Away From The Numbers



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Joe Cowan in 1935/36
Born in 1909, Joe Cowan started his playing career with Raith Rovers, before going on to join Celtic. Joe, an inside-left, signed for the Fife at the start of season 1934/35 and made an immediate impact during his first season at Bayview, scoring 28 goals in only 24 league games. On his way to notching up this tally, Joe set an East Fife goal-scoring record on September 29th 1934, when he scored an amazing seven goals in the Fife's 9-1 demolition of Dumbarton. This record of the most goals scored by an East Fife player in an individual match, has never been, and is probably never likely to be, beaten. Joe had an average of 1.17 goals per League match that season, meaning he netted, on average, every 77 minutes, helping East Fife to a ninth place finish in the Second Division. Despite his League form, he was unable to find the net in the first round defeat at home to Clyde.

Joe continued his amazing scoring record the following season (35/36), again averaging more than a goal a game, with 31 goals from 30 League appearances, and a sixth place finish for the Fife. He also managed to open his Scottish Cup account, with a goal at Ibrox in the 3-1 first round defeat by Rangers.

The 1936/37 season saw a major drop in Joe's scoring rate, with 13 goals being scored in 30 league appearances and one goal from three Scottish Cup ties. Having been so prolific in his previous two season, it looked on paper that Joe was going through a loss of form (although I'm sure we'd all take a goal scoring rate like that today!), but what is hidden behind the stats is that manager David McLean was more relying on Joe to be the team's goal-maker, as opposed to goal-scorer. This mantle being taken over by Eddie McLeod (see separate feature), who duly obliged, netting many goals set up by Joe Cowan.

In the Fife's historic 1937/38 Scottish Cup winning season, Joe was unable to secure a regular place in the side, in a season which also saw him hampered by a knee injury which was later to end his footballing career. Joe made only 15 league appearances in his final season at Bayview, but kept his goals per game ratio up high with 10 goals. He also made two appearances in the famous Scottish Cup run, in the two third round matches against Aberdeen, scoring the vital equalizer at Bayview that sent the tie to a replay and the Fife on the road to the final.

Joe was freed by East Fife at the end of the season, but his career statistics with the Fife make very impressive reading. Overall, he made 99 League and 7 Scottish Cup appearances, scoring 82 League goals and 3 in the Cup, making him the third greatest goalscorer in East Fife history on a goals-per-game ratio. He averaged 0.80, or a goal every 112 minutes, ranking behind the legendary Henry Morris and Jock Wood amongst players who have played a considerable number of games for the Club.

Joe Cowan's statistics speak for themselves, but what makes them even more remarkable is the fact that he was playing alongside other prolific goalscorers like Eddie McLeod, Robert McCartney and Tommy Adams, each of whom feature in the top fifteen East Fife goalscorers of all time. Out of this foursome, only Robert McCartney scored more goals than Joe Cowan and this was achieved in eight seasons with the Club to Joe's four.

Joe Cowan passed away on Thursday 18th April 1991. East Fife bought him when he was at his peak and in his four seasons at Bayview, he more than achieved his place in East Fife folklore.