By Niall McGilp
Greenock Morton Football Club was greatly saddened to learn of the death of former player Hugh Strachan who passed away peacefully on Monday, at the age of 84. A centre-back or defensive midfielder, Hugh was one of the outstanding members of Morton’s great team of 1963/64 and one of the most influential players for the club during the Sixties. Our thoughts are with Hugh’s family and friends at this difficult time.
Hugh hailed from Ayrshire and following an early career in the Juniors with Cumnock and Troon, he moved to Motherwell where he made 31 appearances between 1957 to 1963. He was signed by Hal Stewart in July 1963 after being released by Motherwell.
Following his Morton debut against Ayr United in a League Cup sectional tie at Somerset Park on 10th August 1963, Hugh was an ever present for almost 3 years, making an incredible 145 consecutive appearances for the club, before finally missing 3 matches with injury towards the end of 1965/66 season. He continued to play for Morton for 3 more years, normally as left half, but also featuring in the No. 4 and 5 jerseys. Fittingly, his final appearance for the Ton was in the famous 4-2 victory against Treble-winners Celtic at Parkhead on 28th April 1969, which featured a 6-minute Per Bartram hat-trick inside the first 10 minutes of the match.
Hugh’s total of 276 appearances for Morton (averaging 46 games a season) places him 22nd in the all-time Morton Roll-of-Honour. He featured in all of Morton’s big games and great achievements of the 1960s, winning two Second Division Championship medals in the record-breaking 1964 and 1967 sides, and a Runners’ Up medal in the 1963 League Cup Final. In all he played in 3 League Cup and 3 Scottish Cup Semi-final ties for Morton against Hibernian in 1963, Celtic in 1964 and 1967, Hearts in 1968 and Celtic again in 1969, as well as featuring in both the Club’s European ties against Chelsea in 1968. Hugh’s 5 goals for the Ton included one in the controversial 3-3 draw against Celtic at Cappielow in January 1965, when Morton were denied a last-minute winner. Having come back from 3-0 down, with goals from Carl Bertelsen in the 78th minute, Strachan with a neat header in the 82nd minute, and Bertelsen again with an 84th minute overhead kick, the referee blew for full-time as Carl Bertelsen’s “winner” hit the back of the Celtic net.
Hugh moved on to Kilmarnock aged 30 in 1969 (featuring 25 times) before joining Partick Thistle a year later where, in the twilight of his career, he won a third Second Division Champions medal in 1970/71 and, in one of the biggest League Cup shocks of all time, he was a member of the side which beat Celtic 4-1 to lift the trophy in October 1971, some eight years after appearing in the Final with Morton. In total he appeared for Thistle over 160 times between 1970 and 1974 and was inducted into the Firhill Hall of Fame in recognition of that League Cup Final success.