THE latest on our focus on Cowdenbeath FC legends we focus, through club historian David Allan, on trainer Davie Stewart, the man who turned down Manchester United to stay at Central Park!

David Stewart was born in Forfar in 1888. By the age of 13 Dave was working as a grocer. Dave worked for William Low’s and a few years later he moved to Cowdenbeath to work in the Low’s branch in Cowdenbeath High Street.

Soon though he took a job working as a miner in the local pits. He also enjoyed competing in athletic events at various games around Scotland. In Cowdenbeath he boarded with the Bissett family. John Bissett was a former athlete – a ped as they called runners back then and had enjoyed a lot of success in his day.

Sadly John was killed in a roof fall at Number 7 Pit in 1912 along with Linus Muirhead – brother of Rangers and Scotland star Tommy Muirhead.

Davie became best known for his skills as a trainer and masseur.

He trained many athletes who competed in the big meetings, especially at New Year at Powderhall in Edinburgh. Dave had no formal medical qualifications or certification. He was what some might have termed a ‘quack’ but he was gifted and undertook work as a bone specialist and masseur for folks who came seeking his help from miles around. West Fife Hospital in Dunfermline sometimes called him in to help and they would pay him a half a crown a time.

Said David Allan: "In 1918, Davie trained Tom Shaw to success in the Powderhall marathon. Barber Jimmy Allan, from Cowdenbeath, was pretty nippy and he became a professional sprinter on the Games circuit – his brothers Bob and Tommy also competed but Jimmy was a cut above.

"He ran in the New Year sprint at Powderhall from 1915 onwards until well into the 1920s. He ran as J Allan (Musselburgh) and his brother Tommy ran as Stewart (Forfar) in recognition that he was trained by Davie Stewart. Jimmy later managed Dundee United and Tommy played football for Glenbuck Cherrypickers.

"By 1921, Davie had opened his own private practice as a bone setter and masseur at North End Park. He became renowned for his work in treating football injuries and helping players recover from broken bones and career threatening injuries. He was to go on to look after all of Cowden’s stars plus players referred to him from contacts all over Scotland (and England sometimes).

"Davie also became a starter and handicapper or the clerk of the course at Athletics’ meets and Highland Games all around the country. He was still featuring in that role at the annual Forfar Games in the 1950s and also helped organise the Lumphinnans Games.

"In 1930 he was first appointed Cowdenbeath trainer, not long after long serving Geordie Taylor had given up the post to go to Australia. Davie’s fitness work with the team became highly regarded. One of Cowden’s stars then was the great Jim ‘Hooky’ Leonard and there were many tales of Davie’s dealings with Hooky".

Added David: "Hooky was the joker of the party. One day the players were training and Davie Stewart asked ‘Where's Hooky?’ Nobody answered but Davie surveyed the field and eventually spied clouds of smoke coming from behind the roller that was used for the pitch.

"He went across and sprawled at his ease was Hooky puffing away at a cigarette. Soon after, there was Hooky manfully hauling the roller up and down the pitch on his own. Another time before a Scottish Cup tie v St Johnstone, as a special treat, the players were taken for a round of golf at Burntisland. "On arrival, everybody had clubs except Hooky. Scott Duncan immediately asked him where his were. ‘I've none,’ came the reply. Scott Duncan – ‘I know you have.’ Hooky - ‘They’re in pawn’. Not to be outdone Mr Duncan ordered Hooky to walk round the course with the team. Then he remembered that club chairman, Mr Andrew Dick, who ran a chain of stores in West Fife, had a set of clubs in his locker. The manager decided to borrow these and gave them to Hooky on condition that he didn't even scratch them. The players were out on the course about half way round when Davie Stewart came running across to Mr Duncan. ‘Quick’, he said, ‘Hooky's at the quarry hole trying to get the ball across the gap. He's managed to break two of Mr Dick's clubs and now he's trying for a hat-trick.’

"One of his earliest tasks as Cowden trainer was to get Hooky Leonard on the train so he could sign for Sunderland. Hooky wasn’t all that keen but Cowden were being paid a large fee. The directors gave Dave money to buy some new clothes for Hooky so that his appearance would impress the Sunderland directors. "In a gents outfitters in Glasgow, Hooky was duly attired. He also needed a suitcase and selected a suitable one from the range he was shown. After they left the shop though, they were chased down the street by an angry shopkeeper. It turned out Hooky had hidden a smaller suitcase inside the larger one Davie had bought for him!"

Went on the club historian: "In 1931, Davie was bemoaning Cowdenbeath’s unlucky white jerseys and threatening to burn them all!

"In 1932, when Cowden boss Scott Duncan took on the role of manager of Manchester United, he asked Davie to go to Old Trafford with him but Davie preferred to stay in Cowdenbeath.

"And in 1938/39, Davie trained the team which ran away with the 2nd Division title.

"Davie was Cowden trainer for much of the period up until 1953. He was famed for his ‘healing hands’ and using his strong thumbs to treat injuries. When Cowden closed down during the War he was called on to use his skills on the greyhounds that ran at Central Park.

"Jimmy Johnstone began to assist Davie after the War – they worked together as well out of the ambulance station at the foot of Broad Street (later the location of Ross and Buckle’s Taxis). This was where Davie had his practice. Scotland stars such as Geordie Aitken and Tommy Wright sought him out to treat their injuries in the post war era.

"Davie was Cowden’s trainer when they won at Ibrox in 1949. Before the second leg, he was confident – ‘Rangers put on all their power against us at Ibrox. They didn't succeed there. Why should they beat us at Central Park?’

"In that second leg at Central Park, Rangers were unhappy with the match ball and referee Copland threw it off the pitch and demanded a replacement. Copland actually refereed Cowden’s next match which was at home on the Saturday. Davie Stewart came up to him as the teams were coming off after the Saturday match and said, ‘Ba’ alright the day’? ‘Very good, Dave’, he replied. Davie then shot back with ‘Well it’s the same wan ye threw aff in the Rangers game’!

"Goalkeeper Bill Gourlay who Cowden sold to Manchester City, recalled that at one time he had hurt his back and Davie asked him to come over to Central Park for some treatment. Davie said he would be a few minutes so Gourlay got half stripped and waited for him. Time passed and eventually Bill went to look for him and found him giving a greyhound a rub on the treatment table. Davie told him the greyhound was a priority!

"In June 1953, Davie Stewart left the club’s employ at the age of 65. After leaving Central Park, Davie continued running his private practice at the Ambulance Station"

Dave died in his home at 32 East Park Street, Cowdenbeath, in 1963.