First Footballing Hero
Jimmy Johnstone of Celtic was an absolute hero of mine. He played for the club from the early 1960s to mid-1970s and was a real legend on the right wing. A little while ago, the fans named him as the club’s greatest-ever player – and rightly so. “Little jinky running down the wing” we used to sing.
First football memory
The game that really stands out is the 1972 Scottish Cup Final, a game Celtic won 6-1. Hibernian were the opponents at Hampden Park and Dixie Deans (three), Lou Macari (two) and Billy McNeill got the goals. It was a fabulous day and one that I’ll never forget.
First team supported
As revealed already, I’m a Celtic fan. Whilst I represented Republic of Ireland at international level through my father, I was actually born in Glasgow. Celtic was in the family so it was a natural choice. That said, my father actually followed Real Madrid because he loved watching the likes of Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo Di Stefano and Francisco Gento.
First pair of boots
The first boots I ever owned were the George Best Stylo Matchmakers by Gola. I also remember having a pair of those famous white Alan Ball boots. I think they were made by Hummel. They were very popular back in the day.
First team played for
That would be St Julie’s primary school up in Glasgow. That’s where it all began. But my first professional club was West Ham United, signing professional forms as a 17-year-old.
I only made one appearance for West Ham, but the manager at the time was John Lyall – who was also a former player with the Hammers. I suppose you could say that Malcolm Macdonald was my first real manager, in the sense that he gave me the opportunity to play regular football. He was a manager that brought out the best in his players.
As a professional I always tended to play in midfield, either through the middle or on one of the flanks. But as a kid, I was actually a centre forward – and quite a prolific one at that! I was always on the scoresheet, and even bagged six in a cup final once. As I got older, I was gradually moved back into midfield. It worked out well, and it didn’t stop me scoring the odd goal still.
First Fulham goal
I didn’t have a bad record for Fulham, scoring 21 goals in 145 appearances. I feel bad in admitting this, but I can’t remember too much about the first one – which would have also been my first as a professional. I think it came against Bolton Wanderers, though, and it wasn’t that long after making my debut.
First Fulham game
I remember this one quite well, it was a 1-1 draw with Rotherham United at Craven Cottage and would have been on the opening day of the 1982/83 season. The Club had just won promotion from Division Three and, as we know, we went very close to going up again at the end of that season. As a player, that season was one of the favourites of my career.
First shirt number
At West Ham I wore number four and had a nightmare, so I never wore it again. I developed a bit of a phobia about it. I think Sean O’Driscoll wore it when I came to Fulham, so thankfully I was given a different number – the 10 shirt. That’s not a bad one to have, I also liked the number eight which I wore at Liverpool.
First friends at Fulham
It was a really good group of lads, to be honest, but I was particularly close to Robert Wilson. We lived quite close to each other, and although he came to the Club a little bit before me, we always got on well. I was also close to Kevin Lock and Cliff Carr.