Dunfermline Athletic

1960: Dunfermline 3 Celtic 2

Memorable Match #73
Jock Stein’s first match in charge of the Pars
Scottish First Division
East End Park, Saturday 19 March 1960

On 13th March 1960 Dunfermline appointed Jock Stein as their manager. Celtic had appointed Stein to coach their reserve team after he retired as a player. Jock had not applied for the vacant post at Dunfermline but was invited to a meeting by the Dunfermline directors.

On his subsequent appointment his words to the assembled newsmen were: “The team is in a precarious position.  I have no magic wand but I will do everything in my power to save them from relegation”. 

When Stein took over for the last six games of the season Dunfermline lay in the relegation zone with only Stirling Albion and Arbroath below them.  The prospect that in just over a year European football and the glamour games that such competitions brought, were to be destined for Dunfermline truly seemed to require the services of a member of the Magic Circle. 

The wizardry started as he recorded six straight wins defeating Celtic 3-2 in his very first game in charge.  His personal powers were evident considering he made only one change in team selection - George Miller stepping in for the last five matches after an injury to Jimmy Wardhaugh against Celtic.

In the first ten seconds of the Stein era Dunfermline got one of their best breaks of their season. Bobby Evans missed a simple pass letting Jim Kerray’s pass through to Charlie DICKSON who raced on to shoot before being closed down by McKay and Kennedy. Frank Haffey stretched his full length but the ball spun past his fingers into the corner of the net. 1-0

Two minutes later Cammy Fraser was able to block a very dangerous Byrne drive on the goal-line.

On twenty minutes Celtic were back level when Conway pounced on a missed cross and put the ball away. John Sweeney completely missed an incoming ball, Jim CONWAY scooped it from keeper Eddie Connachan’s grasp and drove the ball into the unguarded net. 1-1

Jimmy Wardhaugh was then crocked in 27th minute when he injured his ankle. Alex Smith dropped back to half back and the former Hearts man played the rest of the match on the right wing with George Peebles switching to outside left.

There followed a long period with nothing to note. Both defences broke up the attacking moves that came their way and it was a time of frustration for the forwards. In the time up until the interval Byrne came closest with a low drive.

Half time: Dunfermline 1 Celtic 1

Two blunders which really swung the game came early in the second half. Five minutes in Alec Smith went on a mazy run. Weaving his way through the Celtic defence he saw Harry Melrose standing completely unmarked. MELROSE first timed his team mate’s pass past Haffey. 2-1

Two minutes later MELROSE completed almost an identical manoeuvre to put the Pars 3-1 up. From a melee involving Dickson and Jim Kerray, the ball went out to the wing. McKay seemed to have forgotten that the former Rangers play existed and although Haffey saved the first effort Harry made no mistake when the ball rebounded to him.

Dunfermline never looked back although a defensive mistake by Stevenson allowed Conway to split the Pars defence and score a second with half an hour still to play. Connachan stopped Conway’s shot but Alec BYRNE smashed home the loose ball. 3-2

In 70 minutes it looked like parity for Celtic when Neil Mochan cut the ball back we’ll away from Connachan but Conway’s attempt was blocked.

The heroic Dunfermline defence, ably generalled by Stevenson, held out. They succeeded in making the Celtic attack - which earlier seemed capable of doing great things - look pretty mediocre.

Pars supporters found it hard to comprehend the transformation that was started by Jock Stein and came to expect their team to be near the top of the league and in European competition.  Dunfermline will be eternally grateful for his contribution. 

While undoubtedly a legend in his own lifetime, Jock Stein’s affection for Dunfermline remained a deep and powerful one.  He famously wrestled the Scottish Cup with George Farm as the Champions took on the Cup winners in April 1968 and his happy return for the Centenary Match in 1985 was his last visit to East End Park.

DUNFERMLINE: Eddie Connachan: Cammy. Fraser, John Sweeney, Jimmy Wardhaugh, Jim Stevenson, Ron Mailer, George Peebles, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, Jim Kerray, Harry Melrose.
SCORERS: Dickson (1), Melrose (50, 51).

CELTIC: Frank Haffey: Duncan McKay, Jim Kennedy, Billy McNeil, Bobby Evans, Bertie Peacock, Jim Conway, Eric Smith, Neil Mochan, John Divers, Alec Byrne
SCORERS: Conway (19), Byrne (61)

REFEREE: WD Massie
ATTENDANCE: 9416



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