Although he rarely enjoyed a run in the Everton first XI, the prematurely balding figure of Scottish defender, John ‘Tiger’ McLaughlin, was an image many Evertonians of the early-1970s consider synonymous with the era.
A small, aggressive full-back, ‘Tiger’ – an affectionate nickname he carried south from Scotland – was signed from Falkirk for £50,000 in 1971. A quiet and unassuming member of the Everton dressing room, his arrival effectively marked the end for Keith Newton, less than 15 months after he had starred at the Mexico World Cup. He was a regular through most of the 1971/72 season, but struggled to get a look in the following campaign with midfielder Henry Newton then Archie Styles deployed in his place.
The arrival of Billy Bingham as manager initially prompted a change of fortune. A regular through the first half of the 1973/74 campaign, he lost his place to Steve Seargeant and was thereafter a peripheral member of the Everton squad.
‘The balding pate of Everton full-back John McLaughlin (sic) makes him look 10 years older than he is,’ recorded a Liverpool Echo profile during that season. ‘He was thin on top when he joined the Blues two years ago from Falkirk . . . and then he was only 23. He is deceptive looking in other ways as well. Slightly built, very quiet off the field, without the strength one would expect from a defender, he gets so involved in a game, particularly with his tackling, that Scottish fans dubbed him ‘The Tiger’ before he moved south to Goodison.’
Unable to supplant either Seargeant or Dave Jones, in summer 1976 Tiger tried his luck in the NASL with Seattle Sounders. He returned to Falkirk the following season, playing out his career at Brockville Park. He settled in the area, later working in the plumbing trade.