Jimmy "Logie" Methven
Logie-the Ram's forgotten Legend
(Monday, October 30, 2000, DERBY
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.
Jimmy (3rd from left)
Methven home in Derby
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
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
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
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
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.
Methvin/Methvens Logie Genealogy