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 3, he looks back on a Pars v Hearts game from January 1969.
Dateline: 2nd January, 1969
Match: Dunfermline 4, Hearts 2
Charts: Ob-La Di-Ob-La Da
Hearts supporters were in what psychologists call The Denial Stage of their grief. For the 20
years following WW2 Hearts had turned out good sides, indeed for a few years they had
been acknowledged as the best team in Scotland. Now they had fallen on hard times, were
playing stodgy football, yet the Tynecastle faithful travelled over to EEP in good numbers for
the first game of 1969, believing that glory days were just around the corner.
They were on a fool’s errand. This was Manager Farm’s strongest Dunfermline side, the
reigning Scottish Cup holders who had dispatched Hearts comfortably in the 1968 Final,
were lying just behind Celtic in the League and were to on their way to a ECWC semi-final.
Farm’s 4-3-3 formation made for a cohesive unit that could control the pattern of play or, if
required, absorb heavy pressure There is an iconic photo of Lunn and Barry lunging at
Jimmy Johnstone which captures the essence of the Pars’ competitive character at this time.
Hearts had no chance.
Pars line up:
Hearts lined up with: Cruickshank, Clunie, Holt, Anderson, A.Thomson, E.Thomson, Ford, J.Fleming, Gordon, G.Fleming, Traynor.
This Hearts team was an uncomfortable mix of bully boys and choir boys. They played three
hulking centre halves, including a bull-necked ogre by the name of Arthur Thomson with a
crew-cut rarely seen outwith a prison exercise yard. The full backs, Sneddon and Holt, could
be nasty. In contrast the attack was led by two Chartered Accountants- Donald Ford and Alan
Gordon. Gordon, with his thoughtful approach play and outstanding aerial ability, could lay
some claim to the crown worn by Bauld and Young whereas Ford was no more than useful.
Perhaps predictably then, it was Ford who was granted heroic status by the Hearts support,
demanding that this frail, cricket playing, part-time footballer should be in the Scotland team. In truth, far from being the best striker in Scotland, Ford was not even the best striker
in Armadale, for Colin Stein was on the rampage for Rangers at this time.
The Hearts support had arrived early and commandeered the terracing in the North
Enclosure, normally the location for the Pars’ choir.
Gorgie, Gorgie, Gorgie Rule! Gorgie, Gorgie Rule!
This would prove to be another misjudgment on their part. The Pars’ choir numbered a few
hundred, ranged in age from about 14-22, comprising dockyard apprentices, errant school
students, a few local loudmouths and a smattering of drunks. Rather than force a
confrontation, this hardcore support packed behind the goals at the Town End which,
whether by luck or judgment, the Pars attacked first half. A wall of sound greeted the very
first Pars attack and scarcely let up, as wave after wave of black-and-white incursions into
enemy territory left Hearts overwhelmed. Mitchell provided the muscle, Gardner the hard
running and Paton the guile. When Edwards cut his foot across a corner kick, making the ball
fly low and flat like a frisbee, Mitchell dived to head home a flick-on. The Pars’ choir
cranked the volume up to 11 as our midfield trio of Robertson, Edwards and Renton took
total control, regularly releasing Callaghan and Lunn to overload Hearts on the flanks. After
16 minutes Edwards flighted another flat corner, this time from the left, and Paton, slim and
poised as a matador, applied the coup de gras.
Hearts could barely get out of their own half. Jim Fraser, the bolt in the defensive system,
was a reliable cover defender who was very strong in the air, granting Barry and the full
backs licence to attack any ball played up to the Hearts forwards. On one occasion Davie
Holt, a veteran full back who had known better days in maroon, had no option other than
blooter a clearance on to the roof of the North Enclosure for which he was roundly cheered
by the visiting support. Holt had been recalled after the Arthur Mann affair, another example
of Hearts’ delusional support. Mann, from Burntisland, was a promising player who week
after week, was being voted the best player in Scotland according to a Daily Express poll.
This newspaper had a high readership amongst Tynecastle tradesman and clerical workers,
who organized a write-in campaign to vote exclusively for Arthur Mann come hell or high
water. They not only convinced themselves that Mann was the next Nilton Santos, but also
Manchester City who coughed up money to take him south, from where he found his level in
lower divisions. Mann was unusual. Whereas Hibernian would develop youngsters like
Cormack, Marinello and Cropley before selling for big money south of the border, the Hearts
equivalent would be shipped out to Tranmere or Doncaster after a couple of seasons.
Just before the interval Dunfermline struck again to make the score 3-0. The goal was made
by Willie Renton who had replaced Tommy Callaghan, the midfielder whose long raking
runs had been a feature of Dunfermline teams in the 1960s. Renton covered far less ground
than Tid Callaghan, being a passer rather than a carrier of the ball, but he played with a
swagger and had a left foot that could tidy up play or set the attack moving. A stylish player
but one who enjoyed a good scrap as well.
Renton flighted a free kick over Hearts’ defensive wall for Gardner to steer in off the far post
with a well-judged header. The Town End choir erupted, knowing that Hearts were well beaten, then battled its way through a demoralized Jambo support over to the Halbeath End, in anticipation of more goals in the second period.
In the event there was only one Pars goal, a nonchalant 8-iron chip by Paton which left
Cruickshank stranded on his 6-yard line. Hearts made a decent fist of things in the second
half, bringing on Willie Hamilton for some much needed creativity. Hamilton was thick
around the midriff, had thinning hair, podgy knees and looked about 40 years old. For all
that, he did have a football brain and Ford and Gordon pulled a couple of goals back, but this
was a battle-hardened Dunfermline side who had faced bigger challenges than Hearts. John
Lunn was typical of the competitive mentality that had been forged at DAFC. He was only
22 years old but had been on winning sides against The Old Firm on around 8 occasions, had
appeared in two Scottish Cup Finals and played in rearguard actions by the Pars in Germany,
Czechoslovakia and Spain. Another one was soon to follow down in West Bromwich. John
Lunn was a fast, powerful defender who drove into tackles and attacks with the confidence
of a fully-fledged professional, yet unlike Davie Holt, Jim Kennedy, Davie Provan or Billy
Dickson he never wore the number 3 jersey for Scotland.
As for Hearts, their supporters became if anything more desperate. In 1971 more than 20,000
of them packed into Fir Park midweek to watch Hearts play Motherwell in the semi-final of
the Texaco Cup, a consolation tournament for teams unable to qualify for Europe. This was a
contest that had drawn a crowd of around 6,000 for the League fixture but after Donald Ford
netted the winner in extra time - Fordie for Scotland - the Hearts support were convinced
glory was within their grasp. Outside Tynecastle nobody much cared, though in the event
they were beaten by Wolves in the final. It took a 7-0 hammering from Hibernian in 1973
before reality sunk in.
Part 4 of Sammer Looks Back will be posted next Wednesday.