Jason Cummings reveals the Celtic fan pelters Down Under as reborn striker the ‘Cumdog’ no more

On his day off he jumps in his Kombi and drives to the nearest beach.

It’s 27 degrees in Terrigal, New South Wales, and Jason Cummings sips an iced coffee overlooking the Tasman Sea.

If it’s the morning after a game for the Central Coast Mariners, he’ll get in the water to help his legs recover.

He has even tried surfing with girlfriend Hannah. But Cummings is better in the box than on a board.

Around these parts, nobody knows who he is. No one is shouting “Cumdog” at him in a Glaswegian or Edinburgh accent.

For once in his life, the striker is enjoying quiet time. Even if he’s had to go to the other side of the world to get it.

Cummings doesn’t deny that he has brought a lot of attention to himself over the years at Hibs, Rangers, Dundee and elsewhere.

When you get a Joker tattoo on your hand and use it as a goal celebration, you also put a target on your back. He gets that. And at 26 he has no regrets.

In his younger days, it was what he was about. That personality, along with his goals, made him one of the most recognizable figures in the Scottish Premiership.

But that can become draining, even for someone like Cummings.

Jason Cummings

Now he only wants to get noticed for what he’s doing on the pitch. He’s performing well in Oz, rekindling the form he showed when he was ripping it up at Easter Road and earning a move to Nottingham Forest.

When I left Dens Park in January, I needed a kick-start.

And he has found that in Australia. The weather, the lifestyle and – most importantly the football – is clicking into place again.

Cummings is on the verge of a call-up for the Socceroos thanks to his mum being born there.

And with the lovable rogue reputation on the back burner, he’s enjoying the anonymity.

cummings told MailSport : “In Scotland it’s a goldfish bowl, especially in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“Everyone is ready to come for you. When you go out for food or drinks, people recognize you and want to say this or that.

“I wanted to start fresh and make a name for myself here – but for football reasons. And I’m starting to show people again that I’m still a good footballer.

“That reputation, or the perception, has probably gone against me in the last few years. Instead of being recognized for being a good player, I was better known for being the joker.

“I brought that on myself and I wouldn’t change it. That’s who I am. But at heart, I still just want to show everyone how good I am.

“Over here, it’s more relaxed. It’s not as ‘in your face’ with regards to the fans and the media. You get to enjoy your football. The only time I’ve had some bother here was at one of our games.

“We were playing Western United and I could hear a Glaswegian accent in the crowd. He was shouting ‘Cumdog, Cumdog’ and swearing.

“I looked around and it was some guy wearing a Celtic shirt sticking his finger up at me. I thought I’d gotten away from all that. I’ve come to the other side of the world and I’m still getting stick!

“That’s been the only time. When I walk down the street here, no one bothers me.

“And away from football I can just enjoy the country and the lifestyle.”

The consensus in Scotland might be Cummings hasn’t fulfilled the potential he showed as a youngster at Hibs.

But he has played for Hibs, Rangers, Forest, Scotland and is now on the cusp of more international recognition due to his form in the A League.

Cummings likes to laugh and joke. But he has a serious side as well.

He said: “At times I found it hard to live up to the person. Everyone expected me to be happy and having fun all the time.

“But when you’re not playing it’s hard. There’s a private side to me.

“Back home, people just expected ‘the Cumdog’, like I was a performing monkey.

“They were waiting to see what I’d do next. But I didn’t want to do anything.

“I’m just a normal person. Of course, I’ve done stupid things – but everyone does when you’re young and you have had a drink. When you’re in the public eye it gets blown up to be a massive deal.

“When I did interviews I felt under pressure to be funny, like I was a comedian. I wished it wasn’t like that.

“People might think I haven’t done well in my career. But I’ve played for Hibs and been successful.

“I’ve played for Rangers and scored a hat-trick at Ibrox. At Shrewsbury I scored two goals against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

“I’ve had some big moments and played for Scotland. So I’ll be proud of my accomplishments when I look back.

“Not too bad for a boy brought up in Saughton Mains.

“When I was released by Hearts as a kid, I was more than happy to be a full-time gardener for the rest of my life.

“I did it for a year and a half and didn’t think I’d be a footballer. So everything after that has been a bonus.

“Now, at 26, I feel like I’ve been around for ages but I’ve still got my prime years ahead of me. I want to kickstart my career. And the world is my oyster over here.”

He took his Mariners’ tally to nine in 17 games with a double in yesterday’s 4-2 away win at Newcastle Jets.

Former Sheffield United and Scotland Under-21 player Nick Montgomery is gaffer at the Mariners and is getting the best out of Cummings, who is back making headlines again for what he’s good at.

He said: “This was a new challenge and it’s been amazing so far. I’ve got a manager who believes in me.

“I definitely see myself staying here and making a life in Australia. It helps that I have an Australian passport.

“There are big opportunities here. I’ve lots of targets and I’m still young, so have plenty of time to achieve them.

“People probably think that’s me finished coming out here. That they probably wouldn’t hear of me again.”

With Cummings, that was never going to be the case.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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