Dunfermline Athletic

Club History | The route to Scottish Cup Success in 1961

From the appointment of Jock Stein to lifting the Scottish Cup

On 13th March 1960, Dunfermline Athletic appointed their new Manager, the 37 year old chief coach at Celtic, Jock Stein. His words to the assembled press that day were "The team is in a precarious position. I have no magic wand but I will do everything in my power to save them from relegation."

If the Directors of Dunfermline Athletic had known when they met Jock Stein, in the office of local solicitor Leonard Jack just what the achievements of their interviewee was to bring to the Club, they could have dispensed with the voucher handed to Mr Stein to cover his tea in the town`s Carousel restaurant while they considered the other candidate for the job. The Carousel restaurant was situated within the Regal Cinema that stood on the site now occupied by Primark.

The prospect that in just over a year European football and the glamour games that such competitions brought, were to be destined for Dunfermline seemed to require of a member of the Magic Circle.

Stein began his career with Blantyre Vics and went senior at Albion Rovers before joining Llanelli, the Welsh non-league club. In 1951 Celtic bought his transfer from the Welsh club and he got one representative honour when he played for the Scottish League against the English League in 1954.

Jock Stein obviously felt within himself that he could conjure up success at East End Park and back in 1984 he reflected on his days at Dunfermline .

"At Parkhead I was always one for sitting down after training to talk over positional play. As coach at Celtic there had been overtures from other Clubs, none more so than Partick Thistle, all looking to take me away from Parkhead. The Celtic Manager Jimmy McGrory advised me to get after a job and I was invited to apply for the job at East End Park ."

"Having seen Dunfermline play I realised that they had some good players. I had admiration for the playing staff and had liked what I had seen. There were possibilities that they might become something. The shareholding had been tidied up by Leonard Jack and his influence made it certain that there would be a Board of Directors with a continuing policy. I saw a future at Dunfermline . I was told that there would be money to spend and that I would have complete control".

Stein`s first game in charge took place just 4 days after his arrival, it was a home match and as these things often do pitched him against the team he had just left as coach - Celtic.

Dunfermline lined up that day - Connachan, Fraser, Sweeney, Wardhaugh, Stevenson, Mailer, Peebles, Smith, Dickson, Kerray and Melrose .

No fewer than 8 of the players who were to be awarded Scottish Cup winners medals just over 13 months on.

Stein`s first game in charge got off to a fantastic start when Charlie Dickson ran on to a Jim Kerray pass to score in just 10 seconds. Things didn`t go that well - Celtic equalised and Jimmy Wardhaugh crocked his ankle in 27 minutes but a Harry Melrose double hitting the net twice within a minute just 5 minutes after half time set the Pars up for a 3 - 2 win. This match, their first league win in four months, was the beginning of an amazing transformation and an end of season run which saw the Pars win their six remaining league games and finish 13th in the Scottish First Division. That included a victory over St Mirren at Love Street , which was the Club`s first away league game in over 17 months!

During that successful end of season period, Stein`s only change in team selection was bringing in George Miller for the injured Jimmy Wardhaugh. Miller characteristically rolled his sleeves up and made his mark in the first team. Stein made no signings, using the playing pool inherited from Andy Dickson.

During the close season of 1960, Stein gave notice of his intention to foster local talent and wasted no time introducing the project. Jackie Sinclair and Willie Callaghan were two of his early catches.

The Club were also on the lookout for players capable of stepping straight into the first team. Tommy McDonald was bought from Leicester City for a fee of around £3000.

Tommy McDonald had previously played for Hibs before moving south to Wolves in April 1954. An outside right, he made 85 appearances for the Pars, scoring 23 goals. Two of the goals came during a tremendous performance in the Cup Winners Cup against Hungarian masters, Ujpest Doza.

The 1960-61 season kicked off with the customary League Cup, played in sections at that time, and Dunfermline with three wins and three defeats finished runners up to Kilmarnock and took no further part.

In September 1960, Stein made his most significant signing - Willie Cunningham. The Northern Ireland international defender was the on the books of Leicester City but was known to be unhappy in England . Cunningham was to become one of the key men in Stein`s defensive plans and his experience at International level would benefit not only the team as it stood but also the up and coming youngsters that he was introducing to the Club.

Above left to right: Tommy McDonald, Willie Cunningham and Dan McLinden

Willie Cunningham`s route to a football career was via Ardrossan Winton Rovers and St Mirren. In 1954 he was transferred to Leicester City and stayed there until he was signed by Jock Stein in September 1960 for £1,800. Willie made 106 appearances for the Pars, scoring 5 goals. Willie played in both the right and left full back positions, and in the home Inter City Fairs Cup tie against Everton, Jock Stein deployed Willie in the sweeper`s role. This was possibly the first time that a sweeper had been used in British football.

Whilst at East End Park , Willie was awarded three of the thirty Northern Ireland caps he gained during his career.

As a result of recurring injuries, he gave up playing at the end of season 63/64, and when Jock Stein left Dunfermline to manage Hibs, Willie Cunningham was seen as his natural successor. He was manager for three years until 1967. Stein used a close personal friendship with the Leicester City Manager, Matt Gillies, to secure both McDonald and Cunningham.

Another important signing came in late October 1960 when Dan McLindon, the inside left at Bellshill Athletic moved to East End Park .

Dan McLindon signed for the Pars in October 1960 from Junior football. He played at EEP until the end of June 1964, when he was transferred to St Johnstone, in a player swap deal which saw Alex Ferguson come to Dunfermline . He made 43 first team appearances, including 3 in the Inter City Fairs Cup. During his time with the Pars he scored 8 goals.

The league kicked off with Dunfermline`s first ever win at Pittodrie when goals from McDonald, Melrose , Smith and Peebles led to a 4-1 win. By Christmas, the Pars league position was ninth, having played 17, won 6 lost 6 and drawn 5. That was six places better than the same time the previous season and well on the way to Stein`s objective for the season - consolidation in the top division.

January, as always, brought the league clubs into the Scottish Cup. The competition pitches the smaller Clubs in with the big guns in the hope of money-spinning ties and the dream of reaching a Hampden final and carrying off the coveted the trophy.

Unaware of how much a reality it was to turn out to be, Dunfermline `s dream began on Saturday 28 January with a fine away win at Berwick. Not always an easy to win a cup tie as was discovered six seasons later by Glasgow Rangers!!

DUNFERMLINE v Berwick Rangers: Jim Herriot, Willie Cunningham, John Sweeney, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, Tommy McDonald, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, George Peebles, Dan McLindon.

The wee Rangers opened the scoring in 12th minute through Kennedy, but goals by Dickson and McLindon saw the Pars go in with a lead at half time. Playing with skill and confidence, the Pars tried hard to increase this lead in the second half but it was the 82nd minute before Smith put them further ahead with a powerful long drive. McLindon finished the scoring when he flicked in a deflection from a Miller shot two minutes from the end.

28/01/61: Berwick Rangers 1 Dunfermline 4
(Kennedy, [1-1] Dickson, [2-1] McLindon, [3-1] Smith, [4-1] McLindon)

Athletic director at the time, Bob Torrie later had this to say of the match:-

"This was the sort of away game that could have proven troublesome to us. We had to play well to overcome a plucky Berwick team. In the end, however, we got right on top and won quite well."

The second round draw was yet another away tie against a Second Division club, Stranraer. Jock Stein concerned about having to send out travel weary players to play in what was sure to be a tough tie, decided the best way to overcome this would be to take the trip the day before. After training on the Friday, the Dunfermline party travelled to Girvan where they spent the night before moving on to Stranraer on the morning of the match.

DUNFERMLINE v Stranraer: Jim Herriot, Willie Cunningham, John Sweeney, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, Tommy McDonald, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, George Peebles, Harry Melrose

It turned out to be a fairly tough battle for the Pars at Stair Park on 11th February. Stranraer`s strong arm tactics on a bumpy pitch did nothing to enhance the smooth style of play that Stein`s side had been trying to build on.

Harry Melrose opened the scoring in 36 minutes nodding in a McDonald corner, although this was actually the fourth time he had the ball in the net, the referee chalking off the others for one reason or another. Although other chances were made, only one goal separated the teams at the break.

13 minutes after the interval, Dickson shot the Pars further in front and five minutes later, Mailer had the chance from the penalty spot to finish the game after McDonald had been brought down but Stranraer keeper Anton brought off a fine save.

Beaton pulled one back for the home side with a dipping shot in 66 minutes which hit the inside of the post and ran in. Minutes later Quinn hit the same post but luckily for the Pars the ball bounced out. McDonald got the all important safety goal when he shot home a Dickson pass.

11/02/61: Stranraer 1 Dunfermline 3 (Melrose, Dickson, McDonald)

Luck did not smile on Dunfermline in the third round draw when the third round draw dispatched them to the other end of the country to face Aberdeen .

The tie was played on Saturday 25th February and Dunfermline lined up with the same starting eleven as had won at Stranraer.

DUNFERMLINE (v Aberdeen): Jim Herriot, Willie Cunningham, John Sweeney, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, Tommy McDonald, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, George Peebles, Harry Melrose

There was a bad start as Aberdeen scored in their first attack through a Brownlie header. Dunfermline took time to find their feet on the greasy underfoot conditions but gradually began to move the ball around more concisely and equalised 21 minutes later with a fine Smith header on a Dickson cross. Dickson put them ahead when keeper Tubby Ogston dropped a Smith cross in 22 minutes. McDonald ran clear to put Dunfermline further ahead.

In 59 minutes Aberdeen pulled one back to make it 3-2 but two minutes later Harry Melrose reinstated the two goal lead. The Pars were well on top and 8 minutes from time a fine run by McDonald gave Peebles his chance which he took well with a shot which hit the inside of the far post. Two minutes from time Herriot dropped a Ewen cross and Coutts touched it in. Back came the Pars though and George Miller finished the scoring right on time.

Never favourites before the match, Dunfermline won through 6-3 with a great display of attacking football in which every Pars forward found the net.

25/02/06: Aberdeen 3 Dunfermline 6
[0-1] Brownlee, [1-1] Smith, [2-1] Dickson, [3-1] McDonald, [3-2], [4-2] Melrose, [5-2] Peebles, [5-3] Coutts, [6-3] Miller

Almost a year to the day since Jock Stein took control, what better present could his players give him but the 4-0 victory they served up against Alloa at East End Park to put them into the draw for the semi-final of the Scottish Cup for the first time in their 75 year history.

DUNFERMLINE (v Alloa Athletic): Eddie Connachan, Cammy Fraser, John Sweeney, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, Tommy McDonald, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, George Peebles, Harry Melrose

All the goals came in the first half with George Peebles notching two, and McDonald and Melrose the other two.

11/03/61: Match Report: Dunfermline 4 Alloa Athletic 0
[1-0] Peebles, [2-0] Peebles, [3-0] McDonald, [4-0] Melrose

The semi-final draw options were Airdrie, Celtic or Hibs, and St Mirren. Rangers had gone out to Motherwell in the third round and Motherwell had lost to Airdrie in the Quarter finals. When the draw was made Dunfermline drew St Mirren - the cup winners two years before. The semi-final was to be played at Tynecastle on 1st April.

10,000 fans travelled from Fife to see if the Pars could take the biggest step in their history by reaching the Final of the Scottish Cup.

DUNFERMLINE (v St Mirren): Eddie Connachan, Cammy Fraser, Willie Cunningham, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, George Peebles, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, Dan McLindon, Harry Melrose

The semi-final produced no goals but Dunfermline came out of it against the fancied and experienced St Mirren with the major share of the glory. Nobody present could grudge them the chance to fight again. Few would have complained had they managed to win. The Pars produced most of the good football and they did it all with only 10 men for the last 35 minutes.

Their moment of tragedy came just 10 minutes after the interval. Peebles crossed a high one into the goalmouth, Charlie Dickson rose for it with Jim Clunie and although Charlie got his header in - then he and Clunie clashed together. Both slumped to the ground and the trainers fought to bring them round. Clunie made it but Dickson was carried off and did not come back on.

25/03/61: St Mirren 0 Dunfermline 0

The replay was played at Tynecastle on the Wednesday evening and the only goal of the game was scored against his own side by Stewart, the Paisley club`s right half, in no way detracts from Dunfermline`s success for they were the superior team and in the end won deservedly.

DUNFERMLINE (v St Mirren): Eddie Connachan, Cammy Fraser, Willie Cunningham, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, Tommy McDonald, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, George Peebles, Harry Melrose

05/04/61: Dunfermline 1 St Mirren 0 (Stewart (o.g.)

In the other semi-final Celtic who had beaten Hibs 1-0 in the quarter final replay, ran out 4-0 winners over Airdrie at Hampden. So on Saturday, 22nd April, Dunfermline would play Celtic at Hampden Park in their first ever Scottish Cup Final.

Supporters were queuing up to 6 hours to get their Cup Final tickets, British Rail laid on 6 special trains to transport the large numbers expected to make their way to Hampden and as well as by train, another 5,000 supporters were expected to travel by coach.

In the days leading up to the big game, Cup Final fever swept Dunfermline . Shop windows took up a distinct black and white flavour with team photographs, bedecked in ribbons and messages of good luck. All the talk was of football!!

The last game before the final was away to Clyde where any hopes of a moral boosting victory were swept aside with the Bully Wee running out 6 nil winners. It was noted, however that in all the preceding rounds, the Pars had never won the game immediately before the cup tie - perhaps this defeat was a lucky omen.

As part of the physical mental preparation for the final, after the Clyde game Jock Stein took the squad to Seamill Hydro, where they stayed until the following Sunday. During the week leading up to the game, the Final preparations carried out included fitting the players with blazers and flannels. The players would wear the new outfits for the first time at Hampden.

Celtic`s route to the Final had included some impressive performances along the way - a 6 -0 home win over Montrose, 4-1 win over the Rovers at Starks Park and the aforementioned wins over Hibs and Airdrie in the Quarter final and Semi final.

On the eve of the Final all the preparations were hit a body blow when Tommy McDonald reported sick and was taken to hospital with appendicitis. McDonald, who would have been a certainty in the Dunfermline starting eleven, was out of the Final and Stein had to make changes in his planned attack. George Peebles was switched to outside right and Dan McLindon made an unexpected appearance at inside left.

DUNFERMLINE (v Celtic): Eddie Connachan: Cammy Fraser, Willie Cunningham, Ron Mailer, Jackie Williamson, George Miller, George Peebles, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, Dan McLindon, Harry Melrose.

In front of 113,228, included some 30,000 Dunfermline supporters, Stein`s team put up a never- say- die performance. They finished the game with just 10 men after Jackie Williamson collapsed to the ground in 78 minutes. An injury he had picked up in the first half had returned to haunt him and Jackie was stretchered off.

Down to 10 men Dunfermline reorganised, and Celtic just could not break down the resolute defence. Amazingly with just 4 minutes remaining, Jackie Williamson reappeared to play out the final minutes of the game, hirpling on the wing.

In the final minute, Dunfermline had the opportunity to win the game when George Peebles let fly from 30 yards. Frank Haffey, the Celtic keeper, appeared to have the ball covered but it squirmed out of his grasp, only for Celtic fullback Jim Kennedy to hook the ball away. Although the final ended goalless, the Dunfermline Press was to report:-

"This was a football feast that left the Hampden crowd - two and half times greater than the population of Dunfermline - very satisfied. We had witnessed a great Cup Final, which had left the destiny of the Cup undecided and we all seemed content that it should be so".

Jock Stein maintained that Dunfermline should have won on the Saturday since they knew the Celtic team well and were not afraid of them. Luck eluded the underdogs and a replay was necessary the following Wednesday.

22/04/61: Celtic 0 Dunfermline 0

Just as the Pars were hit before the first game, losing winger Tommy McDonald through appendicitis, Celtic were similarly hit on the eve of the replay, when full back Jim Kennedy was rushed to hospital, suffering from the same complaint.

Manager Stein was forced to make two changes to the team that played on the Saturday. George Miller was moved to centre-half in place of the injured Jackie Williamson, with John Sweeney coming into the left back position. Charlie Dickson moved to inside-left, with David Thomson playing at centre-forward.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Eddie Connachan, who had so far not conceded a goal in 360 minutes of cup games, worked his shift in the coalmine, on the Monday and Tuesday before the replay.

Due to the lack of floodlighting at Hampden Park, the replay kicked off at 6:15pm

DUNFERMLINE: Eddie Connachan: Cammy Fraser, Willie Cunningham, Ron Mailer, George Miller, John Sweeney, George Peebles, Alex Smith, Charlie Dickson, Dave Thomson, Harry Melrose

CELTIC: Frank Haffey; Duncan McKay, Willie O`Neil, Pat Crerand, Billy McNeill, John Clark, Charlie Gallacher, Willie Fernie, John Hughes, Stevie Chalmers, Alex Byrne.

Match Report: 26/04/61: Celtic 0 Dunfermline 2

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