Auld Boab is a long-time Dunfermline fan who has agreed to share some of his Pars memories each week. He continues to reminisce...........
Auld Boab continued, gripping my wrist with his skinny veined hand, barely stopping to take breath:-
And now, my boy, three great goalies! Dunfermline have been blessed with a sequence of really good goalies, with only the occasional blip. Sean Murdoch is the latest in the quality line, which includes, in chronological sequence of the main keepers within my memory:-
James Michie, who wore a bunnet;
John Moodie, a balding man who wore a bunnet;
George Johnstone, first I saw in a yellow jersey, a change from the traditional dark green;
Jimmy Benson, always a yellow jersey;
Joe Mackin, always a yellow jersey; and sometimes a bunnet;
Bill Beaton, big strapping local boy;
Eddie Connachan, 1961 Cup hero;
Jim Herriot, who succeeded him;
Eric Martin, the teenage prodigy who followed George O’Brien to Southampton, becoming their star goalie;
Bent Martin, tall Dane and member of our 1968 Cup-winning team;
Willie Duff, a well-built goalie;
John Arrol, lithe and athletic;
Ernie McGarr, who came to us from Dons, where he had played understudy to Bobby Clark;
Hugh Whyte, local Doctor, who played for the Pars for nine years;
Ian Westwater, the longest-serving of our goalies in two separate spells;
Andy Rhodes, the flamboyant one, and father of Jordan Rhodes;
Marco Ruitenbeek, our Dutch goalie;
Derek Stillie, who later became a lawyer;
Paul Gallagher, solid keeper over two brief spells;
Ryan Scully, a fine shot-stopper on loan from Partick Thistle;
Chris Smith, joined Pars after a loan spell from St Mirren;
Sean Murdoch, popular and universally respected current incumbent.
From the above selection, I go back in time to cover three from my period:-
Joe Mackin was unique. He looked a little under six feet in height and was a skeletal figure, hollow-eyed, skinny-legged, without an ounce of spare flesh anywhere in his body. But he had a considerable depth of inner strength, which made him utterly fearless in flying across his goal to either side to make the most spectacular saves. He was reliable in the air, never a fumbler, and plucked high crosses out of the air with aplomb. He was cat-like in general style, and loved by the fans.
I think Joe came from the Airdrie area - certainly I recall our supporters’ bus passing him as he waited in the town centre for the team bus to pick him up, when we were en route to Kilmarnock or Ayr perhaps, in the days before the M73/M8. He signed for us in 1954 and played for us through to 1958 when he moved to Ayr and then Motherwell, where he was voted Supporters’ Club Player of the Year in 1960.
Once again, it is hard to recall a single match in which he stood out, but he was the goalie in that seminal 4-2 Cup win against Partick Thistle in 1955, a game where he stood against the Division One (or A League) team’s attacks in the second half, with flying wingers Johnny McKenzie and Davie McParland prominent.
Joe died in the 1990s, but the memory of Joe is the thrilling sight of that slight yellow-jerseyed frame throwing itself from side to side to make breath-taking saves.
In a word, fearless!
Eddie Connachan has a special place in the Club’s lore on account of his Cup Final heroics in 1961, the finest exhibition of goal-keeping ever carried out by a Dunfermline goalie. He saved everything, volleys from outside the box, crosses, and most notably in the replay's second half, powerful shots at point-blank range from lethal Celtic players who had worked their way through to the penalty spot area. His performance was inspirational, leading to his being carried off, reluctantly, on players’ shoulders at the end of the game. Never to be forgotten! The game could have been lost 5-0 or so, but Billy McNeill admitted that Eddie’s brilliance broke Celtic hearts, as well as giving us the belief that we could win.
If Joe Mackin was a skinny man, Eddie was not. He was stocky, did not look six feet though he might have been - his mining work had produced that slightly rounded back. It is amazing today to remember that on the Monday and Tuesday before the Wednesday replay, Eddie Connachan was completing his miner’s shifts. He was obviously too a modest man by nature (not one to claim he was different class!), and his shyness is apparent in the midnight scene on the Town Clock balcony, where he could barely be persuaded to speak into the microphone.
The Final brought Eddie to the notice of the Scottish selectors, but while he did gain Scottish caps, he never achieved the stature of Bill Brown or Ronnie Simpson. Knowing that we had a promising understudy waiting in the wings, the Dunfermline Board was happy to sell Eddie to Middlesbrough in 1963 for £5500. He eventually emigrated to South Africa where he still resides.
In a word for his usual standard - reliable.
In a word for the Cup Final - superlative!
Goalie number three is that understudy who, for my money, was the finest keeper who ever graced East End, namely Jim Herriot. Jim too looked to be under six feet, but he was lithe, bouncy, self-confident, brave, slightly zany, a good shot-stopper, and for me, one of the best at coming out and appearing to hover in clutching high crosses, while wearing shorts just a tad shorter than other goalies! He played in the 1965 Cup Final, and Stein, who had known Jim, had him impeded by a Celtic forward to give McNeill a better chance for his winning header.
Strange to relate, it is a goalie’s bloomer from this star which I remember, from an evening game at Easter Road late in the 1965 season, when we seemed to be destined for the League title. Hordes of us travelled over the new Road Bridge, expecting a straightforward win, but we could not score, and late in the game, Jim appeared to be ushering a trundling header past his right-hand post, when to everybody’s consternation - maybe the ball spun to the right, maybe it hit a divot - the ball sneaked in at the post into the corner of the net, and our title run was prejudiced, later confirmed by an indifferent result at home V St. Johnstone.
But that mistake should not detract from Jim Herriot’s contribution to Pars’ success, a highlight coming when he stood firm at East End against the might of the Everton front line in our 2-0 home win. In many ways, I am reminded of him when I watch our much admired Sean Murdoch who displays many of Jim’s qualities. Jim was transferred to Birmingham City and played there for six years before joining Hibs in 1971. A great goalie, eight caps for Scotland, and affectionately remembered by all who watched him at East End.
In a word - athletic!
Still more to pour out of Auld Boab’s memories soon!
(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 4 will be posted next Thursday.