Man behind famous football headline wants job in Mansfield area

Tuesday 8th February 2000 is not a date that will live long in the memory for many, but for Alex Caldwell it is a momentous day he will never forget.
Alex Caldwell with St. Johnstone in a match against Rangers.Alex Caldwell with St. Johnstone in a match against Rangers.
Alex Caldwell with St. Johnstone in a match against Rangers.

It was the day the then Inverness Caledonian Thistle assistant manager helped his side to one of the biggest cup shocks in the history of Scottish football as they beat giants Celtic on their own turf - to spawn one of the sport’s most famous ever headlines.

‘Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious,’ screamed the Sun, the morning after the night before. The Highlands club laying as part-timers in Division One of the Scottish system had come of age.

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And it was Caldwell - who has moved to Warsop in January to be closer to his family, with his son getting married in Mansfield in March - who played a pivotal role in plotting the triumph as boss Steve Paterson’s number two.

Alex Caldwell runs out for Dundee.Alex Caldwell runs out for Dundee.
Alex Caldwell runs out for Dundee.

Even now, some 14 years on, he can recall that remarkable evening, and the events that led up to it, as if it were yesterday.

“The game was due to be played on a Saturday, but we got a phone call as we were travelling to the ground saying there had been a real hurricane in Glasgow and that the game was off because part of the stand had come away,” recalls Caldwell.

“I said to the players we should go and have a look anyway and we got to go in and get onto the pitch. I smuggled balls in and we took those on. I wanted the players to go and score a goal at Parkhead because I knew they might never get the chance again.

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“For me, it gave them a feel for it and made them relax when we came to play the game on the Tuesday.”

Alex Caldwell as a 27 year old player.Alex Caldwell as a 27 year old player.
Alex Caldwell as a 27 year old player.

Roared on by 4,000 fans who made the trip down to Parkhead, Inverness hinted what was to come when Barry Wilson nodded them in front early on.

Mark Burchill quickly equalised for the Bhoys but, Lubomir Moravcik deflected Bobby Mann’s header into his own goal to restore Caley’s lead.

John Barnes’ Celtic were expected to respond quickly, but the fightback never materialised and 10 minutes into the second half, Paul Sheerin sealed the dramatic result with a well-taken penalty

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Caldwell, now 59, added: “We were on it from the start and never gave them time to settle on the ball.

Alex Caldwell on a chewing gum card.Alex Caldwell on a chewing gum card.
Alex Caldwell on a chewing gum card.

“None of their top midfielders could out their foot on it - and we had three midfielders who could tackle. They got it back to 2-1 and put us under a lot of pressure with 36,000 behind them.

“But we hit them on the break, got the penalty and as soon as it went in we were leaping around and Barnes sat down because he knew it was not going to be his night. It was my proudest moment on football.

“We had already won the Third Division at Inverness and got promotion from the second, similar to how Wigan and Fulham went through the leagues in England, but that topped the lot.”

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Having co-masterminded Celtic’s downfall, Caldwell left later that season to take his own manager’s role at Elgin City, where he was in charge until 2002.

Alex Caldwell in action for St. Johnstone.Alex Caldwell in action for St. Johnstone.
Alex Caldwell in action for St. Johnstone.

He later moved to the Murcia area of Spain where worked to develop junior talent for the likes of Charlton and Sheffield United.

“It was interesting to see the differences to Britain,” said Caldwell. “There was a sports tax, so kids don’t have to pay for their football and the facilities are second to none.”

Back in the UK, Caldwell is now keen to secure employment in the game he loves, having played for Dundee, St Johnstone and Forfar during his playing days.

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He says he has been offered a role with Northern Counties East side Teversal, but believes his CV highlights he could do a job at a higher level.

“I didn’t realise just how difficult it would be to get back into the ‘system’, having been out of it for a while, said Caldwell.

“I have just been looking around and put my CV into Mansfield, but haven’t found anything so far. My son plays for Welbeck and I’ve been pretty impressed with the facilities and the standard.

Alex Caldwell with his League Championship winning medals won during his time with Dundee and St. Johnstone.Alex Caldwell with his League Championship winning medals won during his time with Dundee and St. Johnstone.
Alex Caldwell with his League Championship winning medals won during his time with Dundee and St. Johnstone.

“I feel I have something to offer because I have worked at a high level. It’s just a case of getting my foot in the door.”

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During his playing days, Caldwell started off at Dundee where played alongside future Chesterfield boss and now LMA technical manager John Duncan before the latter moved on to Spurs, helping the club win the 1973 Scottish League Cup.

That spell also included a European adventure in the 1974-75 campaign, where they lost 4-2 at home and 1-0 away to Belgian side RDC Molenbeek at the first round stage.

Caldwell said: “I played against the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen before they went to Liverpool and also with the likes of Jimmy Johnstone, Ally McCoist and Gordon Strachan, who I still keep in touch with now.”

Ultimately, though, Caldwell wants to create more memories to savour in this part of the world.

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“I’ve seen a lot of different coaching and I know football at the top level doesn’t mirror those at the bottom but I believe that sometimes people over-complicate it,” he said.

“You cant do what, say, Mourinho is doing at a lower level, but it doesn’t stop some trying. You can’t be a Picasso if you aren’t one.”