AS far as Scottish football’s gargantuan characters go, it’d take a photo finish to decide who’d come out on top between David Martindale and Dick Campbell. Both are larger than life, both share a passion for raising a sum ahead of its parts, and both possess much more tactical nous than their caricatures would have you believe. 

Be it at Livingston or Arbroath, they’ve made a habit of getting the best out of players, too. Whether it’s Max Stryjek at the former or the latter’s Michael McKenna, they don’t so much as instill confidence in players as make them believe their agents let them down by not securing a January transfer to Real Madrid. 

That’s certainly how Joel Nouble sees it. The striker, who has excelled during a loan spell with the shock Championship leaders, will trade Campbell for Martindale when he returns to parent club Livingston this week but he goes back to West Lothian a vastly improved player than the one the Lions took a punt on in the summer. 

HeraldScotland: David Martindale of Livingston David Martindale of Livingston

“He’s been unbelievable for me,” the 25-year-old said of the influence of Campbell. “At my very first training session he said to me: ‘I’m not going to tell you how to play football. All I require from my forwards is that you can hold the ball up and get us up the pitch – as for the rest, just do what you want’. 

“I was like ‘Wow!’ How often do you hear a manager say something like that? He’s a legend in the game so I thought he might be stricter with me but he’s given me the freedom to express myself during games.

“That’s got the best out of me because I’m probably not the most traditional big No.9 – I’m quite comfortable having the ball played to my feet. The gaffer just told me to do whatever I want in the final third and that’s just amazing.” 

Campbell’s ploy has certainly worked. While on paper his five goal return looks only okay that doesn’t tell the full picture. In every game, with his poise and his cunning, he was a menace, turning defenders inside and out with his long, distinctive strides. 

HeraldScotland: Dick Campbell Dick Campbell

Even in his final game on Saturday - a disappointing 1-0 loss away to Ayr United which could see Arbroath lose top spot if games in hand go against them - he was his team’s best player. 

It’s no wonder there’s a rumour going that more kids opened up presents with his name on the back of their new football shirts than a certain Ballon d’Or winner. 

“I’d like to thank the supporters for the backing they gave me,” the former Aldershot Town forward said. “The togetherness is just crazy – they chant my name, which is unusual because I’m not Lionel Messi.

“I’m looking forward to going back to Livingston but I loved my time with Arbroath. I’ve told the boys that I want to come back at the end of the season to collect my medal when they win the title.” 

HeraldScotland: James Maxwell's performances have been attracting interest from a host of clubs James Maxwell's performances have been attracting interest from a host of clubs

One man’s whose future remains a little uncertain is Ayr’s Rangers loanee James Maxwell. The talented 20-year-old, who had a hand in the winning goal in Lee Bullen’s first game in charge at the weekend, is said to be interesting every club in the Championship, as well as others in the Premiership and even some down south. 

It’s easy to see why but the full back-cum-winger insists he is more than happy to see out his time at Somerset Park. 

“There are a lot of reports,” he said. “Over the years some are true and some aren’t. I am happy playing here and unless there was something I really wanted to jump at and do I can see myself staying here.”