John ‘Sailor’ Hunter became the first ever Motherwell manager in April 1911. He above all others shaped the destiny of Motherwell Football Club. In his playing days, John featured for a Paisley junior side named Westmarch and from there he moved to Abercorn in 1897. In the turn of the century he stepped up into senior football with Liverpool whom he’d win an English First Division medal before returning to Scotland in 1902 to play for Heart of Midlothian. For the Edinburgh side he’d feature in a Scottish Cup final against Rangers, but sadly his side lost out 2-0 that day. In 1904, he headed back down south, this time to play for Londoners Arsenal. From there he moved to Portsmouth where he would play in 38 games before returning to Scotland to play for Dundee. In 1909, he was capped for Scotland against Wales. He also had the honour of scoring the winning goal for Dundee in the 1910 Scottish Cup final as the Dens Park side defeated Clyde. Soon thereafter he had a short spell with Clyde before taking the reins as Motherwell manager in April 1911, a position which he would hold on to for the next thirty-five years.
The Motherwell team of that era came to be known as the finest exponents of Scottish football, playing some exciting attacking football that was a joy to behold. With his famous five strike force which included Johnny Murdoch, John McMenemy, Willie McFadyen, Bobby Ferrier and George Stevenson. This strike force guided the club under ‘Sailor’s’ leadership to a memorable league victory in the campaign of 1931/32 and in doing so, ‘Well broke the Old Firm’s dominance. This was the first time since 1904 that any team out with Rangers and Celtic had won the League Championship! In doing so they scored a massive 119 goals in their 38 league games. His teams were also beaten finalists in the Scottish Cup of 1931, 1933 and 1939 and the great Cup fighting team of the early 50s was a direct product of John Hunter, even though he had relinquished the manager’s post in 1946. When John finally did leave the post, he had recommended to the board in May 1946 that George Stevenson take over the post when he himself found the dual role of secretary/manager to enormous.
The grand old man of Fir Park, ‘Sailor’ Hunter, was 67 when Stevenson took over. His eyesight had been causing him real problems and on many occasions had to undergo treatment in Glasgow’s Royal Infirmary. In April 1952, the Scottish Cup was specially brought from Hampden to Fir Park so that he could see it, bedecked in claret and Amber, before in was taken in a tour of the town. When he finally resigned as secretary in 1959 aged 80, he was the longest serving Scottish football official. Upon his retirement the club honoured him by giving him a weekly pension for his sterling work of over 48 years with Motherwell FC. Sadly though, aged 87, John ‘Sailor’ Hunter died in hospital in January 1966.
|John Bryson Hunter
|Date of Birth:
|6th April 1878
|Place of Birth: