The Road to Hampden 1949
The League Cup had only been a national competition since the 1946-47 season but Fife clubs had been punching above their weight. East Fife had won the second competition, defeating Falkirk 4-1 after a replay. The wee team reached the final in 1948-49 but lost 2-0 to
When the draw came out for the 1949-50 competition, few fans thought that Dunfermline could take their place. Teams were grouped into sections, and the Pars had to contend with Kilmarnock, St Johnstone and Queens Park. The clubs had been closely grouped in the previous year’s league campaign, finishing 4th, 11th, 6th and 5th respectively.
The opening match was away to Queens Park at Hampden on the 13th August and Jimmy Cannon scored the only goal to set the Pars off on the right foot. Four days later the Pars were at home to St Johnstone and 9000 fans turned up. They went home disappointed as the visitors won 2-1, George Henderson was our scorer.
The next match was again at East End Park and a 1000 fewer fans attended. Had they known what was coming they would have kept the faith. George Henderson scored a hat-trick and Jimmy Cannon scored a brace as Dunfermline crushed Kilmarnock 5-1.
The return match against Queens Park followed on the 27th August and the Pars were comfortably in their stride. A goal each from McKay, Henderson and Mayes led to a 3-0 victory. On the 31st Athletic travelled to Muirton Park in Perth for the return tie against St Johnstone.
In a close match the Pars got their revenge for the home defeat, winning 3-2 with individual goals from McKay, Dunlop and Mayes. The final group match was at Kilmarnock in front of 7000 fans, George Henderson again starred with another hat-trick, Gerry Mayes added another in a 4-2 win.
The Pars had comfortably won the group with 10 points, Queens Park were nearest of the rest with 6 points. In the quarter final draw the Pars were paired with Airdrie who had emerged victorious from a group comprising Dundee Utd, Dumbarton and Arbroath even though they
had lost 6-0 at Tannadice!
The teams were expected to be closely matched as they had finished on equal points in the previous league campaign. On the 17th September 1949, the Athletic travelled to Broomfield, they led 1-0 in a close first half, goals from both teams came in the second half. The final score was a 4-3 victory for the Pars, George Henderson contributed another hat-trick and centre half Clarkson added another. The return match on the 20th was less entertaining, ending 0-0 but the Pars were through to their first semi final.
The semi-final was played at Tynecastle in front of 31000 fans and Athletic met Hibernian. The Hibs with most of the Famous Five featuring and six internationals in their side scored first, confirming their favourite status. Someone forgot to tell Gerry Mayes (who had previously been freed by Hibs) and his opening goal was a classic diving header. He added a second and the jubilant Pars were into their first national Final.
Dunfermline’s final plans were severely disrupted when Roberts had to withdraw through injury and George Henderson’s father died. Although he agreed to play, he was unable to reach the high points which he achieved in the march to Hampden.
The attendance of 39744 at Hampden on the 29th October 1949 was a record for a match between two Fife teams. East Fife were a well established First Division side and too strong for Dunfermline. The match was effectively over after half an hour when the third goal was scored. For the record the East Fife scorers were Fleming, Duncan and Morris.
For the final manager Webber Lees put out a Dunfermline team, listed in 2:3:5 format as follows:- George Johnstone; Bobby Kirk, Adam McLean; Jackie McCall, Jimmy Clarkson, Andy Whyte; Gerry Mayes, Jim Cannon, George Henderson, Tom McGairy and Stirton Smith.