It’s a sad time in Scottish football as the first manager in the Premiership leaves his post. It was a big shock to hear that it came at the Tony Macaroni Stadium, where it seemed like they had one of the nicest guys in football doing a great job.

It can’t just be me who is baffled – it seems a fusilli  decisions have been made in allowing Gary to leave. He obviously thought he was pasta sell-by date and made the honourable decision to walk away when things were, from the outside, looking as organised as the Tony Macaroni set menu.

I’ve no doubt I’ll be the next guy to lose his job after my terrible attempt at Italian cuisine patter but if you’re going to go out then unlike Gary I’m going out like my favourite ever Italian manager (yes I played for Paolo Di Canio) – by making an arse of myself!

Gary is one of the most educated coaches in the game with him holding every license possible but I’m sure none of them mean as much to him as his bus driver’s one. We Joke on the podcast about Gary being a bus driver due to his short sleeve shirts and immaculately folded ties. I’ve no doubt this approach to fashion along with his football knowledge will see him park his backside into a manager’s seat soon.

He’ll leave a big hole at Livingston, not only in the dug out but also in the car park where he used to park his bus for training every day.

All joking aside, I hear Gary is not only a top coach but also a top man and we can’t have guys like these out of service for too long. I’ve a lot of time for the boys at Livi as I love how most have come through the lower leagues and are a great example to the younger boys in my team of where hard work can take you.

Gary being the man he is has left quietly and gone about his business in a very respectable manner.

It’s a good way to do things – but not the only way...

Matt Ritchie had just sat down in Eddie Howe’s office ready to sign for Bournemouth when his phone rang. “RIIIIITCHIE NOOOOOOOO! DON’T DO IT!!!”

Matty usually hears this inside his head when he’s on to his third Big Mac meal of the day but this was different. Di Canio was screaming down the phone pleading with him not to sign the deal. It had been done behind his back and he told Matt he was on his way down to Bournemouth.

I’m sure it’s the quickest Matty’s moved in his career as he politely thanked the manager for everything he’d done before hanging up, putting pen to paper then bolting out the stadium before the madman could get himself down to the south coast.

The next morning we had a meeting with the manager telling us he was at war with the owners. “Last night I phone them lads, I tell them I wait at home. I’m here with a knife if you want to come round”. 

He looked and sounded like a mob boss but it was hard not to laugh as he showed us what he would do to them with a pair of the smallest shorts  you’ve ever seen and a pair of Copa Mundials. He then asked “Who is with me?” He said without him we would s*** our pants and lose this league. Before anyone could say a word he quickly looks at me. “SIMON I KNOW YOU’RE WITH ME BECAUSE I KNOW YOU’RE CLEVER AND YOU WERE FAT AND S*** BEFORE YOU MET ME”.

After I muttered that he was going to get the sack before he put me in the team I raised my hand along with 18 others as he proclaimed we were like the gladiators at the coliseum fighting the tigers and establishment. That Saturday, after working on it all week, I ran late into the box to score a tremendous left-footer as we drew 1-1 with Hartlepool in what would turn out to be his last game.

We turned up the Tuesday after for an away game with Tranmere with the news all over Sky speculating that Di Canio had left. His assistant held a meeting where he said it looked as if the gaffer wouldn’t be back but he wanted us to win this game to go top of the league and pulled me to tell me the manager wanted me to be the captain in his last game.

We won the game 3-1 to go top of League 1 with 12 games to play. It was announced after the game the gaffer and his back-room team had left and while the boys were gutted there was a feeling within the dressing room we were going to prove him wrong and win the league without him.

The next day we had to go to the stadium as there was a golf day planned but that wasn’t the best entertainment of the day. While in the office a member of staff told us there was CCTV of the gaffer breaking into the stadium after the Tranmere game! Eighteen boys clamouring around a monitor to watch the gaffer and his team ransack his office before giving the vickys to the cameras is something I’ll never forget. What a guy. We headed off to the golf day top of the league – speculating at the things he would have been saying during the raid.

“This s*** stadium with its s*** body language wouldn’t be standing without me, I’ll knock it down with my bare hands.”

We got in two days later from that golf day and my last memory is of our winger in his golf shoes singing My Way on a late Thursday night. We did do it his way and f***** it! Like most things, Di Canio was right as we blew our lead at the top finishing fourth and losing the play-off on penalties. 

Luckily we are in lockdown so the Livi boys won’t be out for two days but I just hope their season has a different outcome than mine.