Dunfermline Athletic

Club History | Season 1997-1998

The Pars finished 8th, as Hibs were relegated. Despite Athletics poor season, Andy Smith scored 26 goals - the top native Scottish goalscorer

There is no doubt that Bert Paton`s achievement in taking a team of good Scottish pros to fifth in the SPL, was remarkable. There were no Internationalists (with the exception of Canada`s Colin Miller) and none with any European experience, to speak of. No significant money was made available to take the team a step forward, so Bert and Dick were asked for more of the same. At the end of the previous season, John Clark had left for Berwick Rangers and Brian Rice for Clyde. In the way of newcomers, there was a couple. Dave Barnett a tall commanding centre half who had played around 50 games for Birmingham City was signed along with a young player who was on the fringe of Rangers first team. This player, turned out to be a gem - Greg Shields.

The season kicked off with a friendly against West Ham at East End Park. Zoran Lemajic started in goal and there were debuts for Greg Shields and Dave Barnett. The Hammers included Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Paul Kitson, Marc Rieper, Iain Dowie, Eyal Berkovic and John Hartson. The result was a 2-2 draw, Andy Tod and Andy Smith scoring for The Pars and Hartson and Kitson for West Ham.

The season proper got underway badly with a 2-0 defeat at home to Motherwell, but the following Saturday, Ayr United were routed 5-1 in the League Cup, also at East End. Four goals for Andy Smith and one for Hamish French. This set the team up for a glorious 2-1 victory at Celtic Park, David Bingham and Hamish French the scorers. Midweek brought a return to League Cup duty and St. Mirren were comfortably beaten 2-0 at East End Park. Hearts were next to visit the Kingdom, on League business and were beaten 2-1. The month ended with a 2-2 draw, at home to St Johnstone, before which, Marc McCulloch joined Inverness Caley Thistle.

September began with the League Cup quarter final, at home to Hearts. In front of a crowd of 11,106, Allan Moore scored in extra time to book The Pars place in the semi final. The midweek effort took its toll and the team suffered a 5-2 defeat at Easter Road. A home draw 1-1 with Kilmarnock was next with Andy Smith the scorer. George Shaw made his debut from the bench after signing from Dundee, with Derek Fleming heading in the other direction. The month finished in fine style with a 2-1 win at Pittodrie with David Bingham and Gerry Britton the scorers.

Into October and a thrilling encounter finished 3-3 against Dundee United at East End. There was some excitement about the inclusion in The Pars team of Brazilian Sergio Duarte. At the start of the game he looked a bit old and by the end of the game he looked more suited to the Dockyard League. We had managed to find the only Brazilian who could not control a football. The League Cup semi final duly arrived and Athletic were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Celtic, at neutral Ibrox. Once again the midweek effort cost the team dear and they were hammered 7-0 by Rangers, again at Ibrox. The month ended badly with a 3-1 defeat at Tynecastle.

Saturday 1st November and Celtic were the visitors, winning 2-0, dropping Dunfermline to 7th place. Things picked up with a 2-0 win away to St. Johnstone and the following weekend saw two Andy Smith goals against a Stevie Crawford counter for Hibs produce a 2-1 home win. Stewart Petrie got the goal which earned a 1-1 home draw against Aberdeen but, again, the month ended on a low with a 2-1 defeat away to Kilmarnock. December proved to be a disappointing month. It started ok with a 0-0 draw at Tannadice, with Scott McCulloch, signed from Hamilton, making his debut. After a draw 0-0 at home to Rangers, two Owen Coyle goals gave Motherwell a rare 2-0 home victory over The Pars and the slump continued when Hearts won 3-1 at East End Park.

As the new year began, the misery continued as a Dave Barnett own goal allowed St Johnstone a 1-0 win to take back to Perth. The Pars lost the next game as well. A 1-0 defeat away to Hibs. Former Hamilton Accies and Southampton winger Paul McDonald made his debut in this game. The Scottish Cup brought respite as Dunfermline beat Edinburgh City 7-2 in front of 4,329 fans. It was a personal triumph for Andy Smith as he bagged 5 goals. A fruitless midweek trip to Pittodrie ended in a 2-0 defeat, before the month ended with a thrilling match at home to Kilmarnock which was won 3-2.

February arrived and Dunfermline gained a 1-1 draw at Ibrox, courtesy of Harry Curran. They followed this on the Monday in a televised Scottish Cup tie, at home to Celtic, losing a close fought encounter 2-1. Saturday brought a home match with Dundee United which finished 2-2. Harry Curran moved to Morton and to clear up some dressing room friction, Dave Barnett signed for Port Vale, Colin Miller for Ayr United and Allan Moore for Livingston. A 5-1 defeat at Celtic Park ended the month.

The Pars had slipped into 8th position as March kicked off, but 2-1 win at home to Motherwell came in handy. The following Saturday brought a 3-3 draw with Aberdeen, at East End Park (two goals for Andy Tod and one for George Shaw). The woes returned with a 3-0 thumping at Rugby Park and a 3-2 reversal, at home to Rangers. This slipped Athletic down to 9th and in danger of being involved in a relegation play-off. Craig Faulconbridge, a promising young striker was signed on loan from Coventry City and was on the bench for the first time.

Dunfermline started April with a 2-2 draw at Tannadice and followed this with another away draw, this time at St Johnstone. This made the next game, at home to Hibs, all the more important. A crowd of 12,866 watched as a Russell Brebner own goal meant a share of the points and kept the Edinburgh club in bottom spot. Another new signing, Jamie Squires from Preston North End was on the bench. An excellent 3-1 win at Fir Park, finished the month off nicely.

Sunday 3rd May at East End Park and Celtic were on course to win the Championship. Their fans were in full voice when Craig Faulconbridge popped up with a late equaliser to put Pars fans into ecstasy. In the last game of the season, Dunfermline lost 2-0 at Tynecastle. Celtic eventually won the title. The Pars finished 8th, with Hibs relegated. Despite Athletics poor season, Andy Smith scored 26 goals - the top native Scottish goalscorer - a remarkable performance.

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