they valued having me around the first team at that point. But, yeah, it was tough not to be playing. That being said, it was the Premier League - I felt privileged to be there so I never got too frustrated at not playing.

As mentioned, you left Accies in the 2017 winter window to sign for your hometown club: Falkirk. Did you always have it in your mind that you’d play for Falkirk at some stage of your career? Yeah, it had always been in my mind. I was actually offered an extension to stay at Hamilton at the time I heard about the no.2 at Falkirk wanting to leave, Deniz Mehmet. I then bumped in to the Falkirk goalkeeper coach who, after meeting him, dropped me a text the next day to ask if I would be interested in joining if that was to transpire. After it did, I felt I would have more chance of playing at Falkirk than at Hamilton, so I decided to go for it.

How did the move to Falkirk come about as it seemed that Danny Rodgers had the no.1 jersey sewn up at the time? I’ve always had the mindset of believing I should be playing, no matter who is in front of me. I’ll push myself and train hard to give myself a chance of being the no.1. When I went in to Falkirk, they had a really strong team; a lot of good characters, so it made it easy for me to go all in, get my head down and focus on getting in to the starting eleven. I knew that Danny was a good, young goalkeeper but, equally, I knew I was as good, if not, better. I knew that if I got my chance I would take it. Danny and I got on really well but I just had that belief - you’ve got to have that belief, otherwise there is no point in being a footballer.

Your move to Falkirk meant you had been in three different dressing rooms in just over half a season, what is it like for a player in Scotland having to adapt to different dressing rooms on a constant basis? It’s hard. You want to go in and make an influence straight away but you don’t know the characters, you don’t know who’s who, you don’t know what goes on; it’s tough. It’s quite daunting as well! You often know a couple of players who help you integrate in to the group, but that first day is not easy!

You ended up playing a pivotal role for The Bairns’ in their play-off push that season which saw the club come up short against Dundee United at the semi-final stage. That was the latest in a string of nearly-moments for the club, having lost both the Play-Off Final and the Scottish Cup Final in the preceding two years. Obviously you can’t speak for the those failures, but why do you think the club couldn’t quite make it that extra yard? I’m not sure as, when I went in, everyone was of the belief that we’d go up; we had the characters for it, we had winners: Mark Kerr, John Baird, David McCracken, Lee Miller, Tom Taiwo. All of whom were great guys and brilliant to play with. We seemed to have the right mix and blend at that time too with the younger players. It was just unfortunate we couldn’t quite do it. The management team were fantastic too; I loved playing for them. Their training was brilliant. It just all mixed together really well. It was probably the first time in my career that the whole squad had a committed togetherness; we all wanted it so much. So it was very disappointing not to make it.

Did the players feel like that was the end of an era? Or was there a confidence that you could go again? I had the belief that we’d go up as Champions. The club absolutely hammered it in to us and throughout the town with their promotion marketing campaign - I think the slogan was “Our Time” which they built a lot of hype with. So, amongst the players, we were thinking ‘right, we’ve got to do it now, surely this time!’. On paper, it looked like our best opportunity in a few years given that Hibs had gone up the previous season. But then, in the first couple of games, we were terrible and we just couldn’t get going after that.

I think the real turning point was the opening day of the season away to St Mirren which Falkirk lost 3-1 after such a good Betfred Cup campaign. Then, after earning only 3 points from 21 available in the first seven games of the season, Peter Houston was sacked as manager. What were the players thinking at that point? We were all gutted; everyone loved Houstie. It was just so frustrating for both us, as players, and them, as the management team, that we couldn’t get going at the start of the season. I don’t know what it was; to this day I can’t put my finger on why that was. They done everything right, the players done everything right.. we just couldn’t get a win. They tried everything: being harsh on us, running us, bringing us in on Sunday’s, tried giving us a Tuesday day out instead of training. But nothing seemed to work!

Paul Hartley was then appointed Falkirk manager soon after. How did the squad react to his methods? He changed a lot straight away. I like to be very professional, do things the right way and, to be fair to Paul Hartley, he structured the training, changed the dining room, changed where we were getting changed; just trying to make everything a lot better and more professional. His attention to detail was fantastic. To me, it was all very positive at that point. Then he changed a lot of personnel, so the full vibe in the dressing room shifted, which changed things.

That leads me nicely to my next question as there was then a major overhaul of the squad in the winter window, with eight players in and eight players out. One of those incomings was goalkeeper Conor Hazard on loan from Celtic. Paul Hartley seemed to favour his own acquisitions in the second half of that season which led to you having to watch on from the bench as Hazard was preferred in goals. How did you react to that? I think that, as a goalkeeper, you always know there is going to be competition regardless of what club you’re at. You learn to accept it. I just had to get on with it.

As Paul Hartley continued to rebuild his squad, how were you told you’d be leaving the club? At the end of that season, the board gave Paul Hartley the opportunity to do it his own way. Hartley had massive plans for the club at that point; he had a new recruitment scheme which was three pronged: try and attract young players from England’s lower leagues, players who had just been released from England’s top tier clubs and loan players. I just didn’t fit in to his plans moving forward. Nor did a number of other experienced players we had at the club.

And in that summer when Hartley was bringing in signing after signing, did you hear any murmurings of discontent from the players who were still at the club? Not really. I think that, if you’re involved in that movement and see all these young players coming in to the club, you probably get a bit excited. I think the players who remained at the club were excited to be a part of it.

You then signed for Raith Rovers at the end of the season. Was it special for you to follow in your father’s footsteps? It was, yeah. 100%.

We touched on Thomson Snr. earlier on, but how influential has your dad been throughout your career? Massive. But during my career, he’s never been that pushy parent, he’s only ever looked after me from a footballing point of view if I needed it or I wanted it. He just let’s me get on with it. He’s always there for advice. That’s probably why he’s such a good coach.

Rovers struggled in your first season, with the club finishing in 3rd behind Angus pair Forfar and Arbroath, who went up as champions. Why do you think you struggled to keep up with The Red Lichties during that campaign? It was a disappointing season. I think the pressure of being the only full-time team in the league that year really got to us. The league isn’t as easy as it looks; there’s a lot of good teams in it. Players will also raise their game against full-time teams which makes it even tougher. Arbroath were incredible that season - they just kept winning! We stumbled once or twice and they just took advantage.

At the end of that season, the club announced the decision to operate with a hybrid playing staff with a combination of full-time and part-time players. What was your initial thoughts on that? For me personally, I accepted it as the club looked after me and continued my deal even, despite being out injured.

Did it affect the dynamics of the changing room moving to the new set-up having players on differing contracts, terms and wages? To be fair, not really. I thought it would, but it hasn’t. It actually brings everyone together. When the part-time boys come in you get the feeling that everyone is together, so that lifts the spirits at training. We only have five part-time players but it works well - well it looks like it has anyway with us going up!

A major struggle for players in Scotland are those guys who are on the cusp of full-time football yet struggle with the commitment required to quit their job and risk their livelihood in attempt to work up the pyramid. which is a major struggle. But what do you think is the hardest thing about being a professional footballer in Scotland? It’s exactly that, just the financial struggle. I think you’ll see it even more now with what is going on in the world. When you have a family, a mortgage and a good job at part-time level, it doesn’t make sense to give that up.

It done the trick as, at the third time of asking, Raith Rovers gained promotion back to the SPFL Championship when the club were crowned champions via the SPFL vote - what was your reaction when you found out that you won the league? Strange. My only ever league win and I find out via my watch whilst doing yoga! It was just pinging away! I finished up, turned on my phone and we had been announced as Champions.

Did you manage to celebrate the success despite the lockdown restrictions? I had a bottle of champagne and was in bed for 10 o’clock!

Being a player at a club that the SPFL vote had a major influence on, do you think footballers in Scotland were consulted enough on the situation? And, if not, what would you like to have seen the SPFL do? Well we were spoken to by the PFA, who asked us for our opinion on what should happen. That was more on the side of reconstruction. I’m not sure how that information was used or where it went. With regards to the conclusion of the league, we were never consulted about that. But you’ve just got to get on with it. Every single person has an opinion on it so you couldn’t please everyone.

Just on the lockdown, how have you been keeping your mind busy? It’s actually been really good for me; I’ve actually quite enjoyed it! I’ve got good structure to my days. At the beginning, I assessed the situation and thought: how can I better myself here? So I went straight on the Facebook page for my street and asked if anyone had a home gym, so I’ve been in the gym pretty much every day since lockdown started. As I mentioned, I’ve been doing yoga. I still work with my nutritionist and my sports psychologist, even though I’m not playing. So I’ve been using the time wisely. I’ve also been working towards my goalkeeping A-License and looking to grow my coaching business with Pro Performance Academy.

Let’s step out of the pitch now; but not too far to start with… I wanted to ask you about your coaching career that you touched on and your involvement in Pro Performance Academy - what can you tell us about that? Myself, Blair Munn and Callum Tapping set it up. We were all doing individual sessions but, we were all mates, so we just got together and created Pro Performance Academy. We came up with the name, got the badge, and off we went! It’s grown arms and legs, to be fair. We’ve not even had to advertise either; I think that’s just down to how passionate we are as individuals. When we first started, I was doing player drills but, now, as we are so big, I focus solely on the goalkeepers.

Is coaching something you have always wanted to get in to? It’s just happened naturally. I think, again, it’s influenced from my dad, who was a goalkeeper coach when I first started out. When I was coming through and we never had a goalkeeping coach for whatever reason, I would take the drills; from as young as under-10’s. I would just make them up but they were always really good. I would always take the onus on myself to give myself and the other goalkeepers a proper session. I know I’m a decent goalkeeper, but I know I’m a very good coach.

Do you think you can be a better coach than a player? Oh yeah, definitely.

Did the move to the hybrid set up with Rovers help you offer more time to the academy? It actually took two nights away from me! So it never. I also do some coaching at Celtic with the younger goalkeepers. So I’ve got a busy schedule! But Celtic have been fantastic for me as I look to progress as a coach.

Do you think that, when you finish playing, you’ll focus on Pro Performance Academy or would you prefer to go in to a club as goalkeeper coach? I want to be at a club as a top coach. But, equally, I want to progress the academy business to the point where I could oversee it and still be involved in it.

One of the greatest coaches to have lived is Phil Jackson, coach of the Chicago Bulls during their 90’s success with Michael Jordan at the helm. I noticed on Instagram that you gave in to the pressure of buying a pair of Jordan’s after watching The Last Dance! How would you describe your style? I love trainers! When I was younger and I had a little bit more disposable income, I used to buy so many pairs of trainers! It would be two pairs a week! I’ve always loved clothes; but trainers are probably my thing. In terms of my style, I would say it’s quite minimalistic; I prefer good quality. There was a stage when I was all about brands, but I prefer the material and the fit nowadays.

If you could make an issue of Thomson 1’s, what item of clothing would it be? Probably shoes! I would style them so you could wear them in everyday life; but they would be high quality - quality material, high-end design.

What about the colour? Grey.. wear them with anything!

We’ve shot you in sold old school Raith shirts. What’s your thoughts on football shirt fashion? I really like what Nike have done with their throwback shirts and the classic Nike logo - the likes of Barcelona, Roma, Spurs. They look fantastic; it’s became really trendy. Nike’s marketing scheme was really good; they had a lot of the first-team guys wearing it and incorporating it as fashion. Me personally, I went through a phase of that, almost football casual style - the FILA zippy, Stone Island etc. I think that style has it’s own culture within Scottish Football. That’s one thing I would say, at the clubs I have played for, each have a core of younger fans who come with their drums and add atmosphere to the games, they all play up to the style. It gives them an identity, which I admire.

To continue on the trend of Michael Jordan, he also has a presence in the music industry, epitomised with Drake & Future’s “Jumpman” record. What kind of music do you like to listen to and does the genre vary depending on the situation? My all time favourite band is The View! It coincided when my dad was at Dundee United and they are obviously from Dundee. I used to go and see them play all the time. That was the scene at the time when I was still at school; The View, Arctic Monkeys, that kind of vibe. When I left school and went in to Celtic full-time, though, I couldn’t put that on… I’d get the pish ripped out of me! So I moved away from that a little bit! I transitioned to dance and house music for a bit. Then I started to mature! When I went to Rochdale, I got in to hip-hop and R&B, as that is what gets played in the dressing room; they never listen to dance music, unlike up in Scotland! Recently, I have gone back to my roots. There’s a band called The Shambolics who are Raith fans - their bass player ended up following me on Instagram. So, the deal is, I get him tickets for Raith and he gets me on the guest list for his gigs!

Do you have a pre-match playlist? I don’t! With being in to my psychology, I listen to that before a game.

And lastly, if you could see anyone perform live right now, lockdown permitting, who would it be? I’d probably say… Oasis. I was at their last ever gig at Murrayfield. I think it would be amazing if they got back for one last gig! Everyone knows the lyrics, everyone knows their songs. So I would say Oasis.

Words: Scott Kelly

Photography: Connor Stewart

Styling: Robbie Thomson / Scott Kelly

Location: Falkirk High Train Station

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