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 2006, when manager of junior side Kirkintilloch Rob Roy, Gary tragically died after an accident on a construction site. He was only 50 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):
Winter, 1982: Dunfermline Athletic find themselves near the foot of the Scottish First Division. After 12 League games, the Pars had one just once; today we look at the 13th fixture in that season's League campaign, against our opponents this weekend, Alloa.
ALLOA 2, PARS 2
SCOTTISH SECOND DIVISION
6 NOVEMBER 1982
Pars boss Tom Forsyth had been appointed in September 1982 following the dismissal of Pat Stanton and a short period under interim (and future Alloa boss) Jimmy Thomson. Forsyth, a dour disciplinarian, had failed to improve on the results of his predecessors. By early November, the First Division League table looked like this (image taken from a scrapbook I kept from the period):
Alloa were enjoying a good season under manager Alex Totten, sitting sixth in the table and defeated only once at home. The Wasps team featured ex-Par Kenny Thomson, who had been released by Dunfermline in the summer of 1982, prematurely in the opinion of many, after 12 years' service. Thomson would go on to play a further 10 seasons in the Scottish League, retiring aged 41 in 1992.
The Alloa team were on top for most of the first half and went into a 2-0 lead with goals from Alan Holt and Davie Houston. The Pars defence were unable to cope with Alloa's wingers - Arthur Grant on the right and Stuart Munro on the left, and Hugh Hamill was lucky to only receive a yellow card after he pulled back Munro after the winger out-paced him and was about to run in on goal.
After barely threatening the Alloa goal, Dunfermline pulled a goal back in the 25th minute when Rab Stewart crossed for Bobby Forrest to head home.
The second half began with Dunfermline pressing for an equaliser. Stewart had claims for a penalty turned down after the ball struck Thomson's hand in the Alloa penalty box. Grant Jenkins seemed certain to get the Pars' second after a mazy run through the Alloa defence which ended with a shot that was hit wildly past the post.
The equaliser came after 61 minutes and it was something of a gift from the Alloa defence. Wasps keeper Donald Hunter miskicked a clearance, which was gathered by Stevie Morrison, who struck the ball firmly past the Alloa keeper.
Stewart almost got a winner for Dunfermline but narrowly failed to connect from a Morrison pass. Alloa were still a threat and Munro's dangerous run down the left ended with the winger passing to David Lloyd, whose shot was well saved by Hugh Whyte. Despite more Pars pressure, there were no more goals.
In the weeks following this game, the Pars' miserable run of results continued, including an embarrassing 6-0 defeat against the Wee Team on 3 January. The season ended with only 7 victories in total, and the team were relegated to the Second Division. Tom Forsyth stayed in charge until October 1983 when he was sacked after a poor start to the Second Division campaign. The next Pars boss would be a 29 year old ex-player who, in time, would turn the club's fortunes around completely after so many years in the doldrums: Jim Leishman's era would see Dunfermline return to the top flight and banish the memory of the disastrous Stanton and Forsyth seasons.
Pars line-up v Alloa (player in background image - Hugh Whyte):
A successful period on the pitch that was to prove a longer-term financial albatross for Dunfermline Athletic Football Club, 2004 was the culmination of the Jimmy Calderwood years. A Pars team containing players including Andrius Skerla, Craig Brewster and Stevie Crawford would finish 4th in the Premier League and reach the Scottish Cup Final. Today's 'Throwback' looks at the semi final of the Scottish Cup, where we faced our opponents this Saturday, Inverness.
PARS 3, INVERNESS 2
SCOTTISH CUP SEMI FINAL
20 APRIL 2004
The Scottish Cup semi finalists for season 2003/04 were Celtic, Dunfermline Athletic, Livingston and Inverness. When the semi final draw was made, Pars fans would have been happy to have been drawn against the only non-Premier side of the final 4, Inverness. The Highlanders were not to be under-estimated, leading the First Division and so it proved in the Hampden semi. A curiously flat occasion ended in a 1-1 draw, with the goals coming from 2 veteran strikers: 37 year old Craig Brewster equalising for Dunfermline after 35 year old Paul Ritchie had put Inverness ahead. The replay was to be held at Pittodrie, 4 days later, and would be a completely different type of game.
Jimmy Calderwood made 2 changes from the team that started at Hampden - Scott Wilson and Gary Dempsey replacing Andy Tod and Richie Byrne. Utility man Lee Bullen was at left back, with midfielder Gary Mason at right back, due to the absences of the cup-tied Greg Shields and the injured Scott Thomson.
Just as in the game at Hampden, Paul Ritchie gave his team the lead, this time scoring in the 6th minute, taking a long range pass from ex-Par David Bingham and shooting past Derek Stillie. The lead lasted until the 24th minute when Darren Young converted Lee Bullen's cross for the equaliser.
Craig Brewster was denied in the 30th minute, firstly when Inverness keeper Mark Brown saved his header and then when his shot on the rebound hit the post. Just before half time, Brown tipped over a Brewster shot from 20 yards.
The second half began with Steven Hislop almost giving Inverness the lead when his shot hit the bar. Team mate
After 63 minutes, Brewster put Dunfermline ahead when his run into the box ended with a well-placed shot across Brown and into the corner of the net.
The came a goal that would go down in Pars history.
68 minutes: gathering the ball outside the Inverness penalty box, Barry Nicholson weaved his way past 3 defenders before slipping the ball into the net, with a goal that would be compared to that scored by Archie Gemmill for Scotland against Holland in the 1978 World Cup. 3-1 to the Pars and a place in the Scottish Cup Final almost assured.
Inverness scored a second goal deep into injury time from David Bingham's penalty kick but there was no time left for any late drama - Dunfermline had won and qualified for the Scottish Cup Final for the first time since 1968.
17,000 Pars fans were in Hampden Park for the Final on 22 May 2004. After a looping Andrius Skerla header had given Dunfermline a half time lead, Henrik Larsson, in his last game for Celtic, turned the game in the second half with 2 goals on the way to a 3-1 Celtic victory. Manager Jimmy Calderwood and assistant boss Jimmy Nicholl left to take up the vacant management posts at Aberdeen, in what signalled the end of five seasons of continuous progress for Dunfermline. The team qualified for the UEFA Cup through both their League position and as Scottish Cup runners-up; however the European adventure ended at the first hurdle in August 2004 under new manager Davie Hay. Calderwood's team gradually broke up amid talk of financial problems at the club.
Inverness, meanwhile, would win the First Division title by a point from second placed Clyde, to secure top flight football for the first time in their history after joining the Scottish League in 1994.
Pars line-up v Inverness (player in background image - Gary Mason):
1994: the year Britpop dominated the UK music charts, with Oasis and Blur both releasing their debut albums, both reaching number 1. Also enjoying huge popularity was Labour leader Tony Blair; by December 1994 his Labour Party had a 39% lead over the Tories in the latest opinion polls. As Christmas approached, Spurs boss Gerry Francis was named Premiership Manager of the Month, while in Scotland Rangers topped the Premier Division, with their rivals Celtic having lost the League Cup Final on penalties to First Division Raith Rovers in late November. Dunfermline, also of the First Division, were aiming for promotion and went into a home game against Ayr United on 10 December in second place in the table.
DUNFERMLINE 6, AYR UNITED 0
SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION
SATURDAY 10 DECEMBER 1994
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier Division in his first season in charge, Pars boss Bert Paton retained the bulk of his squad for another attempt in season 1994/95. The season began with Dunfermline undefeated in the opening 12 games, before a 4 game sequence starting in mid-November that produced 2 defeats, a draw and only 1 victory. Next up was a home game against Ayr United. Almost exactly 1 year before - on 14 December 1993 - Dunfermline had hammered Ayr 6-1 at East End Park. The game featured here today would end in a similar scoreline with Paton's team at their very best.
The first goal of the game came after 9 minutes. Attacking the away end, Ivo Den Bieman's long throw was handled in the penalty box. Hamish French took the resultant penalty and put Dunfermline ahead with a shot into the corner of the net. Den Bieman was involved again in the second goal, in the 36th minute. The Dutch winger's cross was not cleared properly, with the ball then falling to French who headed in from close range.
Half time: Pars 2, Ayr United 0
Early in the second half, Ayr keeper Stuart McIntosh was injured after a collision with Pars midfielder Paul Smith. After playing on with a heavily strapped leg, the keeper eventually had to be replaced by young reserve keeper George Grierson. Unfortunately for the substitute keeper, his first involvement was when he failed to catch a Stewart Petrie cross. Ivo Den Bieman was in the right place to take advantage of the error, shooting home from 5 yards after 72 minutes.
Four minutes later, Pars sub Andy Tod squared the ball to Jackie McNamara for the Pars' fourth goal. McNamara's shot took a deflection off an Ayr defender but still found the net. It was the fullback's first goal for Dunfermline.
The fifth goal started with McNamara's pass to Den Bieman, whose perfectly placed cross was headed in by Tod inside the 6 yard box, with 81 minutes gone. In the 88th minute, Hamish French completed his hat trick, gliding through the Ayr defence and passing the ball into the net from 10 yards.
Dunfermline would end the season on a 16 game unbeaten run that still wasn't enough to win the title; once again, they were pipped to the automatic promotion place by one of their biggest rivals. In 1993/94 it had been Falkirk who finished a point ahead; 1994/95 ended with Raith Rovers winning the First Division by the same 1 point margin over Paton's team. The Pars had the consolation of the newly-introduced promotion play-offs but were beaten over 2 legs by Aberdeen. Paton's third season in charge, 1995/96, would see Dunfermline win the division in a season of heartbreak and remarkable team spirit.
Pars line-up v Ayr (player in background image - Derek Fleming):
February 2007: For the first time in almost 50 years, Saturday afternoons on the BBC did not feature sports programme Grandstand, its final episode being shown the week before. A litre of petrol cost 87p: within 12 months, that would increase to over £1 per litre. In other news, North Korea agreed to being a de-nuclearisation programme (sound familiar?) while in the UK singles charts, Mika was number 1 with 'Grace Kelly'. The View had the number 1 album with 'Hats Off To The Buskers'.
Season 2006/07: By early February, Dunfermline were enduring a poor season in the Premier League but had a Scottish Cup fourth round tie against Hearts to look forward to. It's that game we cover here, against our opponents this Saturday.
DUNFERMLINE 1, HEARTS 0
SCOTTISH CUP FOURTH ROUND
SATURDAY 3 FEBRUARY 2007
Dunfermline took on Scottish Cup holders Hearts in front of a crowd of 9597 at East End Park. The Pars had defeated Rangers in the previous round, while Hearts had brushed aside Stranraer 4-0 in the same round. The holders were favourites to progress, with Dunfermline on an 11 game run without a win in the Premier League and struggling at the foot of the division.
The game began with Hearts putting immediate pressure on the Pars' goal. After 3 corners in succession in the opening minutes, Hearts then claimed for a penalty when Saulius Mikoliunas went down in the box. Despite having more possession, Hearts could not carve out any decent goalscoring chances. In a rare attack, Pars defender Phil McGuire found space inside the Hearts box but a poor touch prevented him from testing Hearts keeper Stevie Banks.
The second half began with Pars winger Adam Hammill chipping the ball to the back post. Stevie Crawford headed the ball goalwards but it struck the back of Hearts defender Lee Wallace and was cleared. Hearts then had a chance when Michael Pospisil's shot was well gathered by Dorus De Vries. The Pars keeper was to save his team on another 2 occasions, palming away a Mikoliunas effort and then tipping over a Pospisil header.
Hammill then broke upfield for Dunfermline and his cross narrowly missed Crawford at the back post.
The game seemed to be heading for a replay at Tynecastle until the 89th minute when Hammill crossed the ball into a crowded penalty area. Pars captain Scott Wilson powered through a ruck of players to bullet a header past Banks and put Dunfermline into the quarter finals.
Dunfermline defeated Partick Thistle in the quarter finals and then Hibs in the semi final after a replay. The team's League form improved (1 defeat in 7 games from mid-March to early May) but a loss at Inverness in the second last League game saw them relegated. The Cup Final was then played, 2 weeks after the crushing disappointment of relegation. Opponents Celtic won 1-0 on what was a flat occasion. The Pars had negotiated a difficult path through the rounds to the final but barely threatened the Celtic goal that day at Hampden.
Pars line-up v Hearts (player in background image - Dorus De Vries):
February 1971: Ex-Beatle George Harrison was number 1 in the UK charts with My Sweet Lord, the nation's favourite tv programme was The Benny Hill Show, while a litre of petrol cost 9p. Life in Britain in 1971 was changing, modernising, with decimal currency introduced in February that year, but with hardship a concern for many: unemployment levels were higher than at any time since World War 2 ended. In sport, Arsenal won the Double (League title plus FA Cup) an achievement matched in Scotland by Celtic. Dunfermline, meanwhile, were enduring their worst League campaign in over 10 years. Today we look at a game from that season, against our opponents this Saturday, Dundee United.
DUNFERMLINE 3, DUNDEE UNITED 1
SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY 1971
Hard times had fallen on Dunfermline Athletic. The highs of the 1960s had swiftly been replaced by a dramatic decline in fortune as the 1970s began. Warning signs had been there in the 1969/70 season, when the Pars finished in ninth position, their lowest placing in 9 years. Season 1970/71 began with no victories in the opening 16 League games. In mid-December, the long overdue win finally came, 4-1 against Airdrie, which started something of a mini-revival: the following week, Ayr were defeated 5-0 By the time they faced Dundee United on 27 February, the Pars had won 4 out of 8 games, pulling away from the relegation places.
Dunfermline lined up against Dundee United with a few survivors of the 60s golden era still in the team - John Lunn, Jim Fraser, Alex Edwards, Barrie Mitchell, Pat Gardner and Hugh Robertson. It was Mitchell who opened the scoring, getting on the end of a Joe McBride cross in the 10th minute and shooting home past United keeper Hamish McAlpine. It looked as though that lead would be taken into the half time break but an error from John Cushley allowed United's Alan Devlin to equalise in the 44th minute.
Five minutes into the second half, Joe McBride put Dunfermline back in front after some good link up play between Alex Edwards and Hugh Robertson. McBride was a prolific goalscorer throughout his career (226 goals in 338 games) and was denied a place in Celtic history when injury prevented him playing in the European Cup winning team of 1967, after he had scored 36 times before Christmas in the 1966/67 season. He continued to score goals to the end of his career, with Dunfermline being his second last club, retiring aged 34 in 1972 after a final season at Clyde.
The Pars went 3-1 ahead in the 65th minute. Billy McLaren's shot was saved by McAlpine and then tapped into the net by Hugh Robertson from a few yards out. Robertson then had a chance to make it 4-1 from the penalty spot but he was wildly inaccurate with the kick, the ball going high over the bar. It mattered little as the Pars ended the game comfortable winners.
Unfortunately the good run of form ended with that victory. The remaining 9 League games saw the team win just 1 more game, avoiding relegation on the old 'goal average' rule. The following season, 1971/72, they were to finish last and were relegated.
Pars line-up v Dundee United (background image - Joe McBride):
Thanks to 'Auld Boab' for his help with this article.