The son of a Celtic reserve team player, John Aloysius Paton was a schoolboy internationalist (in the company of George Young and
Billy Steel) while at St Mungo's Academy, and he was signed by Dennistoun Waverley from St Mary's Calton in 1939. He was
capped by Junior Scotland before signing for Celtic in May 1942, and made his first team debut in the Summer Cup.
He was very
familiar with Celtic Park, not only as a spectator in the company of his father and grandfather, but as a press photographer with
the Scottish Daily Express and Sunday Express.
Paton was also a keen boxer, and was welterweight champion for the Air Training
Corps in 1942. Called up by the RAF who trained him as a navigator, he was stationed in Canada and turned out for
a New York team, and played for the RAF against Sweden and Denmark in 1945, with Stanley Matthews on the other wing,
for several clubs during the Second World War, including Arsenal, Manchester City, Millwall, East Fife, Leeds United and Crystal Palace.
As peacetime football restarted in 1946/47, after playing for Celtic in five League Cup ties he was effectively loaned to Chelsea,
where he scored three times in 23 League and FA Cup ties, making a good impression with clever footwork and accurate crosses, the
principal beneficiary being England centre forward Tommy Lawton. Back at Parkhead, he was first choice outside left for
the following two seasons, the first of which brought a brush with relegation as Celtic finished in 12th place, just four points ahead
of second bottom Airdrieonians. The joke around Parkhead was that no-one knew that Johnny was in the team, as the
cheer which greeted the announcement of Charlie Tully at inside left drowned out mention of his winger.
Although they recovered
to finish sixth the following season, Celtic were some way from challenging for honours and Paton was transferred to Brentford in
September 1949. He had fallen out with the management over summer wages, and Paton went without pay for six weeks.
He contacted Bernard Joy, the former Arsenal centre half who wrote for the London Evening Star, asking for his availability to be
advertised. Brentford coach Malcolm Macdonald read the article and remembered Paton from his playing days at Celtic.
He scored on his debut and became a fans' favourite, scoring 16 times in 94 League and FA Cup appearances.
He signed for Watford
in July 1952 and in three seasons at Vicarage Road scored 17 times in 84 League matches. He was amongst the first batch of players
to gain FA Coaching badges while he was at Brentford, where Jimmy Hill and Ron Greenwood were team-mates, and he became player-coach
at Watford, and stayed on as coach when he finished playing. In October 1955 he was appointed manager, but they lost to
Bedford Town in the FA Cup the following month and the ensuing financial problems contributed to his dismissal in February.
Through his coaching qualifications he had sound contacts in the English game, and was employed by Arsenal as a scout, and then
as coach of their Metropolitan League team, through which many of their 1970-71 double-winning team graduated.
When he left Arsenal,
he managed an Ealing snooker hall, during which time he qualified as a professional snooker referee, and he also competed, successfully,
in ballroom dancing. Paton retained good health and fitness until the last couple of years of his long life
MacBride and Martin O'Connor, in their Who's Who "An Alphabet of the Celts", included an amusing footnote to their biography of Paton.
"Johnny's grandfather, Billy McVey, held Celtic Season Ticket No.2 and as a child Johnny sat on Billy's knee watching Celtic from
stand seat No.2 behind the Directors' Box. Billy ran a confectioners opposite St Mary's, Abercromby Street, and on Celtic nights,
used to supply the committee and company with cakes."
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