Billy McEwan added Scottish steel to Clough’s Brighton midfield

One of the more obvious links between Brighton and Rotherham United is Tony Towner, the winger who made it at his hometown club before starring for the Millers.

On this occasion, though, I am plumping for a Scotsman who only featured briefly for Brighton but who earned plaudits as a player and a manager for Rotherham.

Billy McEwan was part of a £15,000 double signing made by Brian Clough in his brief reign as manager of the Albion in the 1973-74 season.

Together with gritty defender Paul Fuschillo, McEwan arrived on the south coast from Blackpool in February 1974.

McEwan had begun his career in his home country and played 60 times for Hibernian before moving to England. He only managed four games for Blackpool, though, before Clough came calling.

Albion were flirting dangerously close to the relegation places as Clough struggled to find the right formula with players nowhere near the quality he had been used to working with at Derby.

McEwan recalled in his programme notes when managing Sheffield United against Albion in 1986: “Brian Clough bought me because he said he wanted some Scottish steel in the side.”

He featured in only 27 games for the Albion, getting on the scoresheet on three occasions, all at the Goldstone.

In the way players were traded like horses in those days, just nine months after his arrival he was moved on to Chesterfield (together with Ronnie Welch) in exchange for the right back Ken Tiler. Tiler himself would subsequently leave Albion for a £15,000 fee in 1979 – to join Rotherham.

After Chesterfield, McEwan also played for Mansfield and Peterborough before finishing his playing career with 95 games for Rotherham between 1979 and 1983.

He subsequently managed the Millers between 1988 and 1991 and in his first season in charge guided them to the old 4th division championship.

In fact the 141 games they played under his stewardship proved to be his longest managerial reign, and McEwan was well known in football circles in Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

Remarkably he was a coach at Derby County under five different managers. Inevitably he was caretaker manager there too – on two separate occasions, seven years apart.

His most successful time as a manager (in terms of wins ratio) was in charge of Conference side York City but his last league spell as a boss, with Mansfield Town in 2008, was somewhat ignominious and lasted only five months.

Seagulls.co.uk revealed in April 2015 that current Albion ‘keeper David Stockdale began his career under McEwan at York – only to be released!

It didn’t damage his career though and Stockdale later had eight games on loan to the Millers from parent club Fulham.

 

 

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