Scottish League title winner changed codes

Stan Cowan, Born 22/12/1931 - Died 8/02/2015
Stan Cowan, Born 22/12/1931 - Died 8/02/2015
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Stan Cowan

Born december 12 1931

Died february 8 2015

A Souter through and through, Stan Cowan was part of the Selkirk rugby team that won the first and only unofficial Scottish League title in 1952/53.

Born at 48 Muthag Street, Selkirk on December 22, 1931, he was the fourth child of Janet and Jimmy Cowan.

Stan attended Philiphaugh Primary and Selkirk High schools, where he showed promise on the rugby field from an early age.

Stan’s first game was against Hawick, and the youngster had his work cut out playing on the wing and marking the great and formidable Wattie Scott.

Stan owed his turn of speed to his father Jimmy, who had been a sprinter on the Borders professional circuit. Jimmy trained Stan to follow in his fleet footsteps.

Stan competed successfully on the Borders’ athletics circuit, managing to break ‘even time’ – in other words, he ran the 100 yards in under ten seconds – which was no mean feat on a grass track.

At the age of 14, Stan left school and began an apprenticeship with William Nichol the painter in the town.

He first joined the Selkirk Youth Club squad, then at weekends, when the Youth Club didn’t have a game, Stan played up at Philiphaugh.

Stan’s brother Jack was also part of the Selkirk squad, as were former Selkirk internationals Jock King and Jim ‘Basher’ Inglis.

For his National Service, Stan was sent to Elgin to serve with the Royal Engineers.

It’s perhaps not much of an exaggeration to say that during his two years there, Stan wore a rugby strip more often than an army uniform.

His National Service over, Stan returned to Selkirk and resumed his work with Nichol the painters.

Stan’s highlight as a rugby union player was when he was selected to play for the South of Scotland against the New Zealand All-Blacks at Netherdale, and a certain world-class centre, Ron Jardine, will have memories of Stan tackling him all afternoon.

Stan was one of the hardest tackling centres in the game, which of course stood him in good stead when he changed codes and signed for Hull Rugby League Club in 1954.

He appeared in two consecutive rugby league cup finals, in 1959 and 1960 – in front of crowds of 97,000 – met the Queen and Prince Philip and received a telegram of good wishes from Selkirk international football legend Bobby Johnstone.

Stan also won the League Championship in 1956 and 1958 with the Yorkshire outfit, one of only a few Scottish players ever to achieve this honour.

Stan’s younger brother, Ron, with five Scottish caps to his credit, was also now in rugby league, living and playing in Leeds.

It was an exciting and happy period of Stan’s life.

Only last November, Stan and Ron were guests of honour at the first rugby league international at Netherdale between Scotland and France.

Along with five other former players, he and Ron were introduced to the crowd to loud cheers and applause, and although failing, Stan was able to walk out on to the pitch, which he wouldn’t have missed for the world.

He was respected, admired, modest, resolute, humorous, sociable, fun to be around, kind and loving, and at the end, he bore his pain and discomfort with patience, without complaint, and always with humour.

He was a loving brother, husband, father, father-in-law and uncle, and he was proud of all his grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He is and always will be fondly remembered and very sadly missed.