Today we look back at a game from January 2008 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Morton. Player-manager Jim McIntyre named himself in the Dunfermline starting line-up. Morton's team included Jim McAlister and Chris Millar, both now back at the club for a second spell and likely to face us this weekend.
DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC 2, MORTON 0
SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION
SATURDAY 26 JANUARY 2008
The season had begun with a newly-relegated Pars team installed as favourites to win the First Division and make a quick return to the Premier League. By early winter, the team were in the bottom half of the division, suffering a sequence of defeats that lead to the dismissal of manager Stephen Kenny in early December 2007. Jim McIntyre was initially appointed as caretaker manager but after 4 weeks his position was made permanent. Dunfermline went into this game having lost to St Johnstone the week before, ending a 7 game unbeaten start to McIntyre's time in charge.
A crowd of 3594 were at East End Park to see a match that started slowly, with the first goal attempt coming after 14 minutes when Kevin Harper's shot was saved by McGurn. Two minutes later, Stephen Glass crossed for Scott Thomson to head a chance just wide. Dunfermline were dominating as the first half progressed. Mark Burchill was the next Pars player to come close when his header from a Danny Murphy cross was held by McGurn. Murphy was a left back who played 13 games in a short Pars career on loan from Motherwell. A month after this game, his loan deal ended and he returned to his home country, Ireland, to play for Cork City.
The Pars continued to put pressure on the Morton defence with McIntyre and then Jim Hamilton both coming close top opening the scoring. Hamilton was playing in an unfamiliar left wing role but was able to support the attack when required.
The first half ended goalless with Dunfermline well ahead in possession and goal attempts.
The Pars' dominance continued after the break. In the 49th minute Burchill's goalbound shot was blocked by Morton defender Ryan Harding. Two minutes later, Dunfermline took a long overdue lead when Stephen Simmons volleyed home from 10 yards from a Murphy cross.
Simmons almost scored his and Dunfermline's second after 61 minutes but his shot was cleared off the line. In the 70th minute, a rare Morton attack almost lead to an equaliser when Jim McAlister charged down a Stephen Glass clearance and forced Pars keeper Paul Gallacher to react quickly to prevent the Morton player from shooting.
Dunfermline made it 2-0 with 6 minutes remaining with a well-worked goal. Substitute Stevie Crawford passed to fellow sub Nick Phinn, who found Burchill , whose pass to Glass saw the midfielder take a touch and then shoot home via the right post. The ball was clearly over the line when Morton tried to convince referee Eddie Smith that they had cleared it. The referee was not fooled and the goal stood, correctly.
The win was to be just one of 2 Pars victories between late January and the third week in March. The season ended strongly with just one defeat in the final 6 games. The team finished fifth, earning 38 points from McIntyre's 22 games as manager compared to the 13 points from 14 games under Kenny. The improvement in form is perhaps best illustrated by taking the average points gained under McIntyre (1.73) and when multiplied by the full 36 game season, would have seen the Pars finish third. Kenny's average points per game (0.93) would have ended in a ninth place finish and a relegation play-off.
Pars line-up v Morton (player in background image - Mark Burchill):
23 years ago today, I walked into a newsagent on my way to work, the same routine I had every day back then. It was a Monday and that weekend I had been at Love Street, Paisley, where I watched the Pars lose 2-1 to St Mirren. It had been a disappointing day, the result a blow to our promotion hopes, and the game was still on my mind when I left home for work, knowing that my work colleagues would remind me of the score during the morning tea break.
In the mid 1990s, the internet had yet to become the main source of people's news. If you hadn't been listening to the radio, or made a point of listening to the scheduled news updates on tv and radio (or at a push, read Teletext), you relied on the day's newspapers for your source of what had been happening. That morning, January 8, 1996, I was surprised to see the face and name of my football team's captain on most of the front pages. As I moved closer, surprise turned to shock and disbelief. Norrie McCathie, Dunfermline Athletic's captain, had been found dead in his home, along with his girlfriend. He was 34 years old.
Norrie had already been at East End Park for 10 years by the time I started supporting Dunfermline. Signed by Pat Stanton from Cowdenbeath in 1981, Norrie had been a midfielder and it was there he featured in his first couple of seasons with the Pars, usually wearing number 8. It wasn't until the arrival of Jim Leishman that Norrie was converted into a central defender, switching roles and shirt number, from then on the club's number 4 and the cornerstone of everything that developed in the Leishman era. Together with his great friend John Watson, Norrie became the on-field driving force that every manager craves for. The heart of a lion, the determination to succeed, to never, ever give up: qualities that would see Norrie retain his place in the Pars defence as managers came and went. They all kept Norrie in that number 4 shirt: after Leishman, Ian Munro, then Jocky Scott; then, in another golden period to rival Leishman's era, the 1990s revival under Bert Paton, who would be Norrie's final manager.
Norrie was everything that his legend suggests: a leader, first and foremost. He was a decent footballer who made up for anything he lacked with his fantastic attitude. A man who made Dunfermline his home and owned businesses (partnered with his friend John Watson) in the town. Rarely has someone been so part of the fabric and the identity of a town. Every single time he lead out the team, I believed in him. I knew this guy was the real deal and I loved what he represented.
The Paton years saw Dunfermline battle for promotion to the Premier League but often miss out agonisingly in the period before a top 4 finish gave you a second chance in play-offs. How Norrie would have loved to have lifted the trophy, as his deputy Craig Robertson did, in May 1996. After his passing, his number 4 shirt was retired for the season, but the spirit of Dunfermline Athletic stayed strong. Bert and Dick were a tremendous management duo, while senior players including Craig Robertson and Ian Westwater took over the onfield leadership and lead the club to the title and promotion. Those of us who were at Tannadice in the penultimate League game could almost feel Norrie's presence - battling with 10 men to a 1-0 win that set us up for a last-day victory at home to clinch the title. When Westie caught the ball right under the bar at the end, under great pressure from Dundee United's players, we cheered as if a goal had been scored. His team mates all congratulated him. In amongst them, the biggest pat on the back might have come from an unseen number 4, there in spirit, making sure his boys got the job done, still the captain, forever the captain.
Above: the Norrie McCathie Stand holds up number 4 with Pars stripes either side to mark the 20th anniversary of Norrie's death, in January 2016. Below: the players line-up in a specially commissioned 1995/96 away kit, the final Pars kit worn by Norrie, before the game against Cowdenbeath, January 2016.
Today we look back at a game from May 2009 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Queen of the South. The third from last League game of the 2008/09 season saw the teams meet up at Palmerston, with the Pars running out comfortable winners.
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 0, DUNFERMLINE 3
SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION
SATURDAY 2 MAY 2009
Jim McIntyre was making gradual progress by the end of the 2008/09 season. Appointed Dunfermline manager midway through the previous season in the wake of Stephen Kenny's dismissal, McIntyre was reshaping a squad that had been relegated from the Premier League in 2007. After a short period in temporary charge in December 2007, McIntyre - still registered as a player at the time - was given the job on a permanent basis in early January 2008.
This game in Dumfries in May 2009 found the Pars in a creditable third place in the First Division (now Championship), while hosts Queens were in fifth position. The League table was quite congested, with only 4 points separating Dunfermline in third to Ross County in eighth, in what was a 10-team division. There were no promotion play-offs then.
The game kicked off with a few familiar faces in Queens' lineup. Current Pars keeper Lee Robinson was then a 22 year old in his first spell with Queen of the South, on loan from Rangers. He would play for Queens again from 2010-2013 and have a third spell at the club from 2016-2018. Two of his three periods at the club ended with defeats against Dunfermline (2009 and 2017). Striker Stephen Dobbie was also in his first period with Queens, which yielded 54 goals in 97 games and won him a move to Swansea in the English Championship. Another ex-Par lined up for Queens - fullback Craig Reid, who played 13 games for Dunfermline in season 2015/16.
Both teams had early efforts on goal - Dunfermline keeper Paul Gallacher did well to block a Dobbie shot, and then at the other end, Alex Burke fired over the bar from 20 yards. Dunfermline took the lead after 21 minutes. Nick Phinn passed to Graham Bayne at the edge of the penalty box, took Bayne's return ball and played a ball over the home defence to Andy Kirk, who headed in from 6 yards, getting to the ball before Robinson.
Calum Woods doubled Dunfermline's lead 5 minutes later. Burke's cross found Woods inside the box and the defender powered a header into the net. Steven Tosh should have pulled a goal back minutes later but his shot went past Gallacher's right hand post. Neil Scally then had a chance for Queens but also missed the target with a header 5 yards from goal.
The third Dunfermline goal came in the 34th minute, a great strike from Phinn from outside the box after good play by Scott Muirhead.
Scally then tried an overhead kick, which narrowly missed the goal, in what was the final attack of the first half.
Although there were no further goals in the second half, both teams continued to attack, in what was an entertaining end of season match. Phinn was brought down in the box but no penalty was given by referee Chris Boyle. As the ball broke away, Kirk's shot was well saved by Robinson.
Queens' captain Jim Thomson was red carded after 68 minutes for stamping on Graham Bayne. Pars sub Rory Loy had a chance to make it 4-0 but shot over the bar. That was the last chance of the game and the scoreline remained as it was at halftime, 3-0 to Dunfermline.
Some of the Pars' players numbers went against tradition, with centre half Wilson in his preferred number 3 shirt; Greg Ross (wearing 5) at right back; Austin McCann (number 6) at left back; Calum Woods (number 2) alongside Wilson in central defence; and left winger Scott Muirhead wearing number 4. There were no squad numbers in the First Division that season.
It would be a further 2 seasons until McIntyre lead the team back to the top division. The 2009 team formed the nucleus of the 2010/11 title winning season. These were good times, with the team playing attractive football with mobility in midfield, 2 wingers and strikers who were regular scorers.
Pars line-up v Queen of the South (player in background image - Graham Bayne):
Today we look back at a game from March 2004 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Partick Thistle. The quarter final tie of the Scottish Cup gave Thistle home advantage but they were unable to cope with a rampant Pars side.
PARTICK THISTLE 0, DUNFERMLINE 3
SCOTTISH CUP QUARTER FINAL
SATURDAY 6 MARCH 2004
Dunfermline were aiming to progress to a first Scottish Cup Final since 1968 and began this quarter final match by taking an 11th minute lead when Barry Nicholson hooked a ball into the penalty box that found Darren Young. The elder Young brother (Derek was on the bench) crossed for an unlikely source to tap the Pars ahead - defender Richie Byrne.
The deadly Craig Brewster/Stevie Crawford partnership played a big part in the Pars' second goal, after 36 minutes, which involved just 5 touches between 4 different players. A throw in up the left side was flicked on by Brewster to Crawford, whose overhead kick pass fell to Young. A first time pass from Young to Nicholson ended with the midfielder taking a touch and then placing the ball across Thistle keeper Kenny Arthur and into the bottom corner of the net from 18 yards.
Derek Stillie in the Dunfermline goal was rarely called on during the first half but did well a minute before the break, saving a close range header from David Rowson.
Thistle had the first effort of the second half when Stephane Bonnes' hooked volley hit the top of Stillie's bar. Former Pars striker Gerry Britton then set up Bonnes inside the penalty area but the Frenchman's shot was turned round the post by Stillie.
The third Dunfermline goal, in the 69th minute, was perhaps the best example of the almost telepathic understanding between Brewster and Crawford. From the centre circle, Brewster's header found Crawford, who then headed the ball further to the left, giving himself space, and then played a pass over the Thistle defence to Brewster, who had made a run up the middle. The veteran striker reached the ball just the ball inside the box, before the outrushing Thistle keeper, and headed the goal that put the result beyond any doubt.
I was in the packed stand behind the goal that day, an area that has housed home fans in more recent years, but on that day in March 2004 was filled by a fantastic following of Dunfermline supporters. Seeing the final goal, a piece of play of the highest standard, was a privilege.
It mattered little that Barry Nicholson's penalty late in the game was saved by Arthur. The job had been done.
As we all know, we progressed to the final after a replay win over Inverness in the semi final, and went into the half time break in the final against Celtic at Hampden 1-0 ahead. If only we could have held out. It was the least these players deserved.
Pars line-up v Partick Thistle (player in background image - Andy Tod):
Today we look back at a game from March 1988 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Morton. Both teams were involved in a relegation battle in the Premier Division, with 7 League games remaining.
MORTON 0, DUNFERMLINE 3
FINE FARE LEAGUE - PREMIER DIVISION
WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH 1988
UK news: after 129 years, the Liberal Party ceased to exist after it merged with the Social Democratic Party, to become the Social and Liberal Democratic Party.
Pop music: Aswad's 'Don't Turn Around' ended Kylie Minogue's 5 week run at number 1 with 'I Should Be So Lucky'.
Football news: Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson announced his retirement from playing, aged 30, and was appointed manager of Oxford United. Lawrenson was in the job for 25 games, winning only 4, before resigning. In Scotland, Rangers were knocked out of the European Cup at the quarter final stage, defeated 3-2 on aggregate by Steaua Bucharest.
Meanwhile, on a spring evening in Greenock, Dunfermline took on hosts Morton in a meeting of the 2 lowest placed sides in the Fine Fare Premier Division.
Four days previously, the Pars had ended a horrific run of 8 League games without having scored a single goal, with a resounding 6-1 home win over Dundee. Two of the scorers from that game, Mark Smith and Stevie Morrison, would find the net again at Cappielow.
Pars boss Jim Leishman named an unchanged starting 11, the team featuring players who had been part of the Leishman journey over the past 5 years (Bobby Robertson, Morrison) together with new boys Willie Callaghan - son of the Pars great of the same name, and goalkeeper Hans Segers.
Goals by Smith and Morrison put Dunfermline into a good position going into half time. Morton, who had conceded 81 League goals prior to this game, were a different side after the break. Their hopes of avoiding relegation reiled on a run of victories in the remaining games, coupled with the teams above them losing almost every match. It was a forlorn hope but they could not be accused of lack of effort in this game, after being outplayed in the first half they dominated the second period without being able to score. The game was over when Callaghan scored his first Pars goal to make it 3-0, which is how the game ended.
The league positions for both clubs did not change by the season's end 6 weeks later. Morton were relegated with 16 points (in the era of 2 points for a win), winning only 3 League games all season. Dunfermline would win just once more in the final 6 games to finish 5 points behind third bottom Falkirk, with 28 points. It was a disappointing end to a 3 year period that saw the club win consecutive promotions into the top division. However, they would be back 12 months later after winning the First Division in season 1988/89.
Pars line-up v Morton (player in background image - Stuart Beedie):
Today we look back at a game from November 1999 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Falkirk. Both teams were challenging for the First Division (now Championship) title with Dunfermline looking for a new manager after the sacking of Dick Campbell.
FALKIRK 1, DUNFERMLINE 3
SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION
20 NOVEMBER 1999
Despite the Dunfermline team sitting in second place in the First Division table, looking for a quick return to the Premier League after relegation 6 months before, manager Dick Campbell was fired by chairman John Yorkston in early November 1999. Campbell's assistant, Jimmy Nicholl, was placed in temporary charge of the team. He would revert back to his role of assistant when Jimmy Calderwood was appointed manager at the end of November.
Nicholl had lead the team to win and a draw in his 2 games in charge, and the Pars travelled to Falkirk in confident mood to take on the third placed Bairns.
Dunfermline took an early lead when Stevie Crawford's cross from the left was met by Owen Coyle, who hooked a shot into the net from 15 yards after 2 minutes. Falkirk keeper Myles Hogarth then made a good save from a Coyle free kick.
By this time, Brockville was crumbling - half of the terracing at the away end being closed due to safety concerns. This restricted the crowd to 4229 at the old ground, which would eventually be demolished in 2003. It was at the away end that Scott Crabbe almost equalised, with a free kick that went narrowly wide of Ian Westwater's post.
Falkirk equalised in the 50th minute when their captain (and future Par) Davie Nicholls rose to head home a corner. The Pars soon regained the lead - from Stewart Petrie's low cross, Crawford laid the ball off to Coyle, whose shot was charged down but fell perfectly for Crawford to net from 6 yards, with 56 minutes gone.
From almost exactly the same spot, Crawford got his second and Dunfermline's third in the 69th minute with a header from a Scott Thomson cross to seal the 3 points. Crawford, on loan from Hibs, would score 7 goals in his first 5 games of the loan spell, which lasted to the end of that season, at which point he signed a permanent deal to remain at the club. The team ended that season in second place, the last time an automatic promotion would be awarded to the second tier runners up. They returned to the top flight without improving on the sacked Campbell's league position.
Pars line-up v Falkirk (player in background image - Chris McGroarty):
Today we look back at a game from November 1998 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Dundee United. Both teams were managed by legendary former players - Pars' 1960s icon Bert Paton for Dunfermline and ex-United striker Paul Sturrock for the Tannadice team.
DUNFERMLINE 2, DUNDEE UNITED 1
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE
SUNDAY 15 NOVEMBER 1998
A superb crowd of 10,704 for this Sunday match saw United opened the scoring in the 3rd minute. Billy Dodds took a pass inside the box, turned his marker Greg Shields and laid the ball off to Alex Mathie. The United striker curled a shot into the top left hand of Pars keeper Lee Butler's goal. Butler got a hand to the shot but could not prevent it going in.
Dunfermline equalised after 26 minutes. Andy Smith passed to Edinho inside the United penalty box. The Brazilian passed to Gavin Johnson and from his cross Andy Tod looped a header into the United net.
The Pars then took the lead in the 35th minute. A free kick 25 yards from goal was struck by Scott McCulloch, low and hard into the bottom corner, with United keeper Sieb Dijkstra (all 6'5'' of him) diving full length but unable to reach the shot the whistled past him at the post. It was fullback McCulloch's only goal in the 40 appearances he made for Dunfermline. Three months after this game, he left the Pars to sign for United for a fee reported to be around £300,000.
With 4 minutes remaining in the first half, Mathie hit the post for United. Dunfermline held on to go into the break 2-1 ahead.
Andy Smith almost extended Dunfermline's lead after barely 2 minutes into the second half. A freekick found Smith unmarked, 8 yards out but his header was saved by Dijkstra, who also blocked the follow-up shot from Smith.
Mathie came close to equalising for United after 60 minutes. His close range flick was cleared off the line by Greg Shields. Play was flowing from ened to end and in the 68th minute, Smith's header from another Johnson cross narrowly missed the goal with Dijkstra beaten.
United were given a chance to draw level after 74 minutes. A backpass was picked up by keeper Butler and a freekick awarded to United on the 6 yard line. The entire Pars team lined up across the goal line, with Butler centre, rushing to block the shot from Billy Dodds and then clearing. It was to be the last clear cut chance of the game.
This would be one of only 4 victories in the Premier League that season for a beleaguered Dunfermline squad. After achieving a fifth place finish on their return to the top division in 1996/97, the Pars fell to eighth the following season and then last place in 1998/99. The goals conceded total in 1998/99 - 59 - was 6 less than in the fifth place 96/97 season but too many games were drawn (16) and the team scored just 28 League goals. Bert Paton resigned in January 1999 after 5 and a half seasons in charge and was replaced by his assistant, Dick Campbell but there was to be no upturn in results and the team slipped back into the second tier.
Pars line-up v Dundee United, with squad numbers (player in background image - Greg Shields):
Today's 'Throwback' features a player who played for both the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Alloa. Gary Thompson played for both teams in the 1980s and contributed to promotion successes with the Wasps and the Pars. In this article, I will look back on my memories of Gary when I was a young fan, plus I have to thank former Alloa goalkeeper Ronnie Lowrie, who very kindly supplied some great memories of his own, as a team mate of Gary's at Alloa.
Born on 11 June 1956, Gary Thompson began his professional career at Morton at the age of 20. The following year he began a 5 year spell with Falkirk, making almost 100 appearances. He was part of the Falkirk team that won the Scottish Second Division title in 1980, the first of 4 promotions (2 of which were title wins) in his career, achieved with 4 different clubs.
In 1983, former Alloa manager Jimmy Thomson brought Gary to Recreation Park. At the time, I was a 12 year old Alloa fan; I supported my local team for 5 years (the story behind why I was an Alloa fan before following Dunfermline can be read here). Gary was a key part of an Alloa team that punched above its weight in the Scottish League, defeating far bigger clubs, especially at The Recs.
The Wasps team in that period included Stuart Munro, who went on to play for Rangers, alongside other players who all made big contributions to Alloa's relative success in that decade: Donald Hunter, Larry Haggart, Bryan Purdie, Arthur Grant, Davie Houston, Lennie McComb, Davie Lloyd, Drew Paterson, Kenny Thomson - released prematurely by Dunfermline after 12 years' service but who went onto play professionally until the age of 40; Ronnie Lowrie, Frankie Cole, Martin Nelson and others. It's a period I look back on fondly despite later switching teams (after a gap of 4 years of not going to any football matches) that was caused, ironically, by a bad experience working for Alloa FC in 1987.
In season 1984/85, Dunfermline and Alloa were fighting for second place in the Second Division; the second last game of that season took place between the clubs in Alloa. A Pars win would have seen them leapfrog Alloa into second position with one game remaining. In the end, in front of a crowd of almost 5000, I watched a goalless draw, with Dunfermline missing a penalty. The next week, the last game of the season saw Alloa defeat Arbroath 1-0 at Gayfield to win promotion. I was there with my dad and saw Gary Thompson, playing at right back, score the game's only goal after 4 minutes (as seen in the photo below). It was typical of the player: grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck, the tenacious and highly competitive Thompson was one of the team's leaders. He took no nonsense and was hard but fair. He also had a trick that is recalled later in this article by Ronnie Lowrie, that involved selling his opponent a dummy and cutting inside, that seemed to work every time.
Gary joined Dunfermline in 1986 and was a key part of the team that was promoted to the Premier League in season 1987/88. He played both fullback and midfield for the Pars, as he had done at Alloa.
Entering his 30s, Gary signed for St Johnstone in 1988 and was involved in yet another promotion campaign, this time winning the First Division in his second season at the club, 1989/90. From there he played for Forfar and Arbroath before retiring.
In 1996, when manager of junior side Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, Gary tragically died after an accident on a construction site. He was only 40 years old. You never forget the heroes of your childhood; Gary was one of mine.
Another one of my childhood heroes has contributed the following memories of Gary: I contacted former Alloa keeper Ronnie Lowrie through Facebook this week and was delighted when he supplied the following recollections of that time, which I will end this article with. Thanks to Ronnie for being so kind, and also thanks are also due to the Alloa Stats Twitter page who sent me some of the photos used in this article plus Gary's career stats. You can find them on Twitter at this link: https://twitter.com/AlloaStats
Ronnie Lowrie's memories of Gary Thompson:
I joined Alloa in September 1984 and was fortunate to be part of a team that won promotion after an intense battle with Dunfermline.
It soon became clear that Gary Thompson was the main driving force in that team, sporting a beard (before they were really fashionable), socks around his ankles (before shin guards were compulsory), the stocky right back was not an athletic looking figure but he led by example and demanded the highest standards from his teammates.
Off the park, Gary was fantastic company. I would collect him from his house in Glasgow’s south side twice a week on training nights, then pick up Stuart Sorbie, Davie Houston and David Lloyd and Gary would entertain us on the lengthy journey through to Alloa.
I remember crossing the Kincardine Bridge on our way to a midweek match and Gary started singing Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy but the chorus went,
“ I’ll be there when the lights are shining on me, Recreation Park Alloa “ ! !
A daft story but typical of Gary’s humour.
On the second last day of the season we were at home to Dunfermline, a win saw us promoted, a defeat saw Dunfermline promoted and a draw meant it would be decided on the last day. It ended 0-0. We had to go to Arbroath knowing a win would be good enough, while the Pars were at home to Berwick.
Four minutes into the game at Arbroath Gary appeared in their box and volleyed what was to be the winning goal.
I will always remember that goal but more than that I will remember his trademark ‘ dummy ‘ which he got away with in every game, shaping up to play a long ball up the line to a forward, at the last minute he stopped and cut inside to burst into the opponent’s half, his timing was so good no one could anticipate it.
Gary moved on to play with St Johnstone and of course Dunfermline .
Sadly, Gary died following an accident at his work but he will be fondly remembered by fans and teammates wherever he played.
Today we look back at a game from Hogmanay 2005 between the Pars and our opponents this weekend, Falkirk. Both clubs were in the Premier League - the Pars in their sixth consecutive season in the top division while Falkirk were in their first season back in the division, with a new stadium that had opened the previous year. The Pars were managed by Jim Leishman, in his second spell in charge, while Falkirk's boss was their ex-captain John Hughes.
FALKIRK 1, DUNFERMLINE 2
SCOTTISH PREMIER LEAGUE
31 DECEMBER 2005
The away stand at Falkirk was sold out as 1900 Pars fans travelled over the Kincardine Bridge to support their team. Dunfermline lined up in a 3-5-2 formation, with Greg Ross (usually a fullback) playing in the right of the 3 man midfield, and Greg Shields, another player more commonly seen at fullback, in central defence. Width was provided by wingbacks Jamie McCunnie and Scott Thomson, while up front, Mark Burchill and Noel Hunt would give the Falkirk defence a hard afternoon.
The crowd of 6235 saw Falkirk take the game to Dunfermline in the opening minutes. Andy Tod received an early booking after bringing down Darryl Duffy just outside the penalty box.
The Pars' first decent attack came after 19 minutes when Burchill played a good ball to Gary Mason but the midfielder's effort went well over the bar. Dunfermline had more possession but were relieved not to go behind in the 32nd minute: Russell Latapy's pass to Duffy saw the striker get to the ball just before Pars keeper Allan McGregor but his chipped effort came off the bar and was cleared.
Burchill came close 3 minutes before the break after a corner from McCunnie was flicked on by Thomson and Scott Wilson, then gathered by Burchill whose shot was blocked. Just when it seemed the game would be goalless at halftime, Dunfermline scored. Burchill was the scorer, taking a loose ball just outside the penalty box then placing a well-struck shot past Falkirk keeper Matt Glennon.
Latapy had the first opportunity of the second half when he forced a good save from McGregor in the 51st minute. After 57 minutes, Dunfermline - temporarily down to 10 men, with Thomson off the pitch receiving treatment for an injury - went 2-0 up. A free kick from Darren Young was met by Noel Hunt who headed in the Pars' second goal. Huge celebrations followed as Hunt did a double somersault and then piled into the Pars support at the front of the away stand.
Hunt turned provider a few minutes later but from his pass, Burchill was unable to keep his shot down and the ball flew over the bar.
With 68 minutes gone, Falkirk pulled a goal back. Gow's cross from the left found Duffy, unmarked 8 yards from goal, who shot past McGregor. Two minutes later, Gow almost equalised when his shot hit the bar; the rebound fell to McBreen but his shot was cleared yards from an empty net by Andy Tod. The Pars were clinging onto their lead - former Dunfermline defender Craig Ireland headed over, then Scally's curving effort from outside the box was clawed away from the underside of the bar by McGregor.
With 60 seconds remaining, Tod's attempted clearance spun back towards goal and forced McGregor into yet another save - the on-loan Pars keeper was the team's outstanding player on the day and a huge factor in the eventual victory, which came after 3 torturous minutes of added time.
Pars line-up v Falkirk, with squad numbers (player in background image - Mark Burchill):
August 1965: Sonny and Cher with "I Got You Babe' ended the Beatles' 3 week run at number 1 with 'Help', while in football, Charlton Athletic's Keith Peacock became the first substitute to be used in a Football League match (it would be a further 12 months before Scottish football introduced the use of substitutes, with Archie Gemmill, then of St Mirren, the first sub in a Scottish professional match).
Dunfermline Athletic were enjoying the greatest period of their history, and entered season 1965/66 in great form. Today we look back at a game from August 1965 between the Pars and our opponents this Friday evening, Partick Thistle.
DUNFERMLINE 6, PARTICK THISTLE 2
SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP
28 AUGUST 1965
The Scottish League Cup paired Dunfermline in a group with Partick, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock. The opening game in the group at Firhill on 14 August had ended goalless. Four days later, Dunfermline thrashed St Johnstone 5-1 before suffering a 3-1 defeat at Kilmarnock on August 21. The fourth game of the group, at East End Park on 28 August, would see 8 goals scored, with all of Dunfermline's strikers on target.
Alex Ferguson opened the scoring after 12 minutes, heading in a cross from Alex Edwards. The Pars lead lasted until the 24th minute when Thistle's Hogan took advantage of slack defending to score. Seven minutes later. Edwards was again the architect when his corner was met by the head of Ian Hunter to put the Pars 2-1 up. Dunfermline were dominating the game and Hugh Robertson made it 3-1 in the 38th minute.
The second half was to see a repeat of the first half score, with a rampant Pars side punishing any sign of weakness in the visitors' defence. Hunter and Robertson came close to extending the lead but it was Thistle who scored next, Gibb scoring after a mix-up between Pars keeper Martin and Tommy Callaghan, in the 68th minute. Any thoughts Thistle had of mounting a comeback were ended after 77 minutes when Hunter was fouled in the penalty box and Edwards scored from the resultant kick: 4-2 to Dunfermline.
Five minutes later, Alex Smith took a pass from Robertson and scored Dunfermline's fifth. With 3 minutes left on the clock, Hunter was fouled again in the box and Edwards scored his second spot kick of the day to make the score Dunfermline 6, Partick 2.
Dunfermline concluded their League Cup group games with a 3-1 defeat at St Johnstone and a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock at home. The Pars failed to qualify from their group for the next stage of the competition but started the League campaign strongly, with just 1 defeat in the opening 14 matches. Just as in the League Cup game against Thistle, goals were scored at an incredible rate that autumn, with Dunfermline scoring 45 times in the first 14 League games (2 games saw 6 Pars goals scored, and another 3 games ended with Dunfermline scoring 5 times). Great days, indeed.
Pars line-up v Partick Thistle (player in background image - John Lunn):