Johnny Matthews: Scotland call would cap season to remember for Glasgow Warriors hooker and proud Everton fan


Johnny Matthews came through the club rugby ranks and is pictured in action for Boroughmuir against Stirling County in 2019.

It’s a phrase that could be applied to the career of the Glasgow Warriors hooker, who has worked assiduously and now finds himself in the frame for Scotland’s summer tour of South America.

At 28, Matthews is no overnight sensation but his diligence and patience have been rewarded on a journey that began in the lower echelons of the English game with Sedgley Park and Otley and continued in Scotland with Boroughmuir before Glasgow came calling.

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He had to wait until the 2020-21 season to win his first full-time contract with the Warriors and didn’t make his first start for the club until February last year. He is now a first-team regular and the club’s top try-scorer this season, quite an achievement when you consider the other Glasgow hookers are Scotland No 1 George Turner and club co-captain and 55-cap international Fraser Brown.

“On a personal note I think this season has gone pretty well for me,” said Matthews. “I’ve had a good run of games through one reason or another.

“I’ve worked pretty hard off the pitch, on the training ground and stuff, to get myself to a level where I can not only compete for the jersey but keep it.”

Born and raised in Liverpool, Matthews has a distinct Scouse brogue but his mother is from Blantyre and the hooker has ambitions to play for Scotland. He has already worn the thistle at under-18 and Club XV level and would love to be heading to Chile and Argentina this summer.

“I’d be delighted if I got a Scotland call up,” he said. “It would be fantastic for me and a great achievement given where I’ve come from in the club game. But I’ve always said my focus is wanting to get in the Glasgow team, keep my spot in the team and see what happens from there.

Glasgow Warriors hooker Johnny Matthews with the 1872 Cup. (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group)

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“If I get the opportunity to go on the summer tour then that’s fantastic. My mum’s side would be buzzing, in fact both sides would be pretty happy. Liverpool’s not really a rugby city.

“But my ambition at the moment is to make sure Glasgow finish in the best possible position.”

A victory over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on Saturday would ensure Glasgow finish above their old rivals in the URC and would also see the Warriors retain the 1872 Cup and clinch a place in next season’s Heineken Champions Cup.

Johnny Matthews is Glasgow’s top try-scorer this season. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

“First and foremost we’re looking to win the game,” he said. “I don’t think we’re looking at that 13-point lead. If we win the game we win the Scottish-Italian Shield and then that qualifies us for the Champions Cup, so from our point of view we’re coming to win the game, not just win the 1872 Cup.”

As his own career has reached new heights this season Matthews has watched with some concern as Everton have flirted with relegation. A dyed-in-the-wool fan, I have dabbled in both codes in his youth.

“I played football growing up in Liverpool. It was a big part of my upbringing,” he said.

So how did he end up moving to rugby?

“Wasn’t good enough at football!”


www.scotsman.com

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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