• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Jock Govan

Jock Govan, Hibernian and Scotland full-back, born January 16, 1923, died February 17, 1999

BETWEEN August 1940 and November 1948, Hibernian lost only 16 matches at Easter Road, with even Rangers securing only one victory.

Loading article content

One of the reasons for this impressive statistic was the cultured play at right-back of a mining engineer called Jock Govan, who had broken through into the war-time Hibs side that included such luminaries as Matt Busby, Gordon Smith, and Bobby Combe. Raised in Larkhall, the Lanarkshire community famed for its devotion to Rangers, Govan's decision to leave Larkhall Juniors and become, at Hibs manager Willie McCartney's invitation, an Easter Road player, was especially courageous. Govan's close friend, Charlie Watson, recalled: ''Jock told me that when he returned to Larkhall after joining Hibs in 1941, he entered a pub carrying the Hibs tracksuit given to him by manager McCartney on signing. Returning from the bar, Jock saw his tracksuit disappear in a puff of flame and smoke on the premises floor.'' Govan was the original over-lapping full-back whose foraging runs were echoed a generation later by the exciting, cultured, and creative play of Celtic's Jim Craig and Hibs' own John Brownlie. Even early in his career, after only six appearances in season 1943-44, Govan scored two goals - testimony to his playing style, which scorned the traditional concept of the full-back as a stolid workhorse wedded to the punt up the park as the first line of defence. Breaking into Hibs' first team in 1943 after David Shaw was sidelined by cartilage problems, Govan went on to partner Shaw and, along with goalkeeper Jimmy Kerr, the collective talents of the trio were crucial in the success of the great Hibs post-war team who won the championship in season 1947-48, reached the Scottish Cup final in 1947, and consistently provided Rangers with their main domestic challenge for honours between 1946 and 1953. The Kerr and Govan full-back partnership was soon recognised by the international selectors with Govan winning six full caps against England, Wales, Switzerland, Belgium, France, and Northern Ireland. While injury and the passing of time saw goalkeeper Kerr and Shaw being replaced by Tommy Younger and Tommy Cairns, Govan remained, a huge fans' favourite in the Hibs teams who carried off the title in the successive seasons of 1950-51 and 1951-52. Govan ventured into business, opening a grocery store in the Edinburgh district of Prestonfield and a pub in Newhaven. In 1954, he was transferred to Ayr United, where he finished his playing career. After his playing days, Govan returned to work in Midlothian as a mining engineer and became a noted bowler in Gilmerton, where medals for prowess on the green complemented his football medals. Govan is survived by his wife, Betty, and his son and daughter, both of whom live abroad.

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

PARCH1.303280