They Wore the Dark Blue for Club and Country – Jimmy Sharp

There is no Dundee game this weekend due to Scotland playing Slovenia in a World Cup qualifier and so we continue our series of looking at players who have played in the Dark Blue for club country by profiling the man who captained his country at the first ever international at Dens Park, Jimmy Sharp.

Jimmy Sharp had the honour of captaining Scotland in the first ever full international at Dens Park on his Scotland debut and was a mainstay of a Dundee defensive for five years which challenged for the Scottish League Championship.

Sharp was born in Alyth, Perthshire on October 11th 1880 and began his football career with Junior club East Craigie before joining Dundee in the summer of 1899.

A tenacious left-back, Jimmy made his debut on the first day of the 1899-1900 season in a 3-1 home win over Clyde. He missed just one match in his first year as a senior as the Dark Blues finished sixth in a ten team division while in his second season Sharp was an ever present in a 20 game league season after the top tier was expanded to an odd number of 11 teams.

In Jimmy’s third season the league reverted to ten but The Dee slipped to second bottom with Jimmy now a stalwart playing in every game. Remarkably however the Dark Blues turned their fortunes around completely and maintained a Championship and eventually finished second to Hibernian. They did however knock the Easter Road side out of the Scottish Cup after a quarter-final second replay at Ibrox before falling to their Edinburgh rivals Hearts in the semi-final.

In the penultimate game of the season Jimmy scored his second goal for the club from the spot in a 2-0 win over Celtic at Dens on March 21st a week after he had played in a 3-0 Scottish League win over the English League at Celtic Park in front of 39,000.

It was Jimmy’s second Scottish League cap having made his debut the year before against the Irish League at Dens Park. It was the first ever international at the three year old ground and in 1904 the full Scotland side played their first international at Dens Park with Sharp given the honour of captaining the side.

It was Jimmy’s first cap for the full national side and playing alongside Dundee team mate Sandy MacFarlane he led out the Scotland side against Wales on March 12th in front of 13,000.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw even although Wales had five absentees when they arrived in Juteopolis. The Scots looked set to run up a cricket score after running a fifth minute lead through Bobby Walker and there was a 20 minute period when Dr. Leslie Skene of Queens Park in the Scottish goal didn’t even touch the ball.

However Walker, the scorer was then taken ill and missed the second half meaning the Scots were down to ten men in these pre-substitute days. Wales soon equalised and thereafter Scotland were on the defensive and had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw.

Sharp scored three goals in the 1903-04 season including a double against Airdrie in a 4-3 home win in November but it turned out to be his last season at Dens. A few months after his Scotland cap Sharp moved to Fulham (then in the Southern League) in the closed season but it was with Woolwich Arsenal whom he joined a year later before he was to again represent Scotland.

In 1907 he played against Wales and England and in 1908 he received his fourth cap in a 1-1 draw with England at Hampden. Immediately afterwards he was transferred to Rangers for £400 but returned to London just nine months later for £1000, this time to Fulham where he won his fifth and final cap against Wales in Wrexham in March 1909.

Three years later Jimmy made the short move up the Thames to Chelsea in late 1912 for a fee of £1750 and retired from playing upon the cancellation of League football in 1915 due to the First World War.

Jimmy moved back to Fulham in 1919, working as a trainer/coach but at the age of 39 made an unlikely playing comeback after Fulham’s inside left Harold Crockford missed the team bus to an away game at Bury. On April 17th 1920, Sharp stepped into the breach and remarkably scored in a 2-2 draw.

Apart from his prowess at football he was also a five cricketer, playing for Forfarshire and later coached at Walsall and Cliftonville. He died aged 69 on November 18th 1949.

As a player he was regarded as lacking in pace but such was his uncanny anticipation, many a winger, no matter how speedy, found it difficult to outwit him. The hard tackling Sharp had a fine full-back partnership with Johnny Darroch and he goes down in the history of Dundee Football Club as the last man to date to captain Scotland.

Honours at Dundee:

Scottish League Championship runners-up: 1902-03

Scotland full cap:                                           1

Scottish League caps:                                    2

Appearances, Goals:

League:          93, 5 goals

Scottish Cup: 21

Totals:            114, 5 goals

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