John King
John King
John King
● John King, 1912 (SSC)

born in Scotland

John King was born on Sunday, 25th November, 1888, in Shotts, North Lanarkshire.

The 5' 7 forward signed for George Easton's Thistle on Saturday, 2nd April, 1910, having most recently been with Shotts United.

Aged 21, he made his debut appearance on Wednesday, 6th April, 1910, in a 1-1 draw away to Dundee in the SFL First Division.

John scored his first goal for Thistle on Saturday, 27th August, 1910, in a 2-1 win at home to Motherwell in the SFL First Division.

He scored the last of his 19 goals on Saturday, 22nd December, 1917, in a 5-1 win at home to Queen's Park in the Scottish Football League.

He played his last game for the club on Saturday, 13th April, 1918, in a 2-2 draw away to Hamilton Academical in the Scottish Football League, having clocked up 134 appearances as a Jag.

His club-list included Shotts United, Partick Thistle, Newcastle United, Dykehead, Third Lanark, Motherwell, Hibernian and Clydebank FC.

John died on Thursday, 9th August, 1984, in Law, South Lanarkshire, aged 95.

Bio Extra

Son of George King (a coal-miner) and Ellen King (née Whitelaw).

This Lanarkshire lad was following in the footsteps of his older brother, Alex, who had been capped 6 times for Scotland. 1909-10 was a breakthrough season for the 21-year-old. In recent times, he had risen to prominence with Shotts United, and represented the Lanarkshire League against the Irish League in October, before going on to win a Junior Scotland cap in early April versus the auld enemy at Birmingham. As an aside, Charles Lowrie (Glasgow Perthshire) had been earmarked to play in that international, but Thistle signed him up to the senior grade the week before, so his ambitions were thwarted in that regard. Reading between the lines, it seems likely that King was “spared” this fate. Reporting on the 1-1 draw, the Scottish Referee stated: “King played pretty football in the first half, but was hardly in the game after the interval. The Shotts lad signed for Partick Thistle immediately after the close of the game, and will play against Dundee on Wednesday.” A number of clubs had been attracted by the positive reports surrounding his play, but it was Thistle's George Easton, master surveyor of the junior scene, who made the winning proposition, as he did so often.

And so it came to be that, in his early 20s, John got his first taste of senior football with Thistle, arriving at the tail end of the first-ever season at the new home ground of Firhill. An inside forward, he usually played on the left and was a regular starter at Thistle. Recognized as “dashing” and “a trier all the time”, he gained further representative honour in 1912, turning out for the Scottish League XI in October, 1912. Later that season, he came close to winning a full international cap vs. England, being selected for the Home Scots vs the Anglo Scots in the trial match, after which the Scottish Referee opined: “King suffers from 'youngness' still, and lacks the sagacity of his old Finalist Uncle, A. King of Hearts and Celts.” It's worth noting that there was a great deal of confusion in the press as to the relationship between John & Alex, probably stemming from the age difference between the two, Alex being the elder brother by 17 years!

During the close season which followed, John departed for Newcastle, Thistle being compensated to the tune of £600 for the loss of service. The toon1892 website tells of a rather bizarre incident in United's game against Hotspur on 2nd April 1915 in which King played the full game in goal as Bill Mellor was injured just prior to the kick-off. In all credit to himself, and his defence, he managed to keep a clean sheet! John also played for Third Lanark & Motherwell during the war years, dividing time with his duties as a private on home service with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). It was during this period when he married Jeanie McKeating. The couple would later celebrate their golden wedding anniversary together. By then, their blossoming family numbers included no less than 30 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild! Telegrams sent by both Newcastle United and Partick Thistle were testament to a long-held affection for John.

After a second spell at Thistle in 1917-18, he continued to play top-flight football with Hibernian (1918-1920), Newcastle (1920-21) and Clydebank (1921-22) before finishing his career with his local senior club, Dykehead, in the Western League. His obituary in the Wishaw Post tells that, while playing with Newcastle, he worked in the pits during the close season. After his playing days were over, he worked in many of the local pits in the Shotts area. He was around 70 years of age when he finally retired from the Southfield pit due to an accident which broke some bones in his back. The piece paints a lovely picture of “Fitba' John” in his later years:

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Mr. King resided at Dyfrig Street with one of his sons, John. He was always well-informed regarding current affairs and, although his sight was failing in later years, he listened to the news on the radio to keep himself abreast of what was going on in the world. Until the last six months or so, auld John could be seen walking daily to the local Co-Operative store or to the seat at the end of the road for a blether. He died peacefully in his sleep in Law Hospital, where he had been a patient for three weeks.

His familiar figure will be missed in the community for he always had a wealth of stories he could tell both of the present and the days long since past. Mr. King is survived by five sons, George, Jim, Willie, John & Robert, and four daughters, Betty, Helen, Nan & Margaret, one son having pre-deceased him.

(WS/AM/JK)



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