Alex Horsburgh profiles the little-known man behind Clydebank
Distinguishing features: Not unlike a Glasgow detective in the Taggart mould. Jack was way ahead of his time when merging Clydebank and East Stirlingshire in 1965. ES Clydebank only lasted a season but Bankies, then a junior club, got into the League when East Stirlingshire retained their identity in a court action. Since then Jack has been master of all he surveys, which is sometimes from the PA booth on top of the stand from where he has even been known to do the announcements.
What use is he? Even though he was League president for a few years, Jack yaps like a junkyard dog at authority. Much of the tabloid press who feed off the Old Firm see him as a toytown despot with ideas above his station who constantly complains about the dice being loaded in Celtic and Rangers’ favour. Helped the small clubs lobby for a 12-12-14 set up in the early 90s and wants a bigger Premier League now. He’ll be a local hero if he can save Clydebank, who are now in danger of becoming the first club since Third Lanark in 1967 to succumb to the receiver. Their hopes are pinned on Jack being able to persuade the local council to build a new ground to be shared with neighbours and current landlords Dumbarton (the old stadium, Kilbowie was sold for supermarket development in 1996 but a definite site for a new stadium was never agreed with the council).
Who remembers his birthday? Jack’s son Ian who helps him run Clydebank (currently from the West of Scotland rugby club’s office). But no cards from Scottish TV pundit Gerry McNee who sees Jack as a fossil (in return Jack said McNee should retire to Ireland, a dig at his book-writing experiences for Celtic) – or from Bankies fans who have seen the club relegated out of the top two divisions this year for the first time in ages.
Which international celebrity would he get on best with? Local white soul boys Wet Wet Wet are still Clydebank’s sponsors but Jack’s more of a Tony Bennett man, methinks.
Other offences to be taken into consideration: Asking for a new ground to be called ‘The Millenium Stadium’; Merging East Stirlingshire and Clydebank the year Subbuteo brought out their plastic scoreboard. ‘ES Clydebank’ was still one of the Scottish team tags when I got the scoreboard for Xmas ten years later.
Quote unquote: “We’ve never had a manager at Clydebank and we never will. It’s only recently that we stopped picking the team and now look where we are”. “Thanks for coming today, even if you’re one of those people who think we shouldn’t be in the League” (to Rangers fans attending a testimonial last year).
From WSC 124 June 1997. What was happening this month