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 4, he looks back on a Pars v Celtic game from September 1969.
Dateline: 6th September, 1969
Match: Dunfermline 2, Celtic 1
Charts: Bad Moon Rising
You sometimes see them push their glasses up on the bridge of their nose, those social
historians from Oxbridge who were born yesterday, and pronounce that the Swinging Sixties
actually started in 1963, with the scandalous Profumo Affair and only really ended with the
Oil Price Rise of 1973.
We know better. They started when Jock Stein arrived in March 1960 and won his first game,
against Celtic, 3-2. They ended in January 1970, almost exactly a decade later, when the Pars won 3-2 against Anderlecht but left the main stage.
This was a mild, autumn afternoon and East End Park was buzzing. Nowadays I hear some
fans say they want the Old Firm to get out of Scottish football and leave us in peace. I have no desire to be left in peace. I want more days like this, when the ground was packed, when
boisterous supporters mixed on unsegregated terracing and Pars fans, with good reason,
anticipated victory over the Old Firm.
Celtic lined up with: Fallon, Craig, Gemmill, Murdoch, McNeill, Clark, Johnstone, Hood, Wallace, Chalmers, Lennox.
Nine Lisbon Lions on show, with both sides a bit light in midfield, Hughie Robertson and Bertie Auld being absent, Tommy Callaghan angling for a transfer. The first half, Pars
attacking the Town End, was a masterclass in bustling, bullying forward play by Barrie Mitchell from the moment he shouldered Gemmell aside to cross a beauty, low across the
six-yard box. No takers that time, but after brushing inside Gemmell and clipping a shot off the top of the bar the inevitable was only delayed, when Mitchell switched to the left flank,
bundled past Craig, then set up Gardner in front of goal. 1-0 the Pars after 10 minutes.
Suddenly a punch up between Wallace and Renton, near the touchline, with quite a few
blows landing and the referee pointing both towards the pavilion. Now it was 10 v 10,
tension in the North Enclosure, jostling and goading amongst the pockets of rival fans,
Bovril splashed, nervy Special Constables moving in to earn their stripes. Gardner dropped
deeper to support Paton and Edwards in midfield, then emerged in the 20th minute to double
the Pars’ lead. A high, wedged clearance from Barry caught Clark back- pedalling in the
Celtic penalty area, where he made a pig’s ear of the header, miscuing the ball across the box
where Gardner, Craig and Fallon all converged before the ball trundled in off a post. 2-0.
Celtic struggled to respond, Edwards controlling play alongside Paton, both relishing the
extra space available. Another flashpoint: Chalmers, obstructing keeper Duff from taking his
four steps, had the ball rammed in his face and collapsed theatrically near the bye line. Play
On said the referee as Duff kicked clear. Just as the forward was getting back to his knees, a
Celtic attack was intercepted by Willie Callaghan who, with the whole of the touchline to
aim for, deliberately aimed a lusty clearance straight off the face of Chalmers and out for a
bye-kick. Right aff the puss. Well done Willie, as Chalmers was floored for a second time.
Before half time George McLean brought the whole crowd to its feet. ‘Dandy’ Mclean was a
playboy footballer who might have been happier hanging around the Barrowland Ballroom
eyeing up the burdz. He was a tall, confident dude with fancy footwork and a quick mover
too, so might have scored a few times, although to be fair his goal tally over the years with
St. Mirren, Rangers and Dundee was pretty impressive too. His goals came from sporadic
flashes of inspiration, for Dandy was no team player, in fact he had perfected a technique for
avoiding tackles. Loitering up front, when the ball arrived he would move towards it, sell a
dummy, then try to nutmeg the defender on the turn.
But McLean could loiter with intent. He’d just missed out making it 3-0 from a disguised
Edwards reverse pass, when a bouncing ball came his way inside the centre circle. In an
instant he flicked it not only over his own head, but crucially that of Billy McNeill, turning
to knee the ball forward into his path. He now had a clear run on goal and, in truth, nothing
compares with the elemental thrill of the chase, a chase Mclean looked like he might win. As
the pack closed on him at the edge of the penalty box and the crowd noise verged on
delirium, McLean, perverse as ever, opted for a chip on the run, probably the hardest skill in
the game. Yet he was only a fraction out, the ball dropping on to the roof of the net with
Fallon helpless. What a moment that was, only taking a few seconds to unfold, but living so
long in the memory.
The second half was all Celtic, a team who had recovered from 4-2 down at East End a
couple of seasons before, so they would have fancied their chances. Gemmell thrashed
home a blur of a shot from 25 yards, possibly the most powerful shot ever seen at East End
Park, and the supporters in green nearly lifted the roof off the enclosure, sensing another
It never materialized. Barry was a colossus, choking the life out every attack, rising, arm
across the chest of his opponent, bulleting headers away from danger. Even in his finer
moments an air of menace and illegality always hovered around Barry. Jim Fraser and
previously Jim McLean defended in the manner of uniformed policemen dealing with a
fracas at closing time; Barry’s style was more that of a bouncer slinging a drunk down the
steps of a dance hall. This explains part of his enduring popularity amongst Pars fans, for
although we feared that these Old Firm wide boys with their cheap, weegie tricks, dodges
and fly moves might put one over on us provincials, in Roy Barry we knew we had a man
who could match them and more.
After a trademark block, Barry was laid low on the bye-line, giving Jimmy Johnstone the
opportunity, while trailing the ball over to take the corner kick, to tramp sneakily on his chest. More uproar on the terracing. It mattered none. Barry was soon back on his feet rallying the troops, the Pars even managing a few breakaways late on courtesy of McLean tormenting Craig with his dummy+nutmeg routine. 2-1 to the Pars it finished.
What we did not know, was that the 1960s were finishing too. Autumn 1969 was a pivotal
moment. Armstrong had walked on the moon, Woodstock had just ended, Manson was on his
warped hippie mission in California, the British Army had entered the streets of Belfast, The
Beatles were cutting their last LP. Optimism was in retreat. Barry never played for the Pars
again, nor did Bert Paton following his leg break in December. After Anderlecht in January the team suddenly looked middle-aged. We hadn’t brought through a youngster since Stein
left in 1964.
The sixties had seen Stein at his zenith, but he would never enjoy the same authority again.
Within a year his Celtic team would lose three consecutive cup finals, including a European
Final to Feynoord, and although he was still developing young players, Stein’s teams never had the same edge to them. For DAFC it was a precipitous decline. One month after this
victory Dunfermline sat at the top of the league: one year later Dunfermline were rock bottom of that same 18 team league. We had sacked Manager Farm, and were not to win a single game until Christmas Week.
The sixties were over.
Part 5 of Sammer Looks Back will be posted next Wednesday.