Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Steven Beacom: If McCoist fails as Rangers boss, there is always A Question of Sport

Ally McCoist

I used to love A Question of Sport. It may not have grabbed me in the same way as Match of the Day (pre-Gary Lineker), Grange Hill, Starsky and Hutch, Happy Days, Cheers, Minder (with Dennis Waterman), Dawson’s Creek and Lost in my varied viewing habits, but as a kid it was still highly entertaining television.

Emlyn Hughes was a fantastic team captain — full of mischief and fun. I liked Bill Beaumont too — his knowledge was outstanding. Ian Botham was also great to watch, because he played the game with the same devil may care attitude that made him a cricketing icon.

Then along came Ally McCoist who combined the best elements of all three, with his cheeky smile and flirting with Sue Barker, surprisingly excellent grasp of sporting history and daring deeds during the buzzer round.

Even when the irritating Matt Dawson became the opposing captain, you tuned in purely to see McCoist answer questions in the picture round, make a song and dance about going home or away, know virtually every mystery guest and wax lyrical about What Happened Next!

When McCoist left so did I and millions of others if the ratings are anything to go by. It just hasn’t been the same since.

But while it faded quicker than England’s World Cup hopes if Wayne Rooney gets injured, McCoist flourished as a coach!

Watching him as a goalscoring sensation for Rangers, or during what was a successful television career or even in that

desperate movie Shot at Glory, when ironically he played an ex-Celtic player alongside the brilliant Robert Duvall (what were you thinking Bob?), I never thought Alastair Murdock McCoist would end up as the manager of one of the biggest clubs in the world.

But come next May that’s exactly what is going to happen.

Walter Smith has decided he will stay in charge of Rangers for one more season before handing over the reins to the man the Gers fans used to call Super Ally and fellow coach Kenny McDowall.

McCoist has effectively been in charge of managerial duties in Scottish Cup games in the last couple of seasons, but dipping a toe in what can be the murky pool of management is one thing.

Diving right in, as he will in 12 months, is something else entirely.

For his sake I just hope he doesn’t drown.

Smith is a legend at Rangers. In two spells as manager he has won NINE SPL titles, countless cups, guided the Teddy Bears to a European final and, something that is often forgotten, could have won the Champions League in 1993 with a little more fortune. Following him is going to be some ask.

It’s true to say that McCoist, who scored 251 goals in 418 games for the Glasgow giants, only really has Celtic to beat in Scotland. But the flip side is that if he doesn’t, he’s toast.

Imagine Neil Lennon as manager of Celtic inspiring his Bhoys to glory with McCoist’s Rangers trailing in their wake.

Ally wouldn’t be so Super then, would he?

It’s a risk he’s willing to take and he should be commended for that and indeed for giving the whole coaching thing a go when he became assistant manager with Scotland when Walter was appointed boss of the national team.

He won’t have the safety blanket of father figure Smith beside him next year though.

Before that the 2010/2011 season will be interesting to see how the Rangers players react to the news about the new management team and the fact the current gaffer is on his way.

Remember what happened when Sir Alex Ferguson announced he was leaving? The Manchester United players were distracted, costing them the chance of winning even more honours.

The SPL can be Dullsville at times, but it is going to be compelling to watch over the next few years, even more so if Lennon, as I hope, gets the job at Parkhead.

It’ll be better than A Question of Sport that’s for sure.

I like McCoist and wish him well.

And I guess if the Rangers job fails, Ally could always go back to flirting with Sue in the BBC studio.

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