Dunfermline Athletic

Norrie Tribute Night - Part Three

Saturday, 16th Jan 2016

"Norrie did not talk a lot on the park, he just led by example."

Bobby Robertson returned to discuss his experiences and playing alongside Norrie.

"In the early days when he played at the back he would look round towards me to ask 'is it alright if I go up' we would be a goal down struggling with a minute to go. I would say 'on you go big man' then a few months later it would be 'Doc I am going up'.

Graeme Robertson described Norrie as "a true leader who certainly led by example on the pitch. He was a model professional, he gave everything he had both in training and in games. At times when maybe he wasn't playing so well he made sure that the players around about him were doing their job. For me that is what a captain is all about."

Tributes were added by Hamish French, George O'Boyle, Jackie McNamara, Andy Tod and former Chairman Roy Woodrow all attesting to the late captain's superb qualities as a leader.

Jim (Ziggy) Bowie was next to be interviewed on stage by Brian McLauchlin. He remarked how Norrie's best role was not recognised until Jim Leishman took control:-

"I cannot believe that it took three managers - Pat Stanton, Tom Forsyth and eventually Leish. Norrie wanted to play midfield because he had come from Edina Hibs where he (at centre forward) had scored a lot of goals.

"I think he thought if he played midfield there was a chance to score goals but he was still athletic in that time in his career. He could make the runs from the back and a centre forward is not going to chase back into their own box. So quite often he was free in the box."

Brian asked how hard a player was Norrie McCathie?

"Davie Moyes the first (ex Meadowbank) was the only guy - would like to see a 50-50 between those two. Moyes was rock hard."

Ian Westwater was on stage at the same time as Jim Bowie and he had joined Dunfermline in March 1985 taking over in goals from Hugh Whyte.

"We had Bobby Robertson at right back, Bobby Forrest at left back, Dave Young at centre half and then as somebody mentioned earlier on, Norrie was actually a sweeper. It wasn't a flat back four we played. Big Davie would attack the ball and Norrie swept up behind him. If they beat Davie they certainly didn't beat Norrie.

"I was only a young kid at the time, only 21. It was a relatively young back four, back five I suppose. We just gelled and it went well. Norrie did not talk a lot on the park, he just led by example."

Westie went on to narrate a tale of a trip to train at Arthur Seat in a van driven by Ian Gordon.

"We were going to do some pre season running. Still to this day, I do not know if it was planned. Ian was driving and we reached the entrance to Arthur Seat between the Commonwealth Pool and the Scottish Widows building. It is a really busy intersection and when we stopped at the lights there Norrie turns round stares at Ziggy and next minute everybody jumps on him. They took all his kit off, and I mean all. The back van door opens and out goes Ziggy. Big Norrie goes bang bang on the side and off the van goes! Ziggy started chasing the van and obviously Ian had looked in the rear mirror but just as Ziggy was about to jump in he accelerated.

"Ziggy just stopped and put his hands on his hips as if 'I don't care!" I think there are women at Scottish Widows who still have not forgotten that day."

Jim Bowie wanted to explain how Norrie McCathie was the 'heart beat' of the team:-

"Everybody at the club knew he was the main man. When we had Norrie in the team we felt that we just couldn't get beat no matter who we were playing."

Jim pointed out the difference when Norrie was suspended with nine matches of the 1985-1986 season remaining.

"There were two games when he was suspended for the Meadowbank and Queen of the South games. Both as it happened to be away. The manager made a mistake because Davie Moyes (not the one who became Everton and Man United manager chipped in Westie) could have done the job. Leish decided it was up to him and brought young Gordon Wilson in and it wasn't a success."

The Pars lost 3-1 at Dumfries in front of a crowd of 5150 and followed that up with a 4-0 defeat at Meadowbank on the following Tuesday night. The Meadowbank game was also the one where former Dundee United keeper Hamish McAlpine was drafted in to cover for Ian Westwater's call off and Hugh Whyte being in Majorca on holiday.

"When Norrie came back in the team we went on another good run and we won the league."

For the record in the following five games Dunfermline scored 18 goals without reply and won the title in the next with a goalless draw at Stenhousemuir. Promotion took the Pars back into the First Division for season 1986-1987.

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