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I have only ever been a “limited” Scotland supporter, I have attended a few Scotland matches at Hampden and I have only ever travelled away twice. Both were notable for different reasons, once to Wembly for a “festival of dance” in 77 and the other in Ninian Park in Cardiff on the 10th Sept 1986. Five of us travelled to the game pretty much at the last moment. The decision made easier by having a friend who moved to Llantrisant a small village outside Cardiff a couple of years previously. A bunk up was the order of the day and as we had visited on a number of occasions we knew our way around and had made a good few friends at the local pub the Miskin Arms. None of us had tickets for the game and in the pre touts age we managed to blagg 2 tickets for the game at various service stations on the way down. Only face price was paid. We managed to blagg another two tickets for the game in Cardiff after asking a Taxi driver who heard a guy was selling them in a pub. He told us to jump in which we did, and we later emerged from the pub with another two tickets. The Taxi driver never took the fare but we tipped him enough to buy a pint or two. In someways it kind of set the tone, the Welsh were hugely welcoming and super friendly There was a consensus that while we had to play each other and one of us would have been knocked out, it wasn’t what anyone wanted. Naturally we both wanted to win but we didn’t want the other to lose either. What we all agreed on was that we hoped England wouldn’t qualify. The sense of anticipation for the game was electric all the more so as we previously knocked out Wales and qualified for The World Cup in a similar match in Anfield Liverpool. However Wales did seem to have the upper hand this time round, they beat at Hampden in the earlier qualifier and I remember we were struck with injuries for this game. Although Scotland held a slight advantage we had better goal difference we knew we just needed to draw, Wales need the win to make the finals in Mexico. It was the original winner takes all game The atmosphere in the ground was electric, Wales Mark Hughes was probably the best striker in the world at the time – he simply scored for fun and I think everyone feared whenever he touched the ball. True enough Hughes scored and it started to look grim. Standing on the packed terrace we were desperate for a bit of inspiration as the game was drifting away from us. After all with legendary figures like Big Jock & Alex Ferguson we held faith that they would see us through. At nine minutes we had a penalty. Despite being behind the goal I never saw it but there wasn’t a Scotsman in the ground who didn’t scream for it. Davie Cooper stepped up and slotted it away. It was mayhem, ABSOLUTE MAYHEM. We were nearly there all we had to do was hold on. In truth we were hanging on – just. Wales were throwing everything at us to grab a winner. With only a few minutes left in the game the tension was building. The Scots were whistling for full time 5 minutes before the end and when it came Ninian Park erupted. Big Jock and Davie Cooper had us qualified for the World Cup in Mexico. Like so many Scots we were all wrapped up in the result and celebrating. We saw nothing on the pitch to suggest it was any other than a legendary Scottish win. Even the Welsh fans despite their own disappointment were congratulating us as we left the ground. We jumped in the car and headed off to the Miskin Arms in Llantrisant. Bedecked in Saltires, Lion Rampants and tartan scarfs - we marched into the Pub. The contrast in atmosphere hit us as soon as we stepped inside. Initially we thought it was a wind up as everyone was looking at us with some sort of dismay. But we were up for it and continued the banter “Mexico, Mexico, Mexico”. The bar man stuck four drams on the bar and told us Big Jock had died at the game. Nah it was a wind up. Those Welch barstards were taking the piss, we were at the game and saw nothing except a Davie Cooper penalty, and Big Jock was invincible. It was just not dawning on us. The Bar was reasonably busy perhaps a couple of dozen folk patting us on the back shaking our hands saying they were really sorry. My girlfriend then walked into the bar in tears and it hit us. She saw it on the news. We had qualified for the World Cup but it didn’t matter anymore, Big Jock had died. Closing time passed and went, the door was closed the bar was still open. I don’t think we actually bought a drink or even had the energy to stand at the bar, but the drams and pints kept coming. in a side door a Couple of villagers came in. Both were stewards at the game. They never saw what happened but were told a ambulance was on its way as someone had a heart attack. Initially they thought it was a supporter then the news began to filter out. The Welsh guys were genuinely shocked as we were, there was sadness, tears and commiserations. Winning or losing qualification didn’t seem important. As a Pars supporter for those who remember Norrie McCathie passing away will probably understand the emptiness we were feeling at the time. We went home with a Bottle of Malt, we didn’t pay for it the Barman felt we needed it more than him. He just said next time. We travelled up the road late the following morning. Traffic was very slow, there was no celebrations just shakes of the head and acknowledged looks of anguish between the cars. I can remember carry outs were being passed from windows of cars to other cars in some kind of silent wake. You took a drink passed round the car then passed it back. No words were said, because there were none. When you did talk it wasn’t about the game, it wasn’t about Mexico, it was about Big Jock. Football is an emotional game full of highs, lows and highs again. Norrie passing away and Robbo’s goal against Clydebank is the only other time I feel I have experienced such polar opposites of emotion. It’s not something I would wish to experience again. Big Jock and Norrie were invincible but I’m proud of my connection to them both as a Pars fan. COYP.
After a successful winter break domestic business resumed at the start of February with a 2-0 win over bogey team Young Boys to reclaim top spot and that was followed up (after comfortably defeating Rapid Vienna in a friendly) with a good 3-0 win at Neuchatel before Grasshoppers beat us 1-0 at Letzigrund. Taulant Xhaka was the hero as the first leg of the first knockout round of the Champions League against Liverpool ended with a 1-0 win over Liverpool. There was to be no European hangover this time as the next game against Luzern saw the Rotblau emerge as 3-1 victors. Zurich were then dispatched 3 to 0 before the month ended with a 2-0 win against Thun in the Swiss Cup. Interesting happenings elsewhere though... March was a poor month results wise. A 1-0 reversal away to Thun set the tone for the month before Liverpool convincingly overturned the first leg deficit with a 4-0 win at Anfield. Despite defeating Lugano 1-0 Young Boys beating Thun 4-0 meant that they overtook us on goal difference. The last match before the international break saw St. Gallen leave St. Jakob Park with a 1-0 victory so to increase morale in the squad I arranged some friendlies against small teams during the break which seems to have had a positive effect as bottom club Sion were then defeated 2-0 April began with me getting offered a new 2 year contract which I gladly accepted First match of April was away to Young Boys which was a must win if we had aspirations of winning the league and after going 1 down we raced into a 3-1 lead before Young Boys pulled one back making it a nervy finish but Basel held on for the win. A comfortable home win over Neuchatel was next before Grasshoppers were destroyed in a 4-0 victory in which Basel were 1-0 up before Grasshoppers had even touched the ball. Basel then had a good 3-1 win at Luzern which was followed by defeating Grasshoppers 1-0 in the Swiss Cup semi final to set up a meeting with Young Boys in the final. The final match of the month saw Zurich leave empty handed after losing 2-1 and Young Boy only drawing with Lugano opened up a 4 point gap at the top Basel began the month of May by beating Lugano 3-0 The replacement Dunfermline manager? Be careful what you wish for...
This is a fairly new blog, but is always an excellent read. Updated daily, you can keep up to date with much of what is going on with the Pars courtesy of this 100% unofficial blog. As well as the blog, it also has Pars videos, images from away days and other content for you to get into. Check out "Pars Review" by clicking on the image below.
I was only 4 years old at the time the legendary Jock Stein passed away on that fateful night in Cardiff so I have no personal memories of the great man, so what I will do is look at the man's impact on Dunfermline Athletic Football Club. Mr Stein took over at East End Park on 14th March 1960 leaving his role as reserve team coach at Celtic and taking over from the popular Andy Dickson who chose to stand aside to allow someone else to come in, Dickson was offered to stay on at the club but decided that the best thing to do would be to leave the club. Mr Stein's first match in charge of The Pars was against his former club Celtic and Charlie Dickson got The Pars off to a flyer scoring 10 seconds into the match and Dunfermline would go on to win their first match in 16. The Pars went on to win the remaining 5 matches of the season and finished 7 points clear of the relegation zone (there was only 2 points for a win then). While Mr Stein's good start is obviously creditable I don't know if anybody in Scottish football, never mind Dunfermline could have imagined what was going to come the following season, while The Pars had a distinctly average league campaign, finishing in the bottom half of the table the focus was on the Scottish Cup campaign. Trips to Berwick Rangers and Stranraer saw 4-1 and 3-1 wins respectively before an impressive 6-3 away to Aberdeen. In our only home tie of the campaign we defeated Alloa 4-0. It took two attempts to dispose of St.Mirren in the semi final thanks to an own goal and then The Pars were to make their first final since 1949. Celtic went into the match as heavy favourites but an exciting game ended 0-0 and due to no extra time in those days, the teams had to replay 4 days later. The Glasgow club were dominant but goalkeeper Eddie Connachan was like a brick wall , The Par took the lead in the 67th minute through David Thomson and The Pars had to put up with sustained Celtic pressure until the 88th minute when Charlie Dickson took advantage of a Haffey mistake and the Cup was on it's way back to Dunfermline for the first time ever with the team bus route back from Glasgocw through the West Fife villages and into Dunfermline itself lined with thousands of well wishers. As a result of the Cup win The Pars became only the fourth ever Scottish club to play in European competition (before the likes of Celtic and Liverpool were involved) playing in the Cup Winners' Cup and the first ever European tie saw The Pars make a short trip across the Irish Sea in the second leg. The Pars won the tie comfortably 8-1 on aggregate, winning 4-1 at East End Park and 4-0 at Tolka Park. The opponents in the 2nd round were more of an unknown quantity FK Vardar Skopje of what was then Yugoslavia, again The Pars built up a convincing lead at home, winning 5-0, we were to lose 2-0 in the 2nd leg but the first leg result made that academic. The quarter final tie was against Hungarian giants Ujpesti Dosza who won 4-3 in the People's Stadium in Budapest in what appeared to be a cracking match and The Pars probably fancied their chances at home, however the Hungarian side were to inflict a 1-0 defeat on The Pars in what is still the only match to date in European competition that Dunfermline have lost at East End Park. Going out at the quarter final stage isn't bad for a first attempt. The Pars were to qualify for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup by virtue of their highest ever league finish (at the time) of 4th place. The Pars were drawn against Everton in the first round who were dubbed the "Bank of England" by the British press, throwing money around much the way Manchester City and Chelsea do now, and the Everton manager reportedly was heard to remark "Who are these farmers?". After losing the first leg 1-0 at Goodison Park he found out the hard way as George Miller and Harry Melrose gave The Pars a 2-0 win at East End Park. The second round involved one of the most legendary games played at East End Park, after Valencia had handed The Pars a 4-0 drubbing in Spain, it appeared the tie was as good as over but Mr Stein had other ideas, and on a cold, hard icy surface that should never had passed a pitch inspection the Spaniards were shell shock as the 4 goal lead was wiped out within 35 minutes. After 90 minutes the score was 6-2 to The Pars on the night and 6-6 on aggregate. In the absence of away goals then a play-off was played in the neutral venue of Lisbon. Given what had gone before it seems like a damp squib of a match that Valencia won 1-0. There was to be no European football at East End Park in the 1963-64 season and Mr Stein decided to resign from his role as manager in March 1964 after spending a little over 4 years at East End Park to embark on a new adventure with Hibernian. Mr Stein was succeeded at East End Park as manager by Willie Cunningham, who had been brought to the club from Leicester City and been deployed in a very successful sweeper role by the great man.