Jimmy "Logie" Methven

Logie-the Ram's forgotten Legend

(Monday, October 30, 2000, DERBY EVENING TELEGRAPH)

    Jimmy Methven (1868-1953) played a staggering 511 games at right back for Derby County, appeared for them in three FA Cup Finals and in five of his seasons didn't miss a game. When he finally hung up his boots as a player, at the age of 37, he took the helm as Rams' manager and held that post for another fifteen seasons, nabbing the Second Division Championship in the process amid three relegations in a rollercoaster spell with the club.   

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                    Jimmy ""Logie"Methven                                             Jimmy (3rd from left)                                             Methven home in Derby

    Thirty-one consecutive years on the payroll is a record no other Rams personality can match, yet amazingly people still ask;  "Who was Jimmy Methven?"
    He is certainly Derby's "forgotten man" but, equally certainly, a Ram stalwart who deserves to be remembered alongside his legendary teammates Steve Bloomer and John Goodall as one of the big three from Derby's very early day.
   Methven was born in Perth (actually Ceres, Fife Scotland according to Ian Methven, Jimmy's great-grandson), on December 7, 1868, and played first for Leith Athletic, Heart of Midlothian and Edinburg Saint Bernard's.  His father didn't care for football "bowls and draughts were more in his line and he was an expert in tossing the caber", recalled Methven.      That didn't deter young Jimmy, though, who was so keen to make it as a footballer that he defied his boss at the Edinburg stationery shop where he worked by sneaking away from his sales post to "smite the leather" for St. Bernard's whenever he was selected.   Strong, reliable and canny as a player, it was a matter of time before he followed in the footsteps of most talented Scottish players of the era by heading south to the English Football League.  After   nearly signing for Bolton Wanderers and Burton Swifts, he joined the Rams in summer of 1891 on the recommendation of another Derby player, Johnny McMillan, one of his former St. Bernard's team-mates, whose son Stuart McMillan would later manage Derby to their famous 1946 FA Cup victory.
    Methvin and his wife Agnes moved into a modest terraced house at 79 Roe Street, off Pear Tree Road, which was very near to what was to become the Baseball Ground, but something of a trek to the Derbyshire Cricket Club's County Ground, where the Rams then played their matches.
    Although Methven remembered the ground as "the finest bit of turf I ever played on", he also recalled the "piercing winds of winter".
    He never looked back from there and Logie, as he was known by his team-mates because of his habit of reminiscing about the good old days at St. Bernard's Logie Green ground, became a real stalwart of the Derby County side, which many football followers regarded as the most entertaining and glamorous club of the 1890's.
    The Rams players of that era adhered to the "work hard, play hard" principle and many of the tales that Methven later released in his memoirs, published by the Derbyshire Football Express in the 1920s, would make a few hairs curl and surely hit the front pages of the tabloids if they happened today.
    One of the printable ones is a story that is unique to Derby County.  In the 1890s they became the first and only football team to walk across the magnificent new Forth Railway Bridge, opened in 1891, on account of one of the Derby players knowing the station master.      "We put pennies on the lines for the fun of seeing the trains flatten them." chuckled Methven, "amd every time one roared past, the players hung to the sides of the bridge for dear life, none more affectionately than Steve Bloomer."
    On the field, with Steve scoring goals at an astonishing rate and the robust Logie easing opposition forwards off the ball with what he euphemistically described as "my little leverage trick", the Rams position improved dramatically and they missed out on both league and cup honours by a hair's breadth on several occasions.
    By the end of his playing career Methven had become such an institution that a leading sports journalist of the day described him as "one of the wonders of the football world."
    But all good things must come to an end and Methven chose to play his last home match on October 6, 1906, against Middlesbrough at the Baseball Ground.
    One suspects he opted for the game as a chance to put one over on his old pal Bloomer, who much to the irritation of Rams followers, had by then been sold at the behest of the directors to 'Boro.
    Methven came up trumps in a 1-0 win and he marked the occasion in his typically waggish style by taking to the field in a Scottish representative cap and insisting on wearing it during the game itself!
    There was no chance of him getting a ticking off from the manager because by then Methven was the manager, having been appointed at the start of the 1906-7 season.  He stayed in the post until June 1922, although only doing it part-time during the First World War, when he worked at Rolls-Royce and ran the works league there.
    "That was more troublesome than running the football league itself," he quipped.
    With the club in dire financial circumstances Methven had little money with which to wheel and deal and Derby were relegated from the top flight to Division Two in his first season as manager.
    Four seasons later they were still there and it was then that Methven pulled off the master stroke of his tenure by persuading Steve Bloomer to return from Middlesbrough in 1910 and making him captain.
    The whole town was lifted by the news and the following season Methven's "boys of 1911-12" stormed to the Second Division Championship.
    Those were heady days and there was a great team spirit on and off the field.  In his spare time, Methven indulged his love of cricket (he played for Derby Nomads) by taking a Rams XI each year to play a side of first class cricketers at Longford Hall, home of Lady Coke.
    It was a trip all the players relished, not least because they were given free rein of the house's orchard and kitchen garden and generally went home laden with produce.
    Methven could certainly use the extra as he had six sons and three daughters.  He lived in a semi-detached villa at 104 St. Chad Road from 1912-1927, graduating to a residence more befitting a club manager via modest homes at 59 Becher Street and 25 and 31 Middleton Street.
    Once he'd left the Rams he did a little scouting for Stoke City and worked for Derby Corporation before retiring in the 1930s, spending life quietly at his bungalow at 29 Rosamond's Ride, off Littleover Lane, until his death on March 25, 1953, aged 84.
    His final resting place is in one of Derby's lesser-known but most pleasant and tranquil cemeteries near Sunnyhill, on Stenson Road.    His neatly-tended grave tells a story in itself, as recorded on the headstone are the deaths of his wife, Agnes, and son, Jimmy junior, who played just one game for Derby County, in 1913-14.
    Her death on April 29, 1946, was both ironic and poignant - she had suffered a heart attack two days before while listening to the Derby v Charlton Cup Final on the radio.
    When Methven passed away he was the last of an era.   What tales he could tell, and did tell in his fascinating and often drolly amusing memoirs, of his time with Derby from 1891-1922.
    There are still Methvens in Derbt today but sadly his grandson Ron, who lived in Allestree, died recently.  But his great-grandson, Ian Methven, keeps the family flag flying with pride at his home in Heatherton village.
    Jimmy would surely appreciate that and deserves to be remembered as one of the all-time greats in Derby County's illustrious history.

The full story of the Methven-Bloomer era at Derby County is told in Peter Seddon's 224-page book Steve Bloomer:Football's First Superstar. For those who would like a copy call [U.K.]01332 347584.or write to Peter Seddon 11 Louvain Road ,Littleover, Derby England  DE23. 6DA. The book costs 14.99 or $21.26 plus p&p.

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