A legendary full back for Kilmarnock, Matthew McLuskie Watson came to their attention as a 17 year old full back with Kilmarnock Amateurs.
He was picked up at St Enoch Station to make up the numbers for a reserve match at East Stirling, impressed, and remained attached
to the club as he was sent back to the Amateurs. In February 1954, he was farmed out to Kilwinning Rangers until the end
of the season before being called up to play in Killie's reserve team.
He made his first team debut in March 1955, deputising
for Ralph Collins, and in late September that year started an eleven year spell when he was rarely absent from the Kilmarnock defence.
were great years for Kilmarnock. With Watson in defence, they never finished lower than 8th in the First Division.
From 1959/60, they were runners up in four out of five seasons, before finally winning the League Championships in dramatic fashion
on the last day of the 1964/65 season. Watson played in 29 of the 34 League matches, and scored one of his rare goals
(four in total for Kilmarnock).
Before that, he played in losing finals in the Scottish Cup (1960 to Rangers), and in the League
Cup (1960/61 to Rangers and 1962/63 to Hearts). Killie came late to European football, and Watson played in three of their
Inter Cities Fairs Cup ties in their debut season 1964/65, and in all four matches in the European Cup the following season.
He made his last European appearance in the Fairs Cup in 1966/67, when Kilmarnock reached the semi final, but by then he had lost
his first team place to Jim McFadzean.
He made just eleven League appearances in his last two seasons at Rugby Park, and when
he was freed at the end of 1967/68, he joined Queen of the South where he added a further 71 League and Cup appearances to the 440
he made for Kilmarnock. Queens were unsuccessful in their annual bids for promotion to the First Division in his two seasons
at Palmerston. He finished his playing career with two seasons at Cumnock Juniors, his ten weeks at Kilwinning 16 years
earlier qualifying him for reinstatement.
A pupil at Camphill High School in his native Paisley, Watson was an engineer at the
Royal Ordnance Factory at Bishopton until he was finally persuaded by Willie Waddell to turn full time at Kilmarnock in the late 1950s.
This enabled him to accompany his team-mates on their visits to the USA to participate in the New York International Tournament, which
for a few years was the consolation prize for the runners-up in the First Division.
For no apparent reason, the stalwarts who
helped Kilmarnock to such success in the early 1960s were shunned by the Scotland selectors, and inferior full backs to Watson were
preferred. A tough and dependable defender, he rarely wasted possession, but the closest he came to a cap was an appearance
for the Under 23s in a trial match against Rangers in January 1957.
He did not return to his trade when he left Rugby Park, but
became a sales rep, later working alongside another Kilmarnock stalwart, Eddie Morrison, in newspaper circulation. Watson
was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009, and his death came shortly after a cancer diagnosis.
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