Doug Cowie, Scotland’s longest-serving football internationalist

Doug Cowie, footballer. Born May 5, 1926 in Aberdeen. Died: November 26, 2021 in Dundee, aged 95

© A smiling, resplendent Doug Cowie in a Scottish cap

Doug Cowie, who was Scotland’s longest-serving football internationalist, won 20 caps in the 1950s while playing for Dundee. A highly accomplished left midfielder (now an attacking midfielder), he was known for his polished and skillful play, the precision of his passing and his inspiring contribution as a team player. Virtually a one-club man, he played a record 446 games for the Dark Blues with whom he won two League Cups, was a former Premier League finalist and a Cup finalist. Scotland as well as a regular team captain. Rightly inducted into the club’s inaugural Hall of Fame in 2009, his exceptional service was also recognized in Dens Park’s first hospitality suite, named The Doug Cowie Lounge.

After his debut in Scotland against England at Wembley in 1953, he won 20 caps between that date and 1958, including participating in the finals of two World Cups in 1954 and 1958, respectively in Switzerland and Sweden. In addition, he won three Scottish League caps and a “B” cap in Scotland. After 16 seasons with Dundee, he was released in 1961 to join Morton as a players coach before leading Raith Rovers for a year, after which he coached and then signed for Dundee United.

Douglas Cowie was born in Aberdeen to parents Richard, a boxer, and Williamina. The youngest of four siblings, he grew up in Torry where he attended Walker Street Primary School and then Torry High School, his footballing skills leading to a lawsuit for the Aberdeen Schoolchildren. He also played for the Caledonian Juveniles before joining the junior team St Clement’s, with which he was selected to represent Aberdeenshire Juniors.

After leaving school at the age of 15, he began an apprenticeship as a riveter with the local John Lewis shipyard, while his footballing potential led him to train in Pittodria as the Dons considered to sign it. However, Dundee got ahead of them.

Their colorful manager, ironically an Aberdonian, George Anderson, unexpectedly appeared at the shipyard at 8 a.m. one morning in 1945 to offer terms to Doug who, unsure of what to do, suggested Anderson speak to his father. , who worked nearby. After Mr. Cowie was assured his son would be well looked after, Doug signed on the dotted line for Dundee.

It took him a little while to come out on top after making his debut on February 23, 1946 against Stirling Albion and performing several times on a tour of Italy, Germany and Austria later that year.

In the 1948/9 season, he was established in the first team, playing mainly then at the center half. On the last day of the season, Dundee had to beat Falkirk at Brockville to win his first top league title, but instead lost, allowing the Rangers to claim it instead, a huge disappointment for Cowie and his teammates.

The success of the 1951 League Cup final against Rangers somewhat offset this disappointment. Although the Glasgow side were big favorites, Dundee came out on top 3-2 after extra time in what Cowie fondly remembered as the favorite game of his career. The exuberant welcome in Dundee to thousands of fans is long remembered.

The 4-0 defeat to Motherwell in the 1952 Scottish Cup final was not long remembered, but the atonement came with a second straight League Cup victory later this year. that year, against Kilmarnock.

READ MORE: Obituary: Sandy Carmichael, rugby player who was the first Scotsman to win 50 caps

National coaches were now interested in Cowie and awarded him a League cap against England, a month before his international debut at Wembley in which he was important. Nineteen other caps followed, including four in the 1954 and 1958 World Cup finals, including the infamous 7-0 defeated by Uruguay in the first, which had no repercussions on his international career. Among several highlights, Cowie delivered an outstanding performance in a 4-1 victory over Austria at Vienna’s iconic Prater Stadium.

A year before Dundee’s first league title, Cowie received a free transfer in 1961 from manager Bob Shankly, the reason being his age, then 35. When Shankly signed shortly after Gordon Smith, 38, Cowie’s disappointment was understandable. Things were not settled when Shankly refused him permission to train with Dens’ first team once he joined Morton, Cowie then trained with Dundee United nearby. Usually, any grudges were kept to themselves and reconciliation took place over time. His contribution to Morton helped them emerge from the bottom of the former Second Division to fight for promotion during his two years there, while after a year as Raith’s manager he coached Dundee United under manager Jerry Kerr, then spotted them for 26 years once Jim McLean took over. During this time he converted to a welder and worked with NCR in Dundee.

In June 1950 in Dundee, Doug married Elizabeth – known as Bette – Stewart, a Dundonian whom he had met at a ball in town. in Dundee.

Highly regarded as a complete gentleman and much appreciated with a keen sense of humor, one of Doug’s guiding principles was to care for his family, among which his grandchildren were particularly special, while another was his encouragement and belief in the importance of a good education. . Apart from his family and football, he was a versatile sportsman, a good golfer and a good cricketer. Also gifted for music, he learned the piano and the guitar on his own. He was a pigeon fancier with his own dovecote in his back garden, from where he flew birds to France and back.

He is survived by his children, his grandchildren Miranda, Gayle, Fraser and Hannah, and his great grandchildren Isabelle, Robert and Ember.


If you would like to submit an obituary (900-1000 words preferably, with a jpeg image), or have a subject suggestion, contact [email protected]

A message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article. We depend on your support more than ever, as the change in consumption habits caused by the coronavirus is having an impact on our advertisers. If you haven’t already, consider supporting our trusted and verified journalism by purchasing a digital subscription. Click on this link for more details.

Comments are closed.