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John Cushley (1943 - 2008)

May and June 1967 were busy months for John Cushley. Twenty four days after being a member of Glasgow Celtic’s victorious Lisbon Lion’s squad he transferred to West Ham United.


As Glasgow Celtic’s centre half stand in for captain Billy McNeil he was a member of Celtic’s party which became the first British club to lift the European Cup on May 25, 1967 in Lisbon.

Cushley made the first of his 41 Celtic games in March 1963. But first team opportunities were limited and his availability co-incided with West Ham’s search for a new centre half.  


When the window on Ken Brown’s West Ham United career closed in early 1967 the club struggled to fill his centre half role. Brown had been the resident centre half from the late 1950s to the golden years in the mid 1960s.

Manager Ron Greenwood tried several home grown talents in the central role but none provided the long term solution.

This left Greenwood with the only option of turning to the transfer market. On June 17, 1967 West Ham United signed John Cushley from Glasgow Celtic for £25,000.


In Cushley’s three years with the Hammers he made 46 competitive first team appearances before transferring back north of the border to join Scottish League  Division One  side Dunfermline Athletic in the summer of 1970.


Born: Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland January 21, 1943. John died March 24, 2008 aged 65.

by Roger Hillier

CUSHLEY John portrait

Cushley’s claret and blue baptism was made during West Ham’s pre-season tour of West Germany. His debut game was the friendly against Borussia Dortmund on Saturday July 29, 1967. Despite being partnered in the half back line by two of the Hammers’ world cup trio, Moore and Peters, West Ham lost the match 4-1 on a sun-drenched afternoon in front of 22,000.

According to Bobby Moore, the story goes that Ron Greenwood was unhappy with some of John’s robust challenges and instructed John to tone them down. Contrary to the expectation that this was exactly what the team needed!


In the space of eight days Cushley played in the remaining four tour games against Allemania Aachen 4-2, Auswahl Mittelrhein 3-3 and Borussia Rheine 8-2



A couple of  more friendlies, against Bata Sports (August 9) and Peterborough United (August 12) and the centre-half was ready for his football league baptism.

First Team Debut – 1967’s Summer Tour of West Germany

Football League debut versus Sheffield Wednesday

Saturday August 19, 1967

Cushley's league debut came in the first home fixture at the start of the 1967-68 campaign against The Owls. John was one of three new signings making their West Ham league debuts that day. Ron Greenwood's other two debutants were defender Billy Bonds a £49,500 capture from Charlton Athletic and Scottish international Bobby Ferguson, a £65,000 signing from Kilmarnock (a world record fee for a goalkeeper at that time). Despite fielding three new defensive players the Hammers lost 3-2.

Final League Appearance versus Ipswich Town

Saturday March 14, 1970

Cushley’s last first team appearance was in Upton Park’s goalless draw with The Tractor Boys. The team had undergone several changes since his league debut two years and seven months earlier. Including the substitute, only five players remained: Bonds, Moore, Peters, Hurst and Boyce.


The XI who faced Ipswich: Peter Grotier, Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard, John Cushley, Alan Stephenson, Bobby Moore, Clyde Best (Ron Boyce), Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Peter Eustace, Bobby Howe.  

Summer Tours – West Germany / USA / Bermuda

In addition to joining the Hammers’ summer tour of West Germany in 1967, John was also a member of the squad which visited the USA and Bermuda in the summer of 1969. In the 1969 tour he made four appearances as Bobby Moore’s deputy.

Three Reserve Team Cup Finals

Despite the first team disappointments, John played in three reserve team cup finals: The London Challenge Cup (LCC) triumph in 1968-69, and the Football Combination Cup finals in 1968-69 and 1969-70.

London Challenge Cup Winners 1968-69

Football Combination Cup Runners Up 1968-69

John Cushley being presented with his runners up medal at The Dell

Football Combination Cup

Runners Up 1969-70

A season later and the Hammers again successful negotiated the early rounds to reach the two legged final this time against Arsenal. Due to end of season fixture congestion the two-legged final was held over to the following season, and it turned out to be a similar story to the previous season’s final.

On Monday August 24, 1970 West Ham won the home first leg 1-0 before suffering a 6-0 2nd leg defeat. John played in the first leg but by the time the deferred 2nd leg was played on November 7, he had left the Hammers.  

1970-71 Season – Last game in claret & blue

Cushley started his fourth season with the club and played six reserve team games before returning to Scotland with a transfer to Dunfermline Athletic in September 1970.

His last game wearing claret and blue turned out to be the Football Combination fixture at home to Bristol City Reserves at Upton Park on Saturday September 12, 1970.


A Brian Dear goal ensured a point from a 1-1 draw. The team that afternoon included his fellow league debutant Bobby Ferguson from three years earlier:

Bobby Ferguson, John McDowell, Clive Charles, Paul Heffer, John Cushley, John Charles, Pat Holland, Jimmy Lindsay (Paul Gregory 46 mins), Brian Dear, Ron Boyce, Dave Llewelyn.

Return to Scotland

After 49 Scottish league games for Dunfermline Athletic, John moved to Dumbarton in 1972. Four years and 85 league games later he retired from playing.


Very early in his career he qualified as a teacher and graduated from Glasgow University with a MA (Master of Arts) before embarking on a professional football career. Whilst with the Hammers he also worked as a part-time teacher at St. Bonaventure’s Grammar School, Forest Gate.

There is an interesting story from his Glasgow Celtic days when his language skills took him as a Spanish translator on a journey to Spain with Celtic’s manager, Jimmy McGrory, in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Alfred Di Stefano to leave Real Madrid to join the Hoops.    

Hately of Liverpool Dunfermline colours 67_07_29 Borussia Dortmund v. WHU Friendly First team group

John Cushley lines-up against Borussia Rheine in his first Hammers'

team group photograph

Back row: Martin Peters, Billy Bonds, John Cushley, Bobby Ferguson, Bobby Moore,

Bill Kitchener, Bobby Howe

Front row:  Harry Redknapp, Ron Boyce, Peter Bennett, Geoff Hurst, John Sissons, Trevor Hartley

Borussia Rheine images courtesy of Colin Hammond and Peter Heckhuis

67_08_19 WHU v. Sheffield Wednesday

Flying Scot Cushley defensive header against Liverpool at Anfield 7 December 1968

1968-69 Team Group LCC Winners

Cushley enjoyed mixed results in these reserve team cup finals. The most memorable was in the London Challenge Cup as the Hammers eventually overcome Tottenham Hotspur in a replay, winning 3-2 at Upton Park. John played in the Final at White Hart Lane on November 18, 1968 which ended in a 2-2 draw, but missed the replay.

68_11_18 Tottenham Hotspur v. WHU LCC Final 68_12_16 WHU v. Tottenham Hotspur LCC Final

Tottenham Hotspur 2 - 2 West Ham United

18th November 1968 : White Hart Lane

Steve Death, Paul Heffer, Bob Glozier, Eddie Bovington (Capt), John Cushley, Keith Miller, Tim Clements, Jimmy Lindsay, Trevor Hartley, Brian Dear, David Llewelyn


Glozier, Llewelyn

West Ham United 3 - 2 Tottenham Hotspur

16th December 1968 : Upton Park

Steve Death, Paul Heffer, Bob Glozier, Eddie Bovington (Pat Holland), Stuart Morgan, Keith Miller, Tim Clements, Peter Bennett, Trevor Hartley, Jimmy Lindsay, David Llewelyn



Bennett, Lindsay, Holland

John played in both legs of the Football Combination Cup final against Southampton. The first leg, on Monday April 14, 1969, ended with the Hammers taking a one goal advantage to The Dell. Unfortunately this was insufficient to lift the cup as The Saints triumphed in the second leg 3-0, to win the final 3-1 on aggregate.

Sheff Wed (H)

John played in the season’s first 17 league games until struck down with influenza. But the bubbles were not flying high as the Hammers suffered 10 defeats and only won four in this sequence.

Results picked up on John’s return during a nine game run with five wins and four defeats. But Ron Greenwood’s expected improvement in West Ham’s league form was not happening.  The West Ham manager must have been exasperated as he again turned to the transfer market in search of a centre half solution.

In March 1968 Alan Stephenson joined West Ham from Crystal Palace. Stephenson's signing for the Hammers in effect ended Cushley’s regular first team career.

He made 27 league appearances in his first season plus another three apiece in the League and FA Cups. Form in the cups was slightly better as the Hammers won four of the six ties.  


Over the next two seasons he made a further 11 league appearances as a stand in player: Nine appearances in 1968-69 and two in the following season.  

Cushley (5) heads the ball out of defence, watched by Billy Bonds, Eddie Bovington, Bobby Moore and Bobby Ferguson

Crossed Hammer CUSHLEY John 10 69_04_14 WHU v. Southampton FCC Final 69_04_23 Southampton v. WHU FC Cup Final 70_09_12 WHU v. Bristol City Reserves

This week’s Scottish Independence referendum has many potentially unknown impacts. For example how will a Yes vote impact, if at all, on the movement of players to and from Scottish clubs?  


In the past several Scots have transferred unhindered to West Ham United. One of which was Glasgow Celtic’s John Cushley….


SLUG Memorabilia 1967-68 Team Group 02


Back row: Heffer, Bonds, Peters, Cushley, Ferguson, Bovington, Hurst, Kitchener, Moore

Front row: Redknapp, Brabrook, Boyce, Dear, Bennett, Charles, Sissons

In Dunfermline Athletic’s colours

Glasgow Celtic’s 1967 European Cup post match celebrations

Post match celebrations Post match celebrations 2 CUSHLEY John 05 CUSHLEY John @ Burnley

After retiring in 1976 John continued teaching and later he joined Celtic's coaching staff as an education officer.

In 2007, John was diagnosed with motor neurone disease the same illness that had claimed his former Celtic teammate Jimmy Johnstone a year earlier.  


John Cushley

Mini portrait CUSHLEY John 02 Borussia Rheine 01

Coach trip to the Borussia Rheine pre-season friendly game

John Cushley chasing with

Liverpool's Tony Hateley

Back row:  Paul Heffer, Dave Llewelyn, Keith Miller, Steve Death, Brian Dear, Bob Glozier, Roger Cross, Stuart Morgan.

Front row: Peter Bennett, Pat Holland, Trevor Hartley, Tim Clements,

Eddie Bovington, John Cushley.


In Dumbarton's colours

Newham028 Newham038

Ron Greenwood's three new signings; Billy Bonds, Bobby Ferguson and John Cushley.

Bonds Ferguson Cushley CUSHLEY Insert

Balantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland




January 21, 1943




Glasgow Celtic




July 1967




38  League

4    FA Cup

4    League Cup






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