John McGovern - Derby County - Biography of his football career with The Rams.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 01 January 1971

Click on image to enlarge

      Friday, 28 October 1949
      Montrose, Scotland
  • Derby County
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 9th November 1968 in a 2-1 win at home to Charlton Athletic (Aged: 19)
    • Club Career
      186 League apps (+4 as sub), 16 goals
  • Leeds United FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 24th August 1974 in a 1-0 win at home to Birmingham City (Aged: 24)
    • Club Career
      4 League apps, 0 goals
  • Nottingham Forest
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 22nd February 1975 in a 0-0 draw at home to Cardiff City (Aged: 25)
    • Club Career
      249 League apps (+4 as sub), 6 goals
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John McGOVERN - Derby County - Biography of his football career with The Rams.



John McGovern signed for Derby County in September 1968, moving to the Baseball Ground from Hartlepool United for a £7500 transfer fee. Although the slightly built nineteen year old right winger cum midfielder took time to settle, he joined a club that had been transformed by appointment of Brian Clough as manager and the signing of the former Tottenham Hotspur stalwart Dave Mackay. Having established himself as a regular in the side in January 1969, McGovern starred in the away wins at Aston Villa and Bury as County went on to win the Second Division championship seven points ahead of Crystal Palace. The "Rams" enjoyed a magnificent first season back in the top flight, a series of tremendous home performances securing a fourth place finish. John's ability to do the simple things well, allied to his work ethic and willingness to act as a man marker saw him return a series of solid displays; often against much older and experienced opponents. He netted four goals, scoring against Liverpool, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Southampton, the undoubted highlight being a brilliant curving drive in a 4-0 demolition of the Merseyside club. Although County started their 1970/71 campaign well, seven defeats in September and October 1970 saw them eventually finish in ninth spot. McGovern made thirty-four appearances, scoring six goals including a double strike in a 4-2, first home game of the season, win against Wolverhampton Wanderers. He also netted goals against Coventry City, Everton, Burnley and local rivals Nottingham Forest. In his first three seasons at the Baseball Ground John made a total of eighty-five league appearances, including three as a substitute, his midfield partnership with Archie Gemmill and Alan Durban in the Spring of 1971 working particuarly well. (Mike Cockayne).



 Photo of John McGovern taken on 24th August 1974.    Image by & © G. Herringshaw.


Derby County opened their 1971/72 First Division campaign in tremendous form, a twelve game unbeaten run setting the tone for the remainder of the season. After a further five straight win sequence in March 1972 they eventually clinched the title by one point from Leeds United, Liverpool and Manchester City having used just sixteen players and returned twenty-three clean sheets. John was a virtual ever present in the County midfield, making forty appearances and scoring three times, including the only goal of the home game against Liverpool and strikes against Southampton and Huddersfield Town. In 1972/73 Derby slipped to seventh place, McGovern netting his only league strike of the campaign in a 5-0 thrashing of Arsenal. In the European Cup County reached the semi-final stage, exiting controversially against the Italian giants Juventus. On route they demolished Benfica 3-0 at the Baseball Ground, John netting a fine goal in a magnificent team performance. The club was rocked to its foundations in October 1973 when, after an away win at Manchester United, manager Brian Clough announced his resignation. Although his replacement Dave Mackay initially faced a player revolt, calm was eventually restored; County going on to finish in third place behind Leeds and Liverpool. John made twenty starts and scored two goals. He fell out of favour following Mackay's signing of Rod Thomas from Swindon and, along with John O'Hare, rejoined Clough briefly at Leeds United and then longer term at Nottingham Forest. His final game in the "Rams" shirt was against Manchester City at Maine Road on February 6th 1974. In all competitons John played 227 games for County, including four as a substitute. He scored twenty goals and at his best demonstrated ball control and passing skills of the highest level, a talent that frequently allowed others to shine. (Mike Cockayne)