Peter Wilson 1938-39
Prior to the appointment of Jim McIntyre, the only other player/manager in the Athletic's history was former Scottish international Peter Wilson back in season 1938/39. Born in Beith, Ayrshire, on 25th November 1905, Wilson was spotted playing for the local amateur side by famous Celtic scout Steve Callaghan and signed for the club in 1922 while still at school.
It was to be over a year before he was called up by legendary manager Willie Maley but the skinny schoolboy went on to make a significant impact at Celtic Park, where he played for eleven seasons. One of the country's best wing-halves of the inter-war period, Wilson was a stylish player, cool and graceful, creative with a powerful long-range shot but who was also known for his strong tackling.
It was to his great misfortune that Rangers were the dominant force in the Scottish game at the time, limiting Celtic to only one championship and four cup victories in all Wilson's years at the club. He was also in the shadow of Rangers' David Meiklejohn at international level and his four appearances for Scotland is considered far too low for a player of such undoubted ability.
In 1934 Wilson moved on for a four-year stint with Hibernian that ended with his acceptance of the manager's job at East EndPark in May 1938. The previous incumbent, David Taylor, had left without warning to take up the vacant post at Carlisle and Wilson was Dunfermline's first choice replacement. The 32 year-old was employed on a salary of £6 per week with a bonus of £1 for a win and ten shillings for a draw.
After relegation in 1937, the Pars endured a thoroughly mediocre season back in the Second Division with promotion hopes extinguished by the end of February. A disappointing ninth place was the standard that Wilson was expected to improve upon and he did so with an almost entirely revamped squad. Amongst some impressive signings were goalkeeper Willie Stevenson from Clyde, Alex Callan (St. Mirren), two from Motherwell, left-back Sammy Hynds and winger Charlie Johnston, a real crowd favourite, and a centre-forward from Watford, Willie Black.
Wilson himself remained an influential player although a serious ankle injury limited his appearances to just thirteen. His team was certainly entertaining, scoring 99 league goals while conceding 78, and in Willie Black he had unearthed a clinical finisher who netted an astonishing 34 goals in only 23 league matches.
The team showed a marked improvement to finish in fifth and give the supporters a sense of optimism for the following season, which began with two wins and two draws. However, Britain's declaration of war with Germany on 3rd September 1939 brought an immediate cessation to the football season.
With little for Wilson to do, he returned home to Beith where he found employment but for some reason failed to keep in touch with the club. When it looked like an emergency league would be permitted, Dunfermline quickly appointed Sandy Archibald to act as their new manager on a weekly basis. Wilson was sent a letter informing him that he was not to be re-engaged although, to all intents and purposes, he had already severed his connection with the club.
After the war he acted as a scout for DerbyCounty and indulged in his life-long enthusiasm for Robert Burns, performing at numerous functions before his death in Beith in February 1983.
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