1994: the year Britpop dominated the UK music charts, with Oasis and Blur both releasing their debut albums, both reaching number 1. Also enjoying huge popularity was Labour leader Tony Blair; by December 1994 his Labour Party had a 39% lead over the Tories in the latest opinion polls. As Christmas approached, Spurs boss Gerry Francis was named Premiership Manager of the Month, while in Scotland Rangers topped the Premier Division, with their rivals Celtic having lost the League Cup Final on penalties to First Division Raith Rovers in late November. Dunfermline, also of the First Division, were aiming for promotion and went into a home game against Ayr United on 10 December in second place in the table.
DUNFERMLINE 6, AYR UNITED 0
SCOTTISH FIRST DIVISION
SATURDAY 10 DECEMBER 1994
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Premier Division in his first season in charge, Pars boss Bert Paton retained the bulk of his squad for another attempt in season 1994/95. The season began with Dunfermline undefeated in the opening 12 games, before a 4 game sequence starting in mid-November that produced 2 defeats, a draw and only 1 victory. Next up was a home game against Ayr United. Almost exactly 1 year before - on 14 December 1993 - Dunfermline had hammered Ayr 6-1 at East End Park. The game featured here today would end in a similar scoreline with Paton's team at their very best.
The first goal of the game came after 9 minutes. Attacking the away end, Ivo Den Bieman's long throw was handled in the penalty box. Hamish French took the resultant penalty and put Dunfermline ahead with a shot into the corner of the net. Den Bieman was involved again in the second goal, in the 36th minute. The Dutch winger's cross was not cleared properly, with the ball then falling to French who headed in from close range.
Half time: Pars 2, Ayr United 0
Early in the second half, Ayr keeper Stuart McIntosh was injured after a collision with Pars midfielder Paul Smith. After playing on with a heavily strapped leg, the keeper eventually had to be replaced by young reserve keeper George Grierson. Unfortunately for the substitute keeper, his first involvement was when he failed to catch a Stewart Petrie cross. Ivo Den Bieman was in the right place to take advantage of the error, shooting home from 5 yards after 72 minutes.
Four minutes later, Pars sub Andy Tod squared the ball to Jackie McNamara for the Pars' fourth goal. McNamara's shot took a deflection off an Ayr defender but still found the net. It was the fullback's first goal for Dunfermline.
The fifth goal started with McNamara's pass to Den Bieman, whose perfectly placed cross was headed in by Tod inside the 6 yard box, with 81 minutes gone. In the 88th minute, Hamish French completed his hat trick, gliding through the Ayr defence and passing the ball into the net from 10 yards.
Dunfermline would end the season on a 16 game unbeaten run that still wasn't enough to win the title; once again, they were pipped to the automatic promotion place by one of their biggest rivals. In 1993/94 it had been Falkirk who finished a point ahead; 1994/95 ended with Raith Rovers winning the First Division by the same 1 point margin over Paton's team. The Pars had the consolation of the newly-introduced promotion play-offs but were beaten over 2 legs by Aberdeen. Paton's third season in charge, 1995/96, would see Dunfermline win the division in a season of heartbreak and remarkable team spirit.
Pars line-up v Ayr (player in background image - Derek Fleming):