Dunfermline Athletic

Pat Stanton 1980-82

Many observers thought it was third time lucky when Dunfermline appointed 36 year old Pat Stanton as manager in December 1980. Jock Stein had originally tried to entice him to East End Park as a youngster and then in 1978 he was approached to deputise for the ailing Harry Melrose but chose to become Assistant Manager at Aberdeen instead.

After sixteen Scotland caps gained during an outstanding fourteen-year playing career with Hibernian, Stanton enjoyed a surprise swan song when he joined Celtic in 1976, picking up winners` medals in the League Championship and Scottish Cup to go with that of the League Cup he gained at Hibs.

He then spent two seasons with Aberdeen, helping Alex Ferguson bring the Premier Division title to Pittodrie before deciding to branch out on his own. Stanton became manager of Cowdenbeath in 1980 and in only a few months made a big enough impression to be offered the job at East End Park after Melrose resigned.

The Pars were looking to consolidate in the First Division after winning promotion in 1979 but the Stanton era got off to a poor start although, to be fair to the man, he was consistent - it also had a pretty dodgy middle and a desperate end. Three wins and three draws in his first eighteen league matches would have seen the club relegated if replicated over the entire season.

1981/82 saw a lot of youngsters introduced to the team, often out of necessity, but for every Norrie McCathie and Rab Stewart there were plenty just not up to scratch.The continual struggle was only alleviated by the natural flair and goalscoring ability of Sandy McNaughton.

For many supporters, the overriding memory of Stanton`s time at the club will be how he squandered what was, for Dunfermline, a huge amount of money in the transfer market.

A club record to pay £43,000 for Doug Considine, Hugh Hamill (£11,000) or George Nicol (a snip at £6,000). How that represented value for money will remain a mystery.

Apart from the financial disaster he was wreaking, Stanton seemed incapable of differentiating between good players and bad. The decision to release Kenny Thomson shocked many at the club and, of course, he went on to prove just how wrong Stanton was, while the small matter of replacing goalkeeper Hugh Whyte with a certain George Young was another costly blunder. 

Long-serving physio Jimmy Stevenson went so far as to claim that Stanton was Dunfermline`s worst manager ever and that it was the only time he saw cliques allowed to form in the dressing room.

The end for Stanton came at Alloa on 1st September 1982 when, in the final match of a humiliating League Cup disaster, he sent out an `experimental` team which included forward Gavin Tait at left-back, Considine in midfield and lightweight midfielder Hamill at centre-half.  The sack would have been expected for Stanton after this fiasco but it didn`t happen.  Incredibly, Hibs wanted him to replace Bertie Auld and he promptly scuttled off back to Easter Road!

This was a manager who had without doubt introduced some good players to the club. But even with the likes of his own newcomers Stevie Morrison, Grant Jenkins, Bobby Forrest and the previously mentioned Norrie McCathie and Rab Stewart to complement existing talent like Bobby Robertson, Paul Donnelly and Jim Bowie, he couldn`t put a winnng team together.

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