Arbroath: Can Dick Campbell’s high-flying part-time side really reach the top flight?

Dick Campbell has led part-time Arbroath from Scotland’s League 2 to the top of the Championship in under six years in chargeVenue: East End Park, Dunfermline Date: Sunday, 26 December Kick-off: 15:00 BSTCoverage: Live updates on BBC Sportsound and text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

When Dick Campbell took charge at Arbroath in March 2016, the Gayfield side were second-bottom of Scotland’s fourth tier.

Almost six years and two promotions later, the Scottish Championship’s only part-time club will sit top of the tree this Christmas.

Keeping the Angus outfit in the second tier for back-to-back campaigns is a remarkable achievement in itself, but last Saturday’s win over Morton – with Campbell stuck at home with Covid – saw Arbroath top the division at the halfway point.

Campbell was, at least, treated to a congratulatory phone call from long-time pal Sir Alex Ferguson.

“Alex’s changed his number, so I thought I was talking to someone else,” Campbell explained in a wonderfully unlikely appearance on BBC Radio 5 live’s Monday Night Club.

“He said: ‘Listen, son, I phoned you nearly 15 years ago when you got sacked [at Partick Thistle]. I’m phoning you now to tell you there’s nobody prouder of you than me. You keep it going, you can do it this year.’

“He told me to ‘just go for it’. So if we get beat on Sunday, it’s his fault. If we win, I’ll take all the credit. I’m going to go for it.”

‘I just want to stay in the league’

Campbell has overcome his personal battles to reach this career high, having been diagnosed with kidney cancer a decade ago – “the sorest thing” he has ever had to endure in his 68-year life.

“There are no words to describe how you and your family deal with it,” he says. “I was a big smoker at that time and I’ve never had a cigarette since. I’ve fought every day of my life against it.”

That fighting spirit is evidenced, too, in his football life, where he is assisted by twin brother Ian.

Coupled with a laidback approach in terms of what he defines as success for Arbroath, Campbell believes this is the remedy to his side’s unprecedented rise.

“Every other club in this league is full-time,” he says. “Their fans, all they want to do is see their…

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