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John Watson

Everyone at the club was saddened to learn of the passing of John Watson on Wednesday.

John was more than Clyde’s physio over a period spanning four decades; he was an institution around the club. Since news of his passing, the tributes have poured in from a host of former players and colleagues.

John joined the club in 1973, taking his place in the Shawfield dugout for the first time for the home match against Hamilton Accies in March.

He had arrived at the club just in time to celebrate a Championship win, as the Second Division title was only a month away. This success was to be repeated on another four occasions during John’s time, with seasons 77-78, 81-82, 92-93 and 99-00 all providing trophies for The Bully Wee.

In September 2001, a league match against Ayr United at Somerset Park saw John in the Clyde dugout for the very last time, a journey incorporating 1,264 matches, eight managers – and quite a few caretakers – over just under thirty years. Along the way, Clyde used 331 players, many of whom would have been treated by John on the famous ‘treatment table’.

One of those eight managers, Craig Brown, said John was “excellent at his job, a very well respected physiotherapist, not only at Clyde but throughout Scottish football, and was also Scotland Under-21 physio for a spell as well.” Craig also told the story that, when he took over at Clyde, his predecessor Billy McNeill advised him to “keep hold of John Watson… you’ve got the best physio in Scotland there.”

Robert Thorburn, who was Craig’s assistant for quite a few years, including the 81-82 Championship-winning season said: “If John said you weren’t fit, then you didn’t play. Equally if he thought you were overacting with an injury, he told you to get out and play! He was a real character and everyone was aware that he knew his stuff. He was also a very likeable wee guy with a wicked smile when appropriate!”

As mentioned by his former boss Craig Brown, John also gained international recognition when he was appointed physio to some of Scotland’s talented youth teams, in a career that spanned two decades with the national squads.

Craig and Neil Hood both tell the story of the player – later confirmed as John Brogan – who went in to see John to ask for a new shoelace. John asks the player ‘is it a right lace or left lace?’. The story from here on is of course significantly embellished, as you would expect, but it is a testament to John’s sense of humour and could easily have happened if the player hadn’t been so astute… it continues that the player replied ‘it’s a right lace’. ‘Oh,’ said John, ‘I only have left laces – you’ll just need to make do!’

Keith Knox also recalled some of his memories: “During the warm-up you would frequently hear the shout from the tunnel, ‘Get your socks up’… and God help you if you were chewing gum!”

Paul Ronald added: “I’m really sad to hear this news. John was a ray of light and was a constant in keeping us all upbeat when injured. I remember spending months with him on my injuries, isolated day-on-day, with him nagging me to keep going, over at the OKI building in Cumbernauld which we used for a number of years before Broadwood was completed.  I think I would have gone crazy if it wasn’t for him constantly in my ear and keeping me upbeat.

“Every time I met him after my Clyde years he was always the same and had a constant supply of sweets in his pocket to offer. One of the real football guys, who made me smile by just seeing him.”

The condolences from everyone at Clyde FC go out to John’s wife Agnes and the rest of his family at this sad and difficult time.

A fuller celebration of his life with the club, containing many, many more tributes from players and colleagues will appear in the next edition of the club’s matchday programme, The Clyde View.

The family have also advised that, when circumstance again allow, they plan to hold a memorial service for John which they are keen for everyone connected with Clyde to be involved in.