Dunfermline Athletic

Norrie Tribute Night - Part Five

Sunday, 17th Jan 2016

The Norrie McCathie Tribute night addressed all aspects of Norrie McCathie's life but the pain of his death was felt by football people far and wide.

Comments from Craig Robertson, Hamish French and Roy Woodrow described the emotions back in January 1996. The views of the players were sought but it was decided that the match against Clydebank should go ahead on Saturday 20th January. It would be the first match just 12 days after Norrie's tragic death.

Roy Woodrow:- "It was very difficult. Clydebank had had the same experience the year before (when Davie Cooper died 22.03.95) It was a very subdued boardroom that day. The fans were silenced but as the day went on, like football goes, it all changed."

Hamish French:- "After all that had happened your thoughts turned to Norrie. The atmosphere at the ground was subdued but once the game started, as a player you try to do your best. We did get a lot of help from the crowd as the game developed. It was nervous but we did in the end get an energy in the end from the crowd that pushed us over the line to get the three points."

RW:- "It was a hard game but the players did extremely well. We were 3-0 up but lost a goal and you could see the legs going from the players when they scored their goal when it came back to 3-3 we thought we would be lucky to survive but the fans at that stage were still thinking about Norrie but the arrangements were still underway for the following week. When Craig (Robertson) scored the fourth goal I think everybody even including the referee just looked up at the sky."

CR:- "I knew I had hit the shot well and I just hoped that it would go in the right place. You could hit 20 of these shots and 19 would go past. So I was just lucky it went in.

HF:- "All the games were important at that time but it was just a relief to get the three points for Norrie's memory.

"It was great to go on and win the league that season because we had come so close the previous season. People were writing us off again after all that had happened. The town and supporters got right behind is and gave us that extra push. To finally do it was fantastic."

Stewart Petrie and Andy Smith were next on stage and Stewart returned to the Clydebank game:-

"I remember the warm up was the eeriest atmosphere I have ever been involved in. All through the warm up nobody said a thing. Dick (Campbell) grabbed all the boys and got us into a Celtic huddle and it just seemed to lift the whole place, even the crowd as well because they were coming in and standing in their usual positions and never said a word. That was unusual for East End at that time. You could see by the size of the crowd that the quicker this club gets back into the Premier League the better."

Bert Paton signed Andy Smith from Airdrie for a fee of £70,000 in the summer of 1995, but Pars fans needed a lot of convincing that the signing had been a good idea. Andy recalled being booed on to the pitch at East End Park on his debut against Bolton Wanderers in a pre-season friendly, and to make matters worse he broke his leg! Andy remembered Norrie's reaction:-

"When I came back into the club later that week, Norrie knew that I was in a bad place but he actually said 'that is a good thing that the fans booed you'. I wondered how that could be good but he said 'it means that you have done well when you have done well against us before and it means then that they are now happy that you are here'. He was very good at looking after team mates like the guys have said earlier on. He was always good with all the younger players."

The four months that remained of the 1995-1996 season turned out to bring the success required to ensure promotion. Stewart Petrie got a cheer for scoring the winning goal at Dundee United. Andy Smith paid tribute to manager Bert Paton and Assistant Dick Campbell for their contribution:-

"You need a strong staff. They got us focused again and pointed out what we needed to do was win the league; the best thing we could do to get over this bad situation here was to win the league and do it for Norrie. We took our time in doing it on the last day of the season but it was a fitting tribute to a wonderful person."

In Part Six - the final part - we hear from Dick Campbell - to follow



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