Legends - Ted McMinn

Ted McMinn played for Queen of the South followed by a highly successful career playing in the top divisions in Scotland, Spain and England. An entertaining character as well as a highly effective footballer, he remains a hugely popular figure among fans at his ex clubs.

Ted McMinn was happy to reminisce and give us some of his football memories for an interview in 2008.
Early years
Kevin McMinn was born in Castle Douglas and grew up in Dumfries. One broadsheet newspaper claimed McMinn was called ’Teddy’ at school because he ran as if he had a teddy bear tucked under his arm. However in his autobiography McMinn states, “As a toddler I’d never be without my teddy bear and earned the nickname that still sticks to this day.”
While a school boy at St Ninian’s, McMinn fell in love with his home town club, Queen of the South. After his first visit to Palmerston Park when aged eight, McMinn attended whenever he could with QoS games becoming the highlight of his week. When he was eventually able to scratch enough cash together, McMinn reserved a seat on the QoS supporters’ bus to attend away games. Looking back to the supporters’ bus McMinn particularly remembered, ’A long haired lad called Rocky, who wore a wrangler denim jacket, would always be on it.’
McMinn’s secondary education was at Maxwelltown High before he joined the ranks of the employed. McMinn worked at Robinson’s sawmill where he stacked wood and helped customers with their orders.
After playing for Dumfries High School Former Pupils, McMinn and team mate Stuart Cochrane were booked in to play in a trial game for Scottish junior side Glenafton Athletic. Both were offered terms.
Queen of the South
From playing well at Glenafton a contract offer was made by Kilmarnock. However, McMinn received a visit at home from Queen of the South chairman Willie Harkness and his brother Sammy. Both were keen for McMinn to sign on at Palmerston. McMinn next met QoS Manager, Drew Busby, who told McMinn that he would be straight into the team on the Saturday. Thus McMinn returned to play in Dumfries by joining QoS. The transfer fee – ‘£325 so that Glenafton could buy a new carpet for their club house and a thousand Queen's lottery tickets.’ Those were the days.
QoS memories:
“My home debut against Meadowbank. I’d been rejected by Queen's before and it was a pleasure to play for the club that I used to watch from the terracing. I lived in Dumfries at Lochside, Newton Road, and I used to wait at the gates at Terregles Street for them to open at half time. With everybody else that would be waiting, we used to pile in. I used to watch the team with players like Crawford Boyd, Jim Donald who I really liked and Peter and Chopper Dickson. Later on came Jimmy Robertson who as a winger I really liked to watch."
"My actual debut was against Stenhousemuir. What a ground that was. We used to get bigger crowds playing in the junior league. I enjoyed my home debut much more; it was a 1-1 draw. Also the goals that I scored. I never scored many goals but I remember them. And the great team spirit among us 5 local boys that played."
"Palmerston was like a bowling green, you knew when you went to kick the ball you wouldn’t get a bobble. The best of the other grounds in the division was probably Meadowbank and the athletics track but I played against Rangers at Ibrox as well. I played in a game against Newcastle, Gazza, Waddle and Beardsley, that was arranged as a trial, Newcastle were interested in me. After the game I was told, “Not good enough”, so I was rejected again. Arthur Cox didn’t want to sign me. I also played against Man City, Allan Ball’s testimonial. Billy McNeill brought a strong side up."
Best QoS players that you played with:
“Drew Busby was player manager, he was great, he would run through a brick wall.”
“Rowan Alexander was great in the air. He wasn’t big but he was great in the air, good at getting up and a good header of the ball”
“Stewart Cochrane was a target man and as a wide man I was always looking for guys like him and Rowan.”
“Jimmy Robertson was a brilliant winger even though we didn’t always get on. He was getting on in his career and I was a young winger and he maybe seen me as a threat.”
“Graeme Robertson. He could play anywhere, defence, or further up the park he was box to box and never stopped going. He went on to play for Dunfermline.”
“Davidson. Alan Davidson was a brilliant keeper for that division. Mental, but a brilliant keeper.”
And the last man that McMinn quoted among this group, the one and only George Cloy.
McMinn remained with QoS until October 1984. In 68 QoS league games the winger scored 5 goals.
Ted McMinn returned to Palmerston Park under the new regime of Norman Blount to play for Queen of the South on 23rd April 1995. The opposition in the 2-2 draw was Rangers in a game to mark Queen's 75th anniversary and the opening of the new stand. Other guests for QoS included Andy Thomson, Davie Irons and old pal Rowan Alexander.
For a £100,000 fee, Ted was then transferred to Rangers, managed by the ex-army Malaya jungle-fighter, and hard as nails, Jock Wallace (Gary Lineker later recalled being managed by Wallace in his days at Leicester City: "He pinned me against the dressing room wall at half-time and called me a lazy English this and that. We were 2-0 up and I’d scored both goals. I didn’t score in the second half - I was still shaking!").
Fans at Ibrox had been reared on a diet of outstanding wingers over the years meaning many had hero status among Rangers supporters. Davie Wilson (future QoS manager), Willie Henderson, Willie Johnston and Davie Cooper were all greats at the club. Next they were about to behold Ted McMinn.
Opponents, team mates, management, fans nor McMinn himself ever knew what to expect next from the winger. His unpredictable style of wing play combined with his 100% effort quickly made McMinn an Ibrox fans favourite also. Fans nicknamed him ‘The Tin Man’.
McMinn’s debut came as a substitute on Saturday, 13th October 1984 in a 2-0 win at St Mirren. In McMinn’s full Rangers debut against Dumbarton at Boghead he scored direct from a corner kick. McMinn later recalled to the press, "Jackie Stewart, my dad’s hero, gave me a tankard after that game. I still have it."
Rangers won the 84/85 League Cup beating Jim McLean’s excellent Dundee United side of the era 1-0 in the final:
“I never played in that, I was cup tied from playing for Queen's. I would have liked to have played but it would have been wrong for me to play as I hadn’t helped the team get there, that’s why I wouldn’t say I was gutted at missing it.”
McMinn became noted for his performances against arch rivals Celtic in ‘old firm’ matches. Only once losing in a Glasgow derby, his best old firm performance was in the 1987 League Cup final win. McMinn had scored one of the goals of his life against Dundee United in the semi final game in which he broke a bone in his foot. Desperate to play in the final he removed the plaster cast himself.
McMinn was one of the three jokers at the time in the Ibrox dressing room with Ally McCoist and Ian Durrant. Ex-team mate Derek Ferguson recalled, "I’ll never forget playing with Ted in a reserve game at Ibrox. He was running down the wing full speed and crossed the ball into the box. He just kept running so he had to jump over a wall into the Copland Road stand, carried on up the stairs then disappeared down the other side."
Graeme Souness succeeded Jock Wallace as Rangers manager in April 1986. Souness went on to remark, "How can I tell Ted McMinn what to do when he doesn’t know what he’s going to do?" Rangers were Scottish Champions in 1986-87 for the first time in nine seasons. McMinn later said of his time at Rangers, "Davie Cooper was my hero and we got on well." He added, "I wasn’t getting on with Souness."
McMinn was on his way South again, but with something of a difference.
Ted McMinn joined Spanish club Sevilla on 1st August 1987, again signed by Jock Wallace who obviously felt the winger wasn’t lazy.
“Seville was great, I loved it. I’m glad Jock gave me the opportunity to go there. The biggest problem for me was the language. The crowd took to me again. I was something different for them to see, they weren’t used to someone taking a man on and they liked someone who gave 100%. Playing in Spain was a great experience."
"We used to fly everywhere because of the size of Spain. I played against Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid. Playing in La Liga made me a better player. The last game I played in was the derby against Betis. Betis played in green and white so for me it was like a derby back in Glasgow. The derby game there wasn’t like the old firm game but if you lost the fans let you know it, after the game you had to duck down under the seat on the bus."
McMinn again achieved cult status with The Sevillians saying, "Jock taught us; Ted inspired us". A Spanish journalist observed, "With his inelegant Tin Man running style, erratic crossing and unquenchable zest for lager, he was the soul of football.” Ted McMinn broke his leg three weeks after signing but he recovered to play 22 league games.
The departure from the club of Wallace unsettled McMinn. Newspapers reported four top division sides to be interested, Newcastle, Derby and Watford from England and Bundesliga super weights Bayern Munich.
The first offer was by telephone from Newcastle manager Willie McFaul. Next to make a move was Derby director Stuart Webb who went to see McMinn in Spain. McMinn’s only memory of Derby was of seeing Archie Gemmill score against Nottingham Forest for them on a cabbage patch of a pitch in the FA Cup. As part of the negotiations Webb suggested McMinn spoke by phone with Arthur Cox, now the Manager of Derby. As McMinn says in his book, “As soon as I spoke to Arthur I knew I wanted to sign for him. He was like Jock Wallace with an English accent. There was no time for small talk. ’Hello Ted,’ he growled, ’I’ve been chasing you for five years since you were at Queen of the South and I want to sign you.’”
Derby County
Ted McMinn emulated fellow ex Queen of the South player Hughie Gallacher by joining Derby County. This was on 5th February 1988 for £300,000 where yet again he became a fans favourite. Arthur Cox was rewarded with a series of outstanding performances from the Scotsman. McMinn’s Derby debut was at Portsmouth the day after he signed.
His next game was a home match against Manchester United. Gordon Strachan added a late goal to add to Norman Whiteside’s opener putting Man U 2-0 up. McMinn then took possession of the ball beside the dug out and set off on a run down the right wing. After skinning Arthur Albiston, McMinn unleashed a screamer that he knew was a goal as soon as he hit it – a goal McMinn describes as the best of his career (it's on Youtube).
Along with internationalists Dean Saunders, Mark Wright and Peter Shilton (described by Brian Clough as one of the three best players he ever worked with along with Dave MacKay and John Robertson), the club finished fifth in 1989 – still today the highest finish at the club since Dave MacKay left in 1976. With English clubs banned from Europe at the time McMinn missed out on a UEFA Cup place.
Aged 27 and matured as a player, McMinn was in the form of his life in November 1989. Andy Roxburgh watched McMinn’s outstanding form, placing McMinn on the verge of a call-up to the Scotland side ahead of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. McMinn was struck by a serious knee injury in an away game against Tottenham Hotspur (a complete change of fortune from McMinn’s two goals at White Hart Lane the season before).
Initially Spurs Manager Terry Venables shouted an accusation of diving at McMinn. After being stretchered off to the treatment room, word got around that x-rays showed McMinn was in a bad way. After the game nearly all of the Spurs players including Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne came into the Derby dressing room to wish him well. The exception from the Spurs players was the man who had been involved in the challenge when the injury occurred – Pat van den Hauwe. McMinn was out for 14 months, his World Cup chances over.
While out injured, McMinn attended the Derby County game against arch rivals Nottingham Forest. McMinn bumped into Forest Manager Brian Clough after the game. Giving McMinn a warm handshake, Clough wished McMinn well in his recovery and told him that the game was missing him, a gesture McMinn greatly appreciated.
A lack of further investment led to a decline shortly after at Derby. The club was relegated back to the Second tier of English football in 1991. Robert Maxwell’s reign as Derby chairman ended.
McMinn was back to his best form in 1991/92 when he was named as the club’s player of the year succeeding Dean Saunders. McMinn helped Derby to a third place finish and a play off place. Derby went out in the semi 5-4 on aggregate to Blackburn Rovers – bankrolled by Jack Walker’s millions and managed by Kenny Dalglish.
In November 2004 Igor Stimac was voted Derby County’s all-time cult hero by BBC’s ‘Football Focus’ viewers. Stimac won with 59% of the vote, ahead of Ted McMinn who came second with 30%.
Birmingham City
Ted McMinn had one season with Birmingham City signing on 28th July 1993.
“The only place where the fans didn’t really take to me was Birmingham. I don’t know why.”
Now remembered as, “A magical winger”, Ted McMinn joined Burnley on 5th April 1994 for two years. Burnley were on a push for promotion that seen them achieve a play off place. McMinn played in the play off final 2-1 victory at Wembley against Stockport County before a crowd of 44,806.
Summing up McMinn’s popularity yet again, despite only 2 seasons at Turf Moor McMinn came third in the BBC’s ‘Football Focus’ ‘Burnley cult heroes’ poll behind Jimmy McIlroy and Leighton James.
Later playing career
Ted McMinn ended his playing career with Western Australian club ECU Joondalup and then non league Slough Town.
As assistant to Mark Wright, McMinn had spells coaching at Southport and Oxford United.
McMinn appeared again on 17th January 2002 when Wright took over at Conference strugglers Chester City. The club avoided relegation as the pair set about turning the club’s fortunes around. McMinn then left both Wright and Chester in July 2002.
Life after football
In 2004 McMinn became the match summariser for BBC Radio Derby. In his three years with the station he attended all Derby County’s matches.
McMinn contracted a mystery infection that led to most of his right foot being amputated. McMinn then opted to have more of his leg removed in a bid to gain more mobility and independence with a prosthetic limb.
As a tribute to McMinn, on 1 May 2006, former players of both Derby County and Rangers contested a match at Derby County’s Pride Park Stadium in which a record 33,475 spectators attended - around 10,000 of them being Rangers fans. McMinn said to the Scottish press that he had also received well wishes from Queen of the South fans.
Terry Butcher said humbly after the benefit game, “It does make you think. You never know what can happen to you."
To coincide with the benefit game McMinn embarked on a 300 mile sponsored bike ride from Glasgow to Derby to help raise money for the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary’s limbs unit.
In October 2008 Ted McMinn published his autobiography, “The Tin Man”. His book ends with the following: “If the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz didn’t have a heart, I’d like to think that this one has”.
Career League Summary:
Born: Castle Douglas
d.o.b: 28 September 1962
Source : Glenafton Athletic
Queen of the South
Glasgow Rangers
Seville (Spain)
Derby County
Birmingham City
to ECU Joondalup (Australia)


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