Club Historian Michael White paid tribute to former manager Billy Lamont following the sad news of his passing.
Billy Lamont had two spells in charge of Falkirk and will be remembered as the man who finally got the club into the Premier League after so many disappointments. He left after achieving this success, believing that the club needed a full-time manager to survive in the top league. He was to return later in his career but became the victim of regime change. Many Falkirk fans felt sympathy for him at that time, and his contribution to the club was often under-estimated.
Billy had a long career as a goalkeeper, mainly in his local Lanarkshire area. Starting out with Albion Rovers in 1958, he played for Cheltenham Town for a season in 1962/63 before coming back to play for Hamilton. He was first choice keeper for the Accies for six seasons before joining Albion Rovers again. He returned to Hamilton and started coaching, quickly showing ability in management. He moved to Firs Park and led his East Stirling side out of the bottom flight. He showed a lot of promise and joined Dumbarton in 1981 where he built the foundations of a strong Sons side, which won promotion shortly after he left in February 1984 to accept the post at Brockville.
The club was struggling at the time after the departure of Gregor Abel and finished in seventh place. Billy must have wondered if he had made the right move, as his former club Dumbarton ended the season as runners-up to Morton to gain promotion. His first full season saw the team just lose out in the promotion race by three points to Clydebank. That disappointment was soon forgotten as Falkirk ended season 1985/86 as runners-up to Hamilton and had finally reached the Premier Division. Few will ever forget the nerve-shredding moments of the clinching game on May 3rd 1986 at Brockville against East Fife. Falkirk were 2-0 up just after the hour mark, but the Fifers fought back to draw 2-2.
Life in the top division proved tough and in February 1987, Billy Lamont decided that the club needed a full-time manager and stepped aside. He recommended Dave Clarke of East Fife as his successor. He probably realised that he had taken the club as far as he could as a part-time manager and he had a good job outside of football.
His next job in management was with Partick Thistle, but he returned to Brockville in November 1989 when yet again the club was in a crisis. “The Saltcoats Incident” had dominated the back pages and Jim Duffy had resigned. Names being bandied about as Duffy’s successor included Sandy Jardine and Gordon McQueen, but it was a real surprise when Billy Lamont was appointed – especially as it was again on a part-time basis. Since his appointment in November 1989, Falkirk had only lost four games and Billy was preparing for a new season in charge. There had been some speculation over his future, especially after new owners had taken over. Billy was stunned to leave the planning meeting in April 1990 having been sacked. Few people know the background to all these events, but it was hard not to feel sympathy for Billy Lamont. “I don’t like the way it was done,” he said at the time – a masterly understatement.
In 1990 he came back to Dumbarton and took them to promotion from the Second Division as champions in 1992. His final managerial appointment was with Alloa before he retired from the game.
Billy Lamont had a long career in the game, both as a player and a manager, and his managerial achievements were impressive.
He will be fondly remembered at his many clubs and all Falkirk fans send their condolences to Billy’s family and friends.