The reason for this crash course into Martindale’s past is to provide context and a moment of reflection. An important reminder of how life can change. Inspiration for anyone, no matter their standing, no matter their situation, things can get better. Dreams, even those that seem unrealistic or simply ridiculous, are attainable and the biggest of obstacles are not insurmountable.
"If you look at me, 2010 I got out of prison,” the Glen’s Premiership Manager of the Month for November said. “2022 your name is in the running for the Rangers job.”
Seconds later the 48-year-old made it abundantly clear that he was “not getting the Rangers job”. He repeated it once more just for clarity. There is certainly an argument that he could make an excellent Rangers manager and whatever he achieved in the job would likely pale in significance to the success he has already had with his journey. Someone with little to no background in professional football prior to Livingston, leading the unfashionable West Lothian outfit to fourth in the Premiership, to being even talked about as a contemporary to Bill Struth, Scot Symon and Walter Smith. "I suppose it can show how far that development, my progression, has come to even be linked to that," he said.
The bed I made and lie in
You return to Martindale's past. He is required to work harder because of it. He treats that as fact. One which he accepts, understands and agrees with. There would be many in his position who would take the view ‘I’ve done my time, isn't it time to move on from it?’ Not Martindale. He harnesses that period of his life to be a better manager. He doesn't entertain pity or pettiness over it.
"I think it is something I am going to have to live with for the rest of my life," he said. “I don't have a problem with that. I think I have been accepted in football which is fantastic, it's brilliant. The fans, the media, opposing managers, maybe opposing chairman. But when you look at it 'there's Davie Martindale there, a brilliant story but do I want Davie Martindale working for me?' That's a different question. If you were to ask it on record and to ask it off record, I think you maybe get two different answers but I'm cool with that.
“I need to work harder. I know I am not coming from a professional football background. Instead of playing 15 years at a half decent level of football, I spent a lot of those years in prison. I've got a lot of making up to do. I've got a lot of opinions to change. Hopefully I am doing that on the road, while doing that. I've not got a problem with the height of the wall I have to climb because it probably should be slightly higher than other people because I made that bed and I deserve to lie in that bed.”
£1.3m or £45m?
It's not just because of his past he needs to work harder but due to his present. Or more accurately the team he manages. "Look at Sean Dyche, I think he is one of the best managers in Britain," Martindale said. “I know other managers in England who rate him and they say how fantastic he is. But he is struggling to get a job as he was at unfashionable Burnley. I think that can go against me as well.
“Sometimes I think, would I rather have a budget of £1.3million or £45m? Of course your job is easier with a bigger budget, I don’t mean that disrespectfully. If you have £10,000 or £100,000 and then you have a race the guy with the £100,000 car should win. At Livingston we have to find solutions they probably don’t when they have bigger budgets.”
Those solutions continue to be found and that wall continues to be scaled impressively. Livi are above both Hearts and Hibs. They have developed a habit of getting the better of their Lothian rivals. They are on the coattails of Aberdeen. They are constantly competitive against the Old Firm. Martindale has evolved the team. Yes, they like to mix it. But they can play. Meanwhile, only Celtic and Rangers have conceded fewer goals this campaign, something assistant coach Marvin Bartley takes great pride in. It is, as the Livi boss is keen to point out, a collective effort.
“The award isn’t just for me it is for the entire club, the staff and the players,” he said. It’s nice to be recognised but it’s for Livingston not Davie Martindale. It shows we are doing something right though."
10 weeks, 10 months, 10 years
Yet, the question persists. What could the future hold? There has been interest from the Championship, League One and League Two in England. It is there he sees a possible opportunity rather than in Scotland. In the short term, he is excited at the prospect of another talented and big name coach arriving in Scotland to take him out of his comfort zone and continuity is massive for him. But the thought of Martindale working with a bigger budget is fascinating. “The bigger the budget the more pressure you are under," he said. “But it would be nice to feel that pressure one day, of having that budget and having that money.
He added: “I’ve not put myself out there. I don’t want to put myself out there. I’m a big believer in that if someone wants you they pick up the phone and ask for you. I’m never going to do Livingston a disservice and apply for jobs. I’ll never do that. If I’m at Livingston 10 weeks, 10 months, 10 years I’ll be more than happy.”