|If you think about the likes of Eddie Connachan and Jim Herriot, it's easy to see how goalkeepers have played a major part in Dunfermline's successes over the years.|
But among all the great custodians that Dunfermline have had over the years, one in particular stands out for his unswerving loyalty and commitment to the cause at a time when the Pars needed a decent number one more than at any time in their history.
Hugh Whyte was born in Kilmarnock on 24th July 1955 and as a teenager played for local junior side Hurlford United. Hugh was quickly snapped up for a move to East Scotland where he signed for Hibernian in 1974. Although still a youngster, Hugh was destined for greater things and soon was selected for first team duty.
However, there was one crucial factor in Hugh's progress that had a huge impact on his decision to move to Dunfermline in 1976 - Hugh preferred to play part-time football to allow him to continue his medical studies at Edinburgh University.
Dunfermline on the other hand were desperate. The previous season had ended with further relegation and a very unsatisfactory goalkeeping situation where Graham Barclay, Celtic's third choice goalkeeper, had played on loan throughout 1975/76. With full-time football no longer an option, manager Harry Melrose jumped at the chance to bring in 20 year old Hugh on 25th May 1976.
Hugh made his debut in a League Cup tie against Queen of the South on 14th August that year. Over the course of the next five seasons and a run of 227 games, Hugh missed just a couple of games despite the pressures that his University studies must have brought. By 1981 Pat Stanton tried to make changes and brought in other goalkeepers like George Young and Jim Moffat, but Hugh still proved to be better than all of his potential replacements.
Another new manager Tom Forsyth made Hugh captain for season 1983/84, a rare honour for a goalkeeper. In March 1985, Ian Westwater arrived and with full-time football back on the cards, Hugh took a back seat.
But to show the calibre of the man, Hugh still made himself available when Ian Westwater was injured. Although he hadn't played first team football for a year and a half, and hadn't even been playing reserve football, Hugh came to Jim Leishman's rescue on Tuesday 30th September 1986 and helped the Pars to an important 1-0 win over Montrose. The game against Forfar four days later was to be his last.
High Whyte's loyalty and consistency over a ten year period helped to steady a very rocky Dunfermline ship in the mid-1970s, to the extent that by the time he left, the revival was very much on. During that decade, Hugh made 364 first team appearances in league and cup games, the all-time record for a Dunfermline goalkeeper. He also made 11 6 shut-outs, again an all-time club record.
Hugh did go on to put his medical training to great use, particularly when he had a stint as club doctor, and living close to East End Park, he remains as always, someone who is willing to support the Pars.
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