It is one of the anomalies of the now long era of Scottish professional football that for one of its greatest victories, the 1928 Wembley Wizards' game, the man between the sticks was still an amateur. Although in May that year he joined Hearts and turned pro on that day in March he was Queen's Park's goalie and had been for three years. He was, in this day of keeping maturity, also remarkably just twenty-one years old.
John "Jack" Harkness had been born by Govanhill Park in 1907, the fourth son of a shipping clerk. And he grew up almost in the shadow of Hampden Park, so it was litle surprise that, already in 1922 a schoolboy international, it came as no surprise that aged eighteen he joined Queen's Park.
Within months he had progressed to the first eleven, seeing his club keep its league status and to the Scottish Cup semi-final in 1928. In the meantime he had In 1927 and still a teenager won the first of his twelve caps over six seasons. And it was the combination of Cup and Wembley success that saw him in May 1928 take the professional shilling, joining Hearts, where for the rest of his career and over three hundred games he remained but actually with little team-success, towards the end knee injuries and perhaps waning interest. In fact he lost his First Team place at Tynecastle in 1936, hanging on for for the rest of the season but retiring at its end aged just twenty-nine, taking up sports-writing.
And it was also in 1936 that he was married, to Isabella Smith, interestingly with his employment recorded not as footballer, nor yet journalist but "Brewers' Representative". They were to have one son. However, journalism, specifically sports journalism, was after service during the War to be Jack Harkness's future. He was to become the doyen of the profession in Scotland. His column in The Sunday Post was simply labelled "Jack Harkness Here". It on top of his playing career saw him before final retirement awarded the MBE in 1971. He would die in Newlands, in south Glasgow, a mile from where he had grown up. The year was 1985, he was aged 78. And he was cremated at Linn Park in Cathcart, again no more than a mile from his homes both in youth and old-age.
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