Matt Watson

Player of the Year Matt Watson – Killie Championship season!

Memories

John B Miller: "Matt “Hoss” Watson (from a TV western of the time, Bonanza) was a wily character and played with the head and not with great pace or super skill but was a really dependable full back and a near fixture in the team for quite a few years. He used his experience well and didn't seem averse to winding up an opponent. Thinking of Matt always takes me back to his rivalry with Alex Edwards of Dunfermline. There were a lot of Pars games in the 1960's as we seemed to keep getting them in League Cup sections and in the Scottish Cup. When Edwards & Matt faced up to each other it was “daggers drawn” as they played as if they hated each other and some of the encounters got a bit tasty and would keep the ref on his toes. The classic came in a game at East End Park when they clashed and ended up, on the turf, grappling and trying to knock lumps out of each other. It looked like something out of a comic book. Needless to say the ref was not amused and both were quickly dismissed. I've never seen an incident quite like it on a fitba park since. A quick check in “Everygame” and he must have averaged more than 30 games a season from 1958-66 with a decent number of games on the seasons either side, especially the 1950s.

Glasgow Herald Tribute: By Matt Vallance / Friday 30 October 2015 / Obituaries

Footballer: Matt Watson

Born: May 3, 1936

Died: October 27, 2015

THE footballer Matt Watson, who has died aged 79 shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, was one of the legends of the Kilmarnock team which won the Scottish League Championship in dramatic fashion in 1965.

He was a marvellously consistent full-back; indeed, some commentators regard him as the best uncapped left-back in Scottish football history.

A Paisley Buddie, Watson, who attended Camphill High School before serving his engineering apprenticeship at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Bishopton, was spotted playing for Kilmarnock Amateurs, a breeding ground for the Rugby Park club. His displays for the Amateurs saw him snapped up by Kilwinning Rangers in the Western League, but he was only at Abbey Park for around ten weeks.

His Kilmarnock career had a somewhat fairy-tale start. Killie Reserves were a man short for a Division C game, at East Stirlingshire, in September, 1953 and the 17-year-old Watson was picked up at St Enoch's Station to travel with the team. That first game led to him signing for the Ayrshire club a year later and, on March 5, 1955, he made the first of his eventual 440 games for the club, in a league game at Queen of the South's Palmerston Park.

It took him some time to establish himself in the first team; indeed, it was not until Willie Waddell became manager that Watson became a first pick at full-back. By 1960, however, he had quit engineering to go full-time with Kilmarnock. He played at left-back as Killie finished second to Hearts in the League, and lost to Rangers in the Scottish Cup final in 1960, before going on to win the summer New York International tournament.

There was more Hampden heartache in 1960, as Kilmarnock, with Watson in his now familiar left-back role, again lost to Rangers in the 1960-61 League Cup final.

There would be a third Hampden cup final defeat in October, 1962, again in the League Cup. Having beaten Rangers in a five-goal thriller at the National Stadium in the semi-final, Killie fancied their chances against Hearts in the final. But, a Frank Beattie goal was controversially ruled out by referee Tom Wharton as Hearts won 1-0.

Second in the league in 1960, 1961, 1963 and 1964, Killie and Watson were finally winners, in 1965 – gaining a modicum of revenge for that League Cup final defeat when in a last-day, winner-takes-all match, Killie, with Watson in his left-back role, went to Tynecastle and won 2-0, the only result which would give them the title over their hosts, on goal average. Four of the victorious team that day: Watson, skipper Frank Beattie, Jackie McInally and Bertie Black had played through all the near misses, to be there when a trophy was finally landed.

That season also saw him play in Europe, in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the predecessor to the UEFA Cup and League, but he was a rare absentee from the team which famously overcame a four-goal deficit in the second-leg at Rugby Park, to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 5-4 on aggregate. Jim McFadzean, who deputised for Watson at left-back, scored one of the goals.

He was an ever-present in Killie's European Cup campaign in 1966, playing at the Bernabeu in Madrid as the Ayrshiremen went out to Real Madrid.

He was again in European action in season 1966-67, when Killie reached the Fairs Cup semi-final, but, by then he was no longer a first choice, with McFadzean the more-regular pick at left back.

He started season 1967-68 at left-back, but he would play only 16 games that season, his final game for the club coming in a 2-0 win at Raith Rovers' Stark's Park, in February, 1968.

At the end of that season, Watson was freed, playing out his senior career with Queen of the South, before a final hurrah, back in the juniors, with Cumnock.

After football, he became a sales rep, before linking up with former Rugby Park team mate Eddie Morrison as a circulation representative for the Herald group of newspapers. In retirement, he enjoyed the occasional game of golf, but devoted more of his time to his children and grand-children. His later years, however, were blighted by his being diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009 and the death of Pearl, his wife of 60 years, in 2013    

Matt Watson is survived by daughters Linda and Morag, son Alan; grandchildren Kirsteen and Mark and great-grandchildren Harry, Joshua and Kayla.

MATT VALLANCE


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