Stephen Mullen admits he's been touched by the outpouring of respect he has received since announcing his intention to step down from his role as St Roch's president.

Nobody wants Mullen to go but the former player admits his shelf life is at an end after three years of overseeing a remarkable resurgence at the James McGrory Stadium.

Of course, there’s a background story to be told, as you might expect from someone who has been steeped in the Juniors ever since he and four of his Scottish Under 21 Cup winning team mates, Gerry Griffin, Steff Malley, Alex Chatterton and John Main, made the step up to  Pollok in 1982 from Possil Y.M.

The 59-year-old recalled: “Tom McAllister was in charge of a very strong Pollok side back then. We boasted a central defensive pairing of Stuart Auld and Danny Scullion, John Towie and Jimmy Robertson’s bite in midfield and a prolific scoring pair of front men in Dougie Chisholm and Davie McCabe, as well as coaches Tam Young and Norrie Fulton.

“We reached the Junior Cup semi-finals only to lose out at Love Street to the eventual trophy winners East Kilbride Thistle, who were the game’s dominant force in those days, but second best was never going to be good enough for Pollok so it wasn’t long before changes were made.

“That saw Dick Brock come in as manager and he transferred myself and big Chatterton back across the city to Glasgow Perthshire.”

Mullen’s stay at Keppoch Park was abruptly cut short when a player-swap deal was brokered between then Shire gaffer Jimmy Ross and his legendary St Rochs counterpart John Docherty.

Robert Craig was exchanged for central defender Mullen however joining the Candy Rock proved to be the making of him.

He established himself as an influential figure over the next few seasons, and it was no easy task in a side containing brothers Stevie and Stan Rankin as well as renowned colourful characters Ian Currie, Joe Meringhi and Shuggy Farrell.

An unassuming Mullen admitted: “You needed to find your feet quickly in that dressing room or else!

“I have so many great memories yet what tends to be overlooked in the passage of time is those guys could all play a bit and I’ve always said a solitary Central District League title is a poor return for the team’s capabilities.

“When the break-up of that squad came, I went back amateur with Possil Villa before hanging up the boots altogether and reverting to watching  games most weeks , alternating between St Rochs and Celtic.”

Former team mate and nowadays close friend Hughie Farrell added: “Stephen was a silky type with a fondness for playing passes out of defence which was probably not the best tactic to employ at a time when the Junior game could be on the physical side .

“But any perceived under achievement in a playing sense has been more than compensated for by the amazing changes he has brought about since returning to St Rochs in a committee role.

“It’s no exaggeration to say you wouldn’t recognise the place which maybe explain why I’m so disappointed in him walking away at this juncture…. he leaves very big shoes to fill.”

Glasgow businessman Mullen joined the St Rochs committee in 2013 /14 season and since taking on the role of Club President in 2018, he has worked tirelessly to build on the groundwork of Andy Cameron in establishing the Candy Rock as integral part to the Garngad community.

He had intended to walk away after the famous old Glasgow side’s centenary celebrations last year only for Covid-19 restrictions to cause the postponement of planned events.

Team boss Paul Kelly said: “I’ve known Stephen since our schooldays at All Saints (despite him being several years ahead of me) and he was always seen as one of the good guys as well as a good football player.

“What he and Andy have achieved here in terms of giving St Rochs an identity is nothing short of remarkable and the pair of them have been integral to the club’s development in recent years.

“Stephen has also made a point of going out of his way to build a strong rapport with the players and I can say without fear of contradiction that there isn’t many WoSFL dressing rooms where the President is regarded as  a straightforward speaking, stand-up guy.

“Replacing someone of his stature will not be easy.”

Hearing this praise for his efforts from pals and colleagues alike brought Mullen to succinctly state.

He added: “It goes without saying that I wish St Rochs F.C my best wishes for its future and I hereby promise to now fulfil my most important role for the club…that of a paying customer.”