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Celtic's legendary kit man

Celtic's John Clark: Lisbon Lion turned kit controller
Celtic's John Clark: Lisbon Lion turned kit controller

Once concerned only with remembering to bring along 11 outfield kits and a goalie shirt, the role of the kit man has changed dramatically in modern football thanks to third strips, customised boots and snoods. We asked Lisbon Lion, John Clark, one of the world's most decorated kit men, to explain what his job involves.

"Most people think there's not much to being a kit man, but these days it's like running the men's department at Marks & Spencer, especially at a big club like Celtic. 

I'm looking after the kit for around 50 players - senior players and youngsters – all of whom might need something from you at any point. You've got to be on the ball all the time and it can be stressful. 

It's a seven days a week job – not for a young man with a family: it would end in divorce. I'm in at 8am and I leave when I'm finished.

My preparations begin the day after a game – getting the kit washed and ready, replacing shirts that have been given away or damaged, making sure every single player has everything they need, short or long sleeves, etc.

When we started it was all long sleeves – now the players choose what they prefer. The shirts we wore for Celtic when we won the 1967 European Cup were heavier, made of cotton. 

Now the players are wearing shirts made out of special fabrics, with a  lot of research going into the design. I suppose it seems like the dark ages compared to now, though we didn't see it that way at the time.

The boots these days are far more advanced too. It's night and day in terms of weight, as the ones we wore absorbed so much water. 

The synthetic boots they wear now are a doddle to clean. You don't need to polish them – you just wipe them down with a damp cloth.

You've got separate kit for domestic and European games and it's not just the matchday kit; it's the training kit, the pre-match warm-up kit, everything..."