Following my February 23 article, Cowdenbeath FC director David Allan offered some more information on former Central Park goalkeeper Bob Middleton.
“I noted your feature re Bob Middleton,” said David, continuing: “and I can give you a bit more detail about him plus a photo of him with his Scotland team-mates — including Wembley Wizards such as Alex Jackson, Alex James, Hughie Gallacher and Alan Morton.
“Robert Connan Middleton was born at 19 Crocket’s Building, Montrose Street, Brechin, on January 24, 1904.
“He was the son of William Middleton, a railway engine driver.
“Initially, he played for Brechin Comrades, and also played for Edzell. He next had a turn for Brechin City as a full-back and, going back to juniordom, and after another player was injured, kept goal for the Brechin Victoria.
“He helped Vics reach the last eight of the Scottish Cup and signed for Forfar on a provisional form but Athletic transferred him to Brechin City later on.”
David, who has contributed to BwB in the past, continued: “Cowdenbeath had suffered a heavy blow with Scottish League internationalist John Falconer’s injury in 1928.
“A number of clubs were, meantime, hotly on Bob Middleton’s track, overtures being made by several for his transfer.
“Cowdenbeath paid the price, and secured the goods.
“The signing of Middleton was an inspired move. Bob made such an impact that the loss of Falconer was minimised.
“He was well built, fearless and agile. His lithe and athletic goalkeeping displays attracted the Scottish selectors to Central Park and, in February 1930, he became the first of three Cowdenbeath players to be capped by Scotland when he played in Scotland’s 3-1 win over Ireland.
“For the next international against England, Middleton was reserve to Jack Harkness.”
Bob’s great form did not go unnoticed, as David went on: “As ever, the English scouts hovered around Central Park and it was only a matter of time before Cowden succumbed to their blandishments.
“The race for Middleton was narrowed down to a straight fight between Newcastle and Sunderland, and it was the Roker Park club which emerged victorious.
“Sunderland purchased Bob Middleton for a £2,000 fee. Middleton played 66 times for Sunderland over the next three seasons without ever quite emulating his Cowdenbeath form.
“He lost his place in the side when he suffered a broken hand.
“Later, he had a short spell with Burton Town and and years with Chester before his retirement in 1938.”
After playing, Middleton settled down as manager of Ye Olde Custom House Inn in Chester before eventually coming home to Brechin.
David again continues his story.
“Bob served in the army during the war and joined the Brechin supporters’ club after his demob from the army, and was appointed to the football club committee as a delegate from the supporters.
“At the time of his resignation from the committee in 1952, he was the longest-serving member.
“He became janitor at Damacre School and after his retirement was a lollipop man.
“Bob was also responsible for discovering Arthur Milne, the little centre-forward from Brechin who played for Hibs and ended his career at Central Park.
“Bob died in his native Brechin in 1984.
“His Scotland cap and his Scotland jersey are proudly displayed in the Brechin City boardroom, while this picture (above, left) of him in the Scotland team is displayed in the Cowdenbeath boardroom.”