Eighth Hall of Fame - November 2011
The 2011 Dunfermline Athletic Hall of Fame event was held on Saturday 5th November. Three more past players were inducted to join the 39 individuals and the one team who have already been singled out for this special award. The 1961 Cup Winning team who had not previously been inducted were also admitted - John Sweeney, Jackie Williamson, Dan McLindon, Dave Thomson and the now deceased Tommy McDonald.
Hamish French could not attend the Hall of Fame event due to the death of his father in law. Former team mate Ian Westwater received the award on Hamish`s behalf. Westie said:-
"We are really disappointed but can fully understand why Hamish can`t be with us tonight. I am sure that he would be delighted to accept this from Dunfermline Football Club. What can you say about Hamish French that is funny, witty or a bit controversial? Probably nothing because from a players perspective Hamish was one of the most genuine guys you can possibly think.
"He was at the Club when I came back from the `dark side`. I think Jocky Scott had signed him just prior to me coming back and then when Bert took over Hamish carried on for another nine years.
"One of the things that stick in my mind about Hamish when I first played against him was when he was a youngish lad as I was when we played against him up at Dundee United. Their goalkeeper at the time, Billy Thomson had a hell of a hoof on him and could kick the ball the whole length of the park. So the first time I came across Hamish, Billy hoofed the ball up the park, it bounced on the edge of the box - I screamed at the defenders to leave it because I was coming for it but the next thing I know, I am black and blue lying on my back and the ball is in the back of the net. The ten stone, five foot ten Hamish French has put the big baldy goalie in the back of the net and the ball. That was the mark of Hamish as a player - brave as a lion, strong as an ox.
"The other thing I`d like to say about Hamish is that we had a little gym along the end of the corridor here at East End Park. Unfortunately we suffered a few injuries when we were here together and we had invariably to do our rehab together. It was a standing joke with the boys that me being 15 stone and 6`1" big daft goalie and Hamish 5`10" and ten stone soaking wet used to do our weights together. All the grunting and sweat was coming from me even though Hamish was doing all the same weights as me but Hamish did it like they were two pounds and mine were like two ton. That gives an indication of just how strong a man he was.
"He was a fantastic team mate, fantastic player and scored a lot of vital goals for Dunfermline especially in the seasons we won promotion. He is a really good guy and when Jimmy Calderwood came in November 1999 one of the first things he said to Hamish and myself was `guys you have come to the end of your contract`, I think we were 35 or 36 at the time and he said to both of us `I don`t really know you but I know your history, I am going to offer you a goalkeeping coach at the end of the season and I am going to offer Hamish a coaching role as well.` Now for someone coming into the club without knowing anything about the guy but to offer a full time coaching role tells you everything about what Hamish is like as a professional. That is testimony to him."
Bert Paton also paid tribute to Hamish:-
"I cannot take any credit for signing him, he was here when I took over. Jocky Scott must take that credit, same with Jackie McNamara. He ended up playing more than 300 games, he scored over 60 goals for the Club - he was a fantastic player who never gave me any bother. He gave 100% every game and if I left him out he was never in huff. He is as honest as the day is long, in fact we used to get annoyed at him because he wouldn`t go down in the penalty area at all. Hamish was just too honest for his own good.
"As well as being talented, he was a loyal, industrious, dedicated professional who gave 100% every game. To me he was a manager`s dream, always a smile on his face. He would play anywhere he was asked. He was popular with the fans and at every ground we went to those days you could hear the chant "Who needs Cantona, when we`ve got Hamish French".
"To this day he is still working for the Pars under 19s. He has thus given 20 years unbroken service to this Club which I am sure you will all agree is a remarkable achievement for a hell of a nice guy. This award is fully merited."
Club Historian Duncan Simpson who compered the presentations added:- "Even at the age of 35 in his last season at the Club, Hamish French could outlast every other player. He was never subbed even at 35 because he had such incredible energy. The very last game that Ian Westwater played for Dunfermline on 6th May 2000 was also the very last game that Hamish French played."
Jim Leishman asked Andy Tod if it was frustrating being played in various roles and positions under every manager at East End Park. Andy replied that he was glad to be given a game. "I just came in to do my best."
Leish went on to describe how Andy had been transferred down south and the big defender said:- "Of my times in England, sometimes it was a bit more physical and a bit quicker pace. I was in the First Division after Bradford had been relegated and I thought their First Division was comparable with the Scottish Premier League. We played against quality players because the clubs in that division then were Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth and they were all signing players for up to £5 million."
Andy Tod made 383 appearances for the Pars and scored 50 goals. Jim Leishman added
"You are one of the lucky ones Andy, you have had a huge career all credit to you and all the best with your new career. We might see you at East End Park again walking round the track."
In season 1993-94 Dunfermline won 29 league games out of 44 but failed to gain promotion because Falkirk who won 26 games managed to draw 14 games to the Pars 7. That was in the days when a win only earned you two points. Subsequently the Pars amassed 65 points to the Bairns 66 but the very next season the Pars did well and ended up in a play off against Aberdeen for a place in the Premier League. Duncan Simpson recalled:-
"The sight that most fans will recall from that time was Jackie McNamara taking the ball in the calmed controlled way that he did and aleways finding his man with a pass - invariably Ivo Den Bieman. We scored hundreds of goals over these seasons and it was the kind of attacking football which dare I say that Jim McIntyre is trying to introduce again with wingers and play that kind of entertaining football.
"Jackie made only 96 appearances for the Club but the impact he had was similar to some other really great players. If you think of somebody like Roy Barry, he didn`t make many more than 100 appearances and nor did Alex Ferguson yet look at the impact that they had."
Joe Nelson made the Hall of Fame presentation to Jackie and Leish reminded everybody that at £650,000 Jackie McNamara and Istvan Kozma are the biggest transfer fees achieved by Dunfermline Football Club but Duncan Simpson added:-
"The difference being that we paid nothing for Jackie!" Now Partick Thistle Manager, Jackie McNamara replied:- "I always look back to my roots and I am very proud to receive this award especially from Joe Nelson, who like Jim Leishman, is what Dunfermline is all about. It was a great family club and I enjoyed every minute. I broke my leg when I was 15 year old and Dunfermline took a chance on me. I worked my way through from YTS and was involved in full time football for 21 years.
"I am in management now since retiring in the summer but the start to my career here are as important as my ten years at Celtic or going to Wolverhampton or Aberdeen. What I met here and the people, not just the playing staff but the manager Bert. Some great people - Ian Westwater, big Toddy. It has been a fantastic adventure for me to start at a place like this. You are in the Premier League now and Jim (McIntyre) is doing a fantastic job."
Jackie who was capped 33 times for Scotland, explained that he could have stayed at Celtic Park, there was a good deal there for him but he claimed that out of principle he went to England.
"I went there to learn and I met some good people down there. I am glad I did. I went on from there to be under Mr Calderwood at Aberdeen. I have loved every minute of my career and it all started here at Dunfermline. If my son started playing football now and I was going to give him advice - start somewhere like Dunfermline and build yourself up.
"Jim has a great thing going now here at the club and I wish you every success."
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