When you ask Pars fans who their iconic figures from the 1960s were, the names of players like Roy Barry and Alex Edwards are immediately mentioned.In the same way, if fans are asked about the 1980s, the name of John Watson is right up there among the first to be mentioned.
And yet when he sat having a drink with Jim Leishman in the Cafe Royale in Edinburgh in October 1983 it's unlikely that either of them thought that John would end up with such legendary status. Indeed, at that point, the notion of John having any sort of a professional career seemed unlikely. As a youngster he'd been in and out of football playing a variety of positions, including goalkeeper.He'd played briefly with Meadowbank before trying his luck in Hong Kong when Jim caught up with him. The paltry signing on fee of £300 was a clear indication that club were expecting too much!
Making his debut in a 1-0 defeat at Forfar on 17th December 1983, it took John seventeen matches before he found the net, hardly surprising given his lack of experience at senior level, but once he did so there was no stopping him. Although he wasn't the biggest of players, his bravery, enthusiasm and strength in the air gave him a real presence in the penalty area and caused defenders all sorts of problems. His eye for goal and confidence around the penalty box helped turn Dunfermline from an average Second Division team to one that could go all the way to the Premier League.
An inspiration to supporters and team-mates alike, he scored 31 goals in 1985/86 as the Pars won the Second Division, the highest figure by a Dunfermline player since Alex Ferguson twenty years earlier. The club's top scorer again the following season as Dunfermline regained its status in the top flight, niggling injuries limited his appearances in the Premier Division but didn't prevent him from scoring an unforgettable goal that helped knock Rangers out of the Scottish Cup.
Another crucial strike came against Meadowbank in 1988/89, his last goal in what turned out to be his last match for the Pars and one that earned the club promotion again. John's 85 strikes rank him as joint seventh on the list of Dunfermline's all-time leading goalscorers.
John left in 1989 to try his luck with Fulham in England then returned to Airdrieonians to finish his playing career. He settled back in Dunfermline, partnering his great friend Norrie McCathie in a number of business ventures, and he still remains a hugely popular character around East End Park today.
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