John Philliben, or better known as ‘Softie’, was born in Stirling on 14 March 1964.
His life in football began with his local side Stirling Albion in 1980, where he went on to make 109 league appearances.
Philliben earned a move to Doncaster Rovers in a transfer worth £70,000. The move was a club record signing in 1984 and the defender enjoyed three years down South.
However, north of the border, Philliben was attracting interest. Tommy McLean was the first to make his move to bring the defender to Fir Park and succeeded in September 1986.
Just two weeks after joining, John was involved in the League Cup Final defeat to Celtic where the Steelmen succumbed to penalties.
Nonetheless, John continued to forge a career in the claret and amber and scored a 30-yard screamer against Morton for his first goal.
In one of Motherwell’s most renowned victories, a 3-0 thrashing of Rangers in 1991 at Fir Park, John got himself on the scoresheet.
He was instrumental in Motherwell’s eventual Scottish Cup success in 1991, being voted man of the match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie and featured against Falkirk, and both semi final matches against Celtic.
The epitome of a true professional, John was left out of the cup final squad however backed his teammates to get over the line against Dundee United.
In season 1992/93, he was an integral part of one of the most solid back five that has been constructed at Motherwell. Playing alongside Luc Nijholt, Chris McCart, Brian Martin and Rab McKinnon, John would produce and robust and professional performances for the Fir Park faithful.
He scored a last minute equaliser against Dundee United in 1993 that will live long in the memory of any travelling supporter that day.
He missed only five of the 36 league games in 1994/95 season where the team finished second in the Premier League.
John became only the 8th player in the club’s history to make 300 appearances for Motherwell in January 1998. His time in ML1 would draw to a close in May 1998 where he retuned to Stirling Albion as player/manager.
In the end, John made 302 league appearances for the club and scored seven goals. He was awarded a testimonial match against West Ham in 1998.
A popular figure for his work rate, professionalism and effort, John Philliben is a true Motherwell legend who gave everything anytime he pulled on the claret and amber.
But maybe the most fitting accolade that can be attributed to John Philliben, is that in a sport full of fickleness, mercenaries and greed, Motherwell had a player who was always prepared to put the team’s cause before his own personal well-being.
A true club legend and a thoroughly deserved inductee into the 2023 Motherwell Hall of Fame.
We will never forget those who have forged the path to where the club sits at present day. Some with us and some sadly not, we want to come together to celebrate the proud history we have at Motherwell Football Club.
This year, the event will take place at Dalziel Park Hotel on Friday 17 November, with host Tam Cowan inducting five new names.
If you would like to attend our night of celebration, tickets cost £66 for adults and £30 for children under the age of 12 are on sale now.
You can buy tickets for the dinner online or contact the commercial department on 01698 338011.
Please note than some of the colourful language on the night may not be appropriate for young children or those easily offended.