Annbank, Ayrshire born wing half James McRorie “Jimmy” Gourlay will always be synonymous with his 11th minute free kick scored in the 1922 Scottish Cup Final which gave Morton a shock 1-0 victory over mighty Glasgow Rangers. The rather wonderful book on Glasgow Rangers entitled The New Era, published in 1966 makes the following comments on the game: “Now to the tragedy of our Scottish Cup final defeat by Morton by a goal at Hampden. We seemed to carry a witch doctor’s curse. With only 12 minutes gone, our ‘keeper, Willie Robb, was adjudged to have handled the ball outside his area. Jimmy Gourlay took the free kick and scored such a goal neither he nor any of his forwards could have repeated in a lifetime. That is said without being motivated by blind prejudice.” It remains to this day the only major trophy in Greenock Morton’s history.
Gourlay was clearly a very decent player aside his ability with free kicks. He had been capped by The Scottish League in November 1914 against The Irish League in a match won 2-1 with Gourlay scoring, then again after the First World War against The Football League in February 1919. His career prior to that moment is also worthy of note. He had started with Annbank Juniors in 1905 as an inside forward, moving in successive years to Cambuslang Rangers, Port Glasgow Athletic, and Greenock Morton for his first spell, joining them in 1908.
His promise came to First Division Everton’s attention and they signed him in 1910, with his Football League debut marked by a goal against Chelsea in March 1910. It was the first of 9 goals in 62 appearances for The Toffees over the next three years before a return to Morton in 1913, where he stayed another 13 years and converting to the half back line before joining Third Lanark in 1926 shortly before his retirement from playing.
He was subsequently employed as the Morton’s trainer and was in situ when the club made it to the 1948 Scottish Cup Final. When he retired as trainer in 1959 – after 34 years at Cappielow – he was made an honorary club member.
His father, James Gourlay, played for Cambuslang and Annbank and was capped by Scotland in 1888. His nephew, Bert Gourlay, played for the Morton in the 1950’s.