kenny hodgart

Cult hero No 15: Willie Watters

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This article appeared as part of a year-long weekly series by the author in the Sunday Herald

Usain Bolt won three sprint gold medals at last year’s Olympics Games on a strict diet of chicken nuggets. His feats in the field of turning saturated fat into sporting achievement pale, however, in comparison to the exemplary efficiency with which Willie Watters performed the task.

Watters was a footballer who made no secret of his fondness for a pie – opposition supporters enjoyed vocalising opinions on the effect this had on his physique, so there would have been no use his denying it. He also liked a good bucket when the opportunity arose, which was not infrequently.

Such qualities in a man have always guaranteed at least grudging respect from the patrons of Scotland’s lower divisions. But the fact that Watters was simultaneously, albeit sporadically, prolific in front of goal, made him an absolute legend at most, if not all, of the clubs he played for.

At Queen of the South and Alloa Athletic he disappointed, but at Hamilton Academical, Kilmarnock, Stirling Albion and a host of other senior sides he perfected the art of standing about waiting for the ball to come to him, then scoring with it.

A tubby striker in the Joey Harper mould, he professed that the secret to scoring goals was “to be fat and lazy and just hang around the box,” but unlike Harper he was satisfied that in Division One, or maybe Two in a bad year, he had found his level.

In his first season at Kilmarnock, 1988-89, his five goals in a 6-0 win over Queen of the South on the last day of the season were not enough to prevent the Rugby Park club from dropping down to Division Two after an injury-time penalty secured Clyde’s survival.

He then scored 23 the following season – including a hat trick in Tommy Burns’ Kilmarnock debut, against Arbroath – as the Ayrshiremen yo-yoed right back up, but opted to leave that part of the world for Stirling Albion in 1991.

In four seasons at Forthbank he scored 56 league goals, but the reasons for that move were never abundantly clear. It should probably be remembered that this was the era before the advent of the Killie Pie.

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