Arbroath chairman John Christison bows out after remarkable length of service

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At the end of the celebrations following Arbroath’s confirmation as League Two champions, there was a touch of sadness around Forthbank.

Club chairman John Christison had officially stepped down from the post he had held for almost 24 years.

John joined the board of directors in March 1989 and became chairman in September 1993 and was recently honoured as Scotland’s longest serving chairman, so there was a sense of melancholy to see him go - what a legacy he leaves.

In the 138 years since the club’s inception, Arbroath have won two league championships - both of them during his time as chairman.

Mr Christison is the first to say that everything the club has achieved has been a monumental team effort, and rightly so, but it’s worth nothing that it’s he himself who has put most of these pieces in place at Gayfield.

Managers like John Brownlie, Paul Sheerin, and of course Dick Campbell were all appointed by the former chairman - and he must take some credit for the achievements of those bosses.

Mr Christison spoke to HeraldSport for an emotionally charged chat about his departure from the club, his final game as chairman, and some fond memories from his incredible tenure.

John said: “The game at Forthbank was like when you go to a wedding and they say enjoy it because it passes so quickly. It all seemed to be over in a flash.

“The celebrations at the end will live very long in the memory because it was just fantastic to see all the people on the park.

“The fans have been very loyal to us for years and to win two championships in seven years has really been a dream.

“I’m delighted to win both titles as chairman but it’s always a team effort.

“The players, the board, the management, the staff, they all have to share in the credit and the glory. All credit to them.”

John said that he had high expectations for the season after appointing Dick Campbell last March, and he was over the moon to see his final manager succeed.

He continued: “I go back to the interview we had with Dick in the Apex Hotel in Dundee last March.

“He has such an infectious enthusiasm for the game and it’s tremendous. It’s all down to Dick coming on board and us being able to back him.

“We always felt that we would be up there and we said that at the start, as long as we make the play-offs we’ve got a chance to do something.

“Thankfully we didn’t need the play-offs and let’s be honest, it’s always better to win the league.”

We asked Mr Christison what memories stood out to him, outwith the two championship victories.

“I think the season that John Brownlie was the manager stands out,” he replied. “He’d kept us in the First Division and it was a phenomenal achievement.

“We were the only part-time club in the division and I think we finished above Falkirk and St Mirren. It was an absolute joy.

“The other big memory is when Steven Doris equalised at Celtic Park to bring the replay back to Gayfield. It was an unbelievable feeling.

“The hype and buzz after that game with the media coming to Gayfield was just amazing.”

John admitted that he’ll miss a great deal about his time with the club but said he’s happy to leave Arbroath in the very safe hands of new chairman Mike Caird.

He said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club, it’s been a great privilege.

“Personally I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed, supported and been loyal to me during my tenure.

“We’ve all shared some momentous times and created our own wee bit of history. I wish the club and supporters all the very best in the seasons to come.

“I’ve made some fantastic friends and I’ll miss the camaraderie. We’re all in the same boat as football clubs and the family you get involved in is such a privilege to be part of.

“Football touches so many people and not many are allowed to do what I’ve done over the last 28 years.

“I’ll miss it, there’s no question about it. But at the end of the day it’s time to move on.

“Mike Caird is taking over from me and I’m very confident that it’s a safe pair of hands.

“He’s been vice chairman for a good number of years and I wish him and his board all the best.

“I’m sure there’ll be much more success at Gayfield.”