Probably the best keeper ever to fill a Talbot goalie jersey, but his eccentricity was kept for the seniors. Signed from Maybole Juniors he kept goal during the 1973/74 League Cup final where Talbot enjoyed a 2-0 lead against Kello Rovers thanks to Gavin Goudie and Mungo Hamilton only to lose 3-2 after 90 minutes. It didn't take long for Hugh to sign senior and Ayr United captured his signature in 1974.
Sproat over his 22 years as a senior saw him labelled a lunatic as he dribbled and headed his way into Ayr United folklore. 20 years on and the BBC Sportcene programme after a poll amongst Ayr fans nominated him the biggest ever "Cult Hero" at Somerset. He was a legend among rival fans as both sides of the Old Firm can remember his choice of goalie strip during his many encounters with both Glasgow giants.
His winding up of the Glasgow masses was recorded in the boys football magazine "Shoot" when he told the reporter.
Hugh Sproat, Ayr United Panini 1978
"I'm a punk rocker," Hugh Sproat explained to Shoot after he'd taken the field for an SPL game wearing a razor blade as an earring, which he had to remove before being allowed to play. Sproat, a milkman before he joined Ayr in 1974, had already made himself a fan favourite for his choice of goalkeeping jerseys when playing either of the Old Firm. He normally wore red for Ayr but changed to green for matches against Rangers and blue for Celtic. Sproat's heyday was a few years before videoing of matches became widespread so there is relatively little footage of him, but was also known for dribbling with the ball or heading it when he might have punched or caught. For all the eccentricities he was highly rated as a goalkeeper, making over 200 appearances for Ayr and a further 150 for Motherwell.
At Motherwell the trend continued, but there was a story where either at Ayr or the "Well" he was on his way out to the field at Parkhead with his blue jersey on when Jock Stein stopped him and said "Son., take that jersey off because there's enough loony's out there without you winding them up.
Sproat was idolised by the Motherwell fans and he won their greatest Fir park moustaches competion in a attempt to put fun in the game, a trait that Hughie had done throughout his career. Joker or athlete Hughie racked up 189 appearance for Ayr and 145 for Motherwell. He was another Talbot great.
Just to show how much fun Hughie put into football a prominent programme seller described the Motherwell v Forfar programme as such.
The example shown above may have fallen somewhat short but nonetheless it did demonstrate one possible use of a matchday programme - scare the opposition into submission before the game has even taken place. Certainly that seems to be the idea at work in this effort from Motherwell. You almost suspect that they passed copies around the Forfar strikers before the game with the warning "don't try to score; Hugh Sproat's moustache hasn't eaten in days". Either that or they wanted to entice more female supporters through the turnstiles and thought that putting a bit of beefcake like Shug was the way to do it.
Hughie's pen picture above is the programme in question.