Motherwell FC great Ian St John dies at 82

It was announced on Tuesday morning that legendary former Motherwell player and manager Ian St John had died at the age of 82 after illness.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 10:16 am
Ian St John is pictured (centre) during a visit to Scotland in 1988, during which he launched a youth football coaching initiative

Motherwell-born St John worked at the Colville steelworks as a teenager, eventually joining his boyhood favourites in 1957 after a spell with Douglas Water Thistle.

Managed by Bobby Ancell, St John was part of the legendary Ancell Babes squad, part of a group of talented young players (also including Andy Weir, Willie Hunter, Pat Quinn and Sammy Reid), who enthralled fans with their brand of exciting, attacking football.

A highlight of St John’s time at Motherwell came in 1959 when he scored a hat-trick in two minutes and 30 seconds against Hibernian, one of the fastest trebles recorded in Scottish football history.

After scoring 105 goals in 144 appearances for the Steelmen, St John left the club on May 2, 1961, joining Liverpool for £37,500, setting a new club record.

Signed by Bill Shankly when Liverpool were in Division 2, Shankly many years later described St John’s addition as the "turning point" for the club as they began their transformation into one of Europe's top footballing sides.

After helping the Merseyside giants land the 1961-62 second division crown, St John starred as Liverpool went on to win two first division titles, an FA Cup and three Charity Shields.

After netting 118 times in 424 Liverpool games, St John played for South African club Hellenic, Coventry City and Tranmere Rovers before retiring from playing in 1973.

St John also scored nine goals in 21 international appearances for Scotland between 1959 and 1965.

Moving into management, St John was Motherwell gaffer in the 1973-74 season –leading them to a ninth place finish - before bossing Portsmouth from 1974-77.

After spells as assistant manager at Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry City, St John became a football pundit and struck up a successful TV partnership with fellow ex-footballer Jimmy Greaves, with their Saint and Greavsie programme running for several years until 1992.

St John also set up several football academies for the coaching of younger players called the Ian St John Soccer Camps. He was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2008.