(1978-83 & 1987-89)
Nickname: The King of Rugby Park
Date of Birth: December 31st 1953
Birth Place: Glasgow, Scotland
Previous Clubs: Dumbarton, Dundee Utd, Kilmarnock ('78-'82), Dumbarton, Brechin City, Kilmarnock ('87-'88)
Killie Appearances: 140 (42 goals) first spell, 11 (2) second spell.
Career: Secondary School Teacher
John Bourke played as a striker for a number of Scottish clubs, including Dumbarton (twice), Dundee United and Kilmarnock (twice). Bourke made more than 400 league appearances during his playing career.
Bourke went on to become a secondary school teacher. He taught Physical Education at Holyrood Secondary School in Glasgow for many years. KillieFC TV's Iain Sherry caught up with John at Rugby Park in November 2015.
The heat seeking missile passed within an inch of his face, he pulled the safety off, and pumped five bullets into the on-rushing heavy who fell clutching his chest, it was all over. The contessa was safe, the evil baron was overthrown and the planet Earth had been pulled back from the brink of armageddon. The citizens of every nation on earth owed this man big style, the contessa owed him more. She flicked back her hair, then, gazing deep into his eyes she pulled him closer until his body touched hers. "Your name, what is your name?" she whispered. He smiled wryly, brushing the dust off his Saville Row suit. "They call me Bourke, John Bourke." and with that he disappeared into the shadows. She was lost forever.
Powerful imagery (or the script from a B movie) that attempts to conjure up the character of John Bourke as Killie fans see him. OK, it may seem a tad over the top, but it is felt by those in the know that the mere inclusion of big John in any Kilmarnock line-up had the ability to increase the chance of victory tenfold. John Bourke is a man who you would be hard pushed to hear anyone be negative about, he is admired and respected by fans across the broad spectrum of Scottish football. That alone is no mean feat, and to top it off, as Stevie and myself found out during our interview, he makes a very fine cup of tea - don't it make you sick? I love doing this feature. I get to meet some top ex-Killie blokes, who have played an important part in my life and that of the club, and of all the past masters still to be featured, I wonder if I'll ever meet anyone bigger than John Bourke. I very much doubt it. How was it that terracing chant went? 'John Bourke is the king of Rugby Park'. You'd better believe it...
How and when did you get involved in organised football?
My father introduced me to a ball at a very early age, but had me handling it rather that kicking it. He'd been a goalie with the British army. I made my primary school team as a goalkeeper and managed to be selected for Glasgow West in 1965. I also played Boys Guild before signing for Dumbarton Castle Rovers. For the next four years I played either in goal or as a defender and managed to win a place in the Glasgow under 15 team. At the start of my 5th year in St Pius Secondary the under 18 team were short of a striker, so I thought I'd give it a try. Due to my height, I was fairly successful and made the Glasgow under 18's team playing against Manchester schools at Hampden and then Bradford schools in Bradford.
Who were your influences, and what were your early aspirations?
Obviously my dad played a huge part, encouraging me constantly, plus the P.E. staff at school and my manager with the amateur side in Dumbarton. I canít say I thought much about being a professional player, only that I wanted to play as often as possible (and did…every day!).
Tell us about your breakthrough into senior football.
My breakthrough to senior football came more through luck than anything else. Drumchapel Amateurs wanted me to sign for them but Dumbarton Castle Rovers promised me a trial with the senior side in the town if I stayed. Ironically my first match was against Kilmarnock reserves, where I recognised Ross Mathie. Another two reserve matches followed after which, Alex Wright asked me to sign. I must say, I owe a debt of gratitude to Alex for giving me my breakthrough and many years of help and support. He had great belief in me and I was given a run out no matter how my form was.
What of life at Dundee United?
It was probably the worst year of my life! Basically, we all play football because we enjoy it (slight understatement) but at Tannadice, enjoyment didnít enter into the equation. The pressure was constant and unrelenting even during training and on match days it became unbelievable. No prizes for guessing the source of this pressure, with verbal abuse being the order of the day. I was often subject to such choice phrases as "you think you Feckin' know it all because you are a Feckin' school teacher" or "you're £70,000 worth of shite". The basic coaching was of a high standard but the psychology of the man management was obviously gleaned from Mein Kampf! Life at Tannadice certainly was different.
How did the move to Killie come about?
From the unhappiest part of my career to the happiest. Actually I hadn't thought of leaving Tannadice after my first season there, six goals wasn't particularly setting the heather on fire, but the manager thought I had potential. To cut a long story short, I was ordered to report back for training a week early and following a misunderstanding I decided enough was enough. From July to October I was basically out of football and when I received word of my teaching post, Dundee United decided to release me (the manager threatened I would never play professional football again). Almost immediately Davie Sneddon phoned, asking me to sign.
Did you consider it to be a good move?
Quite simply I regarded Kilmarnock as being one of the top teams in Scotland and Europe. I could recall the Championship winning year and the European encounters. Killie were without a doubt a bigger club than Dundee United in more ways than one. Unfortunately, they had gone part time - in hindsight, a major mistake. The move however, was wonderful, I was signing for a famous club with a fabulous support.
Scoring on your debut, and 21 goals in only 27 starts in the league, what are your memories of this period?
That first season was the happiest and most enjoyable of my career, I should underline happiest. We had a great footballing squad, an attack minded manager, a fine stadium with the best playing surface in Scotland, and a support I will never, ever forget.
28th April 1979 against Dumbarton and promotion to the Premier League…your thoughts?
It was ironic to think that less than a year before I was out of football. Going back to Dumbarton, playing my old mates, it was unbelievable! It rates with the Queen of the South final league game in '82 as one of the highlights of my football career, but the Dumbarton game just edges it.
Winning the Tennents Caledonian Cup must have been a thrill?
Being invited to play in such a prestigious tournament was thrilling enough. To win it in such a manner against Rangers at Ibrox was a dream come true, though personally I had a bit of a nightmare and was substituted not long into the second half. Other highlights were having my photograph taken with the Tennents Lager girls and having lunch with Derek Johnstone and Trevor Brooking.
Your second season saw the goals dry up…why?
Perhaps I just wasn't good enough! I think there were several reasons, not necessarily in order of importance. Pressure, lack of confidence, playing against full time outfits, basically defending most of the time. As far as goals were concerned, I was never successful in the premier league, although I did score a few goals in the three seasons of the old eighteen team first division.
Killie's second premier season produced some shocking results.
Yes, if I remember correctly, we started the season quite well but lost Alan McCulloch through injury. He had been instrumental in our success the previous year and I have never known a team being so devastated by the loss of one player. It just shows you how important a keeper is to any team. In hindsight perhaps we should have bought an experienced goalie, or acquired one on loan. Jim Brown and Alistair Wilson were fine keepers, but it seemed circumstances and bad luck were against them.
In this period you played with some Killie stalwarts, Clarke, McDicken, Robertson, McCulloch etc. How good a side had Davie Sneddon built?
I think I have already mentioned how strong and talented a side we had. I remember just days after signing watching the boys play two matches at Rugby Park against Arbroath and Morton and being particularly impressed with the standard and speed of their play. It was comparable to anything I saw at Tannadice.
You left Killie in '83, what were the circumstances surrounding this?
I think the board saw the dollar sign when Dumbarton offered the club £15,000 for a player who was thirty. I left because the manager said I would not be in his future plans. I have since realised managers often say this to satisfy the board. It happened again with Alex Totten when Brechin bought me in 1986 from Dumbarton. The fee on that occasion was £10,000.
Did you enjoy your time at Dumbarton and Brechin?
As with Killie, I had two spells with Dumbarton, both being extremely enjoyable. It was local for me and I had close friendships with some of the players. Playing in the eighteen team league was wonderful with some outstanding games, including 3-3 draws with St. Johnstone, Hibs and Celtic. After my move in '83, Dumbarton won promotion and had a fairly successful season in the Premier League. Again I was the top scorer in gaining promotion, and I followed this up with five goals in the top division…say no more. Brechin was instantly forgettable. Glebe Park is literally just not in the same league as Rugby Park, and the travelling…! The only reason that I signed for Brechin was Ian Fleming, for whom I have always had a high regard, both as a player and manager also Alex Totten had told me that I wasn't in his plans.
You came back to haunt us in '85 scoring twice for Dumbarton, in a 4-1 win, why and how could you?
I have always given my best for any team I have played for. Also, I think I had a point to prove to the Kilmarnock board. The only down side was upsetting the Killie fans and for that I sincerely apologise.
How did you feel when you returned in 1988?
I couldn't believe it! The move came right out of the blue. At that point I wasn't getting a game under John Ritchie at Brechin and had decided to retire at the end of the season. A cynic might say I was dropped because I was approaching the forty games marker whereupon I was due the second part of my signing on fee, £1,000.
Did you feel you had joined a team on a slippery slope?
The squad had really changed since my previous tour of duty, and with no disrespect, were not as strong as before. However, I knew a club as big as Kilmarnock would never slip into oblivion, due to the backing of the supporters and the town as a whole - look where they are now.
It's fair to say that you returning, helped save us from relegation.
I would like to think that I helped a little. I was always good nuisance value - big and gangly, you know.
What do you remember about your final Killie appearance?
What can I say, we were playing Hibernian and their supporters couldn't believe the farewell you gave me… and neither could I! That's not entirely true, to me the Killie supporters are the best in the world. I do remember that my performance that day wasn't exactly up to scratch.
Highlights and lows of your time at Rugby Park?
The highlight was the support from the terracing and there were no real lows worth mentioning.
Do you think that your retirement was premature?
Looking back now it certainly was. Unfortunately, I had made my decision whilst at Brechin. Psychologically I could not handle the pressure. I had lost confidence and didn't want the Killie fans to see a has-been.
The biggest regret in your football career?
Signing for Dundee United.
What did you do after giving up the beautiful game?
I played a fair bit of district league volleyball. A bit of cricket, but mainly golf (every Saturday).
What are you doing with yourself now?
Trying to stave off middle age spread, and playing as much golf as possible.
How do you feel you'd do if playing now?
Going on my past record in the Premier League, I wouldn't get a game in this talented Killie team, however with a little more confidence, in a full time squad, I would like to think I would have something to offer.
Do you still follow the Killie's fortunes?
Of course I do, but I should try to get to more games.
The cup final … were you there?
Fortunately, my girlfriend Lisa and I were at the Travel Club player of the year dance the night before the final and thanks to Anne Clark, managed to acquire two tickets. The atmosphere was wonderful, if only all matches were like this, both sets of fans were a credit to their respective towns. The icing on the cake was the victory, although I do believe that Killie had an extra player in Jean Milloy, one of the loveliest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
How does it feel to be looked upon as a Killie legend and an all round great guy?
Being considered a hero to the Kilmarnock support is something very, very special to me. I consider that to be more important than winning any medal. As far as a great guy, you don't have to live with me!
Any closing comments for Killie fans?
If any one asks me to sum up my feelings for the Killie fans I tell them about the time I was playing for Dumbarton against Hamilton Accies at Boghead. To my amazement a group of Killie fans came into the ground after their match had been postponed. I have never been as proud as I was that day when those fans sang my name for the entire match. The Kilmarnock supporters are Kilmarnock Football Club, subsequent boards should take notice! I'd like to specially thank the Kilmarnock Travel Club for my honourary membership and their lifelong friendship. Also best wishes to Alan Muir, Ian Burnett, Rhona Hunter and Liz Armstrong, not forgetting Jimmy and Anne Clark plus Alan and Mary Robertson.
Interviewed by Donald Muir
Our policy relating to data collection and privacy has fairness at its heart and is never intended to cause objection or complaint and to that end if there is any dubiety we will not store your information. As a business we wish to stay in communication with your and keep you up to date with news, offers and updates on our product which you may find of interest, but we will only do this with your clear and specific consent.
KILLIE FC is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.
KILLIE FC may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from 13th Jun 2018
We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. To prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online and offline.
Where we collect this information
As a business we collect data for a number of sources, but our data policy applies to all of the following including personal data collected at reception, check in, exhibitions, on and off-line competitions, guest questionnaires, online bookings, online communications, digital newsletter sign ups from websites and social media, shared promotions with partners and others not listed.
We confirm that unless specific consent is given by the user the information shared will not be stored beyond the purpose intended. If specific consent is given to use the information collected it will be stored securely and digitally encrypted and password protected.
A cookie is a small file which asks permission to be placed on your computer's hard drive. Once you agree, the file is added and the cookie helps analyse web traffic or lets you know when you visit a particular site. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs, likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences.
We use traffic log cookies to identify which pages are being used. This helps us analyse data, using Google Analytics normally but on occasion other aggregation tools that advise us about web page traffic and improve our website in order to tailor it to customer needs. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system.
Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better website, by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you, other than the data you choose to share with us.
You can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. This may prevent you from taking full advantage of the website.
Links to other websites
Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites and such sites are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.
Controlling your personal information
You may choose to restrict the collection or use of your personal information in the following ways:
â whenever you are asked to fill in a form on the website, look for the box that you can click to indicate that you do not want the information to be used by anybody for direct marketing purposes
â if you have previously agreed to us using your personal information for direct marketing purposes, you may change your mind at any time by writing to or emailing us or by clicking unsubscribe where available.
We will not sell, distribute or lease your personal information to third parties unless we have your permission or are required by law to do so. We may use your personal information to send you promotional information about third parties which we think you may find interesting only if you specifically consent to us that you wish this to happen.
We undertake that third parties will only include businesses that support our business and your stay such as travel providers, visitor attractions, event providers and others directly related to our business offering.
If you believe that any information we are holding on you is incorrect or incomplete, please write to or email us [email protected] as soon as possible, at the above address. We will promptly correct any information found to be incorrect.
Our Website and In House Data Collection Policy
Our email collection policy is fully consent based and in entering your details clear consent is given by the user to receive future marketing materials from ourselves. The following information makes clear our policy on use of consent based email marketing and communications.
What we collect
We may collect the following information on a consent only basis:
â name and job title
â contact information including email address
â demographic information such as postcode, preferences and interests
â other information relevant to customer surveys and/or offers
What we do with the information we gather
The majority of the information we gather is required for contractual and legal purposes and to allow us to offer products and services as purchased.
When consent is given to use the information for marketing and communication purposes it is used for the following reasons:
â We may periodically send promotional emails about new products, special offers or other information which we think you may find interesting using the email address which you have provided.
â From time to time, we may also use your information to contact you using your provided email address for market research purposes.
Your information will never be shared with any third parties and at all times you have the right to unsubscribe permanently from our database with a simple click of the unsubscribe information at which time your details will be deleted from the mailing lists and removed from the database permanently with no archived records retained.
Your use of the Killie FC Web Site is subject to these terms and by using the Site you show your agreement to such terms. If you do not accept our terms, please do not use the Web Site.
This Web Site belongs to Killie FC.
Headings used in these terms and conditions are for convenience only and shall not affect their interpretation.
The images, logos and names on this Web Site which identify Killie FC or third parties and their products and services are proprietary marks of Killie FC and/or the relevant third parties. Nothing contained in this Web Site shall be deemed to confer on any person any license or right on the part of Killie FC or any third party with respect to any such image, logo or name.
Killie FC reserves the right, at any time and without prior notice, to remove or cease to supply any product or service contained on this Web Site. In the event that such removal takes place we shall not be liable to you in any way whatsoever for such removal.
Telephone calls using the telephone numbers provided on this Web Site and email correspondence with Killie FC at the email addresses accessible through, or discernible from, this Web Site may be recorded or monitored. By using such communication methods you are consenting to the recording or monitoring of the same.
The price of calls may vary depending on your telecoms supplier. Please check with your operator for exact charges.
This Web Site is for non-commercial, personal use only. The services contained on this Web Site may be supplied on a commercial basis on payment to Killie FC or its service or product suppliers of its charges from time to time. Please contact us on Email: [email protected]
In the event that you use any of the services contained on this Web Site for commercial use, Killie FC shall be entitled to charge you at its applicable rates in respect of such commercial use.
The copyright in the material contained in this Web Site belongs to Killie FC or its licensed source. Any person may copy any part of this material, subject to the following conditions:
the material may not be used for commercial purposes;
the copies must retain any copyrights or other intellectual property notices contained in the original material;
the products and technology or processes described in this Web Site may be subject to other intellectual property rights reserved by Killie FC or by other third parties with no license granted in respect of those intellectual property rights); images on this Web Site are protected by copyright as its text by IPR and may not be reproduced or appropriated in any manner without the written permission of their respective owner(s).
We reserve the right to change these terms and conditions at any time by posting changes on the Web Site. It is your responsibility to review the Web Site terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the latest terms and conditions. Your use of this Web Site after a change has been posted will be deemed to signify your acceptance of the modified terms and conditions. We recommend that you print off and retain for your records a copy of these terms and conditions from time to time and a copy of any terms and conditions relating to any product or service which you apply for online, together with any related application form completed and submitted.
Any amendment to terms and conditions must be agreed in writing by us, or, if appropriate, by the relevant company or individual supplier with whom you contract.
Whilst Killie FC has taken due care and attention in the preparation of the contents of this Web Site, this Web Site and the information, names, images, pictures, logos, icons regarding or relating to Killie FC or our products and services marketed on the site (or to third party products and services), are provided on an 'as is' basis without any representation or endorsement being made and without any warranty of any kind, whether express or implied, including but not limited to, any implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security and accuracy.
To the extent permitted by law, all such terms and warranties are hereby excluded. In no event will Killie FC be liable, whether in contract or tort (including negligence or breach of statutory duty) or otherwise for any losses sustained and arising out of or in connection with use of this Web Site including, without limitation, loss of profits, loss of data or loss of goodwill (in all these cases whether direct or indirect) nor any indirect, economic, consequential or special loss.
Killie FC does not represent that the information contained in this Web Site is accurate, comprehensive, verified or complete, and shall accept no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this Web Site or for any reliance placed by any person on the information.
Killie FC does not warrant that the functions or materials accessible from or contained in this Web Site will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected or that this Web Site or the server that makes it available are virus or bug free or represent the full functionality, accuracy, reliability of the materials.
If any of these Terms and Conditions (or any terms and conditions relating to a product or service referred to in this Web Site) should be determined to be illegal, invalid or otherwise unenforceable by reason of the laws of any state or country in which such terms and conditions are intended to be effective, then to the extent of such illegality, invalidity or unenforceability, and in relation to such state or country only, such terms or condition shall be deleted and severed from the rest of the relevant terms and conditions and the remaining terms and conditions shall survive, remain in full force and effect and continue to be binding and enforceable. Nothing in these terms and conditions shall exclude Killie FC's liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence of Killie FC.
All Intellectual Property Rights (including, without limitation, all database rights, rights in designs, rights in know-how, patents and rights in inventions (in all cases whether registered or unregistered and including all rights to apply for registration) and all other intellectual or industrial property rights in any jurisdiction) in any information, content, materials, data or processes contained in or to this Web Site belong to Killie FC or its licensed source. All rights of Killie FC in such Intellectual Property Rights are hereby reserved.
Killie FC makes no representation that any product or service referred to on or through the Web Site is appropriate for use, or available in other locations. The information and other materials contained in this Web Site may not satisfy the laws of any other country and those who choose to access this Site from other locations are responsible for compliance with local laws if and to the extent local laws are applicable.
These Terms and Conditions and any terms and conditions relating to products or services described in this Web Site shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of Scotland. Disputes arising in relation to the same shall, unless otherwise expressly agreed, be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Scotland.
Certain (hypertext) links, advertisements or suppliers promotion will lead you to Web Sites that are not under the control of Killie FC. When you activate any of these links, you will leave Killie FC Web Site by opening a new window and we have no control over and will accept no responsibility or liability in respect of the material on any such other Web Site. By allowing links with third party Web Sites Killie FC does not intend to solicit business or offer any security to any person in any country, directly or indirectly.
Every effort will be made to carry out the contract but its due performance is subject to cancellation by Killie FC or to such variation as we may find necessary as a result of inability to secure labour, materials or supplies or as a result of any act of God, War, Strike, Lockout or other labour dispute, Fire, Flood, Drought, Legislation, or other cause (whether of the foregoing class or not) beyond the sellers control.
We have tried to make this website as accessible as possible and easy to use for everyone, regardless of circumstance or ability.
All our page templates comply with the WCAG Priority 2 checkpoints as a minimum requirement. And we make every effort to ensure that all the content on our site meets this standard too. We are making every effort to ensure that we don't exclude any users. For example:
We try to publish all our text content as accessible HTML rather than in other formats such as PDF. Where we do publish PDFs or other formats our policy is to make them as accessible as we can.