THE Cowdenbeath FC community was saddened this week with the news of the death of former winger, Ronnie McHale.

Ronnie was born in Lochgelly, in January 1948, and later lived in Lumphinnans and Ballingry. 

He played school football for Ballingry, then was with Lochore House under-16’s and Crosshill United under-18’s.  

Popular local coach, Andy Young, then acquired Ronnie for his ‘team of all the talents’ at Lochore Welfare.  

Cowdenbeath secretary and club historian, David Allan, recalled: “Ronnie was always a winger – an old-school tanner ba’ dribbler.  In 1965, he joined Hearts and spent three seasons in their reserve team, alongside Peter Oliver and future Cowden player Duncan Reid. 

“Eventually he was released by Hearts and was re-instated back to Lochore Welfare."  

Ronnie played in their side which reached the quarter-final of the Scottish Junior Cup.  Lots of senior clubs were keen to sign him, but he resisted all offers until one day Bert Paton came knocking on his door, after he had just taken over as manager of Cowdenbeath.  

Added David Allan: “This was in 1974, when Ronnie was at his playing peak, and he joined Cowden.

“Unfortunately, Bert Paton only spent 28 days at Cowdenbeath, before moving on to become Raith Rovers manager!  Thus, Ronnie’s Cowden career primarily saw him play for Dan McLindon and Frank Connor.  

“They liked a ‘get stuck in style’ which didn’t entirely suit Ronnie, who was a real footballer.  Ronnie played for Cowden for two years making 43 appearances and scoring eight goals. 

“He then returned to the juniors playing for Sauchie, and also Halbeath, when they reached the Scottish Cup quarter final against Pollok.  Short spells with Lochgelly Albert and Kirkcaldy YM followed and then it was back to his first love – Lochore Welfare. 

“He subsequently stepped up to be manager at the Welfare, and it was Ronnie who signed former Cowden and Hearts player, Craig Levein, for Lochore, but after a couple of years at the helm, he called it a day. 

“Ronnie worked for many years in Rosyth Dockyard and stayed in Anderson Drive, in Cowdenbeath. 

“Sincere condolences are offered from everyone at Cowdenbeath FC to Ronnie’s family and friends."