The small, jinky winger has been a tradition in Scottish football for decades, best epitomised by 'Jinky' himself, Celtic's Jimmy Johnstone, and others such as his Rangers counterpart Willie Henderson. In that period, Dunfermline had one of the best of the tricky wingers in Alex Edwards. Last week, we signed another diminutive winger, Aidan Connolly, who became the latest in a long line of Pars wingers. Just as a winger's game can include varying spells of good and bad form, so too has our club employed some great, some good and some not so good wide men.
Aidan Connolly comes to EEP with a good reputation, praised on social media by fans of his former clubs, which included a period in the Scottish Premiership with Dundee United as a teenager. As the edit below shows, Aidan has played in more positions than just hugging the touchline but he is predominantly a traditional left winger, and fits the mould of the Johnstone/Henderson image at 5'5'' and with a slight build. His pace and ball control more than make up for his lack of height and we can look forward to seeing him provide creativity on the left, making up for the loss of Fraser Aird and the departure of Joe Cardle.
Older Pars fans than myself will recall the great Alex Edwards and others that followed him. In the years that passed since Edwards' period, Mark Smith was a big success on the wing for Jim Leishman's 1980s Dunfermline, making over 50 appearances in the black and white between 1987-1989. When I became a Pars fan in 1991, the son of a Dunfermline great was on the left wing but failed to achieve the performance levels of his dad: Chris Sinclair, son of Jackie, was a hard worker but lacked quality. As the 1990s went on, Bert Paton signed a true cult hero in Ivo Den Biemen, and converted striker Stewart Petrie into a left winger/left sided attacker. Neither player falls into the category of this article's small, tricky wingers: Ivo was too tall and Petrie was a bustling winger rather than someone with tricks to spare. Paton then signed a pair of classic small wingers: Kenny Ward, who had one of the best individual games of any Pars player in recent years when his 2 goals helped Dunfermline defeat the Wee Team at Stark's Park in 1994. Paton then brought Allan Moore to the club and the wee winger was a big success in his 3 years as a Par.
The past 20 years have seen a variety of wingers come and go: while not listing them all, a sample size list would include successes such as Joe Cardle, Davie Graham - of the Jim McIntyre-era, not the earlier ex-Rangers player of the same name - and Willie Gibson, who just about makes the list although was taller than the type of player being looked at here. Then there were others, some of whom made half-decent contributions, and others who were qucikly forgotten, among them Chris McGroarty, Kevin Harper, Owen Morrison, Bobby Ryan and Sean Kilgannon. The 2006/07 season saw 2 wingers arrive on loan, that provided a spark to the team in the second half of the season, in Jim O'Brien (now a central midfielder with Ross County) and Adam Hammill (until this month a Barnsley player, and now a free agent).
It is to be hoped that Aidan Connolly will be more Kenny Ward than Bobby Ryan; more Joe Cardle than Sean Kilgannon. Connolly certainly has the pedigree to be a success and to add his name to the list of entertainers on the wing.
The great, the good and the not-so-good: some of the wingers who have played for DAFC through the years: