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Hall of Fame - John McHugh

John McHugh

For many boys in the late fifties or early sixties football was a significant part of their life and it was no different for John McHugh. John was playing for his school team - St Mungo's Academy - where he was selected for Glasgow Schools to play Ayrshire Schools, and was also playing with Brunswick Boys Club, where he played right half to Harry Hood's inside right.

His potential was spotted by junior club Dennistoun Waverley, thus John soon moved into the Junior ranks, but it was only for a handful of games until he signed for Clyde in early September 1961.

John, generally described as a hard, determined player, an excellent tackler, but with skill and intelligence to back that strength and determination, had to wait until January 1962 to make his debut. It was a successful one, with Clyde winning 4-1 through at Stenhousemuir, however John dropped out the team for a few games, then came back into the team towards the end of the season. On the 21st of April John grabbed his first goal for the club against East Stirling at Firs Park, then a few days later he played as Clyde beat Queen of the South 1-0 to clinch the Second Division Championship. The significant downside was that John hadn 't played enough games to justify being awarded a medal.

The following season, 62/63, Clyde's return to First Division football turned sour and immediate relegation followed. Back in the Second Division, John, by now an integral part of the team, played enough games to justify receipt of a runners-up medal, and contributed a healthy seven goals as we headed back upstairs again.

The following three seasons or so saw Clyde establish themselves as a First Division team, and John establish himself as a significant player for The Bully Wee. In May 1966 John was named in the Scotland squad for a friendly against the Netherlands, but wasn 't picked to play, then in June 1966, he was again named in the Scotland squad, this time for a double-header against 1966 World Cup teams Portugal and Brazil. Unfortunately, John's commitment to his education meant he couldn 't join the squad for the first two or three days of training, and as such he wasn 't in either of the teams that took to the park for those days.

John McHugh

However, a few months later John did receive representative recognition when he was picked for the Glasgow Select to play Leeds United in the pre-season Charity Cup match at Hampden. John, one of only two players in the Glasgow Select not playing for Rangers or Celtic, found himself up against the likes of Jack Charlton, Johnny Giles, Billy Bremner, Eddie Gray and Peter Lorimer in a match that finished 1-1 after the Glasgow Select had taken the lead.

That representative match was the prelude to one of the most successful seasons ever for the Bully Wee, season 66/67, and John only missed two games all season. The entire squad from that season, including John, are already in the club's Hall of Fame and were the subject of the book 'Unsung Heroes' by Gordon Sydney. To briefly summarise, Clyde finished third in Scotland, just behind Rangers, who were runners-up in the European Cup Winners Cup final, and Celtic, who went on to win the European Cup a few weeks after Clyde had taken them to a replay in the Scottish Cup semi-final. Clyde's exploits also meant they technically qualified for the Fairs Cup, but unfortunately that was to be denied when the “one city, one club” rule was invoked.

Season 68/69 saw Clyde reach the League Cup semi-final, but again Celtic proved just too strong, inflicting a narrow single goal defeat on The Bully Wee, whilst at the end of that season Clyde, including John, undertook a successful tour of Rhodesia.

However, towards the end of the Sixties and start of the Seventies, Clyde's fortunes were on the wane, and relegation at the end of season 71/72 put Clyde back in Division Two.

The start of 72/73 saw John, along with other senior players Jimmy Burns, Billy Hulston and John Flanagan, in a contractual dispute with the club. By the time it was settled, manager Archie Robertson had firmly implemented his youth policy, and John found it hard to get back into the team and retain his place. As it transpired, Clyde won the Second Division that season, with John having played just nine games. Thus, in a disappointing historical repeat of season 61/62, John was once again in the position of not having played enough games to justify a Second Division Champions medal.

John McHugh

The following season, 73/74, with Clyde back in the First Division and now under Stan Anderson's management, John was firmly back in the first team, playing a very noteworthy 41 games. By the end of the following season though, John had played his last game in Bully Wee colours, and was off to Forfar Athletic for a couple of seasons, where he logged 75 appearances and 1 goal.

For Clyde, John played a grand total of 460 competitive first team matches over those fourteen seasons he spent with the club. He had two seasons where he was ever-present (65/66 and 68/69), and that would have been three had he not missed one game in season 64/65 through a suspension for being ordered off up at Dundee, the only time John was ordered off in his entire career.

The Statistics

Season Appearances Season Appearances
1961/62 8 1968/69 48
1962/63 22 1969/70 35
1963/64 37 1970/71 41
1964/65 51 1971/72 36
1965/66 42 1972/73 9
1966/67 48 1973/74 41
1967/68 39 1974/75 3

John's 460 appearances are enough to see him in fourth place in the list of Clyde's all-time top appearances Chart, just behind Harry Haddock (531 appearances), Brian Ahern (514 appearances) and Tommy McCulloch (512 appearances).

Those 460 appearances that John made represent 80% of all Clyde's competitive matches over the period from his debut to his final game.

Similarly, his 14 years at the club currently place John in fourth place in terms of length of service to the club.

Many of John's appearances were as club captain, however club records are incomplete so a figure can 't be put on that statistic as it stands.

From that excellent total of 460 matches John contributed 20 goals.

His range of scoring was wide and varied, as the selection below illustrates…

  • a speculative lob against East Stirling to open his scoring account for The Bully Wee
  • In a League Cup against St Johnstone at Shawfield in August 1962 John was injured, and found himself playing out on the wing. Despite that handicap, John still managed to contribute two almost-identical goals, coming in from the wing to beat the keeper
  • Playing Hearts at Tynecastle in October 1967 witnessed John score possibly his greatest goal; From a Clyde free-kick into the Hearts penalty box was headed clear, but only as far as John, whereupon he struck it first time into the roof of the net
  • Five years later, in February 1972, John ran fifteen yards to send a diving header into the net in a match against Ayr United at Shawfield.

Incidentally, in a match against Hibs in December 1970 John saw Hibs keeper Baines off his line, and shot from within the centre circle. Had it gone in, and not crashed back into play off the crossbar, this would have certainly rivalled John's goal against Hearts as his best ever goal.

Finally, with crowd figures available for 455 of John's 460 matches, an incredible 2,631,818 people saw John play senior football with Clyde – this equates to an average of 5,784 people at every game John played!

John, of course, is already in the Hall of Fame due to his part in the club's successful 66/67 season squad, however his well-merited entry into the Hall of Fame in his own right makes him only the second player after Harry Hood to achieve a dual-entry into this prestigious group.

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