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Past Master #7 – John Brogan

With the Supporters’ Trust Centenary Team lunch fast approaching, next up in the ‘Past Masters’ series is a fans’ favourite who featured heavily in that Championship winning 1978 side – John Brogan.

The following is an interview with John conducted by Paul Pettigrew around three years ago, originally for the Clyde View…

#7 – John Brogan (1970/80s)

Can you please give a potted history of your career with dates? – I joined Everton straight from school in 1974. I had been capped at schoolboy under 15 level, and had a string of top clubs chasing me. I joined the Toffees partly because Liverpool wasn’t too far from home and partly because of Billy Bingham, the then Everton Manager, who sold the club to me very well. I was released 2 years later, which was a disappointment because I was in the Scotland Youth team at the time. I decided to return home and find security with a full time job and a part-time football career. I played for Partick Thistle for 18 months and then signed for Clyde in December 1977. I was with the Bully Wee for the next 8 years. I finished my career with two seasons at Perthshire Juniors before concentrating on my business interests.

What are you doing now? – I run my own lighting business doing retail and agency work. The company is called Luminaire. For fun I play golf and bowls – almost as passionately as I played football for Clyde!

What was the highlight of your career with the Bully Wee? – Well, I guess not many people can say they won two championships with Clyde, but I did! Those were the highlights of my career, and nothing subsequently could compare with that. The team that won the Second Division Championship in 1977/78, the club’s centenary year, was probably the more accomplished, but winning it again in 81/82 was still sweet. We all worked for one another and that was exemplified by big Neilly Hood, my pal, who was different class. Although I am a fan of Craig Brown, his one boob in my view was releasing Stan Rankine, the rock of the defence of the ’78 side. Although at the veteran stage in his career by then, I don’t think the team would have struggled so much in the First Division had he stayed. He worked his socks off for the team.

And the worst moment? – Well, being released in 1984/85 was probably the worst moment. I could have stayed to work with the Reserves, but at that stage I thought it better to have a clean break. But I will never forget the team spirit engendered by Craig Brown. That is why I am not surprised by the success he has enjoyed as Scotland Team Manager. His man-management skills were great. He never criticised you publicly and never dwelt in the past, or held grudges. He was always positive and looking to the future

Any ambitions unrealised? – Yes. Obviously as a youngster I seemed to have the world at my feet, playing for Scotland Schoolboys and Youth teams. When I went to Everton I was ambitious to go on and become a full Scotland player. But that sadly never happened. In football clubs you need a little luck to succeed, and you need to get on with all the right people, and when the First team Coach changed at Goodison my days were numbered. However I played with some great players such as John Connolly, Gordon West, Jim Pearson, Mike Lyons and Dave Clemence, and I wouldn’t have missed that for anything.

Who was the best player you played with at Clyde, and why? – That’s difficult. I don’t like picking out individuals because it is a team game and stars wouldn’t be stars were it not for the honest foot soldiers doing the hard graft. But obviously Pat Nevin was an outstanding talent-even today! I was a great fan of Big Neilly, who was my type of player-inspirational and sometimes sensational! I thought Davie Rae was a gifted left-sided player, but if I had to choose one individual it would be Gerry McCabe. He was talented, tough, and a team player who really should have played at a much higher level. It is a tragedy that he didn’t make it to the very top.

Who was your most difficult opponent and why? – I never feared any opponent. I would obviously consider the strengths and weaknesses of opponents beforehand, but no one gave me the collywobbles! Even the late great Davie Cooper of Rangers failed to embarrass me when I came up against him. I handled him in my usual committed fashion!

Do you still look out for the Clyde result on Saturdays, or perhaps even come to watch our games? – It’s always the first result I look for. I have always loved Clyde, and even used to train at Shawfield as a 14-year-old before I joined Everton. Stan Anderson wanted to sign me back then, which was the time of the likes of Dick Staite and Danny McGrain. I have always had a soft spot for Clyde and always will.

Would you rather be playing today compared to your day and why? – That’s a difficult one. I think I am happy to have played when I did. There was more team spirit back then, and less selfishness and cheating. Today it is all about fitness rather than skill. I mean average players can get to quite a high level if they are exceptionally fit these days. Having said that, however, I would have loved the facilities today such as at Broadwood. I actually played for Clyde Crocks against Dukla Pumpherston at Broadwood a few years ago and I thought the set up was brilliant.

Do you still keep in touch with any of your former teammates, and if so, who? – As I said I am a big pal of Neilly Hood, and still see Davie Rae and Brian Ahern now and again. I used to be friendly with Greg Young, but he now lives down south and I don’t see him so much now.

X-Files: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us? – Posh Spice sends me a new thong to wear every week by registered post. Don’t tell Becks