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PersonalFullname: John Clark
aka: "The Brush", "Luggie"
Born: 13 March 1941
Birthplace: Larkhall, Lanarkshire
Position: Defender, Sweeper (hence "The Brush" nickname)
Signed: 8 October 1958
Left (as player): 12 June 1971 to Morton
First game: Arbroath away 5-0 league 3 October 1959
Last game: Clyde home 6-1 league 1 May 1971
First goal: Hibernian away 1-0 Scottish cup replay 15 March 1961
Last goal: Hamilton Academicals away 4-2 League cup 25 September 1968
International Caps: 4 Caps
International Goals: 0
BiogJohn Clark is a member of the glorious Lisbon Lions who won the European Cup back in 1967 and has one of the longest records of anyone with first team involvement with Celtic in playing and coaching.
At seventeen, John Clark was approached by Celtic to sign him as a player. “I was fortunate enough that Celtic approached me to sign for the club. I was seventeen at the time and I felt as though I had won the pools!”. It was to be even greater than that.
He is perhaps the most undervalued player among the Lisbon Lions team by observors, but his subtle sweeping up in the half-back position beside Billy McNeill was integral to their success. Many people say that it was John Clark who made Billy McNeill the great player he was on the pitch, although fairer to say that each complimented each other.
He played for Larkhall Thistle before moving to Parkhead in 1958. The early years of Clark's playing career as a wing-half showed few signs of his later glory. He first attracted attention after scoring the only goal on his debut in a Cup tie replay against Hibernian in 1961 where he deputised for the injured Celtic Captain Bertie Peacock. Sadly the injury took it's toll and Bertie didn't play for Celtic again. John's performance won him a place in the Cup Final but the task of taking over from the great Bertie Peacock was a hard one for any player, and it wasn't at all easy for John, especially as Celtic were mostly woeful for much of the time in his early years at Celtic.
It was the arrival of Jock Stein at Celtic Park that marked the transformation for John's career. Stein employed him as sweeper behind Billy McNeill and he never looked back. Clark was a quiet, down-to-earth character and his cool head was one of his best attributes. He used to read the game very well. A defender through and through, some even joked that he needed a map any time he crossed the half-way line. His role as Celtic's sweeper earned him the nickname "The Brush"!
If ever anyone wanted evidence of his commitment to the first team and his desire to see the club turnaround, then they only need look to the glorious Scottish Cup final v Dunfermline in 1965. This match saw the club win some silverware for the first time since 1957, but it was the performances and effort that showed a marked change in the players' outlook. John Clark received a nasty facial knock after 50 minutes that would undoubtedly have forced him off the park in today's football, he soldiered on. Celebration pictures from the day show his jersey saturated in blood. He literally bled for the cause you could say.
HeFrom there on in, it was onwards and upwards for John. The quadruple in 1967 was the high-mark for John, but he also played an important role in the European Cup final in 1967,final, a day not to forget for anyone. Not an easy task to play Inter Milan at that point, and it was likely a lesson on defence from the masters in the opposition for Clark as much as anything else. We won and he got to get his hands on the trophy.
Funnily despite correctly having the persona of a good gentleman, possibly one of his most celebrated moments was from the despicable World Club Championship match play-off against Racing Club. After sending offs and complete commotions, with the referee totally out of his depth to control the match, one of the Racing Club players decided to try to take John Clark on, and in retaliation John Clark raised his dukes to the guy who simply scarpered off quick time. Admittedly he got a bit fed up of it being brought up by so many in conversation with him as it's not his usual character, but due to the events of that day, we all supportstill privately admire him for that moment and love him even more for it!
John Clark had it particularly difficult to keep his place with young whipper snappers from the "Quality Street Gang" behind him. He lost his regular place to Jim Brogan in 1968 (the first of the Lisbon Lions to do so) and with the other competition he was pushed down in the pecking order but was still a valued member of the first team squad until his departure in 1971.
In the summer of 1971 Clark left Celtic for Morton with team-mate Stevie Chalmers, where he retired two years later. He played in the Scottish League twice and won four caps for Scotland which included a memorable game against Pele's Brazil at Hampden in 1966. In 1973 Jock Stein tried unsuccessfully to bring him back as a player but Morton chairman Hal Stewart was looking for a fee which was totally unreasonable given he had signed John for free. In the summer of 1973 John returned to Celtic as a coach where he assisted with the youths and reserves. He then teamed up with McNeill as his assistant manager at Aberdeen and Celtic, reflecting the respect and due that McNeill had for Clark for their time playing together.
Clark enjoyed a managerial career with Cowdenbeath, Stranraer and Clyde in the 1980s and early 90s. Since then he has been a kit-man for the first team and has been a very popular member of the Celtic backroom team. He worked alongside Martin O'Neill and one of the manager's main requests was for John to tell old tales about the Lisbon Lions and in particular about Jimmy 'Jinky' Johnstone.
Only Willie Maley has given more years to Celtic in terms of "length of service". A truly remarkable Celtic Man whom more should recognise for all the time and effort he has put into the club without asking for anything in return.
Outwith of Scotland, his talent didn't get unnoticed either. A fine debut performance for Scotland v Brazil in 1966 left a good impression on one of the opposition, so much so that on bumping into John Clark again a few years later, the player recognised him at once. The Brazilian player in question? None other than Pele!
His son Martin also became a professional footballer, with Clyde, Nottingham Forest and Partick Thistle in the 1990s.
| APPEARANCES ||LEAGUE||SCOTTISH CUP||LEAGUE CUP||EUROPE||TOTAL|
Honours with CelticEuropean Cup
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Quotes"Celtic has been my life and I have worked here in every decade over 50 years, around 37 years in total. It meant a great deal to me as a youngster, because you can only thrive if you are a Celtic supporter, who gets the opportunity to play for the club, it’s every supporter’s ambition. I am just so fortunate that I have had the opportunity to play and work here, but I never thought that I would I enjoy such a long association with the club and could never have imagined, when I signed, the success we would have under such a great manager as Jock Stein. He pushed us to be the best we could be and drove us to the greatest honour that any club can win. It’s been a major part of my life and as I said, I always attach that word ‘luck’ to me and Celtic."
John Clark (2008)
"John Clark was always there when you needed him. He read the game very, very well and, like all the guys in that defence, was calm and collected."
Jim Craig on John Clark
"It wasn’t a game of football, it was horrible. I must say that I am fed up looking at footage of me in that John L Sullivan pose, boxing. You would have thought there was another clip of me in action, but it seems to me that you guys in the media department like that one! Looking back to that moment, the guy ran away and I never saw him again. In fact, I couldn’t see him for dust!"
John Clark on the Racing Club v Celtic World Championship match (2009)
AnecdotesJock Stein and John Clark - The Morton Signing On Fee.
When Lisbon Lion John Clark left Celtic to play out his final footballing years with Morton it was agreed that John would receive a small signing on fee from Morton as a thank you for his services to Celtic.
Hal Stewart the then Morton Chairman reneged on this agreement and Morton wouldn't pay John the agreed sum.
Eventually Jock Stein got wind of this and was far from happy about the treatment of one of his players. When Morton drew Celtic in a Cup game at Celtic Park as was the way for Cup games in those days the gate receipts were halved and Jock utilised this opportunity to sort out matters.Jock arranged that John Clark's signing on fee be deducted from Morton's share of the gate and John was subsequently paid the money he was due by Morton albeit it came from Celtic
Hal Stewart could do nothing about it and had to accept that Jock had put him in his place and got one over on him..
They didn't come much shrewder than Jock Stein and his morals and deep seated Lanarkshire mining roots ensured that he was looking after one of his own.
John Clark's Golden Years at CelticSource: Celticfc.net
By: Mark Henderson on 22 Mar, 2011 11:01
IT was on a Thursday night, October 1958 that John Clark’s connection with Celtic began. Deep inside the bowels of Celtic Park, between the boot room and the green room, the lifelong Hoops supporter signed for the club in the company of then reserve coach, Jock Stein.
Since that moment, Clark has spent the greater part of 53 years in the service of Celtic. Only the likes of Willie Maley can boast a longer association with the club.
During a success-laden 13 years as a player, he made over 300 appearances for the Hoops. And his partnership with Billy McNeill in central-defence was the cornerstone of the greatest ever Celtic side, which dominated domestic football and won the European Cup in 1967.
After calling time on his playing career, Clark returned to Celtic several times, working in nearly every backroom role, including assistant manager, coach and his current position, kitman.
This month, the Celtic great turned 70. Typically, he spent it on Celtic duty, travelling to and from the postponed match in Inverness – although he did eventually celebrate belatedly with his family.
To mark the occasion, the View sat down with the Celtic great at Lennoxtown for an exclusive interview, reflecting on some of his many highlights as a player and on the backroom staff.
You signed for Celtic in 1958 and have retained a connection with the club for the best part of 50 years as a player, coach, assistant manager and now kitman. Does that make you feel proud?
It turned out to be a good day but I never imagined I would still be here. Football is not the most secure job, as you could be good but people might not fancy you as a player and you could move on. Still, being here at this time in your life makes you feel very grateful and I am still fortunate that I am still able to do a job.
Celtic have been a huge part of your life for so many years. What does the club mean to you?
It’s printed all over my forehead here and down my back! I have had a great association with the club and been very fortunate that I have had good career in football and good relationships with people among the different jobs at the club. It’s a difficult one to answer. I think I have done every job at the club except manager: groundstaff, coaching, assistant manager and now kitman. I have had a great career. My life revolves around Celtic. Let’s say the two of us go together. The club has been brilliant to me but I think I have given a lot back to the club as well.
What was your earliest memory of watching Celtic?
The first major game I first saw Celtic was against Clyde at Hampden in the Scottish Cup final in 1955 - and Celtic lost the replay. When I left school, the first game I can always remember was Celtic against Manchester United at Celtic Park. It took place in the afternoon because it was in our pre-floodlight days . I had just got a job, I can’t remember what it was, and it was my first day at work and I asked if I could get away early. Luckily the guy was a Celtic supporter and let me away, as you wouldn’t get many people letting you away on your first day in the job. So I managed to go and watch the Busby Babes. And the year before I signed for Celtic I was on the Hampden terracing for the 7-1 game. Those are the games that stick out.
Do you still remember the day you joined your boyhood heroes from Larkhall Thistle? How did you feel?
Although Jimmy McGory was the manager, it was Jock Stein who gave me the form to sign. The places at Celtic Park are still the same. I signed it on a Thursday night standing at the door where the green room goes into the boot room. There was no-one with me so I just signed the form on my own. And every time I walk in there, I can say well that’s where it happened.
With the team battling silverware at present, are you looking forward to the final few months of the season?
I think we have a demanding finish to the end of the season and it’s just a case of being careful and staying focused on what we are doing and making sure we are ready for it. We have players now that have made the team good to watch. There is great atmosphere coming back into the terracing which is important as the support are a massive part of the club.
THE CELTIC LEGEND OF JOHN ‘THE BRUSH' CLARK
By David Potter (from KeepTheFaith website)
By David W Potter
John Clark is a grotesquely underestimated figure in Celtic's history. Of all the Lisbon Lions, he is probably the one whom we would come up with last, a good deal below Johnstone and Murdoch, for example, and he certainly was the first to lose his place (in 1968 to the excellent Jim Brogan) after the triumph in Lisbon . Yet those of us who saw John Clark in action saw a master craftsman, and we would certainly never underestimate his value.
So much of the "underestimation" of John comes from his reserved and non-flamboyant nature (he was the very antithesis, for example, of Tommy Gemmell or Jimmy Johnstone or Bertie Auld) and his very position in the team where he was the sweeper-up (hence his nickname, "John The Brush"). Sweepers tend to be quiet and unobtrusive, and in such a fine team as Celtic were in those days, it was very easy for spectators to sing how dominant McNeill was in the air and on the ground and to forget that Billy's rare mistakes were often covered for by "The Quiet Man".
It is less easy to explain why he was sometimes called "Luggy".
John was born in 1941 in Chapelhall and joined Celtic in October 1958 as a "Kelly Kid". He made his first team debut at Arbroath about a year later in October 1959 when Bertie Peacock was away playing for Ireland . He impressed that day as Celtic won very comfortably, 5-0. It was not until spring 1961 however that he began to push his way into the first team, replacing the ageing Peacock. In a tense Scottish Cup Quarter Final replay, John scored the extra time winner for Celtic against Hibs at Easter Road (one of only three goals he scored in 318 appearances for the Club!) and as a result he was preferred (perhaps unwisely) to Peacock in the disastrous Scottish Cup Final and Replay against Jock Stein's Dunfermline of that year.
From 1961 until the arrival of Stein, Clark played sporadically for Celtic, often out of position on the right side of the park, but more often one of the few signs of stability in an otherwise chaotic set up. He was out of favour in 1963 and thus missed the horrors of the Rangers Cup Finals of that year, but 1963-64 saw him coming into his own, although quite clearly on the wrong side of the Clark, McNeill and Kennedy half back line.
Like with many other players, the arrival of Stein in January 1965 was the moment Clark 's career took off. The team began to evolve to 4-2-4 from 2-3-5 and the defence became a "flat back four" of Craig, McNeill, Clark and Gemmell. In this role Clark was superb, always on hand, always there to help out, occasionally being seen to calm things down when Billy McNeill got a little flustered, and generally playing his part in the greatest football team that Scottish football has ever seen. Apart from his Lisbon heroics, he won Scottish League medals in 1966, 1967 and 1968, Scottish Cup medals in 1965 and 1967 and League Cup medals in 1965-6,1966-7,1967-8 and 1968-9.
Even when he had lost his place in the team, John Clark was never far away from the action - either on the bench or simply with the squad, talking to everyone, geeing them up and impressing everyone with his vast knowledge of European and world football. Stein was not unashamed to pick the brains of John Clark when research was necessary on some European opponent.
He won 4 International caps for Scotland , one of them against Brazil in 1966, and never played badly for his country.
In 1971, John Clark moved to Morton where he finished his playing career. He became a coach for Celtic in 1973, then when Billy McNeill became Manager of Aberdeen in 1977, Billy took John there as his Assistant before the irresistible call came for that management team from Celtic Park the following year.
John is thus rightly considered to be a part of the 1979 4-2 League win over Rangers and the development of talent like Charlie Nicholas and Tommy Burns. He has also been Manager of Cowdenbeath, Stranraer and Clyde , but perhaps he lacked the flair and charisma to be a Manager.
In recent years, he has been the Kit Manager at Celtic, a job that he seems very happy with. He is after all working for the Club that he loves and the Club that means so much to him, and in whose history he played such a glorious part.