Sunday, 18 July 2010

Dunfermline Athletic FC (Scotland)

The Pars, as they are mysteriously known, are one of those fine old teams in the top heavy world of Scottish football who once in a while rise to the top and give the Old Firm a run for their money. Formed in 1885 in the historic town of Dunfirmline on the banks of the Forth of Fife, they pottered around nicely in the middle ranges of the Scottish league system, until that fateful day in 1960 that the legendary Jock Stein decided to take up management and too Dunfermline to heights that they could never have previously imagined.

In his first season in charge, Stein took them to a Scottish Cup victory, where they beat the clear favourites Celtic 2-0 in the final. From there on it was a ten year carnival of European football, as their amazing journey took them as far as the Cup Winners Cup semi-final in 1969, where they narrowly lost to the eventual winners Slovan Bratislava - who went on to beat Barcelona in the final. Stein stayed with them until 1964, when he got offered and took the Hibs job. The following year, under new coach Willie Cunningham, saw them reach their best ever league position, when they finished a frustrating third, a mere one point behind Kilmarnock and Hearts. The following year they made the Fair Cup quarter finals, with a young chap called Alex Ferguson in the squad.

The seasons since this golden era have been a bit of an up-down affair, but they recently spent seven seasons in the Premier League, and are currently among those fancied to go back up to the top flight. They play at the 12,509 capacity East End Park, a ground briefly famous as the home of a UEFA experiment with artificial surfaces. But after a couple of seasons of complaint from their opponents, they reverted to grass in 2005.

Despite having one of the most famous nicknames in Scottish football, no one is entirely sure where it came from. Some think it hails merely from their East End Park home, while others suggest that it related to the black and white parallel stripes on their kit. But the most favoured explaination relates more to the drinking habits of their founding fathers. Back in the early days when they were still closely connected with the cricket club, the football wing were famous for their boozing exploits, which ended up in them being known as The Paralytics. It may only be fanciful speculation, but we much prefer that explanation to the slightly duller other pair.

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1 comment:

  1. That's a very old picture of East End Park. Now has two stands behind each goal.