Above, three St Mirren men pictured at Renfrew Airport prior to Scotland's 1959 close season Continental tour. Jackie McGugan
(left), director Willie Waters and Tommy Leishman
John Hannah McGugan signed for Pollok from Slateford Amateurs in the close
season of 1956. Such were his early performances at Newlandsfield, the Evening Times reported that East Fife, Sunderland, Stoke City,
Third Lanark, and St. Johnstone were all interested in securing his signature. It was, however, to be St. Mirren who signed Jackie
in December 1956.
It would be a further two seasons before Jackie made his mark at Love Street, when regular Buddies centre-half
Tommy Leishman picked up an injury in the opening League Cup tie of the season, Jackie stepped in and didn't miss a game for the rest
of the season. And what a season it would prove to be for the Saints!
On 14th April 1959, Jackie and his team-mates lined up
against Celtic at a blustery Hampden Park, the prize at stake being a place in the Scottish Cup Final. Two goals from Alistair Miller,
and further counters from Gerry Baker and Tommy Bryceland secured a return trip to the National Stadium for the Buddies. Jackie was
quoted as saying that when the fans piped up with "Oh When The Saints Go Marching In" he "felt his heart bursting out of his jersey".
than a fortnight later on April 25th, some 60,000 Buddies made the journey from Paisley to Glasgow where Aberdeen would be the opposition
in front of 108,591 crowd. Jackie was tasked with keeping 'Dons record signing, and Scotland International, Hugh Baird in check.
Henderson of the Evening Times remarked "Hughie Baird was not surprisingly a quiet man in view of the fact that he was faced by the
calm, sure, and highly-confident young man, Jackie McGugan", and, "McGugan was a magnificent centre-half as he dealt confidently with
Aberdeen's spasmodic raids." St. Mirren won the match 3-1, and Jackie won plenty of plaudits.
The following month, Jackie was
called up by Scotland's International selectors for a three game tour of Europe where Scotland would play Jutland, the Netherlands,
and Portugal. Unfortunately for Jackie, his one appearance was in the disastrous 3-3 draw with Jutland, which the SFA don't recognise
as an official international.
The following season, Jackie began to crave full-time football (he worked as a blacksmith)0, an
option not afforded to him at St. Mirren, and during the season he submitted three transfer requests. In July 1960 he departed St.
Mirren Park and signed for Leeds United for a fee of £15,000. Sadly, injuries - and the form of Jackie Charlton - hampered his spell
at Elland Road, and he would make only one first team appearance in a 5-2 defeat by Ipswich Town on 1st October 1960. In February
of that season, Tranmere Rovers paid £12,000 to take him to Prenton Park where he made 35 League appearances.
He returned to
Scotland in February 1962, signing for Ayr United. A year later, he submitted a transfer request as the yearn for full-time football
came again. Despite this it would be another 9 months before he was granted a free transfer, signing for Morton in December 1963.
After only 4 appearances he moved back down to England, signing for Cambridge City in July 1964. He later ran a pub in Cambridge.
Neil Harvey, Cambridge City historian, writes:
Jackie was the archetypal tough Scottish
defender, perhaps "uncompromising" being a understated way of describing his style, although he was skilful as well as a hard-man
Jack made his Cambridge City debut in the 4-4 pre-season friendly against Norwich City at Milton Road on the 11th August 1964.
He went on to appear in 69 of the 72 games played by City that season, the most appearances by any City player that season.
His first City goal came away to Rugby Town in September 1964, and he scored again the following week in the 3-1 FA Cup win over Bury
Town. A third came later in the season against Margate and these proved to be the only goals he scored for City..
1965-66 season saw Jack once again play 69 times for City, missing 5 games. He picked up his first honour with City when they
beat Cambridge United in the much delayed East Anglian Cup Final from the 64-65 season, the game being played in January 1966.
At the end of the season City beat Chelmsford City over two legs to win the Eastern Professional Floodlight League via a play-off
to earn Jack another winners medal.
Jack made over 70 appearances in the 1966-67 season, 71 plus 2 as a sub to be exact.
This was the first season that subs were allowed for every game and Jack's first appearance as a sub came in September 1966, an East
Anglian Cup tie against Crittall Athletic (the current Braintree Town). Youth team player Alan Barker started ahead of Jack
His last season for City ended in the disappointment of relegation.. Jack was more or less a regular up
to mid March. His final appearance at Milton Road and for City came in the 2-1 home defeat to Chelmsford City on the 23rd March
1968, 2,273 present to see the match. I don't know if Jack was injured or dropped but within a fortnight Roy Kirk had been sacked
as manager and City were relegated for the first time in their history. Jack moved on to Corby Town after his four seasons at
Milton Road. He later played for the Cambridgeshire amateur team Fulbourn for a few years. In all he played 264 times
for City, putting him in the top forty on the all-time appearance list.
Life after football saw Jack become a publican in Cambridge.
He was landlord at The Alma, The Grapes and The Ship over the years. I knew Jack from his days at The Grapes and in recent years
when he was a porter at St John's. The last time I spoke to him was when cycling through town one evening a few years back.
As I passed the bus stop just before Magdalene Bridge one of my lights dropped off my bike. As I stopped to retrieve it I heard
a voice say "are you alright son?" in a broad Scottish accent. It was Jack on his way home from a late shift at the College
and we had a chat about football (City of course!) until his bus came along.
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