The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Peter Barr Cormack – Rock and Roll Footballer!

An unusual title you might say but allow me to explain as all will be revealed! Peter Barr Cormack was one of my three favourite Hibees of all time along with Joe Baker and Alex Cropley. All very different players but owning a little genius each in their own way.

cormack hibs

Like the aforementioned Joe, I had the great pleasure of watching Peter play both with Hibernian and Nottingham Forest to whom he was transferred to for £80,000 in 1969.

From a very early age Peter displayed a maturity beyond his years. His legendary debut against Real Madrid in which he debuted with a goal in Hibs’ 2-0 victory is well-charted in the history of notable moment in the club and what an amazing feeling that must have been for the young Peter Cormack. Much more was to follow in a distinguished career for the good-looking young man with the shock of dark hair, bursting into Hibernian’s ranks.

I have often talked with interest about Peter with other Hibbies who managed to watch him in his prime. It seems that everyone who saw him had an opinion about him, particularly about the unique way in which he moved about the pitch. One friend, a Portobello man, related to me once about how he would watch Peter Cormack at Easter Road from the East Terrace and skip all the way back home to Porty after the game, imitating Peter’s trademark high-stepping gait. Peter had this appearance of kicking his legs up high behind him when he ran – a run that was always instantly recognisable amongst a group of players in the middle of a game. I recently spoke to another long-time supporter who likened Peter’s run to that of a racehorse galloping! Here was far more to Peter Barr Cormack than an unusual run however as he was to show.

Whatever persuaded Hibs to offload their talented young player I’m not really sure. I’ll make the standard conclusion that the board at Easter Road wanted or needed to ease Hibernian’s cash flow – there could be little other reason as Cormack began to show, growing in stature in the original English Division 1, firstly with Nottingham Forest, then with a powerful Liverpool side, led by the legendary Bill Shankly – perhaps no mean judge of a player one might say.

cormack forest

Peter was one of those players that represented a certain era for me personally – along with George Best and a select few he seemed to be part of a vanguard of young footballers who were part of the generation that I looked up to. Georgie Best had just been crowned ‘El Beatle’ after his exploits in the European Cup, and seemed a lifetime away from men like Bobby Charlton and the old guard. There was an awful lot happening in society at this time – The Beatles had grown their hair long and were taking drugs for one thing! ‘Flower power’ had been all around and young people were seeking the route back to San Francisco – with or without flowers in their hair.

The footballers that I and my pals at school were most avidly collecting bubblegum stamp cards for were of guys that looked like Georgie…and Peter. Bobby Charlton and his generation were definitely ‘square’. A ‘Peter Cormack’ could be worth up to five ‘Alex Stepney’s’ on he bubblegum card black market!

Peter had a very good time of things at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground by the banks of the River Trent. Although toiling in a poor and degenerating Forest side, years away yet from the new messiah Clough and just after an, at their best Joe Baker and Ian Storey-Moore – both golden boys to the Forest faithful, Peter played in midfield and scored creditably from that position for two seasons. He also added to his final tally of nine full caps in the dark blue of Scotland.

The point that most of the local media and supporters picked up upon was the fact that many of those goals had been headers. Perhaps at first glance (no pun intended) this might have seemed unusual. Certainly Peter though by no means being a small man was certainly no towering giant in the penalty box either. His height alone was not the reason for his menacing ability in the air, but rather his perfect timing. Peter was one of those players that could put his head in where it mattered first. His exquisite timing also dictated that in a melee of players going up for a high ball in the box, his would be the one that appeared to ‘hang’ there in the air – often being at the peak of his leap, with his head on the ball when other lesser players were already on the way down to earth. At odd times in history these unusual players have identified themselves to the public eye but very rarely so.

Other Hibs friends have told me just what a good goalkeeper Peter was ironically. The same talent and technique that gave him great jumping ability he could also use in the goalies shirt. One Hibby whose opinion I respect greatly is of the opinion that if Peter hadn’t become an International outfield player, he certainly would have been capped as a goalkeeper.

Peter was neither a one-trick pony of a player either. His graceful play, passing ability and nimble footwork were a joy to watch. He had an array of crowd-pleasing tricks on the ball too. I have heard people say he wasn’t notable for his tackling ability but I’ve never necessarily subscribed to that notion having seen him dig in during midfield battles well.

Of course whilst showcasing all this talent it became quickly impossible for Peter’s situation to remain the same. Bill Shankly at Liverpool had noticed the young Scot’s sparkling displays and wanted him as the last part of the jigsaw at Anfield. Peter was introduced to the Liverpool team after an, expensive for that time, fee of £110,000 and furthered a very successful career on Merseyside. for five seasons before being transferred to Bristol City. Similarly it has been my experience to note that those fans of Liverpool FC that ever saw him play, like those of Hibs and Forest have only very fond memories of his captivating style of play. A cursory check though any Liverpool website will confirm that.

When I sometimes see the all-too-few pictures of, and information about Peter Cormack, in books and on the Internet I have to say I often wonder why others at times are more spoken of. Perhaps it’s simply that his years at Hibs were not more extensive. This however could be quoted in the case of Joe Baker and many other great and very good players at Easter Road. Those that do talk about him however usually glow about his skill and style – the way he played. Peter Barr Cormack’s way was the Hibernian way.

About these ads

September 3, 2007 - Posted by | Hibernian FC, Sporting Tales | , , ,

16 Comments »

  1. I have read your comments about my father and appreciate your kind generous words. I often feel that people do not give him enough credit for what he achieved during his playing career, especially the hibs supporters. You only have to look at his trophy cabinet and speak to people in Liverpool to find that he was at the time one of the best midfield players in Britain. When you think of the players gracing the turf in those days that was some doing. When you speak football with Dad he often remarks about the Real Madrid game as his fondest memory as he was awarded the MOM award which to this day takes pride and place in his cabinet. Maybe i am being biased as his son but i feel he deserves more recognition than he gets, so cheers for your comments i will pass them on.

    Regards

    Peter Cormack jnr

    Comment by Peter Cormack Jnr | December 11, 2007

  2. As a youngster, I loved him as a player & felt terribly upset when he left Hibs & Matt Gillies took him to Forest. On the Saturday, at Easter Road, Hibs had beaten St Johnstone 4-1, Peter was his usual immense self & he got two of the goals, to all but cement a European slot [what we’d give for one those days] & on the Tuesday, while playing football on the prom, I heard he was gone.

    It was April 1970 when PC joined Forest, four months after his pal, Peter Marinello, had gone down South to join Arsenal & around nineteen months after Stein had joined Rangers, [Harrower must have been Petrie in a former life]. I used to meet the both Peter’s, together, walking along the prom at Porty & they always stopped for a chat with this little urchin.

    I couldn’t understand some of the supporter’s reaction to PC, as my old pal Stu say’s, he was a class apart, however, some Hibs fans never took to him, they soon learnt the hard way, once they had witnessed PC’s replacement, Jim Blair, at least we got Arthur Duncan to replace the other Peter.

    Having read PM’s book, I’m sure Stu would agree, it would be great if his old mate would also get the keyboard rattling.

    Comment by Ray Gilmour | December 17, 2007

  3. Thanks for your comments both.

    Peter, I appreciate very much that you dropped by and decided to leave a comment here. As you can see, I was a great admirer of your father and like you always feel that his talents appear to be underrated by some Hibs supporters these days. I think he proved very well indeed that he could operate very comfortably in amongst great company.

    I saw him at Hibs as a youngster and ironically was here in Nottingham when he was transferred to Nottingham Forest so feel qualified in some ways to speak about him and how good he really was.

    I would be very pleased if you passed my comments on. Indeed that would make my day.

    Hello Ray my friend. I love to hear you and others talking and remembering Peter’s career as I like to. I think the fact that both Peter’s always had the time to spend talking to a young laddy on Porty prom speaks volumes for them both.

    I also read Peter Marinello’s autobiography and share the wish that PC would tell us his story. I’d be first in the queue for that one.

    Looking at the unloading of talent in those days at Easter Road reminds us that it’s never really been any different. What price Peter Cormack, Peter Marinello and Colin Stein nowadays? The mind boggles.

    Thank you both.

    Comment by Stuart Frew | December 18, 2007

  4. I liked your comment about PC playing in the Hibernain style. For me PC and his contemporary Pat Stanton epitomised this graceful, stylish approach to playing football. Both men were slim, elegant players who stroked, rather than kicked a football. Both were marvellous headers of a ball, regularly slipping in at the back post and leaping to plant headers back across the keeper.
    At Hibs Peter often played as a number 10, supporting the main striker Jim Scott. I think his best position was number 8 and that’s why he flourished on moving to Liverpool, a team which had fair amount of “dig” unlike the classy Hibs side where his classy play was taken for granted.

    Comment by dave warriston | February 18, 2008

  5. HI Dave, thanks for dropping by.

    Interesting comments about Peter and King Paddy and that’s just how I remember the pair of them – sublime and quality footballers both. Hibs were fortunate in having such a pair come through together. I enjoy the fact that many of us Hibbies have always appreciated this type of player.

    Have to agree, that Liverpool team at the time had a fair bit of muscle to back up the likes of Peter’s more subtle approach. Just Tommy Smith alone would be enough to scare the bejebers out of most transgressors!

    Comment by Stuart | February 19, 2008

  6. I am happy to see such an article on Peter. I remember one of his last games for Hibs against Hearts every time I hear his name mentioned or see him as I do occassionaly in the West Stand. It isn’t a happy recallection as Peter was sent off after retaliating but only after being kicked in the ankle no less than three times as he ran down the left wing with the ball at his feet. He is one of my all time favourite Hibs players and although I was very young at the time (born in 1959)I remember him as being skillfull and with a ruthless streak. I don’t remember about his tackling but he could certainly be ruthless which I have always considered to be an important attribute/asset for any good player to have.

    Comment by David Wallace | April 24, 2008

  7. As a Hearts supporter, my view of Peter Cormack at Hibernian is perhaps a little too ‘sare tae bare’ for us Jambos, but what I am very proud of is that the reason I became a Liverpool supporter in the early 1970’s was down to Peter Cormack.

    You see, as a young boy our family moved to Barrow in Furness in Cumbria and the only two teams in England at the time were Liverpool or Manchester United.

    I wasnt particularly keen on leaving our relatives to come to a strange place and began looking for things that reminded me of home ….Edinburgh.

    There was a large support from Barrow of Liverpool fans given that Emlyn Hughes was a native of the town however that wasnt enough for me so recognising that Arthur Albiston was the token Scot in the Man Utd team and was from Edinburgh, it looked as though my decision was made.

    That was until I noticed in my Panini sticker book that Peter Cormack was not only from my native Edinburgh but his birthday was the 17th July, the day after mine, so it was decided – I would support Liverpool.

    So there you are, my thoughts about Peter Cormack are very affectionate ones even though he played for the Hibs.

    I met Peter in Edinburgh in the year 2000 and have spent some years researching his illustrious and hugely successful career since then.

    I agree with Peter’s son, he just hasnt had the kind of credit that he should have received especially when you look at what medals and honours he has won over the years.

    What Peter Cormack does have though is a tremendous amount dignity and humilty and was very much an Edinburgh boy that went on to achieve huge success in European football and I am sure he looks back on his career playing against some of the worlds greatest footballers including Puskas, Pele, Moore, and Best, with a tremendous sense of achievement.

    When others recall the success of Liverpool on the domestic and european stage between 1971 and 1976, they think of Clemence, Hughes, Smith or Keegan, for me its Cormack Number 5 everytime!!

    These days people call him Legend – my kids just call him ‘Grandad’

    Comment by Lee Turner | March 17, 2009

  8. Hello
    Sorry – nothing to do with football. Apparently your dad and my dad are cousins. I live in Stonehaven and my dad was Alex Cormack. Your grandad and my grandad were brothers. I would appreciate any info on him to fill in blanks on the family tree. Do you have a photo of him?
    Regards
    Margaret

    Comment by Margaret | July 19, 2010

  9. Just thought I would pop in and add that in addition to all the above Peter does remain well loved by Liverpool fans in particular.

    I have a memorabilia business that is dedicated to Reds of the 60’s and ’70’s and have had the pleasure of working with Peter on a number of occasions over the past few years and he is always a popular player when we do memorabilia signings with him.

    In late 2009 Peter joined us for a signing to raise funds for the Hillsborough Family Support Group without a moments hesitation and welcomed myself and a couple of our colleagues to his home (with bacon and sausage sandwiches waiting for us on arrival !)… for those who haven’t seen him for a while, here’s a couple of photos from that session.

    My wife still thinks he’s the best looking player we have worked with… but I’m not telling him that !

    YNWA Peter Barr Cormack – a genuine Liverpool Legend. Peter Jnr – your dad will never be forgotten, don’t you worry.

    – Bob McCluskey, Owner Retro Reds Memorabilia

    (HFSG signed photos available from http://www.project96.co.uk or by email to sales@retroreds.co.uk)

    Comment by Bob Retro Red | August 25, 2010

  10. Peter was certainly well loved by us Reds! I first saw Forest and LFC play at the City Ground 16/10/71. I can’t remember if PBC played that day for NFFC, but by the time he joined LFC I joined his fan club, member no.57. I still have the signed photos and newsletters! Oh for a player like him to grace Anfield in these dull times! Up the Reds (and Forest for 1 day when I take my young Daughter, Son and Wirral wife). Chris

    Comment by chris heath | December 18, 2010

  11. I watched Peter play at Meadowbank for Edinburgh boys and yes I thought he moved like a colt; long legs with a flowing graceful running style. I saw him play for the Hibees against Everton in a friendly, probably 1962 at Easter rd and his ability with the ball was being remarked on all around me by Everton supporters. Equally important though to his game was his running off the ball and finding space to finish an attack or set one up. I married his sister Stella and moved to Australia (still there) where we could only follow his career from a distance. We had many wonderful trips home and saw him play at his heyday with Liverpool. One article in the local scouse paper carried the storyline “stop Cormack and you stop Liverpool” We have many fond memories of a great player and lovely brother in law.

    Comment by Bob Nicholson | July 21, 2011

  12. Thanks Bob for a lovely description of Peter’s style of play and a personal account of knowing him. He was truly a remarkable footballer.

    Comment by Stuart | July 21, 2011

  13. Hi there, I thought you might be interested to know that Peter Cormack’s Autobiography ‘From the Cowshed to the Kop’ will be released on 17 May 2012.

    http://www.blackandwhitepublishing.com/books/book.php?isbn=9781845024222

    All the info on the book and events relating to the book launch can be found on Peter’s Facebook page

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Cormack-From-the-Cowshed-to-the-Kop/199771193463943

    Or follow him on twitter @CormackPeter

    Comment by L Cormack | April 26, 2012

  14. Thanks very much Leigh. I noticed that Peter’s book was out shortly, it’s one I’ll certainly be buying!

    Comment by Stuart | April 26, 2012

  15. I have just finished reading the Cowshed to the Kop and it reminded me of what a great player Peter was. I had just begun to support Forest as a 14 year old, when Peter arrived at the City Ground Nottingham. He immediately struck up a good partnership with Ian Storey Moore and kept us in the first division during his first year. Unfortunately he came to Forest 4 or 5 years before the Clough revolution, by which time Peter had moved on to play for Liverpool. There is no doubt that he would have not been allowed to leave Forest with BC in charge. All the very Best Peter, you are fondly remembered at the City Ground.

    Comment by Rob | September 19, 2012

  16. Cheers for your nice comments re Peter, Rob. I quite agree about the impact he made in his short time at the City Ground. It’s a shame that in those days Forest seemed to sell every decent player they had and Peter Cormack was very much one of them.

    Comment by Stuart | September 19, 2012


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers

%d bloggers like this: