John Judge – Player 1950 – 1956
The story of half back Johnny Judge who had a six year spell at Central Park back in the 1950’s. He
lived in Helmshore, in the Rossendale valley between Accrington and Blackburn in Lancashire but sadly died just after this interview.
I come from Lumphinnans
originally. My dad worked in the Number 1 Pit and we lived in the Miners’
Rows in Lumphinnans
Main Street. Some may also remember my cousin’s son Mike Judge who played for Raith Rovers
and Cowden. Davie Fowlis the ex-Cowdenbeath director was also my cousin.
During the War, I
was a big fan of the local juvenile side Lumphinnans Wanderers. They played at
the Basin which was behind the local Gothenburg pub. The ground was oval shaped
and not very flat. Juvenile football was big during the War as Cowdenbeath had
closed down and there was no junior football. Occasionally I went to see Dunfermline playing the North Eastern League.
Lumphinnans played against local sides like Dundonald Bluebell and Hill of Beath Star. There was also secondary juvenile football where there were clubs like Steelend, Valleyfield, Lochore Welfare, Crosshill Hearts and Lochgelly St Andrews. Lumphinnans Wanderers actually went on to win the Scottish Juvenile Cup and
there was great merriment in the village that night.
The year before I
think they had lost in the final to North End Boys Guild. They had a lot of good
players. Most of them worked down the pit and I think many could have done well
in the game but were too old by the time the War was over.
I was a pupil at
St Columba’s High School up in Stenhouse Street and I played for the Cowdenbeath & District Schools team. Other
players I can remember from the District School team were Fraser and McLean from Lochgelly South, Brydie and Hershaw from Kelty, and the goalkeeper was Joseph Mullen who later played in
the juniors for Lochgelly Albert I think.
The Cowdenbeath &
District side was not bad team. As I recollect we beat Auchterderran in the first
round of the Scottish Cup and then won against Edinburgh South at Meadowbank. We
were knocked out in the third round by Kirkcaldy Schools who had Jim Clunie who later played with St Mirren at centre
half. We played our home games at Central Park and then would go to have a meal at the Co-op restaurant in the High Street.
I also represented the East of Scotland at schoolboy level versus an Ayrshire side at Armadale. We won that match 5-1 and Rab Stewart from Kirkcaldy played alongside me in that game. He later on played with Cowdenbeath. Of course I also played
for St Columba’s in the schools league against Beath High, Kelty, Lochgelly South, etc.
I always remember
the store treat in Cowdenbeath. Every year we would enter a 5-a-side team from
Lumphinnans. The team included me, Archie Beveridge who played with me for Cowdenbeath
later, George Philp who joined East
Fife, and Bobby Bauld. Early round matches we played at places like Hutt’s Park with the final on the pitch at Cowdenbeath Public Park. When we won the 10
bob prize you’d think we’d won the World Cup we were so happy.
I also played in boys’ club football with Lumphinnans Boys Club. Archie
Beveridge was also a teammate there. We played against sides like Kirkford Boys
Club and Hill of Beath Boys Club who had Rab Simpson in their team.
I joined Cowdenbeath
in 1950 when I was just 17. I had seen Cowden play a few times including the
match with the record crowd at Central
Park v Rangers. Waddell and Woodburn and all those guys played in that match. I
also recall seeing Albion Rovers at Central
Park. Jock Stein was playing for them and they had a good winger called Johnny McIlhatton. Mind you they were a right rough side.
It was John Dougary who signed me for the club. John Robertson from
Hill of Beath who was a Cowden scout had been watching me regularly. They farmed
me out to Kelty Rangers in the juniors at first. I had about half a season at
Kelty. For 1950/51, Cowden were running a reserve side in Division ‘C’
which included teams such as Leith Athletic, Brechin City, Celtic ‘A’, Hibs ‘A’, Hearts ‘A’
and Dundee United ‘A’.
Among the other players
signed around that same time were Bert Kinnell’s brother Jim, James McKenzie from Lumphinnans, and Adam Anderson a Dunfermline lad who worked at Babcock and Wilcox at Alloa.
Also at Central Park was Ronnie Hood who was about 30 then. He was an experienced player who had played down in England. He came from Kirkford and was to die
young. Ronnie didn’t set much store by training but he was a very good
player and right comic as well.
George Robertson from Kirkcaldy who was a French polisher was the goalkeeper.
Other Cowden goalies I remember well were Jock Moodie, Willie Moodie who died in an accident at Valleyfield Pit, O’Grady
and John Neil from Hill of Beath. John Scott played up front and George Dick
was on the wing for the first team. He was a quiet man and the fans used to get
on his back.
Of course big Ming Menzies was there at the time as was his brother Willie.
Ming was a first class ticket, a real character! He would always rise
to the occasion. He didn’t like training much but he was big and strong
from working in the pit. He was a nice fellow really. Rab Quinn was with Cowden then as well and he was very hardy. He
certainly wasn’t fast but he was very strong and deadly with a free kick.
Another well known player who played in the Cowdenbeath ‘A’ team with me was outside left Davie Kinnear. He had played for Rangers and was very smart sort of player. Later he was the trainer at Ibrox and worked as a physio at Bridge of Earn.
manager was Bobby Baxter. The trainer was old Davie Stewart who worked out of
the ambulance station in Broad Street. His assistant was John Johnston who worked with him at the ambulance station. I got on really well with both of them.
The directors then included Mr Crooks, Mr Finlay the tailor, Mr Sweet who a bank manager, Mr Hodge who was a really
old man by then, and Bob Taylor from Edinburgh.
Playing in ‘C’
Division was a good experience. We got a draw at Celtic Park
and then won at Easter Road. Willie Fernie played against me for Celtic ‘A’. I blethered to him as I knew him from when he played for Kinglassie Boys Club. By then I was working in the offices at Cowdenbeath Workshops.
In 1951 though my
career was interrupted by National Service in the RAF where I was to spend the next two years.
I was a clerk in the RAF. It was certainly a change but nothing very special. Of course, I did manage to play a bit of football in the forces. During my training I was at Hereford and played for the RAF team there. Freddie Trueman the England fast bowler was the centre forward.
I was then stationed at RAF Buxton in Derbyshire and we played matches in the Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Wolverhampton area. I played against Wolves’ England internationalists Ron Flowers and Peter Broadbent who were both in
the forces but were stationed near to Wolverhampton. During this
time the Cowdenbeath Advertiser reported Liverpool were watching
me but I never knew anything about that and whether it was true or not.
I think I only got
back to Cowdenbeath once during that 2 year spell in the RAF. I played in a ‘B’
Division match v St Johnstone at Muirton and we won 2-1. Johnny Pattillo was
Saints’ manager then and I had witnessed him playing for Aberdeen during the war. That Cowden team had Ming in it, Bobby Buchan
who now lives in Ilkley although I hear he’s been poorly lately, Bert Kinnell who I had witnessed playing during the
War, and Harry Young on the left wing.
In 1953, I came back home and joined up again at Central Park and was back working at the Workshops. There I played for the Office
team in the Workshops football league. There were sides there like the Blacksmiths
and the Electricians.
The Blacksmiths were usually the top team. There was a chap I remember from then called Gordon Leishman who played for
the electricians who I saw not so long ago. He was good player but now
he’s walking with a stick.
When I came back
from the RAF in 1953 I never seemed to get a long run in the team. In my later
years at Central Park, the team included Frank Quinn on the wing, Rab Simpson and Jocky Millar both of whom I had played against
in Boys Club football, Jimmy Ross who was a sturdy player, Ian Reid a ginger haired full back, John Neil a goalie from Hill
of Beath, and Archie Beveridge. Jimmy Inglis who we signed from Worcester City
was the centre forward – a right moaner but he could certainly score goals – 2 or 3 a game!
Bert Kinnell and
Ming Menzies were still with the club then as well but left back John Hynd had left to join Dunfermline. Then there were the likes of Basher Murphy,
Bobby Buchan, Archie Bennett and Harry Young as well on the playing staff at Central Park.
Manager Bobby Baxter got the sack
but really I was too young to realise there was a bit of a problem between him and the Board.
Old John Dougary took charge then and I remember him as a nice man. He
was big and stout and a bit of a chain smoker.
only picture I have from my time with Cowdenbeath shows me in a match v Raith Rovers.
We beat the Rovers 3-1 in that match. Inglis scored twice and I think
it was the 1954 Fife Cup semi final. That Raith side had Willie McNaught, Ernie
Copland, big Harry Colville and the winger Jimmy McEwan who went on to join Aston Villa.
Jock Gilliard I recall
from then was involved with the Supporters Club and Tommy Russell who I worked with at the NCB workshops eventually became
Cowden’s club secretary. Last time I saw him before he died I got the shock
of my life as he was in a wheelchair having lost both of his legs. I guess though
I never really settled when I came back from the RAF. In 1956, Cowdenbeath released
me at the end of the season. I had by then realised I wasn’t going to make
a living from football. I was very briefly with Brechin City
before I gave up the pro game.
In 1958, police forces
down in England were crying out for new recruits. Cowden captain Les Murray went down south to join the Grimsby Police force.
Grimsby were always looking for footballers as they were winning
the Police Cup every year. Les didn’t stay down south too long and later
on he ran a pub in Kinghorn.
I took the plunge and joined the police in Lancashire
in 1958 and served in various forces there until I retired in 1987. On the football
front I tended to follow the local clubs where I was stationed. I initially watched
Bolton Wanderers and then from 1961 Burnley and Blackburn Rovers in their First Division
days. I also used to go along and watch local side Accrington Stanley who have just got back into the English League.
They had lots of
Scots playing for them and I can remember Joe Devlin (ex-Falkirk), Jimmy Mulkerrin (ex-Hibs), John Ryden (ex-Alloa) and Jimmy
Harrower (ex-Third Lanark) who came from Crossgates. Jimmy was player/manager
there for a time and later ran a local pub. Once when I had to go to an inquest
in the area it turned out he was on the bench. The minute he heard me he said,
‘you come from the same place as me.’
I enjoyed living
in Lancashire although I move around a fair bit. I now live in Helmshore in the Rossendale valley between Accrington and Blackburn. I met my
wife when she was working as a nurse in a hospital in Warrington. She’s an Irish girl and we married in 1960. We have 3 sons and a daughter. One of my sons is at home and
another in Germany in the army. My
other son and daughter live in the south of England.
Most years I go back up to the Cowdenbeath area for a long weekend. My
nephew used to take me along to Central
Park as he was a regular. More recently we’ve sometimes gone along to East End Park. I enjoy coming back up and reading the Advertiser again. My nephew is married to John Knox’s daughter. John of
course was sold by Cowden to Preston. I think
he still lives in Hill of Beath as does Rab Simpson.
Looking back over
my career I remember playing against the likes of big Doug Baillie when he was at Airdrie.
Jimmy McEwan the Raith Rovers winger was a really good player and a thorn in our side I remember was Hughie Gallagher
the Dumbarton centre forward. Muirton was a ground I liked and I recall winning
there but Hampden wasn’t a favourite – largely because we lost 7-1 there with a young Max Murray scoring 3 for
Queens. Max of course
later played with Rangers.
Easter Road and Parkhead were grounds I enjoyed playing at. Jock
Brown at Hibs and George Hunter of Celtic were fine goalkeepers but I remember us having good results against their sides
in the old ‘C’ Division. The best players I played alongside for
Cowden were Willie McGurn, Big Ming Menzies who was a very steady player, Rab Simpson – a very good passer of the ball,
and Bobby Buchan. Those were happy days back then. I was a young man travelling around Scotland to places like Glasgow and Arbroath. They were