|If there was a prize for the most popular Hall of Fame award, Bert Paton would be up there among them. As a player he wowed them with the silkiest of skills and as a manager he took a dying team and converted it into a record-breaking one that Premier League teams feared.|
|Bert is a native Fifer, born and brought up in High Valleyfield. He was the ninth of a family of twelve, a statistic he is very proud of. His working life started in Rosyth Dockyard, and then down the pits briefly, but it was on the football field that his real talents lay.
A key player for Tulliallan Thistle, he was watched in the Scottish Juvenile Cup Final by Leeds United who signed their man almost immediately. He was top goalscorer for Leeds youths the next season with 22 goals but he wanted to move back to Scotland. Jock Stein asked him to come for a month's trial and he was so impressed with the youngster that he signed him on 13th July 1961.
Bert made his first team debut in March 1962 and went on to occupy a regular place in the side. A very clever and unselfish footballer, Bert was able provide for out and out strikers like Alex Ferguson and Pat Gardner, helping them to the best form of their careers.
Having said that, Bert was no slouch in front of goal either as his 88 career goals (including a club record of seven in Europe) with Dunfermline show.
The highlight of Bert's career was the 1968 Scottish Cup triumph, a victory made all the sweeter because Bert had missed the 1965 Final through injury. Sadly, Dunfermline didn't get too long to enjoy the best of Bert. On 10th December 1969 he suffered a badly broken leg against Dundee United.
Complications and bone graft surgery meant recovery was long, and he had only just recovered from that when his leg was broken again at Easter Road in November 1971. Despite an offer from Rangers, Bert decided to hang up his boots and he still wasn't 30.
Bert gained management experience as second in charge to his old teammate Alex Totten at Dumbarton and St Johnstone, but in 1993 Bert answered Dunfermline's plea and took over the managerial reins with Dick Campbell as his sidekick. The two had inherited a very difficult situation - the club were in financial difficulties but were paying high wages to a number of players. Bert had no option but to clear out and start again on a much smaller budget.
Despite these difficulties, Bert created an attacking team that brought the fans back to East End Park. Almost everything seemed to conspire against Bert with restructuring of the leagues and the bringing in of play offs, but Bert secured Premier League status at the third time of asking in 1996.
In between his teams had broken goalscoring records, points records, and most wins in a season records. He also sold Jackie McNamara for a club record fee to Celtic.
Bert's teams went on to two national Cup semi-finals and in season 1996-1997 finished in fifth place in the Premier League, the highest the club had ever achieved.