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John McGovern

Position Midfielder
Born 28 Oct 1949, Montrose (Scotland)
Height 177 cm
Weight 69 kg
International Caps none

Club From To Apps Goals Sold for
Hartlepool United 01 May 1967 01 Sep 1968 72 5 £7500
Derby County 01 Sep 1968 01 Aug 1974 190 16 £75000
Leeds United 01 Aug 1974 01 Feb 1975 4 0 £35000
Nottingham Forest 01 Feb 1975 01 Jun 1982 253 9  
Bolton Wanderers 01 Jun 1982 01 Jun 1984 16 0  

Leeds Career League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Season Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
1974 - 1975 4  0  0  0  0 
Total 4  0  0  0  0 

Jabba's Comments

John McGovern was a fine all-round athlete from an early age, but it was at rugby rather than football that he first excelled. At school in Hartlepool, he wasthe fly half and captain of the the first XV. Switching to the round-ball code, he was signed on apprentice forms by Brian Clough and in Hartlepool's first team at the age of 16. He continued to work with Clough after both had moved on to Derby, but after Dave Mackay took over at the Baseball Ground, it was made clear to McGovern that he was no longer part of the club's plans, despite his contribution to the team and the fact that he already had Division 2 and Division 1 winners' medals.

It's hardly surprising that he was seen as Clough's man after the new manager brought him to Leeds to work together for a third spell, but the unpopularity of Clough combined with the fact that McGovern was expected to replace the suspended Billy Bremner meant that there was nothing that John McGovern could do right in the eyes of the fans. Despite his obvious credentials - he never really got much of a look-in at Leeds with just 4 appearances and no goals. At the time he admitted he'd not done brilliantly since his arrival from Derby, but said in the matchday programme: "The more you jeer the harder I'll try... It's happened to me before. When I first got into Derby's side, [the] crowd used to give me some stick. But eventually they accepted me for what I am."

Clough took over at Forest and was more than happy to take on McGovern for a fourth time (the fee both in and out of Leeds was for John McGovern and John O'Hare), and he was to lead Forest to the First Division title followed by two European Cups (and two League Cups as well), so from his point of view it was the best possible thing for him to leave Elland Road, but with the benefit of hindsight, it's hard to understand just why Leeds let such a talented player go.

He went on to have a not too successful spell as manager of Bolton, but that came to an end in 1985.

Richard Walker says: I met John McGovern, without realising it until afterwards! I had travelled to watching Leek Town play at Kingstonian back in 1999. At tht time we had a promising striker, Hugh McAuley, who was nearly signed for Portsmouth the year before, and was continuing to attract attention. We had arrived in Kingston early and myself and a few other fans went to a nearby chippy for a bite to eat. Whilst we were there, a man, who turned out to be McGovern came in and he immediately noticed my Leek Town shirt. He started talking about football, said it was good to see lads making the long journey down to follow their team. I asked if he was a Kingstonian supporter, he said that he was a neutral, who'd come to see Hugh McAuley and he asked what I thought of him. I said I reckoned he'd make a good player in the League if someone was willing to give him a chance. Then I got my order, bade him fairwell, and he did likewise, adding that he hoped I enjoyed the game. When I got back to the ground, I saw Leek's press officer, Mike Cope, and he told me that a scout was down from Hull to look at McAuley. It suddenly clicked that McGovern was the assistant manager at Hull, and that it was he who I'd been talking to! A double European Cup winning captain and I'd not realised! In hindsight, although I was dissapointed that I'd not recognised him, it was notable that, dispite his success on the field, he was in no way arrogant, there was no 'Don't you know who I am' attitude at all. I have to say he was a good bloke, I just wish I'd have realised who he was!

Kevin Erswell says: I have played in 2 footbal aid games at the City Ground where on both occasions (The most recent being 14.05.04) John was our team manager. He has some great stories to tell and does a wicked Cloughie impression when telling a story about the great man. He comes across as a thoroughly nice bloke and even remembered our names from the previous year as he shook our hands. Intresting fact from the man was he worked out what his most succesful finacial period was and his best earnings for a year was 30k. As he put it it takes him 4 years to earn what Beckham earns in a week.

Craig says: John McGovern is such a nice man. Someone that I work with knows nothing about football but she knew that I am a big Forest Fan and McGOvern is one of my all time heroes, She met up with him and purchased a fully signed and framed photo of the whole football team 78/79. This man is a legend.

robbo says: great guy, met him at a rock concert , nice fella.

Brian Tetlow says: I knew John from the time he first moved to Hartlepool in the early 1950's. We wereclose friends at primnary scholl and then went off to Grammar School together. Football was strictly banned anyhwere in the school - Rugby only allowed. Football was for the other children at the Secondary Modern school. John had an elder brother who was a very good rugby player - I have a photograph somewhere. I am not really sure that John was ever as good at Rugby as you suggest. We had a lot of county players at that time and I'm not sure that John was one of them. I still have trouble understanding how he ever got into football but he certainly made a superb career of it once there.



 

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