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Tribute paid to former Inverness Thistle legend Johnnie Cowie who has died aged 81

By Val Sweeney

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Johnnie Cowie (circled) with fellow Jags team members with the 1970-71 League Cup which they won with a 6-1 victory over Clach.
Johnnie Cowie (circled) with fellow Jags team members with the 1970-71 League Cup which they won with a 6-1 victory over Clach.

Fond memories have been recalled of a former Inverness Thistle legend who has died aged 81.

Johnnie Cowie was regarded as one of the great Thistle strikers of all time and a prolific goal scorer in the late 60s and early 70s.

Known as Jake, he also played for Buckie Thistle, Rothes, Lossiemouth, Deveronvale and Keith.

He passed away peacefully at Seafield Hospital, Buckie, following a short illness. A private funeral took place at Moray Crematorium.

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Among the tributes to Johnnie Cowie was a post by Inverness Football Memories, a project which recalls Inverness football down the years and includes an online feature on the Am Baile,community website managed by High Life Highland featuring photographs, film and stories.

On its Facebook page, it said Inverness Thistle fans who were saddened to hear of his death would remember Johnnie Cowie as a great player in a great team.

It stated: “Johnnie, a technical teacher at Buckie High School, was one half of an outstanding strike partnership at Kingsmills Park, Inverness, sharing the goal scoring glory with Ian ‘Chipper’ Stephen.

“Their goals were instrumental in Thistle winning back-to-back Highland League titles in 1971-72 and again in 1972-73.

“In these two seasons, the pair scored an incredible 179 league and cup goals, with Johnnie being top scorer in both seasons with 42 and 53 goals respectively.

“Under the management of former Elgin City striker, Willie Grant, Thistle played an exciting brand of attacking football which thrilled the crowds.”

In the 1969-70 season, the Jags set a post-war record for the most goals scored in a Highland League season with 124 goals, an average of 4.13 goals per game.

The post continued: “Cowie and Stephen, who had played for Caley and Forres Mechanics, had an uncanny understanding and are widely considered to be one of the best striking partnerships to grace the Highland League.”

Dave Milroy, who played with Johnnie when he broke into the Thistle side in 1972, recalled: “Johnnie and Chipper were an awesome partnership, who struck fear into opposing defenders.

“Both were quick and good in the air. They dovetailed brilliantly.”

Buckie-born Johnnie was married to Irene who attended many Thistle games, watching from the grandstand. They were married for 57 years.

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