After revamping the Pars' first team and reserve squad with younger players, manager Stevie Crawford captured experienced midfielder Paul Paton yesterday. Several weeks ago, after the releasing the bulk of out of contract players from the season just ended, the manager stated that he was aiming to sign young and hungry players plus at least 2 ''older heads'' with good attitudes to help guide the more youthful new recruits. Paul Paton fits that description perfectly, having turned 32 in April and with over 450 appearances in his career for his previous clubs.
Paul began his career with Queens Park, making his debut aged 18 and playing 107 times over a 3 year period. He then moved across Glasgow to Partick Thistle in 2008. He was a first team regular in all of his 5 seasons at Firhill, making 183 appearances. By the time he left Thistle, he was just turned 26 years old and had made almost 300 appearances in the Scottish League.
Tannadice was his next destination and during a 3 year stay he played 95 times for Dundee United, before signing for St Johnstone and then Plymouth Argyle. He has also been capped 5 times by Northern Ireland, qualifying for the Irish team through his father.
Moving to Falkirk last summer, Paul was arguably a victim of Paul Hartley's scattergun approach to signing virtually a whole new squad of players, most of whom barely resembled professional footballers. It was clear when watching Falkirk last season that Paul Paton was a frustrated figure, one of the few reliable players in what was otherwise a very poor squad, even after Hartley's successor Ray McKinnon had a January clearout and replaced Hartley's duds with a new set of slightly better duds.
As the photo above shows, Paul captained Dundee United for part of his time at the club, a role he may well take on at Dunfermline - he is certainly the type of character that would be ideal to lead the squad and perhaps allow Lee Ashcroft to focus on his own game without what at times has seemed to be the burden of the captaincy. This is no criticism of Lee - there have been other players, Andy Smith among them, whose own form slumped after being made club captain, and in 2018/19, the season he was appointed captain, Lee Ashcroft undeniably played well below the standard he had set in the 2 seasons prior to that.
A hard working, honest player, Paul Paton described his style of play when signing for Plymouth in January 2018: "I have come down here to work hard, I like to make tackles, keep things simple and let the good players play."
These are attributes that will be welcomed at Dunfermline, and as a leader and the squad's most experienced player, he could prove to be as important off the pitch as on it over the coming season.