Updated: Sep 10
Fifty-two years earlier, Harry Hood moved in across the road from my parents’ house and he was the main reason I started to support Clyde in the summer of 1967 after Thirds folded.
I arrived at my brother Malcolm’s house in Giffnock at 12.45pm last Sunday. Just as we sat down for lunch and began talking about United’s Play-Off chances in Paisley later in the afternoon, Malc said: “Just to let you know, Harry Hood died this morning.”
Through membership of the same golf club, Malc knew that Harry was not well so I too was aware of his illness but his passing was still a shock. Fifty-two years earlier, Harry Hood moved in across the road from my parents’ house and he was the main reason I started to support Clyde in the summer of 1967 after Thirds folded.
In the terrific mid 1960s Clyde side which contained a number of very good players, notably John McHugh and Stan Anderson, Harry was undoubtedly the star, bringing a maverick brilliance to the well organised Bully Wee. He scored plenty, was a great passer but it was his dribbling which was outstanding, second only to Jimmy Johnstone in my experience.
On 23 November 1968, Clyde drew 1-1 with Rangers at Shawfield. In the evening I was permitted to have a party at our house to celebrate my 21st birthday and Harry was invited. He quickly sussed out that a number of my pals were of a Rangers persuasion and boy did he let rip! From memory, Rangers captain John Greig was the target of most of his sarcasm. In an effort to ensure that this “banter” didn’t get out of hand my brother said: “You know Robert has a bedroom upstairs with pictures of you all over the walls. It was true. Just what this information conveyed to a married, twenty-four year old man about his immature twenty-one year old neighbour is, in retrospect, quite difficult to imagine.
My admiration and advocacy for Harry Hood wasn’t confined to photographs on a bedroom wall. I had become an unpaid PR man for Harry, writing to any newspaper or magazine who would publish my submissions. Here’s what I wrote to Jimmy Hill’s Football Weekly in July 1968:
“One of the greatest comeback stories of the last two seasons has gone by almost unmentioned by the Press, that of Harry Hood of Clyde.
As is inevitable in Scottish football for a player who shows promise, Hood was transferred to a top English club, namely Sunderland, but never quite hit it off at Roker and when he could not command a regular place, Clyde stepped in and bought him back for less than half the sum Sunderland had paid for him. It is no coincidence that, since his return, Clyde have gone through a period of great consistency which has seen them never far from the top of the First Division. Following his fine displays for Clyde, Hood was included in the Scotland team’s Far East tour of 1967, and in last season’s Under 23 international against England at Hampden, he scored a goal for Scotland. His achievement in playing in such distinguished company as Marsh, Chivers and Osgood is all the more remarkable when one remembers that Hood, like all Clyde players, is a part-time footballer.
Harry Hood has joined Bertie Auld of Celtic and Hibernian’s Pat Quinn in a growing list of brilliant Scottish inside forwards who have returned to Scotland from England to find great success.”
Much to my delight, my communication was selected by Jimmy Hill’s Football Weekly as their “Letter of the Week” and I was given a £10 cheque, which was roughly equivalent to my weekly wage at the time!
The picture which accompanies this post is part of a photograph I have of Harry Hood, mounted and framed, which is on the wall of what my granddaughter calls “grandpa’s football room”. So, in that respect at least, some things never change.
However, most things do change and when I compare the skill level of today’s players in the SPFL Premiership with Harry’s class and composure, technique and touch, I can only conclude that I was very fortunate to see him inspire Clyde for the best part of two seasons before he moved along the road from Shawfield to Celtic Park where he won honours aplenty in a golden era for the Parkhead club.
Trophy-winning with Clyde is of course more of a rarity but supporters of all clubs can recognise talent. For Bully Wee fans, Harry Hood is indisputably one of the most skillful players ever to wear a Clyde jersey and I for one will never forget him.