Dunfermline Athletic

Tom Forsyth 1982-83

The resignation of Pat Stanton early in 1982/83 gave the Board the opportunity to replace him with a seasoned campaigner capable of exploiting a potentially good squad of players.  Instead, it repeated the error of before by appointing another high-profile former international player with no experience in management and no previous connection with the club.

Born in Glasgow on 23rd January 1949, Tom Forsyth was signed by Motherwell as a seventeen-year old and quickly developed a fearsome reputation as a tough-tackling defender. His first Scotland cap in 1971 was followed a year later by a £40,000 transfer to Rangers where he earned three League Championship medals, four Scottish Cup winners medals (scoring the winning goal in the 1973 Final against Celtic) and one in the League Cup.

He went on to make 22 appearances in a Scotland shirt, most of them under Ally McLeod, who considered Forsyth to be the most consistent player he had, but his international career came to an abrupt end after the 1978 World Cup Finals.

A recurring knee injury brought his playing days to a premature end in March 1982 but six months later Dunfermline surprisingly offered the 33 year old the chance to start his managerial career at the club. Taking over prior to the match against St. Johnstone at East End on 22nd September, he left team selection to caretaker manager Jimmy Thomson and was quickly given some idea of what lay ahead as the Pars conceded three goals in a dire first half.

Things began to look a bit more hopeful three days later when Dunfermline recorded their first league victory of the season, defeating Ayr 1-0 thanks to a Bobby Forrest goal, but that was followed by a run of nine matches without a win. During this period, Dumbarton handed Dunfermline one of their most infamous home defeats when they won 3-0 despite having two players sent off.

This match marked the debut of Jim Moffat, a £10,000 signing from Hamilton who was to play only six times for the club, the last of which was the 6-0 Ne'erday massacre at Stark's Park. Other less than memorable transfers included Derek Rodier, who cost £6,000 from Hibs, and Joe Smith, the former Aberdeen star who was woefully out of shape despite being only 29.

Forsyth's continual chopping and changing led to him using 32 players in what turned out to be a disastrous season, the only consistency being the seventeen draws that ultimately relegated the club.  As 1983/84 was heading in the same direction, with only three wins in ten matches (and twenty different players fielded), Forsyth called it a day on 16th October following a home defeat by Arbroath.In thirteen months he had overseen only eleven wins in 48 games.

A full-time manager, he failed to adapt to the part-time status of his players and there was little sign of the 'Iron Man' reputation; a touch more ruthlessness in team selection would have gone a long way.  At times it seemed as if his heart wasn't in it and he seemed completely incapable of instilling his players with any confidence.

Forsyth returned to the game as Assistant Manager to Tommy McLean at Motherwell in 1985 but never again sought to be manager in his own right.



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