It has been a pleasure to have had long-time Pars fan, Sammer, as guest writer on Throwback for the past 6 weeks, during which he gave his own first-hand account of games he attended from the period 1964 to 1973. Here, in his final article, he looks back on a Pars v Dundee United game from December 1973.
Dateline: 22nd December, 1973
Match: Dunfermline 2, Dundee United 3
Charts: Merry Xmas Everyone
This was one of these Dark Days of the 1970s The Tories like to frighten voters with in their
Party Political Broadcasts. The match, played on a murky, winter afternoon kicked off at 2pm since use of floodlights was being restricted during the run-up to the Three Day Week.
The miners were about to go on official strike. People were stocking up on candles in case of
power cuts. With a sharp wind howling towards the Halbeath End, on a pitch made sodden
with torrential rain, this had all the ingredients for a miserable day out.
Forget the propaganda- this was a Xmas cracker. Before kick-off, Slade’s Xmas anthem blared out from the tannoy, its stomping, defiant beat a reminder of our pagan duty to eat, get drunk and be merry whatever else, and both supporters and teams joined in the spirit.
Dundee United were a well-liked team since their emergence in the early 1960s, played decent football and were capable of beating anyone on their day. Under Jim McLean, a manager whose face was as dreich as the weather, the team had developed a more serious approach but the Tannadice supporters retained a gift for self-mockery:
We’re up to our knees in tangerine blood
Surrender or we’ll cry
Dundee United lined up with: McAlpine, Rolland, Kopel, Copland, D.Smith, W.Smith, Payne, Knox, Gray, Fleming, Traynor.
Both sides settled early to play attractive football. Dunfermline had the gale force wind first
half and were a side who liked to hit the strikers early. If left back Jim Wallace was a trifle
ponderous in defence, he could move play 40 yards downfield with one mighty strike of his left boot; his main problem today was trying not to overshoot strikers Mackie and Shaw. With Campbell and Scott energetic in midfield Pars pressed their wind advantage and Shaw used his height to open the scoring from an in-swinging Sinclair corner. Captain Kinninmonth was an experienced midfield general who had netted a belting volley against Rangers, Leishman looked willing, while new keeper Karlsen seemed to fill the goal. When Mackie received a pass on the left side of the box he used the wind beautifully to bend a shot high and wide of McAlpine into the far corner. Mackie was a penalty box predator and had forged a good partnership with the bounding, loping Shaw who enjoyed taking the ball past defenders.
That corner for Shaw’s opener had come from a backward pass from Graeme Payne and was
possibly the only negative move Dundee United had made all of the first half, their quick, short passing game highly effective against the strong wind. Payne at the time was considered a better prospect than Gordon Strachan as a right sided midfield winger, catching the eye with his intelligent use of the ball. The other teenager, striker Andy Gary, pulled back a goal on the half time whistle when he got his head to a weak cross from the left and somehow squeezed the ball home at the near post. 2-1 to the Pars.
The second half was more a procession than a contest. Keeping the ball on the ground, United out-passed the Pars to such an extent that the match was played almost entirely in Dunfermline’s half. There were a host of experienced professionals in this Dundee United side and they knew how to play to the conditions. Doug and Walter Smith, Jackie Copland and Archie Knox, realising that Wallace’s long flighted balls would be redundant against such a strong wind, compressed the play with the result that the few Pars attacks which materialised were ruled offside. Fleming and Traynor, two ex-Hearts signings, were a
revelation as they swapped passes at will down the left flank, completely bamboozling
Thomson and Leishman who looked like men in search of a white flag. United’s fluorescent
tangerine strip was very progressive for the time and might have helped in the gathering
gloom, although in all seriousness this was a well-drilled team who looked like they could
have found each other wearing sunglasses in the dark.
Fleming and Traynor exchanged passes at least twice before Traynor slipped inside and
steered a hard, low centre into the box. Fleming had timed his run to perfection and rapped
home a firm sidefoot, with his poncy white boots, past the exposed Karlsen. A beautifully
engineered goal and the winner was almost as impressive. Traynor and Fleming combined
yet again with the winger turning Leishman inside out before cutting a low, left-foot cross
into the danger zone. Gray announced himself as a genuine No 9 with a brave, sliding finish
to hold off McCallum and slide the ball below Karlsen’s smothering dive. The Tangerine
Terror tagline was starting to be justified, for this team had just drawn 3-3 at Parkhead and
Gray would score four against Dumbarton the following week. In April 1974 Dundee United
would contest their first ever Scottish Cup Final, losing to Celtic.
For Dunfermline, the end of the season had a silver lining. Manager Miller’s attacking policy
owed more to the influence of Cunningham rather than Stein, producing results like a 5-1
win at Dens Park followed by a 5-1 loss to Dundee at home later in the season. Our position
was looking grim come the run-in, although there remained a positive vibe amongst the
supporters which was vindicated by events. Three away games remained but against all odds
the Pars went to Easter Road and salvaged a draw, with Leishman defending in the spirit of Roy Barry and Geir Karlsen making an astonishing save in the final minute by touching an
Alan Gordon header on to the post. Next up were the bruisers of Dumbarton at Boghead, a
team managed by Alex Wright containing John Cushley, John Bourke, Tom McAdam and
Colin McAdam. A Bring your own Band Aid sort of clash which was lost 0-1 and seemed to
seal our fate. The final fixture at Tannadice was a bad omen given the final day relegation in
April 1972, but George Miller had a vision. Literally. He fell asleep in front of his coal fire and dreamt that Graham Shaw would score the goal which kept the Pars in the First Division.
And that is exactly what happened! A 1-0 victory saw DAFC retain their spot in the 18 team
top league on goal difference.
Whether George Miller ever had a vision again is unknown, but the Scottish League certainly did and planned reconstruction of the divisions for season 1975-76. This was bad news for Dunfermline who in season 1974/75 survived by one point in the old Division 1, but missed out on the new top 10 team league. It was to take another 15 years before the Pars returned to the top division, under stalwart defender turned manager Jim Leishman.
Once again, my thanks to Sammer for the articles he has written for Throwback on Pars Review, and to Auld Boab for his articles in the weeks before Sammer. If you would like to contribute to Throwback, please contact me here, or via the Pars Review Facebook or Twitter pages (links below).
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I am delighted to have long-time Pars fan, Sammer, as guest writer on Throwback for 6 weeks, during which he will give his own first-hand account of games he attended from the period 1964 to 1973. Here, in part 5, he looks back on a Pars v Hibs game from March 1972.
Dateline: 11th March, 1972
Match: Dunfermline 2, Hibernian 1
Charts: American Pie
The news broke around lunchtime as we hung around a smoky, corner shop across from the
school. The owner sold us cigarettes as 3d singles, but had sparked a near riot the week
before when, on the D-Day of decimalisation, he had rounded up the price to 2 new pence for
a fag. Old Jock needed a long handled brush to drive the mob back from the counter that
February day, a day you might say planted the roots of Brexit Britain. There was also a
currency problem at East End Park: goals. We just couldn’t find any and were sitting bottom
of the league. Our last effort, in a surprise 1-0 win over Aberdeen, had come after a defensive
mix up allowed Jim Gillespie to net from one yard out. That was just about our range these
days. The Pars manager’s son, Brian, was standing very quiet in the corner.
Alex Wright’s been sacked! It’s on the radio. Wright’s been sacked!
Some were excited, some were pleased, some had no interest. We offered what comfort we
could muster then picked up some inside info from Brian that had till then been secret. About
Alex Wright turning down the Dundee job which went to ex-Rangers boss Davie White.
How the directors had made his father an offer they knew he could only refuse - a salary cut.
How John Cushley had gone out of his way to walk across to the car park and shake Wright’s
hand. How Brian had laughed at his father’s team selection for the next match - Barrie Mitchell was down to play at right back - but the directors did not see the joke.
The Pars now had nine games to save themselves from relegation starting with Hibernian on
the Saturday, under newly installed manager George Miller. Pars line-up:
Hibs lined up with: Herriott, Brownlie, Schaedler, Stanton, Black, Blackley, Davidson, O'Rourke, Baker, Gordon, Duncan.
On paper it was a no contest. Eddie Turnbull had most of the ‘Tornadoes’ in place and his Hibs side were about to knock Rangers out of the Scottish Cup en route to the final. When Dunfermline had gone into freefall at the start of 1970-71, new manager Alex Wright had barely managed to slow the descent, the Pars escaping relegation on goal average at the end of that season. The signing of Joe McBride had proved crucial but, now that he had retired due to injury, every game seemed a war of attrition from which a meagre point might occasionally be won. There was talk of putting shin guards on the goalposts. Good professionals like Paton, Gardner, Robertson and Lunn had not been replaced, placing too heavy a burden on the youngsters coming through. So it was surprising that Manager Miller handed a debut to young Ken Mackie in a desperate effort to pep up the attack, but it was a gamble which was to pay off.
The pitch was sticky on top which suited the Pars’ clog and clatter style, especially a midfield digger like George O’Neill. This ex-Partick stalwart had featured in a Sunday Post article with a photo of his wife dropping a medicine ball on to his stomach, evidence of his strength and stamina. Or maybe’s his wife’s. The problem was, the limited range of O’Neill’s passing suggested he practised passing with a medicine ball as well.
Wearing their all white strip, an economy measure which had not endeared Wright to supporters, the Pars opened in lively fashion as is often the case under new management
and took the lead. Mackie had already troubled Hibs defence and when the ball landed at his feet from a corner about 12 yards out he drove a rising shot high past Herriott at the Halbeath End to make it 1-0. Brimming with confidence, he then threw Black off balance on the left side of the box and narrowly failed to curl a shot into the far corner. For a support resigned to the flat beer of relegation battles this was champagne soccer, but could it last? After all, in Brownlie and Stanton, Hibs had two players with more football ability than the entire Pars team put together. And they also had Joe Baker.
Even now, at the age of 32, Baker could still generate a crackle of anticipation when he moved
towards the ball for although the blistering pace of his youth was more muted, he still retained an edge and awareness to make defenders nervous. Baker’s return meant Hibs’ appeasement policy had now come full circle, since the veteran striker was easing the pain of Peter Cormack’ transfer down south. His journey from Hibernian to Torino, Arsenal, Notts Forest and back again had been an unlucky one in that Joe Baker was fated to play for teams either going into decline, or a few years short of a golden age. He turned up in the wrong place this day as well.
When a ball was knocked down the right touchline Baker, an exceptional player with his back to goal, set himself to control the ball on his thigh. Unfortunately for him the ball arrived at the same time as John Cushley, a muscular defender in the same vein as Jim Holton, then breaking into the Scottish international team. Cushley had remained a part-time player, even when playing alongside the likes of Billy McNeill and Bobby Moore, so had never reached the heights he might have done. But he was determined to reach thisparticular ball and went right through the back of Baker to do so, sending ball and striker spinning on to the cinder track.
Cush all together, Cush all together, Cush all together now- Cushley!
It took two minutes of spray and massage to his lower back before Baker got back gingerly
to his feet. Worse was to follow. Within minutes O’Rourke lobbed a pass over the Dunfermline rearguard, one that Baker had anticipated before it was played, and it was now a race between Baker and keeper John Arrol as the ball bounced towards the penalty spot. Arrol got a fist to the ball first, then carried through to the face of the fearless Baker who was laid out for a second time. There was no malice in the challenge, indeed it could have gone either way, but to the Pars support these two moments signified the determination needed in the battle against relegation.
Ultimately the Pars squeezed out a 2-1 victory, Pud Paterson sweeping home an opportunistic effort inside the 6-yard box. Miller’s team had played with a positive mindset, taking the field with the belief that they could actually win the game, a rarity at that time. Negativity had ruled for too long. Miller was a breath of fresh air and there was a feeling, not just that relegation might be avoided, but that a new team with Mackie leading the line could be emerging.
That did not happen, but not for want of trying. Results picked up and there was a momentous 4-3 win at Ibrox which meant a draw in the last home game would be enough. Too much ground had been lost however. The final match, a 0-1 defeat by Dundee United, is remembered best for a lack lustre display by Barrie Mitchell who had already secured a transfer to Aberdeen. Little good did it do him. He flopped there and ended up at Tranmere, first as a player then later as a publican with a spell in America in between. Mitchell had shown potential as a youngster but never became as good a player as he thought he was, lacking the character required of a top professional. Maybe Alex Wright had been correct and he was just a hard-tackling hard-running right back. Mitchell was inadequate, as were the Pars for top division football. We deserved to go down. The football had been ghastly for over a year.
The sixth and final part of Sammer Looks Back will be posted next Wednesday.
I am delighted to have long-time Pars fan, Sammer, as guest writer on Throwback for 6 weeks, during which he will give his own first-hand account of games he attended from the period 1964 to 1973. Here, in part 4, he looks back on a Pars v Celtic game from September 1969.
Dateline: 6th September, 1969
Match: Dunfermline 2, Celtic 1
Charts: Bad Moon Rising
You sometimes see them push their glasses up on the bridge of their nose, those social
historians from Oxbridge who were born yesterday, and pronounce that the Swinging Sixties
actually started in 1963, with the scandalous Profumo Affair and only really ended with the
Oil Price Rise of 1973.
We know better. They started when Jock Stein arrived in March 1960 and won his first game,
against Celtic, 3-2. They ended in January 1970, almost exactly a decade later, when the Pars won 3-2 against Anderlecht but left the main stage.
This was a mild, autumn afternoon and East End Park was buzzing. Nowadays I hear some
fans say they want the Old Firm to get out of Scottish football and leave us in peace. I have no desire to be left in peace. I want more days like this, when the ground was packed, when
boisterous supporters mixed on unsegregated terracing and Pars fans, with good reason,
anticipated victory over the Old Firm.
Celtic lined up with: Fallon, Craig, Gemmill, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Hood, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox.
Nine Lisbon Lions on show, with both sides a bit light in midfield, Hughie Robertson and Bertie Auld being absent, Tommy Callaghan angling for a transfer. The first half, Pars
attacking the Town End, was a masterclass in bustling, bullying forward play by Barrie Mitchell from the moment he shouldered Gemmell aside to cross a beauty, low across the
six-yard box. No takers that time, but after brushing inside Gemmell and clipping a shot off the top of the bar the inevitable was only delayed, when Mitchell switched to the left flank,
bundled past Craig, then set up Gardner in front of goal. 1-0 the Pars after 10 minutes.
Suddenly a punch up between Wallace and Renton, near the touchline, with quite a few
blows landing and the referee pointing both towards the pavilion. Now it was 10 v 10,
tension in the North Enclosure, jostling and goading amongst the pockets of rival fans,
Bovril splashed, nervy Special Constables moving in to earn their stripes. Gardner dropped
deeper to support Paton and Edwards in midfield, then emerged in the 20th minute to double
the Pars’ lead. A high, wedged clearance from Barry caught Clark back- pedalling in the
Celtic penalty area, where he made a pig’s ear of the header, miscuing the ball across the box
where Gardner, Craig and Fallon all converged before the ball trundled in off a post. 2-0.
Celtic struggled to respond, Edwards controlling play alongside Paton, both relishing the
extra space available. Another flashpoint: Chalmers, obstructing keeper Duff from taking his
four steps, had the ball rammed in his face and collapsed theatrically near the bye line. Play
On said the referee as Duff kicked clear. Just as the forward was getting back to his knees, a
Celtic attack was intercepted by Willie Callaghan who, with the whole of the touchline to
aim for, deliberately aimed a lusty clearance straight off the face of Chalmers and out for a
bye-kick. Right aff the puss. Well done Willie, as Chalmers was floored for a second time.
Before half time George McLean brought the whole crowd to its feet. ‘Dandy’ Mclean was a
playboy footballer who might have been happier hanging around the Barrowland Ballroom
eyeing up the burdz. He was a tall, confident dude with fancy footwork and a quick mover
too, so might have scored a few times, although to be fair his goal tally over the years with
St. Mirren, Rangers and Dundee was pretty impressive too. His goals came from sporadic
flashes of inspiration, for Dandy was no team player, in fact he had perfected a technique for
avoiding tackles. Loitering up front, when the ball arrived he would move towards it, sell a
dummy, then try to nutmeg the defender on the turn.
But McLean could loiter with intent. He’d just missed out making it 3-0 from a disguised
Edwards reverse pass, when a bouncing ball came his way inside the centre circle. In an
instant he flicked it not only over his own head, but crucially that of Billy McNeill, turning
to knee the ball forward into his path. He now had a clear run on goal and, in truth, nothing
compares with the elemental thrill of the chase, a chase Mclean looked like he might win. As
the pack closed on him at the edge of the penalty box and the crowd noise verged on
delirium, McLean, perverse as ever, opted for a chip on the run, probably the hardest skill in
the game. Yet he was only a fraction out, the ball dropping on to the roof of the net with
Fallon helpless. What a moment that was, only taking a few seconds to unfold, but living so
long in the memory.
The second half was all Celtic, a team who had recovered from 4-2 down at East End a
couple of seasons before, so they would have fancied their chances. Gemmell thrashed
home a blur of a shot from 25 yards, possibly the most powerful shot ever seen at East End
Park, and the supporters in green nearly lifted the roof off the enclosure, sensing another
It never materialized. Barry was a colossus, choking the life out every attack, rising, arm
across the chest of his opponent, bulleting headers away from danger. Even in his finer
moments an air of menace and illegality always hovered around Barry. Jim Fraser and
previously Jim McLean defended in the manner of uniformed policemen dealing with a
fracas at closing time; Barry’s style was more that of a bouncer slinging a drunk down the
steps of a dance hall. This explains part of his enduring popularity amongst Pars fans, for
although we feared that these Old Firm wide boys with their cheap, weegie tricks, dodges
and fly moves might put one over on us provincials, in Roy Barry we knew we had a man
who could match them and more.
After a trademark block, Barry was laid low on the bye-line, giving Jimmy Johnstone the
opportunity, while trailing the ball over to take the corner kick, to tramp sneakily on his chest. More uproar on the terracing. It mattered none. Barry was soon back on his feet rallying the troops, the Pars even managing a few breakaways late on courtesy of McLean tormenting Craig with his dummy+nutmeg routine. 2-1 to the Pars it finished.
What we did not know, was that the 1960s were finishing too. Autumn 1969 was a pivotal
moment. Armstrong had walked on the moon, Woodstock had just ended, Manson was on his
warped hippie mission in California, the British Army had entered the streets of Belfast, The
Beatles were cutting their last LP. Optimism was in retreat. Barry never played for the Pars
again, nor did Bert Paton following his leg break in December. After Anderlecht in January the team suddenly looked middle-aged. We hadn’t brought through a youngster since Stein
left in 1964.
The sixties had seen Stein at his zenith, but he would never enjoy the same authority again.
Within a year his Celtic team would lose three consecutive cup finals, including a European
Final to Feynoord, and although he was still developing young players, Stein’s teams never had the same edge to them. For DAFC it was a precipitous decline. One month after this
victory Dunfermline sat at the top of the league: one year later Dunfermline were rock bottom of that same 18 team league. We had sacked Manager Farm, and were not to win a single game until Christmas Week.
The sixties were over.
Part 5 of Sammer Looks Back will be posted next Wednesday.