Dunfermline Athletic

Iain Munro 1990-91

In the summer of 1987, as Dunfermline prepared for its first season in the Premier Division, manager Jim Leishman brought in the 35 year old Iain Munro as first team coach to replace Gregor Abel, who was unwilling to take on a full-time position. The combination of the studious Munro and the jovial Jim was ideal and the influence of each was keenly felt as the club enjoyed a real revival. Behind the scenes, however, the relationship was growing strained and within little more than four years both men had left East End Park.

Born in Uddingston on 24th August 1951, Iain Munro was signed as a schoolboy by St. Mirren in 1968 and made his first team debut in January 1970. A Scottish Professional Youth cap, he was transferred to Hibs for £30,000 in 1973 and earned a League Cup runners-up medal in 1974/75 in a memorable 6-3 defeat by Celtic.Signing for Rangers in 1976 proved to be a backward step in his career and he was persuaded by Alex Ferguson to return to St. Mirren in November 1977. During his second spell at Love Street his stylish performances at left-back were recognised by Jock Stein, who selected him seven times for Scotland.

In October 1980 Munro made a £180,000 move to top-flight English football with Stoke City and only a few months later followed manager Alan Durban to Sunderland for the same fee. Returning north in March 1984 for a short stint with Dundee United, his career drew to a close with Hibs, where he again played in a losing Skol Cup Final team, beaten 3-0 by Aberdeen. After more than 500 first team appearances, a hip injury convinced Munro that it was time to hang up his boots in 1986.

Although Dunfermline were relegated at the end of his first season, the club was making great strides and with the team playing the kind of exciting, attacking football that saw the crowds flock back, bounced straight back up to the Premier in 1989. The signings of Istvan Kozma and George O'Boyle brought real flair to the forward line and experienced defenders such as Jimmy Nicholl and Doug Rougvie ensured that there was a good balance to the side.

It was a great time to be a Pars fan but unbeknown to most of them trouble was brewing. Munro's coaching abilities had not gone unnoticed and Falkirk's attempts to entice him away persuaded the Dunfermline directors, clearly unwilling to lose their man, to offer him the chance to work alongside Leishman as co-manager.

Initially, nothing seemed to have changed but the two managers had very different ideas about how things should be run and couldn't even agree on what players to sign. The Board at least recognised the growing problem and decided to take a massive gamble and ask Leishman to leave the playing side entirely to Munro. It was a solution that shocked the supporters, particularly when Jim announced that he was leaving the club after failing to agree on his future role.

Believing, rightly or wrongly, that he had contributed to Leishman's departure, Munro bore the brunt of the fans' anger. In 1990/91, the signing of players such as Billy Davies, Davie Moyes and Ian McCall couldn't hide the fact that the Pars lacked their previous sparkle despite notable wins over Celtic and Hearts. The decision to do away with relegation gave the season an unsatisfactory conclusion, especially as Munro, under pressure to reduce the wage bill, used it to experiment with team selection.

Whatever momentum the club had was long gone by the start of the following season. Seven straight league defeats saw Munro fired, even though the team was through to the semi-final of the Skol Cup. While his term in office was certainly not successful, it's fair to say that nothing he could have done would ever have won over fans that refused to accept him as manager.



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