Dunfermline Athletic

Sandy Archibald 1939-46

Born in Aberdour on 6th September 1897, Sandy Archibald's football career began with Crossgates Mayflower before he moved in 1915 to the newly formed Dunfermline Juniors, a club established by Dunfermline Athletic to act as a feeder for the senior team. His performances on the right wing did indeed earn him a step up but, typically, the Pars failed to take advantage of talent right on its doorstep. Instead, it was Raith Rovers that spotted Archibald's potential and signed him in March 1916.

He spent just over a year at Stark's Park before joining Rangers, where his speed, ball skill and powerful shooting helped him become one of the best players the country. In a remarkable seventeen-year career at Ibrox he made 666 appearances, scored 162 goals and picked up no fewer than thirteen championship medals to sit alongside three from the Scottish Cup and eight Scotland caps.

Returning to Fife in November 1934, Archibald became secretary/manager of Raith Rovers, then languishing in the lower half of the Second Division. Under his guidance, the club won promotion in 1937/38 by scoring an incredible142 league goals, a figure that remains a British record.Although their stay in the top flight was short lived, Archibald retained the full support of the directors and players and it came as a real shock when he resigned to take over at Dunfermline. Formally appointed on 16th October 1939, he was paid £4 per week for administrative work as well as looking after the team, which was preparing to take part in the eastern section of the Emergency League.

Despite many hardships, the club kept going during the war thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of Sandy Archibald, who also worked full-time at Rosyth Dockyard. Apart from sheer hard work, his greatest asset was his eye for spotting and developing young talent, with the likes of Bert Kinnell, Willie Kelly, Willie Forbes, Willie Harrower, Jimmy Baxter and Willie Cunningham counting amongst his discoveries.

In the experimental world of the wartime North Eastern League, Aberdeen were the dominant club and the only time Dunfermline came close to success was in the opening series of the 1942/43 season when they were runners-up to the Dons in both the league and the Supplementary Cup.

The difficult financial situation made it inevitable that players were sold to help balance the books. Charlie Johnston went to Rangers for £350 and earned an unofficial Scotland cap while Third Lanark paid the same fee for Willie Harrower in 1944.

When the war ended Archibald resumed as full-time manager on a salary of £8 a week plus 5% of any transfer fee received, a deal that was potentially quite lucrative. It hadn't gone unnoticed that Archibald was putting together a very useful side and offers began to flood in, with Baxter being sold to Barnsley for £2,000, Kelly and Cunningham to Airdrie for £4,500 and £3,000 respectively while Wolves bought Forbes for £1,500. All four went on to enjoy notable careers in English football.

Tragically, Sandy Archibald was not given the opportunity to rebuild the team. Scottish football was shocked to learn of his sudden death on the morning of Friday, 29th November 1946, at only 49 years of age.  He had been taken ill with bronchitis earlier in the month but it was typical of the man that he insisted on carrying on his duties at East End Park. He had actually been working at the ground on the Thursday evening but his condition deteriorated during the night and he passed away at his home in Mossgreen, Crossgates, leaving a widow and one son.

Tributes came in from all over the country for this hugely respected and admired man, whose funeral at Dunfermline Cemetery, just behind East End, was attended by representatives from many Scottish clubs. Sandy Archibald's knowledge, managerial ability and drive were to be badly missed by the Athletic.



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