: John Cushley Born
: 21 January 1943Died
: 23 March 2008Birthplace
: Hamilton, South LanarkshireSigned
: 7 July 1960 (from Blantyre Celtic)Left:
17 July 1967 (to West Ham)First game:
Kilmarnock 0-6 Celtic, 27 March 1963, LeagueLast game:
Celtic 2-0 Kilmarnock, 15 May 1967, LeaguePosition
: Centre-half, DefenderInternationals:
Hamilton-born John Cushley signed for Celtic from Blantyre Celtic as a 17-year-old in July 1960 after impressing as a schoolboy with Our Lady’s High School in Motherwell.
He made his first-team debut in a nightmare 6-0 league thrashing at Kilmarnock on March 27th 1963.
For most of his time at Celtic Park the centre-half was understudy to Billy McNeill – another Our Lady’s old boy - and his appearances where limited mostly to times when McNeill was injured. It says much about the quality of Cushley that he would perform this task with such assurance that often McNeill’s absence was totally painless.
Cushley combined his football with studying and earned an MA in modern languages from Glasgow University. Celtic used his skills to good advantage and Cushley was part of a party sent to Spain in 1964 in a futile bid to sign the legendary Di Stefano
One of John’s final roles with Celtic was as part of the player squad that travelled to Lisbon for the European Cup final.
In June 1967 he finally departed Celtic after 41 appearances for West Ham for £30k. Later he played for Dunfermline and appeared on Quizball for them as well!
Even without being a first team regular for any sustained period Cushley had impressed everyone at Celtic Park – including the fans – with both his performances and all round attitude and all were sorry to see him go.
Cushley later entered teaching as a profession, and retired as deputy head teacher at St Ambrose, Coatbridge, in 2003. At the school he spotted the talent of one pupil, right-back Mark Wilson
, who became a first team player after Cushley helped recruit him to the club.
Sadly in March 2008, John Cushley died at the age of 65 from Motor Neurone Disease, the same disease that former team mate Jimmy Johnstone
| APPEARANCES || LEAGUE || SCOTTISH CUP || LEAGUE CUP || EUROPE || TOTAL|
| 1960-67 || 30 || 1 || 5 || 5 || 41|
Honours with Celtic
"John was a first-class defender and made sure Billy McNeill was always on his toes. He never let down the team any time he played." Lisbon Lion Tommy Gemmell
"John would have been a regular in any other side if it hadn't been for Billy. He was a lovely man and will be sorely missed. John never complained about his lack of first-team games. He accepted that Billy was one of the best centre-halves in the world at the time and he was just happy to do his best when he got the call.
"It was a real tragedy to see how the illness affected him. He will always be remembered as a fine human being and a guy you would be proud to call a friend and colleague."Lisbon Lion Bertie Auld
Celtic statement on his deathceltic statement on john cushley
Celtic Football Club today confirmed that former player John Cushley has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
A former school-mate and team-mate of Bobby Murdoch at Our Lady’s High School, John joined Celtic as a 17-year-old in 1960 and went on to spend seven years at Celtic Park playing at centre-half.
John, now Celtic's Education and Welfare Officer, was in the Celtic squad that travelled to Lisbon for the European Cup final against Inter Milan and his career highlights included both games against Dinamo Kiev in season 1965/66 and a 5-1 victory over Rangers in January 1966.
In July 1967 John moved south to West Ham United where he became a firm favourite among the Hammers fans and starred in the same side as the late greats, Bobby Moore and John Charles.
Throughout his playing career, John continued his career as a teacher off the park, working in schools in both Glasgow and London and his skills in this particular field eventually saw him return to the club as Celtic's Education and Welfare Officer, working with the younger players at Celtic Park.
Celtic's Chief Executive Peter Lawwell commented: "John is a highly valued member of our team here at Celtic.
“He has served the club with distinction over many years and will continue in his current role at Celtic Park.
“John and his family will receive every support from Celtic Football Club. Clearly the club would request that the privacy of John and his family is respected.”
26 Mar 2008
Footballer and teacher; Born January 21, 1943; Died March 24, 2008. JOHN Cushley, who has died aged 65 after a brave battle against motor neurone disease, was a fine footballer whose career was blighted by having to follow a legend. Footballer and teacher;
Born January 21, 1943;
Died March 24, 2008.
JOHN Cushley, who has died aged 65 after a brave battle against motor neurone disease, was a fine footballer whose career was blighted by having to follow a legend.
At Our Lady's High School in Motherwell, he followed Billy McNeill into the school team, where one of his team mates was another future Celt, the late Bobby Murdoch. Then, when the 17-year-old Cushley left Blantyre Celtic to sign for Celtic in 1960, he found McNeill beginning to establish himself in the Hoops as the replacement for Scotland captain Bobby Evans.
Cushley learned his trade in the reserves, while at the same time reading for a modern languages degree in French and Spanish at Glasgow University. He made his first-team debut for Celtic against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in March, 1963 - a game which a below-strength side lost 6-0; future first-team outings were largely to depend on injury or international calls for McNeill.
But when he was called upon to deputise for "Cesar" or asked to fill in alongside him, Cushley never let Celtic down. He played just 41 games in a seven-year spell at Celtic Park.
His playing career with the club he loved is perhaps best remembered for two off-field incidents: when, as interpreter, he accompanied manager Jimmy McGrory to Spain in 1964 in an ill-fated attempt to persuade Alfredo di Stefano to join Celtic, and when he was sent out by manager Jock Stein to bag the favoured bench prior to Celtic's European Cup final triumph over Inter Milan in Lisbon, in May 1967. Three months later, he left Celtic to join West Ham United in a £10,000 transfer deal.
His two years at Upton Park saw him play regularly in the star-studded Hammers side of the time, alongside England greats Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore.
As he had at Celtic, Cushley combined his teaching and football careers when in London, before returning to Scotland in 1970 to play out his career with Dunfermline Athletic then Dumbarton.
Retiring from the game, he continued to do some coaching while also teaching English and modern languages at St Bride's RC High School in East Kilbride and at St Patrick's RC High School in Coatbridge, then becoming deputy head at St Ambrose High School, Coatbridge.
Retiring from teaching in 2003, he returned to Celtic Park as education and welfare officer, helping to set the club's young players on the right road in life, a role to which he was well-suited. Last summer he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, the same illness which had claimed the life of Celtic legend Jimmy Johnstone.
After a dignified battle he died in the early hours of Monday morning.
John is survived by Mary, his wife of more than 38 years, his sons Jonathan and Stephen and daughters Marie-Clare and Joanne, and by two grand-daughters.
THE CELTIC STORY OF JOHN CUSHLEY
By David Potter (from Keep the Faith website)
Last week Celtic announced that former player John Cushley has been diagnosed as having Motor Neurone Disease. Our thoughts and prayers are with John and his family.
Celtic author and historian David Potter looks back at John Cushley's football career.
John Cushley was a profoundly unlucky player. He was unlucky in one respect only, but it was an important one in that he came at the same time, more or less, as Billy McNeill.
In fact he had been at the same school as Billy - Our Lady's High - and duly followed him up to Celtic Park. But as long as Billy was around, there was little hope for John, although if the two of them had been around a little later when the double centre half concept was in vogue (as it is now), then Cushley and McNeill might have been an unbeatable combination along the lines of Willie Miller and Alec McLeish at Aberdeen in the 1980s.
As it was, John Clark was employed in the sweeper role - a job he did with efficiency and capability.
John Cushley was a tall commanding centre half with a great deal of speed and a great sense of how to tackle. “Slide him, John Cush” was the cry as a forward broke away, and his idea of timing never let him down. He was good enough in the air, although lacking the panache of McNeill, and it would have been great to have seen more of him.
Cushley had the same debut as Jimmy Johnstone, namely a 0-6 defeat at Kilmarnock in March 1963 when Celtic were resting a few players for a Cup-tie on the Saturday and were in any case keener on Kilmarnock winning the League than Rangers. But Cushley got his first run in the team in autumn 1964.
But by that time, he was already well known in Celtic circles, for he had gone with Manager Jimmy McGrory to Spain in an effort to sign Real Madrid's Alfredo di Stefano. Cushley was there because he was now an MA Honours graduate in French and Spanish from Glasgow University, and the idea was that he would be the interpreter. The whole idea seemed more like a public relations stunt than anything else, and John was only able to talk to the crusty old Argentinean over the telephone - and able to surmise that he would not be coming to Scotland.
Celtic had in the meantime started the 1964-5 season well, winning their difficult League Cup section easily. But the last meaningless fixture was at Kilmarnock who were more than a little vengeful in their attitude to the victorious Celts, and Billy McNeill was carried off. The finger of destiny thus beckoned for John Cushley, and the following week he was in the team that beat Rangers 3-1 in the rain at Parkhead, the first victory over Rangers in a national competition since 1960.
The team then progressed to the Final of the Scottish League Cup, although there was a major scare at Methil when East Fife beat Celtic 2-0 before succumbing 6-0 in the second leg. And in a game that was pivotal to Celtic's subsequent history, Celtic lost 1-2 to Rangers in the Final.
Most critics agreed that Cushley had a splendid game at Hampden that day, and that Celtic deserved at least a draw. But the team now went into a tail-spin, losing three dreadful games to Kilmarnock, St. Johnstone and Dundee before McNeill returned. Yet it was felt that Cushley was not without promise, and it was noticeable that when Jock Stein did take over in 1965, a few reserves like Divers, Kennedy and Maxwell moved on - but not Cushley.
Stein's prescience was significant in that McNeill was injured again in November 1965 and Cushley was deployed once more. This time he played superbly in a superb team, was outstanding in the 5-1 drubbing of Rangers on 3rd January 1966 and played enough games to earn a League winner's medal at the end of the 1965-66 season.
Even when McNeill came back, Stein tried once or twice to play the two of them together, but eventually decided against this idea. Had Stein persevered with the double centre half concept against Liverpool in the Cup Winners' Cup in April, it might have been a different story, and Kaj Johansen's goal in the 1966 Scottish Cup Final might never have happened.
But for the rest of his time at Parkhead, Cushley was a squad player, resisting all sorts of moves to teams like Middlesbrough and Aberdeen. He was also unlucky enough to suffer a few injuries himself. He was in the squad for Lisbon, famously grabbing the favoured bench for Stein before Herrera could get it, but soon after that he moved on to West Ham and then Dunfermline Athletic, distinguishing himself with both teams.
After retiring from the playing side in 1972, he took up coaching and worked with a few clubs, including Celtic for a spell, combining this with his other job as a teacher of Modern Languages and other subjects.
He would never disguise his love for his beloved Celtic, and it is difficult to forget the look of anguish on his face as he shared the agonies of us all at Ibrox on 27 November 1994 as the League Cup was tossed away in the general direction of Raith Rovers.
Cushley was and remains a true Celt. His misfortunes have continued, but those who saw him in his two slots of playing for Celtic were very impressed indeed.