May 11, 2021

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Ian St John – An Obituary


The football world was saddened to hear that Ian St John passed away on Monday at the age of 82.

St John began his career at Motherwell, scoring an incredible 80 goals in 113 games. Three of those came in an away game at Hibernian in 1959 when he scored a hat-trick in just two minutes and 30 seconds, one of the fastest in Scottish football history.

At the beginning of St John’s career, he would work on the Saturday morning as an engineer before dropping tools and setting off to play for Motherwell in the afternoon. He would then return to work on a Monday, ready to hear what his colleagues had to say of his performance for Motherwell.

Soon, his goalscoring would catch the attention of Liverpool manager and fellow Scot, Bill Shankly. He signed for the Merseysiders in May 1961 and helped propel the club from the Second Division to FA Cup winners in four years.

Promotion was secured in St John’s first season at the club as Liverpool won the Second Division championship. The following season saw Liverpool reach the FA Cup semi final and finish in eighth position in the First Division. Not a bad return to the top flight!

In their second season back in the top flight, Liverpool won the First Division, with St John scoring 21 times. A year later, Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time, with St John scoring the winning goal in the Final.

The league championship was won again in the 1965/66 season and Liverpool also reached the Cup Winners Cup Final, but lost 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund. The league title was to prove to be the last trophy that St John would win in his career.

St John left Liverpool in 1971 but had dropped to the reserves at that point. He spent a few months playing in South Africa for a team called Hellenic before joining Coventry City for a season. This was followed by another short spell in South Africa with Cape Town City before ending his career with Tranmere Rovers. He retired from his playing career in 1973 at the age of 34.

Former club Motherwell came in and offered St John the job as their manager, which he gladly took up. He would spend a year at Fir Park before joining Portsmouth for three years. This would be his final managerial job before he spent time as assistant manager at Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City.

In 1985, St John fronted a new football show on ITV with fellow ex-professional Jimmy Greaves. It was called ‘Saint and Greavsie’ and ran until the inception of the Premier League in 1992. The two would continue to present First Division football for a couple of seasons on ITV after Sky won the rights to broadcast the Premier League.



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