On Thursday I had an interview with Jack Ross, one of the trainers at Hearts and manager of the Jambos U20. Last season he was an assistant at Dumbarton, the opponent of today. But that wasn’t the main reason why I wanted to talk him. No, I like the fact he has written some children’s books. Not an everyday activity for a former professional footballer.
Jack Ross, the footballer
“I was born in 1976 in Falkirk, but my favorite club was Dundee FC. I was lucky to have played for them as a youth player. Sadly, I never made the first team. After a couple of years at Forfar Athletic I eventually ended up at Non-League club Camelon, who are playing in the Junior League. It used to be the normal route in Scotland to first play for a Junior Club and after that signing for a club in the League. Kenny Dalglish is the prime example, he first played for Cumbernauld before he went to Celtic. Nowadays you do not see that very often, so I was lucky that I could sign a contract with Clyde when I was 23. After Clyde, I went to Hartlepool, my adventure abroad, and after a season there I signed for Falkirk. That was quite special, because I was born there and my family still lived in the town. Then I played for St. Mirren were I played the League Cup Final. Unfortunately, we lost that one to Rangers. In my time at St Mirren I also played an international match for Scotland B while I already passed the 30. I’m still proud of that. After St. Mirren signed for Hamilton and Dunfermline, but due injuries I didn’t played there often.”
Jack Ross, the coach
“I wanted to stay involved in football and in 2011 I became assistant manager at Dumbarton. That was a great learning experience. We were promoted twice , which is quite an achievement for a semi professional club. Even when we were playing in the Championship we only trained two nights a week. Everyone at the club had a job besides football. I worked for the Scottish players union PFA and the international players union FIFPro. I loved doing that work. At the players union I’ve been involved with issues such as depression, gambling addiction and match fixing. Very interesting work and challenging. When Hearts approached me this summer to strengthen their coaching staff I was very honoured. It was a shame I had to give up my work for the players’ unions and Dumbarton had to leave, but you don’t get an opportunity like this very often. The difference between Hearts and Dumbarton is very big, despite both clubs playing in the same division. It’s like another world. At Hearts we train twice a day, sometimes even three times. Then you really grinding things. That was difficult at Dumbarton, but that’s why it’s so amazing that they managed to stay up last season and this season they are playing great as well. Of course I still have a soft spot for the club. I’m still friends with Ian Murray, their manager. But in football sentiments disappear quickly. If we win today with 6-0 today, I will not shed a tear. I am really focused on Hearts. It;s like a project, with an idea behind it. I;’m not only part of the first team staff, I am also the manager of the U20’s. That’s a new expierence for me, as it’s not important if we win or lose. The U20-team is about development and given first team players, who are coming back from injury, a chance to get their fitness back. As a footballer you have to be a bad loser. I am. I also play golf, there I don’t care. I just want to enjoy myself, but at a football match it’s different. You always want to win. I hope to be a manager someday of a club, but at the moment I prefer this role at this club instead of being a manager at a club in League Two. As a staff, we are working at a project here and it’s nice to see how it will develop.”
Jack Ross, the writer
“I’ve always loved writing. That started at an early age. I’m not a bookwurm, but I always liked to read newspapers. Language is one of my favorite pastimes. Therefore, it’s actually weird that I have studied economics here at the Heriot-Watt University, because that is really quite different from writing. In January 2010 I was invited to write a weekly column on the BBC. I did some stuff for BBC Radio Scotland when they asked me if I wanted to blog about my experiences as a player. I thought it was really fun to do, especially because I was free what to write. People responded to the column, and I could answer them. Unfortunately, the BBC decided to quit the blogs in the summer of 2011. But I continued to write, because I was responsable for for the content on the PFA-website. How I get the idea to write books for kids? I always wanted to write a children’s book. I used to read out for my nephew and always was a bit dissapoited that those books didn’t had a message or a moral. Often during holidays, now I’ll sound very boring, I took a notebook along to write things. One holiday I worked my plans out for the children’s books that I had in my head. Eventually I wrote five of them. I hoped I could get published them when I was still a footballer, but unfortunately that just did not work. But after my football career finished, I self-published two of them: Alfie the Adventurous Winger and Calum the Courageous Keeper. All five books have a specific theme. In the case of Alfie, the school introduced new food. Alfie doesn’t like that. It’s all healthy stuff and he misses his burger and fries. He’s very conservative, opposite of how he is on the pitch. In the end he managed to be as adventurous in his choice for food as he is on the pitch and he gives the new food a try. The book about Calum is about bullying at school. He is a brave goalkeeper, but he is brave enough to help a girl who is getting bullied? Every book has a specific topic associated with the position in the field. Unfortunately, I’m too busy right now to bring out the other three books. I have them already written. But my wife won’t be too happy if I publish them as well. The house will be full of boxes. At the moment I have a daughter who is almost six and in December I will be father for the second time. And my job at Hearts is very busy as well. So sadly, I’m not writing a lot at the moment. But I didn’t gave up on it. I still have a plan to write another book. It doesn’t have to be a children’s book. Someday I hope to realize that dream. I still remember the first time I saw my first book, Alfie the Adventurous Winger. The moment you hold your own book in your hands remains very special.”