Auld Boab is a long-time Dunfermline fan who has agreed to share some of his Pars memories each week. He continues to reminisce...........
I tried to persuade Auld Boab to take a break from his reminiscing, but he transfixed me with his glittering eye, adjusted the albatross round his neck, and continued:-
“Defenders, my boy, are the unsung heroes of a football team (Roy Barry a notable later exception – he’s been well sung!) but I can recall from the early 60s three dandy defenders, namely Willie Callaghan, John Lunn, and centre-half, George Miller. Oh yes, I appreciate that George was truly an effervescent left-half, but his transition to centre-half in the 1961 Cup-winning team was a one-off inspirational coup. But first to our full-backs!
Willie Callaghan broke the mould of right-backs at Dunfermline. No longer would the position be filled by grim-faced, stocky, ‘robust’ stoppers - now, following the example of Cammy Fraser before him, Willie set a new standard, giving us an intelligent speedy back always ready to overlap with attack very much on his mind. Let’s not romanticise Willie’s defensive abilities - there were odd occasions when a winger could give him a very hard time, plus he scored one or two spectacular own goals - but he was always brave in the tackle, positioned himself well as a result of his excellent anticipation, ran and worked tirelessly, and above all, brought that new attacking dimension to the right-back role (think fifty years down the line to Ryan Williamson!). A true Dunfermline legend, and while my memory cannot single out any one single match of particular brilliance among so many solid performances, Willie Callaghan played for the Pars from 1961 to 1972, with 34 European performances, this eleven year period coinciding with Dunfermline’s meteoric golden era - says it all, does it not?
And Willie, a local boy, has remained a local boy, still a stalwart of Dunfermline Athletic reunions. Long may we continue to meet up with him and hear his unique reminiscences of our golden years. Oh, and we mustn’t forget, he had a younger brother who could also play a bit. Two great Fifers, two Pars’ heroes.
Willie in a word - dynamo!
The name of Callaghan is rarely uttered without the addition of ‘and Lunn’ - how fortunate were we to have two such men coinciding for so long, the first names on the team-sheet, season after season. John Lunn signed for the Pars in 1963 and served to 1972, gradually diminished by his advancing leukaemia from which he died while still in his twenties.
I am certain I witnessed the conversion of John Lunn from a left-winger to a left-back. Others can maybe give chapter and verse, but my memory persuades me that he was having an average game on the wing in a reserve match until our left-back was taken off injured. No subs in those days, of course, so John was drafted back to take over in a defensive role. The change was seminal - at a stroke we had a fleet hard-tackling full-back, two-footed, and one whose own winger experience had clued him in to how opposition wingers would try to get past him. Like Willie on the right, John had good anticipation enabling him to quickly transform defence into attack, a feature I also note with approbation in Jason Talbot today. John ran as if equipped with little wings on his heels, and so, like Willie, he was a speedy overlapping left-back who contributed so much to our 60s record. Again, as with my memory of Willie, I cannot retrieve from my memory bank one particular match of John’s. Most players go through a little dip in form when fans begin to suggest a spell on the bench, or at that time in the reserves, but never that I can recall, did the standards of Callaghan and Lunn ever drop - superb professionals both! And the reward was that 1968 Cup-winning performance V Hearts - with Callaghan and Lunn in the line-up, losing was unimaginable.
John was not a sturdy figure, lean, pale of complexion which seemed to get whiter as his illness progressed, but he could look after himself though never was he over-robust, as some seemed to imply in the recent thread on our most ‘respected’ players.
How tragic later it was that we terracing fans knew that John was doomed with leukaemia, and yet, post-diagnosis, he kept on playing and maintained his standards for a year or two through his illness and treatment. What courage! What dedication!
To sum up both in three words - Callaghan and Lunn! Three words forever enshrined in Pars’ history!
In one word for John - heroism!
And so to George Miller, the wonderful George Miller, who later served us as a good Manager from 1972 to 1975, though of course, nearly all managerships eventually end in tears. George came to us aged twenty and was soon a fixture in our first team. Effervescent as already mentioned, bouncy, energetic, ebullient, driving forward from the left-half position, he was a winning tackler as well as a good provider of forward momentum. What a fit with Wedderburn he would have been.
George was big at 6 feet, but not giant-sized like Doug Baillie or Ben Richards-Everton, so it was a demanding role he was asked to fill in the 1961 Cup replay after Jackie Williamson had been injured. George was pressed into the centre-half position to face Fernie, Hughes and Chalmers, and played so bravely against a celebrated trio who did, certainly, get through close to goal, but only to find Connachan in inspired form. At the end of 180 minutes, Celtic’s three great Scottish international forwards had failed to score one single goal.
So that was Miller’s supreme moment of service in the black and white, though he also scored the first goal, early on, with his standing right peg, in that memorable match V Everton. But I also recall a match at East End where he scored one of those free-kick goals which always have fans guffawing with delight. It was just outside the box, centrally, at the Cowdenbeath end, and while today, most free-kicks from that area are blasts at the wall with the hope of a deflection, or alternatively those swerving up-and-downers just under the bar, Martin Hardie style, George took the whole defence by surprise by simply passing the ball along the ground under the feet of the jumping defenders into the corner of the net.
George always seemed cheerful, bouncy, and he was a very popular member of our team from 1959 to 1964 before he was transferred to Wolves. A great Club servant, who radiated confidence and optimism.
In a word, irrepressible!”
Auld Boab looks set to continue with more reminiscences………………
(Some of you may recognise the writer's identity but for the purpose of the articles he has agreed to write for Pars Review, he has asked me to refer to him as "Auld Boab").
Part 3 will be posted next Thursday.