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Past Masters #2 – Neil Hood

Neil Hood was the popular choice on the Message Boards for the second of the website’s re-published “Past Masters” series, by Clyde View contributor Paul Pettigrew.

The following interview was done a couple of years ago, but still provides excellent reading for Bully Wee fans, many of whom regard Neil as their favourite Clyde player ever…

#2 – Neil Hood (1970s/80s)

Can you give a potted history of your career with dates? – I joined Ayr United in 1968 and scored 16 goals for them before moving to Palmerston in 1970. I stayed a season there, getting 19 goals before joining Hamilton Accies where I stayed until 1975 grabbing 54 goals. I then joined Clyde for my first spell with the club, leaving in 1980 and having scored 73 goals for the club. I had one year as player/manager of Stranraer where my tally was 11 goals and I then came back to Clyde at Craig Brown’s request the following season, mainly to gee up big Danny Masterton, and I got another three goals to finish my career.

What are you doing now? – I am the Senior Customer Services Officer with Glacier Vandervell, a motor components company, in Kilmarnock. I am enjoying life greatly with my wife Gina, and I play quite a lot of golf, which keeps up my competitive spirit and every now and then taxes my otherwise serene temperament!

What was the highlight of your career with the Bully Wee? – Without a doubt winning the Second Division title in 1977/78. This was only bettered by the night we had afterwards at the Supporters’ Club in Rutherglen, partly financed by Craig Brown’s kitty! Only to be bettered by the party at John Arrol’s house after that! But seriously, we had a superb side that season and great team spirit, and most people will say that this was the best Clyde team since the 60’s

And the worst moment? – Being relegated in 1979. I put that down personally to the fact that team spirit suffered from the introduction of a reserve side – that just diluted the camaraderie we had previously enjoyed, and unsettled the team. Perhaps also there were also one or two bigheads around who thought they only had to turn up to win. And football, as you know, isn’t like that!

Any ambitions unrealised? – Not really. I am Clyde through and through as everyone knows. I wish I had been faster, because that shortcoming prevented me from getting to top level. Alex Ferguson tried to sign me for St. Mirren, but Clyde turned down Fergie’s offer and Saints signed Jimmy Bone instead! I suppose you wonder what might have been, but no, within my limitations I enjoyed a fantastic career and managed a good few goals for the Bully Wee. I am very proud of my goal-scoring record – and Joe Ward’s too!

Any personal regrets? – Leaving Clyde to join Stranraer. Maybe if I had stayed I might have got Rab Thorburn’s job as coach, and perhaps even gone on to manage the club. But you can’t wonder about what might have been. I’ve been more than happy with my achievements in the game.

Who was the best player you played with at Clyde, and why? – There were lots. But Dom Sullivan for me had everything, and he was also a Clyde man through and through. He also helped me a lot when I first joined the club, as I had known him before I came to Shawfield. Pat Nevin and Tommy McQueen were obviously excellent players as well and have deserved all the success they subsequently achieved.

Do you still look out for the Clyde result on Saturdays, or perhaps even come to watch our games? – Yes, I always look out for Clyde’s result, and come to games occasionally. It was nice to be introduced to the fans again prior to the game with Arbroath at Broadwood where my presence obviously inspired the lads to a resounding victory! But to be honest, I will always associate Clyde with Shawfield, and I used to see the team there a lot after I retired.

Would you rather be playing today compared to your day and why? – No. When I played it was for the jersey. I always played to win, to enjoy myself and to give 110%. I wasn’t playing for the money, I can assure you. All I wanted was not to be paid less than anyone else at the club and I was always assured that was the case. In any event, I would have been sent off in every game nowadays!

Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates, and if so, who? – John Brogan is a very close and dear friend, and I sometimes see David Rae, Joe Ward and Greg ‘Benny’ Young.

X-Files: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us? – My first sport was Australian Rules Football when I was a young lad in Australia, and when my family returned to Scotland I played in goal for Ayrshire Schools, so I was a comparatively late starter in an outfield position. There are some, of course, who say my style of play owed more to Australian Rules than Craig Brown’s coaching!

What was the funniest incident you experienced with Clyde? – I was up against a big centre-half called Brown, I think, who played for Alloa, and he’d kicked me up and down the park for 80 minutes. We called him Gigantor – he was 6′ 4″ with no neck. Anyway, I got my opportunity to catch him and he went down like a squealing pig and I’ll never forget his poetic refrain: “I’m gonna crush you like a ******* nut!” Luckily I managed to stay out of his way for the last 10 minutes while he limped after me in a blind rage!

Which former team-mate was the funniest or oddest character and why? – Jim Boyd was a great guy but he had to take the biscuit for sheer stupidity and he was always getting stick from Craig Brown for doing and saying really daft things, Allan Swan was the consummate joke-teller in the dressing room, and Peter Boyle was the resident Psycho, a real Jekyll and Hyde character who changed into a beast on the park, but was a lamb off it! A very weird guy. And, of course, Danny Masterton, who is still a legend in Muirkirk, was just a loveable rogue, a gentle giant who looked fearsome, but was quiet off the pitch.

Anything you want to say that I haven’t asked? – Only to say that I loved my two spells with Clyde and to have been part of two Championship-winning sides. Not many Clyde players can say that! But it wasn’t just the success I achieved; it was more the happiness and comradeship at the club, and the friendliness of all the staff which exists to this day. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Which former star would you like to read about next? Next time, we’ll be revealing all about a player from the 90s, so head over to the Message Boards and make a suggestion!

Thanks to Paul Pettigrew for his co-operation.