PUT a footballing legend, Gordon Smith, as chair of an event with Si Ferry, Open Goal host, Joelle Murray, Scottish international footballer, Amy Irons, BBC sports presenter and Jacqui Low, Partick Thistle chairman, and what do you get? The second of The Herald On Sunday’s Cool Conversations – an evening of anecdotes and gags, debate around strict liability and footballer mental health, and the suggestion that what the men’s national team need is someone like women’s team head coach, Shelley Kerr.

During this night of football chat at the Edinburgh Grand, among the most entertaining tales was one told by former Rangers star, Smith, about the time he refused to swap his shirt with Mario Kempes, “the best player I ever played against”.

“Rangers were playing against Valencia,” he recalled, “and we drew. Mario Kempes came over and he wanted to swap shirts, but at Rangers we weren’t allowed to swap. If I’d swapped with him they’d have sent me down to the dressing room to get my strip back. I tried to explain to him and he threw his hand up and walked away.”

Keen to somehow orchestrate a swap, Smith went down to Greaves Sports before the second leg and bought a Rangers strip onto which he had the number 10 sewn. He recalls that on the night of the second leg, “I had it under my seat and John Greig came and he read the team out and I was number eight. I think somebody told him.”

There were tales, too, from Si Ferry, who described some of his interviewees on Open Goal, including his “favourite”, former Scotland striker Garry O’Connor. “This sums Garry up,” he said. “When we interviewed him, he’d just started his football academy. He turns up and he’s spelled his own name wrong on his tracksuit. He’s tremendous though. But we had to take about five stories out of his interview because he would be in the jail right now, if we’d kept them in. Garry O’Connor – what a guy!”

Mixed in with the yarns was serious debate on what needed to change in the game. Jacqui Low raised the subject of strict liability, and whether clubs need to be made responsible for the bad behaviour of their fans. Her solution, she suggested, was to reject the idea of strict liability and create something new.

“We go back to the drawing board,” she said, “and we actually say we want to have a voluntary code that we in football follow. Because we are grown-ups and we need to, as a sector, step up and say there are certain things which are not acceptable – which for me then says you have a sliding scale of penalty.”

It was not surprising that on a panel that included Joelle Murray, Hibernian ladies' captain and international footballer, one of the big buzz subjects was the rise of the women’s game and the World Cup qualification of the women’s national team, under head coach Shelley Kerr. Amy Irons said: “You’re finding people talking. A couple of weeks ago when the women’s team beat Brazil, I went on Twitter and people were really talking about it.”

Murray said that one of the things she would like to see was the women’s domestic game brought under the umbrella of the SFA. “At the moment it falls under SWF and the only thing that the SFA lead within the women’s game is the national team. Down south the English FA encapsulates the whole league.”

Si Ferry suggested that what the men’s game needed “to inspire a generation” was a Shelley Kerr. “That’s something that the men’s game is screaming out for – somebody with her personality, charisma and knowledge of the game. I think she’s done it with the women’s team and the men’s team needs someone like that.”

Ferry also raised the issue of the lack of support there is for players when they are released. He said: “I see guys coming from full-time football and when they’re released and need to go to part-time, they really struggle. I’ve not got any qualifications. I had to go to work at the Royal Mail on the night shift. I got on with it. I’m quite a bubbly person. But I’ve seen pals destroyed by it. Just missing that environment of what they were doing every day. There’s no help.”

Jacqui Low noted that there had been some progress at tackling mental health in football. “I think we’re getting better at it. We’re not there yet. Acknowledgement of the mental health issues is for me really important ... Whoever is playing football has to cover up how they feel and that worries me – that we have young men that are so messed up that they don’t want to play anymore.”