THE Barrhead community is mourning the loss of a highly-respected football coach who helped to produce star players such as Derek McInnes and David Winnie.

John Willock, who founded Barrhead Youth Football Club in 1973, has died at the age of 81.

He had survived bowel cancer after being diagnosed six years ago but more recently developed pancreatic cancer before suffering a heart attack on September 30.

Mr Willock, who died on October 5, is fondly remembered as a “very selfless man,” as well as a dedicated coach who produced an array of talent, including professional footballers.

His son Andy told the Barrhead News: “He’d be gobsmacked if he knew what people thought of him. I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of messages I’ve received about my dad this week and what a positive influence he had in people’s lives.

“He always put everyone else first. He was a very selfless man.

“Dad started Barrhead Boys Club, as it was called then, in 1973. They didn’t have any money at the time and my dad purchased their first strips out his own pocket.

“He made sure the colours were red and yellow, so there was no green or blue. He was adamant he didn’t want any division and it was non-sectarian.

“There was a lot of poverty in Barrhead in those days. Football was seen as some form of respite for deprived kids.”

”In around 1974/75, they went as a club to Germany and there were some under-privileged players there that couldn’t afford to go, so my dad paid for their trips as he didn’t want them to miss out.”

A credit to John’s humility, Andy only learned about his dad’s kind gesture when he told him a month ago during a trip to the north of Scotland before he died. Andy added: “I went with him and he only told me then. He didn’t tell people as he didn’t want a fuss made of him but also to protect the young players and people knowing they couldn’t afford the trip.

“The time he gave to the club and what he contributed was amazing, and he never took a penny.”

Graham Vance, Barrhead YFC chairman, also paid tribute to Mr Willock.

He said: “John started with one team and built it up from there. I think that, without him, we wouldn’t be here and delivering football to kids in Barrhead right now. His legacy is huge, when you look at where we are now. We have over 600 kids playing football across 26 teams throughout the club – all ages, girls and boys.

“We also have 100 volunteers. John being there and starting the club, we wouldn’t be able to do that. He made it all happen.

“You’ll never meet anyone who has a bad word to say about John. Everyone in the community knew him. He was just an all-round great man.”
Mr Willock’s funeral will take place at Woodside Crematorium, in Paisley, at 2pm today.