Dunfermline Athletic

Norrie Tribute Night - Part Two

Saturday, 16th Jan 2016

Content from Jim Leishman and John Watson

The Norrie McCathie tribute night tracked Norrie's time at Dunfermline Athletic. Speaking on the stage in front of an audience of 20 former players and hundreds of fans Jim Leishman explained how he got to know Norrie.

"Pat Stanton invited me to back to Dunfermline to be in charge of the reserves. It was then that I started watching the first team. I remember Norrie as a left sided midfield player who loved to go forward. He was strong and liked to get into the box. It wasn't until later on that he dropped back to centre half.

"Norrie formed a partnership first with Paul Rodgers and then with Dave Young. So we had a back four of Robertson, Young, McCathie and Forrest. They were constants in my team. Big John Watson was the goalscorer with Grant Jenkins, Jim Bowie he was the best passer of the ball here since Alex Edwards. Then we had Mark Smith come in as well.

"Grant Reid and Grant Tierney arrived but Norrie was the constant, he was the guy who played all the time. Norrie gave you 100 per cent, he was consistent and wanted to win.

"The team spirit was fantastic. No matter how you coach, if you do not have team spirit you have nothing. These boys came right through from the Second Division. We were 34th top in Scottish football!"

Leishman's team was full of large characters and while Leish caught John Watson out all the time, he could never pin McCathie to many of the antics or sneaking in late for training. He continued:-

"I never caught McCathie once but Winker (John Watson) bought my hoose! If the boys were out on a Saturday there was never any trouble.

"John Watson is not here tonight because he is not feeling too well. He will be fine but (in his absence) let me tell you we won the Second Division then went on in the next season to win promotion to the Premier League. That was just fantastic, these boys were the revival of Dunfermline Football Club. They brought it back to life and I mean that sincerely.

"Anyway when we won promotion that day we all went back to the East Port. It was brilliant, the place was buzzing and big Norrie comes up and says 'gaffer give us a lend of £20. I said 'I tell you what I have got a tab. Just get the boys a drink.' Well we had a great time and John Grieve (East Port Bar) phoned me on the Tuesday and said 'I have a tab here'. I said that was alright but he said 'it's £490'! Big Norrie and Winker had bought everyone in the pub drinks. I fined them both £200 on the Friday."

John Watson had always preferred not to be on the stage and his interview had fortunately as it turned out, been videoed. He explained how Norrie became his special friend even though he had not known Norrie McCathie before arriving at Dunfermline in 1983. John had tried out at Meadowbank Thistle but his football in Edinburgh was mainly played at amateur level.

"Our football paths had never crossed but we travelled together. Jim Bowie used to drive and me and Norrie got a lift. We got on fine and formed a friendship that went on for a long long time.

"Norrie definitely found his position when he went back to sweeper. He stood out then but he did score a lot of important goals for Dunfermline. A lot of equalisers and winning goals as well. He was a leader of men on the park and led by example. He was hard to play against; hard in the tackle but never intentionally injured anybody."

When John left Dunfermline he joined Airdrie and experienced playing against Norrie:-

"I did not like playing against him, it just wasn't comfortable but I did score at East End Park against him. In general you can go through life with close friends but never really have that special one. Me and Norrie we clicked and we were friends. I cannot really describe the connection but we had a lot of the same interests in life and it was good."

John went on to tell how Watson and McCathie had applied to become the management at Dunfermline Athletic:-

"Norrie was still playing, I was finished by that time. We were told by Mr Blair Morgan at the time that Norrie was still a big part of the playing side of the club and our time would come later on. No doubt if Norrie had lived he could have become manager and he would have been my assistant" joked John.

"We were told that it was too soon for us. Norrie was still playing and he was captain of the club. I thought they didn't want to lose that. We spoke about it and definitely had plans to do it.

"Me and Norrie had special times, special moments. He was a gentleman, he was a friend. There is nothing I can add to what people say about him but he was a special person. He loved Dunfermline, he loved Dunfermline Football Club, he loved Dunfermline as a city, he loved the fans, he loved what he did. Norrie was a leader of men and I would have thrown him into any battle, he was head and shoulders above anybody else."

Part Three to follow

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