Obituary: Pat Cusack, 75

Scott, Pat and Billy Cusack at the London Olympics. Picture: comp
Scott, Pat and Billy Cusack at the London Olympics. Picture: comp
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PAT Cusack, one of the most influential people involved in Scottish judo and a driving force behind the success of the Scottish team at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, has died, aged 75.

Mr Cusack was born in Glasgow and trained as a joiner before entering National Service where he discovered judo while serving as a physical training instructor.

He would go on to help mentor some of the stars of the sport, with Team Scotland winning six gold medals, two silver and five bronze at the Commonwealth Games judo.

It was during his national service that he met life-long friend Dave Scott, who had already discovered the sport, and Pat was hooked.

Not long afterwards, he married Margaret, who later became a care assistant, after they met at the famous F&F Palais de Danse in Partick. They moved to London for a while where Pat earned good wages in joinery, but returned to Scotland when he was offered a job in Gorebridge.

Pat’s daughter, Karen Clarkson, said: “My brother Billy was the first of Pat’s children to get into judo. He just came home from school one day when he was 12 years old, saying he wanted to do judo, and of course Dad was delighted.

“He wasn’t so much a coach as a mentor, and together we all travelled to every sports centre in the land for competitions.

“Billy’s career went massive with a bronze medal in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand, an appearance at the Olympics in 1992, and involvement in every Olympics since then. He became Irish team coach in 1996, and is inducted into the Coaching Hall of Fame. He retired from competition in 1995. But it was all supported and made possible by my Dad.”

Karen was also encouraged in the sport by her father, and won bronze in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Despite all the sporting success, according to Karen there’s no money in judo and to finance his family’s sporting lives, Pat worked tirelessly as a joiner, fitting kitchens.

Away from the judo ring, Pat’s other passion – shared with all his seven brothers – was speedway, perhaps inspired by their grandfather who was a motorcycle dispatch rider in the First World War.

The family have fond memories of Pat – even as his health declined. He could still do handsprings at 70, and in his final weeks impressed the nurses performing jack-knifes – a judo training move – in his hospital bed. He even reputedly had the priest in stitches when giving him the Last Rites.

Pat is survived by his children Billy, Karen and Lorraine, his six grandchildren Jade, Scott, Patrick, Jason, Lachlan and Kaitlin and wife Margaret.

A funeral service will be held at St Margaret’s RC Church, Lady Brae, Gorebridge on Tuesday at 11am.