Down Memory Lane with this former Cowden site

Jim Dorman
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Cowden Conversations
Jim Dorman – Player 1957-62 

 

Central Park had a visitor from Australia ex-Cowden keeper Jim Dorman.  Jim kindly agreed to be interviewed by the programme team and here we recall his career.

Jim is a native of Paisley just like Cowden legend Jimmy ‘Hookey’ Leonard and it was with the assistance of Hookey’s family via the internet that Jim Dorman got in touch with his old club. 

 

‘It was a real gentleman called John Dougary who signed me for Cowdenbeath in March 1958.  I took over in goals from Sandy Henderson at a time Cowden were finding it difficult to get a reliable keeper.  John Dougary asked Sam Cowan (an ex-Cowdenbeath and St Mirren player) who was then a scout for the Saints if he knew any decent goalkeepers and Sam recommended me.  I was then playing junior with Annbank after having spent 3 seasons playing for St Mirren reserves. Before going to Love Street I had kept goal for Ardeer Recreation.  

 

During my time at St Mirren I had become great friends with George Hamilton the famous Scottish internationalist and through George I also got to know Aberdeen’s  Scottish international goalie Fred Martin.  I used to stay with George when Saints visited Aberdeen. I had had run outs with St Johnstone and Falkirk but when I came to Cowdenbeath I liked the place and the people and ended up staying for 5 years.  I travelled through from Paisley every week along with Jimmy Lindsay who was picked up in Coatbridge. 

 

The players I remember when I first joined included John ‘Basher’ Murphy.  He was hard boy and a bit of a loner.  He got a bit frustrated after spending a long time with Cowdenbeath and went to Queen of the South.  Bobby Ross was another local lad and an experienced full back.  There was also a young Andy Rolland who was Cowden daft and Watty McWilliams who was a real character. 

 

"I also remember off the field characters such as Bill Terris and Bob Taylor who were on the board and Jock Gilliard.  Later I used to travel through to Fife with Willie Wallace then with Raith Rovers who was to become one of the Lisbon Lions.  I was to meet up with him again after he moved to Australia.  Later, I also recollect giving a lift through to a young amateur from Paisley who was playing for Cowden -  Jimmy Robertson.  He went on to play for Scotland and scored in the 1967 FA Cup final for Spurs. 

 

Looking at Cowdenbeath today, in some ways it’s changed tremendously but in others it hasn’t altered all that much.  We used to go to the Co-op tearooms every day for a meal.  That was across the High Street from the entrance to Central Park. 

 

One of my earliest games for Cowden was a League Cup tie v Celtic played at Parkhead.  We put up a good show and only lost 2-0.  The great Bobby Collins scored a goal that day in what was his last game for Celtic before he was transferred to Everton.  He couldn’t half hit a shot although the goal he scored in that game was at least 2 yards offside!  Dick Beattie was in goal for Celtic then and Bertie Auld was playing. 

 

If we had scored it would have been touch and go and Celtic only got on top once we tired a bit.  The papers though really slated Celtic for a poor show and for the second leg Celtic were really fired up.  We were whitewashed 8-1.  Fernie and Auld controlled the play, Sammy Wilson that wee poacher pinched a few goals and John Colrain gave us hell.  The match highlights were shown on Scotsport but I avoided watching it as I’d seen enough of Celtic for that day. 

 

By now Jimmy Mitchell, the ex-Aberdeen skipper was manager.  He came from Cardonald and he used to drive me through each day in his car  - a green Humber as I recall.  In 1959, we did well to reach the League Cup semi final.  We faced Hearts at Easter Road under the lights.  Really all we had to offer was guts and determination.  We were OK until just after half-time then full time training took its toll.  Hearts were a classy side and hammered us 9-3 eventually. 

 

Ian Crawford and Gordon Smith were in great form but best of all was Alex Young – a really wonderful player who just waltzed through us at will.  Interestingly, I played for Cowden a couple of years later at Parkhead again in a Scottish Cup tie.  It was a freezing cold day and Frank Haffey was in goal for Celtic.  We lost 5-1 to a Celtic side with a young John Hughes starring.  I got to know Frank when I emigrated to Australia and he and I are the only ‘keepers I know who have played in 9-3 defeats.  Frank’s Wembley nightmare though is rather better remembered than our game v Hearts. 

 

I also have a souvenir from the Hearts semi final - a photo that won an award as Sports Photograph of the Year – It shows me flying through the air as the ball hurtles towards goal.  I tell everyone it was a great save but in reality the ball flew past me and landed in the net! 

 

Another memorable match I can recall was playing in the Scottish Cup v Dunfermline.  I had crashed my car on the way to the ground and was sick before the match but still played and  managed to save a Harry Melrose penalty.  I had another car crash a year or so later when I was driving through with Jimmy Lindsay for a match v East Stirling at Central Park.  Jimmy and I missed the game and our 45 year old coach Geordie Johnstone took over in goal on the day.  George played a blinder I believe.  I smiled when I read David Allan’s book which suggested “Jim Dorman  was a better keeper than a driver” – perhaps there was something in that. 

 

Later I also recollect a Scottish Cup tie v Motherwell at Central Park where Ian St John scored for the Well.  Another ex-Motherwell man was Wilson Humphries and he was also an art teacher.  He was great sketch artist and I still have a sketch he drew of me in goalkeeper’s jersey.  It’s about a foot high on parchment and is really first class.

 

I honestly had a very happy time at Central Park - I wouldn’t have travelled through every week if I hadn’t.  It certainly wasn’t for the money!  There were one or two low points such as losing in the Cup at Eyemouth.  I also had a surprise one day when I came out of the Co-op dining room and a man offered me 200 to throw the game as he had it as part of a 25-1 double it seems.  I looked at him with disgust and said I would never do that.  He replied though that 5 of my teammates had already agreed.  We were thrashed that day but we were struggling at the time and I can’t really believe any of my colleagues threw the  game. 

 

However, it was happening a lot back then and there was a big scandal a year or two later when some England internationalists were jailed for match fixing.  

 

In 1959/60, we finished bottom of the League and then Harry Colville who had just retired as a player with Raith Rovers was brought in as manager.  There were a lot of changes to the team and I can remember a number of the players from that time.  There was Bobby Anderson at right back, he was a long-legged well made type of player.  Bobby Thomson the centre-half came from Edinburgh and then there was Jim Stirling at right half.  He came from Glasgow and had a flat topped crew cut.  At first he seemed an ordinary sort of player but then really kicked on.  The other wing half was Johnny Rankin a very powerful player from Glasgow. 

 

Up front we had some pretty talented players.  Dave Fraser wasn’t very tall but was straight backed and a very busy type.  Ken Allison from Edinburgh was playing centre forward – he was always threatening to do a lot but never quite reached his potential.  Wee Willie McIntosh was a fine winger while inside right Tommy Robertson like me went to play in Australia.  Tommy was a nice lad but a bit of a ‘larrikin’.  He ran his own race and was always hogging the ball.  Another ex-Cowden player who came to Australia was Eddie McLeod.  Like his father he played for St Mirren as well.  He came out to Sydney and I met up with him in Australia.  Later, he settled in Perth, in Western Australia.  Eddie was another guy I sometimes travelled through with but I was always a bit nervous as he loved speeding in his Rover car.

 

There are lots of incidents from my playing days that come to mind.  I remember playing against Ayr United once and they had a real livewire centre in Peter Price.  Football was a bit more physical then and Peter loved to get stuck in.  He was giving me hell and despite me warning him he was heading for a whack he yet again clattered me.  Next time we went for the ball together shoulder to shoulder, I gave him a sharp jab in the ribs.  The result was he suffered two broken ribs. 

 

"I actually felt bad about it after the game and apologised to Peter.  He later came out to Australia to play and I got to know him then as   a really good bloke.

 

Another time  it was me who was in the wars at Cappielow.  I went up for a high ball v Morton but came down heavily and broke my wrist.  I went off and was left lying in the dressing room until it was almost full time.  Eventually an ambulance turned up but the driver then picked up several of his mates at the game and proceeded to drop them off one by one at their homes before belatedly  taking me to the hospital.  When we got to the hospital there was no doctor available and there was no X-ray radiographer.  Ultimately they did set the bone but they did such a bad job I had to go into hospital in Paisley on the Monday for them to reset the bone. 

 

Eventually Harry Colville signed his old teammate and friend Charlie Drummond from Raith Rovers and we competed for the goalkeeper’s jersey for about a season.  My wife’s health though was poor and she was advised to go to a warmer climate for the sake of her health.  I didn’t want to let Cowden down though and gave them a good bit of notice that I was looking to emigrate to Australia. 

 

 As I said before, I had a very happy time at Central Park – they were nice people in Cowdenbeath.  The club gave me a tremendous reference when I left – I still have a copy to this day.  Jim Dorman can always be relied upon was the gist of it.  Indeed I hardly missed a game in 5 years with Cowden despite the car crashes.  I recollect I was paid something like 8 for a win, 6 for a draw and 4 for a defeat and we used to have crowds of 4,000 or 5,000.

 

Just before we departed for Australia I got a telegram from Airdrie asking if I could play in a cup tie v Celtic but I turned them down as I was just set to depart.  I played for a number of teams in Australia and was still playing at 36.  I did make a mistake though when I joined Corinthians in Sydney.  They offered quite big money but the catch was you weren’t paid per week but per game.  If you didn’t play you got no wages and it operated as kind of mechanism for them to underpay you. 

 

Nowadays I live at Newcastle between the beach and Lake MacQuarrie.  My two sons played football in Australia.  One was a goalkeeper like his dad while the other  played as a centre half. 

 

Anyway I’ve had a fine time back visiting Cowdenbeath and although much has changed the big bowl shape of Central Park is still there along with part of the old stand.  Frank Dillon kindly arranged of me to visit the ground and then took me up to Hill of Beath to see the Jim Baxter statue.  Amazingly, I was in the club at Hill of Beath with Frank and I asked a guy in the bar if he knew a local lad called Jimmy Sinclair who played with me out in Australia.  He pointed out Jimmy’s house across the road and I then surprised Jimmy with an impromptu visit.  He has  had two hip replacements. 

 

"It was grand chatting with you and please pass on my regards to any of the fans who still remember me from all those years ago." 

 

 

Cowden Conversations with David A Allan