Cowdenbeath Football Club is officially regarded as having been formed in 1881,
although some historians insist it came into being a year earlier. Either way, it is the oldest senior football club in the
Kingdom of Fife.
Cowden joined the Scottish League in 1905, becoming a limited company in the process.
They won the second championship on two occasions, 1914 and 1915. Unfortunately, there was no automatic promotion in those
days, the fate of the top club being decided by vote. Clubs from the east of Scotland regularly found themselves denied a
place in the top flight.
The west coast bias prompted the eastern clubs - including Cowdenbeath
- to quit the Scottish Football League and form the 'rebel' Central League which proved to be highly successful.
In 1921 the SFL relented and introduced promotion and relegation between the
two divisions. This move persuaded the Central League clubs to rejoin the national set-up. Around this time, Cowden constructed
a 120-yard-long grandstand which seated over 3000. A fantastic achievement for a club from such a small community.
This saw the start of Cowden's glory years. They enjoyed a ten-year spell
in the top division and in 1925 finished in fifth place. In the early 30's they were the only Fife club playing at the highest
level, often in front of several thousand spectators. Relegation in 1934 proved to be only a temporary setback with the
club storming away with the Second Division title in 1939.
With the 1939/40 season only weeks old, Cowden failed to fulfil a fixture.
The excuse that several key players had enlisted in HM Forces cut no ice with the league committee and the Miners were
fined the ridiculous sum of £5000. With no means of paying such an amount, Cowden were forced to resign from the league. Shortly
afterwards, the escalating conflict prompted the footballing authorities to declare the season void but Cowden were not off
Tragically, a return to top class football was not to be. When the League
resumed in 1946, Cowden were not placed in the top division, a blow from which the club was never to recover.
For the next quarter of a century Cowden languished in the second division.
However, the club's most famous result was recorded during this period, a 3-2 League Cup win against Rangers at Ibrox in 1949.
The second leg attracted a record crowd of 25,000 to Central Park and Cowden were only seconds away from causing a huge
upset when Rangers scored a controversial equaliser to take the tie into extra time, eventually going on to win 5-4 on aggregate.
The 50's were a lean time for Cowden but they had a serious tilt
at promotion in 1957 and managed to reach the League Cup semi-final in 1959 where they were beaten 9-3 by Hearts at Easter
Road. Cash-flow problems led to the break-up of that side and the Miners plunged to the bottom of the league.
Cowden finally returned to the big time in 1970 but this was to last
for a solitary season with the club only managing to collect 17 points. However, a second League Cup semi was reached. This
time Cowden put up a stiffer fight, going down 3-1 to Rangers at Hampden Park. The following season, Cowden appeared to be
on course for a swift return to the top league but they proceeded to throw it all away and handed the promotion spot to Arbroath.
In 1981, the club came agonisingly close to stepping up to the new First
Division but a missed penalty against Queen's Park on the final day of the season was to prove their undoing.
After a 22-year hiatus, Cowden won promotion again in 1992. On a
hot summers day on the final day of the season, an unbelieveably large crowd assembled at Recreation Park, Alloa, to witness
a promotion decider. The match itself was instantly forgettable, a dour 0-0 draw, but the point was enough to see The Blue
Brazil go up.
Due to league reconstruction the First Division was no longer the top
division but it still included luminaries such as Dunfermline, Kilmarnock and Raith. Unfortunately the season turned out to
be a disastrous one with Cowden being swiftly relegated. During this time, the famous old stand was gutted by fire and
only half of it remained.
This marked a period of decline during which Cowden endured an embarrassing
run of 38 league matches without a home win. With the club entrenched at the bottom of the league and crowds dwindling away
to a mere handful of diehards, the footballing future looked bleak.
Things began to turn around with the arrival of Craig Levein as manager.
A former player at Central Park who was transferred to Hearts in a £40,000 deal, Levein restored dignity to Central Park and
led the club into a promotion challenge.
His success didn't go unnoticed at Tynecastle and the Edinburgh side
whisked him away to become their new boss midway through the season. Gary Kirk stepped into the breach and successfully continued
the good work started by Levein.
Under the guidance of Kirk, Cowden won promotion to the Second Division
by beating Brechin 2-1 in a deciding match at Central Park on the final day of the
season in front of over 3000 spectators. This time, the Blue Brazil managed to stay up although Kirk departed along the way,
being replaced by Keith Wright.
Wright made way for Dave Baikie but the Blue Brazil finally won
their first championship title for 67 years under the shrewd guidance of Mixu Paatelainen in 2006.