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Carluke mourns death of John Cumming

Arguably Carluke Rovers' greatest ever player dies at age 78

"They don't make them like John any more"
Craig Goldthorp
JOHN Cumming, a man widely recognised as Carluke Rovers' finest ever player, died on Saturday December 6 at the age of 78.

This remarkable man achieved something which may never be accomplished again: winning senior Scottish football league championship titles with a non-Old Firm team.

John is remembered fondly throughout Carluke by people like Clara Kay, who has been Carluke Rovers secretary for over half a century.

"John was probably the best player in Rovers' history," Clara said.

"Nobody can compete with him, especially nowadays.

"They don't make them like John any more.

"I remember him as being a very skilful inside left.

"He was never booked or sent off and was a great advert for the Rovers.

His best asset was staying out of trouble."

After leaving the pits in 1948, Cumming took a wage cut of £4 to take home £10 a week as a Hearts player and trebled his wages when he came out of the game nearly 20 years later — working in a factory.

John revealed in a Gazette Sport article published in June 1996 that he felt money had become the downfall of football in the modern era.

He said: "The way I see it is that if Gazza is paid £6000 a goal by his boot sponsor there is no way he is going to pass to any of his team-mates if there is a chance he could score.

"We played purely for the love of the game and the name of the scorer was irrelevant.

''The important factor was that we played and won as a team."

After quitting Rovers in 1948, John helped Hearts — who regularly got crowds of 55,000 at Tynecastle — to league championships in 1958 and 1960.

For good measure, he also won one Scottish Cup and four League Cupswith the men in maroon.

John also made 20 international appearances for Scotland but, bizarrely, he only picked up nine caps.

This was because in the early post war years of football, international caps were only given for home countries matches, so John's other 11 appearances went unrewarded.

John and his Dark Blue colleagues took on the Auld Enemy, England, in 1956, with the Hearts' ace playing at outside left.

The Scots took on an English team including football greats Stanley Matthews, Nat Lofthouse and John's favourite player of all time Tom Finney.

"Playing at Wembley was a magical day," John told the Gazette.

"Although we lost 7-2 it was still a great game.

"In those days we played great attacking football. We played a W formation which meant that almost everyone could push forward."

John was known as the ''Iron Man'' at Hearts due to his determined style and resilience.

He made 612 appearances for the Tynecastle team before moving on to the coaching staff in 1967, serving the club until 1976.

John was one of the legendary Tynecastle players acknowledged in the book Hearts Greats, by Brian Scott.

The book pays John the ultimate accolade, by stating that Hearts never won a thing without him during his 17 years as a player.

And Clara revealed that Carluke man John showed his outstanding qualities even after retiring.

"He used to be up at six in the morning cutting old folks' gardens," she said.

"He gave football training to youngsters up at the Moor and also had a class coaching adults in the District Hall.

"John certainly didn't waste his life."

A Hearts club statement this week said: ''John's contribution to Heart of Midlothian Football Club was outstanding.

''As one of the greatest players ever to wear a maroon shirt, John richly deserved his testimonial in 1980.

''Our thoughts go to his family at this sad time.''

John, who battled Alzheimer's Disease for 10 years, lived happily in Carluke's Kilmory Gardens with his beloved wife Jane, whom he married on December 12, 1952.

John was also a resident at Carluke's Woodhurst Nursing Home for four years.

Jane said: "The family's thanks go to everyone who has been so kind lately.

"A lot of our friends and neighbours have offered their condolences, which has been much appreciated."

John also leaves his daughter Jean and her husband George; his son James and his wife Diane; grandchildren Yvonne, Clare, Andrew, Gillian and Lynsey; and great grandchildren Charlie and Jamie.

John's funeral will be held in Carluke EU Church from 10.30am this Thursday, December 11, before moving on to the graveyard and Carluke Masonic Hall.

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