Dunfermline Athletic

Andy Dickson 1955-60

If there is one manager in Dunfermline's history who genuinely rose through the ranks it is Andy Dickson, a local lad who began as a ball boy before embarking on an incredible journey that took him from groundsman to manager in the space of six years.

A sergeant in the Black Watch during the war, Andy had a distinguished service record that included Dunkirk, North Africa (suffering wounds to both legs at El Alamein), Sicily, the Italian mainland and eventually the Normandy landings, where he was mentioned in despatches.

Settling back into civilian life, Andy returned to East End Park towards the end of 1949, earning £7 a week as a groundsman but with aspirations beyond that. The board agreed to spend £80 to send him on a course for masseurs on the proviso that he stayed with the club for at least three years and in the summer of 1951 he took over as trainer.

The following season saw the directors, principally Tom Younger, take charge of team matters although Andy certainly had some input, particularly after attending an SFA coaching course. After Bobby Ancell was appointed manager in 1952, Andy continued as trainer and became a fully qualified physiotherapist two years later. Ancell guided the Pars to promotion in 1955 but left to join Motherwell before the new season started, with Andy chosen to succeed him as Dunfermline faced First Division football for the first time in eighteen years.

Despite inheriting some excellent players, such as Charlie Dickson and Ronnie Mailer, and making good signings of his own in Harry Colville and George Peebles, the Pars lasted only two seasons in the top flight before relegation struck. The board kept faith in Andy, whose belief in attacking football saw the team bounce straight back up by scoring a club record 120 league goals.

Relegation looked on the cards again during 1958/59 and just like two years before it all came down to a dramatic last day. In one of the most amazing matches ever seen at East End Park, Harry Melrose scored six goals as Partick Thistle were thrashed 10-1 to ensure Dunfermline's survival.

There was to be no such luck for Andy the following season, however, and ten days after a shock home defeat by Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup, with the Pars lying second bottom of the First Division, he announced his intention to resign. It was a measure of his commitment to the club that he agreed to stay on until his successor was appointed.

Although Jock Stein offered him a coaching position, Andy decided to make a clean break. His loyalty, honesty and friendly manner had made him a popular figure and helped him make an immediate return to the game with Dundee United, where he remained for 25 years.

It's worth reflecting on the fact that eight of the team that went on to lift the Scottish Cup a year or so later were brought to Dunfermline by Andy - Connachan, Fraser, Miller, Sweeney, Peebles, Smith, Thomson and Melrose. It's also worth noting that Dunfermline recouped around £130,000 in transfer fees when these players left East End, a tremendous sum for a provincial club at the time.

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