Donald Colman was the man, who invented the football dug-out. He did so whilst coaching at Aberdeen from 1931 until shorty before his early death. He is also the great-grandfather of Scotland Womens' captain, Rachel Corsie. And his name was not Donald Colman at all. He was born Donald Cunningham and to avoid family interference in his football from an early age adopted the surname of his paternal grandmother, Ann Colman, and it stuck.
He was born in 1878 on Renton Main St., the second son of a local father, a Dye Field Labourer, and a Bonhill-born mother. Donald himself initially became a bricklayer to trade.
But he seems perhaps not to have learned his football entirely in the village of his birth and the team, with which he first played the senior game. Although all his siblings were also born in Renton he, a right-back, is said to have played the game as a junior first with Glasgow Perthshire only then appearing for Tontine Athletic, one of Renton's village feeder clubs, before in 1896 at the age of eighteen joining the senior club itself.
And even then he did not stay long, a single season before unusually stepping down to junior football once more and for fully eight seasons. The reason given is his small stature. He was thought too small to make the grade. He also did it with Maryhill Juniors once more in Glasgow, so away from Renton, whilst still staying with his parents in the village for at least some of the time. Thus, albeit with by then three junior Scottish Cup finals, one win, and three junior Scotland caps, it was only at the age of twenty seven that he stepped back up a grade, in 1905 joining Motherwell for two campaigns before from 1907 beginning the first part of an extended association with Aberdeen and its premier football club.
In fact at Aberdeen despite his age he would be an almost ever-present until the disruption of The Great War. In 1911 so already thirty-two, when curiously he is recorded as staying in Liverpool but with a fellow footballer, he would even win his only cap. He also turned to training and coaching. For a decade from 1919 he would spend his summers in Bergen in Norway doing just that at Brann and in 1920 for three season he became player-coach at almost hometown Dumbarton under Paddy Travers. As such he would guide a very young Alex Jackson. In fact when Travers left and for Aberdeen he stepped up to fill the managerial vacancy, finally retire from playing in 1923 aged forty-four and stay at Boghead, The Rock's then ground, until 1931.
Meanwhile, at the age of forty-six he married. His bride was Mary Ann Anderson, sixteen years his junior, and they tied the knot in Aberdeen in 1924, he recorded still as a bricklayer and giving an address back in Renton, where he was possibly staying with John Ritchie. Mary and Donald were to have two children, a daughter born in 19125 in Renton and a son a decade later in Aberdeen. At it was there in the Granite City that Donald would die, in 1942, aged sixty-four, still recorded as a bricklayer and not a footballer, football trainer or even manager. And his cause of death was also curious for someone of his age; one who had lived such a sporting life throughout. It was tuberculosis. He would be survived by Mary, she dying in her hometown in 1954.
1881 - N/A
1911 - Liver Chambers, Liverpool
1921 - N/A
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