Kilmarnock hero recalls furious Dick Campbell rant and admits split loyalties in Arbroath title blockbuster

Willie Watters will never forget the day he left Scottish football’s most famous bunnet in a flap.

The former striker had Dick Campbell seeing with a cunning move to score from a corner which saw the veteran manager screaming blue murder.

Not many outwit the wily old Arbroath boss these days.

And more than two decades on from his fox in the box routine Watters admits he has to take his hat off to the man dubbed The Bunnet for the magic he’s worked at his old club Arbroath.

The part-time shocktroops head to Rugby Park on Friday night knowing victory would move them two points clear of Kilmarnock at the top of the Championship with just one game to go.

Over 1500 fans are expected to descend on Ayrshire from Angus for what many reckon is the biggest game in Scotland this weekend.

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For Watters it’s a no win – and no lose – situation as he represented both clubs in a 15-year career as a goal scorer outside Scotland’s top division.

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He fired Killie to the old second division title in 1990 and later moved on to Gayfield where he continued to bang in goals for two seasons in the bottom division.

Watters admits he is torn ahead of Friday night’s showdown.

But he said: “All going well both will go up, both deserve to go up because they are that far ahead.

“Arbroath have a great team. Really good players and a clever manager.

“I never played for Dick Campbell but I certainly played against a lot of his teams and they were always really hard to beat.

“I remember beating his Dunfermline team 2-0 with Stirling Albion at Forthbank. Dick wasn’t happy with me that day.

“Kevin Drinkell was my manager and he’d taught me a wee move at corners to come off the back post, go inside the goal then at the last minute come back out in front of the goalie.

“It worked a treat and I scored. Dick was going bananas at the end, claiming it was cheating because I’d gone off the park and come back on.

“Drinkell never owned up to the fact it was his idea so I had to take the brunt of it off Dick. But I think he’s forgiven me now .. it was about 23 years ago to be fair!

“What Dick has done at Arbroath is utterly incredible.

“He’s built a really, really good team and still some people don’t give them credit.

“People have expected them to fall away but they just keep proving the doubters wrong.

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“When I hear the snobbery about their stadium and that I just know these people haven’t been at Gayfield for a big game. The atmosphere is superb and will add a different dimension to the top flight if they got there.

“I had a great time at Arbroath. The supporters have always really backed their team no matter what level they’ve been playing at.

“I heard there’s 1500 going down to Ruggy Park on a Friday night. That says it all.

“It’s the biggest game in the club’s history and what a fairytale if they go up.

“I just hope it’s along with Kilmarnock.”

Watters best days were spent with Killie, playing under Tommy Burns and finishing top scorer as they lifted the second division title in 1990 to start the march back to the top league.

And he reckons the Ayrshiremen are lucky to have another top boss in Derek McInnes leading the latest promotion charge.

He said: “Winning promotion from the old second division was special. I also got the PFA divisional player of the year that season.

“It was a great time under a wonderful manager in Tommy Burns.

“But I think they’ve got another very good man in charge now in Derek McInnes. He’s revamped them and got them to the top of the league.

“It’s down to organisation, detail and players understanding their jobs.

“He’s a cracking fit for the club and I think he could do exciting things with them in the Premiership.

“With a bit of luck there will be a double celebration come the end of the season with KIllie and Arbroath going up.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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