Dunfermline’s first home game of the season was a pre season friendly was against newly promoted English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers and an opportunity for the club to show off their new blue and red quartered away strip. The match was a disaster for the club’s close season signing, Andy Smith who breaks a leg during the match and was ruled out for several months.
Pre season wins against Bolton, Hearts and Hibernian showed that the Pars were in good form and this is confirmed by two excellent victories in the first two league matches against Airdrie away and Dundee United at home. The 3-0 win against Dundee United was particularly impressive as United, dubbed as ‘Rangers Reserves’ by manager Bert Paton, had been strong favourites.
There were, even at the start of the season, injuries to key players including Kenny Ward, Craig Robertson, Hamish French and Andy Smith, but new signing from Partick Thistle Paul Kinnaird was proving to be a useful acquisition. Jackie McNamara scored his first international goal in the Under 21 international against Greece.
Dunfermline exited from the Coca Cola Cup after a 2-1 defeat by Hearts who could thank goalkeeper Henry Smith for keeping them in the tournament.
Dunfermline’s fine start to the league season was ended by Greenock Morton on 23rd September with a 2-0 defeat. The game was Dunfermline’s first league defeat since 11th January and ended a club record of 20 league games undefeated.
Dunfermline progressed unconvincingly in the Challenge Cup with narrow wins over Forfar and Brechin. The performance of David Bingham for Forfar against Dunfermline convinced Bert Paton to shell out a sizeable fee on his transfer. Reserve striker Gary Harkins moved in the other direction. Local businessman John Meiklem joined the Board of Directors.
After a considerable number of managers, including Blackburn’s Kenny Dalglish, had shown face at East End Park, the Pars best asset was transferred for a club record transfer fee. Full back Jackie McNamara moved to Celtic for a fee of £600,000 on Wednesday 4th October.
That same evening, Dunfermline went crashing out of the Challenge Cup after an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Dundee United. The game was the last for Canadian internationalist Paul Fenwick’s career at East End Park and he is transferred to St Mirren.
October developed into a month of frantic transfer activity. Andy Hawkins went on loan to Ards in Northern Ireland before finally departing altogether with Gerry Farrell made a surprise first team debut for Dunfermline. Paul Kinnaird’s short but fruitful spell ends with his transfer to Scarborough. Bert Paton signed former Nottingham Forest midfielder Brian Rice from Falkirk for only £25,000. One transfer that didn’t quite happen was that of Finnish internationalist Kari Rissannen who refused terms after featuring as a trialist in two league games.
Dunfermline’s league form slipped a little, not helped by injury in the match against Dundee to keeper, Guido van de Kamp. It was one of the rare occasions when the Pars did not have a substitute goalkeeper and midfielder Paul Smith is forced to deputise between the sticks.
Norrie McCathie made his 500th Scottish League appearance, 487 of which had been made with Dunfermline Athletic.
Dunfermline’s horrendous injury list forces them to call up two of their younger players from junior ranks to be a part of the pool to play St Johnstone. As it turns out, Dunfermline’s young side are unlucky to lose the game by the only goal. The following week Morton inflicted another defeat on the Pars – this time at home – so things were not looking too great as the season headed towards winter.
Further new signings arrived in the shape of experienced full back Colin Miller from Hearts and Ryan Hegarty, son of former Dunfermline favourite, Kevin, from Dundee United.
Football in December was curtailed as a result of the inevitable Scottish winter, but it nevertheless proved to be an extremely successful month with the highlight a 4-2 victory at Dens Park. The Fifers were 2-0 down before a Norrie McCathie inspired comeback saw the Pars play some of their best football of the season.
Dunfermline reached the halfway stage of the season on top of the league and Bert Paton was awarded with his first Manager of the Month award.
The Football Club, the town of Dunfermline and the whole of Scottish football was devastated by the death of Norrie McCathie on Monday 8th January. The Pars 34 year old skipper was found at his cottage between Dunfermline and Crossford by his friend John Watson after he had not turned up for Monday training. He and girlfriend Mandy Burns had suffocated from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas appliance.
The much loved Pars captain was the club’s longest serving player and had made more appearances than any other player in the club’s history. The midweek match against Dumbarton was postponed and in an emotion-filled week the players decided to go ahead with the Saturday game at home to Clydebank. Throughout the week fans lined East End Park with a huge tribute of flowers, scarves and memorabilia.
A larger than usual crowd turned out and throughout Scotland a minute’s silence is observed. Dunfermline retired the number four jersey as a mark of respect to the late captain. Grief-stricken fans tried their best to raise the players spirits and despite showing clear signs of exhaustion, new captain Craig Robertson found it himself to produce to produce an inspired winning goal and a 4-3 victory.
An open air memorial service at East End Park on Tuesday 16th January attracted 3000 fans but Chairman Roy Woodrow, manager Bert Paton and a host of others found the occasions too much for them.
Football takes a back seat with all the other games apart from a goalless draw against Hamilton being postponed. The lack of games put Dunfermline under severe pressure as others took the opportunity to leap ahead in the title race. Dunfermline finished January five points adrift.
Bert Paton got the cheque book out to boost his squad for the run in. He made two new signings, firstly experienced former Dundee United defender John Clark from Falkirk for £75,000, then a day later for the same fee he brings in 20 year old Aberdeen defender Craig Ireland.
After a long lay-off Dunfermline returned to football with a vengeance, having to play six games in only 18 days. Two of these were in the Scottish Cup where, after a fine 3-0 win against St Mirren, the Pars were unlucky to lose to a late Dundee United goal at Tannadice.
In the league Dunfermline moved back into contention. The team travelled to Broadwood where, in a reversal of previous fortunes, Dunfermline recorded their third win of the season against Airdrie. The best moment came late in the game with the appearance of goalkeeper Ian Westwater as a substitute for striker Andy Smith! A cracking 3-2 win against the now fancied St Johnstone was the highlight of the month. The winner, probably the goal of the season, was a 35 yard piledriver from John Clark.
March started with an excellent 4-1 win against title-chasers Morton, then in the next game Stewart Petrie scored the fastest goal of the season with a 26 second opener against Dundee. After another six games in only a three week spell the players were beginning to show signs of tiredness. Performances were patchy and with four other clubs breathing down Dunfermline’s neck, too many games were being drawn.
Bert Paton reinstalled Ian Westwater as first choice keeper after Guido Van de Kamp lost confidence. He signed Harry Curran from Partick Thistle just before the transfer deadline and although the move was intended to provide cover, Curran was injured before he arrived and was unable to play any games.
The month started disastrously with the poorest performance of the season and a 3-1 defeat, the Club’s first since January, at home to doomed Hamilton. The fans were not at all happy and express their displeasure. Bert Paton too was unhappy and dropped his two new signings Clark and Ireland for the games against Dundee. It appeared to have worked with a much improved performance and great backing from the fans only being denied by a last minute Dundee equaliser. As a result Dundee United took over the lead in the Championship and the pundits were backing United and St Johnstone for promotion.
The stage was set for a big showdown at Tannadice against favourites Dundee United. A sell-out 12,000 plus crowd watch as Stewart Petrie scored the only goal and sent the vocal Dunfermline fans into raptures.
Dunfermline’s biggest ever First Division crowd of over 13,000 watched the final encounter with Airdrie. Dunfermline take the lead through Andy Smith but nerves were rattled as Airdrie equalise and news filters through that Dundee United were in the lead at Greenock. Allan Moore was upended by Andy Rhodes inside the box and Marc Millar took the most important penalty of his career with supreme coolness. The match at Cappielow had kick off ten minutes earlier and word came through that the game had ended in a draw, thus ensuring that the title would go to Dunfermline. East End Park erupted amid scenes of jubilation which continued until the trophy was finally handed over at 5.30pm.
Allan Moore won most of the Player of the Year awards but Andy Tod, the only ever-present in the side, won the Gary Riddell Players Player of the Year. Free transfers went to Tom Callaghan and Neale Cooper. Cooper, who had been at the club for four years, went on to become Player/Manager with Third Division, Ross County.
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