Wednesday 3 April 2013

An appreciation of Billy Reid

Billy Reid first came to Hamilton Accies, from Clyde FC, as a player in 1991.  Along with Gary Clark, who arrived at the same time, his transfer was part of the deal whereby Clyde became tenants of Old Douglas Park for two seasons.  A bustling, box-to-box midfielder, his industry quickly made him a fans’ favourite, and he formed a good understanding with George McCluskey at the apex of Accies’ attacking formation, rushing up to augment the strike force when Accies pressed forward.  He made 102 appearances, scored 7 goals, and was part of the team that won the Challenge Cup in 1991/92, beating Ayr United 1-0 at Fir Park.  He left in 1994 to join Stirling Albion, and Accies fans probably thought we had seen the last of him.

He returned in 2005 as manager, and went on to become the longest serving manager in Scottish football in the twenty first century, and the most successful Accies manager since the 1930s.

In almost eight full seasons in charge, he finished third, fourth and first in the SFL First Division, then ninth, seventh and twelfth in the SPL, and fourth in the First Division, prior to this season (incomplete).  He also reached two Challenge Cup finals and three Scottish Cup quarter finals, achievements that eluded all his predecessors, for 20 years in the case of the Challenge Cup, and for nearly 80 years in the case of the Scottish Cup.

He introduced a crop of young talent to the Accies first team, including the so-called “three diamonds” of James McArthur, James McCarthy and Brian Easton, who all starred in Accies most successful post-War side before signing deals to join Premiership clubs.  His other signings included long-serving captain Alex Neil, the flamboyant Paixao twins, Marco and Flavio, Simon Mensing and Dougie Imrie.

Highlights of Billy’s time as manager include:

·        a fightback to beat Clyde 3-2, after being 2-0 down at Broadwood in January 2008,a key moment in the title-winning season
·        a 5-0 demolition of Dunfermline at East End Park, also in 2008
·        a 1-0 crunch win over Dundee at NDP the same season
·        a 2-0 league cup win over Kilmarnock at NDP the same season
·        a 3-1 win over Dundee United in our debut SPL game, before a live TV audience
·        back-to-back wins over Hibs, 4-1, and Kilmarnock, 3-0, en route to a seventh place finish in the SPL in 2010
·        historic wins over Aberdeen and Hearts, and draws with both Celtic and Rangers

In his last couple of seasons Billy suffered criticism from a section of the Accies support, who had perhaps grown accustomed to unprecedented success, but continued to play the game the way he believes it should be played, keeping possession with patient passing football.  Hopefully even his sternest critics will recognise that he leaves Accies much stronger than he found us, and with a legacy that will be very hard for any other manager to follow.
I'm sure he leaves with the good wishes of the overwhelming majority of Accies fans.


  1. I should have added something about his incredible work ethic. Everyone who has ever worked with Billy Reid has been full of praise for his commitment, and the number of games he watches, including youth games at all levels. Under Billy's watch, no young prospect was ever overlooked.

  2. I can only echo Ken's post above. BR has presided over a wonderful period in Accies history. I will remember for a long time the superb football we played in our promotion season and how Billy adapted to life in the SPL after a horrible run in autumn 2008. Accies finishing 7th in the league was a fantastic achievement and Billy's part in bringing some great players to the club will remain happy memories. His part in developing the careers of the 3 diamonds and many other young players will mark him out as a candidate for management at a higher level. Billy, you depart with my thanks and wishes of the very best of luck for the future, except, of course, when you bring your next team to NDP.

  3. Billy Reid is also the only Accies manager ever to be named Scotland's Manager of the Year - by the PFA in 2008 - and we may have a long wait until our next manager to receive such an accolade.

  4. I genuinely hope BR manages to find renewed success wherever he lands. He managed great things with the Accies, and seeing him succeed elsewhere (albeit not at our expense as a competitor) would be worthy of following in the same fashion that finds many of us cheering for Wigan and the Jameses.

  5. Interesting little article here - Billy for Leeds?