Elgin skipper McGovern calls time on 22-year career which began at Celtic
A FOOTBALL career which began as a 16-year-old at Celtic and ended at the age of 38 at Elgin City is a source of great pride to Jon-Paul McGovern.
The veteran midfielder is hanging up his boots to concentrate on a career overseas in the holiday industry, swapping Moray for Marbella this week.
Despite being in the twilight of his sporting years, McGovern played 83 games in two seasons for City, missing just six matches and skippering the side with great distinction.
“It’s been a great club to be a part of and I’ve loved my time at Elgin,” he said. “But this was the right time to finish for me.
“I had a good job opportunity come up and it depended on how the season ended as to when I was going to go and move on to something new. Knowing we were safe and maybe too far away from the play-offs I started speaking to the club and Saturday was my final game.”
Signed for Elgin by Jim Weir in the summer of 2017, McGovern may have been seen by some as a footballing ‘has-been’ looking to pick up one last signing-on fee.
But he proved his doubters wrong by starting every single match of his first season with the Borough Briggs club, and winning player of the year awards for his midfield anchor role.
“From a fans’ point of view maybe they don’t get to see everything that’s involved in my role with the team. I suppose I was there to help the other players, pass on any advice and help make them better players.
“I took that role very seriously and I’d like to think I did a good job. I was lucky enough to captain the team and the boys were great to work alongside.”
McGovern also acted as “bus driver” for Elgin’s south-based contingent, taking them north for home games and once-weekly training sessions at Aviemore.
His one disappointment from his stint at Elgin was the failure to maintain a play-offs bid this season. “I don’t think the league position is a true reflection of where the club is.
“You look at the last four or five games when the play-offs are gone and the manager is talking to players about contracts. The age of the squad as well, how young it is, you are maybe going to get them performing really well one week and the next, not as well.
“There’s a real host of things in there, and it just didn’t quite happen for us. But there’s a nucleus of a good squad in place and the manager is already talking to players for next season, so I’d like to think and hope they can push on again.”
McGovern has won a Hampden cup final north of the border while in the English league he played in winning and losing play-off teams at Wembley and Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
It all began at Celtic, where he brushed shoulders with Henrik Larsson but couldn’t break into the first team. At next club Livingston he came on as sub in their League Cup final triumph over Hibs, but it was at Sheffield Wednesday where he says he enjoyed his best days, bossed by Paul Sturrock with Lee Bullen as his influential skipper.