Cumming Dave Image 3 Middlesbrough 1937

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Description

Aberdeen born goalkeeper Dave Cumming started in junior football with Woodside Thistle in 1928 playing for Hall Russell & Co in 1929 before joining hometown professional club Aberdeen in June 1930, making his Scottish League debut at Partick Thistle in August. He was an understudy keeper to Steve Smith during his four seasons at Pittodrie and although he made 7 appearances during his debut season of 1930-31, he made only 6 more appearances before joining Arbroath in June 1934.

Cumming became an extremely influential figure in the classy Arbroath side of the mid 1930’s as The Lichties won promotion for the first time in the club’s history when finishing runners-up behind Third Lanark in the 1934-35 Division Two campaign. Cumming’s defence conceded 42 goals in 34 games and he achieved 15 shut-outs – it was the best record in the whole Scottish League. Perhaps his most impressive performance that season came in the second last game when Arbroath travelled to face Alloa Athletic at Recreation Park requiring one point to make sure of promotion. The Clackmannanshire side dominated the game and put the nervous Arbroath defenders under severe pressure. When all seemed lost Cumming sprang to the rescue with a series of great saves and the game ended 0-0. Even the home supporters stood to applaud the visiting goalkeeper at the end.

Cumming’s status was enhanced when The Lichties moved into the higher division and he continued to turn in some superb performances that helped The Maroons finish 11th in the 20 team First Division. It seemed only a matter of time before a bigger club took an interest and in October 1936, after much transfer speculation, Middlesborough paid £3,000 for his services. It was a record fee for a Scottish goalkeeper at the time.

Cumming didn’t make the best of starts after he was signed by First Division Middlesborough from Arbroath in October 1938, conceding ten goals in his first three games including 3 on his Football League debut at home to Liverpool in a 3-3 draw. The popular Scot was not dismayed, however, and went on to carve out an impressive career with the Teesside club with whom he won his one and only Scotland cap. Cumming was selected to play for Scotland against England in April 1938 and played well enough to help his side win 1-0 with a goal from Tommy Walker. The former Arbroath man still holds the distinction of being one of the few Scottish keepers ever to keep a clean sheet at Wembley.

Cumming would undoubtedly have won more international honours but for the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, during which he guested for Newcastle United between 1943 and 1945, and also played in one wartime international for Scotland in 1944. He missed what would have been the peak years of his career because of the conflict, but returned to League duty with Middlesborough at the end of hostilities.

His final game against Arsenal in December 1946 ended in drama when he tangled with The Gunners’ English international Les Compton during a goalmouth melee. Compton kicked the Scot who retaliated by punching his 6ft 4ins rival. Before the referee could take any action Cumming calmly removed his jersey, handed it to a team-mate, and left the field. Having been to that point an ever present in Middlesbrough’s first post war League season Cumming’s career was finally ended when he sustained a dislocated kneecap against Blackpool in April 1947 and retired thereafter having undergone a series of operations that failed to cure his knee problems, having made 157 appearances for ‘Boro either side of the War.

Today he is listed alongside such luminary figures as Brian Clough, Brian Robson, Graeme Souness and the Brazilians Emerson and Juninho in Middlesbrough’s official list of all-time greats.

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