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Tommy Craig

Physiotherapist

Physiotherapist

Born: August 7, 1943; Died: June 18, 2014

Tommy Craig, who has died at the age of 70 following a heart attack, was widely regarded as one of the leading sports physiotherapists in Scotland.

Thomas Muir Craig was born in Springburn, Glasgow, in the midst of the Second World War, the son of James and Margaret Craig, his father a welder.

The young Tommy was educated at Govan High School - the same academy of learning that in earlier years had produced Sir Alex Ferguson, barrister Leo Blair (father of the future Prime Minister) and the songwriter Bill Martin.

Tommy went on to study sports medicine and physiotherapy and was elected a member of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists in 1966. The following year he married Marjorie Lovell, having met her at the age of 18 in the Locarno Ballroom in nearby Paisley Road West.

Physiotherapy posts at Lennox Castle, Belvidere and Stobhill Hospitals were amongst early appointments, as were positions at Benburb, Queen Of The South and Clyde football clubs.

An important year for Tommy and Marjorie Craig was 1970 - their son Scott was born, Tommy was appointed as physio to the Scotland squad at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh and then, on July 6 of the same year, at the age of just 26, he took up the post of physiotherapist at Rangers Football Club. On the same day Jock Wallace and Stan Anderson also joined the club as coach and assistant coach respectively.

The then Rangers' manager Willie Waddell had assembled a new and young backroom staff as he sought to rebuild the club following four years in the shadow of Jock Stein's Celtic.

A few months later Rangers won the 1970-71 Scottish League Cup with a 1-0 win over Celtic courtesy of a Derek Johnstone goal, but it would be for another Old Firm encounter that Tommy Craig would be remembered to this day - that of January 2, 1971 when 66 fans died on Stairway 13 following the conclusion of the game. Along with management and backroom staff from both clubs, Tom Craig worked tirelessly to treat the dying and injured - and in a BBC documentary to mark the 30th anniversary of the Ibrox Disaster his emotional and passionate recollections of that tragic winter's day left an impression on many viewers.

On the field of play, then as now, injuries plagued the club - and in 1972 the physiotherapist played a key role in treating injured club captain John Greig, who was able to lift the European Cup-Winners' Cup in May 1972 after playing in the 3-2 win over Moscow Dynamo in Barcelona.

Craig's daughter Tracy was born later that year, by which time Jock Wallace had taken over as manager. Good times were ahead for the Ibrox men as three league titles, three Scottish Cups and two League Cups were won in the next six years, with the physiotherapist working closely with the Rangers' boss.

The sudden departure of Wallace in the summer of 1978 changed everything for Tommy Craig and Rangers, but he remained in post for four years under new boss John Greig, during which time two Scottish cups and two league cups were won.

Significantly, many players to this day rate Tommy Craig as the finest physiotherapist they have ever worked under and he had also gained coaching badges in Scotland and England. However, there was a parting of the ways in 1982 following a fall-out with Greig, although he continued to support the club in the years that followed.

He thereafter concentrated on setting up his own private practice in the south side of Glasgow and was widely respected throughout the profession.

An associate member of the Royal Society Of Medicine, a council member of the British Association of Sports Medicine and a member of the Royal Philosophical Society, he was a keen advocate of 'positive energy'.

He died on June 18 in the Golden Jubilee Hospital, Clydebank, following a heart attack and is survived by his wife Marjorie, son Scott, daughter Tracy and grandchildren Lauren, Max, Sarah and Sam.

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