Dunfermline Athletic

Sandy Paterson 1925-30

What made it worse was that the club had just achieved its highest ever league position, fifth in the First Division, while the Athletic struggled in the division below. Having played in goal for Hearts of Beath, Paterson later became secretary of the Keir's Park side and led them to their most successful spell, winning the Fife Cup in 1900/01 and again two seasons later, this time accompanied by the King Cup. His organisational skills had not gone unnoticed and in December 1906 he joined Cowdenbeath, initially as club secretary before combining the role with that of manager. The Miners had been admitted to the Scottish League in 1905 and endured a torrid time, coming close to bankruptcy, before Paterson was able to turn things around. The club won the Second Division championship in successive seasons between 1913 and 1915 but failed to gain election to the top flight, their long overdue elevation finally coming in 1924 after automatic promotion and relegation had been introduced. Paterson may have chosen to drop back into the Second Division with the Pars but he made sure it wasn't for long as the club won the championship at the end of his first season. To be fair, this was achieved with the squad built up by the previous manager, Willie Knight, although Paterson demonstrated that he at least knew how to get the best out of a team that had finished thirteenth in 1924/25. Three players Paterson did bring to the club were left-back Jock Wilson, centre-half Jimmy Clark and winger Duncan Hutchison, all of whom made a significant contribution. Encouraged to play attacking football and benefiting from the change in the offside rule, Dunfermline's 109 league goals broke the Scottish record, as did Bobby Skinner's individual total of 53 which remains a club record unlikely to be surpassed. Skinner's winning goal at Tynecastle on the final day of season 1926/27 saw the Athletic survive their inaugural season in the First Division but it only postponed the inevitable and relegation duly followed a year later. Many of the best players were sold to balance the books, the most notable being Skinner to Airdrie, Andy Herd to Hearts, Jimmy Stein (Everton), Alex Hall (Sunderland) and Bob Syme (Manchester City), and with west Fife suffering the effects of the Great Depression, the club's fortunes took a tumble. Unable to achieve any better than mid-table in the Second Division, the average league attendance in 1929/30 was a lowly 1,437, less than half what was needed to break even. The club lost £710 over the season, pushing their overdraft to over £3,400 and as a consequence none of the four retiring directors, including Chairman John Fraser, stood for re-election at that summer's AGM. Shortly after, without the backing of the chairman who had appointed him and concerned about the deteriorating financial situation, Paterson intimated his desire to sever his connection with Fife football. The Dunfermline Press described this news as a "bombshell", stating that his true worth had never been fully appreciated and that Paterson "deserved better than to be allowed to fade out of the game this way".

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