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Jimmy Scoular

Jimmy Scoular
Jimmy Scoular
Jimmy Scoular
Bth 11/01/25 Livingstone
P/H/W RH 5ft 7in 11st 6lb
Jnd 11/06/53 Portsmouth £22,250
Dep 01/61 Bradford C. £1,300
A/G 2716

Following the 1952/53 season Stan Seymour decided it was time that Joe Harvey turned his attentions full-time to training the juniors and reserves. The Sergeant Major was a tough act to follow in more ways than one and it was to United's credit that they managed to replace him with another player with teak-like qualities; James Scoular.

Scoular had been at Portsmouth for eight seasons and was a member of their Championship winning sides of 1948/49 and 1949/50; but a hefty transfer fee (which broke United's transfer record) and better wages were enough to prise the Scottish International away from Portsmouth.

Like Harvey, Scoular was a right-half; famous for his crunching tackles, who liked to be where the fight was hardest. Jimmy showed rare industry and as captain set a splendid example.

But Jimmy was also a constructive and skilful player who was comfortable with the ball at his feet. He had great vision and the ability to hit slide-rule passes over long distances. He also believed that wing-halves should be allowed to attack and regularly went on sortees down the field.

On Tyneside, he was instantly installed as Captain, but took over at a difficult time as United's great side of the early fifties was beginning to break up. His greatest success on Tyneside was leading the team to the FA Cup Final victory over Manchester City in 1955.

Although it was Milburn who grabbed the glory with the goals that day it was his dominance of the game in the second half that turned the game United's way. Milburn would later state that "no other half-back in the World could have improved upon his display".

If the players thought that life might be more peaceful following Harvey's retirement they were wrong. Granite man Scoular was quiet off the field, but on the pitch he was a fierce competitor who was not slow to hand out an ear-bashing to his peers.

Bobby Moncur (in his book United we Stand) said that his "tongue was almost as fierce as his tackling" and recalled a training ground incident when he was just a youngster. "He waded into me with a mouthful that was enough to make my hair stand on end. And there were no apologies from Scoular afterwards."

Despite being tee-total his hair-trigger temper often let him down and brought him into conflict with the men in black. He was sent off at least four times in his career which was unheard of at the time and was sent home in disgrace from Portsmouth's tour of Brazil.

The son of a miner, this gruff, bluff Scotsman wasn't just the target of officials and rival fans, he also had his enemies within the United camp. In Crowe Amongst the Magpies Charlie recalls how Jimmy never got on with Ivor Broadis and recalls one of many confrontations between the pair.

Charlie and Scoular were walking into the training ground in torrential rain one day. Broadis came hurtling around the corner in his brand-new car blasting his horn to get them out his way. Scoular gave him some verbals and when they both made the dressing room Broadis retorted with "Sorry James but if you would like to relieve your feelings, feel free to urinate on my car bonnet".

Ivor Allchurch was another who didn't like his style and he once came to blows with Bob Stokoe during a game. Even Milburn believed that the appointment of Scoular caused friction within the once united camp; leading to the development of divisive cliques within the dressing room.

Jimmy Greaves summed up Scoular's appearance and playing style brilliantly in his autobiography.

"He was built like a coke machine with a bald head and at the sides, thick wedges of unkempt dark hair. The most striking parts of Jimmy's visage were a forehead hammered flat through contact with a thousand muddy leather balls, and a nose that made Karl Malden's look like Kylie Minogue's".

"If Tom Waits' voice could ever be turned into a face it would look exactly like Jimmy. He was like a bag of hammers; in addition to his Exocet tackling, every part of Jimmy's body appeared to jut out whenever necessary to inflict maximum pain."

Scoular's style saw him labelled as a dirty player by some, but he was adamant that this was not the case. In 1955 he told Football Monthly "When I go for the ball I mean to get it. I go in hard and determined.. but I never intentionally tackle unfairly. In all my years in the game no opponent I have ever faced has failed to finish a game completely fit."

He gained International honours for Scotland, representing his country on nine occasions.

Jimmy Scoular was also a keen bowls player and he was allowed to miss the first couple of days of pre-season training in 1958/59 as he was a participant in the Bognor Regis Open. Along with his father and another player he won the Triples.

Jimmy Scoular
Jimmy Scoular

Pre Toon

Jimmy had begun with his local club Livingston Station and played for Gosport Borough during the war ending up with the unusual distinction of playing for two different clubs in the FA Cup in one season Gosport and Portsmouth in 1945. He was at Fratton Park for eight seasons and was a member of their Championship winning sides of 1948/49 and 1949/50.

1953/54 (32-1) (4)

Wrenched his knee in the first game and missed a few games. Relinquished the captaincy in February stating that he thought it was better for the team if it was captained by one of the longer-serving players. Suffered a rib injury.

1954/55 (52-1) (4)

1955/56 (32-1) (4,6)

1956/57 (36-3) (4)

1957/58 (43) (4)

1958/59 (33) (4,5)

Missed a few games because of a strained muscle in his thigh. His powers of recovery were catching up with him as he was often caught up field leaving the defence outnumbered. A number of teams tried to get him to become manager or player-manager but he wasn't ready to stop playing and the club seemed keen to keep him.

1959/60 (34) (4,5)

1960/61 (9) ()

Jimmy left United in January of 1961 for £1,300 to become the player-manager of Bradford.


Painting by Piotr