A generous and honourable man

The late Jimmy Drysdale'former boss of The Golf Tavern in North Street, Leven'April 19, 1923 - March 28, 2013
The late Jimmy Drysdale'former boss of The Golf Tavern in North Street, Leven'April 19, 1923 - March 28, 2013

GENEROSITY and honour were just two of the many fine traits recalled with fondness on Monday at the funeral of Jimmy Drysdale.

The much-loved ex-East Fife FC director, and boss for 28 years of the former Golf Tavern in Leven, passed away at home after a short illness on March 28, just three weeks away from his 90th birthday.

Jimmy’s vision in enriching the pub-going experience for his customers, with live music and other attractions, turned his establishments into local institutions, while his kindness and gestures to help others – often anonymously – made him one of the area’s best-loved businessmen.

One of five children, he was born in 1923 to Daisy and George Drysdale and attended Methil Primary and Buckhaven High Schools.

He spent 10 years working on the railways – “every young boy’s dream” at that time, as he recollected – as an engine cleaner, a fireman and a steam engine driver.

Jimmy’s dad, who had opened the National Bar in Methil in 1925, lured him into the licensed trade in 1950.

George retired in 1956 but, two years earlier, had built the Douglas Arms in Methilhill – where rooftop wedding ceremonies were among the extra trappings which set the Drysdales’ pub managing skills apart.

Jimmy ran the Douglas Arms until taking over the Golf Tavern in Leven’s North Street in 1963 – and developed one of the town’s most celebrated night-out and entertainment venues.

The Golf had three parts – the main bar, the ‘clique’, and a function hall through the back, which hosted a thriving live music scene for many years.

Jimmy loved a wide range of music, and live jazz, discos and a variety of groups gave the pub a unique style.

He also ran the darts and domino teams and, behind the counter, frequently served the customers himself, forming a solid partnership with his bar manager, the late Bill Brown.

A passionate football fan, Jimmy played with Thornton Amateurs in his young days and later spent 20 years as a director of East Fife FC.

He retired from business in 1991 and could often be seen out walking, one of his favourite hobbies, and stopping to chat with the many people who knew him. His wife, Nessie, passed away in 2008.

Jimmy made many charitable contributions and privately helped with a range of activities, such as pensioners’ outings, school trips, and much more.

His friends said generosity could be more than just financial and he had a great quality of leadership.

The Golf Tavern was later run by George Irvine, before Lee Murray took it over in 1999 and renamed it Mcphail’s – after his grandfather, Sonny McPhail, a regular customer.

However, in tribute to Jimmy, Mr Murray declared it would be named ‘The Golf Tavern’ once again, for a week.

He told the Mail he had known Jimmy since the age of four or five, and he’d been instrumental in helping him take over the pub.

“Jimmy was an inspiration to me in how you should be, how a pub should be run and in looking after customers,” he added.

Jimmy always cared very deeply about how his own customers supported him, added Mr Murray.