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):