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 seemed to be slowing a little, his eyes rheumy, but he perked up when he started to reminisce as follows about three of his favourite wingers:-
“What a character George Peebles was, and what a player! Small, with short legs (though admittedly few small men have long legs), he was fast, nippy, tricky and endowed with excellent balance. He was most at home speeding down that right touch-line, black hair flopping as he ran, and the quality of his crossing was second to none. He was no Jimmy Johnstone in the dribbling stakes, twisting every which way, but was more direct and goal-orientated, with a unique double-shimmy which deceived defenders, even from a standing start.
George was the prime provider of crosses for a grateful Charlie Dickson to power home with his napper, but George himself was happy to pop up inside and he was a regular scorer. He had 431 appearances for the Pars (fourth highest in our history) and scored a staggering 79 goals (seventh highest in our history). A winger scoring one goal nearly every five games is some player, and George Peebles was some player!
He scored a superb hat-trick against Raith at the start of the 1962 season, but my favourite memory of him, which I have watched over and over again, is that cross from the left wing at Hampden in 1961, a left-footed cross, perfectly weighted, which found Davie Thomson kneeling to the ground, like a Dad offering to give a cuddy-back to a two-year-old, to time a flicked header past the fingers of Haffey diving to his left.
George Peebles, one of our mainstay stars of the golden days!
In a word, trickery!
How bizarre that our wingers should be nicknamed the Borders twins, Peebles and Melrose! Harry Melrose too was a small man who took up the left-wing berth with a playing style very different from Peebles. His instinct was always to come inside and lurk in the penalty box, ferreting any opportunity to exercise his shooting skills which could cope with balls moving in from the left or right, after the style of Davie Wilson, Bobby Lennox, even Davie Dodds. In his six seasons with the Pars, Harry made 271 appearances, and scored a staggering 106 goals, ie nearly two every five games. An excellent free transfer in from Rangers in 1958!
Harry’s goals almost all came after a team move, and many of them were crackers; but two games stand out above all, namely V Everton (who’s Dunfermline?) in the Fairs’ Cup in season 1962/3. 1-0 down from Goodison, George Miller scored an early goal at East End to level the tie, which then went ding-dong until near the end, when Willie Cunningham cannon-balled a long ball out over Everton’s last defenders at the halfway line, with only Harry reacting to race on to it. Never offside, claimed Harry, more down to his natural speed! He sprinted in on the celebrated Gordon West in goals, ball under perfect control, and from the edge of the box, slipped it past the advancing keeper’s left hand into the net. Routine for Harry, but a top moment in Pars’ history!
Second memorable game was that miraculous 10-1 win to avoid relegation in the final match of season 1958/9 against Partick Thistle. Now I know the sceptics cry ‘Fix!’ at such a score, but I was there, behind the goal at the Dunfermline end first-half, and there was absolutely no evidence of Partick not trying - they were simply run ragged by a Pars’ attack, with Harry pouncing on any loose ball to hammer it home. Two years later, we were knocking in six against Valencia, a top-notch European team! So big scores can happen when chances are taken, though nowadays, defences are maybe more savvy as regards shutting up shop for damage limitation, while at that time, a much more porous 2-3-5 formation prevailed. But back to Harry!
His six Partick goals went like this :-
16th minute - Dickson sets to shoot, squares the ball, Melrose fires home;
22nd minute - Dickson again provider, Melrose shoots home;
37th minute - Watson heads on a Peebles’ corner, Melrose shoots viciously, ball deflected into the net;
40th minute - Dickson’s cross handled, Melrose converts the penalty;
79th minute - Smith splits the defence, Melrose runs in on goalie to slip the ball home;
86th minute - Peebles’ shot handled on goal-line, Melrose scores from the penalty for number six!
Partick Manager Davie Meiklejohn himself pointed out that all of the goals were beauties - it was just one of those days when nearly all chances created resulted in goals!
Harry Melrose, a great Par, a successful future Manager at East End, and the first (and only?) winger in the Scottish League to score a double hat-trick.
In a word - predator!
Third and last winger is the wonderful Alex Edwards, who burst in to prominence with that superb right-wing performance against Valencia in 1962, on a frozen pitch which suited his style of wrong-footing opponents by catching them off balance. Alex was always more of a provider than a scorer, though he could shoot, and was never averse to trying; but it was the quality of his crossing from that right-wing which was his great strength, especially with strikers like Charlie Dickson and later Fergie waiting, like hyenas drooling in anticipation.
Alex had good vision and was one of those wingers capable of making the conversion from winger to inside-forward (think Hugh Robertson, who did exactly that from the left-wing). Indeed, my memory of an Edwards goal was against Kilmarnock, at the time when Killie were a force so early sixties probably. A very tight game (0-0 or maybe 1-1), and Pars were shooting second half towards the Dunfermline end, when a penetrating ball was played through centrally for Edwards to run on to, in a race with the Killie goalie rushing out. It seemed to take ages to resolve as they both converged, but Alex’s speed saw him arrive fractionally first, touching the ball left past the floundering goalie, after which it was an easy tap into an empty goal.
If Alex had a weakness, it might have been his fiery temperament, which occasionally led him to have an early bath. But his lip led to that wonderful story of his brush with the enormous black-liveried referee, Tiny Wharton, whom I always rated, despite his lack of mobility. Alex was protesting too volubly when Tiny drew him up, towered over him, and said, 'Mr Edwards, I am six feet four, and you are the smallest man on the park, so you would be well advised to shut the f.........k up!'
Alex Edwards remains a Pars’ legend, despite his moving to Hibs in 1971, and is still a regular attender at East End Park."
In a word - artistry!
(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 5 will be posted next Thursday.