Jock Stein 1960-64
Without question, Jock Stein remains the greatest and most influential manager in Dunfermline's history, a man who transformed a small provincial club of little merit into one of the most feared and respected outfits in Europe. Despite his claim to have had 'no magic wand', in the eyes of Pars fans he is still the ultimate miracle worker, a football alchemist who most definitely turned base metal into gold.
Born in the Burnbank district of Hamilton on 5th October 1922, Stein was intensely proud of his roots and the eleven years he spent as a miner informed much of his later life, both on and off the field. Away from the Bothwell Pit he played for junior side Blantyre Victoria and it was as a raw, lanky centre-half that Stein caught the attention of Albion Rovers, who signed him in December 1942.
It was at Cliftonhill that Stein's obsession with football really began as he analysed players and studied the techniques of the game, discussing tactics in a way that few managers did at the time. He was a natural dressing-room leader but a dispute over wages saw him quit the Rovers in 1950 to try his luck in Wales with Southern League side Llanelli. At the age of 27 Stein had at last become a full-time player but despite a promising start, the club's financial situation and his family's homesickness brought him back north with no other intention than to return to life down the pits.
No-one was more surprised than Stein when Celtic signed him in December 1951 as a dependable squad player but he quickly made the centre-half position his own and in 1953/54 captained the team to the league and cup double, Celtic's most successful season in forty years. When an ankle injury forced his retirement early in 1957 he took up the offer of coaching the reserves and his work with the youngsters earned him such a good reputation within the game that other clubs started to show an interest.
Made painfully aware that he had gone as far as he could with Celtic, Stein accepted the invitation to take over at Dunfermline on 14th March 1960 even though the club was staring relegation in the face. With a run-down ground and a defence that leaked like a sieve, the club wasn't the brightest of prospects but Stein had done his homework and knew that there was real potential both on and off the field.
A tough opening match saw the Pars pitched against none other than Celtic but a Charlie Dickson goal inside ten seconds inspired a 3-2 win and got Stein's reign off to the most dramatic of starts. This kicked-off a run of six straight wins, Dunfermline's best ever sequence of results in the First Division that ensured the club comfortably avoided the drop.
Stein built up the confidence of his players, getting them believe not only in themselves but also in the club, making them want to be a part of the bright, ambitious future that he mapped out. He made his players think and talk about the game and had a way of communicating with them that made it all seem easy to understand.The transformation was remarkable as the Pars lifted the Cup little more than a year after he took over, becoming only the fourth Scottish team to play in Europe and opening up new possibilities for Stein to explore. He revolutionised football in Scotland by introducing the sweeper system and attacking full-backs, studying the work of coaches such as Helenio Herrera and adapting the tactics for domestic use.
He used the transfer market very cleverly, knowing who to buy and, perhaps more importantly, just when to sell; the money received for Cammy Fraser went a long way to paying for the main stand, all part of Stein's plan to make Dunfermline a 'big-time' club.
He may have left East End Park in 1964 but it is thanks to Jock Stein that the Pars continued to enjoy such success in the Sixties and his legacy remains very much in evidence at the club to this day.
Stein's Route to Cup Success