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2019/20 Season News

The Miners, the Blue Brazil and the Signalmen


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The Miners, the Blue Brazil and the Signalmen

PostedMay 29, 2019

Cowdenbeath FC often is asked what is the club’s official nickname – the Miners or the Blue Brazil? The simple answer is there isn’t one – no such thing as an official nickname. Nicknames come from spontaneous usage and both of these (as well as Cowden) are club nicknames. Cowdenbeath FC are more than happy to have more than one nickname. The Blue Brazil dates from the early 1980s but the Miners dates more or less back to the club’s foundation in the 1880s. Less well-known though is the fact that at one time the club was also widely known as ‘the Signalmen’. Of course when coal was king, Cowdenbeath was the hub of the Fife coalfield and an important rail junction for passenger traffic as well. The town was surrounded and infiltrated by railway lines. The New Station was opened just before the Forth Bridge began operations in 1890 and Cowdenbeath then had two stations. The fact that Cowdenbeath also played in red and white striped jerseys from the late 1880s until 1911 seems to have helped prompt this nickname – from the red lights on the railway signals we surmise. The nickname spanned the era when Cowden were based at North End Park (until 1917) and of course at that time the crowds at the ground would see all the trains and the signals on the nearby railway embankment that overlooked the ground. Here are a few contemporary references from newspaper reports.

1889 - The other semi final tie will likely be fought out by the Leith Athletic and Cowdenbeath, and the Leith men will get plenty to do if they beat the signalmen.

1890 - Linlithgow Athletic will find the Cowdenbeath rather a tough morsel on their own ground, and we think the "Signalmen” should easily make their way into the second round of the Scottish ties.

1893 - The Hibs offered Cowdenbeath a 10 guarantee, or half gate over 20, to play the Scottish tie at Edinburgh, but the Signalmen refused the offer as they wished to get among the pots this season.

1897 - The Cowdenbeath are the opponents of the Saints at Tynecastle Park, which has been kindly lent by the Hearts. The Signalmen had a rougher road to travel than the Saints. They are a sturdy, dare-devil lot, who will take a lot of stopping.

1902 - Very doubtful whether Tom Drummond, the right back, and Charlie Pringle, the centre half, will be fit to strip for the Red and White Brigade. However, the Selecting Committee have picked these players, but should they not be able play, Cowdenbeath, having a good reserve list to choose from, will, nevertheless, be represented by a strong team, and Aberdeen will be well advised not take the signalmen, as they were won't to be called, too cheaply.

1904 - Much was expected from the Leith forwards, but, through the adoption of a short passing and dribbling game, which just suited the medium-paced half-backs of Cowdenbeath, their best efforts were rendered abortive. After scoring, the "Signalmen" went great guns, kicking and rushing their opponents off their feet, but their final efforts were often wild and aimless.

1906 - The signalmen are a strong combination, and very few Second Leaguers will be lucky enough to take points off them at home.

1912 - The Signalmen were eclipsed in the first half, and with a little luck, the home forwards might have had a crop of goals.

1914 - Amongst the signalmen, none did better than Brownlie, Tait, the two Birrells, and Mackenzie, the veteran. Mitchell, the old Celtic player, had to be pointed out to be noticed.

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