Yesterday (Friday) the club were informed that Jimmy McEwan, a prolific goal scorer and right-winger, has sadly passed away in a nursing home in Birmingham, aged 88.
James McEwan was born in Dundee on the 22nd of March 1929. He played for his local junior side East Craigie in Dundee before moving into the senior ranks with Arbroath in 1947. At Arbroath, he scored what is believed to be the fastest ever goal scored at Gayfield after only 10 seconds verses Dumbarton. After four years with the Angus club Jimmy signed for Raith Rovers.
Jimmy signed for the Rovers on the 15th of June 1951 and he made a scoring debut verses Queen’s Park in a 9-0 win in a St. Mungo’s Cup-Tie on the 14th of July 1951.
He went on to play 314 times for Raith Rovers scoring 92 goals.
With Raith Rovers he blossomed into a goal scoring right-winger-cum-centre-forward. He was a fast and tricky player. In his eight seasons with the Rovers they remained in the top flight of Scottish Football, in his first season Rovers finished in fifth place. In season 1955-56, they reached the Scottish Cup semi-final, losing after a replay to the eventual winners Hearts.
In December 1956, he played his part in one of Raith Rovers’ more remarkable scores, beating Glasgow Rangers 5-1.
Johnny Urquhart’s first goal that day came from a Jimmy McEwan shot that rebounded of the bar. The 5-1 win allowed third place Rovers to go one point ahead of Rangers. Rovers appeared to be genuine title contenders for most of that season before finishing fourth, their best finish since 1922.
They also made it back to the Scottish Cup semi-final.
Jimmy was selected to play for a Scottish Football League XI against a Scotland XI at Ibrox on 16 March 1959, in a trial match prior to Scotland playing against England at Wembley. McEwan and the league side won 6-5, including McEwan providing a cross for the first of three goals by John White. McEwan and the league side won 6-5. Jimmy McEwan was never selected for the full international side in the days of the team being chosen by committee.
At the end of that season, Jimmy McEwan was sold to Aston Villa for £6,660, a fee that a few years ago was valued at £640,000 in the current price market.
Jimmy went on to play 181 times for Aston Villa scoring 32 goals.
Jimmy did return to play against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park on the 27th September 1960, in a game that celebrated the switch on of the Rovers’ new floodlights. The score-line was Raith Rovers 2 Aston Villa 1; Jimmy McEwan scored the Villa goal to the delight of the Rovers’ home crowd.
In 1966, Jimmy left Villa to sign for Walsall and after one season playing, he remained on the coaching staff until 1973. He continued playing for the Villa Old Stars well into his 50’s until he was forced to stop due to knee replacement operations.
Jimmy passed away peacefully in the Madeleine House care home in Birmingham on the 28th November 2017. He is survived by sons Eric and Duncan.
His brother-in-law Fergus Baird contacted the club to pass on the sad news yesterday.