This is the first of a 2 part feature where I look at the performance of all 12 Dunfermline managers in the time I have supported the club (since September 1991). To rate their time at the club as fairly and objectively as possible, I have based the markings on the players they had available, the club's status at the time of their period in charge, together with factors that influenced their success and/or failures. Understandably, this can be like comparing apples to oranges, but I hope the article is fair and allows each manager's time to be seen in context.
Here are the six bosses ranked 7-12. Caretaker managers Jimmy Nicholl (28 days in 1999) and Craig Robertson (15 days in 2006) are not included. Tomorrow I will continue with the top 6 managers since 1991.
After Jimmy Calderwood left the club, Davie Hay was appointed manager in summer 2004. A disastrous UEFA Cup exit followed early in his reign, and he was eventually sacked with 3 League games remaining, with the team facing relegation from the Premier League. This was with a squad that included Craig Brewster, Noel Hunt, Scott Thomson, Andrius Skerla, Scott Wilson, Greg Shields and Barry Nicholson, all key members of the team that had finished 4th the previous season and reached the Scottish Cup Final - a remarkable case of managerial incompetence. He failed to complete a full season at the club and seemed oddly remote and disconnected from the club and the supporters. Possibly the worst case of "performance against budget (resources)" of all 12 managers.
A dour, miserable man who as unable to prevent relegation from the top division, then blew the chance of promotion the following season with just 1 win in the final 9 League games, those of us who were at Meadowbank in April 1993 will remember him making an obscene hand gesture to Pars fans, which he later apologised for. Scott led the team to the 1991 League Cup final but his lack of personality was reflected in his team the cautious, defensive tactics that he employed.
Appointed after the controversial decision to relieve Jim Leishman of his role as manager in 1990, Munro was unpopular and ill-equipped to lead the team. Munro was the first Pars manager in my time as a fan, with my first game at EEP as a supporter ending in a 4-1 defeat to St Mirren. Another managerial tenure that was devoid of passion, Munro is now a youth team coach in America, a position he would seem better suited for.
A Cathro-esque appointment, with the aim to bring new, inventive coaching ideas into the club that backfired spectacularly. Despite reaching the 2007 Scottish Cup Final, Kenny (age 34 at the time) was unable to prevent relegation from the Premier League that season. Promotion favourites the following season, his Pars team won just 1 of the opening 7 League games, then a few weeks later he oversaw a 3 week period of results that began with a 5-0 home loss to Hamilton, followed by a 3-0 away defeat at Stirling, with a 4-0 home defeat to Livingston the week later. He held on for a further fortnight (producing a draw and another defeat) before being sacked after 13 months in the job. He has since returned to Ireland and enjoyed great success, including winning 3 League of Ireland titles, 3 League of Ireland Cups and 2 Irish FA Cups.
In stark contrast to managers such as Jocky Scott and Iain Munro, John Potter was (and remains) a very popular figure at East End Park, with a particular talent for coaching and developing young players. His spell as first team manager came after Jim Jefferies departed the club, in the dreadful 2014/15 season. Potter was unable to turn the team's fortunes around with the club finishing in 7th place in League 1. We will never know how he would have fared had he been given the following season (and summer transfer window) to build his own team. Now an important part of Allan Johnston's coaching team, maybe his time as manager came too soon, and in the wrong circumstances.
Leishman's second spell as manager of the club began when he stepped in following the sacking of Davie Hay, and in a remarkable end to season 2004/05, led the club to Premier League safety when relegation seemed a certainty. With 3 games remaining, wins were achieved over Dundee United and Dundee which moved the Pars out of the relegation place. The final game of the season almost ended in disaster, when a heavy defeat at Kilmarnock could have undone the work of the previous fortnight; Dunfermline were saved from the drop when Dundee lost their last game on the same day. Leishman decided to stay on as manager but could not replicate the success he enjoyed during his 1980s heyday. He resigned as manager in October 2006.