John McGovern (footballer)

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John McGovern
John McGovern (footballer).jpg
Personal information
Full name John Prescott McGovern
Date of birth (1949-10-28) 28 October 1949 (age 67)
Place of birth Montrose, Scotland
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1965–1968 Hartlepools United 72 (5)
1968–1974 Derby County 190 (16)
1974–1975 Leeds United 4 (0)
1975–1982 Nottingham Forest 253 (6)
1982–1984 Bolton Wanderers 16 (0)
National team
1972–1973 Scotland under-23 2 (0)
Teams managed
1982–1984 Bolton Wanderers
1990 Chorley
1994–1996 Rotherham United
1997–1998 Woking
2000–2001 Ilkeston Town

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.


John Prescott McGovern (born 28 October 1949 in Montrose) is a Scottish former association footballer and manager. McGovern is most famous for captaining the Nottingham Forest side that won the European Cup twice under the management of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.

At the age of 19 he became the youngest player to play in all four divisions of the Football League. During his playing career he won promotion with Hartlepools United, Derby County and Nottingham Forest. He won titles as English League champions with both Derby and Forest. At Forest he also won two League Cups.

McGovern won two Scottish under-23 caps,[1] and was to go on a play over 500 league games during his career. He forged a long-lasting relationship with Clough and Taylor at Hartlepools, Derby, Leeds and Forest.

Hartlepools United[edit]

McGovern was born in Montrose, Angus, in north east Scotland. He began his senior career in English football's fourth tier with Hartlepools United (as the club were still named at that time). His senior debut was in season 1965/66. Under the management of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor he became a first team regular the season after. In 1967/68 Hartlepool finished third earning promotion to the Third Division. After playing six games in the 1968/69 season he moved up a division by transferring to Derby County.

Derby County[edit]

Clough and Taylor had taken over at Derby in May 1967. They signed McGovern for a fee of £7500 in September 1968. By January 1969 he had established himself in the Derby side that won promotion to the First Division at the end of his first season there.[2] When McGovern played in the English top flight the next season he had played in all four senior English football divisions at the age of 19.

McGovern (right) with Derby County in 1973, against Anastasi of Juventus (left), during the semifinal round of the European Cup.

In 1971–72 Derby won the First Division title, and McGovern played in virtually all of their matches. He gained two under 23 caps for Scotland while at Derby in season 1972-73. His final match for Derby came in February 1974.[3]

Leeds United[edit]

He moved to Leeds United in August 1974 in Clough's ill fated short reign there.

Nottingham Forest[edit]

In January 1975 he signed for Clough again this time at Second Division side Nottingham Forest. Forest were promoted to the top flight at the end of his first full season there, 1976/77. Their top flight return started well with a 3-1 win away at Everton. Forest were English champions at the end of their first full season back in the top flight, 1977/78. They had also won the League Cup that season after a replay victory against Liverpool. Forest retained the League Cup the season after defeating Southampton in the final.

McGovern captained Forest to two successive European Cups.[4] The first included a victory over FC Koln in the semi finals when after drawing 3-3 at home, they won 1-0 in Germany. In the final they defeated Swedish side, Malmo. In the season after Forest lost 1-0 at home in the quarter finals to Dinamo Berlin but won 3-1 in Germany. In the semi finals the beat Ajax 2-1 on aggregate. They retained the trophy defeating Hamburg in the final in Madrid. Forest became the only side to win the European Cup more times than their domestic top flight league, a record which still stands. After the first of the European Cup wins Forest won the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-1 aggregate win against FC Barcelona.

He and Ken McNaught are the only two Scottish players to win Europe's premier club trophy to never have gained a full international cap.[5]

Bolton Wanderers[edit]

McGovern joined Bolton Wanderers as player-manager in July 1982, and remained there until January 1985.[6] He made a total of 16 League appearances for Bolton before moving to Horwich RMI.[7]

Later career[edit]

He was later assistant manager of Chorley and Plymouth Argyle before being appointed joint manager of Rotherham United alongside Archie Gemmill in 1994. He left Rotherham two years later and was subsequently hired as manager of Woking and had a spell as assistant at Hull City before joining Ilkeston Town to replace Keith Alexander as manager in November 2000. He was sacked by the club in March of the following year after an eight-game winless run.[8]

Style of play[edit]

A profile of the young McGovern on Sporting Heroes states, "John's ability to do the simple things well, allied to his work ethic and willingness to act as a man marker saw him return a series of solid displays; often against much older and experienced opponents."[9]

The same article closes by stating of his time at Derby, "He scored twenty goals and at his best demonstrated ball control and passing skills of the highest level, a talent that frequently allowed others to shine."[9]

The synopsis on his autobiography describes, "A tough-tackling midfielder, McGovern was the captain and engine room of Brian Clough’s great Forest side...".[10]

Career statistics[edit]

As a player[edit]

Club[11] Season League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other[A] Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Hartlepools United 1965–66 Fourth Division 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
1966–67 Fourth Division 33 1 1 0 0 0 34 1
1967–68 Fourth Division 33 4 1 0 1 0 35 4
1968–69 Third Division 5 0 0 0 1 2 6 2
Total 72 5 2 0 2 2 76 7
Derby County 1968–69 Second Division 18 0 1 0 0 0 19 0
1969–70 First Division 33 4 4 0 6 0 43 0
1970–71 First Division 34 6 3 0 2 1 3 1 42 8
1971–72 First Division 40 3 5 0 1 0 5 1 51 4
1972–73 First Division 39 1 5 0 3 1 8 1 0 0 55 3
1973–74 First Division 26 2 0 0 3 0 29 2
Total 190 16 18 0 15 2 8 1 8 2 239 21
Leeds United 1974–75 First Division 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Nottingham Forest 1974–75 Second Division 8 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
1975–76 Second Division 41 0 2 0 4 1 47 1
1976–77 Second Division 39 0 3 0 2 0 7 0 51 0
1977–78 First Division 31 4 4 0 7 0 42 4
1978–79 First Division 36 0 3 1 7 2 8 1 1 0 55 4
1979–80 First Division 41 2 2 0 8 0 9 0 1 0 61 2
1980–81 First Division 27 0 3 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 36 0
1981–82 First Division 30 0 1 0 3 0 34 0
Total 253 6 18 1 33 3 19 1 11 0 334 11
Bolton Wanderers 1982–83 Second Division 14 0 0 0 4 1 18 1
1983–84 Third Division 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0
Total 16 0 0 0 4 1 0 0 20 1
Career total 535 27 38 1 54 8 27 2 19 2 674 40
A. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the FA Charity Shield, Anglo-Scottish Cup, Football League Trophy, Watney Cup, Texaco Cup, European Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup.

As a manager[edit]

Team[11] From To Record
P W D L Win %
Bolton Wanderers 1 June 1982 7 January 1985 129 42 28 59 32.6
Rotherham United 14 September 1994 31 July 1996 94 36 31 27 38.3
Total 223 78 59 86 35.0

Honours[edit]

Derby County
Nottingham Forest

References[edit]

  1. ^ "John McGovern". www.fitbastats.com. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Mike Cockayne. "John McGOVERN – Derby County FC – (Part 1) 1968–71". John McGovern: Derby County FC. Sporting Heroes. Retrieved 16 November 2012. [dead link]
  3. ^ Mike Cockayne. "John McGOVERN – Derby County FC – (Part 2) 1971–74". John McGovern: Derby County FC. Sporting Heroes. Retrieved 16 November 2012. [dead link]
  4. ^ "John McGovern: Nottingham Forest FC". Sporting Heroes. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Willie McNaught (and Ken)" www.qosfc.com 26 April 2012
  6. ^ a b c d e "McGovern: John Prescott (John)". Leeds United Player Profiles. Tony Hill. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Football League Career Stats at Neil Brown
  8. ^ "Ilkeston Town FC managers". ilsonfootball.co.uk. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "John McGOVERN - Derby County FC - Biography of his football career with The Rams."
  10. ^ https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/john-mcgovern-from-bo-ness-to-the-bernabeu
  11. ^ a b John McGovern profile at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  12. ^ "Anglo-Scottish Cup: 1976/77". This is one of our Trophy cabinets. Forest forays. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "European Super Cup: 1979/80". Footballsite.co.uk. Retrieved 17 November 2011. 

External links[edit]