Published on Friday 7 May 2010 23:19
WITH his team not in action until tomorrow, Dundee United’s manager will doubtless keep a keen eye on today’s relegation decider between Kilmarnock and Falkirk.
Lauded throughout his two playing spells at Falkirk, Peter Houston developed a cult following at the club. With the Bairns requiring nothing less than a victory at Rugby Park to save their SPL, it is undoubtedly a game the ‘Ginger God’ would have revelled in.
Having spent much of his early career in the junior ranks, Houston found his way to Falkirk via Albion Rovers in 1983. Eight years later, with a spell at Dumbarton sandwiched in the middle, the Brockville favourite pulled on the blue shirt for the final time. Appearing as a substitute in a 4-1 away victory over Raith Rovers, the full-back ended his playing days by helping Falkirk on their way to the First Division championship. Two goals apiece from Derek McWilliams and Simon Stainrod secured the win.
Houston made 212 appearances and scored 38 goals in his Falkirk playing days, and his never-say-die attitude endeared him to the fans. Returning as a coach under Jim Jefferies following his retirement in 1993, he was warmly welcomed back by the ‘Houstie Hardcore’, a supporters club named in his honour.
After helping to establish the Falkirk youth academy, he left the club to follow Jefferies to Hearts before moving south to Leicester with Jefferies’ successor Craig Levein, whom he has now succeeded as manager at Tannadice.
On the verge of guiding United to their first Scottish Cup success since 1994, his fortunes stand in marked contrast to his former club’s.
Struggling again this season, Steven Pressley’s Falkirk side are attempting to repeat last season’s nail-biting last-day escape and overhaul Kilmarnock’s two-point buffer.
Houston’s legendary commitment will be needed in sackfuls if the Bairns are to keep their SPL dreams alive.
The Houstie Hardcore would doubtless rest a lot easier this afternoon if they had their former talisman to lend his drive to proceedings at Rugby Park.