Rampant Ballboy Interviews - billy steele
who originally hails from Oakley, spent seven seasons
at Central park and is still fondly remembered by
all Cowden fans. Billy now runs BS Bookmakers in
Inverkeithing so if you're ever in the area and
fancy a flutter pop in and you might see him. Unfortunately
Billy can't offer tax free bets to Cowden fans.
I believe you started your playing career at
I signed as an apprentice with Rangers when I left
school at 16. During my four years or so at Ibrox
I played mainly reserve team football but I did
play for the first team in some tour matches. I
was also farmed out to Benburb Juniors for a while.
What was your next club after Rangers ?
I signed for Dundee United in 1975. I played first
team football there for one and a half seasons but
ran into problems with Jim McLean because I wasn't
prepared to move to Dundee from Fife. Andy Rolland
had the same problem with McLean.
Was it this that led you to sign for Cowden?
No, Dumbarton signed me from Dundee United but I
only lasted six weeks with them. There was too much
travelling involved and I hated the place also.
Dumbarton kept me on till the end of season 1977/78
when I then signed for Cowdenbeath.
How did your signing for Cowden come about ?
I was approached by Paddy Wilson who was assistant
to Frank Connor at the time. I played under a few
managers during my time at Central Park. I had respect
for all of them. They carried out their jobs in
a professional way given the lack of resources and
lack of ambition that the directors seemed to have.
They seemed to be more interested in getting guttered
on match days. I remember when Andy Rolland was
manager being at Arbroath for an important promotion
match. Andy had been psyching up the players in
the dressing room prior to the start of the game.
When we went out for our warm up session there were
the directors half pissed playing shooting-in in
one of the goals. It hardly inspired the team.
What kind of wages were being paid at Central
We were on £15 a week plus £15 a point and £6 appearance
money so you could earn £51 some weeks. This never
changed throughout the seven years I was with the
club. Whilst the money wasn't great there were times
when the directors were prepared to put their hands
in their pockets. I remember that it was decided
to stay overnight Friday at Stranraer prior to a
big match with them on the Saturday. We were let
out from the hotel for an hour only but one hour
turned into two and so on. Some of the players ended
up being locked out of the hotel and had to climb
over a gate to get back in. Unfortunately a Police
patrol car spotted them and the Police woke the
hotel proprietor in the early hours of the morning
in case there had been a break in. When the directors
heard this they went berserk and wanted the Police
to have an ID parade at breakfast to finger the
culprits but they eventually gave up on the idea.
Surprisingly enough we went on to beat Stranraer
4-2 so the pomagne was flowing in the bus on the
Any other printable amusing stories from your
Cowden days ?
An old drinking buddy of mine Davie Cooper played
in goals for Cowden for a while, The Coop had just
been done for housebreaking and we had a home game
the following Saturday. The opposition had a corner
which when swung in was completely missed by Coop.
This prompted some wag in the crowd to shout "If
that had been a window-ledge you'd have caught it".
I also remember a game against Forfar in the middle
of winter when the late Davie Fair had sold three
first half goals. Paddy Wilson uncharacteristically
got tore into Davie and told him he was being substituted.
Davie took his clothes off and stormed off heading
for the bath. About five minutes later he returned
frozen to the bone and sheepishly said "There's
no water in the bath". He got ribbed about
that for weeks after.
What games stick in your mind most?
Obviously the 1-1 draw with Queens Park which cost
us promotion in 1981 is still vivid. I'm sure that
if Andy Rolland's had scored with that penalty we
would have gone on to win the game. I think that
the team we had then would have good enough to stay
up in the First Division. I also remember playing
Partick Thistle in the cup on a Sunday the day after
we had to play Stenhousemuir in the league. We should
have won at Firhill that day but weary legs late
in the game cost us and we lost by the odd goal.
Was there not a spate of silly perms about at
one time ?
The year that I had a perm, Black & White whisky
were doing a promotion whereby any player scoring
a hat-trick received a case of whisky. I think I
scored six hat-tricks that year but I don't remember
seeing all the whisky - I think most of it ended
up in the boardroom.
What frustrated you most at Cowdenbeath ?
Probably the club's lack of ambition. Whilst as
I've said before the managers were sound enough
the directors did not seem football orientated.
Another story that springs to mind which bears this
out was about one of the directors handing Raymie
Allan a magazine just before a game and saying "I
think you should read this it's all about goalkeeping".
Anyone who knows Raymie will be aware of his bad
temper. Raymie went beetroot, I thought he was going
to strangle the director. I'm sure he was only joking
but it hardly put the team's goalie in the best
frame of mind for the match. Whilst there were frustrating
times at Central Park I enjoyed the whole time I
was there. Most of the teams I played in had a family
type atmosphere about them especially in Andy Rolland's
What prompted you to leave Central Park ?
I left when Hugh Wilson arrived as manager. He had
been at Alloa when my brother Tommy was there and
I didn't think I'd get on with him. I went to Arbroath
although I had the chance to join Dunfermline. The
money was actually better at Arbroath than it would
have been at Dunfermline because no money changed
hands as I was swapped for two Arbroath players.
I was on double the money I had been receiving at
Any clubs after Arbroath ?
No. I was at Arbroath three seasons then I went
into the bookies business in Edinburgh before eventually
ending up in the shop I have now in Inverkeithing.
Thanks for the interview Billy. We look forward
to seeing you at a Cowden game in the near future.
I'm sure your business will do well particularly
if your punters went to the same school of picking
winners as I obviously did.
We're always on the lookout for Blue Brazilians
from yesteryear. If you should know of anyone who
is worthy of a mention, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org