Donald Colman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Donald Colman
Personal information
Full name Donald Cameron Cunningham
Date of birth (1878-08-14)14 August 1878
Place of birth Renton, Scotland
Date of death 1942 (aged 63–64)
Place of death Aberdeen, Scotland
Playing position Right-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Glasgow Perthshire
Tontine Athletic
1905–1907 Motherwell
1907–1920 Aberdeen 324 (1)
1920–1925 Dumbarton[1] 51 (0)
National team
1911–1913 Scotland 4 (0)
1910–1911 Scottish League XI[2] 2 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Donald Cameron Cunningham, known as Donald Colman (14 August 1878 – 1942) was a football player and coach (or trainer) in the early years of the 20th century, playing and coaching most notably for Aberdeen. His career in senior football did not begin until he was in his late twenties, and he was capped by Scotland at the late age of 33.

As a coach, he was renowned partly as the inventor of the dugout, a sunken, sheltered area for note taking, which he introduced at Aberdeen's Pittodrie Stadium, making it the first football stadium to feature this innovation.

Junior career[edit]

Colman was born and brought up in the Dunbartonshire town of Renton, home of Renton F.C., an early power in the Scottish game. The young Colman was passionate about football, and had helped out at his local club as a boy before signing to play for the junior club Glasgow Perthshire. Colman feared that his choice of profession would not be favoured by his parents, and signed under his grandmother's name of Colman - by the time he was accepted by his family as a professional footballer, he felt that it was too late to revert, so he was known throughout his football career as Donald Colman.[3]

From Glasgow Perthshire, Colman moved to a number of other junior clubs, including Maryhill and his hometown club, but a career in senior football seemed to have eluded him in spite of interest at various times from Hibs and Sunderland. He was considered to be too small in stature to make a professional,[3] and seemed destined to remain a junior player until he was signed by Motherwell at the late age of 27 in 1905.

Senior playing career[edit]

Colman played for Motherwell for only two seasons before being released on a free transfer. At the relatively advanced age of 29, it would have been reasonable for him to consider his senior career over. However, he was signed by Aberdeen manager Jimmy Philip in the summer of 1907 and soon established himself as Aberdeen's first choice right-back; becoming club captain in 1909.[4] In 1911-12, Colman was capped three times for Scotland, winning a fourth cap two years later.[5] His career was interrupted but not ended by the First World War, during which he served in France.

After the war, Colman resumed his Aberdeen career, and was still playing regularly during his final season at the club in 1920, after which he moved to Dumbarton as player-coach. He was reported to have still been an active player in 1925, at the age of 47.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

While player-coach at Dumbarton, Colman regularly travelled to Norway in the summer months to coach football.[4] He was recalled to Aberdeen as coach in 1931 by Phillips' successor, Paddy Travers. Colman's second spell at Aberdeen was as notable as his first - he was an innovative and influential coach, spending much time and effort on players' footwork and working on ideas such as possession football and using space. He was convinced of the importance of watching his players' feet, and to help with this, devised the dugout - a sheltered area, set below pitch level which allowed him to observe his players' feet as they played. The idea quickly spread through the game in Britain and further afield, and examples of dugouts at football grounds can still be seen to this day.[6]

Personal life and death[edit]

Colman, as befits his reputation as a late starter, did not marry until he was 46. He fathered two children, Edna and Donald, and lived in Aberdeen until his death from tuberculosis in 1942.[3]


  1. ^ McAllister, Jim (2002). The Sons of the Rock - The Official History of Dumbarton Football Club. Dumbarton: J&J Robertson Printers. 
  2. ^ "Donald Colman". London Hearts Supporters' Club. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Webster, Jack (2003). The First 100 Years of The Dons: the official history of Aberdeen Football Club 1903 - 2003. Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 81–84. ISBN 0-340-82344-5. 
  4. ^ a b Smith, Paul (2007). The Legends of Aberdeen. Breedon Books. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-85983-575-3. 
  5. ^ "Donald Colman - Scotland Football Record". London Hearts. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  6. ^ "Dugouts - Pyramid Passion". 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Alex Halkett
Aberdeen FC captain
Succeeded by
Bert MacLachlan