Jimmy Jack by Fraser Clyne
Jimmy Jack never won any representative honours in his career but he fills a prominent place in Arbroath FC’s Hall of Fame as the greatest goalscorer in the club’s history.
The Dundee-born striker hit the back of the net 120 times during his six year spell at Gayfield between 1965 and 1971. It is perhaps surprising, however, that when asked to select his most memorable goal, Jimmy has difficulty in picking one out. He said: “I’m not sure which would be the best. There was one I got against Queen of the South that possibly stands out, but I really just enjoyed scoring no matter what they were like”.
The tall centre forward signed for Albert Henderson’s Maroons after trials at Dundee, Dundee United and Wolves, followed by a short spell with Blackpool (then an English First Division side). He learned a lot with the Lancashire club and listed England World Cup star Alan Ball among his clubmates at that time.
Arbroath’s good fortune in securing Jack’s signature came at the expense of Angus rivals Brechin City. Jimmy explained: “I went for a trial with Brechin, but it was the day after I’d played an important junior cup tie, so I was a bit tired and didn’t do too well. Afterwards Brechin told me they weren’t interested. They doubted whether I’d make the grade.”
Jack certainly proved the Glebe Park men were wrong as he went on to help Arbroath enjoy some great seasons in the late 1960’s. His pairing with Dennis Bruce in the 1968-69 promotion winning side was particularly profitable as the deadly duo notched 65 of the 87 league goals the Lichties scored that season.
Jimmy enjoyed playing against the better quality teams and picks a Scottish Cup tie against Celtic at Parkhead in January 1967 as his most memorable match. He said: “Celtic went on to win the European Cup a few months later, so it was great for us to play them at that time. Berwick were playing Rangers the same day, and when news came through that the Ibrox side were losing 1-0, Parkhead just erupted.” Arbroath played well but lost the tie 4-0.
Jack had some tousy battles with many rugged defenders during his career. His toughest opponents included the Dunfermline pair Roy Barrie and Dave McNicol, Dumbarton’s ex-Celt John Cushley, Forfar’s Archie Knox and Rangers legend John Greig.
Arbroath resisted the interest of many clubs who wanted to take Jack away from Gayfield, but he eventually did leave, signing for Falkirk in 1971. “I scored a couple of goals on my debut but I never really adjusted to full-time football. The move probably came too late in my career”, Jimmy recalled. He did, however, enjoy the experience of playing alongside Alex Ferguson in the Bairns team. “Alex was a good friend while I was at Falkirk”, Jimmy said.
Another person he has great respect for was long serving maroons boss Albert Henderson. Jack said: “He’s a wonderful chap. A great manager. Sure we had our arguments, but he never held any grudges and I got on very well with him”.
Jimmy, who now lives in Carnousetie, played for Raith Rovers and Bath City after leaving Falkirk. He spent a short spell on the Gayfield committee a few years ago, but is no longer involved with the club and now rarely watches football.
Article contributed by Fraser Clyne author of The History of Arbroath Football Club