Friday, September 02, 2011

Forgotten Scotland Players: Eddie Colquhoun

Hot on the heels of Eddie Connachan, our Forgotten Scotland Player number 6, comes another delve into the archives for number 7.

Another who strutted his stuff against Czechoslovakia at a neutral venue.

Another called Eddie.

Even more than that - another from Prestonpans.

If you haven't sampled its delights, Prestonpans is an East Lothain seaside/rural/post-industrial idyll and home to my alma mater, the august institution what learned me to write rubbish an' that.

Those of you that have been to the 'Pans will appreciate that I'm drunk as I write this. It's a coping mechanism to survive the memories of that long, hard slog of an education.

Anyway, Prestonpans - and, seriously, check out the annual arts festival or local club Preston Athletic - gave Scottish football both Eddie Connachan and Forgotten Scotland Player number 7, Eddie Colquhoun.

Edmund Peter Skirving Colquhoun for the nomenclature completists. Not, I think, many Edmunds in Prestonpans. Not then, not now.

A young chap on the make called Edmund would always be looking for an escape to a greener, more pleasant land.

Eddie's chance came when he way just 17. In 1962 he signed for Bury, possibly blinded by the bright lights of the big city, and his professional career was underway.

His time at Bury was spent languishing in the lower reaches of the English Second Division. But the young centre back impressed.

Bury were relegated in the 1966/67 season but Colquhoun was already headed in the opposite direction, to West Bromwich Albion and the First Division.

A couple of years later came the move that would define his club career.

Sheffield United had just been relegated from the top flight. New manager Arthur Rowley - 434 goals in 619 league games - was rebuilding for a promotion push.

Eddie was the defensive rock he needed. And he was prepared to pay the best part of £28,000 to get him.

Promotion wouldn't actually come for three seasons - Rowley was succeeded by his predecessor John Harris - but Eddie's impact was instantaneous enough for him to be made captain for his home debut.

The fans took to him as well. Soon the terrace choir had a new song:

We ain't got a barrel of money, We ain't got Woodward or Currie, 
But with Eddie Colquhoun, Promotion soon, United!

A centre half of the old school it appears. Richard Savage of Def Leppard - once a United hopeful -remembers a training game:

"The ball was played up to me, I dummied, turned, beat Eddie Colquhoun as if I was Kenny Dalglish and shot at goal. Next goal kick, Eddie Colquhoun walked up behind me and gave me the biggest kick on the back of my ankles and said, ‘Do that to me again and I’ll f**king kill you.’

"This was the club captain and I really looked up to him. Being shy, I wasn’t the sort who would say ‘F**k you’ and do it again." (Four Four Two)

Promotion, if not a natural rapport with youth team players, followed in 1970/71 and it was in 1971 that Scotland came calling.

October of that year and a European Championship qualifier against Portugal at Hampden. Colquhoun makes his debut in a 2-1 win.

For the next 18 months or so he's never far from the Scotland squad, winning nine caps in total.

Those nine games included a 0-0 draw with Czechoslovakia in July 1972. The match, part of the four team Brazilian Independence Cup, was played in front of 5,000 fans in Porto Alegre.

In Eddie's first eight caps Scotland were beaten only twice: by their hosts in that 1972 tournament and by the Dutch in Amsterdam in the winter of 1971.

Then, on Valentine's Day 1973, came a massacre. England romped to a 5-0 win at Hampden. Allan Clarke (twice), Mick Channon, Martin Chivers and a Peter Lorimer own goal broke stout Scottish hearts.

It was the game that gave Bobby Moore a 100th cap. And the game that ended Eddie Colquhoun's international career.

Although sent homeward victorious England didn't qualify for the 1974 World Cup. Scotland did. But Eddie would play no part.

It was back to Yorkshire. In 1975 Sheffield United finished sixth in Division One, the highest finish Eddie enjoyed in his career. But the following season they were relegated.

By 1978 Colquhoun was ready to leave Second Division United and extend his career, as was then the way, in the brave new world of the North American Soccer League.

Good times: Eddie's Detroit Express colleagues included players like Trevor France, Alan Brazil, Jim Holton and Ted MacDougall.

By 1980 he was calling it a day. A testimonial was held at Brammall Lane. In one half of Sheffield, Eddie and his 1970/71 promotion winning team are celebrated still.

Playing at a time when richly talented Scots seemed to have the run of England, Colquhoun did more than enough to hold his own.

Nine caps in a competitive era are testament to that.

Forgotten Scotland Players number 7: Eddie Colquhoun, Sheffield United. 9 caps.

> A Twitter correspondent tells me that Eddie used to be seen stubbing out his cigarette as he made his way on to the pitch at Brammall Lane. Magnificent. (Thanks to @schillaci19)