A lot of people commented how old and unwell Ian St. John looked at the funeral of the late Dave Mackay however I suppose most of us hadn’t seen him since the Saint and Greavsie programme came off air in 1992 so it’s not that surprising. Ian will be 77 on June 7th and has also had to fight cancer in recent years too.
Ian was first picked for Scotland in May 6th, 1959 for a friendly against West Germany which saw Scotland victorious by 3 goals to 2 in front of a crowd of 103,415. Ian was playing for Motherwell at the time and made his debut alongside two other Fir Park players, Bert McCann and Andy Weir.
Also making his debut that day was John White of Falkirk. John would score within a minute to open the scoring for Scotland. Is this the fastest debut goal for Scotland player? John was of course to go on to become part of the famous Tottenham double winning team of 1960-61, as was Dave Mackay who was making his second appearance for Scotland that day too. Sadly John White was killed by lightning in July 1964.
Andy Weir would also score six minutes into his debut but would play a further 534 minutes for Scotland without scoring. As for Ian he would have to wait ‘til 4th May 1960 to score his first goal for Scotland in his 4th International in a 2-3 friendly defeat to Poland at Hampden.
Overall, Ian would score nine goals in 21 Internationals. He would face England five times and only suffer defeat once but since that was at Wembley in 1961 maybe we should gloss over that. He did manage to score against England in a 2 all draw at Wembley in 1965 which would be his final cap.
Ian’s first seven caps came as a Motherwell player, whom he had scored a remarkable 80 goals in 113 League games. He would make his debut as a Liverpool player against Czechoslovakia in September 1961. Ian scored and along with a Denis Law brace that saw us beat the Czechs in a World Cup Qualifier. This would set Scotland up for a play-off match against the Czechs in Brussels that we lost 4-2 in extra time. Ian had scored both the goals that night but it was not enough to see us through to Chile ’62.
The Scotland team of that time was full of great players who as a team never really reached their potential but all too often were erratic in the results they produced. Friendlies in 1963 probably sum it up best. Having won the Home Internationals in a whitewash that season, we went on a small tour of Europe which saw us get beat 4-3 in Norway with Law getting a hat-trick, then over to Dublin for a one nil defeat to the Republic of Ireland and finally a 6-2 drubbing of Spain in the Bernabeu, in which St. John was one of six scorers.
In November of that year Scotland would get their revenge on Norway with a six one win at Hampden with Law scoring 4, however significantly for St. John, Alan Gilzean made his debut alongside Denis that night.
Ian would be recalled for that draw against England in ’65 and that was it for him although he would continue to be a pivotal part of Liverpool’s rise to greatness under Bill Shankly until the start of the 70’s. He tried his hand at management returning to his native Motherwell in 1973 for a year before moving to Portsmouth for a few seasons. However, the Saint was not done, as he became quite successful as a football pundit and eventually co-hosting the Saint and Greavsie show in the late 80’s ‘til 1992.
Happy Birthday Ian and Happy Birthday to Lou Macari who will be 66 on June 7th too.
First posted on Facebook June 7th, 2015