PETER Houston witnessed Alex Smith’s astonishing devotion to Scottish football when the veteran returned to work at Falkirk just days after major heart surgery.
Smith’s dedication to the game was recognised when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Hampden at the weekend, along with Steve Chalmers, Jock Wallace, Gary McAllister and John Wark.
The Scottish Cup-winning former Aberdeen and St Mirren manager, who will turn 77 next month, still puts in more than a day’s shift at Falkirk, going from an advisory role at the club during the day to his ambassadorial work with the Forth Valley Football Academy in the evening.
But it was his desire to get back to work after having a pacemaker fitted two years ago that underlined his love for Scottish football.
Houston said: “It’s a fantastic award for Alex and thoroughly deserved. His enthusiasm for football has never waned, right through from working with the kids to the first-team, and that’s after decades of being involved.
“He’s a credit to himself, because he shows great passion for the game – and especially for Falkirk, because that’s his team just now, and the Forth Valley Academy.
“To be 76 and still be in every day and still involved in some way, and then going to the Academy, I don’t know when his wife Janice sees him!
“We all love to go on and on and on, but my only worry is that he tries to do too much.
“But he’s as fit as a fiddle. Even when he took not well, when he had the pacemaker fitted, it was a shock to us.
“But he didn’t let that stop him. Within eight to 10 days he was back in here. That tells you what he’s about.”
Smith joined Falkirk in 2009 as assistant to Eddie May and has held various roles within the club since then.
He is less involved now than when he would prowl the touchline giving out advice on match-day to Steven Pressley, but Houston insists he loves having the vastly-experienced septuagenarian around.
The Falkirk manager, who was at Sunday’s gala dinner along with current and previous members of the Bairns coaching staff, said: “Alex is a great listener.
“He would never interfere, he never ever tries to tell us what to do, he never tries to impose himself or his history or his career on the club.
“But he’s very quick to give you praise when you make a good decision, like a good substitution, and he’s very quick to see the positives when you’ve been beaten.
“Everything that comes from him, whether you’re winning or losing, is always very positive. He never tries to find a negative or question any decision.
“He knows the game inside out and he just loves his football.”