Robert MacLeod: Cowdenbeath Miner Poet
Arthur Nevay has collected over 120 compositions by former Cowdenbeath miner, Robert MacLeod (1876–1958), who became an entertainer after a mining accident ended his career. Thanks to Arthur Nevay, now we can enjoy Robet MacLeod legacy.
He wrote for music-hall performances at the Cowdenbeath Tivoli and sang round pubs and clubs, selling broadsheets to earn money, and to help soup kitchens, disaster funds, war wounded and other needy causes. MacLeod lived through two World Wars, the 1926 Strike, the Great Depression, eight decades of colliery disasters, and he wrote ‘lest we forget’. He also raised the spirit of the community, with his droll, witty, ‘one-liners’ that made folk laugh. His work inspired the late John Watt, whose songs such as ‘Fife’s Got Everything’ and ‘ e Kelty Clippie’ share MacLeod’s irreverent wit. Among Arthur’s papers is a letter from John stating that ‘lines like these should not be forgotten’. Poetry and song collection edited by Margaret Bennett as part of the 'End of the Shift' Oral History project. Margaret Bennett 2015.
"This is collection is a treasure trove of life in Fife in the early part of the 20th Century, created by the pen of Robert MacLeod. My generation caught the tail end of those riches of song and poetry, but Bob MacLeod was there and captured the age in his writings. The great John Watt appreciated him hugely and, thanks to this lovingly restored archive, we all get to know the man and his work, so long forgotten. It’s wonderful, colourful and full of the human spirit." Barbara Dickson, October 2015.
THE WHIPPET RACE
Did ye ever visit the North End Park,
Tae see the duggies rin
Baith big and smaa among them aa,
They dae their best tae win.
As shair as Setterday nicht comes roond,
They ken withoot a doubt,
The moment that they toe the mark,
It’s then ye hear them shout:
Ye’re shair tae hear them cry,
Come on and hae a try!
For if ye win this handicap,
I’m gaun tae change yer name,
And ye’ll get a pund o steak the nicht,
When ye gang hame.
There’s the Drummer and the Piper,
Lady Lake and Gipsy Tam,
There’s J.J. frae Lochgelly tae,
And likewise Peter Pan,
There’s Black Rose and there’s Kelly,
Stop the Cab for wee Black Nell,
And when the pistol gaes off,
The owners they do yell.
Tae see them fleeing up the field,
Man, it’s a bonny sicht,
And when they mooth the hankie,
They think themselves aa richt,
Wi their leaders and their muzzles,
And wee flannel overall,
It causes great excitement,
When the bookies start tae bawl:
And when the race is ower again,
They wander doon the street,
And offer tae stand their hand,
Tae ony yin they meet,
For my dug won the handicap,
So I’ll treat ye if ye’re game,
I’ll train him up for Setterday next,
And ye’ll hear me shout again.
by Robert McLeod, Cowdenbeath
Sandy Ye’re A Dandy
There’s a player wha fairly taks the ee
A guid yin noo ye’ll aa agree,
On the baa he’s a treat tae see
O Sandy, he’s a dandy!
The wey that he can dance aboot,
And bangs the baa wieither foot,
Nae wonder the spectators shout –
Sandy, ye’re a dandy!
O Sandy, ye’re a dandy
O Sandy, ye’re a don,
Ye come in awfu handy
As goals are pilin on,
Wi yer tricky little touches
As guid as e’er we saw,
We’ve outside richts in Scotland,
But ye’re the dandy o them aa.
Fifteen years ye’ve been at Rangers noo,
And donned the colours bonnie blue,
And aye proved sae staunch and true –
O Sandy, ye’re a dandy.
Tae see ye prancing doon the wing
And get the baa on the swing,
Mony a braw goal it does bring –
O Sandy ye’re a dandy!
by Robert McLeod, Cowdenbeath
Note: 'Sandy Ye'are a Dandy': Composed for a miner from Crossgates, Sandy Archibald (1986–1946), who became a famous footballer. At the age of 19 he played for Raith Rovers, then joined Rangers and also Scotland's team. He won 13 league titles, 3 Scottish cup medals and won 8 caps for Scotland. See <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Archibald>
Robert MacLeod: Cowdenbeath Miner poet
EDITOR: Margaret Bennett
COLLECTOR: Arthur Nevay
FORMAT: 152 mm x 228 mm
EXTENT: 306 pages
RELEASE DATE: November 2015
PUBLISHER: Grace Note Publications