Quote: ‘Shanks got Bob Paisley to rub some iodine mixed with boot polish on my private parts’.
Andrew Atkinson looks back on the career of Scotland and Liverpool legend Ian St John who frequented Spain and played at Vistabella Golf Jacarilla, who died on March 1 aged 82.
IAN St John spent part of his time in latter retirement in Spain, playing golf after a illustrious football career at Liverpool and Scotland.
After hanging up his boots he became a TV celebrity, with ‘On The Ball’ and with Jimmy Greaves in ‘Saint and Greavesie’.
Capped 21 times for Scotland, he was under Bill Shankly in the Liverpool team of the 1960s that won two League titles, and an FA Cup winner’s medal.
Born in Motherwell, one of six children of parents Alex and Helen, his dad worked in the steel industry but sadly died, aged 36, when St John was just 6 years old.
To help put meals on the table St John had part-time jobs as a youngster, at a time when boxing, playing cricket and running with YMCA Harriers, before turning football. Aged 16, he played for Scottish Association of Boys’ Clubs.
Bill Shankly signed him for Liverpool in May 1961, for £37,500, over double Liverpool’s highest transfer fee at the time. He scored a hat trick in his debut against Everton.
He also played at Coventry City, in South Africa and Tranmere Rovers and managed Motherwell and Portsmouth.
St John suffered with cancer, that spread into his bone marrow, and had a stoma bag, to collect fluid. He had his bladder and prostate removed, and underwent chemotherapy treatment in 2014.
Inducted into Scottish football Hall of Fame in 2008, he played golf with Ronnie Corbett, famed for The Two Ronnies: “I played golf with the wee man, and went out for dinner together in Spain.
“I knew Ronnie very well. He was a smashing wee fella, another proud Scot. He had a very good innings, that’s the way I see it,” said St John.
On Liverpool boss Jurgen
Klopp, he said: “He shows his emotions, he gets angry, he gets happy, which I like. He involves the fans. He knows how important the fans are, the way Shanks did.
“Shanks roped the fans in from the early days. He’d get on the Town Hall balcony and shout ‘we are doing it for you!’ Klopp is saying the same type of thing, getting people on side.”
One memory ‘The Saint’ had was the time Bob Paisley rubbed iodine and boot polish on his privates in the Liverpool dressing room.
“Shanks got Bob Paisley, then trainer, to rub some iodine mixed with boot polish on my private parts,” he revealed.
St John had retaliated violently and swung a punch at a Coventry City player that was being investigated by the FA.
“The press were outside and Shanks said: ‘Come in boys and see the damage’.
“The press came in, and said, ‘Bloody hell, no wonder you reacted the way you did – with those bruised bollocks!’. That was my defence at the Disciplinary tribunal!”.
Barry Butlin from Los Montesinos who met St John when he was in Jacarilla, playing at Vistabella Golf, told The Leader: “He was a true gent. Always had a big smile and had time for everyone.
“Everybody wanted to say ‘hello’ and have their picture taken with him. He always said ‘yes’ – a true gent”.
A spokesperson from Vistabella Golf told The Leader: “Ian sometimes came to play here at Vistabella with his friends John and Pauline who are season ticket holders.
“On the occasions he came to play he always did so with a contagious smile – and always the kindest.
“At Vistabella, the entire team is saddened to hear the news of his death.”
Married in 1958 to Betsy for over 60 years, they had children Elaine and Ian. He is survived by them and several grandchildren.
Caption:Vistabella Golf Director Joaquín Rocamora, Ian St John and Marshall Benjamín Fructuoso. Photo: courtesy Vistabella Golf.